2020 Kauffman Knowledge Challenge
Opens Jan 14 2020 12:00 AM (CST)
Deadline Feb 5 2020 11:59 PM (CST)
Description

STRATEGIC GOAL

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Research Strategy focuses on supporting projects that generate practical, actionable, and rigorous evidence to be disseminated and adopted by practitioners and policymakers to solve problems.

CONTEXT & FUNDING OPPORTUNITY

The goal of the 2020 Knowledge Challenge is to produce tangible insights for entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship programs, policy design, ecosystem builders, and researchers. Proposals should cover one of the four focus areas (described below). These focus areas are some of the key barriers to entrepreneurship based on the responses and feedback from a variety of surveys targeting entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship support organizations, policymakers, and the general population.

The 2020 Knowledge Challenge RFP is intended to support activities to improve our understanding about entrepreneurship. Applicants will be asked to select a focus area and grant type.

The focus areas cover four broad questions: 

  1. What strategies can entrepreneurs use to start and grow a business? 
  2. How can entrepreneurs find, recruit, manage, and resource talent in an increasingly digital world?
  3. How do local conditions of ecosystems drive entrepreneurial outcomes? 
  4. How does entrepreneurship affect equality and mobility, and what policies shape this relationship?  

The three grant types are: 

  • Student projects
  • General research projects and research-practice collaborations 
  • Diversity of entrepreneurship researcher pipeline programs/projects 

Additional information regarding the focus area and grant types can be found here.

BUDGET & AWARDS

Applicants may request funding at the follow levels depending on grant type:

  • Up to $60,000 over 24 months for student projects; 
  • Up to $225,000 over 48 months for research-practice collaborations and general research projects;
  • Up to $400,000 over 48 months for diversity of entrepreneurship researcher programs/projects

While award amounts for individual projects will vary, we anticipate the average grant size to be $15,000 for student awards, $140,000 for research-practice collaborations and general research projects, and $350,000 for diversity of entrepreneurship researcher programs/projects. Applicants should submit a project budget that aligns with the scope of the project, supports proposed activities, and clearly connects those activities with line item requests. 

ELIGIBILITY & RESTRICTIONS

Eligibility

This call is open to nonprofits, for-profit companies [1] , fiscally-sponsored organizations [2], and/or higher education institutions that provide or conduct research or provide services to entrepreneurship researchers.

Additionally, eligible applicants must meet all the following criteria:

  • Located in the United States;
  • Student submissions can come from doctoral candidates as well as students or student teams at other levels of study;
  • Acceptance of funds means that participants agree to making data, models and methods publicly available;
  • For projects using proprietary data and/or sensitive data governed by strict human subjects policies, participants must work with their home institutions and/or data providers to identify the most appropriate level of aggregation that will allow data to be made publicly available. 

Restrictions

We will not consider funding for:

  • Indirect/overhead expenses associated with the ongoing operations of the organization;
  • Proposed project duration longer than 48 months;
  • More than one application per primary investigator (only one proposal allowed);
  • More than one month of summer salary support for professors
  • More than one course buyout for professors

RFP TIMELINE

  • January 14, 2020 - RFP opens
  • January 14-21, 2020 - Open question period
  • February 5, 2020 - White paper application submission (RFP closes)
  • March 18, 2020 - Semi-finalist notification
  • April 29, 2020 - Full proposal submission
  • June 30, 2020 - Finalists notification
  • July 30, 2020 - Award notification
  • Fall 2020 & Winter 2021 - Grants awarded

HOW TO APPLY

The application process will consist of two-stages. The first is a letter of interest and the second is your full proposal. Within each online form, there are detailed guidelines for each section. To help you prepare, an overview of the application elements that will be included in each stage is provided below.

PLEASE NOTE: Applications that are incomplete or do not contain all the required documentation will not be reviewed. Additionally, please review the RFP timeline carefully. Applicants should plan to submit materials well before each deadline as we will not accept late applications or applications submitted outside of the designated systems.

FAQs - see bottom of page

Letter of Interest Elements 

In addition to organization and primary contact info, simple budget numbers, and drop-down categorizations of the proposal, applicants will be expected to upload a no more than 2 page white paper (single spaced, 11 point font) that addresses the following items: 

Project Personnel: The background and affiliations of the project lead or principal investigator and any other relevant staff.

Proposal Summary: A project summary that includes the project title, estimated timeline, fit to one of the four focus areas, key deliverables, and/or central research questions.

Project Data – If applicable, describe the appropriate options regarding your project in the following categories: disciplinary perspective, methodologies, topics, geographical scope, contexts, and participants. This information is helpful in determining the appropriate reviewers for your eventual full proposal and for internal evaluations of our grant programs.

Prospective Applicant Support

Prospective applicants are encouraged to take advantage of the following opportunities for proposal support: 

Question Period: Kauffman associates will accept questions related to this RFP and the application process from January 14-21, 2020. Responses to these questions will be posted to the RFP FAQ once the question period closes. Submit questions to knowledgechallenge@kauffman.org.

Full Proposal Elements

If selected to advance to the second stage of the RFP process, applicants will receive user credentials to the Foundation’s online grants management system, Fluxx. Below is an overview of the proposal elements you’ll be expected to complete and/or upload as part of your full proposal:

Project Beneficiaries and Need: Information regarding community need, the target populations they are hoping to serve, and how these populations were involved in planning. 

Project Description: Information about the proposed project/program, including a project summary, start and end dates, detailed description, and the team’s implementation plan. 

Relevant Qualifications: Information on how your organization and staff are uniquely qualified to carry out the work described within your grant proposal.

Project Budget: In addition to providing a Kauffman-specific project budget, applicants will be asked to upload a detailed overall project budget (using our template) that includes both revenues and expenses, status of other funds (if applicable), and clearly connects budget lines to grant deliverables.

Organization Capacity & Financials: Information that will help us understand your organization’s capacity to manage the grant and overall financial health, this includes such things as your organization’s leadership/board, operating budget, financial statements, and most recent audit (if applicable).

Evaluation Metrics: Applicants will be expected to draft up to 10 outputs and 10 associated outcome metrics. As a reminder, outputs are the activities, products, or services that your organization will undertake/provide as part of the grant, and the associated outcomes are the changes that you will see as a result of these outputs. For help drafting your outputs and outcomes, please see our guide.

REVIEW PROCESS

All letter of interest submissions will be reviewed by internal staff and selected submissions will also be reviewed by a panel of external reviewers. Those chosen as semi-finalists will be evaluated by the program officer and grants administration staff in a final decision meeting. The review process for this RFP will take approximately 7 months from the letter of interest deadline date.

Reviewers will rate and comment on the following aspects of your letter of interest proposal:

Strategic Fit: The project/program clearly fits into one of the four focus areas identified for this RFP.

Primary investigator/team capacity: The primary investigator and/or team have sufficient and relevant experience to complete the proposed work.

Quality of work and impact: The project addressed a clearly defined need and has clear goals and activities to measure impact.

Budget and Timeline: The adequacy of the budget and timeline in executing the activities described within the proposal. 

Additionally, for those selected as semi-finalists – reviewers will assess the full proposal against the following criteria:

Sustainability: The potential of the project to sustain itself beyond the proposed timeline of the grant.

Organizational Capacity & Project Team Expertise: The ability of the organization and key personnel to complete deliverables, properly manage the project, and submit timely reports.

REPORTING & EVALUATION EXPECTATIONS OF GRANTEES:

As a guiding principle, the Kauffman Foundation expects only one grant report every 12 months. However, as a steward of the Foundation’s assets, occasionally we will institute more frequent reporting requirements if the organization has a short operating history, limited financial assets, complicated organizational structure, expenditure responsibility requirement, or the project is experimental or complex in nature. If selected as a finalist, you will work with the assigned program officer to establish the appropriate reporting and payment schedule. 

Finalists will also be expected to work collaboratively with their assigned program officer and our Evaluation team to develop a set of grant metrics. These will include outputs and outcomes that are specific to your proposal, as well as the following common metrics that all grantees in this portfolio will be required to report on:

Outputs

1. (Diversity Pipeline Grants) Percent of Research team or participants from diverse backgrounds[3]

2. Translation brief of project findings

3. Methodology brief of project design

4. Presentations of research at convenings, workshops, or conferences

Outcomes

1. Number of SSRN or other views/downloads of research or working paper

2. Number of practitioners contacting researcher(s)

3. Number of practitioners contacting researcher(s) reporting implementing practices from research/report being better off as a result of research

4. (Diversity Pipeline Grants: Program Refinement) – Number of practitioner organizations serving diverse entrepreneurs reporting implementing practices (e.g. structure, recruitment, marketing, mentoring, etc.) from research/report being better off as a result of research

5. (Diversity Pipeline Grants: Outreach) – Number of external diverse researchers contacting pipeline grantees for more information, data, or interest in expanding on the research

INQUIRIES:

If you have questions about the goals or content of this RFP, please email knowledgechallenge@kauffman.org.

For technical assistance on the online application system, please visit the Survey Monkey Apply help desk at: rfp.kauffman.org/helpdesk 

RESOURCES: 

Additional information regarding the four focus areas can be found here.

TERMS & CONDITIONS:

Please review the following Terms & Conditions that guide the Foundation’s grant-making and request for proposal processes.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: (updated 1/23/2020)

I would like to talk to someone about my idea before submission, who do I call?

Due to the volume of prospective applicants, our staff will not be available for individual calls. However, we will accept questions related to this RFP and the application process from January 14-21, 2020. Responses to these questions will be posted to the RFP FAQ once the question period closes. Submit questions to knowledgechallenge@kauffman.org.

I am having difficulty submitting my application, who do I reach out to?

For technical assistance on the online application system, please visit the Survey Monkey Apply help desk at: rfp.kauffman.org/helpdesk

I haven’t heard back from the help desk and the deadline is tomorrow. What should I do?

The Foundation will not accept late submissions or applications submitted outside of the designated systems. Therefore, you should review the timeline carefully and plan to submit your application materials well before each deadline. 

We are a for-profit entity or membership organization. Can we apply for funding?

As a private foundation, the Kauffman Foundation, can only provide funding for charitable activities. Therefore, if selected as a finalist you will be required to answer additional questions in order to determine the charitability of all proposed activities.

I am a PhD student and I was planning to apply for the Kauffman Foundation Dissertation Fellowship Program. Can I apply for a grant through the Kauffman Knowledge Challenge instead? 

Yes.

I don’t have a PhD, but I work on data regularly and I think my work can provide some answers. Am I eligible to apply? 

Yes.

I work in a nonprofit that provides mentoring and networking opportunities to entrepreneurship. We are interested in research, but we don’t have full-time researchers on staff. Can I still apply? 

Yes. You are eligible and encouraged to apply. We encourage you to identify opportunities to partner, acquire or source research.

Can I submit research that is currently also under consideration by another funding institution? 

Yes. You should disclose previous, current and potential funders at the white paper stage. The Foundation also will expect full disclosure of funding sources as part of due diligence for full proposals.

I’m an existing grantee. Am I still eligible to participate? 

Yes.

I have a really important idea for funding, but it doesn’t fit within the four areas you outlined in this Challenge. 

The Foundation continues to be open to research proposals, so you can still submit your idea for consideration. However, the focus areas identified in this Challenge represent our priority research areas for the 2020 cycle and strategic fit of proposed projects is part of our evaluation criteria.

Is my submission confidential?

The foundation will not intentionally share submission materials outside of the foundation except for external reviewers (if needed), who are subject to confidentiality agreements. That being said, the foundation cannot guarantee confidentiality for information submitted in response to this RFP. It is strongly recommended that submissions not include any proprietary or confidential information.

I am a doctoral student planning to graduate in 2020. Should I still apply for the student project or should I apply for the general pool?

Applicants who are still students at the time they submit their application can apply for student awards. If selected for a full proposal, we will work with the applicant on a case by case basis to confirm the appropriate grant structure.

Can one organization can submit multiple white papers for the Knowledge Challenge? Our university has two teams of researchers that want to submit two distinct projects.

One organization can submit more than one white paper. 

I’m a researcher working on several topics that I think are relevant to the Knowledge Challenge. May I submit 2 white papers?

You can be listed as the Principal Investigator on one submission. You can be listed as part of the research team on more than one submission.

Will any data collected or used have to be made publicly available if my project is funded?

The Foundation expects that data will be made publicly available when possible. In some exceptional circumstances, this may be aggregated at a unit of analysis appropriate to privacy guidelines of the data provider/s

Will my code and method have to be made publicly available if my project is funded?

Methodology documentation including code (e.g. in Python, Stata, R, SPSS) is expected to be made publicly available.

Can I propose a project to be conducted at the Kauffman Foundation?

The Kauffman Foundation will not host research projects.

My research setting is outside the US, but I think that it has implications for entrepreneurship in the U.S. Can I still apply?

Yes, we will consider research projects outside the US as long as project will provide insight about US entrepreneurship.

Can non-US based researchers apply?

The grant recipient’s institution must be located in the US. For grants to individuals, the individual must be legally present in the US to receive a grant. If selected for a full proposal, we will work with the applicant on a case by case basis to confirm the appropriate grant structure. 

Our project is about XYZ, which we believe is a fit for both questions 2 & 3, which one should we pick?

Applicants should select the primary focus area that they believe best fits their proposal.

My research team contains a female/under-represented race/non-traditionally funded institution/etc. Do we qualify for the diversity of entrepreneurship research pipeline category? 

Demographic information of the proposers will not be used in the evaluation of proposals. The diversity of entrepreneurship research pipeline category is not aimed at supporting individual researchers. Proposals of this grant type should demonstrate a clear theory of change that addresses the state of the entrepreneurship research field, and how their proposed project or initiative will support the increased diversity of quality entrepreneurship research.

Proposals in this area should identify projects or programs to promote diversity in entrepreneurship research. Diversity in this context refers to diversity of income, professional background, gender, race, ethnicity, discipline and type of research institution. Additional details about expectations for these grants can be found here.

For our "grant type", if our proposal shines light on how to attract, coach, and scale entrepreneurs that fall under the website's definition of diversity, but the lead researcher is not diverse, is this still okay? Or are the subjects that we are studying/synthesizing data/showcasing, the diversity that is being judged? 

Demographic information of the proposers will not be used in the evaluation of proposals. The diversity of entrepreneurship research pipeline category is not aimed at supporting individual researchers. Proposals of this grant type should demonstrate a clear theory of change that addresses the state of the entrepreneurship research field, and how their proposed project or initiative will support the increased diversity of quality entrepreneurship research.

Proposals in this area should identify projects or programs to promote diversity in entrepreneurship research. Diversity in this context refers to diversity of income, professional background, gender, race, ethnicity, discipline and type of research institution. Additional details about expectations for these grants can be found here.

The application states, "no more than one month of summer salary support for professors" and "no more than one course buyout."  Is this in total? per professor? per year?

No more than one month of summary salary support per professor per year and no more than one course buyout over the project period per professor. Any request for salary support or course buyouts should have clear justification for why it is necessary. If invited to submit a full proposal, any proposal that includes a course buyout must be accompanied by a letter of support from the dean or appropriate university official.

If our organization is awarded a grant via the Knowledge Challenge, does that preclude us from being granted through other grant opportunities this year, or during the course of the grant?

No.

Since "diversity of researcher program/project" is a grant type, would our goal be to merge the grant type with one of the four focus areas? So instead of viewing it as, "Focus area one: What strategies can entrepreneurs use to start and grow a business"; instead should really be viewed as "Focus area one: what strategies can DIVERSE entrepreneurs use to start and grow a business"? 

Not necessarily. Proposals in the “diversity of research program/project” category should demonstrate a clear theory of change for how their proposed project or initiative will support the increased diversity of quality entrepreneurship research. Submissions in this category may have a looser fit with the four focus areas due to the goal and nature of these awards. They are not required to overlap. Additional details about expectations for these grants can be found here.

Do data collection fees have to go to a third party contractor, or can a reasonable amount be given internally for any work created for this project beyond whatever an employee's day-to-day role is? 

Proposals can ask for third party data collection fees or salary support. 

For white papers, can you provide some additional guidance on what applicants should provide in terms of “simple budget numbers”?  Would this be the anticipated amount of our total budget request or are you looking for estimates by budget category (e.g. personnel, materials/supplies, etc.)?

At the white paper stage, an approximate total budget estimate will suffice. The Foundation will issue guidance on full proposal budget preparation at the time proposers are invited to the second stage. Full proposals that deviate significantly from the white paper budget estimate will not be considered.

Does the foundation pay overhead costs?

The Foundation considers costs which are not in direct support of the grant as indirect. Indirect costs are not allowed in a grant request budget.

Is there any budget restriction when a grantee is awarded, such as salary, outfitting office space, etc.?

The Foundation considers costs which are not in direct support of the research project as indirect. Indirect costs are not allowed in a grant request budget.

What if my status as a student changes because I get a job? What if I move institutions midway through the review cycle?

If selected for a full proposal, we will work with the applicant on a case basis to address changes in status or institution.

I am a PhD student that is US resident and spends most of my time in the states. However, I am currently associated with a doctoral program in the foreign academic institution. Am I still eligible to apply? 

The grant recipient’s institution must be located in the US. For grants to individuals, the individual must be legally present in the US to receive a grant. If selected for a full proposal, we will work with the applicant on a case by case basis to confirm the appropriate grant structure.

For student projects, will our institutions be the sponsoring institution that would receive the grant?

If selected for a full proposal, we will work with the applicant to confirm the appropriate grant structure.

Are the student projects 'project-based' or 'research-based'?

Project-based. Funds are available to support costs associated with a specific and clearly identified research project being undertaken by a student researcher. 

I am a PhD candidate, and my dissertation deals with XYZ. Can I apply for this grant to expand the project into a series of articles and reports?

No. Funds are available to support specific research projects by student researchers. These may or may not be related to dissertation work or other research activities. While funds for dissemination can be included as part of the funding request, this opportunity is to support research projects, and dissemination-only requests will not be funded.

Are there any examples of student projects that were awarded previously? 

All 2018 Knowledge Challenge recipients (including student awards) can be found here.

Do you have any font and margin preferences or requirements regarding the white paper? What about references and an appendix?

Standard margins and single-spacing are expected. Only content on the first 2 pages will be reviewed. Any supplementary materials that do not appear on the first two pages will not be reviewed.

Are postdocs eligible to apply as students or must we apply for the general research grant?

Postdocs are not eligible for student awards.

I am interested in applying for the student grant. In the first part, "Contact and project information" of the application form, information is requested for "Organization" and its tax identity. If I want to apply for the student grant, should I fill in my information or my institution's information? 

You may use your personal or institutional information. If selected for a full proposal, we will work with the applicant on a case by case basis to confirm the appropriate grant structure.

We have a project that could either be scoped entirely within the US or it could be scoped to gather data internationally. Is there any guidance you can offer in the preferences for funding projects that might include an international data collection component but that would answer research questions that are of a more generalizable nature?

We will consider research projects outside the US as long as project will provide insight about US entrepreneurship.

Can a grant cover expenses related to data collection/field work (interviews and survey data outside the US?

We will consider research projects outside the US as long as project will provide insight about US entrepreneurship.

Does the research project need to span the entire time, for example, 48 months? Relatedly, can you explain the rationale for the suggested timelines of 24, 48, and 48 months for each grant type?

No, projects do not have to span the maximum length. Projects should be proposed with the time period that most appropriately enables the work. These timelines represent expectations for the work to address these topics. 

Can you provide any additional information on previous grantees that would help to inform selection of grant type? Specifically, under which grant type each grantee falls.

Grant types and focus areas in the Knowledge Challenge are driven by problems and challenges collected from the field. The 2020 grant types are therefore different from the previous Knowledge Challenge. You should select the grant type that seems most appropriate for your proposal. 

Is the Kauffman Foundation Knowledge Challenge open to a multi-project proposal?

Yes.

Is the Kauffman Foundation Knowledge Challenge open to including K-12 partnerships?

Yes.

No letters of support or letters of recommendation are required at this first stage of the application process. Will they be required at some point in the future?

Letters of recommendation are not required. For projects invited to the full proposal round, letters documenting support for key activities/components will be expected: projects that include course buyouts will require a letter of support from the appropriate university official; projects with significant reliance on contractors for scientific/technical work will require documentation of bid or letters of intent as appropriate; projects that involve access to private data sources will require pricing information or documentation of bid, or a letter of support from the vendor. The foundation reserves the right to request additional documentation during the full proposal round on a case by case basis.

For the white paper submission, the RFP says "Proposal Summary: A project summary that includes the project title, estimated timeline, fit to one of the four focus areas, key deliverables, and/or central research questions." Does this mean that for research projects you would like us to state the research questions but not necessarily key deliverables?

Your white paper submission should address as many of those categories as appropriate for your project. For example, some diversity of researcher pipeline proposals for programs may not have central research questions, but it is anticipated that most proposals should address all of those areas.

Is there anything that a governmental agency, submitting a proposal on behalf of nonprofits, and/or municipal governments, in two countries, should be aware of? Any special requirements for government agencies?

No special requirements. The grant recipient’s institution must be located in the US.

If selected for a full proposal, we will work with the applicant on a case by case basis to confirm the appropriate grant structure.

Is it ok if I upload my CV as the “Biographies of key leaders of the project”?

Yes. Multiple CVs for all team members can be merged into one document for upload as well.


[1] For-profit companies must provide documentation that the proposed project does not provide financial benefit to the company’s core business. For-profit companies must make research results public and explain how they will do so.

[2] A fiscal sponsor is a non-profit organization that is in good standing and performs various administrative management and oversight functions for a group that is not registered as a 501(c)(3) organization. If funded, the fiscal agent/sponsor and applicant organization will be responsible for all terms and conditions of the Grant Award Agreement for the duration of the grant. For purposes of the application, Foundation will require financial information from both the applicant organization and the fiscal agent/sponsor. 

[3] Diversity in this context is defined as “diversity of gender, race, ethnicity, discipline, and type of research institution.”

2020 Kauffman Knowledge Challenge


STRATEGIC GOAL

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Research Strategy focuses on supporting projects that generate practical, actionable, and rigorous evidence to be disseminated and adopted by practitioners and policymakers to solve problems.

CONTEXT & FUNDING OPPORTUNITY

The goal of the 2020 Knowledge Challenge is to produce tangible insights for entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship programs, policy design, ecosystem builders, and researchers. Proposals should cover one of the four focus areas (described below). These focus areas are some of the key barriers to entrepreneurship based on the responses and feedback from a variety of surveys targeting entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship support organizations, policymakers, and the general population.

The 2020 Knowledge Challenge RFP is intended to support activities to improve our understanding about entrepreneurship. Applicants will be asked to select a focus area and grant type.

The focus areas cover four broad questions: 

  1. What strategies can entrepreneurs use to start and grow a business? 
  2. How can entrepreneurs find, recruit, manage, and resource talent in an increasingly digital world?
  3. How do local conditions of ecosystems drive entrepreneurial outcomes? 
  4. How does entrepreneurship affect equality and mobility, and what policies shape this relationship?  

The three grant types are: 

  • Student projects
  • General research projects and research-practice collaborations 
  • Diversity of entrepreneurship researcher pipeline programs/projects 

Additional information regarding the focus area and grant types can be found here.

BUDGET & AWARDS

Applicants may request funding at the follow levels depending on grant type:

  • Up to $60,000 over 24 months for student projects; 
  • Up to $225,000 over 48 months for research-practice collaborations and general research projects;
  • Up to $400,000 over 48 months for diversity of entrepreneurship researcher programs/projects

While award amounts for individual projects will vary, we anticipate the average grant size to be $15,000 for student awards, $140,000 for research-practice collaborations and general research projects, and $350,000 for diversity of entrepreneurship researcher programs/projects. Applicants should submit a project budget that aligns with the scope of the project, supports proposed activities, and clearly connects those activities with line item requests. 

ELIGIBILITY & RESTRICTIONS

Eligibility

This call is open to nonprofits, for-profit companies [1] , fiscally-sponsored organizations [2], and/or higher education institutions that provide or conduct research or provide services to entrepreneurship researchers.

Additionally, eligible applicants must meet all the following criteria:

  • Located in the United States;
  • Student submissions can come from doctoral candidates as well as students or student teams at other levels of study;
  • Acceptance of funds means that participants agree to making data, models and methods publicly available;
  • For projects using proprietary data and/or sensitive data governed by strict human subjects policies, participants must work with their home institutions and/or data providers to identify the most appropriate level of aggregation that will allow data to be made publicly available. 

Restrictions

We will not consider funding for:

  • Indirect/overhead expenses associated with the ongoing operations of the organization;
  • Proposed project duration longer than 48 months;
  • More than one application per primary investigator (only one proposal allowed);
  • More than one month of summer salary support for professors
  • More than one course buyout for professors

RFP TIMELINE

  • January 14, 2020 - RFP opens
  • January 14-21, 2020 - Open question period
  • February 5, 2020 - White paper application submission (RFP closes)
  • March 18, 2020 - Semi-finalist notification
  • April 29, 2020 - Full proposal submission
  • June 30, 2020 - Finalists notification
  • July 30, 2020 - Award notification
  • Fall 2020 & Winter 2021 - Grants awarded

HOW TO APPLY

The application process will consist of two-stages. The first is a letter of interest and the second is your full proposal. Within each online form, there are detailed guidelines for each section. To help you prepare, an overview of the application elements that will be included in each stage is provided below.

PLEASE NOTE: Applications that are incomplete or do not contain all the required documentation will not be reviewed. Additionally, please review the RFP timeline carefully. Applicants should plan to submit materials well before each deadline as we will not accept late applications or applications submitted outside of the designated systems.

FAQs - see bottom of page

Letter of Interest Elements 

In addition to organization and primary contact info, simple budget numbers, and drop-down categorizations of the proposal, applicants will be expected to upload a no more than 2 page white paper (single spaced, 11 point font) that addresses the following items: 

Project Personnel: The background and affiliations of the project lead or principal investigator and any other relevant staff.

Proposal Summary: A project summary that includes the project title, estimated timeline, fit to one of the four focus areas, key deliverables, and/or central research questions.

Project Data – If applicable, describe the appropriate options regarding your project in the following categories: disciplinary perspective, methodologies, topics, geographical scope, contexts, and participants. This information is helpful in determining the appropriate reviewers for your eventual full proposal and for internal evaluations of our grant programs.

Prospective Applicant Support

Prospective applicants are encouraged to take advantage of the following opportunities for proposal support: 

Question Period: Kauffman associates will accept questions related to this RFP and the application process from January 14-21, 2020. Responses to these questions will be posted to the RFP FAQ once the question period closes. Submit questions to knowledgechallenge@kauffman.org.

Full Proposal Elements

If selected to advance to the second stage of the RFP process, applicants will receive user credentials to the Foundation’s online grants management system, Fluxx. Below is an overview of the proposal elements you’ll be expected to complete and/or upload as part of your full proposal:

Project Beneficiaries and Need: Information regarding community need, the target populations they are hoping to serve, and how these populations were involved in planning. 

Project Description: Information about the proposed project/program, including a project summary, start and end dates, detailed description, and the team’s implementation plan. 

Relevant Qualifications: Information on how your organization and staff are uniquely qualified to carry out the work described within your grant proposal.

Project Budget: In addition to providing a Kauffman-specific project budget, applicants will be asked to upload a detailed overall project budget (using our template) that includes both revenues and expenses, status of other funds (if applicable), and clearly connects budget lines to grant deliverables.

Organization Capacity & Financials: Information that will help us understand your organization’s capacity to manage the grant and overall financial health, this includes such things as your organization’s leadership/board, operating budget, financial statements, and most recent audit (if applicable).

Evaluation Metrics: Applicants will be expected to draft up to 10 outputs and 10 associated outcome metrics. As a reminder, outputs are the activities, products, or services that your organization will undertake/provide as part of the grant, and the associated outcomes are the changes that you will see as a result of these outputs. For help drafting your outputs and outcomes, please see our guide.

REVIEW PROCESS

All letter of interest submissions will be reviewed by internal staff and selected submissions will also be reviewed by a panel of external reviewers. Those chosen as semi-finalists will be evaluated by the program officer and grants administration staff in a final decision meeting. The review process for this RFP will take approximately 7 months from the letter of interest deadline date.

Reviewers will rate and comment on the following aspects of your letter of interest proposal:

Strategic Fit: The project/program clearly fits into one of the four focus areas identified for this RFP.

Primary investigator/team capacity: The primary investigator and/or team have sufficient and relevant experience to complete the proposed work.

Quality of work and impact: The project addressed a clearly defined need and has clear goals and activities to measure impact.

Budget and Timeline: The adequacy of the budget and timeline in executing the activities described within the proposal. 

Additionally, for those selected as semi-finalists – reviewers will assess the full proposal against the following criteria:

Sustainability: The potential of the project to sustain itself beyond the proposed timeline of the grant.

Organizational Capacity & Project Team Expertise: The ability of the organization and key personnel to complete deliverables, properly manage the project, and submit timely reports.

REPORTING & EVALUATION EXPECTATIONS OF GRANTEES:

As a guiding principle, the Kauffman Foundation expects only one grant report every 12 months. However, as a steward of the Foundation’s assets, occasionally we will institute more frequent reporting requirements if the organization has a short operating history, limited financial assets, complicated organizational structure, expenditure responsibility requirement, or the project is experimental or complex in nature. If selected as a finalist, you will work with the assigned program officer to establish the appropriate reporting and payment schedule. 

Finalists will also be expected to work collaboratively with their assigned program officer and our Evaluation team to develop a set of grant metrics. These will include outputs and outcomes that are specific to your proposal, as well as the following common metrics that all grantees in this portfolio will be required to report on:

Outputs

1. (Diversity Pipeline Grants) Percent of Research team or participants from diverse backgrounds[3]

2. Translation brief of project findings

3. Methodology brief of project design

4. Presentations of research at convenings, workshops, or conferences

Outcomes

1. Number of SSRN or other views/downloads of research or working paper

2. Number of practitioners contacting researcher(s)

3. Number of practitioners contacting researcher(s) reporting implementing practices from research/report being better off as a result of research

4. (Diversity Pipeline Grants: Program Refinement) – Number of practitioner organizations serving diverse entrepreneurs reporting implementing practices (e.g. structure, recruitment, marketing, mentoring, etc.) from research/report being better off as a result of research

5. (Diversity Pipeline Grants: Outreach) – Number of external diverse researchers contacting pipeline grantees for more information, data, or interest in expanding on the research

INQUIRIES:

If you have questions about the goals or content of this RFP, please email knowledgechallenge@kauffman.org.

For technical assistance on the online application system, please visit the Survey Monkey Apply help desk at: rfp.kauffman.org/helpdesk 

RESOURCES: 

Additional information regarding the four focus areas can be found here.

TERMS & CONDITIONS:

Please review the following Terms & Conditions that guide the Foundation’s grant-making and request for proposal processes.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: (updated 1/23/2020)

I would like to talk to someone about my idea before submission, who do I call?

Due to the volume of prospective applicants, our staff will not be available for individual calls. However, we will accept questions related to this RFP and the application process from January 14-21, 2020. Responses to these questions will be posted to the RFP FAQ once the question period closes. Submit questions to knowledgechallenge@kauffman.org.

I am having difficulty submitting my application, who do I reach out to?

For technical assistance on the online application system, please visit the Survey Monkey Apply help desk at: rfp.kauffman.org/helpdesk

I haven’t heard back from the help desk and the deadline is tomorrow. What should I do?

The Foundation will not accept late submissions or applications submitted outside of the designated systems. Therefore, you should review the timeline carefully and plan to submit your application materials well before each deadline. 

We are a for-profit entity or membership organization. Can we apply for funding?

As a private foundation, the Kauffman Foundation, can only provide funding for charitable activities. Therefore, if selected as a finalist you will be required to answer additional questions in order to determine the charitability of all proposed activities.

I am a PhD student and I was planning to apply for the Kauffman Foundation Dissertation Fellowship Program. Can I apply for a grant through the Kauffman Knowledge Challenge instead? 

Yes.

I don’t have a PhD, but I work on data regularly and I think my work can provide some answers. Am I eligible to apply? 

Yes.

I work in a nonprofit that provides mentoring and networking opportunities to entrepreneurship. We are interested in research, but we don’t have full-time researchers on staff. Can I still apply? 

Yes. You are eligible and encouraged to apply. We encourage you to identify opportunities to partner, acquire or source research.

Can I submit research that is currently also under consideration by another funding institution? 

Yes. You should disclose previous, current and potential funders at the white paper stage. The Foundation also will expect full disclosure of funding sources as part of due diligence for full proposals.

I’m an existing grantee. Am I still eligible to participate? 

Yes.

I have a really important idea for funding, but it doesn’t fit within the four areas you outlined in this Challenge. 

The Foundation continues to be open to research proposals, so you can still submit your idea for consideration. However, the focus areas identified in this Challenge represent our priority research areas for the 2020 cycle and strategic fit of proposed projects is part of our evaluation criteria.

Is my submission confidential?

The foundation will not intentionally share submission materials outside of the foundation except for external reviewers (if needed), who are subject to confidentiality agreements. That being said, the foundation cannot guarantee confidentiality for information submitted in response to this RFP. It is strongly recommended that submissions not include any proprietary or confidential information.

I am a doctoral student planning to graduate in 2020. Should I still apply for the student project or should I apply for the general pool?

Applicants who are still students at the time they submit their application can apply for student awards. If selected for a full proposal, we will work with the applicant on a case by case basis to confirm the appropriate grant structure.

Can one organization can submit multiple white papers for the Knowledge Challenge? Our university has two teams of researchers that want to submit two distinct projects.

One organization can submit more than one white paper. 

I’m a researcher working on several topics that I think are relevant to the Knowledge Challenge. May I submit 2 white papers?

You can be listed as the Principal Investigator on one submission. You can be listed as part of the research team on more than one submission.

Will any data collected or used have to be made publicly available if my project is funded?

The Foundation expects that data will be made publicly available when possible. In some exceptional circumstances, this may be aggregated at a unit of analysis appropriate to privacy guidelines of the data provider/s

Will my code and method have to be made publicly available if my project is funded?

Methodology documentation including code (e.g. in Python, Stata, R, SPSS) is expected to be made publicly available.

Can I propose a project to be conducted at the Kauffman Foundation?

The Kauffman Foundation will not host research projects.

My research setting is outside the US, but I think that it has implications for entrepreneurship in the U.S. Can I still apply?

Yes, we will consider research projects outside the US as long as project will provide insight about US entrepreneurship.

Can non-US based researchers apply?

The grant recipient’s institution must be located in the US. For grants to individuals, the individual must be legally present in the US to receive a grant. If selected for a full proposal, we will work with the applicant on a case by case basis to confirm the appropriate grant structure. 

Our project is about XYZ, which we believe is a fit for both questions 2 & 3, which one should we pick?

Applicants should select the primary focus area that they believe best fits their proposal.

My research team contains a female/under-represented race/non-traditionally funded institution/etc. Do we qualify for the diversity of entrepreneurship research pipeline category? 

Demographic information of the proposers will not be used in the evaluation of proposals. The diversity of entrepreneurship research pipeline category is not aimed at supporting individual researchers. Proposals of this grant type should demonstrate a clear theory of change that addresses the state of the entrepreneurship research field, and how their proposed project or initiative will support the increased diversity of quality entrepreneurship research.

Proposals in this area should identify projects or programs to promote diversity in entrepreneurship research. Diversity in this context refers to diversity of income, professional background, gender, race, ethnicity, discipline and type of research institution. Additional details about expectations for these grants can be found here.

For our "grant type", if our proposal shines light on how to attract, coach, and scale entrepreneurs that fall under the website's definition of diversity, but the lead researcher is not diverse, is this still okay? Or are the subjects that we are studying/synthesizing data/showcasing, the diversity that is being judged? 

Demographic information of the proposers will not be used in the evaluation of proposals. The diversity of entrepreneurship research pipeline category is not aimed at supporting individual researchers. Proposals of this grant type should demonstrate a clear theory of change that addresses the state of the entrepreneurship research field, and how their proposed project or initiative will support the increased diversity of quality entrepreneurship research.

Proposals in this area should identify projects or programs to promote diversity in entrepreneurship research. Diversity in this context refers to diversity of income, professional background, gender, race, ethnicity, discipline and type of research institution. Additional details about expectations for these grants can be found here.

The application states, "no more than one month of summer salary support for professors" and "no more than one course buyout."  Is this in total? per professor? per year?

No more than one month of summary salary support per professor per year and no more than one course buyout over the project period per professor. Any request for salary support or course buyouts should have clear justification for why it is necessary. If invited to submit a full proposal, any proposal that includes a course buyout must be accompanied by a letter of support from the dean or appropriate university official.

If our organization is awarded a grant via the Knowledge Challenge, does that preclude us from being granted through other grant opportunities this year, or during the course of the grant?

No.

Since "diversity of researcher program/project" is a grant type, would our goal be to merge the grant type with one of the four focus areas? So instead of viewing it as, "Focus area one: What strategies can entrepreneurs use to start and grow a business"; instead should really be viewed as "Focus area one: what strategies can DIVERSE entrepreneurs use to start and grow a business"? 

Not necessarily. Proposals in the “diversity of research program/project” category should demonstrate a clear theory of change for how their proposed project or initiative will support the increased diversity of quality entrepreneurship research. Submissions in this category may have a looser fit with the four focus areas due to the goal and nature of these awards. They are not required to overlap. Additional details about expectations for these grants can be found here.

Do data collection fees have to go to a third party contractor, or can a reasonable amount be given internally for any work created for this project beyond whatever an employee's day-to-day role is? 

Proposals can ask for third party data collection fees or salary support. 

For white papers, can you provide some additional guidance on what applicants should provide in terms of “simple budget numbers”?  Would this be the anticipated amount of our total budget request or are you looking for estimates by budget category (e.g. personnel, materials/supplies, etc.)?

At the white paper stage, an approximate total budget estimate will suffice. The Foundation will issue guidance on full proposal budget preparation at the time proposers are invited to the second stage. Full proposals that deviate significantly from the white paper budget estimate will not be considered.

Does the foundation pay overhead costs?

The Foundation considers costs which are not in direct support of the grant as indirect. Indirect costs are not allowed in a grant request budget.

Is there any budget restriction when a grantee is awarded, such as salary, outfitting office space, etc.?

The Foundation considers costs which are not in direct support of the research project as indirect. Indirect costs are not allowed in a grant request budget.

What if my status as a student changes because I get a job? What if I move institutions midway through the review cycle?

If selected for a full proposal, we will work with the applicant on a case basis to address changes in status or institution.

I am a PhD student that is US resident and spends most of my time in the states. However, I am currently associated with a doctoral program in the foreign academic institution. Am I still eligible to apply? 

The grant recipient’s institution must be located in the US. For grants to individuals, the individual must be legally present in the US to receive a grant. If selected for a full proposal, we will work with the applicant on a case by case basis to confirm the appropriate grant structure.

For student projects, will our institutions be the sponsoring institution that would receive the grant?

If selected for a full proposal, we will work with the applicant to confirm the appropriate grant structure.

Are the student projects 'project-based' or 'research-based'?

Project-based. Funds are available to support costs associated with a specific and clearly identified research project being undertaken by a student researcher. 

I am a PhD candidate, and my dissertation deals with XYZ. Can I apply for this grant to expand the project into a series of articles and reports?

No. Funds are available to support specific research projects by student researchers. These may or may not be related to dissertation work or other research activities. While funds for dissemination can be included as part of the funding request, this opportunity is to support research projects, and dissemination-only requests will not be funded.

Are there any examples of student projects that were awarded previously? 

All 2018 Knowledge Challenge recipients (including student awards) can be found here.

Do you have any font and margin preferences or requirements regarding the white paper? What about references and an appendix?

Standard margins and single-spacing are expected. Only content on the first 2 pages will be reviewed. Any supplementary materials that do not appear on the first two pages will not be reviewed.

Are postdocs eligible to apply as students or must we apply for the general research grant?

Postdocs are not eligible for student awards.

I am interested in applying for the student grant. In the first part, "Contact and project information" of the application form, information is requested for "Organization" and its tax identity. If I want to apply for the student grant, should I fill in my information or my institution's information? 

You may use your personal or institutional information. If selected for a full proposal, we will work with the applicant on a case by case basis to confirm the appropriate grant structure.

We have a project that could either be scoped entirely within the US or it could be scoped to gather data internationally. Is there any guidance you can offer in the preferences for funding projects that might include an international data collection component but that would answer research questions that are of a more generalizable nature?

We will consider research projects outside the US as long as project will provide insight about US entrepreneurship.

Can a grant cover expenses related to data collection/field work (interviews and survey data outside the US?

We will consider research projects outside the US as long as project will provide insight about US entrepreneurship.

Does the research project need to span the entire time, for example, 48 months? Relatedly, can you explain the rationale for the suggested timelines of 24, 48, and 48 months for each grant type?

No, projects do not have to span the maximum length. Projects should be proposed with the time period that most appropriately enables the work. These timelines represent expectations for the work to address these topics. 

Can you provide any additional information on previous grantees that would help to inform selection of grant type? Specifically, under which grant type each grantee falls.

Grant types and focus areas in the Knowledge Challenge are driven by problems and challenges collected from the field. The 2020 grant types are therefore different from the previous Knowledge Challenge. You should select the grant type that seems most appropriate for your proposal. 

Is the Kauffman Foundation Knowledge Challenge open to a multi-project proposal?

Yes.

Is the Kauffman Foundation Knowledge Challenge open to including K-12 partnerships?

Yes.

No letters of support or letters of recommendation are required at this first stage of the application process. Will they be required at some point in the future?

Letters of recommendation are not required. For projects invited to the full proposal round, letters documenting support for key activities/components will be expected: projects that include course buyouts will require a letter of support from the appropriate university official; projects with significant reliance on contractors for scientific/technical work will require documentation of bid or letters of intent as appropriate; projects that involve access to private data sources will require pricing information or documentation of bid, or a letter of support from the vendor. The foundation reserves the right to request additional documentation during the full proposal round on a case by case basis.

For the white paper submission, the RFP says "Proposal Summary: A project summary that includes the project title, estimated timeline, fit to one of the four focus areas, key deliverables, and/or central research questions." Does this mean that for research projects you would like us to state the research questions but not necessarily key deliverables?

Your white paper submission should address as many of those categories as appropriate for your project. For example, some diversity of researcher pipeline proposals for programs may not have central research questions, but it is anticipated that most proposals should address all of those areas.

Is there anything that a governmental agency, submitting a proposal on behalf of nonprofits, and/or municipal governments, in two countries, should be aware of? Any special requirements for government agencies?

No special requirements. The grant recipient’s institution must be located in the US.

If selected for a full proposal, we will work with the applicant on a case by case basis to confirm the appropriate grant structure.

Is it ok if I upload my CV as the “Biographies of key leaders of the project”?

Yes. Multiple CVs for all team members can be merged into one document for upload as well.


[1] For-profit companies must provide documentation that the proposed project does not provide financial benefit to the company’s core business. For-profit companies must make research results public and explain how they will do so.

[2] A fiscal sponsor is a non-profit organization that is in good standing and performs various administrative management and oversight functions for a group that is not registered as a 501(c)(3) organization. If funded, the fiscal agent/sponsor and applicant organization will be responsible for all terms and conditions of the Grant Award Agreement for the duration of the grant. For purposes of the application, Foundation will require financial information from both the applicant organization and the fiscal agent/sponsor. 

[3] Diversity in this context is defined as “diversity of gender, race, ethnicity, discipline, and type of research institution.”

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Opens
Jan 14 2020 12:00 AM (CST)
Deadline
Feb 5 2020 11:59 PM (CST)