We are happy you are interested in the programs at MRAC! We have a lot of information to share with you to figure out if what is offered at MRAC is a good fit for you. If at any point you have questions, please feel free to reach out to us.
- Accessing the Information
- MRAC Grantmaking
- MRAC Communities
- MRAC Grant Programs
- MRAC Grants Calendar
- Preparing to Apply
- Your Proposal
- Review and Decision Process
- You Are a Grantee!
- You are not a Grantee (this time)
Accessing the Information
Information about MRAC grants in languages other than English are available here:
MRAC grants in Amharic: Amharic.docx Amharic.pdf
MRAC grants in Hmong: Hmong.docx Hmong.pdf
MRAC grants in Lao: Lao.docx Lao.pdf
MRAC grants in Oromo: Oromo.docx Oromo.pdf
MRAC grants in Somali: Somali.docx Somali.pdf
MRAC grants in Spanish: Spanish.docx Spanish.pdf
MRAC grants in Vietnamese: Vietnamese.docx Vietnamese.pdf
MRAC materials are available in Braille, Large Print, or other formats such as language translation. Please contact MRAC to request these, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online MRAC workshops and webinars always have live automated captioning available: Learn how to enable captions on Zoom. Live human-generated captions, live American Sign Language interpretation, and related written materials are available for most activities upon advance request. For activities led by MRAC staff, presenters will describe all visual elements of presentations verbally.
Recorded workshops and webinars are available on MRAC’s YouTube channel (closed captions, caption translations into various languages, different playback speeds are available).
MRAC’s mission is to improve arts access for communities in the seven-county metropolitan area through support to artists and organizations. Our overall strategy is to provide leadership, resources and tools that enable artists and arts organizations to thrive in a changing environment and address disparities in the 7 county metropolitan area through a robust menu of programs and services and community engagement activities.
MRAC is primarily a steward of funds for artists and organizations, so we want to be transparent about where our funding comes from.
In November 2008, Minnesotans passed the Clean Water, Land & Legacy amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. The Legacy Amendment increased the state sales tax by three-eighths of one percent. The amendment created the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and its proceeds “may be spent only on arts, arts education and arts access and to preserve Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage.”
In addition to the Arts and Cultural Heritage fund, a portion from the Minnesota Legislature’s budget goes to the Minnesota State Arts Board. The Minnesota State Arts Board distributes about 30% of the state funds among eleven regional arts councils around the state. The regional arts councils were formed as independent 501(c)3 non-profit organizations to ensure funding gets into every county of the state.
Regional Arts Councils (RACs) of Minnesota
Region 1: Northwest Minnesota Arts Council Warren, MN
Counties served: Kittson, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau
Region 2: Region 2 Arts Council Bemidji, MN
Counties served: Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Lake of the Woods, and Mahnomen
Region 3: Arrowhead Regional Arts Council Duluth, MN
Counties served: Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, and St. Louis
Region 4: Lake Region Arts Council Fergus Falls, MN
Counties served: Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse, and Wilkin
Region 5: Five Wings Arts Council Staples, MN
Counties served: Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd, and Wadena
Region 6E/SW/8: Southwest Minnesota Arts Council Marshall, MN
Counties served: Big Stone, Cottonwood, Chippewa, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, McLeod, Meeker, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Swift, and Yellow Medicine
Region 7E: East Central Regional Arts Council Braham, MN
Counties served: Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, and Pine
Region 7W: Central Minnesota Arts Board Foley, MN
Counties served: Benton, Sherburne, Stearns, and Wright
Region 9: Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council Waseca, MN
Counties served: Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Sibley, Waseca, and Watonwan
Region 10: Southeast Minnesota Arts Council Rochester, MN
Counties served: Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, and Winona
Region 11: Metropolitan Regional Arts Council St. Paul, MN
MRAC serves the 7-county Twin Cities metropolitan area (Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington counties). MRAC also receives funds from The McKnight Foundation to support individual artists in the 7-county metropolitan area.
MRAC is a unique grantmaker because each year we distribute all of our income to grantees, minus our operating expenses. We do not reserve funds for investing, and any interest yielded from our bank – a Community Development Financial Institution – is distributed.
MRAC works with individuals and groups whose primary physical addresses are located in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and/or Washington counties.
MRAC believes in the ability to build increased connectivity and economic strength through supporting cultural and artistic expression of all identities. We know that systems currently in place have historically marginalized and underserved people based on demographics and geography. We also recognize that the disparities for these groups are different, which requires different strategies for addressing barriers.
MRAC has prioritized the following demographic communities:
Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC)-led, disabled people/people with disabilities-led, and/or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual/Agender, Two-Spirit (LGBTQIA2+)-led MRAC eligible groups and individual organizers of art projects.
- In Flexible Support, a portion of the available funds are reserved for organizations/groups whose Leadership is majority priority communities.
- Priority communities may apply to the Flexible Support program and the Arts Impact for Groups program (Arts Impact for Groups is not offered in FY2024).
- Individual organizers of arts projects of priority communities may apply to the Arts Impact for Individuals program.
- Individual Artists may apply for the Next Step Fund program (Next Step Fund is not offered in FY2024).
MRAC Grant Programs
Flexible Support for Groups
The Flexible Support grant provides funding to help organizations/groups create and sustain Minnesotans’ access to the arts. Eligible projects include operations, and/or organizational capacity, and/or arts programming:
- Activities that support the operations of an organization/group (such as paying staff salaries or rent on a space) to provide arts access to Minnesotans.
- Organizational capacity activities, meaning a coordinated management effort that bolsters an organization/group’s ability to do its work (like rebranding, building a website, or overhauling financial tracking systems). Organizational capacity projects could also be the purchase of equipment and/or making facilities improvements to provide arts access.
- Arts Programming activities in Minnesota, whether a single event (such as a theater production) or a series (such as a series of music workshops).
Arts Impact for Individuals
The Arts Impact for Individuals grant provides up to $5,000 in funding for artistic projects in Minnesota led by individuals who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or a Person of Color (BIPOC); and/or a Disabled Person / Person with Disabilities; and/or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual/Agender, Two-Spirit (LGBTQIA2+). Individuals must have primary addresses in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott or Washington county. This grant is designed to support individuals leading efforts to create access to the arts for communities and/or engage with communities through artistic endeavors.
Arts Impact for Groups
The Arts Impact for Groups grant provides up to $10,000 in funding for groups led by Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC); and/or Disabled People / People with Disabilities; and/or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual/Agender, Two-Spirit (LGBTQIA2+). Groups must be located in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington county. This grant is designed to be an infusion of funds to support a group’s ability to create access to the arts. Arts Impact for Groups is on hold in FY24.
Next Step Fund for Individual Artists
The Next Step Fund grant is designed to help artists complete a project focused on their individual artistic and/or professional development goals within an artistic discipline. Projects should outline strategies that will help the artist overcome barriers to success, sustain the continued success of their artistic career, and/or help them leverage an opportunity. The Next Step Fund is funded by the McKnight Foundation and provides project grants up to $5,000 to artists in any discipline. Applicants may be at any stage in their career, but must be able to provide work samples of their own original art. Individual artists must have a primary residential address in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, or Washington county. Next Step Fund is on hold in FY24.
MRAC FY24 Grants Calendar
Flexible Support Calendar
- September 2023: Grant Information Webinars and assistance from program directors.
- September 11, 2023: Application is available in Submittable, project proposals are accepted.
- November 6, 2023 at 11:59 PM is the deadline. Applications must be received by this time. MRAC does not accept late applications.
- November 2023 – March 2024: Organization/group eligibility review by MRAC staff.
- March 2024: panel of peer reviewers will score applications from eligible organizations.
- April 2024: ratings from panel reviewers are collected, projects are reviewed by staff for eligibility, and funding recommendations are drafted.
- April 23, 2024: Board of Directors review the funding recommendations and make the funding decision.
- May 1, 2024: staff send out grant notifications via email to applicants.
- Earliest eligible proposal start date: May 1, 2024
Arts Impact for Individuals Calendar
- September 2023: Grant Information Webinars and assistance from program directors.
- September 11, 2023: Application is available in Submittable, project proposals are accepted.
- October 23, 2023 at 11:59 PM is the deadline. Applications must be received by this time. MRAC does not accept late applications.
- October – December 2023: Individual applicants eligibility review by MRAC staff.
- January 2024: panel of peer reviewers will score applications from eligible applicants.
- February 2024: ratings from panel reviewers are collected, projects are reviewed by staff for eligibility, and funding recommendations are drafted.
- March 26, 2024: Board of Directors review the funding recommendations and make the funding decision.
- March 27, 2024: staff send out grant notifications via email to applicants.
- Earliest eligible proposal start date: March 27, 2024
Preparing to Apply
MRAC wants to make sure the application process is accessible and available for you to share who you are and your project ideas.
Here are some ways we are trying to make the process accessible:
Visit the Grant Resources page (mrac.org/grants/grant-resources) for fiscal sponsorship information, links to sites to find demographic information, and a glossary of terms.
Each grant program page will have complete information on the grant program.
Grant Information Webinars
MRAC offers grant application workshops to learn about the grant program and to discuss project ideas. Check the program pages for times and registrations. Recorded workshops are also posted on the MRAC YouTube channel.
Program directors are available to answer questions about the application. To schedule a video or phone meeting with a program director, visit the grant program page and use the application assistance meeting request form. Depending on the grant program, there are a few types of meetings you may request:
- Group Eligibility
- Individual Eligibility
- Project Eligibility
- Application Eligibility Review
- Project Check-In
Please note: We are not able to help with reviewing content beyond eligibility. Final eligibility determinations are only made after an application is submitted.
The online grant portal allows for Google Translate to access the application in a variety of languages. With advance notice, MRAC can also contract a translator or interpreter to assist.
Screen Readers and other Assistive Technologies
MRAC requests that all applicants apply online. Applicants with disabilities wishing to use other means to apply can work with MRAC staff to adapt our typical processes to ensure you have equal opportunity to submit an application.
The grant interface that MRAC uses for applications, Submittable, has been certified to meet the needs of people with blindness, low-vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and combinations of these. Submittable follows Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (2.0) and meets Level AA Accessibility to ensure people using assistive technologies can easily navigate Submittable’s pages and forms.
Alternate Application Formats
Applicants wishing to use other means to apply can work with MRAC staff to adapt our typical processes to ensure you have equal opportunity to submit an application. Solutions we have previously implemented include filling out an adapted form in Microsoft Word, and providing verbal responses that MRAC will share via audio recording or transcription.
Contact us prior to the grant program deadline to begin a conversation about how to make sure you have an equal opportunity to apply.
Groups who are not incorporated as a federally tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with annual operating expenses of $400,000 or less. Fiscally sponsored groups also must consist of at least 3 people who are on the Leadership team.
A fiscal sponsor is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization that receives MRAC grant monies and manages the financial aspects of the project on behalf of a group that does not have tax-exempt status.
Fiscally sponsored groups must have a fiscal sponsor. Fiscal Sponsors must be registered with the IRS as a federally tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a Minnesota address and have an active registration with the Minnesota Secretary of State as a nonprofit organization.
Considering serving as a Fiscal Sponsor?: What You Need to Know about Fiscal Sponsorship
You or your group can prepare for all of the grant programs at MRAC in a similar way:
- Checking out the grant programs
- Finding the grant program(s) that fit you or your group
- Reading the grant program guidelines
- Watching a Grant Information Webinar
- Attending a Question & Answer Session and/or requesting a meeting with a program director
- Creating a new account, or logging into the existing account, in Submittable
- Coming up with ideas of how to write about you or your group and your proposed project
- If you are a group without federal tax-exempt status, establishing a relationship with a fiscal sponsor.
Sharing Your Ideas
Try to communicate your ideas to the reviewers in these ways:
You or Your Group
Describe yourself or your group, the kind of arts programming you do or plan to do, and your goals or intentions.
Describe the project you want to do and why. Proposals for all grant programs, excluding Next Step Fund, must be about arts access.
Describe a set of project activities that advance (or contribute to advancing) your goals or the group’s goals. Discuss the goals for the project.
For all programs except Next Step Fund, you will describe the people the project benefits, how the project benefits the people you described, and who works on the project.
In a budget, you will list all of the project / program-related items and labor you will pay for with the grant funds.
Review and Decision Process
A group of peer panelists will review applications and individually score proposals. Panelists are trained on the grant guidelines and provided with a guide to help them rate each application on the grant criteria.
Grant funds will be allocated based on panel rankings. All funds budgeted for the grant program will be allocated. We aim to fund as many applications as possible!
In Flexible Support, a block of funds has been set aside for groups led by priority communities.
MRAC Board of Directors
MRAC staff submits the panel ratings to the MRAC Board of Directors who make the final decision on funding.
Appeals must be made in writing within 30 days of the notification of the board decision. Appeals are considered only on the basis of alleged procedural errors. Contact MRAC for a copy of the appeal policy.
MRAC staff works to notify applicants of the funding decisions as soon as possible after the Board of Directors have made their decision. Notifications are sent to the applicant’s email you provided in Submittable.
After applicants have been notified, we share the awards on our website, in our newsletter, and on social media.
You Are a Grantee!
You received an email that you or your group has been awarded funding. Congratulations!
An authorized signer for your group needs to complete a grant agreement online. A W-9 form for your group is required in the grant agreement. If your group is fiscally sponsored, you will need a W-9 from your fiscal sponsor. The W-9 cannot be for an individual.
The grantee must complete a grant agreement online. Your individual W-9 form with your social security number is required in the grant agreement.
- Grantees need to use the appropriate language and logos on all promotion of the funded activities. The funder language and logo guidelines are here https://mrac.org/manage-my-grant/grant-acknowledgement/ The grant agreement in the MRAC grant interface will also have funder language, please check your grant agreement for the source of funds that will determine the appropriate language and logos.
- Also, grantees must send a thank you note to your legislators. MRAC monies are allocated by the MN State Legislature through an appropriation and the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. In order to ensure the continued availability of such funds, it is very important your legislators know that state arts funds are being used in their district and the types of activities these funds are supporting. Here is a Sample Grant Acknowledgement Letter to Legislators and a Sample Email to Legislators for your use. Unsure of who represents you in the state legislature? The MN District Finder will tell you who your representatives are by typing in your address.
- MRAC staff do not need a letter of appreciation for the grant. In fact, we prefer that you do not send letters of appreciation (although positive emails always brighten our day!)
During the Project
- Use the appropriate Acknowledgment language and logos on all promotion of the funded activities. The funder language and logo guidelines are on https://mrac.org/manage-my-grant/grant-acknowledgement/
- Your grant agreement includes funder language and logo guidelines that are specific to your grant award. Check your grant agreement for appropriate language and logos.
- Spend the entirety of the MRAC grant award as outlined in Project Expenses and by the Proposal End Date. If there are any changes or updates to your project (https://mrac.org/grants/project-changes/), inform your program director. Reach out with any questions or changes to the project before changing the project, as not all project changes can be approved.
- Any project changes (to the activities, timeline, budget, etc.) must be approved in writing by the program director before you submit your final report.
- Collect the data you will need for the final report, such as participant information.
After the Project
- A Final Report is due 2 months after the “proposal end date” that was entered at the time of application.
- Final Reports should be completed only after all grant funds have been spent and all the activities described in your proposal are done. The Final Report must demonstrate actual grant expenses equal or greater to the grant award amount.
- If you are not done with your project, please refer to the project changes page (https://mrac.org/grants/project-changes/) and contact your program director.
- Overdue final reports may affect future eligibility to apply for and/or receive MRAC funding.
You are not a Grantee (this time)
MRAC has a limited amount of funds to grant, and many worthy applications are not funded in every round.
Anonymous ratings and comments from the panel that reviewed your application are available by request for all applicants after funding decisions are made. Information will be added to the MRAC grant interface.