The Bush Foundation has awarded a $200,000 “ecosystem grant” to the MN Cup to help advance its mission of promoting entrepreneurship in the state. The two-year grant is designed to provide operating support for those organizations that provide critical data and analysis, spread great ideas and build capacity, advance public awareness and policy, and build and support leadership networks.

Ecosystem grants are awarded through an open application process. Proposals are evaluated based on several criteria, including the degree to which the organization advances the goals of the foundation’s programs and initiatives and its overall impact on other organizations and leaders.

“Our application targeted one of the Bush Foundation’s strategic initiatives: social business ventures,” said MN Cup Director Melissa Kjolsing. The foundation considers social business ventures as those that look beyond the bottom line to measure success. Rather than simply working to generate profits and create value for shareholders, social business ventures apply business strategies to generate social good and create value for their community.

MN Cup’s grant application notes that, since 2005, it has supported more than 11,500 entrepreneurs from 81 Minnesota counties, or 93 percent of the state. Businesses represented range from healthcare to retail to education to agriculture, and from complex technologies to simple innovations. “Regardless of industry, a common theme is emerging among these numerous applications: mission-driven businesses,” the application said. “Increasingly, entrepreneurs are creating businesses that stand on a foundation of a clear and focused mission to inspire and engage customers, attract and retain talent, and connect as well as support the communities they operate in.”

The MN Cup will kick-off its 13th competition on March 20. People interested in applying should visit www.mncup.org