Grantmaking Overview

Thank you for considering the Otto Bremer Trust as a source of support for your work. We hope this guide is helpful as you assess whether OBT is a good fit for your proposal. Please also review our Mission and Meaning statement.

The Otto Bremer Trust is rooted in and committed to the communities that are home to Bremer banks, a network of financial institutions founded by Otto Bremer. We strive to help build healthy, vibrant communities—places where basic needs are met, mutual regard is prized and opportunities for economic, civic and social participation are within everyone’s reach.

Funding focus

Activities that move communities forward. Honoring the spirit of our founder, Otto Bremer, and the direction given by the trust he created, OBT funds a variety of work important to a community’s future. We give highest priority to those opportunities with the potential to move a community forward in meaningful, powerful and broad-based ways. This broadness of vision is intentional in order to encourage innovative responses to community opportunities and challenges.

Twin Cities funding. A portion of our funding is devoted to support for the seven-county Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area. This Twin Cities area is densely populated and is served by many other funders in addition to the Otto Bremer Trust. To achieve the greatest impact with our resources in the Twin Cities, we focus more narrowly there.

Current focus. Grants in the Twin Cities metro area will focus on work that helps individuals and families become financially stable and self-reliant. This will include support for basic needs when that work moves individuals closer to stability.

Meeting basic needs is necessary, but it is often not sufficient to help people become self-reliant. While we will continue to support basic needs, we will be most interested in programs that also provide support or connect with resources that move people toward self-sufficiency.

Examples of the type of work we seek to support in the Twin Cities. We are interested in supporting work that is further along on the spectrum of providing tools that help people move forward. This work could include creating economic opportunities, providing options for learning and development, stabilizing families and other strategies to build the foundation individuals and families need to be productive and engaged community members.

Activities we generally do not fund. We discourage proposals for funding the following activities, which generally fall outside our strategic vision:

  • Annual fund drives and benefit events
  • Endowments other than for the development of community foundations
  • Environmental work
  • Medical research
  • Projects that are primarily artistic in nature, including books, theatrical productions, film, video and other media projects 
  • Historical preservation, museums and interpretive centers
  • Sporting events


Grants are made only to organizations whose beneficiaries are residents of Minnesota, North Dakota or Wisconsin, with priority given to local and regional organizations that support Bremer Bank communities. Grants are generally restricted to organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and to governmental entities. OBT does not make grants to individuals.

At this time, OBT is not accepting proposals from organizations that received their tax-exempt status through the 1023-EZ application process.

OBT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status or national origin.

Grant application and review

While OBT accepts applications on a continuous basis, see our grantmaking schedule for upcoming dates on which grants will be considered. Previous Otto Bremer Trust grant recipients should review our one-grant-at-a-time policy before submitting an application.

OBT acknowledges grant applications on receipt. If you have submitted an application and have not received an acknowledgment, please let us know by sending an email to or by calling 651-227-8036 (toll-free at 888-291-1123).

OBT staff review each application carefully and may seek additional information through telephone conversations or in-person site visits. Following a preliminary screening process, complete applications are considered by OBT's trustees at four annual grantmaking meetings.

See How to Apply to begin the application process.