Social Return Focus
While the Otto Bremer Trust does not have specific strategic grant-making 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 our social returns.
- Basic Needs
- Community Asset Building
- Health & Wellbeing
- Restorative & Emergency Services
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.
Where We Work
A UNIQUE RESOURCE FOR INVESTMENT IN THE UPPER MIDWEST
By investing in people, places, and opportunities in the Upper Midwest, the Otto Bremer Trust seeks to build healthy, vibrant communities. Our service area spans seven regions in Minnesota, North Dakota, and western Wisconsin.
How To Apply For A Grant
If you have already started your online grant application, log in to the
Applicant and Grantee Portal
- Application Information
Grants are made only to organizations whose beneficiaries are residents of Minnesota, North Dakota, or western Wisconsin, with priority given to local and regional organizations that support Bremer Bank communities highlighted above. 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. Please note that as a regulated financial institution, we will screen applications in accordance with the Bank Secrecy Act and file Suspicious Activity Reports when warranted.
Twin Cities funding
A portion of our funding is devoted to support for the seven-county Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area. Since the Twin Cities area is served by funders in addition to the Otto Bremer Trust, we focus our resources more narrowly to achieve the greatest impact.
- Grants in the Twin Cities metro area focus on work that helps individuals and families become financially stable and self-reliant. This includes support for basic needs when that work moves individuals closer to stability.
- While we support basic needs, we also are interested in programs that provide support or connect with resources that move people toward self-sufficiency.
- We are interested in supporting work that creates economic opportunities, provides options for learning and development, stabilizes families, and uses other strategies to build the foundation individuals and families need to be productive and engaged community members.
ACTIVITIES WE GENERALLY DO NOT FUND
We discourage proposals for funding the following activities, which generally fall outside our strategic vision:
- Annual fund drives and benefit events
- Endowments other than for the development of community foundations
- Environmental work
- Medical research
- Projects that are primarily artistic in nature, including books, theatrical productions, film, video, and other media projects
- Historical preservation, museums, and interpretive centers
- Sporting events
ALL ARE WELCOME HERE
OBT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, or national origin.
Waiting period after a turndown
We will accept new applications one year after the date a prior application is turned down. In a few special circumstances, OBT will waive the one-year waiting period. In those cases, applicants will be notified of the waiver at the time their application is turned down.
It can be helpful to view our grant application questions before starting a new application. Download them here.
- Standard grant application questions
- Sponsored grant application questions (for a grant to a fiscal sponsor).
If you have any questions about the application process, please contact us at 651-227-8036 or toll-free at 888-291-1123. If you have questions about the use of the Applicant and Grantee Portal, please ask for portal support, or email us at email@example.com.
In order to make the most informed decisions possible about where we allocate our resources, the Otto Bremer Trust has a policy of providing one grant at a time to an organization. While there are exceptions, this means applicants may apply once per 12-month period. OBT requires that applicants complete the terms of a grant and file a final narrative and financial report before the trustees will consider a subsequent funding request. Under circumstances in which the timing element of this policy is unclear, program staff will communicate with grant applicants to determine eligibility.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS POLICY
Here are some basic questions and answers about how that process will work:
When can my organization submit its final reports? When the one-year grant period is completed (or when the grant activity is completed, if that is sooner), your organization may submit its final narrative and financial reports.
When can my organization submit a new proposal? Your organization may submit a new proposal after:
- OBT has received the organization’s final narrative and financial reports from the previous grant; and
- The one-year grant period from the previous grant is complete.
Are there any exceptions to this policy? Yes, there are two exceptions. In both situations, the one-grant-at-a-time policy does not apply. These are:
1. Fiscal sponsors. An organization currently receiving an Otto Bremer Trust grant may apply for a new grant to support activities of a different organization for which it is serving as the fiscal sponsor. Similarly, an organization serving as fiscal sponsor for a program receiving an Otto Bremer Trust grant may apply for a grant for its own activities.
2. Serving a different Bremer community. An organization currently receiving an Otto Bremer Trust grant to serve one Bremer community is eligible to apply for another grant to serve a different Bremer community.
In some situations, one organization asks for a grant that will be used at least in part to pay for another organization to do the proposed work. Put another way, a grant intended to be used by one organization is first paid to an intermediary organization. The Otto Bremer Trust’s policies related to fiscal sponsorship grants are outlined below.
Language to describe the two organizations
It can be confusing to talk about the organizations involved in a fiscal sponsorship situation. One organization receives a grant and uses the money to fund another organization to do some or all of the work:
- Grantee. We use the term grantee to talk about the fiscal sponsor. OBT’s legal relationship is with the grantee, and OBT sends the grant funds to the grantee.
- Sponsored Organization. We use the term “sponsored organization” to talk about the other organization — the organization that the grantee chooses to support to do the work.
When is fiscal sponsorship appropriate?
Fiscal sponsorship can come up in many different situations, including:
- New organization. A new organization that does not yet have 501(c)(3) status seeks to raise funds through a grantee that does have such status. That grantee agrees because it is able to accomplish its charitable purpose through the new organization.
- Young organization. A young organization that is not able to manage the financial aspects of a project seeks to have a more sophisticated organization receive and administer the grant funds. That organization agrees to be the grantee because it is able to accomplish its charitable purpose through the young organization.
- Collaborative. The grantee proposes to accomplish its charitable purpose through a collaborative that is doing just one project together (such as putting on a conference) and the collaborative is not a legal entity and/or does not have tax-exempt status.
In all fiscal sponsorship grants, two things must be true: 1. The proposed work must further the grantee’s charitable purpose; and 2. The sponsored organization must be qualified to carry out the project.
Grantee (Fiscal Sponsor) Responsibilities
The grantee has full responsibility for grant funds for tax, accounting and other purposes. The grantee also has full responsibility for complying with the terms of the grant agreement, including preparing and submitting grant reports to OBT.
There are two more things that grantees should know about fiscal sponsor grants from the Otto Bremer Trust: 1. If a grant is approved, OBT expects that the grantee will disburse the grant funds to or for the benefit of the sponsored organization identified in the proposal. However, the grantee is not legally bound to disburse funds to the sponsored organization and may decide to disburse the funds to other organizations instead, as long as that choice effectively carries out the purpose of the grant. 2. OBT requires the grantee to have a written agreement with the sponsored organization outlining the terms of the fiscal sponsorship. This agreement should lay out the grantee’s responsibilities and the sponsored organization’s responsibilities. Among other items, this agreement must:
- Specify the amount or percentage of grant funds (if any) that the grantee is entitled to withhold to meet its reasonable expenses for administering the grant.
- Acknowledge that the grantee is not legally required to disburse the grant funds to or for the benefit of the sponsored organization.
REACH OUT WITH QUESTIONS
If you have any questions about the application process, please contact us at 651-227-8036 or toll-free at 888-291-1123. If you have questions about the use of the Applicant and Grantee Portal, please ask for portal support, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. To ensure delivery of email from the portal, please add the address email@example.com to your e-mail address book and whitelist. For information about program-related investments, please review our Hybrid Return page.
EXPLORE GRANTS MADE BY THE OTTO BREMER TRUST
Good knows no boundaries, especially in the Upper Midwest. Here’s a look at the types of work made possible by our grantmaking.
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Keeping a community healthy
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Bii Gii Wiin Community Development Loan Fund
$50,000 | 2019 | Minneapolis, MN
For general operations to improve the financial wellness of urban American Indian families through tailored training, counseling, and lending products.
HERO Healthcare Equipment Recycling Organization
$35,000 | 2019 | Fargo, ND
To provide access to medically necessary healthcare supplies and equipment to those experiencing financial crisis.
Western Dairyland Economic Opportunity Council, Inc.
$60,000 | 2019 | Independence, WI
To support Chippewa Fresh Start YouthBuild, a program that builds employment and educational skills for at-risk youth and young adults.