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The McKnight Foundation, a family foundation based in Minnesota, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive. Program interests include regional economic and community development, Minnesota’s arts and artists, education equity, youth engagement, Midwest climate and energy, Mississippi River water quality, neuroscience research, international crop research, and rural livelihoods. Founded in 1953 and independently endowed by William and Maude McKnight, the Foundation has assets of approximately $2.2 billion and grants about $90 million a year.

McKnight Foundation
McKnight Foundation Logo.jpg
FounderWilliam L. McKnight and Maude L. McKnight
Area served
Key people
Debby Landesman, Board Chair; Kate Wolford, President[1]
Revenue (2015)
Expenses (2015)$111,372,797[2]
Endowment$2.2 billion USD[3]

The McKnight Foundation was founded in 1953 by William L. McKnight, an early leader of the 3M Corporation, and Maude L. McKnight,[4] and was independently endowed by the McKnights.

Bolstered by the estates of William and Maude McKnight, the foundation's assets grew substantially in the 1980s. In 2015, the foundation assets were approximately $2.2 billion.[3] The McKnight Foundation was ranked twenty-second on the Foundation Center's list of the largest private foundations in America.[4]

In April 2013, the foundation announced a new program area focused on regional climate and energy issues, granting $25 million to two longtime partners working in those areas.[5]


Program areasEdit

The McKnight Foundation's program areas are Arts, Education & Learning, International, Midwest Climate & Energy, MN Initiative Foundations, Mississippi River, Neuroscience, and Region & Communities.


Support working artists to create vibrant communities. Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive.


Prepare Minnesota students to succeed in an increasingly global society by investing in educators, engaging families, and supporting youth.


Collaborative Crop Research Goal: Improve access to local, sustainable, nutritious food using collaborative research and knowledge-sharing with smallholder farmers, research institutions, and development organizations.

Southeast Asia Goal: We support balanced approaches to community resource rights and natural resource management.

Midwest Climate & EnergyEdit

Foster and support climate and energy leadership in the Midwest, making the region a model for the world by reducing energy-related greenhouse emissions.

Minnesota Initiative FoundationsEdit

Support six independent regional foundations to make Greater Minnesota stronger and more prosperous.

Mississippi RiverEdit

Restore the water quality and resilience of the Mississippi River.


Bring science closer to the day when diseases of the brain and behavior can be accurately diagnosed, prevented, and treated.

Region and communitiesEdit

Create livable communities and expand opportunities for all to thrive by increasing efficient and sustainable regional metropolitan development.

Impact InvestingEdit

In 2014, The McKnight Foundation committed to investing $200 million, or 10% of its $2 billion endowment, in strategies that align with McKnight's mission. In addition to generating a financial return, this money is invested with three goals: quickening a transition to a low-carbon economy, protecting the Mississippi River, and contributing to a thriving, sustainable Minneapolis-St.Paul metro area.[6] McKnight's president Kate Wolford believes impact investing is vital to serving the foundations fiduciary duty, saying "As a philanthropic fiduciary, we would embrace our role as institutional owners of our assets alongside our traditional role as grantmakers. We would consider the use of all of our resources to advance mission and public benefit, rather than just the five percent required payout for charitable purpose."[7] As part of their commitment to impact investing, McKnight shares detailed information about their investees and their performance.[8]


  1. ^ "Staff & Board". McKnight Foundation. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  2. ^ a b "McKnight Foundation" (PDF). Foundation Center. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  3. ^ a b "About The McKnight Foundation: Overview". Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  4. ^ a b Colleen Frankhart "DEEP Pockets," Planning, volume 75, issue 1, January 2009.
  5. ^ "McKnight Foundation Launches Climate and Energy Program, Announces $25 Million in Grants". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  6. ^ "Focusing on their missions, Minnesota charities are shifting millions in spending". Pioneer Press. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  7. ^ "The Future of Foundation Philanthropy: The CEO Perspective". The Center for Effective Philanthropy. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Impact Investees". The McKnight Foundation. Retrieved 24 March 2017.

External linksEdit