Frequently Asked Questions

Open Road Fund is a community resource granting $50 million to Black folks in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota in order to create tangible pathways to liberation, prosperity, and healing on our own terms. The Open Road Fund is stewarded by Nexus Community Partners and resourced by the Bush Foundation. The Open Road Fund applications for 2023 are closed.

For assistance with the Open Road Fund Application please email us at: ORFSupport@nexuscp.org. Due to a high volume of inquiries, please allow 5 business days for a response. Please DO NOT come to the Nexus office. 

  1. When can I apply for the Open Road Fund?
  2. Why did we choose a randomization approach in the Open Road Fund grant making process?
  3. How does the randomization tool work?
  4. Will awardees’ names be announced?
  5. Can I reuse my 2023 application for the 2024 Open Road Fund Application?
  6. How long will the Open Road Fund be open?
  7. Can I submit a paper application?
  8. Who is eligible to apply for the Open Road Fund?
  9. How will you determine eligibility based on ancestry?
  10. Why is ORF only for Black descendants of the Atlantic Slave Trade?
  11. How will applications be reviewed?
  12. How will awardees be selected?
  13. Can Black businesses and nonprofits apply to receive funds from the Open Road Fund?
  14. Can non-profit organizations apply to receive funds from the Open Road Fund?
  15. Can I apply for a grant with someone else?
  16. Do applicants have to identify a wealth building project in order to be considered for the Open Road Fund?
  17. Is this the only year that I can apply?
  18. If I apply this year and don’t receive a grant, can I apply again the following year?
  19. Does my income impact my application?
  20. Why does the Open Road Fund center Black wealth building?
  21. Does the Open Road Fund count as reparations for slavery?
  22. Who was responsible for designing the Open Road Fund program and application?
  23. I’m Indigenous and not Black. Can I apply for the Open Road Fund?

 

When can I apply for the Open Road Fund? 

  • The Open Road Fund applications for 2023 are closed. They will re-open in Summer 2024.

Why did we choose a randomization approach in the Open Road Fund grant making process?

  • The Open Road Fund is committed to practicing and learning equitable grant making methods. That is why we used a random selection process. It is our inherent belief that all the eligible Open Road Fund applicants’ dreams and plans for creating and sustaining Black wealth deserved an opportunity to be chosen. We do not believe that one family’s plan to buy a home has more or less merit than another person’s plan to invest in a business or to pursue higher education.

How does the randomization tool work?

  • The Open Road Fund uses a randomization tool that was built by software developers specifically for our grant making process. The tool assigns random numbers to each applicant and uses those numbers to generate finalists. This establishes non-biased selection, by choosing from equally qualified applicants.
  • For 2023, we equity weights* to ensure a proportionate representation from across the Open Road Fund’s region: Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Of the finalists selected, half are from the Twin Cities seven-county metropolitan area, and half are from Greater Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. *The equity weights were selected and approved by our Advisory Committee. We use them to ensure that number of finalists from each area—Twin cities metro area, Greater MN, ND, and SD—proportionally reflects with how many Black folks live in each area

Will awardees’ names be announced?

  • Nexus Community Partners will not publicly name all awardees. Finalists may choose to share their status as a finalist if they wish. After the grant process is completed, awardees can opt in to allow Nexus to share their names. Out of a duty to care for and to protect the privacy of all grantees, especially grantees under 18, we are not requiring that their names be made public.
  • However, we do hope that some grantees will want to share their stories. We look forward to being able to share grantees’ stories  when they have consented and when the time is right.

Can I reuse my 2023 application for the 2024 Open Road Fund Application?

  • No. The 2024 application will have updates and improvements. Also, your information may change year to year, including your email, phone number, and Black wealth plans. If you would like a copy of your 2023 Open Road Fund application, you can request that it be emailed to you by contacting  ORFSupport@NexusCP.org. You can use your 2023 application to either copy and paste into 2024 responses, or as a guide for your Black wealth building plan. 
  • Open Road Fund 2023 Awardees may not apply again for an Open Road Fund grant.

How long will the Open Road Fund be open? 

  • Over the next eight years (until 2031), the Open Road Fund will award $50,000 grants to at least 800 Black residents of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Can I submit a paper application?

  • We are only able to accept electronic applications at this time. We are thrilled to be receiving thousands of applications. However, given this high volume of interest, we are unable to review paper applications. We understand that this is a real barrier for eligible applicants. We encourage people to ask for support from their communities, and we hope to add capacity in future years.

Who is eligible to apply for the Open Road Fund?

  • Applicants for the Open Road Fund must be at least 14 years of age. They must be residents of Minnesota, North Dakota or South Dakota. And applicants must be a descendant of the Atlantic slave trade, including the Caribbean, North, Central, and South America. Descendants of formerly enslaved people who repatriated to Africa are also eligible.
  • When applicants are selected for an award, we will verify their identity using a background checking tool. This tool may or may not provide information that verifies an applicant’s lineage as a descendant of enslaved Africans. We are not expecting ORF applicants “prove” their lineage to us. For many of us, due to the violence of enslavement and its aftermath, we cannot identify a specific enslaved ancestors. Instead, what we hold is a deep connection and generations of relationship to Black communities formed during the Maafa (aka the Atlantic Slave Trade).
  • What’s important to us is protecting these funds from ineligible applicants who falsely identify as a descendant of enslaved Africans or residents of Minnesota and the Dakotas. We will focus our energy on thoroughly investigating any applicants who give us reason to suspect they are ineligible and have falsified their application information.

How will you determine eligibility based on ancestry?

  • The Open Road Fund is open to applicants who are at least 14 years of age, and residents of Minnesota, North Dakota or South Dakota. And applicants must be descendants of the Atlantic slave trade, including the Caribbean, North, Central, and South America. Descendants of formerly enslaved people who repatriated to Africa are also eligible.We are not expecting ORF applicants to “prove” their lineage to us or to name specific ancestors. For many of us, due to the violence of enslavement and its aftermath, we cannot identify a specific enslaved ancestors. Instead, what we hold is a deep connection and generations of relationship to Black communities formed during the Maafa (also known as the Atlantic Slave Trade).
  • We will verify the identities of applicants selected for awards using a background checking tool. This tool may or may not provide information that verifies an applicant’s lineage as a descendant of enslaved Africans. What’s important to us is protecting these funds from ineligible applicants who falsely identify as a descendant of enslaved Africans or residents of Minnesota and the Dakotas. We will focus our energy on thoroughly investigating any applicants who give us reason to suspect they are ineligible and have falsified their application information.

Why is ORF only for Black descendants of the Atlantic Slave Trade?

  • The Open Road Fund is for descendants of the Atlantic slave trade, including the Caribbean, North, Central, and South America, and descendants of formerly enslaved people who repatriated to Africa. We designed this fund specifically to address the intergenerational impacts of slavery on our people. We refer to Black people’s collective experience of enslavement and oppression in the Americas as the Maafa. We made the decision to focus on descendants of the Atlantic Slave Trade because the Maafa has amounted to 500 years of disaster for our people with very little relief or restitution.
  • You may notice that we use words and concepts from continental Africa, even though the fund is not open to African Immigrants. We do this as a way to reconnect with our ancestry and with the languages our ancestors spoke before enslavement destroyed that connection. It can seem like cultural appropriation, but for us, it’s a way we ground in our lineages and attempt to heal.
  • We understand that people are frustrated that African immigrants are not eligible for the Open Road Fund–that is valid. African immigrants are our kinfolk. For us, Pan-Africanism is not about erasing differences between African people, it is about Africans banding together to support one another’s liberation as a unified and diverse community. We believe by showing up for one another in our unique and intertwined struggles, we can organize more resources for all African people. We are working on compiling a resource list for African Immigrants. We plan to publish it in August 2023. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

How will applications be reviewed? 

  • In partnership with Black folks living across Minnesota and the Dakotas, we’ve created a panel of Grant Stewards to review applications—folks from the community across a wide range of experiences working on getting the resources where they’re needed most to foster wealth and self-determination for our people. Eligibility registration is open June 19, through July 28, 2023. Everyone who wishes to be selected for funding must complete the registration by July 28th. All eligible applicants will be submitted into the ORF applicant pool.

How will awardees be selected?

  • The Open Road Fund will use a random selection process to select awardees. Our team and community members will review your registration application. If your application is eligible, your name will be entered into the selection process. We will use a computer program to select 100 people for an award. After awardees are selected, we will verify their identity and they will be invited to submit their wealth building plans. Our committee will review all wealth building plans, and once they are approved they will move forward for award disbursement.

Can Black businesses apply to receive funds from the Open Road Fund?

  • Yes, individual Black business owners will be able to apply on behalf of their businesses. These resources can be used for several wealth-building projects, including housing, education, financial well-being, healing, and economic justice—and we encourage all applicants to identify the area of focus that best suits their path to building Black wealth.

Can non-profits apply to receive funds from the Open Road Fund?

  • No, non-profit organizations cannot apply. The Open Road Fund goes directly to Black individuals and families to build wealth. We embrace the opportunity to directly impact the lives of Black folks who still face barriers to buying homes, starting businesses, saving for their future, and so much more.

Can I apply for a grant with someone else?

  • Yes. Applicants can apply for the grants individually. However, in order to build Black wealth that endures, we encourage folks to apply together to increase the impact of these grants for our communities.

Do applicants have to identify a wealth building project in order to be considered for the Open Road Fund? 

  • Yes. These resources can be used for several wealth-building projects, including housing, education, financial well-being, healing, and economic justice—and we encourage all applicants to identify the area of focus that best suits their path to building Black wealth.

Is this the only year that I can apply?

  • No. The Open Road Fund application process will reopen in the spring of 2024.

If I apply this year and don’t receive a grant, can I apply again the following year?

  • Yes! Applicants may only receive one grant from the Open Road Fund. Because we expect an abundance of applicants, you might not be selected in the first year. However, you are welcome to reapply in the spring of 2024, or until you receive a grant from the Open Road Fund.

Does my income impact my application?

  • No. There are no income caps or minimums in order to apply for the Open Road Fund.

Why does the Open Road Fund center Black wealth building?

  • Building Black wealth allows us to forge paths toward liberation on our terms. It’s the key to rebuilding our communities and reclaiming our right to self-determination. When we have access to an abundance of resources, we can foster collective healing, safety, care, and mutual aid.

Does the Open Road Fund count as reparations for slavery?

  • No. The Open Road Fund is not reparations. The fund’s resources aren’t enough to correct all the harm done to the Black community over the last 400 years. However, it is a step in the right direction towards cultivating wealth and prosperity.

Who was responsible for designing the Open Road Fund program and application?

  • Since 2022, we’ve worked with a dynamic group of local community members who made up our advisory committee, and who were responsible for designing what has become the Open Road Fund. Nexus staff and advisory committee members hosted information sessions with Black community members in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota to hear their thoughts on how these resources should be distributed

I’m Indigenous, but not Black. Can I apply for the Open Road Fund?

  • The Open Road Fund is a community fund for Black descendants of the Atlantic Slave Trade in Minnesota and the Dakotas. NDN Collective’s Collective Abundance Fund is for Indigenous people residing within Minnesota and the Dakotas. Both Nexus’ Open Road Fund and NDN Collective’s Collective Abundance fund were resourced by the Bush Foundation as part of an effort to close racial wealth gaps between white communities and Indigenous and Black communities.
  • Prospective Applicants to NDN’s Collective Abundance Fund have until Friday, July 7, 2023 at 3pm CT to register, and all parts of the application are due July 11th. Learn more on NDN’s website.