What kinds of programs does the Foundation support?

  • We support efforts that help low-income people build assets—the income, savings, skills and connections needed to weather an emergency, finance education, buy a home or car, or grow a small or micro-business. More specifically, we make grants, sponsor meetings that encourage sharing lessons and out-of-the-box thinking, and fund public policy solutions that increase good jobs and improve financial capability in rural low-income communities, Native American communities, and communities of color.
  • A minimum of 40 percent of our grants go to Native-led organizations working to build local economies, create good jobs, help low-income people build financial-management skills, strengthen Native nonprofits, and empower Native people to thrive on their own terms.
  • Communities challenged by deep poverty often need to build organizational strength in order to develop and implement their prosperity-building strategies. Approximately 10 percent of grants go to fund infrastructure support, idea incubation, and research.

What do you mean by good jobs and financial capability?

  • Good jobs are those that create a pathway to living wages, benefits and opportunities for advancement.
  • Financial capability refers to the skills needed to manage individual and family budgets, to design and operate locally owned businesses, and access affordable capital and credit.

How do I submit a grant proposal?

  • The Foundation currently makes grants by invitation only. We do not accept unsolicited proposals.

How do I get an invitation to submit a proposal?

  • Most invitations to submit a proposal are the result of relationships we have built over time with organizations that have a track record of success or that demonstrate promising approaches.

How can I inform the Foundation about my organization if you do not already know us?

  • We try to be well informed about effective organizations increasing good jobs and financial capability in our region. If your work aligns with these priorities, we are interested in learning more. Please provide us with a quick summary of your work—up to two pages—and email us.

What kind of organizations do you fund?

  • We make grants to two types of nonprofits: grassroots organizations that provide direct services, and to intermediary organizations—with regional or national reach—that re-grant funds and/or provide technical assistance to other organizations. We also fund a range of Native-led organizations.
    We also look to join funder collaboratives.

What is the Foundation’s service region?

  • We serve a region that includes Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and the 75 Native nations that share the same geography. This is the section of the country through which the Great Northern Railway once traveled. Louis W. Hill, son of railroad entrepreneur James J. Hill, established the Northwest Area Foundation in 1934.

What are examples of the grants you’ve funded recently?

How long does it take to get a grant?

  • The grantmaking cycle is about 6 months long from the time the Foundation sends out a letter of invitation to the time a grant payment is made.

What type of foundation are you, and how much do you have in assets?

  • The Northwest Area Foundation is a private foundation. See our annual report to find out more information about us.

Where are your offices located?

  • Our offices, and all our staff, are located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Our website is