Social Return



Enriching individuals’ lives is a cooperative endeavor. We see our role as supporting extraordinary efforts. For more than 75 years we have partnered with people and organizations working on the front lines, and we continuously look to do more. We welcome grant applications that will strengthen the community and are consistent with OBT's objectives. 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 in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • Wisconsin

2020 Impact


658 Grants & PRIs

See all Recipents

Minnesota-North Dakota team:

Dominic Papatola, Regional Director

Elyse Coleman, Program Officer

Lisa Keske, Program Officer

Tessa Wetjen, Program Officer

Kabao Xiong, Program Officer

651-227-8036 888-291-1123

Grantmaking Process

How To Apply For A Grant

If you have already started your online grant application, log in to the
Application Portal

Important announcement

The Otto Bremer Trust will launch a new grant application process in the summer of 2021. We’re designing the system to be more efficient and to provide grant decisions more quickly. Learn more here.


Grants are made only to organizations whose beneficiaries are residents of Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, or Wisconsin. 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.


The Otto Bremer Trust provides funding to support critical assistance, health and well-being, and community engagement. We do not fund the following:

  • Requests for projects outside our four-state geographic region
  • K-12 core curriculum and related in-school resources
  • Religious programs for the purpose of religious education or proselytization
  • Municipal infrastructure projects; for example:
    • Fire trucks
    • Ambulances and related emergency-response equipment
  • Animal welfare or animal-based therapy
  • Sporting teams and events

Otto Bremer Trust provides general operating, program, and capital grants. We do not provide grants for the following purposes:

  • Sponsorships for events
  • Servicing or paying off previously incurred debt or expenses
  • One-time experiences, including conferences, convenings, trips, etc.
  • To bring a building or program into government compliance


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

Grant applicants may reapply one year after their turned down application was submitted. 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
The Community Table, Inc.
$40,000 | 2020 | Eau Claire, WI

For general operations to serve nutritious meals in a safe, welcoming environment and to connect economically disadvantaged individuals with resources.

Full STEAM Ahead
$30,000 | 2020 | Minot, ND

For general operations to support youth development and enrichment activities for children in the Minot area.

Phyllis Wheatley Community Center
$50,000 | 2020 | Minneapolis, MN

To support the Family Engagement and Resource Center, which will provide early childhood options, employment, job training, financial literacy, and network opportunities for families in north Minneapolis.