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Apply to Be an Innovator

The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFM) believes in the leadership and ideas of young women and gender-expansive leaders in our state. Through the Innovators program, WFM provides microgrants of $3,000 directly to young women and gender-expansive people (ages 16-24) to fuel their ideas and support their development as leaders with microgrants, cohort-based learning, and individual leadership coaching. Innovators leadership, ideas, and solutions advance key recommendations in the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota’s (YWI MN) Blueprint for Action.

Grants through the Innovators program fund projects that advance gender and racial equity and justice, led by visionary leaders who are leading within their communities from the intersections of their identities and experiences. Innovators meet as a cohort in-person for technical support and leadership development. Each Innovator pairs with a professional mentor of their choosing and meets four times a year for professional coaching and development. Since the inception of the Innovators program in 2018, the Women’s Foundation has made 139 grants totaling to $347,500 to 111 young women and gender-expansive youth, ages 16 to 24. Read more about the Innovator program.

Participation includes five in-person convenings to build leadership, skills, and community. Convenings give participants an opportunity to support, develop, and scale their leadership and ideas. In addition, cohort participation includes four coaching sessions to support grant-funded projects and deepen Innovators’ leadership for the long term. Eligible applicants must reside in the state of Minnesota. Eligible candidates must:

  • Be 16-24 years old at the date of program kickoff.
  • Identify as a young woman and/or gender-expansive youth. Our definition of a young woman is anyone who identifies as a woman. The program is inclusive of transgender, gender nonconforming, gender nonbinary, and all gender-expansive people who experience gender-based structural harm.
  • Reside in the state of Minnesota throughout the grant period.
  • Priority given to young women and gender-expansive leaders who identify with at least one of the priority communities of the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota: Black/African American, African Immigrant, American Indian, Hispanic/Latina, Asian/Pacific Islander, LGBTQ+, Disabilities, Greater/Rural Minnesota.
  • Citizenship is not required

To apply:

  • Review application information and instructions
  • Information Webinar recording is available below and can be referenced for the application process
  • Create a Spectrum portal account to access the application
    • Your registration will prompt an authentication by the Women’s Foundation, which should take no more than one business day to complete. Please note: Internet Explorer users often run into issues with the portal, so it is best to use Google Chrome or Firefox as your browser.
  • As part of your application, you will be asked to submit a video or essay describing your leadership journey and project vision. You will also describe how your project connects to and advances key recommendations from the Blueprint for Action, which are detailed in the application.
    • Optional: Provide a project budget, resume, or photos to describe your project
  • Applications are due June 24, 2024, at 11:59 p.m.
  • Project term is 12 months beginning in August 2024.
  • For questions about this program, contact Janett Jimenez at ywi@wfmn.org or 612-236-1825. If you are having trouble creating or managing your account on the web portal, please contact Grant Manager, Hannah Elias at hannah@wfmn.org

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