Northland Foundation History


The Northland Foundation is one of six Minnesota Initiative Foundations created in 1986 by McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based private foundation, in partnership with the citizens of Greater Minnesota. Throughout their history of more than 30 years, these six independent, philanthropic organizations have worked to make their individual rural regions stronger and more prosperous. The Northland Foundation’s priorities and programs, like those of our five counterparts statewide, are tailored to the communities in the region we serve. McKnight Foundation continues to support rural Minnesota through its ongoing commitment to the Northland Foundation and five other Minnesota Initiative Foundations:

Northwest Minnesota Foundation
West Central Initiative
Initiative Foundation
Southwest Initiative Foundation
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation

To learn more about the collective impact of all six foundations, visit the Minnesota Initiative Foundation website.

Northland Foundation Impact Since 1986

In collaboration with local, regional, state, and national partners, the Northland Foundation has raised and leveraged resources to serve Northeast Minnesota in many ways. To date, we have:

  • Awarded more than 6,700 grants totaling over $56 million in the region.
  • Invested over $75 million in hundreds of local and regional businesses, helping to leverage more than $402 million in other investments, and supporting 8,842 jobs created or retained by borrowers.
  • Generated more than $25 million in resources to provide training, technical assistance, and support to communities across the region through the Foundation’s operating program, KIDS PLUS.
  • Secured $156 million in resources, 95 percent from partners outside this region, to address and respond to critical issues facing families, businesses, and communities in Northeast Minnesota.
  • Created a permanent endowment to support our mission, now and for years to come.

age to age, three women

woman playing with kids

working woman

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