Smaby Family Foundation (SFF) was founded in 1997 by Philip C. and Margaret H. Smaby to give expression to the couple’s shared life-long passion and commitment to support and nurture healthy communities. As the children of immigrant Norwegian parents and grandparents respectively, Margaret and Phil grew up during the challenging times of Great Depression and World War II. And yet they emerged from that difficult era with a shared, heartfelt desire to help create a better America. They shared values deeply rooted in a spirit of optimism and entrepreneurship that characterized post-war America.

In that spirit, in 1947 Phil co-founded what was to become one of the Minnesota’s most successful real estate companies, Bermel-Smaby Realty, Inc. In the decades that followed, the couple championed charitable efforts with focused on improving the lives of individuals, families and communities by supporting institutions that encourage positive social change and healthy neighborhoods.

Since its formation, SFF has endeavored to identify forward-thinking organizations and programs that address specific societal needs that resonated with Phil and Margaret’s original passion and vision.

Over the years, SFF has awarded grants to organizations that:

      • Foster creativity and artistic expression in education, particularly targeted for disadvantaged youth and those with special needs

      • Enhance personal growth, entrepreneurship and human development through innovative training and education

      • Support entrepreneurial aspirations within new immigrant communities to contribute to building a better America; while honoring their unique immigrant heritage, language, culture and values.

      • To inspire and engage students to pursue academic studies in the fields of world peace, social justice, conflict resolution and human rights.

      • Address the critical environmental concerns facing local as well as global communities .


The Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals but will, from time to time, solicit proposals for projects or activities of interest to the Board. While the Board rarely awards restricted or unrestricted gifts for capital/endowment purposes, we do consider seed, research fellowships, scholarships and budget funding opportunities that align with our mission.

To view recent grant-making examples CLICK HERE.


No grants are made directly to individuals or for political campaigns. No funds are available to units of local government. The Foundation does not respond to requests for memberships, annual appeals, special events, and fundraisers. While the Foundation has concentrated its grant making in the Twin Cities community and in Greater Minnesota, SFF has awarded grants to exceptional non-profit entities outside our target region that resonate with our mission. Most recently, has expanded its focus to include Palm Springs and California's Coachella Valley,