Grant Opportunities

We offer funding in a variety of program areas, each with its own application procedures and guidelines. Below, you’ll find a brief summary of the funding opportunities we make available.

For More Information

Contact Jennifer Heien, Grants Coordinator
Phone: 507-214-7040

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development is currently accepting applications to support child care start-up and expansion projects. Child care centers and family child care programs in SMIF’s 20-county region are eligible to apply. Requests of up to $10,000 for child care centers and $2,000 for family child care programs will be considered.

Timeline: Applications are due on January 27, 2020 by 4 p.m.

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Early Childhood Initiatives (ECIs) started as a program among all six Minnesota Initiative Foundations in 2003 with the goal of ensuring that every young child in Greater Minnesota has the best possible start toward a healthy life of learning, achieving and succeeding. SMIF facilitates community visioning sessions to ECIs in its region, then provides funding for project implementation. ECI communities are selected through an invitation-only application process. SMIF currently supports 25 ECIs.

ECI spotlight: Austin

Interested communities may contact Rae Jean Hansen at or 507-455-3215.

The Economic Impact Grant Program enables us to foster new ideas and initiatives which spark new businesses and increase economies to be more prosperous. We believe communities which invest in their people will grow a sustainable economy. Nonprofit organizations, units of government or public institutions in SMIF’s 20-county region are eligible to apply.

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The Early Literacy Grant Program is designed to support early literacy efforts that enhance school readiness for children birth to age 5 by providing children with books. Organizations working with these children are encouraged to apply for books to be given to families to keep and read to their children. The Early Literacy Grant Program receives books through partnerships with Mankato-based publishing companies, ABDO and Capstone.

Timeline: The next grant round opens in February 2020

Literacy Grant Spotlight: Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop Schools

The Paint the Town Grant Program is designed to engage volunteers, create a sense of community pride and build collaborative efforts that beautify communities through “Painting the Town” with a new community mural, community welcome sign or painting an historic structure. Paint the Town grants are administered by SMIF in collaboration with various Ace Hardware stores located in our region. Communities with populations under 10,000 are eligible to apply.

Timeline: The next grant round will open in February 2020

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The Small Town Grant Program seeks to build sustainable and vibrant communities by engaging its members, enhancing existing leadership and opportunities for new leadership to emerge. Rather than funding a one-time project, we seek to build enduring, community capacity that will perpetuate collaboration for future work. Because of our belief in the power that lies within our smaller communities, we have created a grant program for communities in our region with populations of 5,000 or less. 

Small Town Grant Spotlight: St. James

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