What is the Northwest Area Foundation?

The Northwest Area Foundation is a private foundation. We support organizations that work to reimagine and restructure unjust systems so communities can thrive on their own terms. Our priority communities include Native Americans, communities of color, immigrants and refugees, and people in rural areas.

What is your service region?

We serve a region that includes Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and the 76 Native nations that share the same geography.

How did you choose your service region?

Our founder, Minnesota businessman and philanthropist Louis W. Hill, was the son of Great Northern Railway founder James J. Hill. The region served by the Foundation corresponds to the freight routes of the Great Northern Railway.

What are your funding objectives?

We fund and invest in organizations that seek to break down systemic barriers that prevent their communities from achieving economic prosperity and thriving on their own terms.

What is the grant application process?

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

We want to be informed about and build relationships with organizations that increase good jobs and financial capability in our region. If your work aligns with these priorities, we want to learn more. Check out our For Grantseekers page to stay updated on opportunities and to connect with us.

What is a Mission-Related Investment (MRI)?

MRIs are a form of “impact investing.” They’re drawn from our endowment to achieve market-rate investment returns while also advancing our grantmaking’s positive social goals: to increase good jobs and financial capability.

What is a Program-Related Investment (PRI)?

PRIs are a form of mission investing. They prioritize social outcomes over profit and provide less-than-market-rate returns. We issue PRIs as low-interest loans, drawn from our endowment, to community development financial institutions (CDFIs), which relend the funding to organizations whose work aligns with our grantmaking goals to increase good jobs and financial capability.

What is a Native community development financial institution (CDFI)?

A Native CDFI is an organization that provides equitable financial services and support to help Native American communities build long-term economic and cultural wealth. With deep cultural ties and understanding, Native CDFIs help Native communities overcome systemic barriers to economic opportunity and open the door to loans, credit, jobs, and much more.

What do you mean by Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)?

DEI describes an approach we’re using to more fully live out our mission—by overcoming the policies and systems that create barriers to equity and supporting work that leads to sustainable prosperity for all. Infusing DEI into all of our work helps us be a more equitable ally to our grantees and the communities we serve.

See the working definitions and sources we use to inform our DEI approach here.

Where are your offices located?

We’re located at:

60 Plato Boulevard E, Suite 400

St. Paul, MN 55107

For more information, please contact us.

Do you have meeting space?

No, we do not offer meeting space.