Our Work

Why MicroGrants?

Wealth accumulation, not debt accumulation, is the way out of poverty. The inspiration for MicroGrants came from the micro-lending programs of 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. But since many urban low-income people in the US have no capital and people in the US are already burdened by debt, MicroGrants gives grants rather than loans.

Our Focus Areas

Empowering Economic Growth

Our grants are intended to foster self-sufficiency and break cycles of poverty. We believe that pathway to success is helping individuals obtain meaningful work. Our grants are focused on small business support and helping people train or obtain stable employment.

Education Grants

Intended to supplement traditional financial or cover education-related expenses.

  • Training programs such as Certified Nursing Assistant, Commercial Driving License, Phlebotomy certification that allow for job advancement/increase in earning potential 
  • Cosmetologist, esthetician and barber training and certification that create small business service providers 
  • Continuing education 
  • Education supplies such as laptops, books, school supplies 
  • Driving lessons for individuals looking to obtain a valid driving license and increase ability to get to work and/or school 

Small Business

Supporting the needs of business owners, primarily from the BIPOC community. 

  • Small business startup costs such as LLC formation 
  • Purchase supplies, tools or equipment to increase capacity to do more business/do it more effectively 
  • Cover infrastructure improvements as such new signage 
  • Invest in advertising and marketing 

Partner Agencies

When our founder, Joe Selvaggio, started MicroGrants he was individually evaluating each grantee/grant request. That work quickly became unsustainable so he created the Partner Agency Model. Here’s how that works. 

  • We select Partner Agencies that align with our values, goals and focus areas 
  • We  mutually sign a partnership agreement 
  • Partner Agencies recommend grant recipients and assist with the grant application process, ensuring grantees have the support they need to be successful in the use of their grant 
  • Partner Agencies mentor and guide the grant recipient and ensure our follow-up grant report is completed

Partner Agency Model Benefit: The advantage of working with reputable nonprofits is that they already have trusting relationships with the recipients. That relationship is essential to picking the right persons, mentoring them, holding them accountable and evaluating their success. It also allows MicroGrants to serve many different populations with different needs in a culturally competent way.

Partner Agency requirements: 

  • be a 501(c)(3)
  • operate in the greater Twin Cities area
  • Focused on helping low-income people get to self-sufficiency through small business and/or education services
  • Have the capacity to nominate individuals (fill out an online form), coach them on how to spend the money, and follow up with grantees three to six months later with a questionnaire

We’ve selected our 2024 Partner Agencies.
Email our grant administrator, Angie, to be added to the 2025 waitlist.

Our Impact

Read about the impact of our grantmaking in our annual report

Lights On! Program

Lights On! is our national program that replaces equipment violation tickets with vouchers for free repairs to help low-income drivers and enhance police-community relationships.

It was the board of MicroGrants, specifically Tom Welch, that came up with the idea. After the tragic death of Philando Castile who was shot during a traffic stop after being pulled over for a broken taillight, Tom convened the MicroGrants board and said, “we have to do something.”

Lights On! was born in that moment with the intention to be a no-cost program to Minnesota law enforcement but word quickly spread throughout the law enforcement community and today Lights On! is in 22 states and over 175 law enforcement agencies.

Frequently Asked Questions

MicroGrants does not award grants directly to individuals. MicroGrants only accepts applications from approved Partner Agencies. View our current Partner Agencies here.

MicroGrants candidates are only nominated by our partner agencies*. Each agency has different criteria for selecting who they nominate, but all must fall within the MicroGrants guidelines. MicroGrants either accepts or declines nominated grantees.

A complete list of partner agencies* can be found here.

We’ve selected our 2024 Partner Agencies and are not accepting applications at this time. 

To become a future Partner Agency, read the requirements below and contact angie@microgrants.net to get on the waitlist. 

To be a partner agency you must:
– be a 501(c)(3)
– operate in the greater Twin Cities area
– be helping low-income people get to self-sufficiency
– have the capacity to nominate individuals (fill out an online form), coach them on how to spend the money, and follow up with grantees three to six months later with a questionnaire.

No. As the name implies, they are grants, not loans. MicroGrants wants to help recipients to build equity, not acquire debt.

Donations enter into a pool of MicroGrants funds and grants are distributed from this pool, so a donor’s name is not attached to a grant given.

Low overhead is one of the important precepts of our organization. Our partner agencies* select, coach, and follow up with our recipients, so we are able to minimize expenses and maximize the impact of your donation. Last year, 85% of all dollars spent were used for program services.

Donations enter into a pool of MicroGrants funds and grants are distributed from this pool, so a donor’s name is not attached to a grant given. But, all donors are listed in our Annual Report as a donor unless the person anonymity is requested.

Yes, absolutely! The total amount donated will be granted to as many recipients as it can financially assist. Every dollar helps!

*Partner Agencies take no money for their service
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