Addressing racial wealth gaps

Our Commitment

Event Sponsorship

Due to the challenges of in-person gatherings caused by COVID-19, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel our Event Sponsorship Program. The needs in our communities continue to grow, and we will focus resources and energy on those.

Organizations that have received Event Sponsorship grants over the past two years had an opportunity to apply for funding during one last application period, January 5-February 4, 2021. More details are below.

We encourage people and organizations with innovative ideas to explore our Community Innovation program, including the Community Innovation intermediary programs in each state. 

About Event Sponsorship Grants

The Bush Foundation believes in developing and supporting leaders who can create positive change in our region.

To that end, we dedicate a limited amount of funds every year to sponsor events that inspire, equip and connect people to think bigger and think differently about what's possible in their communities and to lead more effectively.

In this time of pandemic, events are particularly affected as in-person gatherings pose a real public safety risk. In April, we made the decision only to fund events that are virtual or taking place in some alternative, safe format. In this very unusual and uncertain time, it is as important as ever that we find ways to connect and support each other. And to be creative and resourceful in new ways, including how we gather.

We encourage all event organizers to follow the latest guidelines from the CDC and your state or tribal government’s health officials. We will stay in touch to be supportive of our existing grantees, and will be flexible in adjusting timelines as needed to postpone or change an event. 

What We Fund

We award $5,000 to $50,000 to select events. Events should fall into one of the following categories:

  • Events that bring together a wide variety of people across sectors, geographies and cultural communities to experience engaging programming and discussions that inspire, equip or connect them to more effectively lead change.
  • Events that strengthen foundation and nonprofit networks in the region.

We will also fund a select number of events each year that are critical to advancing the goals of our four strategic initiatives. We recognize that there are many events we consider great examples of this work already occurring; however, we are currently looking to fund events focused on building the capacity and momentum of leaders, organizations and communities in these areas:

The Foundation generally does not sponsor issue-specific events that are not related to our four strategic initiatives named above. We generally do not sponsor fundraisers.

The need to connect and support each other is as strong as ever, as is the need to reconsider and reimagine events in our current environment. We encourage virtual events or those adapted for social distancing.

Key Dates

Spring 2021:

  • Application open January 5 to February 4, at noon Central (we will confirm receipt).
  • Finalists selected and all applicants notified of decisions the week of March 22. 
  • Award notices and grant agreements emailed the week of May 10.
  • Signed agreements due back May 21.
  • Checks will be mailed May 28.
  • Event should ideally take place May 1 or after.

Information for Applicants

  • Organizations that are 501(c)(3) public charities, government entities (including schools), and LLCs are eligible for event sponsorships. Our strong preference is for organizations without 501(c)(3) public charity status to utilize fiscal sponsor agreements. Groups of organizations (such as coalitions or collaboratives) are also eligible to apply, but only one organization may receive the grant or contract.  
  • As we work in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography, strong preference will be given to events that take place in our region or that are closely connected to an organization in our region.
  • Event sponsorship funds must be spent in full three months following the date of the event.
  • Event sponsorship funds may not be used retroactively.
  • Events must take place after the date noted for each round.

New criteria and information for 2021:

  • The event must take place in 2021, or begin in 2021 if a series or longer program. 
  • The event must be virtual or have an alternate, safe format planned due to COVID-19.
  • An organization can apply for an event that is different from the event funded in 2019 or 2020. 
  • We will not award any new multi-year grant agreements (funds for multiple years of the same event). 

We invest in events that: 

  • Offer inspiring, engaging programming.
  • Equip people with knowledge or skills to effectively lead change.
  • Incorporate intentional techniques to build new relationships and facilitate the sharing of ideas.
  • Have clear goals for what participants will get out of the event.

We also consider:

  • Whether events are inclusive of people from different backgrounds and use inclusive practices.
  • The impact the event will ultimately have and size of the event.
  • If event organizers have a plan for measuring success.
  • How closely aligned the event is to the Bush Foundation's goals, and if it will reach an audience that could benefit from the Bush Foundation's grant and Fellowship programs.

Across all our work, we are committed to advancing equity for all people in our region. As we review applications, we will consider whether events incorporate inclusive and equitable practices.

Organizations that have received Event Sponsorship grants over the past two years will have an opportunity to apply for funding during one last application period, January 5-February 4, 2021; eligible organizations were emailed an application link on January 5.

We encourage you to apply well in advance of your event to meet the key dates listed above. If you produce a series of events throughout the year, consider requesting funding for the entire series in one application.

We use an online application system. We understand this may present a barrier to some applicants, and we will make reasonable efforts to accommodate particular needs on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us to discuss your specific circumstances. 

Staff from the Bush Foundation will review proposals each round and make final decisions about whether to fund an event and at what level. This is a competitive application process.

Get Ready to Apply

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Application Questions

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If you have questions about this program, please contact us at