Open Your Heart Grant Guideline Changes

Nov 23, 2016 | At Open Your Heart

Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless has made some changes in our grantmaking. Changes will be reflected in our Grant Guidelines and Application on our website by January 1, 2017.

Open Your Heart is entering our 31st year and has provided over $20,000,000 in grants to hunger and homeless organizations throughout Minnesota. Every few years we engage in strategic planning to assess the needs of our stakeholders, review current data on hunger and homelessness, and assess our effectiveness in carrying out our mission. We also consider the overall funding landscape affecting agencies and the availability of funding for crisis needs.

In our recent Strategic Planning efforts, we looked at some clear trends that have evolved in the past few years that impact our grantmaking effectiveness. Most significantly has been a dramatic increase in the numbers of applications for funding that seem to correspond to a decline in the numbers of key funders willing to support emergency/basic needs. Whereas for most of our history, the number and amount of requests more or less matched our available funds, that changed beginning in 2011. Today we receive at least three times as many requests as in the past, thus requiring us to consistently turn down excellent applications. As a result of this analysis, we have established Grant Guiding Principles and have made changes in our Funding Priorities and application process to ensure funds are directed where they can have the most impact.


  • 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.


  • 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 a 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.


  • 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.

We recognize that on occasion, a natural disaster or other unforeseen events might result in a shutdown of services. We may be able to fund quickly in those circumstances. Please call our office at 612-338-5577 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 ([email protected]). Sponsorship of Community Events is only for pre-selected charities.

Please let us know if you have any questions regarding this change. Email us at [email protected] or call us at 612-338-5577.