31 Mar

To some, $1000 may not seem like a lot of money.  To others, $1000 could make a big difference in their life.  Today’s organization tries to help those who could use a boost by providing them with a $1000 grant to help them move past a difficult financial situation.

MicroGrants is a Minneapolis, Minnesota based 501(c)3 organization that was founded in 2006 by Joe Selvaggio.  Their mission is to boost pre-screened people of potential to their next plateau on their journey to self-sufficiency.

The organization began from a conversation…Speaking to one of his long-time friends and funders, Joe said, “I would like to help the poor by investing directly in the hard work and resourcefulness of low income individuals.”  This seed idea is where it all began and soon after that conversation, generous contributions were given to begin MicroGrants.

Many low-income individuals may simply lack the tools or a few credentials for self-sufficiency they are capable of achieving.  Those who find themselves at the low end of the economic ladder not only struggle with lack of income and resources, many are also already burdened with debt.  This is what makes MicroGrants a unique financial opportunity for those on the verge of self-sufficiency.  MicroGrants doesn’t set up loans, it gives $1000 grants, free and clear, to people who are on the road to economic stability.

MicroGrants connects to those in need through their many partner organizations.  When a client at one of those organizations hits a roadblock – one that can be overcome with a small grant – the counselor will send him or her to MicroGrants.  The counselors know when $1000 will make the difference between moving ahead and falling behind.  The counselors also continue working with clients after the grant is issued.

MicroGrants have paid for many educational courses, licenses and tools for trades people, a snow blower to make money clearing walks, and computers and software to aid small businesses.  They purchased business cards and new signage for a struggling hair salon and car repairs so that recipients could get to their jobs.  The ways that the grants have helped are as varied as the stories of the recipients, such as the story of Shegitu Kebede. 

Shegitu received a sponsorship to America in 1990 after fleeing war and violence in Ethiopia.  She was determined to overcome her own challenges and to help others.  She got a factory job and later worked at a non-profit organization that helped single mothers apply for jobs.  She discovered that most of these women lacked basic skills and were not qualified for the positions available.  This inspired Shegitu to think of starting a small cleaning business to help train these women, however she did not have any money or equipment.  A MicroGrant of $1000 made it possible for her to get started by purchasing vacuum cleaners, mops and cleaning supplies to begin her program.  Women without marketable skills work with Shegitu to learn what they need to know to be employed.  After 3-6 months, the women can get permanent jobs with benefits. Shegitu has set up partnerships with Augsburg College, Fairview Medical Centers, and the University of Minnesota to be employers of her trainees. 

Read more success stories on the MicroGrant website.

MicroGrants is financed primarily by individuals who believe in its mission, but also by corporations and foundations.  You can donate directly on the MicroGrants website.  MicroGrants is a small organization that simply funnels money from generous donors to those in need with over ninety cents of each dollar going directly to recipients. 

In addition to donations, MicroGrants periodically has a need for volunteers for various projects.  In the past volunteers have met with past grant recipients to evaluate the quality of the grant and write their story. 

Recently the Bremer Foundation granted $30,000 to MicroGrants to explore expanding to various communities around Minnesota.  They are aiming to take their current local model and replicate it in other cities around the state and country. 

Learn more about MicroGrants on their website,  You can also follow them on Facebook or YouTube.


Posted by on March 31, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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2 responses to “MicroGrants

  1. Susan Maricle

    April 1, 2011 at 7:45 am

    This was interesting, Stacy. I didn’t know microgrant programs existed in the United States, just thought they were overseas.

    Similarly, microGIVING can make a big difference. In its fundraising asks, MPR now includes smaller one-time contributions. By tapping into a wider donor base, I’d bet they’re raising more that way.

  2. Lindsey Herzog

    April 4, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    LOVE the heart of this blog. It was so nice to meet you saturday at the Bloglovin event. I’ll be following you now :) <3


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