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Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Minnesota

Explore how childcare grants in Minnesota can support your childcare business, providing the financial support needed to enhance services and accessibility.

Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Minnesota

Navigating Childcare Grants in Minnesota

Running a childcare business can be both rewarding and challenging. Among the many aspects to consider, financial stability is key. Fortunately, there are various grants available to help childcare providers in Minnesota enhance their services, improve facilities, and invest in professional development. 

This guide explains childcare grants, the specific resources available in Minnesota, and how to prepare a successful grant application.

What is a grant?

A grant is a financial award given by an organization, such as a government agency, private foundation, or corporation, to support a specific purpose or project. Unlike loans, grants do not need to be repaid, making them an attractive option for funding. For childcare providers, grants can offer the vital support needed to improve the quality of care, upgrade facilities, and enhance professional skills. 

The U.S. government’s second and final funding package for fiscal year 2024 includes a $1 billion increase for programs focused on child care and early childhood education¹. This new funding includes an additional $275 million for the Head Start program and $725 million for the Child Care and Development Block Grant which funds state efforts to provide child care to families and improve the quality of care. 

Download a free grant writing guide for childcare programs here!

Childcare grants in Minnesota

Minnesota offers valuable resources to childcare providers seeking grants. Whether you're looking to boost your facility's capabilities, invest in staff development, or enhance the overall quality of care, the right grant can make all the difference.

Grants and resources from government agencies

The Minnesota Department of Human Services is the lead state agency that oversees the distribution of the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) in Minnesota. This funding can be in the form of certificates, grants, or contracts to provide childcare services to low-income families or improve the quality of care provided.

Minnesota Department of Human Services

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) offers several financial assistance programs aimed at supporting childcare providers. These grants can help with operational costs, staff wages, and other essential expenses. Here are some key options:

  • Great Start Compensation Support Payments: These payments are part of Minnesota's initiative to address the early childhood education workforce shortage and improve quality of care. Launched by the Minnesota Department of Education, these funds can be used to pay for increased compensation, benefits, or premium pay for employees who regularly care for children.
  • Grant to Expand Child Care Programs: The Minnesota DHS is accepting applications for an opportunity to expand childcare programs through business supports such as consultation, training, tools, and access to funding.
  • Parent Aware: Parent Aware is Minnesota’s quality rating and improvement system, connecting families with providers, and offering free training, business support, and grant opportunities to participating childcare programs. 
  • Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP): This program offers financial aid to help families afford childcare, directly benefiting providers by ensuring a more stable income stream. By supporting eligible families in covering childcare expenses, CCAP helps maintain and potentially increase enrollment, contributing to the financial health and operational stability of childcare services.

Professional development support

Investing in the professional development of childcare staff is essential for maintaining high-quality early education. Minnesota offers several options to support ongoing education and training for childcare providers:

Child Care Aware of Minnesota

This organization provides resources, training, and support to childcare providers across the state. Programs include:

  • Child Care Services Grants: These grants offer funding to cover the cost of supplies, equipment, technology, and training. The grants are available every year to qualified childcare programs in September.
  • T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Minnesota: A scholarship program that helps childcare professionals pursue higher education and credentials in early childhood education
  • REETAIN Bonuses: Financial incentives ranging from $500-$3,000 awarded to childcare professionals who commit to staying in their roles at a licensed childcare program for one year after receiving the bonus. The funds can be used for professional or personal expenses.
  • Empower to Educate: This initiative is focused on supporting childcare providers looking to start a career in child care by providing access to educational resources, mentoring programs, financial support, job placement support, and more.

North Star Promise (NSP) Scholarship Program

The NSP Scholarship is a groundbreaking initiative in Minnesota designed to remove financial barriers to higher education. The program will cover the full cost of tuition and fees for eligible students attending public colleges and universities within the state.

Grants from private foundations

In addition to state-funded grants, several private foundations in Minnesota offer support to childcare providers:

Otto Bremer Trust

The Otto Bremer Trust provides crucial funding for community-based organizations located in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The PNC Foundation

Through its Grow Up Great initiative, the PNC Foundation supports early childhood education efforts, offering grants to providers for curriculum development, teacher training, and classroom resources in Minnesota and beyond.

Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation

This foundation is committed to supporting projects that seek to improve educational outcomes for children, ensuring they have access to high-quality learning environments. The foundation offers two open grant rounds per year.

The Sheltering Arms Foundation

The Sheltering Arms Foundation supports high quality early childhood programs operating in Minnesota that promote the healthy development of young children and have strong family engagement strategies.

Group of toddlers playing with multi-colored wooden toys.Source

Federal grants and funding opportunities

The federal government offers a variety of grants and funding opportunities to support childcare providers across the United States, including Minnesota. These grants are designed to improve access to quality childcare, support the professional development of childcare workers, and enhance the learning environments for children under their care. Some key federal funding sources include:

U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) offers discretionary grants that are awarded using a competitive process, as well as student loans or grants to attend college, and formula grants determined by Congress. Here are some helpful resources to explore:

  • ED grants homepage: The ED grants homepage allows you to browse funding opportunities, links to grant applications, and your eligibility status.
  • The website is the central location that provides information on grants across the federal government. You can search for and apply to different funding opportunities, determine your eligibility, and access grant writing tips. 
  • Head Start and Early Head Start Programs: Aimed at promoting school readiness for children under five from low-income families, these programs provide grants directly to public and private non-profit and for-profit agencies to provide comprehensive child development services. The Office of Head Start (OHS) posts notices of funding opportunities (NOFOs) that seek applications for grand funds. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) manages various financial assistance programs for rural applications. One example is the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program that provides funds to be used to purchase, construct and/or improve essential community facilities like childcare centers, purchase equipment, and pay related project expenses in rural areas with no more than 20,000 residents.

Applying for grants

Applying for childcare grants in Minnesota can be a competitive process, as funding is often limited. To increase your chances of receiving a grant, it’s essential to carefully review and follow all application guidelines and requirements. Here are some general steps to take when applying for childcare grants:

  • Meet all licensing requirements: Ensure that your program meets all of the licensing requirements in Minnesota. Maintaining licensing compliance shows a commitment to high-quality standards and is often also required for you to be eligible for specific grants and funding opportunities.
  • Do your research and determine your eligibility: Research available grants and determine which ones align with your needs and goals. Before applying, check to see that you meet all the necessary criteria. Most (but not all) government grants are aimed at 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, so be sure to read the eligibility requirements carefully.
  • Gather your documentation: Most grant applications will ask for specific documentation, such as financial statements, demographic information, licenses, and certifications. Be sure to have these prepared in advance. With brightwheel you can quickly and easily access custom reporting to meet your specific needs.
  • Write a compelling grant proposal: Read successful grant applications to learn how to structure your approach. Include an executive summary of your project and clearly define the need or problem your childcare services address. Provide a detailed description of your program and list your objectives and expected outcomes. Follow all grant application instructions, have someone else review your proposal before submitting, and submit your application on time. 

Download a free grant writing guide for childcare programs here!


Additional tips for success

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when applying for grants for your childcare center:

  • Stay informed: Connect and engage with local and state organizations focused on early childhood education. If possible, join their email lists or follow their social media pages, as these organizations will often share grant and funding information as it becomes available. Also, regularly check the websites of federal agencies to stay informed on available grants or programs. 
  • Create a budget: A comprehensive childcare center budget will highlight the financial needs and priorities of your program and give funders a clear understanding of how a grant will be utilized. With a clear picture of your program’s finances, you can also maximize the impact of any funding that is received.
  • Plan a fundraiser: Hosting a fundraising event can raise necessary funds for your program. Have a bake sale, organize a silent auction, or host a trivia night. 
  • Hire a grant proposal writer: If your budget allows, consider hiring a grant proposal writer. A grant proposal writer can craft a compelling narrative about your program and navigate the complexities of the grant application process for you.

Final thoughts

Navigating the world of grants can seem daunting, but the rewards are well worth the effort. By understanding the types of grants available in Minnesota and preparing thoroughly, childcare providers can secure the funding needed to enhance their services and better serve the children and families in their care.


1. “Former Preschool Teacher Patty Murray Delivers $1 Billion More to Help Families Find and Afford Child Care & Pre-K”, United States Senate Committee on Appropriations, 03/21/2024.

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