Addressing racial wealth gaps

Our Commitment

Illustration of a bridge connecting land over water.

Steward Organizations for Community Trust Funds


Expression of Interest were due July 22, 2021.

About the Community Trust Funds

The Bush Foundation is committing $100 million to seed two community trust funds that will address wealth disparities caused by historic racial injustice. These trust funds will directly invest in Black and Native American communities across our region through grants to individuals. The goal of these grants is to build stability and generational wealth by improving access to opportunities such as education, homeownership and entrepreneurship.

We are seeking one or two steward organizations to design and manage the trust funds on behalf of the community. These organizations will oversee the funds and design and administer the grant programs, including selecting individuals and distributing grants.

Key Dates

  • Deadline to submit an expression of interest: July 22, 2021
  • Finalist selection: August 2021
  • Steward organization selection: October 2021
  • Program design begins: early 2022
  • Community trust funds launch: TBD based on the steward organizations; likely mid to late 2022

Background and vision

Social and economic inequality is complicated. Every family and every person has their own story and unique experience. At the same time, we know that historical injustices have had enormous, lasting impacts on large groups of people.

When it comes to racial disparities, the wrongs of the past are starkly apparent in the challenges of today. There are direct through lines from broken treaties to unemployment rates, from Indian boarding schools to high school dropout rates, from slavery to incarceration rates, and from redlining to homeownership rates.

It is the responsibility of those of us with individual and institutional wealth to consider how we can repair, rather than perpetuate, these deep inequities. If we want to truly account for the ongoing impact of race-based policies of the past, we need reparative and restorative action now. That is why we are establishing community trust funds to directly support individuals in the communities most impacted by historic racial injustice.

Racial wealth gaps are deeply tied to virtually all other social and economic inequities. Current racial wealth gaps both reflect the accumulated historic injustice of race-based policies (intentional and unintentional) and predict present and future opportunity and wellbeing. If your family has resources to support you through college, help with a down payment on a house or provide start-up money for a business, it makes a big difference in your ability to build wealth. These trust funds are intended to be a community resource to build that kind of opportunity.

The Bush Foundation’s purpose is to make our region better for everyone — and we believe that addressing racial wealth gaps is one of the most important things we can do for our region. Through these community trust funds, we hope to help individuals and families build a foundation for future opportunities. When individuals and families thrive, they help their communities flourish. We are taking action that focuses on some of us, in order to make the region better for all of us.

The Work of the Steward Organizations

The Bush Foundation is committing $100 million to seed two community trust funds to address wealth disparities caused by historic racial injustice. We are seeking one or two organizations to steward these funds on behalf of the community.

Our intention is to give the selected steward organizations broad responsibility for managing the community trust funds, including asset management and designing and administering the grant programs. We have designed this process to provide adequate time and funding for all aspects of program design, development and implementation.

To serve the unique needs of the Black and Native American communities in our region, we anticipate splitting our $100 million investment into two separate trust funds — one focused on each community. Because the focus on Black and Native American communities is so central to this vision, we are seeking steward organizations with deep connections and experience in these communities. We anticipate that each trust fund will have its own steward organization, although there may be one organization that could effectively manage both trust funds. We are also open to expressions of interest from collaboratives of organizations.

The Bush Foundation’s $100 million investment is dedicated for individuals in our region of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share that geography. While our funding is focused on this region, we would welcome interest from potential steward organizations who would like to grow the trust funds and expand the concept beyond our region.

As part of our background work, we spoke with a cross-section of community members to refine our vision. This group included Black and Native American leaders and elders, as well as leaders in philanthropy, and their input was invaluable in shaping our approach. We expect the selected steward organizations to continue to deeply involve their communities as they design, develop, launch and administer the trust fund grant programs.

We see the work of the steward organizations falling into the phases below. Please note that this is high-level thinking meant to illustrate our vision and intention. If we select two steward organizations, we anticipate that they will work through the phases independently — we do not expect the organizations to align their timetables, although we hope they will stay connected to learn from one another. 

The first, and very significant, phase for the steward organizations will be to design the programs that will ultimately disburse the community trust funds through grants to individuals. We have some set expectations for these programs, including the expectation that the funding will ultimately go to individuals to support them in wealth-building activities. However, we believe the design of the programs should be driven by the steward organizations, in consultation with community members.

It is extremely important to us that the grant programs are designed with input from the Black and Native American communities. Community engagement across the region should be central to the design phase of work.

In this phase, all the tactical and supporting elements of administering a grant program should be designed, including: program criteria, the grant application, selection process, grant distribution, internal support processes and program evaluation. This design phase should also include developing a communications and outreach strategy. We will provide support for steward organizations to get whatever professional counsel and technical assistance they need — such as legal guidance and public relations support.

As they design the program to give grants to individuals, we would like the steward organizations to consider how they can connect individuals with resources beyond the financial grants. We do not expect the steward organizations to provide these services directly, but we would like the steward organizations to consider how to connect individuals with services like financial counseling, student support services, and other non-financial resources that will support individuals to make the most of the financial grants. We hope these funds will complement and enhance other efforts in the region.           

The selected steward organizations will receive funding for the design phase. The grant amount will be based on the needs of the design plan, but we imagine that up to $500,000 may be needed for this work. (This planning funding is separate from the $100 million for the community trust funds.) We anticipate this design work will take at least six months and would begin early 2022.

During the design phase, the steward organizations will coordinate with the Bush Foundation through regular updates and periodic meetings to keep the Foundation informed of progress, ensure alignment with intent and for the Foundation to provide support if requested. 

Once the steward organizations and the Bush Foundation are aligned on a plan, the steward organizations will receive the community trust fund assets and begin to make grants to individuals. 

This phase will include building organizational capacity to manage the grant programs, such as setting up sustainable staffing and internal processes. Once organizational capacity is in place, the steward organizations will launch the grant programs. Ongoing implementation and management will include publicizing the program, accepting applications, selecting grantees and distributing payments to selected individuals.

We anticipate that the steward organizations will need to work closely with community partners to connect grantees to complementary support resources. The steward organizations may also need to work with financial, legal and PR partners on many elements of this phase. Community engagement will be an ongoing component of the work.

The Bush Foundation places great importance on learning from our programs and partnerships; therefore, evaluation funding will be included in the grant to design and conduct evaluations for the individual grant programs. The evaluations are primarily meant to support the steward organizations as they strive to deliver grant programs that serve the community, and the evaluations will have the added benefit of ensuring that others can learn from this work. Specifics of the evaluation plan will be worked out in partnership during the grant program design phase.

Information for Potential Steward Organizations

Each stewarding organization must be a 501(c)(3) public charity or government entity with deep ties to the Bush Foundation’s region of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography.

  • Preference will be given to organizations located in the Bush Foundation region, but it is not a requirement.
  • Coalitions or collaborative efforts are eligible to apply, but only one eligible organization may receive the grant.
  • Your organization or collaborative may be thinking of forming a new organization to administer the community trust funds. If that is the case, the organization that receives the design grant can be different from the to-be-formed organization that will ultimately administer the community trust fund. However, both organizations must be 501(c)(3)s.
  • For-profit organizations and organizations using fiscal sponsors are not eligible to apply.

We are looking for organizations that are best positioned to steward these trust funds on behalf of the community. We will be looking for these qualities in the steward organizations: 

  • Well-equipped to design and manage a grant program making grants to individuals.
  • Positioned to effectively manage the assets of a $50 million trust fund to the best interest of the community.
  • Experience working in a community-informed manner and has the confidence of the community they seek to serve. 

This is a unique opportunity, and the decision to pursue it will take time and thought. We have given a four-month window for applicants to express interest. We hope this time frame allows for interested organizations to discuss their response within their organization, with their board and perhaps collaborate with other organizations.

If you’re interested in submitting an expression of interest:

  1. Watch our informational webinar.
  2. Sign up for a 1:1 inquiry meeting with Jackie Statum Allen or Eileen Briggs. We ask that you please watch the informational webinar before your 1:1 meeting.
  3. Submit your expression of interest and any supporting attachments through our web portal. Submissions are due by Thursday, July 22, 2021 at noon Central. We encourage you submit before the deadline, just in case of any technical difficulties or internet disruptions.

We use an online application system. If this is a barrier for you, please let us know as soon as possible. We will do our best to work with you to find another solution.

Application Tips

Through the expression of interest, we want to understand why you are interested and well-positioned to steward these trust funds on behalf of the community.

We recognize that different organizations have different preferences for how to convey their interest and share more about their organization. We are asking applicants to respond to questions via our online portal. We will give you plenty of space to express your interest, and we welcome the inclusion of relevant documents, website links and recorded video/audio as additional ways for interested organizations to introduce themselves.

In your expression of interest, we’ll ask you to answer these questions:

  • Tell us about your organization and/or your collaboration, and why you are well-positioned to be the steward of these community resources. 
  • These community trust funds are intended to address racial wealth gaps. Please tell us about your awareness and understanding of this issue, and why this opportunity is interesting to you.  
  • We expect the community trust funds to be designed and managed to serve individuals across the Bush Foundation’s region, informed by deep engagement with Black and Native American communities. Tell us about your organization’s experience in the region, as well as your approach and experience with community engagement in either or both of these communities.
  • Each stewarding organization will be asked to design and operate a grant program for individuals, as well as manage a large community trust fund of $50 million. Please tell us about your organization’s relevant experience and capacity.

The stages of the community trust fund steward organization selection process:

  1. Organizations may submit expressions of interest through our web portal. All submissions are due by noon Central on Thursday, July 22.
  2. Bush Foundation staff will review submissions and select approximately six finalists to move forward in the process. Decisions will be shared with organizations in mid-August 2021.
  3. To learn more about the finalists, Bush Foundation staff will contact the interested organizations, make reference calls and conduct financial review in August and September 2021.
  4. A panel composed of community leaders and Bush Foundation board members will review materials and interview each finalist in early October 2021. We expect these interviews to take place virtually. The panel will then advise Bush Foundation staff as they make decisions. 
  5. Bush Foundation staff will review all information and select one or two steward organizations. Decisions will be shared with selected organizations in late October 2021.
  6. Grant agreements for the design phase will be finalized in December 2021, after which the steward organizations will begin their design phase work.

If your organization is selected as a finalist, we may request financial materials to include in our staff review. These may include audits, IRS Form 990s or internal financial statements, depending on the size of your organization. We collect these documents to understand the health and capacity of your organization and to provide better support to our applicants and grantees. 

It is important to us that our processes are transparent. We will ensure that none of our community panel members have a conflict of interest with any of the potential steward organizations. The Foundation defines “conflict of interest” as being a staff or board member of, or having a contractual relationship with, an organization.

We're Here to Help

For more information, watch our informational webinar

You can also sign up for a 1:1 inquiry meeting with Jackie Statum Allen or Eileen Briggs. We ask that you watch the informational webinar before your 1:1 meeting.

Lastly, you can reach out directly: 

Eileen or 651-379-2253 

Jackie Statum or 651-379-2227