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Kauffman Inclusion Open - FAQ

Kauffman Inclusion Open

Inclusion Open RFP Office Hours

Kauffman Senior Program Officers Rachel Carlton and Christopher Harris with moderator Murray Woodard address questions about the Kauffman Inclusion Open Request for Proposals application, qualification criteria and related issues during a Facebook Live broadcast that aired April 26. Click here to view the video on Facebook, as well as read viewers questions and Rachel and Chris’ answers.

Questions about Restrictions on Use of Funds
Q: Can you provide more detail on eligible uses for the grant funds (e.g., capital improvements vs operating/staff costs, etc.)?
A: Funds cannot be used for capital improvements, providing funding directly to entrepreneurs or indirect costs. We can approve an exception to the indirect costs rule up to 10% of the total budget depending on the project and specific circumstances. We will work with leading candidates to discuss these possible costs in Round 3.
Q: What are some of the actual expenses the grant funds can be used for?
A: Examples of eligible grant activities (this list is not comprehensive) include program development, personnel, marketing and events, curriculum, equipment, outreach, technology development / improvements, evaluation, research, scholarships and travel stipends for participants, and organizational capacity building. Other uses are also eligible but all are subject to Foundation approval.
Q: Can funding be used for the salary of the program manager(s) or would you prefer we leave staff salary out of the budget?
A: Yes, funding can be used for salaries if directly tied to the proposed project.
Q: What are the Kauffman Foundation 's expectations regarding other funding sources in the budget? Does an applicant need to have secured 100% commitment from other sources to be funded by the Foundation?
A: We do not have a set rule on this question. We do not require an applicant to have secured 100% of the commitments but we do need to be confident that the applicant is likely to secure the necessary third-party funding. The Foundation may request a contingency plan from the applicant.
Q: Our plan calls for extending some support in the form of a network via regrants to partner non-profits. Would Kauffman allow that?
A: Yes, we would allow that. We would need to know who those organizations are and the work they are performing in service of the program to validate the amount being regranted.
Q: The budget cannot be used to provide any money for companies and startups, but can any of the funding be used for fellowships to students or student teams to develop prototypes?
A: We would need details on what a fellowship entails, but generally yes.
Q: We are looking to improve capacity through staffing; is that looked upon favorably?
A: We are open to funding staffing, if that is what provides for the most impactful program.
Q: May grantees use grant funds for advocacy?
A: In certain situations the funds can be used for advocacy. Advocacy cannot be the sole purpose of the grant and the grant cannot be the only source of funding for the advocacy activities. All activities are subject to the approval of the Kauffman Foundation.
General Grant Program Questions
Q: When will awards be announced?
A: The RFP will open in April 2017, progress through three rounds of reviews to narrow the field to leading candidates, and culminate in award decisions in the third quarter of 2017. Reviews will be conducted by Kauffman Foundation associates and leadership.

Inclusion Open Schedule
April 18                       Round One Applications Open
May 2                         Round One Applications Deadline @ 5:00 p.m. Central Time
May 23                       Round One Applicants will be notified if they are advancing as semifinalists
                                    Round Two Applications Open for semifinalists
June 9                        Round Two Applications Deadline @ 11:59 p.m. Central Time
Summer 2017             Finalists vetted
Fall 2017                    Awardees determined & announced
Q4 2017                     First grant payments made
Q: Can applicants submit Round 2 proposals with slightly modified proposal and requested amount from Round 1? 
A: Yes.
Q: What is the next step in the selection process?  
A: The Kauffman Foundation will follow a rigorous evaluation process to review the Round 2 applications. Fewer than 40 will advance to Round 3, which will consist of due diligence, interviews with the applicant organizations and further discovery. We will announce Round 3 finalists by the first week of July.
Q: Can you describe some of the activities and requirements of the due diligence process in Round 3?
A: The due diligence process can vary based on the specific circumstances and structure of an applicant organization. Requested information may include audited financials, biographical information, organizational history, organizational budgets, and more. We will also conduct interviews with each of the applicant organizations and may conduct site visits if time allows and is deemed necessary. The Foundation will likely have additional clarifying questions regarding the proposed project that advances to the final round.
Q: Can applicants submit an attachment in Round 2 as they did in Round 1?
A: No. The Round 2 application does not have this functionality. Any information, including attachments, submitted in Round 1 will be available to the full review team in Round 2.
Q: In describing the outputs and outcomes, we will track outputs through the two-year project, but we will also be tracking outcomes for a longer period of time. Is there an expectation that all outcomes will occur during the two years of the project?
A: Outputs and outcomes included in the grant must be contained within the two-year grant period. We understand that you may track additional outcomes on a longer timeline, and we would be interested in learning about what you are tracking on a longer-term basis.
Q: For us to adequately explain the project description within the application field, we may have to touch on a project we are not asking you to fund. How should we do that?
A: We would ask to submit a URL to an online post or website that can provide us with information about the program online so we can review the program you are referencing.
Q: We proposed a two-year grant where in the first year we would be in a planning stage, and year two would be the implementation stage. Can part of the grant cover planning?
A: The Foundation would allow for an initial planning period in the grant.
Q: Is it possible to get the character limitations for each section?
A: Yes. Listed below are the character limits for each section:
Section Character Limits
Project Description 3000
Implementation 2500
Organizational Capacity 3000
Challenges and Barriers 2500
Sustainability 1200
Project Budget Narrative 1500
Outputs & Outcomes 250 per output and outcome
Impact Evaluation 2000
Q: Are all grants required to last for two years or can we propose a one-year or three-year grant?
A: Most grants will be for a two-year period. We would consider one-year and three-year grants as well.
Q: Where can we find additional information about creating effective outputs and outcomes?
A: Please review Kauffman’s guide “Developing Expected Outputs and Outcomes” which can be found here.
Q: Will Round 1 application materials be available to the review team, in addition to the Round 2 application?
A: Yes.
Q: Is the Foundation more interested in supporting high-growth entrepreneurs or small businesses and main street entrepreneurs? Does the Foundation prioritize certain regions?
A: We believe all are important. We intend to support entrepreneurship in all its forms for all individuals across the United States.
Q: Is it acceptable to include renovation supplies – not a full capital request, but a small amount of renovations – in the budget?  
A: That would be much more possible than a full bricks-and-mortar project, but we will have to follow up with our Grants Administration department and request additional details from the applicant in Round 3.
Q: How is this funding different from the 2016 Inclusion Challenge grant?
A: This is a continuation and an expansion of that funding program. With the Inclusion Open initiative, we have expanded our scope in terms of geographic and demographic diversity.
Q: Is the list of the 135 semi-finalists in Round 2 available?
A: We have not made that public, and we do not plan to do so at this time.
Q: Will there be some mechanism to upload additional attachments in the Round 2 application?
A: No, but anything that was submitted in the first round application is on file and will be available to the reviewers in the second round.
Q: How would you like us to cite research mentioned in the project description section?
A: There are character limits to every answer box. We appreciate that applicants might want to cite research, but considering the limited space we recommend modifying your citations or inserting hyperlinks.
Q: How heavily weighted are third-party evaluations and what criteria makes a strong third-party evaluator?
A: Third-party evaluations are not weighted or required. They are encouraging to see, however they do not move an application to approval.
Q: Is there an overarching philosophy on where the Foundation sees its funding role in percentage of project budget?
A: We have distributed grants where our funding is 100% of the budget and where our funding is only 5% of the budget. We have no preference for either situation, however on average our funding covers 48% of the budget.
Q: What are the selection criteria?
A: Ideal candidates for the Kauffman Inclusion Open would meet the following criteria:
  • Demonstrate how the work of their organizations fits into the landscape of barriers (direct, contributing and social) that limit the ability of diverse entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses
  • Propose a bold approach to solving direct, contributing and social barriers for diverse entrepreneurs
  • Present a feasible, well-conceived plan for helping entrepreneurs, addressing persistent barriers and contributing knowledge to the field
  • Have achieved, or aspire to achieve, entrepreneurial diversity that reflects their communities and articulate a feasible plan to do so
  • Demonstrate the application of design thinking in program development or other effective ways of building empathy and practicing entrepreneur-centric design

Q: What types of organizations are eligible to apply?
A: Organizations exempt from taxes under sections 501c3 or 115(2) of the Internal Revenue Code, as well as 501c6 organizations and/or for-profit entities. Any for-profit organization wishing to apply must clearly articulate the charitable purpose of its proposal, and the Foundation will conduct a review of the proposed charitable purpose.
The Foundation anticipates this portfolio of grantees will mostly consist of traditional Entrepreneurship Support Organizations (ESOs), though we also intend to potentially fund organizations that may not readily identify as ESOs. These latter organizations could be non-profits working in fields in which Kauffman has not typically been active, but have a logical connection to the experience of entrepreneurs. These organizations also could be for-profit entities, governmental agencies or membership organizations that have developed an effective way to remove barriers for entrepreneurs.
Q: Does the Kauffman Foundation require letters of support for a grant application?
A: No.
Q: How many grants will be awarded?
A: Inclusion Open grants could total up to $7 million in awards ranging from $50,000 to $500,000 each paid over two years to organizations operating in the United States.
Q: Will the Kauffman Foundation consider one-year grants?
A: Yes. Please specify whether your proposal is intended to be a one-year or two-year grant.
Perception/Judgement Questions:
Q: The application allows up to 10 outputs and 10 outcomes; are we required to provide 10 of each? Will we be penalized if we have fewer than 10?
A: You are not required to use the maximum number of outputs or outcomes. There is absolutely no penalty for providing fewer than 10. The Kauffman team will work with organizations that advance to future rounds to refine their outputs and outcomes.
Q: As you’re evaluating the program applications, what are you evaluating against?
A: With limited time, we can’t go into full detail regarding all of the criteria but we have a couple categories: one is strategic area: does the project fit with what the Foundation does or wants to do? Another area is impact: will it remove barriers for entrepreneurs? To the best of our ability, can we project the impact that project will have? Another category is implementation: can it be implemented by the organization proposing it? We also consider innovation, and as well as diversity measures. Is this organization truly committed to diversity? Is its team reflective of the community with whom they are working?
Q: Is there any update on evaluation for for-profit applicants?
A: This is new for the Foundation as this is the first time we’ve opened up the field to for-profit entities. All for-profit applicants who made it into Round 2 should have received an email with paperwork to complete that explains the charitable purpose for the program you are proposing. If you make it to Round 3, there will be more scrutiny from the program officers and possibly from our legal department.
Q: What are some common mistakes and misunderstandings you’ve seen on grant applications?
A: As a comment on general approach, a lot of applicants are trying to guess at what we’re most likely to fund, which runs counter to what we’re trying to do. The question we’re asking is, “What do your entrepreneurs need and what programs will fulfill those needs?” We don’t want you to build a program based on what you think we want to hear. You’ve already caught our attention, you’re doing something right, so just build upon what you emphasized in Round 1.
Q: How useful is it to discuss other potential funding sources or business models as it relates to ongoing sustainability after the grant period?
A: If that is of interest of your organization, then that interests us. However, we understand that some programs are only going to last through the grant period. Nothing has to be finalized at this stage, but if you do plan to sustain it we would like to know how your organization plans to do that.
Q: What are your goals for this program?
A: We have several goals for this program:
  • Reduce direct, contributing and social barriers to entrepreneurship for diverse populations and underserved markets
  • Collaborate with leading organizations to continue developing our ability to identify market gaps, intervene to reduce barriers and disseminate lessons learned
  • Build a community of practice focused on leveling the playing field for diverse entrepreneurs
  • Encourage the field of entrepreneurship support to consider interventions beyond the traditional founder education offerings and to use human-centered design to more effectively understand and serve the needs of entrepreneurs
  • Surface uncommon ideas with potential scalable impact that could be considered for larger investments
Q: Will the grants focus on a particular industry or stage of entrepreneur?
A: No. We intend to support diverse entrepreneurs at all stages and in all industries.
Q: Can you clarify your definition of “diverse” entrepreneurs?
A: Diversity in this RFP includes, but is not limited to, gender, race, age, geography, disability, sexual orientation and those who are part of specialized groups, such as veterans and displaced workers.
Q: Is there a prioritization or weighting of some of the factors in the application, or are there any factors weighted more heavily than others during evaluation?
A: The three factors that really stand out to us in an application are: Empathy (Human Centered Design and the ability to relate to the entrepreneurs you are serving), Efficacy (the capability to execute an effective program) and Innovation (new, bold ideas or uncommon approaches to standard programs).
Budget Questions:
Q: Which section should the applicant complete?
A: Applicants should complete columns A, B, C and D, which includes the section labeled “Completed for Grant Application.” All other sections will be relevant in future stages.
Q: Should applicants consider this a one-year grant budget or should it cover the budget for the entire grant?
A: This budget form should cover the entire duration of the grant. If you are proposing a two-year grant, please complete the form for a two-year budget.
Q: An early version of the budget form referenced “Exhibit A.” Do we need access to Exhibit A?
A: No. The reference to Exhibit A has been removed and it should be disregarded in any version of the budget form.
Q: Do applicants need to provide detailed information on the sources of other funding?
A: The Foundation expects summary details on any other relevant funding sources. These summary details should be provided in the budget narrative.
Q: How many line items can applicants include in the budget?
A: Applicants may use up to seven line items.
Q: Can applicants change the amount requested from their initial request in Round 1?
A: Yes. Applicants are allowed to modify their request. Please keep in mind that the request must be between $50,000 and $500,000.
Q: Unlike some budgets, this one is more categorical and narrative, not nuts-and-bolts details. Is that what you’re looking for?
A: That’s correct. If you have a separate budget with all the details, we might ask for that in the Round 3 application, but for now we just need the broader line items and categories.
Questions related to Post-Award Activities
Q: What are the reporting requirements for the grant?
A: We anticipate a typical two-year grant will consist of four reports with two reports scheduled per year. The Foundation may increase or decrease the frequency of reporting if deemed necessary and appropriate.
Q: Does the Kauffman Foundation plan to offer additional funding opportunities in the future?
A: Yes. We do not have plans available at this time, but we do intend to offer similar funding opportunities. Please follow the Kauffman Foundation on social media and subscribe to our newsletter. Applicants to the Kauffman Inclusion Open will also be added to our email distribution list for future RFPs.
Q: Is there a hard date for the start dates for grants? Would the grant start date be decided by the Foundation?
A: We have a hard deadline of October 15 for our funding to be paid in 2017, but your organization would get to decide the date based on what is needed for your particular project.
Q: How do you envision the grantees collaborating together and working together? 
A: We are giving a lot of thought to that. One goal is to build a community of practice. We hope to have the 2015, 2016 and 2017 grantees come together for a two-day convening in early November to collaborate and share best practices.
Q: If selected, how much control will we and our partners have over the initial announcements and PR associated with the award?
A: The Foundation will announce the awards this fall. Grantees will be asked to wait until after the Foundation’s announcement before releasing their own announcements. Any PR materials that mention the Kauffman Foundation must be submitted to the Foundation for approval.

Q: How do I contact the Kauffman Foundation with questions regarding this funding opportunity?
A: First, please watch the Facebook Live recording of the Inclusion Open Office Hours with Kauffman Senior Program Officers Rachel Carlton, Christopher Harris and moderator Murray Woodard. They address questions about the Kauffman Inclusion Open Request for Proposals application, qualification criteria and related issues during a Facebook Live broadcast. The video is embedded at the top of this page or you can view it on the Kauffman Eship Facebook event page.

Questions may also be emailed to Due to the volume of applications, Kauffman program officers will not be able to participate in 1:1 meetings.