Building Community Capacity Grants

The Saint Paul Foundation makes grants across six areas of community vitality to organizations serving Dakota, Ramsey and Washington counties.

Commitment to community

The Saint Paul Foundation believes that our community should not only benefit from our work, but inform and form it as well. Creating solutions to today’s issues requires a collaborative approach. Our work is also rooted in a commitment to racial equity. We recognize the rich cultures and multifaceted identities that make our region strong.

Our Building Community Capacity grants are designed to be broadly responsive to community-identified priorities for residents in Dakota, Ramsey, and Washington counties across six areas of community vitality.

Getting started

Contact us

Before applying, all interested applicants are encouraged to contact a program officer to ensure that our grant fits the requested need.

Talk to a program officer

Grant deadlines

We have two grant rounds each year. In 2018, the application deadline for Round 1 is Tuesday, January 9 at 3 p.m. The application deadline for Round 2 is Tuesday, July 10 at 3 p.m. Applications open eight weeks before the deadline.

Access the portal

Grant guidelines

The Saint Paul Foundation funds program grants, capital grants and transitional operating grants. We are proud to serve the East Metro Area - Dakota, Ramsey and Washington Counties - and consider grant applications from organization in the East Metro and organizations that serve individuals and communities in this region.

Areas of community vitality

All grants must address at least one of our six areas of community vitality:

  • Community Connectedness: creating opportunities for equity in arts, civic dialogue, community problem solving as well as supporting natural and built spaces where people live, work and play.
  • Economic Opportunity and Security: strengthening support for low-income individuals and families through community development, workforce education and training and creating sustainable employment pathways.
  • Education: exploring high-quality educational opportunities for everyone, from cradle to career, and more equitable access for racial and cultural communities.
  • Health: increasing health equity through quality, affordable health services, particularly for low-income, uninsured and under-insured individuals. 
  • Housing and Transportation: strengthening our region through affordable, quality housing, addressing homelessness and investing in equitable transportation options and benefits.
  • Human Services and Family Support: meeting basic needs for individuals and families, helping them be safe, stable and independent. 

Indicators of success

As a result of our community support, we hope over time to see the following indicators of success in our community:

  • A greater number of individuals in East Metro communities thriving in a region with increased equity and opportunity
  • A greater sense of community connectedness, participation, inclusion, and civic involvement
  • An increase in organizations using approaches that indicate their understanding of the needs of the cultural and racial communities they serve
  • An increase in nonprofit capacity to support equitable outcomes for East Metro communities

Last year's grantmaking

By the numbers


Funds approved in 2016


Grants awarded in 2016


Areas of Community Vitality


Below are some key resources for grant applicants.

Start your grant application

Use this link to access our online grantee portal and apply for a grant.

Linked Resource

Applicant portal user guide

Find instructions on how to create an account and apply for a grant with our online portal. 

PDF File

Application questions and sample budget

Take a look at the applications questions and a sample budget before you apply. 

PDF File

Download our interim report form

Current grantees can use this link to download our interim report form.

Word Document

Download our final report form

Current grantees can use this link to download our final report form.

Word Document

Types of grants available

The Saint Paul Foundation works to effect social change by issuing Building Community Capacity grants to local non-profit organizations and community initiatives through its annual grantmaking. Find out more about:

Program grants

These grants are aimed at supporting a distinct program or project, not for ongoing program support or for the organization as a whole. At the same time, we recognize that building organizational infrastructure and capacity is critical when launching new work, so up to one-third of expenses may be used for overhead and administration. When the overhead allocation exceeds one-third, applications will be treated as a request for operating support. Program grants may be used/are encouraged for:

  • New staffing to improve infrastructure
  • Pilot programs
  • Planning and feasibility studies
  • Program enhancement
  • Program expansion
  • Start-up programs
  • Time-limited programs

Capital grants

These grants are designed to support your organization’s investment in buildings, facilities and equipment. Foundation investments are typically limited to buildings owned by nonprofits or held by long-term lease agreement. We will consider capital grants for organizations located in Dakota, Ramsey and Washington counties, including for:

  • Renovations/repairs
  • Land acquisition
  • Construction costs
  • Technology hardware and software
  • Equipment
  • Furniture
  • Appliances

Transitional operating grants

These grants are designed to help nonprofit organizations manage through a critical juncture. We view this as transitional operating support as organizations navigate changes including:

  • Changes driven by program evaluation or a new strategic direction
  • Leadership transition
  • Loss of funding from a traditional source
  • Service model changes

When considering applications for operating grants, allowable expenses may include:

  • Ongoing (not new) staff
  • Staff training
  • Board training
  • Rent and utilities

Operating grant requests should not include:

  • Debt retirement
  • Back payroll taxes
  • Legal fees including cost of litigation or settlements
  • Directors and officers Insurance
  • Bonuses
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Additional information

Grants over time

The Saint Paul Foundation commits to multi-year grants on a limited basis. In general, the Foundation will fund efforts up to three years before asking an organization to take a break to allow funding for additional organizations. In most cases, annual grants are more likely than multi-year grants.

Geography served

The Saint Paul Foundation is proud to serve and fund Saint Paul’s East Metro region, which is defined as Dakota, Ramsey and Washington counties. We will consider grant applications from organizations based outside the East Metro that serve individuals both within and outside these counties, but we will direct our resources only to the East Metro aspects of the work. Capital grants are limited to organizations located in Dakota, Ramsey and Washington counties.

Grant requests not accepted

The Saint Paul Foundation does not accept applications for:

  • Sectarian religious programs
  • Work by an individual
  • Capital projects located outside of Dakota, Ramsey and Washington Counties
  • Programs not primarily serving residents of Dakota, Ramsey and Washington Counties

Is this the right grant for you?

If you don't qualify for a Building Community Capacity grant, check out the other grant opportunities offered by The Saint Paul Foundation.

Find the Right Grant Opportunity
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Contact a program officer.