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Bush Foundation


Last Updated: 2016-02-18

At A Glance

Bush Foundation

101 5th St. East, Ste. 2400

Saint Paul, MN United States 55101-1898

Telephone: (651) 227-0891


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $922,592,754

Total giving: $30,469,130






Incorporated in 1953 in MN - Mr. Bush was born in 1887 on his family farm near Granite Falls, MN, the third of five children. He grew up on the farm, attended the Granite Falls public schools, and was trained as a grade-school teacher, but switched to business because he discovered the top teacher's salary at the time, $40 a month at the most, was too low. He moved to Duluth, MN, enrolled in the six-month business course at Duluth Business University, and in 1909 went to work for the 3M Company as assistant bookkeeper. His 57-year career at 3M was mainly in sales and general management. He was Chairman of the corporation's Executive Committee at the time of his death in 1966. Bush was also active in Saint Paul civic affairs, and was a trustee of Hamline University. In 1919, Bush married Edyth Bassler of Chicago, a professional actress and dancer. Although Mrs. Bush ceased her stage career, she maintained a strong interest in theater and the arts. In St. Paul, she founded the Edyth Bush Theater and served there as playwright, producer, and occasional actress. She held the title of Chairman of the Board of the Bush Foundation from 1966 until her death in 1972. Ill health, however, precluded her active participation in that role for most of those years. The Bush Foundation is involved in two decade-long commitments: 1) To dramatically improve educational achievement by assuring the effectiveness of the next 25,000 teachers who will enter our classrooms by changing how they are recruited, prepared, placed and supported. 2) To improve the conditions of the people of Native nations by working with their elected leaders to improve their institutions of self-governance based on sovereignty and self-determination. More broadly, the Bush Foundation also helps communities advance solutions to their own tough public problems through a combination of leadership development strategies and by providing the research, data, tools and opportunities to connect with others that are needed for developing innovative and sustainable solutions.

Purpose and Activities

The foundation is a catalyst for the courageous leadership necessary to create sustainable solutions to tough public problems and ensure community vitality.

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:

Bush Fellowship Program

The program provides individuals with opportunities to demonstrate and improve their capacity for leadership as they learn by doing. The work of the fellowship is to combine opportunities for personal development with opportunities to effectively engage with others to create positive change within their communities. Funding ranges from $50,000 to $100,000. Applicant must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, 24 years old at the time of the application deadline, must have lived at least one continuous year immediately prior to the application deadline in either MN, ND, SD or one of the 23 sovereign nations that share geography with the states and cannot have previously received a Bush Fellowship, Bush Artist Fellowship, Bush Leadership Fellowship, Bush Medical Fellowship or Enduring Vision Award. See web site for additional information .

Bush Prize for Community Innovation

The prize honors and supports innovative organizations with a track record of making great ideas happen and provides creative capital for the organizations to use however they choose. Two Bush Prizes will be awarded in each of three areas the foundation serves: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography. For more information, visit: .

Community Innovation Grants

The program supports support communities to use problem-solving processes that lead to more effective, equitable and sustainable solutions. Grants must be used for projects located in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or the 23 Native nations that share the same geography. The Bush Foundation is committed to addressing racial and economic disparities. At least 50% of Community Innovation grants will be to projects that address these disparities. For the purposes of this grant program, the Bush Foundation defines this as proposals that seek to actively reduce structural and/or systemic gaps in access, outcomes, opportunities or treatment based on race/ethnicity or economic standing. For more information please see the foundation web site or contact: .


This program partners with 14 higher-education institutions and provides their teacher-education programs with capacity-building support and coaching.

Grants to Individuals Program

Fellowships to residents of MN, ND, and SD.

Leadership Network Grant Program

Program supports organizations working to inspire, equip, and connect leaders to effectively lead change. Grants of up to $200,000 support efforts that: 1) inspire and equip people to successfully lead in their communities, 2) connect people of different backgrounds and perspectives across geographies, sectors, ideological divides, or cultural communities. The foundation is particularly interested in proposals that build the cultural agility of leaders or expand leadership development opportunities for communities underrepresented in leadership positions in the Minnesota region.

Native Nation Rebuilders Program

The program is intended to complement the partnerships the foundation wants to engage in with the tribes by building a cadre of “rebuilders.” Each year the foundation will invite up to approximately 30 emerging leaders to participate in seminars to strengthen their leadership skills and nation-building knowledge so they may be instrumental in moving their nations, in cooperation with elected leadership, toward realization of their tribes’ unique goals. For application process, contact John Fetzer, e-mail:, tel.:(651) 379-2269.

Fields of Interest

  • Education
  • Leadership development
  • Public affairs
  • Unknown or not classified
Population Groups
  • American Indians
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Low-income and poor people

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $922,592,754 (market value)

Gifts received: $196,744

Expenditures: $44,279,775

Total giving: $30,469,130

Qualifying distributions: $38,883,501

Giving activities include:

$30,469,130 for grants