Brownbody Founder and Artistic Director Deneane Richburg dances with arms spread in front of mural

About F. R. Bigelow Foundation

F. R. Bigelow Foundation funds programs and helps shape initiatives that strengthen neighborhoods and downtown Saint Paul, while enhancing the quality of life in the East Metro area.

A Legacy of

Since its founding in 1946, F. R. Bigelow Foundation remains committed to its founding principle of making the Saint Paul community a better place to live, learn and grow. From 1946 through today, the Foundation has invested deeply into neighborhoods across the East Metro, with an emphasis on Saint Paul.

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Our Mission

F. R. Bigelow Foundation seeks to enhance the quality of life for all in the greater Saint Paul area, fostering a vibrant East Metro region.

The Foundation will partner, collaborate and invest in opportunities that seek to achieve racially and economically equitable outcomes in the areas of arts & culture, community & economic development, education & youth development, health, housing and human services.

Board and Staff Dedicated to Equity

F. R. Bigelow Foundation is a member of the Minnesota Council on Foundations. The Foundation is led by a volunteer Board of Directors and supported by staff of the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation. Staff are responsible for grantmaking recommendations, investments, communications and more. Prospective grant applicants are encouraged to discuss grant needs with the Grant Team.

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Our Relationship to the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation

F. R. Bigelow Foundation is a partner foundation of the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation. F. R. Bigelow Foundation’s grant program is administered by Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation staff. Together, F. R. Bigelow Foundation, Mardag Foundation and the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation offer a variety of grant opportunities to support nonprofits meeting diverse community needs across the East Metro and Minnesota.

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Our Impact


Grants Given in 2023

Supporting housing, human services, community development and more


Dollars Granted in 2023

Providing general operating, program and some capital support for East Metro nonprofits


in Mission Related Investing as of December 2023

Our portfolio includes investments that generate a positive social impact

 We are privileged to witness the innovation of our nonprofit partners in response to the challenges presented by the last several years. This is why we believe so strongly in investing in these community-led solutions that are addressing Minnesota’s most pressing needs and opportunities.

-Tiffany Kong, Director of Community Impact

A History of Vital Initiatives that Continue Today

Frederic Russell Bigelow, the fourth president of the Saint Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company (now Travelers), established F. R. Bigelow Foundation in 1938 with 1,500 shares of Fire and Marine stock.

A gregarious and compassionate man, Frederic was deeply committed to serving the community. He established the Foundation to ensure the well-being of individuals and the Saint Paul area for generations to come.

Frederic served as the Foundation chair until his death in 1946 at age 76. That same year, the Foundation evolved from being a trust to a charitable organization and soon after made its first grant. By the 1970s, the Foundation saw an opportunity to grow and transform itself into a philanthropic leader and create the kind of change that would have made Frederic proud. This included formally defining the Foundation’s grantmaking priorities and leading significant community initiatives on issues important to Frederic’s legacy.

Some of these new efforts included initiatives in housing, human services and downtown development – always in the spirit of Frederic, yet in ways he might never have imagined. In the 1990s, the Foundation played a leading role in helping the community reclaim the Mississippi River – a primary strategy in revitalizing downtown Saint Paul – and investing in development projects that have transformed the riverfront. More recently, the Foundation was part of an innovative partnership supporting a “corridor of opportunity” along the Central Corridor light rail development and continued its leadership in early literacy and math skills for children.

Today, through both grants and mission impact investing, the Foundation continues to support organizations committed to making the Saint Paul community a place where everyone can thrive.

Frederic Russell Bigelow in 1938 seated at his work desk
Frederic Russell Bigelow in 1938 seated at his work desk
Child intently painting on a canvas

Nonprofits We Fund

We are proud to invest in community-led solutions and partner with nonprofit organizations doing incredible work in the East Metro, with an emphasis on Saint Paul.

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You’ll receive monthly communications with stories, news and updates about the work of the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation and our partner foundations, F. R. Bigelow Foundation and Mardag Foundation.

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