Open Road Fund Application Changes 2024

After a successful start of the Open Road Fund in 2023, the fund will re-open for applications Juneteenth 2024 (June 19th). We learned a lot in our first year. After engaging with applicants, awardees, our community, and our community advisory committee, we have made the following changes to our application process. 


ID Requirement

This year you will need to include a photo of your ID to apply.  We understand that this will present a barrier to some eligible applicants, and we did not make this decision lightly. We want to ensure that all recipients are a part of and connected to our community–and we want to discourage fake applications from hackers and bots.

The Open Road Fund is specifically for Black people descended from African people who survived the Transatlantic Slave Trade, who also currently live in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.  Requiring IDs is one way we are making sure we are reaching this community. 

We will accept a variety of ID types. Types of identification we accept include: State issued ID or Driver’s License, School ID, Tribal ID, U.S. Permanent Resident Cards, and more. To access the full list of documents we accept please click this link. If you have any questions about ID submission, please contact our team at


Letters of Support

Starting in 2024 Open Road Fund finalists that are randomly selected to participate in round two of the application will need to submit two letters of support. The Letters of Support must both come from Black community members. Only one letter of support can be written by a Black family relative. 

We want to ensure that all recipients are a part of, connected to, and supporting our communities. The letters should be  less than one page, double-spaced. The letter should explain 1) how they know you; 2) why they believe in your wealth building plan; and 3) talk about the ways that you are connected to our shared community. 

Only the 100 finalists that are selected to move forward to the second round will be asked to provide the letters of support. You will not need to submit them during registration, but you should think of a few people to write these letters in the event  you are selected. 

If you have any questions about letters of support,  please contact our team at


Life Experience Question

The Open Road Fund aims to have the most impact possible through our grantmaking process. We want to better understand who in our community we are reaching through our engagement process. This information will be confidential and only seen by staff and our advisory committee members.

This year, we will be asking applicants to share if they have had specific life experiences, such as housing instability, experiences of incarceration, and more. The life experience categories we chose were created by community, our advisory committee, and the Open Road Fund team. When filling out the application, please make sure to select any life experiences that are true for you.

If you have any questions about this addition,  please contact our team at

Bank Account requirements

Starting this year, all finalists will be required to have a bank account and valid mailing address to receive funds. If you do not have one at the time of application, you may still apply. However, if you are selected for an award, you will need to  set up an account before we distribute your gift. 

We understand the complexities and barriers that exist in banking for our community, and we did not come to this conclusion enthusiastically. Unfortunately, we learned in 2023 that other types of accounts—like Chime, Venmo, Paypal, and Cashapp—simply are not built to accept gifts this size.

If you are an adult receiving an award by direct deposit, the bank account will have to be in your name. We cannot deposit the funds into the accounts of family or friends. 

If you are under 18 and selected for an award, we may not be able to directly deposit your award. If that happens We will work with you and your parents or guardians to get your award to you.

The Open Road Fund can only distribute funds to awardees via direct deposit or check. If you have any questions about this or any other part of the application please contact our team via email at


Changes to Group App Process

For applicants applying as a group this year, we are simplifying the application process. Now it is possible for group members to apply using a single application. To apply as a group, all members must be eligible for the Open Road Fund, and you must commit to a single wealth building project that all members will work on together. 

The first person on your group application will be automatically designated as  the primary contact for your group. Unlike last year, each of your group members will not need their own individual accounts. You will be able to share the application login with your fellow group members, so that they can fill out their sections on their own. To make things easier, you should also consider planning a day for all group application  members to fill out the application together, in person.

Our hope is that these changes make  it easier for groups to apply to the Open Road Fund. If you have any questions about this or any other part of the application please contact our team via email at


Ancestry Requirements 

We will continue to ask questions about ancestry on the application, however this year we did our best to make these questions easier to answer. We understand that you may not know the names of specific enslaved ancestors, or you may not have access to all of your family history—that is okay! This year’s question prompts will ask you to focus on connections to your ancestry that you do know. Prioritize telling us about the family history you have that helps you know you are descended from Black people who endured enslavement in the Americas due to the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

If you have any questions about this or any other part of the application please contact our team via email at