ND Higher Education Challenge Grant Fund

During the 2013-2015 Legislative Session the North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Grant Fund program was established under North Dakota Century Code section 15-10-48.  The program is currently available to the eleven public institutions in the state.  The program is chaired by the Lieutenant Governor and the committee is further composed of two senators, two representatives, two State Board of Higher Education members and two members at large appointed by the Governor.  Funding applications, having met several specific criteria, are brought before the committee for approval.  Once approved the North Dakota University System Office disburses the funds awarded to the campuses for use at the respective foundations.


Click here to view a history of the ND HE Challenge Grant Funds awarded through 2021.


Meeting Dates and Materials

November 18, 2021 Agenda Minutes
January 26, 2021 Agenda Minutes
December 15, 2020 Agenda Minutes
September 22, 2020 Agenda Minutes
June 23, 2020 Agenda Minutes
May 4, 2020 Agenda Minutes
December 19, 2019 Agenda Minutes
September 24, 2019 Agenda Minutes
June 6, 2019 Agenda Minutes
January 24, 2019 Agenda Minutes

Challenge Grant Fund at Work

Please take an opportunity to view the videos and statements below that truly illustrate how powerful the Challenge Grant Fund program is for the public colleges and universities throughout North Dakota.

Mayville State University

Dr. Brian Van Horn



Minot State University

Rick Hedberg

VP of Advancement and Executive Director of MSU Development Foundation


North Dakota State University

Staff at North Dakota State University

discuss the Harry D. McGovern Scholarship program which received an award of $1,236,665.50 from the Challenge Grant Fund during the 2015-2017 biennium.


University of North Dakota

DeAnna Carlson Zink

CEO of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation


Valley City State University


“The Challenge Grant program has been a very popular and an effective tool for the Valley City State University Foundation. In fact, although we met our match for the current biennium in April, of 2018, our donors kept calling and inquiring about the Challenge Grant program. We currently have a waiting list of donors hoping that the program is renewed!”

Senator Larry Robinson

Executive Director of University Advancement


Williston State College

“The North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Fund program has been transformational for Williston State College.


The past Challenge Funds supported a $1.8 million-dollar scholarship program matched with $900,000 for Williams County graduates tuition and fee scholarship program. A family trust gifted $300,000 matched with $150,000 for a nursing scholarship endowment. We also had an individual gift $150,000 matched by $75,000 for Career and Technical program scholarships.


These are a few of the scholarships strengthened by the North Dakota Challenge Fund, a program that helps invest in North Dakota Higher Education.”


Terry Olson

Executive Director of Williston State College Foundation




Committee Members

Lt. Governor Brent Sanford – Chair

Senator Karen Krebsbach, Minot

Senator Joan Heckaman, New Rockford

Representative Bob Martinson, Bismarck

Representative Jim Schmidt, Huff

Mr. Jeffry Volk, West Fargo

Dr. Jill Louters, New Rockford

Mr. Rick Burgum, Arthur

Ms. Taya Spelhaug, West Fargo



NDCC 15-10-48

North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Fund Rules of Operation and Procedures



ND Higher Education Challenge Scope Approval

ND Higher Education Challenge Fund Application

ND Higher Education Challenge Fund Semi-Annual Report

Presidential Designee Memo Template