Everything you need to know about applying for the grant is below, but, if you would rather have a conversation about the opportunity, give us a call. We would love to talk to you. Contact Alicia Waters, grants administrator, at 651-772-4281 or alicia@mnhum.org.

Program Description

Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC) will award $1.2 million in new competitive Legacy Arts and Cultural Heritage funds to children’s museums through the 2019-2021 legislative biennium. MHC is honored to have the opportunity to administer these funds, and support children’s museums across Minnesota.

These children’s museum funds will be distributed in 1-2 rounds; if the totality of the legislative biennium’s funds ($1.2 million) are not awarded in the first round, MHC will offer a second round in the spring of 2020.

Program Goals

These funds will be administered according to the Minnesota State Legislature Article 4, Section 2, Subdivision 8, (c)(3) : “$625,000 each year is for grants to other children’s museums to pay for start-up costs or new exhibit and program development. Funds are to be distributed through a competitive grant process. The Minnesota Humanities Center must administer these funds using established grant mechanisms.”

Therefore, these funds will:

  • Establish new exhibits and programming for Minnesotans and/or introduce/develop new children’s museums in Minnesota
  • Support the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund outcome: “There will be an increase in the number of Minnesotans of all ages, ethnicities, abilities and incomes who participate in the arts, culture and history.”

Note: The difference between the $1.2 million that MHC will award and the $1.25 earmarked by the legislation ($625,000 per year) is what Minnesota Humanities Center will use for the administration of these funds.

Shared Definitions and FAQs

Children’s Museum: A children’s museum is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution committed to serving the needs and interests of children by providing exhibits and programs that stimulate curiosity and motivate learning in spaces designed just for them.

Q: How much can we apply for?
A: We are not placing a minimum or maximum on what you can apply for. We will assess proposals and requested funds based on whether the amount of funds can realistically be spent within the proposed grant period. Additionally, we expect that 18-month projects will be larger requests than 12-month projects.

Q: Can we apply in partnership with another children’s museum?
A: Children’s museums in Minnesota may apply alone or collaborate on a project with other children’s museums in Minnesota. Only one museum may be the lead applicant. Collaboration is welcomed, but not required.

Q: What expenses fall under “start-up costs or new exhibit and program development?”
A: This refers to allowable expenses (see funding requirements below) made towards the establishment of a new museum or a museum currently in development, new exhibits and programming, or new additions to existing exhibits and programming. Applicants must be able to explain why these expenses are “direct and necessary” to the success of the project.

Eligibility and State Funding Requirements

Who is eligible: Children’s museums (according to the definition above) based in Minnesota, either 501c3s or non-profits with a fiscal sponsor, in good standing with the IRS, and up to date on reporting and state requirements for any funds previously awarded by the Humanities Center.

Note: In good standing with the IRS means that the organization has completed all reporting requirements and can therefore receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. We use the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search to confirm IRS compliance.

We are also required to check all applicants against the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Sanctions list.

Fund requirement: The Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, which underwrites this opportunity, requires that proposed and/or awarded funds support new work or new additions to existing work. These funds must supplement, not substitute, other funding sources.

The Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund prohibits funds from being used to:

  • Start, match, add to, or complete any type of capital campaign
  • Support capital costs (such as improvements, construction, property, or equipment)
  • Pay for indirect costs or other institutional overhead charges that are not directly related and proportional to, and necessary for, the activities outlined in the program proposal
  • Cover expenditures incurred before the date we authorize you to begin work
  • Support benefits and fundraisers
  • Purchase promotional giveaway items like t-shirts, keychains, etc.
  • Fund out-of-state travel

If an organization or project does not meet all of the above requirements, we will not consider it.

Selection Process and Timeline

An independent review panel made up of children’s museum professionals will review and make award recommendations to MHC.

October 2019 – Grants Open Call
November – Grants Open Call
December – Grants Open Call
Apply by 11:59 p.m. Dec. 13, 2019 – Application Deadline
No later than January 31, 2020 – Awards Made

Organizations may propose projects that last up to 27 months. All project activities must be completed by September 30, 2021.

Grantees will be required to submit 2-3 reports sharing progress and financial updates. The dates of these will be outlined in the grant agreement. These reports are designed for grantees to provide MHC with the information that we need to submit to the state’s Legacy website.

How to Apply

Eligible organizations can submit proposals through the Humanities Center online portal, Foundant. In order to submit a proposal, the lead applicant organization must register with Foundant. To register with Foundant, follow the “Create New Account” steps.

Foundant Instructions

application questions

If you have questions, please contact Alicia Waters, grants administrator, at 651-772-4281 or alicia@mnhum.org.

Assessment Criteria

Selection Criteria:

  • Alignment with program goals
    • Project supports establishing new exhibits and programming and/or developing new children’s museums in Minnesota
    • How does the proposal include Minnesotans of all ethnicities, abilities, and incomes, including in the design/planning and implementation processes? How will the community benefit from this project?
  • Evidence of success/feasibility
    • How do you know your new museum or your new exhibit/programming will be successful in your community? What work/evidence do you have for financial feasibility, knowledge of the community, and knowledge of children’s museum best practices?
  • Evidence of sustainability beyond Legacy funds
    • How do you plan to exist beyond requiring the support of Legacy funds?
  • Reasonable budget/appropriate amount requested for project
    • Can the amount of funds requested be spent in 12-21 months?

Public Data Policy

Per Minn. Stat. § 13.599, the names and addresses of grant applicants become public data when MHC opens the grant proposals. All other data (except trade secret data as defined and classified in §13.37) in grant proposals, and data created or maintained by MHC as part of the evaluation process, become public data once a grant agreement is fully executed (signed by both the grantee’s authorized representative and MHC’s). Anyone can request to see or receive a copy of public data, which is maintained by MHC. Grant project information will be posted to the Legacy website.