Seeding Cultural Treasures

Seeding Cultural Treasures is an initiative to nourish and cultivate the landscape of emerging arts and culture organizations run by and for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC). This initiative provides unrestricted general operating grants and technical assistance support and learning opportunities through 2025 for emerging BIPOC-led-and-serving arts and culture organizations. Propel provides technical assistance to grantees in nonprofit finance, strategy, and governance areas, as well as annual convenings, peer connection opportunities and optional workshops. 

An initial round of unrestricted general operating grants was distributed to 501(c)(3) and fiscally sponsored organizations, and/or units of the 11 Tribal governments in Minnesota, in 2022. In partnership with First Peoples Fund and The Waterers, 12 organizations and 56 individual artists and culture bearers in North and South Dakota also received unrestricted general operating grants and access to trainings, convenings, and technical assistance. A final round of Minnesota grants was distributed in 2023, focused on nonprofit organizations located in and serving Greater Minnesota communities. All grantees will be able to access programming and convenings facilitated by Propel through the end of 2025. 

This grant was made possible by the Bush Foundation, Ford Foundation, Jerome Foundation, and McKnight Foundation; it is phase two of America’s Cultural Treasures, the first funds of which were distributed through the Regional Cultural Treasures initiative. 

Seeding Cultural Treasures Grant Program

Propel expresses gratitude to all who applied for the Seeding Cultural Treasures grant rounds, acknowledging the time, labor, and talent invested in the application process. 

In the 2022 Minnesota grant round, Propel received 105 applications from arts and culture organizations across the state. 32 organizations were selected for the first Seeding Cultural Treasures Minnesota cohort. In 2023, Propel opened another round of applications with a priority focus given to organizations located in and serving Greater Minnesota communities. In this round, Propel received 36 applications and 12 organizations were selected for the second Seeding Cultural Treasures Minnesota cohort.  

Grant Design and Selection Process

Propel is grateful for the guidance and recommendations of the 34 arts and cultures leaders for serving on the Design Team and/or Selection Committee for Seeding Cultural Treasures.

These two groups provided input that led to the inclusion of elements we hoped represented the needs and wants of the groups we were aiming to work with through this cohort opportunity. Those included, but were not limited to:

  • A long application period with flexible deadlines, and multiple touchpoints for conversation with grant staff including technical assistance days and informational webinars.
  • The creation of an inclusive and accessible Request for Proposals.
  • Inclusion of the opportunity for interviews if needed to clarify information in the application. (The Selection Committee ultimately decided interviews were not necessary to clarify the applications for those they selected to participate in the cohort.)
  • Provide enough funding to truly make a difference in moving organizations from surviving to thriving. We committed to making grants starting at $40,000.
  • Focus on developing all the other elements of the cohort that can nurture the organizations (networking, convenings, learning labs, technical assistance) and not only the funding.
  • Offer optional, ongoing nonfunding opportunities (learning labs, technical assistance, networking) to all applicants and not only organizations selected for the cohort.
  • Provide scoring and comments by the Selection Committee for each application, if requested.
  • Share learnings with funders to impact the philanthropic systems.

All applications were reviewed by 3 members of the Selection Committee. The Committee was provided training on how to avoid unintended bias in their application review, and reviewed each application based on its own merits.

SCT Design Team & Selection Committee