On April 15th, I was fortunate to attend a Legacy Amendment Funds Training at the Northwest Minnesota Foundation in Bemidji. The Keystone speakers that day were David Zentner and Sheila Smith. Both individuals lobbied and advocated extensively for the Legacy Amendment that was passed by the Citizens of Minnesota back in 2008. Since 2010, the Legacy Amendment has generated roughly $250 million dollars per year split between the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund, Clean Water Fund, Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, Outdoor Heritage Fund and Parks and Trails Fund. Unless the Legislature someday succeeds in diverting this money, these funds will continue to assist Minnesotans in leaving an amazing State wide Legacy until 7/1/2034.
While I was sitting at this training, soaking up David and Sheila's captivating stories of how a diverse majority of Minnesotans came together to pass this bill in 2008, I realized how much the Legacy Amendment has changed my life. In the fall of 2009 I contacted the MN State Historical Society to see if there were any grants available to help repair the Historic Hewitt Schoolhouse's leaky roof. I learned that day that normally there wouldn't be any funding available for this task, but the first round of the Cultural & Heritage grants were just coming online and we had a month before the grant deadline to submit our project. Having never written a grant before, we scrambled to put together our application with a $5,000 match from both the Hewitt Historical Society and the City of Hewitt. A few months later we we learned that Hewitt was awarded $156,365 to repair the roof and windows on the westside of the building. For the inaugural Legacy grant round, our award was the second highest amount in the state! Since that time I have been involved in numerous grants from the different funds created by the Legacy Amendment. If you are a Minnesota artist and you haven't already, you definitely want to check out the grants available from your Regional Arts Council and the State Arts Board. If you are not an artist, but you are somehow involved in your community, I would suggest checking out the Historical Society and DNR Legacy grants as well. Don't be scared of applying for grants, trust me if I can do it so can you! I have had the best luck with grants after sharing my application drafts with peers. Another tip is to always submit your project by the pre-application deadline if possible (MN HHS now requires this). Even if you fail on your first grant attempt, it is likely that you will receive helpful feedback on ways to improve your application for the next round. Good luck! Together may we leave one heck of a Legacy in Minnesota!