Hunger and Homeless Grants

NOTE: There have been some changes in the funding priorities and application process for this grant starting January 1, 2017. Please read all of the following grant guidelines. We have also switched to an online application process. Please contact Ruby Simmons, [email protected], with any questions.

Open Your Heart’s Hunger and Homeless grants are targeted toward hunger relief programs or temporary shelter/housing for homeless people or people experiencing domestic violence in MINNESOTA.

Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless believes that every Minnesotan should be free from hunger and homelessness. We make an impact by partnering with those who serve people in need, growing donor engagement, and increasing awareness.


The application portal will be down from 3/2/18 until 3/21/18 for maintenance, if you would like to see application questions during this period please contact Ruby Simmons at [email protected]

Click here to complete the Hunger and Homelessness application:

  • Please read all of the Hunger and Homeless Grant guidelines on this page before starting your application.
  • You do not need to complete the application in one setting, there is a save option. It is not, however, automatic. Please remember to click “Save Draft” at the bottom of the application before closing the site.
  • You will not be able to submit the application until all required questions are answered.
  • If you applied for a Hunger and Homeless grant in 2017, you will be able to use the same login email and password to apply for the March 1st deadline. You may also sign up to use a new login email and password, if you would prefer.

If you have any problems with the online application or have any questions, please contact Ruby Simmons at [email protected]

You may download the following guidelines as a word document here: 2018 Open Your Heart Hunger and Homeless Grant Guidelines

March 1st, May 1st, July 1st, September 1st, and November 1st. Agencies will be notified of grant decisions approximately two months after the due date.

• Give where need is greatest.
• Serve front end of the continuum focusing on people who are currently homeless or hungry.
• Preference for projects that either increase the numbers of people served or improve the quality of service to participants.

• Agencies must serve hungry and homeless Minnesotans.
• Agencies must have 501(c)3 status OR be recognized as tax exempt by the IRS (i.e. schools, units of government or tribal governments) OR use a fiscal agent with 501(c)3 status.
• Organizations must not limit service based on individual’s race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, age, or disability.

The primary purpose of our grants is to assist agencies in improving and expanding their facilities to better serve hungry and homeless people. Typical grant awards include funding for kitchen equipment, refrigeration and storage, repair/replacement of HVAC, shelter beds, security systems, renovation of food shelves or homeless/domestic violence shelters, and construction to meet ADA or building codes. Grants are focused on areas within the facilities that directly serve hungry and homeless people rather than administrative space. Street outreach activities to homeless people are also eligible for this grant.

Open Your Heart will not fund:
• Operating costs, utilities, office equipment or salaries and benefits of staff.
• Food purchases. OYH funds food purchase through a separate, invitation only process that distributes food statewide.
• Purchase of consumable supplies.
• Food and shelter costs for disaster victims.
• Retroactive funding for projects that are already completed.
• Group homes, day care programs, schools, senior nutrition programs or treatment centers.

Open Your Heart will not ordinarily fund:
• Structural improvements on buildings not owned by applicant agency. For repairs or improvement of facilities not owned by applicant, applicant must indicate why building owner does not make requested repairs or modifications.
• Facility upgrades to space that is shared with other user. Applicant must demonstrate that repairs or improvements are only to benefit the applicant.
• Major capital campaign or new construction projects.
• Agencies with significant unrestricted reserves.
• Purchase of vehicles.
• Agencies located outside of Minnesota even if they serve Minnesotans.

• OYH is focusing grant making on the front end of the continuum. For agencies serving homeless people, preference is given to services for people who are currently homeless – on the street or in shelters. Transitional housing has lower priority than shelter. Permanent supportive housing programs are unlikely to receive funding.
• Hunger programs must be open and free to all in need. Geographic service boundaries are acceptable, but agencies requiring program participation, membership, purchase of food, attendance/participation in religious service, etc., as requirement to receive food are unlikely to be funded.
• Infrastructure or equipment for shelters or food shelves must benefit the areas where clients are served. Administrative areas, parking lots, etc., are unlikely to be funded.
• Preference is given to projects that increase the numbers of people served or improve the quality of services provided.

Fiscal Year Financial Statement Required. Your most recently completed fiscal year statement. This is different than your audit; however you may pull this statement from your audit. This should include your budget, income, expenses, and funds in reserve.
Year-to-Date Financial Statement Required. This should include your budget, income, expenses, and funds in reserve.
IRS Determination Letter If applicable. With signature page. If you are using a fiscal agent, include their IRS Determination Letter.
Audit If applicable. The most recent audit, if your agency does not file an audit, please indicate so here.
Contractor Estimates If applicable. If this request is for structural/remodeling work, two (2) contractor estimates are required.
Project Budget If applicable. If this request is part of a larger project, attach an overall project budget including sources of income and expenses.
Photo Optional Here you will be able to include a photo of something related to you grant request, such as a picture of something you would like to replace or update.

• Agencies are eligible to apply for one Hunger and Homeless grant per year. This is a change from previous years when agencies could be awarded one regular grant, but could apply as often as they like. As in the past, Education or Special Project grant applicants can also apply for and receive Hunger and Homeless Grants within the same calendar year.
• Umbrella organizations with multiple program sites, but a single EIN or fiscal agency, can submit a total of two grant requests per year per agency. Requests must be for different sites.
• There is no minimum or maximum award. Average grant is less than $7,000.

• Applications and attachments must be completed online by the deadline to be considered for review at the next board meeting. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed until all information is received.
• The Grant Review Committee will review and evaluate each request based on the information included in the application.
It is important that each application be as specific as possible about the need for the project and the cost of the project components.
• Upon review of the application, the Grant Review Committee may request additional information via email, a telephone interview, or a site visit. Please note that cover letters, correspondences with OYH staff, and other attachments that are not required (i.e. brochures) will not be reviewed by the committee.
• As one of the few funders that support programs throughout the state, OYH receives far more eligible applications than we can fund. Careful consideration is given to each application and grants are awarded based on needs in the community, impact of grant, and the ability of agency to carry out grant objectives. Applicants are encouraged to demonstrate that they have accessed additional funding to support the project.
• The OYH Board of Directors considers Grant Review Committee recommendations and makes the final decision on each complete application. The Board reserves the right to reject any application or portion thereof.

We recognize that on occasion, a natural disaster or other unforeseen event might result in a shutdown of services. We may be able to fund quickly in those circumstances. Please call our office if that situation arises. Please note, emergency grants will only be available to agencies that have no other resources available and will require suspending services without immediate assistance.

Occasionally, OYH will issue RFP’s for Special Projects. Grant applications and/or awards will not affect the eligibility of agencies for Hunger and Homeless or Education Grants. These initiatives will be announced on our website, you can also sign up to receive grant announcements by email by clicking “Get Updates” on the upper right hand side of our website ( or by emailing us. Sponsorship of Community Events is only for pre-selected charities.

Your agency agrees to follow OYH requirements for closing out its grant by submitting an application. By completing the closure form, your agency is assuring OYH that your organization has spent the grant funds in accordance with your original request. The form must be completed and unused funds must be sent to OYH within 45 days of the grant’s use to be in compliance with OYH grant requirements. Directions on how to complete this form will be emailed to you. Your agency must complete this form to be eligible for future funding from OYH.

If you have received a grant BEFORE January 1, 2017, you may download a copy of the closure form here: Open Your Heart Grant Closure Form

If you have received a grant AFTER January 1, 2017, you have been sent a unique link to access your online grant closure form. If you need your link again please contact Ruby Simmons at [email protected] For planning purposes, you can see and download a preview of the closure form here:

Contact Ruby Simmons at [email protected] or 612-338-5577.