Social Return



Enriching individuals’ lives is a cooperative endeavor. We see our role as supporting those extraordinary efforts. For nearly 75 years we have partnered with people and organizations working on the front lines, and we continuously look to do more. We welcome applications that will strengthen the community and are consistent with our Trust. We seek to make our process as efficient as possible so that the good work can continue and grow.

Social Return Focus

Grant Categories

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
Basic Needs

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


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.

  • Western North Dakota
  • Red River Region
  • Central & Northern Minnesota
  • Western & South Central Minnesota
  • Twin Cities Metropolitan Area
  • Western Wisconsin
  • Southeastern Minnesota

2018 Impact


45 Grants

See all Recipents

Western North Dakota

Region Contact

Lisa Keske

Program Officer

Grantmaking Process

How To Apply For A Grant

If you have already started your online grant application, log in to the
Applicant and Grantee Portal


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.


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


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.

The Impact


Good knows no boundaries, especially in the Upper Midwest. Here’s a look at the types of work made possible by our grantmaking.

Recent Grant Recipients

See All Recipients
Foundation for Agricultural and Rural Resources Management and Sustainability
$45,000 | 2019 | Tuttle, ND

To strengthen local food systems and agricultural communities in North Dakota through farmer-to-farmer mentoring and farmer-led educational programming.

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College
$30,000 | 2019 | Hayward, WI

To provide micro-grants to assist students with emergency expenses that might threaten their ability to be successful in college.

Minnesota CIT Officers Association, Inc.
$70,000 | 2019 | Woodbury, MN

For general operations to train first responders to safely and compassionately de-escalate crisis situations when encountering people living with mental illness.