creative community solutions

North Dakota’s Community-Based Grant Making Program


In early 2022, the Bush Foundation announced Strengthen ND as one of its four partners to develop, implement, and evaluate a new funding initiative: Community-Based Grantmaking Programs. Strengthen ND’s approach is to simplify the application, utilize discussion, and offer a North Dakota-attuned program that focuses on the Bush Foundation’s definition of community innovation. 


Creative Community Solutions funds the most promising ideas, across issue areas, that have the potential to make our state better for everyone. Through this program, we aim to develop, test and spread great ideas. Creative Community Solutions grants invest in efforts to develop and test ideas to solve problems and create opportunity, and then spread the best ideas across communities. Importantly the program allows a Grantmaking Committee of diverse North Dakotans to make decisions about how the funds will be invested.


Creative Community Solutions is a program that supports solutions to community problems or issues, it does not support organizational operating support. General operating support is the working capital nonprofits need to sustain their day-to-day operations. This is obviously an important need; however, it is not supported through Creative Community Solutions. 

application process



Any organization or community is encouraged to reach out to a Strengthen ND Team Member with questions or ideas. This discussion will help determine if your idea is one that fits within the Creative Community Solutions focus and criteria.


Applicants will be invited to submit either a 2-page summary project proposal OR a short 3-5 minute video or voice recording.


Prior to review by the Grantmaking Committee, Strengthen ND staff will contact each applicant to ask set questions about their projects. Each applicant will be asked the same questions, with the response documented by staff, and attached to the application for review by the Grantmaking Committee.

Grantmaking Decision

Once all members of the Committee have had a chance to review all the applications, Strengthen ND will convene the committee to discuss each project and make decisions.


Creative Community Solution grants can be from 1-6 years in length, with total funding up to $300,000.




The Creative Community Solutions grantmaking program is a flexible program that invests in great ideas and the people who power them across North Dakota and the Native Nations sharing our geography. Creative Community Solutions grants fund the most promising ideas, across issue areas that have the potential to make North Dakota better for everyone. Through this program, we aim to:

Develop, test, and spread great ideas: Creative Community Solutions grants invest in efforts to develop and test ideas to solve problems and create opportunity, and then spread the best ideas across communities.

grant making schedule

2023 Schedule

September 30th, 2023

2023 decisions

By November 30th, 2023


Religious institutions for non-religious purposes

501 (c)(3)  organizations

Government agencies

*Because of our 501(c)3 status and IRS regulations, Strengthen ND will not make grants to individuals or organizations that are not tax-exempt. HoweverStrengthen ND will support any interested individuals and/or organizations without tax-exempt status to build collaborative partnerships with tax-exempt entities in order to apply.*


We are seeking innovative, creative solutions to problems or issues; a solution that might be created, tested, evaluated, and then disseminated to others across the state as a model. This is a new and unique opportunity for North Dakota nonprofits and communities to develop their own solutions and receive the necessary funding to support them. In addition to funding, Strengthen ND will provide connections to short term expertise and grantee convenings.

The Creative Community Solutions Grantmaking Committee will entertain financial requests of 
up to $300,000 for up to a six-year timeframe. Grant requests for less than $300,000 and on a timeframe shorter than six-years will also be considered.

What we won’t fund

  • Requests for projects that support beneficiaries outside of North Dakota and the Native Nations that share our geography
  • K-12 core curriculum and related in-school resources
  • Religious programs for the purpose of religious education or proselytization
  • Municipal infrastructure projects, for example:

Fire trucks

Ambulances and related emergency-response equipment

  • Sporting teams and events
  • Sponsorships for events
  • Servicing or paying off previously incurred debt or expenses
  • One-time experiences, including conferences, convenings, trips, etc
  • To bring a building or program into government compliance
  • Any program or project that discriminates on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, or national origin

Inquiry and Initial Application

Strengthen ND’s team will provide technical assistance reflective of the organization’s stage of innovation. It is during this time that a potential customized Kitchen Cabinet will be outlined for the organization’s project and stakeholders.

Developing: Inclusive, Collaborative, and Resourceful

Grant Received - Project Underway

Each grant recipient will be provided with a customized Kitchen Cabinet, which will consist of 3-5 subject-matter-experts who may help connect and facilitate additional resource generation for the organization. Kitchen Cabinets will gather with the grantee virtually no more than two times per year. Further, grant recipients will be connected through an annual peer learning and networking gathering.

Testing & Spreading

Grant Received - Project Underway and Completed

To further amplify the results of the grantmaking program, grantees will gather annually for an evaluation and storytelling convening, where the lessons learned from each project will be highlighted. Further, press placements and project testimonials will ensure that the results of the projects are widely disseminated.

Testing & Spreading


  • Erin Belgarde – Belcourt (Voting Member)
  • Melinda Padilla Lynch – Bowman (Voting Member)
  • Steven Zimmer – Munich (Voting Member)
  • Jill Denning-Gackle – Garrison (Voting Member)
  • Mary Greene Trottier – Fort Totten (Voting Member)
  • Kenneth Rogers – Maxbass (Voting Member)
  • Jenny Schlecht – Medina (Voting Member)
  • Tim Baumann – Minot (Voting Member)
  • Cesar Alvarez – New Town (Voting Member)
  • Tara Brandner – Bismarck (Voting Member)
  • Jasmin Fosheim – Realizing Rural (Non-Voting Member; Attends Meetings for Evaluation Purposes)
  • Cassidy Blade – Realizing Rural (Non-Voting Member; Attends Meetings for Evaluation Purposes)
  • Megan Langley – Strengthen ND (Non-Voting Member; Attends Meetings in a Program Officer Role)
  • Troyd Geist – Strengthen ND (Non-Voting Member; Attends Meetings in a Program Officer Role)
  • Cher Hersrud – Strengthen ND (Non-Voting Member; Attends Meetings in a Program Officer Role)
  • Barb Carley – Strengthen ND (Non-Voting Member; Attends Meetings to Provide Note-Taking and Other Administrative Support)