U.S. Bancorp Foundation: Grants for Dance

OVERVIEW: The U.S. Bancorp Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the financial services company. It provides grants in arts and culture in areas where its bank has a presence.

IP TAKE: The U.S Bancorp Foundation is a significant supporter of dance organizations—particularly performance groups—within its focus on arts and culture. The foundation views this support as part of a larger context of community development and uplift. This funding is an open application process and includes the potential for general operating costs. But keep in mind that funded dance projects must take place in one of the 28 states where its corporate side does its banking.

PROFILE: The U.S. Bancorp Foundation is the philanthropic arm of U.S. Bancorp, the financial services company based in Minneapolis. A word here about corporate nomenclature: The company U.S. Bancorp is often referred to as U.S. Bank, which is the signage their bank storefronts (and commercial website) use. By extension, U.S. Bancorp Foundation is often referred to as U.S. Bank Foundation—on its own website, the two names are used somewhat interchangeably. But be aware that formally speaking (including by IRS designation) the foundation discussed here is the U.S. Bancorp Foundation.

Regardless of the flexibility in its naming, this foundation supports grantmaking to arts organizations. In past years, the foundation provided $26.2 million in grant funding, and more than 15 percent of that went to its focus on Cultural and Artistic Enrichment, with directives to develop audiences (particularly in underserved populations), bring “select and limited civic amenities” to rural communities, and to promote arts education.

Dance is a primary aspect of this granting area. The foundation views support, uplift, and development for communities in need—within the 25 states where its banking occurs—as key to its granting mandate: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Unlike many of its corporate granting peers who give to arts organizations, U.S. Bancorp Foundation earmarks grants for general operating support as well as program support (and capital projects too, under stricter circumstances).

In the world of dance, U.S. Bancorp Foundation prioritizes ballet performance groups (though perhaps they are also applying more than other dance groups). But in a nice change of pace, these performers are working and producing within a range of communities—big, small, urban, and rural—as well as presenting a diverse array of dance performances. Across all funding areas, the foundation’s watchwords are “innovative” and “effectiveness.” It does not define either adjective further, but they are certainly descriptors for grant seekers to be mindful of when approaching U.S. Bancorp Foundation for a grant. Applications are online.

Past dance grantees include: $25,000 to the Minnesota Shubert Center for Dance and Music (Minneapolis, MN); $12,000 to the Pacific Northwest Ballet (Seattle, WA); $7,500 to Ballet Arizona (Phoenix, AZ); $6,000 to the Oberlin Dance Collective (San Francisco, CA); $3,000 to the National Dance Institute New Mexico (Santa Fe, NM); $2,500 to the International Dance and Music Festival (Rexburg, ID); $2,000 to Dancing People Company (Madison, WI).

On the corporate side, U.S. Bancorp has a Corporate Sponsorship program that supports a small and select group of “leading arts and cultural organizations.” Dance is not prevalent within this very short list, but it is another avenue for grant seekers to pursue.

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