2017 Bush Prize winner Hmong American Farmers Association
Bush Prize winner Hmong American Farmers Association

Bush Prize for Community Innovation

The Bush Prize for Community Innovation celebrates organizations with a track record of successful community problem solving. Bush Prize winners are extraordinary not only in what they do, but in how they do it. They work inclusively, in partnership with others, to make our region better for everyone. 

Winners receive a package of recognition, including a flexible grant of 25 percent of the organization’s last fiscal year budget, up to $500,000.

Each year we award the Bush Prize in each of the three states we serve: Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, including the 23 Native nations that share the same geography.

Meet the 2018 Bush Prize winners >

  • Bush Prize grants must be used for a charitable purpose.
  • Organizations that are 501(c)(3) public charities or government entities (including schools) are eligible for the Bush Prize. Groups of organizations (such as coalitions or collaboratives) are eligible to apply, but only one organization may receive the grant.
  • The Foundation accepts Bush Prize applications from fiscal sponsors. The fiscal sponsor organization must submit the grant application and, if the grant is approved, becomes the grantee and receives the funds. The Foundation fiscal sponsorship overview provides additional information.
  • Prize winners must be located in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or one of the 23 Native nations that share the same geography. The specific community innovations highlighted in the Bush Prize application must also have occurred within that geography.
Selection Criteria

Does the organization have a pattern of innovative solutions?

  • Are these breakthroughs in addressing community needs more effective, equitable or sustainable than existing approaches?
  • Did these innovative solutions make a significant difference?
  • Could the organization inspire or inform others?

Does the organization have a pattern of using inclusive, collaborative and resourceful processes?

  • Inclusive: meaningfully engaging key stakeholders, thoughtfully identifying those needed to create the intended change and, whenever possible, including those directly affected by the problem.
  • Collaborative: a true joint effort, with partners willing to share ownership and decision-making as they pursue an innovation together.
  • Resourceful: using existing resources and assets creatively to make the most of what a community already has.

Does the organizational leadership foster a culture of innovation?

  • Is the organization stable and strong in terms of governance and finance? 

Additional Considerations

We seek a portfolio of Bush Prize winners with balance across:

  • Size of community
  • Size of applicant organization
  • Demographics of communities served
  • Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations
  • Type of issue addressed

The Foundation is committed to addressing racial and economic disparities. At least 50% of Bush Prize winners will be organizations that address these disparities. For the purposes of this grant program, the Foundation defines this as organizations that seek to actively reduce structural and/or systemic gaps in access, outcomes, opportunities or treatment based on race/ethnicity or economic standing.

How to Apply
Application Resources

We are no longer accepting applications for 2018.

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 as soon as possible, but no later than one week before the application deadline, to discuss your specific circumstances. We cannot make accommodations after the application deadline.

Applications that are started but not submitted within 24 months of being started will be deleted from our system.

We recommend using Chrome or Firefox as your web browser to complete the online application.

Selection Process

Initial Review

We conduct an initial review of applications and select finalists to move forward with in-person interviews and reference reviews. 

Finalist Review

The Community Innovation Team will conduct site visits and review references. 

A panel of community leaders will recommend Bush Prize winners from the Minnesota applicant pool. The Foundation’s North Dakota Advisory Committee and South Dakota Advisory Committee review and recommend Bush Prize winners from the other two respective applicant pools. Bush Foundation Board members may also participate in the selection process.

It is important to us that our processes are transparent. If any of our selection committee members has a conflict of interest with an organization being considered for the Bush Prize, they will not be a part of any selection discussions or decisions for that year. The Foundation defines “conflict of interest” as being a staff or board member of, or having a contractual relationship with, an organization.

Winners will be notified in the fall.

All selections are based on program eligibility requirements and criteria.

Next Opportunity to Apply

We will accept applications in 2019.

Working with Bush Prize Winners

The Foundation hopes to build a supportive relationship with Bush Prize winners by:

Working Together

We’ll create a grant agreement including an agreed-upon timeline, reporting schedule and use of funds. The Bush Prize grants are flexible and can be used to advance the charitable purpose of your organization. Funds must be used to support work in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or one of the 23 Native nations.

We’ll be responsive and direct in our communication with you, and will continue to be available to you throughout the grant period. We hope to build a relationship that is supportive when you want us to be, without being in your way. We want you to be able to focus on what you do best.

Learning and Evaluation

We want to know if we’re making a difference, and will ask you to participate in the evaluation of the Bush Prize program, including your experience being a Prize winner. We will use what we learn together to improve the program over time.

We will ask you to share how you used your funds and key lessons learned (successes as well as challenges) as part of your interim and final grant reports. We may share portions of these reports publicly on the Foundation’s website in consultation with you, as Learning Logs.

We’ll invite you to participate in Foundation-sponsored events for Bush Prize winners to meet one another, share the stories of their work and learn together.

Sharing Your Story

We want to publicly recognize you as a Bush Prize winner. We’ll ask you to provide basic content about your work and to participate in both a short, Foundation-produced film and a creative case study that tell your story. We’ll share the films and case studies on our website and through other media.

We may request that you share periodic, informal updates for the Foundation’s media promotional opportunities.

We will invite you to partner with us in various ways to help others learn from your successful innovation experience(s).

We're here to help

For more information, or to talk with someone on the Community Innovation Team, use our online scheduling system to set up a call. You can also contact the Community Innovation Team at CommunityInnovation@BushFoundation.org or 651-379-2266.