Community Benefit Financial Company Emergency Fund

In response to COVID-19, the Otto Bremer Trust (OBT) has established a $50 million emergency fund through its Community Benefit Financial Company (CBFC) subsidiary to provide financial support to Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Montana nonprofits and other community organizations impacted by and responding to the pandemic.

The fund will primarily be available to provide small grants to qualified organizations in our region.

The recent CARES Act stimulus program has made nearly $400 billion in forgivable loans available to small for-profit and non-profit businesses to help fund payroll and select other expenses for two months. This is referred to as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). CBFC will help qualified organizations with loan inquiries apply for these and other appropriate financial resources.

Through this process, you can apply for grants, loans, or even both, as the case warrants.


While all nonprofit organizations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Montana are welcome to apply for emergency funding, under IRS regulations, the use of funding must advance the charitable objectives of the Otto Bremer Trust. An application does not guarantee funding; applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The CBFC Emergency Fund is designated for emergency requests only and is separate from OBT’s normal grantmaking process. Non-emergency requests should go through the regular application process. Having an existing grant or a grant application in process will not impact your eligibility to apply to the fund. If you have questions about an existing grant, please contact your program officer.

Application process

The first step in the application process is to submit an initial inquiry. This brief questionnaire is designed to help CBFC determine the scope of emergency needs in our region. Unfortunately, we anticipate an enormous need—far exceeding the funding available for grants. Therefore, we want to manage expectations by noting that we will only be able to move to a further evaluation of a fraction of the inquiries we receive.

If your organization is selected for further consideration, CBFC will email you with further application instructions. Grants will be handled through our grants management system. Loans will be referred to an application site through our registered affiliates, where you will be given guidance on how to apply for the PPP funds.

CBFC will make funding decisions on a rolling basis and will provide funds as soon as practicable following the execution of a loan or grant agreement. Again, for expectation setting, we will only be able to approve a portion of the applications received.

Submit your initial inquiry here.

To sign up for email updates, please visit our news subscription page and select “Emergency Fund updates”.

Please share our public service announcement about the Emergency Fund on social media and with your networks.

Additional resources

Other organizations and government-sponsored entities have established their own programs. The following list, while not exhaustive, might provide your organization with additional opportunities for funding.

Note: This list is for informational purposes only. The Otto Bremer Trust makes no assurances as to your organization’s eligibility for any of the following programs.


U.S. Small Business Administration – Economic Injury Disaster Loans

Independent Sector – CARES Act: How to Apply for Nonprofit Relief Funds


Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development — Emergency Loans

Minnesota Department of Health — COVID-19 Health Care Response Grant

Minnesota Council on Foundations and Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation — Disaster Recovery Fund

City of Minneapolis — COVID-19 Emergency Mental Health Fund

City of Saint Paul — Saint Paul Bridge Fund

City of Rochester — Emergency Economic Development Loans

Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation — COVID-19 Northeast Minnesota Response Fund


United Way of Missoula County — Emergency Assistance Fund

Greater Gallatin United Way and Bozeman Area Community Foundation — Southwest Montana COVID-19 Response Fund

North Dakota

North Dakota Community Foundation — Disaster Response and Recovery Fund

United Way of Cass-Clay — Coronavirus Response Fund


Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation — Small Business 20/20 Program

United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County — COVID-19 Urgent Needs Fund

United Way of Dane County — COVID-19 Emergency and Recovery Fund

Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation — COVID-19 Northwest Wisconsin Response Fund