State Grants Working Group

Split Rock Lighthouse and autumn scene

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) is convening a cross-sector working group aspiring to equitable state grantmaking for all, by focusing on the lived experiences and expertise of rural-based, small, and BIPOC-led and –serving nonprofits.

Working Group Membership and Timeline

The working group is made up of 35 members, including 15 staff engaged in disbursement of state grant funds, two legislators, and 20 nonprofit leaders from across the state. Nonprofits reporting the most significant barriers (small, rural, and BIPOC-led and -serving nonprofits) represent the majority of the nonprofit members. The working group will meet three times between September and October 2023, and any tangible outputs will be made available in following months.


Each year, Minnesota’s state government invests hundreds of millions of dollars in the nonprofit sector. Government relies on the expertise and community knowledge of charitable organizations to ensure all Minnesotans have basic needs met and opportunities to thrive.

From conversations with nonprofit leaders, research done in partnership with The Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and research led by Minnesota Management and Budget, we know that a number of eligible nonprofits currently face significant barriers in accessing state funding. Rural-based, small, and/or BIPOC-serving nonprofits tend to receive disproportionately less state funding than larger, established, and/or Twin Cities-based nonprofits. We also know that state agencies face their own obstacles such as limited funding for grants administration, lack of technology to support grants management, and more.

[Related: September 2023 Working Group pre-meeting materials]


The state is investing in its capacity to expand access to state funding for eligible groups, including specific work to address inequities. MCN is also working to ensure that nonprofit expertise and lived experience are incorporated into policies and practices related to state grantmaking. In Fall 2023, MCN will convene a working group as a unique opportunity to join individuals who share a goal of strengthening Minnesota communities through mission-driven work but often have few opportunities to work directly together.

Working Group Goals

MCN is seeking a broad range of perspectives and experiences to engage in a productive conversation in order to:

  • Strengthen relationships across sectors, including between nonprofit organizations and state agencies;
  • Surface issues and opportunities facing nonprofit organizations, state agencies, and legislators regarding state grantmaking processes and policies; and
  • Ensure the experiences and priorities of nonprofit organizations are influencing state-led reform efforts regarding grants management, particularly those who have been marginalized by current practices (rural, BIPOC-led and/or -serving groups).

Working Group Outputs To Be Determined, But Could Include

  • Co-discovery of potential recommendations for best practices and reforms
  • Recommendations for a possible state agency wide grants management technology platform
  • Recommendations for the Office of Grants Management
  • Resource guide for state agencies seeking to implement equitable practices in grantmaking
  • Workshops for major MCN conferences and nonprofit professional development opportunities

Minnesota Nonprofit Participants

Working Group MemberRegion Represented
Jackie Bauer, Clerk/Trainer, Birchdale Township/Minnesota Association of Townships Central
Cate Belleveau, Artistic Director, Mask and Rose Women’s TheaterNorthwest
Lyla Brown, Former Executive Director, Grand Marais Art ColonyNortheast
Nancy Brown , President & CEO, Winona Community FoundationSoutheast
Patrick Carter, VP and State Practice Lead, Results for AmericaNational
Bill Droessler, Senior Partnership Director, Environmental InitiativeTwin Cities/Metro
Martin Jennings, Executive Director, Northwest Indian Community Development CenterNorthwest and Central
Victoria Karpeh, Founding Member & Executive Director, Legacy Family CenterTwin Cities/Metro
Gigi Kreibich, Grants Manager, People Serving People Twin Cities/Metro
Khou Lor, Rural Equity Specialist, Southwest Initiative FoundationSouthwest
Katy Nelson, Sr. Director of Development & Communications, Phyllis Wheatley Community CenterTwin Cities/Metro
Mark Pfeifer, Director of Programs, Hmong Cultural Center of MNTwin Cities/Metro
Katherine Sublett, Founder & Executive Director, Let’s Erase the StigmaSoutheast
Rose Surma, Executive Director, Oasis Central MinnesotaCentral
Julie Wells, Public Grants and Contract Manager, Simpson Housing Services, Inc.Twin Cities/Metro
Lindy Yokanovich, Founder & Executive Director, Cancer Legal CareTwin Cities/Metro

Minnesota State Grantmaking Participants

Working Group MemberRegion Represented
Betsy Adamson, Senior Project Consultant, MN Dept of Labor and IndustryStatewide
Amy Bicek-Skog, Lead Grant Coordinator, MN Department of Health Statewide
Dr. Stephanie Burrage, Chief Equity Officer, Office of Equity and Opportunity in the Office of Governor Tim Walz & Lt. Governor Peggy FlanaganStatewide
Saurav Dahal, Grants Manager, MN Department of Health – Center for Health EquityStatewide
Sonji Davis, Workforce Policy Coordinator, Governor’s Workforce Development BoardStatewide
Nicole DeBoer, Executive Director, Southwest Minnesota Arts CouncilSouthwest
Simone Frierson, Policy Advisor, Office of Governor Tim Walz & Lt. Governor Peggy FlanaganStatewide
Shannon Geshick, Executive Director, Minnesota Indian Affairs CouncilStatewide
Laura Godfrey, Grants Coordinator, Office of Financial ManagementDistrict 42B 
Mary Kim, Central Grants Quality Manager, MN Department of Human ServicesStatewide
Rep. Ginny Klevorn, State Representative, MN House of RepresentativesStatewide
Laura Kramer, Director of Results Management, Minnesota Management and Budget ServicesStatewide
Kathy Mouacheupao, Executive Director, Metropolitan Regional Arts CouncilTwin Cities
Rep. Danny Nadeau, State Representative, MN House of RepresentativesDistrict 34A 
Rachel Robinson, Deputy Commissioner, Minnesota Department of HousingStatewide
Brooke Stelzer, Grants Manager & Communication Specialist, MN Department of Health – Center for Health EquityStatewide