Grant Navigator

State, federal, foundation, and nonprofit grant opportunities provide a means to make city projects more affordable and obtainable. However, many cities often find the grant search and application process overwhelming or lack the staff to research, prepare, and submit a successful application.

The League of Minnesota Cities’ Grant Navigator aims to ease these concerns by providing funding in the form of small grants to help members assess government grant programs and local needs. The program will help city leaders understand, identify, and apply for grant funding for city projects.

Cities that receive funds from LMC are encouraged to work with industry partners in finance and infrastructure to identify the types of grants that align with a community project, as well as get support through the grant application process. The Grant Navigator is not intended to support technical development, offset costs for city staff time, nor does it guarantee a grant funding match.

Initial rounds of Grant Navigator funding will be:

  • Initially capped at $5,000 per city.
  • Increased upon request and after further review by a Grant Review Committee.
  • Reviewed for use.
  • Capped at $500,000 in total League investment.
  • Limited to one project per city.
  • Aimed at awarding 50% of the funds to cities with populations under 4,000 residents.

Application review process

Grant Navigator applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis by an internal Grant Review Committee consisting of League employees. This committee works as a team to review each application on the basis of project feasibility and city need. You can expect to know the outcome of your application within one to two months, and League staff will communicate any delays.

During the application review process the committee will:

  • Assess project readiness.
  • Review all application materials.
  • Follow-up with applicants to clarify information or seek more, if needed.
  • Ensure appropriate background and project review team are in place.
  • Make awards to support the grant matching process for city projects.

Grant awards

Awards will be issued via check to the city, which allows the city to pay vendors directly. The initial checks will be made out for the sum each city anticipates spending on their consultants, as identified in their application. Additional funds may be issued if their grant matching costs exceed the initial amount, with a max of $5,000 total per city. If more funding is needed, cities can reach out to the Grant Project Team at grants@lmc.org with the invoice for the final costs. A check for the difference between the invoice and the award will then be issued to the city, with the total grant award not to exceed $5,000.

Application requirements

To apply for Grant Navigator funding, a city applicant must:

  • Identify a project for review, including information about costs, duration, and readiness.
    • A ready project should have a completed feasibility study, be included in a Capital Investment Plan (CIP), and/or have a full cost analysis conducted.
  • Identify a project review team that may include:
    • The consultant or industry partner(s) the city plans to engage with to complete the review and work alongside throughout the application process.
    • An to assess project cost, readiness, and funding eligibility.
    • A financial advisor to assess funding options for the portion of the project that may not be covered by the grant and to measure the financial impacts to the city.
    • Where these LMC funds are planned to be used:
      • Who is the city working — or planning to work — with through the grant matching process?
      • If known, who is the individual (or team) working on this process?
  • Is there a particular part of the process where the funding will be used (initial grant searching, grant writing, etc.)? Articulate project readiness and be clear about the ability to proceed with the project.
    • While projects do not need to be ground-ready, applicants will need to be in the process of developing a project to access funds.
  • Articulate project support with a resolution from the City Council.

Post-application

If you do not receive funding from the League for your project application, you may submit another application for a different project.

If you do receive an award from the League, you will be not be eligible for another award until the current application is resolved.

  • The funds are to be used while engaging with industry partners who will aid in the grant matching and application process.
  • If a state, federal, foundation, or nonprofit grant match is not found, seek feedback on why the project was not eligible. Report back to the League with these findings.
  • If a city applies for a grant but does not receive a grant award, seek feedback on why the project did not receive a grant award. Report back to the League with these findings.
    • Grant applications may be reused during the next application cycle, so use the feedback to re-vamp the application for the next application window.
  • If a state, federal, foundation, or nonprofit grant is awarded, a project assessment will need to be submitted to LMC within 6 months of the application’s approval.

The League will be continuously collecting feedback from those who are awarded grants in regard to the League’s grant process, the city’s experience obtaining the additional grant, and updates on the status of their project. Recipients will receive more information on this feedback once they receive their grant award.

Access the application form for the Grant Navigator