Community Development

Community Change Makers Grant

Meet the Round One Awardees, May, 2018.


The Community Change Makers Grant Program aims to help west central Minnesota communities become more socially-connected, equitable, hopeful and empowered. The program does this in one of two ways:

  1. by funding participatory efforts that bring people of diverse perspectives together to plan and/or act to improve their community; or
  2. by funding locally-delivered technical assistance or training that builds a diverse base of community leaders or improves the ability of nonprofits to raise local dollars to address a high-priority community need.  

The ideal project will engage residents, contribute to social cohesion and implement strategies that strengthen the communities of west central Minnesota.

Because this is a new grant program, it is subject to revision and improvement. To assure you have the most up-to-date material, check the expiration date on the bottom of this page.


Grant applicants must be 501(c)(3) nonprofits, school districts, or local units of government that serve the people and communities in Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse, and/or Wilkin counties.

To foster new networks and community engagement, WCI has broadened the types of activities and groups that are eligible to receive WCI funding under the Change Makers program. However, the following eligibility restrictions on applicants and use of funds apply:

Ineligible Applicants and Fund Use

  • Individuals
  • For-profit businesses
  • Family planning, pregnancy counseling and related providers and services
  • Terrorist groups and terrorism activities of any kind
  • Applicant that has failed to meet terms and conditions of previous WCI awards
  • Lobbying or political activities
  • Religious activities
  • Past operating deficits
  • Reducing or offsetting the cost of mandated governmental services


Change Makers requests should not exceed a maximum of $5,000. Generally, the grant will fund 50 percent or less of the total project budget. Priority consideration will be given to projects that have already secured local financial support.



Change Makers grants support projects that address at least one of the following priorities:

  • Help communities to become more welcoming of new residents and more adept at engaging with diverse populations. 
  • Involve a broad range of residents in a planning process that addresses a critical community issue and results in a plan for positive change.
    • Efforts that result in a community action plan focused on affordable housing or the development of high-quality child care will receive special consideration.
  • Engage a broad range of residents and organizations in implementing a plan that the applicant can demonstrate has resulted from a community planning process that involved a variety of community members.
  • Experiment with new approaches to identifying and supporting community leaders in an effort to broaden engagement in civic life. 
  • Through technical assistance or training, strengthen the ongoing ability of west central Minnesota nonprofits to secure more local investment to address a high-priority community need. 

The listed priorities may be changed by WCI to reflect what was learned during the previous grant round.  To make sure you have the most current listing of grant priorities, check to see that the expiration date on the bottom of this page has not passed.



The criteria that will be used as a basis for funding decisions are listed below. 

  • Priority Fit: The project clearly addresses at least one of the five listed priorities of the Community Change Makers Grant Program.
  • Program Fit: The project focuses on efforts that will help the community become more connected, equitable, hopeful and empowered. The applicant has provided a convincing case that they are aware of potential barriers to resident participation and are committed to removing these barriers.
  • Work Plan: The proposal plainly describes the need for the project and the action steps to be taken. Sufficient time and personnel have been allocated to execute the activities described in the proposal.
  • Budget: The budget is reasonable and adds up. Sufficient detail is provided regarding use of funds. Generally, the grant will fund 50 percent or less of the total project budget. The applicant can include in-kind contributions in their budget. Priority consideration will be given to projects that have already secured local financial support.
  • Evaluation: The applicant clearly communicates what project success will look like and how impact will be measured.

Funding decisions may be influenced by West Central Initiative’s commitment to achieving equitable distribution of grant funds across the nine counties we serve.



Community Change Makers grants are awarded three times a year through a competitive review process.

Proposal Due Dates

  • Friday, November 9, 2018
  • Friday, March 8, 2019

The length of review time for funding decisions will vary with the number of applications received. WCI will contact applicants to let them know when to expect a funding decision within six weeks of the proposal due date.



Along with the APPLICATION, please complete the provided cover page and budget form and submit with a project narrative that numbers and addresses the seven listed questions. If the expiration date at the bottom of the application has passed, please contact Wendy Merrick, Director of Programs, for a current form. Call WCI at 1-800-735-2239 or email Wendy with any questions about this application.

Send or email the completed application to Wendy Merrick, West Central Initiative, PO Box 318, Fergus Falls, MN 56538-0318. If you will be emailing your application, if possible, please attach your application as a single document. If it is not possible for you to email your proposal as a single attachment, don't worry, WCI will resolve.