Sundance Family Foundation is advancing a multi-faceted system of youth workforce development targeting young adults (age 18-24+).

Dear 2021 Grantseekers

Last year we launched our Earn and Learn grant round, and worked with Ecotone Analytics to predict key performance indicators and a baseline SROI for Earn and Learn programs for young adults ages 18-24+. The goal was to then compare predictions to the end of grant outcomes.  This information would then ready the Earn and Learn programs for application to larger foundations, state, and federal workforce development grants and contracts. We posted the middle skills careers pathway graphic, the logic model, and impact map and external research citations  on the Sundance website at:

And then there was COVID, the economic downturn, and the murder of Mr. George Floyd, the food shelves, the struggles to survive,  the scrambling for funding to support online programs, and the reduction in the numbers of youth participants served. Most grantees had to suspend their programs or alter them very significantly.

We at Sundance are going back to the organizations previously funded to help many of them rebuild viable Earn and Learn programs.

Check this page for updates about future grant rounds.


Sundance is advancing an Earn & Learn model that supports young adults (18-24+) as they move from career exploration, to training, supportive job entry, on-the-job retention services, apprenticeships and mentoring to middle-skills careers with sustainable wages. This changes both the grant application guidelines and process for awarding grants to nonprofits.

Application Process
Sundance is returning to a simplified, less cumbersome grants process that does not include a Letter of Inquiry. Applications for grants are accepted electronically beginning May 1st of the year and ending on June 2. The Sundance Board and staff then review the grants, schedule site visits, and write up reports for presentation at the Board Meeting. This meeting will occur anytime between August and October with decisions made by the end of October.

The Earn & Learn model can be used by nonprofits with Youth Social Enterprises (YSE) that work with young adults (age 18-24+) and that provide supportive job entry, job retention, and training or that provide these with a partner. Earn & Learn programs for precariously housed young adults, and young adults facing additional challenges where attaining and retaining an entry-level job is the end goal are also invited to apply.

Why the Switch to Earn & Learn?
The Youth Social Entrepreneurship model provides youth (age 14-18) support as they advance their social/emotional development, community engagement and workforce readiness skills. These skills included increased confidence, personal agency, entrepreneurial problem solving, team-building and ethics.

The Earn & Learn model focuses on the needs of young adults (age 18-24+) who are entering the workforce. Often these youth are out of high school, disconnected from guidance counsellors and career navigators. The needs of these young adults have become more stark as the pandemic and economic downturn of 2020. Moving these young adults into short-term industry recognized credential programs that lead to  middle-skills careers requires partnerships and systems building between nonprofits, governmental agencies, employers and post-secondary training institutions. Sundance is using the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to help create this specific workforce development system (SDG 8.b.1) and attain SDG and other goals by 2030.

Grant Guidelines
Grant applications will show evidence of partnerships and demonstrate that as a result of these supports, youth are in an industry-recognized training program, a post-secondary institution, or employed in a career pathway to achieve a middle-skills career. Some applicants will be able to support all 6 steps of the Earn & Learn process while others will focus on a few of the steps but will show how, with partnerships, young adults will attain middle-skill careers.

Geographic Area
Sundance Family Foundation focuses giving to organizations whose programming benefits the residents of the 7-county Twin Cities Metro and western Wisconsin.

While applications are not accepted for geographic areas outside of those identified above, from time to time, the board may choose to fund a grant outside of this geographic area or priorities.

Applications are accepted starting May 1 – June 8, 2022.

Apply Now


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