The application process begins with questions to determine an applicant’s eligibility. The following includes the information covered in those questions.
Grants are made only to organizations whose beneficiaries are Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and/or Wisconsin residents.
Grants are generally restricted to organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and to governmental entities.
OBT does not make grants to individuals.
All Are Welcome Here
In accordance with federal regulations, the Otto Bremer Trust does not discriminate based on race, color, creed, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, or national origin. We require that applicant organizations’ employment and service practices comply with this policy.
What We Fund
While the Otto Bremer Trust does not have specific strategic grantmaking priorities, we do provide broad categories to explain the types of programs and services we invest in. These categories are intended to provide some insight into the types of work we fund.
For displaced individuals or those facing other challenges, securing a roof overhead, finding clothing to wear, and putting food on the table are the first steps toward self-sufficiency.
These grants include those that focus on short-term assistance through food shelves and outreach programs, cash or vouchers, and auto repair, along with refugee resettlement efforts, transitional housing programs, and homeless shelters.
Community Asset Building
By bringing together various forms of capital within a community—financial, social, and cultural—we seek to achieve this common goal.
This category covers a range of investments, including small business development, diversity initiatives, community planning, long-term housing programs, transportation, literacy, and adult education—all focused on building strong community assets.
Health and Well-Being
We fund a range of care, including medical, dental, vision services, and wellness programs for families and the elderly, particularly supporting services in underserved and rural communities.
Other examples include early education and parenting programs, community recreation, physical and mental health services, youth support and enrichment, post-secondary education, and job skills.
Restorative and Emergency Services
We believe it is critical to support organizations working to bring stability to individuals and families facing disruptive forces in life.
Grants include those that address domestic violence and sexual assault prevention and recovery, disaster response, economic stabilization, and helping people navigate the judicial and legal system.
Projects that fall outside the scope of OBT’s funding
- Requests for projects outside of Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, or Wisconsin
- Annual fundraisers and benefit events (e.g., we do not offer sponsorships)
- Debt reduction
- Endowments other than for the development of community foundations
- Animal welfare
- Animal-based therapy programs
- Primary medical research
- Sporting teams and events
- Core K-12 academic curriculum and staff
- One-time experiences, such as camps, trips, conferences, and events
- Religious programs for the purpose of religious education or proselytization
- Historical preservation and interpretive centers
- Municipal infrastructure projects, including emergency response equipment, parks, and playgrounds
- Programs principally focused on the arts, including books, theatrical productions, museums, film, video, and other media projects.
- We may consider projects that use the arts as a mechanism for work that more closely corresponds with OBT’s purposes.
- Programs principally focused on environmental appreciation, enhancement, or preservation.
- We may consider projects that use environmentalism as a mechanism for work that more closely corresponds with OBT’s purposes.
We recommend contacting program staff before applying if your request falls in any of the following areas
- Start-up organizations or new programs within an existing organization
- Bringing a program or building into government compliance (e.g., if primary purpose of the project is to address a code violation or ADA requirements)
- New applicants or programs for which Otto Bremer Trust is asked to provide a majority of the budget
- National or regional organizations, including organizations expanding into OBT’s service area
- Organizations experiencing a significant transition, such as a merger or leadership change
Bank Secrecy Act
Please note that as a regulated financial institution, we screen applications in accordance with the Bank Secrecy Act and file Suspicious Activity Reports when warranted.
Waiting Period After a Turndown
When an application is turned down, the applicant must wait one year from the application submission date before applying again. In a few special circumstances, OBT will waive the one-year waiting period. In those cases, the applicant will receive notice of the waiver at the same time they receive their turndown notification.
As a responsive grantmaker, OBT welcomes applications from organizations distinctly positioned to help their communities thrive.
If you have further questions after reviewing this information, please email one of our program teams:
Starting an Application
When you’re ready to start or continue a general operations, restricted, or capital application, visit the Application Portal. (Learn more about those application types below.)
If you want to apply for a program-related investment (PRI), read about our PRI application process.
To access existing grants and grant reports, log into the portal and click View Applications and Reports.
When you begin your application in the portal, depending on your responses to some initial questions, you will be routed to an application tailored to your organization’s needs.
Download the Microsoft Word version of the relevant application to help you prepare:
- General Operations Application. General operations grants provide unrestricted funding that enables an organization to carry out its mission. Typical uses could include support for an organization’s administrative and infrastructure costs, maintaining core programs and/or staffing. This application is for organizations seeking $75,000 or more in general operations support.
- General Operations Short Application. This application is for organizations seeking general operations support of less than $75,000.
- Restricted Application. Restricted grants provide funding for a specific program or project. These funds may not be used for other purposes, although a portion may be utilized for overhead or indirect costs of administering the program or project.
- Capital Application. Capital grants support constructing, repairing, renovating, or rehabilitating an organization’s physical space. Capital grants can also support the purchase of equipment necessary for an organization to carry out its work.
If you need technical assistance with the portal, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Otto Bremer Trust acknowledges grant applications upon receipt. If you have submitted an application and have not received an acknowledgment, please let us know by sending an email to email@example.com or by calling 651-227-8036 (toll-free at 888-291-1123).
Our staff reviews each application carefully and may seek additional information through telephone conversations or in-person site visits.
Please see our Schedule for grant notification dates.
The Otto Bremer Trust has a policy of providing an organization with one grant at a time. While there are exceptions, applicants may generally apply once per 12-month period. OBT requires applicants to complete the terms of a grant and file a final narrative and financial report before the trustees consider a subsequent funding request. When the timing element of this policy is unclear, don’t hesitate to contact program staff to determine eligibility.
Frequently Asked Questions About This Policy
Following are some basic questions and answers about how that process will work.
When can my organization submit its final report?
Your organization may submit its final narrative and financial reports when the grant period ends (or when the grant activity is complete, if that is sooner).
See the Eligibility Chart for Current Grantees on our Schedule page to determine when you can reapply.
When can my organization submit a new proposal?
See our Schedule for the Eligibility Chart for Current Grantees.
Are there any exceptions to this policy?
Yes, there are a few exceptions. In each of those situations, the one-grant-at-a-time policy does not apply. These are:
- Capital grants
- An organization with a current general operations or restricted grant may seek support for capital projects for major equipment; renovation, refurbishment, or restoration of a current facility; or construction of a new facility.
- An organization with a current capital grant may apply for a general operations or program grant.
- An organization with a current capital grant must wait until that grant is closed before applying for another capital grant.
- Fiscal sponsors. An organization that has an open OBT grant on which it serves as the fiscal sponsor for another program may apply for another grant for its own activities. (Note that OBT no longer makes fiscal sponsorship grants.)
- Serving a different region. An organization with an open Otto Bremer Trust grant to serve one region is typically eligible to apply for another grant to serve a different region.
Call with questions
If you have questions about this policy, call our office (651-227-8036 or 888-291-1123) and ask to speak with a program officer.
You may also reach our program teams directly by email: