2021 Central Standards - Summer
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Heartland Strategy focuses on growing support capacity for entrepreneurship in the four states of the Heartland region (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas). We do this through grant making, convening peer learning communities of practice and building the capacity of entrepreneur support organizations in the Heartland region.
CONTEXT & FUNDING OPPORTUNITY
The 2021 Central Standards Request for Proposals provides matching funds to encourage and accelerate collaborations between two or more entrepreneurship support organizations working together to support Heartland entrepreneurs in the states of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas.
Our work in the Heartland supports entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) as they work to develop entrepreneurs and remove barriers to entrepreneurship with an end goal of elevating entrepreneurship as a regional priority, and creating a more vibrant economic future for the region. The Central Standards RFP, as part of the Heartland Strategy, is intended to support bringing the most effective entrepreneurship support programs and tools in the world to the Heartland, in partnership with local communities. A key component of the strategy is to encourage collaborations between organizations in the Heartland and from across the country. This RFP will ask applicants to collaborate with a peer organization on programs designed to enhance support for entrepreneurship in the Heartland.
This grantmaking initiative has up to $2 million in funding available to match locally and regionally funded projects supporting entrepreneurs in the states of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas. Proposals serving all areas of the Heartland, including rural areas, will be considered. Proposals of up to $250K will be considered; the program team anticipates funding proposals of all sizes including proposals that are smaller than the $250K limit. Proposals will be accepted twice annually and funding decisions for the respective rounds will be announced in the spring and summer of 2021.
Goals for Program:
The Central Standards RFP will seek to fund collaborations between organizations that improve the capabilities and / or programmatic impact of Entrepreneurship Support Organizations (ESOs) already operating in the Heartland. Specifically, the Kauffman Foundation intends this funding program to accomplish the following.
- Build connections between entrepreneurship support organizations (ESOs) operating in the Heartland and with ESOs based outside the region. Each application must have multiple stakeholders with at least one of the organizations serving as the Lead Applicant. The Lead Applicant must be based in the Heartland and the Co-applicant(s) can be based anywhere in the US.
- The projects advance at least one or more of the strategic priorities of the Kauffman Foundation’s Heartland Strategy.
- Inclusive Prosperity in the Heartland: Funding programs and initiatives that support all entrepreneurs of all backgrounds in the Heartland.
- Rural Revitalization: Funding projects that enable rural ESOs and communities to provide the support necessary for rural entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses.
- Transitioning to an Entrepreneurship & Innovation-led economy: Supporting the development of vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems, build new idea economy-relevant clusters, and diversify the region’s economy.
- Set clear standards for supporting entrepreneurs in the region
- Bring the best entrepreneurship support programs and tools from across the country to the Heartland
- Expand promising programs already active in the region to support more entrepreneurs in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas
- Align local, regional, and national funders with the work of supporting entrepreneurship in the Heartland by providing match funding.
Who Should Apply:
The Kauffman Foundation is inviting applicants that meet the following requirements.
- At least two organizations are working together on the project and at least one of the organizations must be a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
- The lead applicant is headquartered in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, or Kansas
- The entrepreneurs supported by the project are based in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and / or Kansas (applicants can serve entrepreneurs in multiple states)
- Your project would benefit from receiving matching funds from the Kauffman Foundation. The Central Standards program will seek to extend the impact of Heartland-focused entrepreneurship support initiatives by matching the funding of local and regional funders.
- The proposed project aligns with at least one of the listed goals of the Central Standards program (See “Goals for Program” section above).
- The co-applicants have raised, or are capable of raising, the required match support for the project
Match requirements upfront:
- Applicants are expected to raise a minimum of 25 percent committed match from a third party funder that is not one of the co-applicants.
- Applicants will be required to submit a full fundraising plan and will be evaluated on viability.
Match requirements during the project:
- To reach a full 1:1 match, an additional 75 percent matching funds is expected to be raised over the course of the project. Additional funds can be from the same third party, or from others.
- In-kind match is allowed for the up to 50% and can include volunteer hours, support services, donated space, and staff time. In-kind match must be relevant to the success of the grant.
BUDGET & AWARDS
Applicants may request funding up to $250,000 to be distributed over 12 to 36 months. While award amounts for individual projects will vary, we anticipate the average grant size to be between $50,000 and $200,000. In the full proposal round, applicants will submit a 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
This call is open to nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions that provide services to entrepreneurs, including technical assistance, access to finance, education, and other resources. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is seeking to fund collaborations between organizations to address challenges in the Heartland, consisting of the states of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. Collaborating organizations will apply as co-applicants and will be required to provide documentation on both organizations.
Additionally, eligible applicants must meet all the following criteria:
- Located in the United States;
- Have a record of successfully serving underrepresented entrepreneurs and engaging them in the activities outlined above;
- Demonstrate an understanding of the benefits effective advocacy can have for entrepreneurs; and
- Employ staff and leadership (including board members) that are reflective of the communities they serve
- At least one of the co-applicants must be headquartered in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, or Kansas and have a mission of serving entrepreneurs in one or more of those states.
- Match funding is required for all requests. Applicants must demonstrate a minimum of 50% match funding for all projects. In-kind support will be acceptable as match.
We will not consider funding for:
- Indirect/overhead expenses associated with the ongoing operations of the organization;
- Kauffman Foundation funding of the proposed project lasting longer than three years; programs may continue beyond the three year project limit but Kauffman funding will not be available beyond the limit.
- More than one application per organization (only one proposal allowed);
- Projects focused primarily on youth entrepreneurship, real estate development and / or workforce training
- April 1, 2021 - Submit preliminary application
- May 3, 2021 - Applications are due
- May 25, 2021 - Semi-finalists are notified
- June 16, 2021 - Submit full proposal
- July 2021 - Finalists are notified
- September 2021 - Grants are awarded
Applications for spring 2022 funding will open in November 2021 and will follow a similar timeline.
If you are interested in submitting an application for spring 2022 funding, please email your primary contact to email@example.com to stay informed about future Central Standards RFPs.
HOW TO APPLY
The application process will consist of two-stages. The first is a preliminary application with details on all co-applicant organizations 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.
In addition to organization and primary contact info, simple budget numbers, and drop-down categorizations of the proposal, applicants will be expected to complete a series of questions that are specific to this request for proposals. Below is an overview of the questions applicants will be expected to complete:
Work Relationship between Co-Applicants: In one or two paragraphs, describe the planned structure of the working relationship between the co-applicants.
Fundraising Plans: In one or two paragraphs, describe the plans for and/or progress on raising the necessary matching funds project.
Demonstrated Need: Have you conducted a review of existing programs designed to address your selected challenge in the states of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and / or Kansas? What aspect of the market remains underserved? How will your proposed project close that gap?
Prospective Applicant Support
Prospective applicants are encouraged to take advantage of the following opportunities for proposal support:
Questions & Answers via email: Kauffman associates will accept questions related to this RFP and the application process via email. In order to allow time for a response, questions must be submitted by a minimum of 24 hours prior to the deadline for full proposals. Responses to these questions will be posted to the RFP FAQ once the question period closes. Submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Kauffman Currents article: “After generations of disinvestment, rural America might be the most innovative place in the U.S.”
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:
NOTE: Some fields will require information for all co-applicants.
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.
Web-based Interview or Site Visits
As part of the application process, the review team may require a web-based meeting with the co-applicants to discuss the proposal. During your time, the program officer may provide feedback and suggest revisions to the scope of your project. Therefore, applicants should include appropriate representatives from all co-applicant organization in these meetings.
All application submissions will be reviewed by internal staff. 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 3 to 6 months from the initial application deadline date depending on the requested funding date.
Reviewers will rate and comment on the following aspects of your initial proposal:
Demonstrated Need for Proposed Program: Co-Applicants will be required to demonstrate that they have conducted a thorough analysis of current programming in the targeted community and have confirmed that the need is not addressed by currently available programs or those programs are not sufficient.
Project / Program Design: Proposals will be reviewed for the quality of the program design. Leading proposals will incorporate accepted best practices and be responsive to the unique needs of the community.
Co-Applicant Collaboration Planning: Leading proposals will clearly articulate how the co-applicants will structure the project team and their work together.
Financial Viability & Support for Project: Proposals will be required to detail matched funding and plans for sustaining the program after the grant period has ended.
Additionally, for those selected as semi-finalists – reviewers will assess the full proposal against the following criteria:
Budget and Timeline: The adequacy of the budget and timeline in executing the activities described within the proposal.
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 & EVALUTION 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.
Grants made under this Challenge will be required to report on relevant output and outcome metrics. If selected as a finalist, you will work with the assigned program officer to establish the appropriate reporting and payment schedule. The program officer will work with the applicants to finalize outputs and outcomes. All applicants are strongly encouraged to review the Kauffman Foundation’s metrics guide prior to working with their program officer.
If you have questions about the goals or content of this RFP, please email email@example.com
For applicants having problems with accessing or submitting the application, please reach out to the SurveyMonkey help desk here.
TERMS & CONDITIONS:
Please review the following Terms & Conditions that guide the Foundation’s grantmaking and request for proposal processes.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
I am having difficulty submitting my application, who do I reach out to?
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. If you find yourself in this situation, please email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org Applications received after the deadline will be considered for the next eligible funding round.
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.
Can both co-applying organizations be based in the Heartland?
Yes. Organizations based in the Heartlands states of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas are eligible to apply as co-applicants
Can one of the co-applying organizations be based outside of the Heartland?
Yes. At least one of the co-applying organizations must be based in the Heartland states of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. The entrepreneurs supported by the grant must be based in the Heartland.
Can we apply with more than two organizations?
Yes. You will be required to explain the role of each co-applicant.
Are applicants required to operate in all Heartland States or can the project focus on one state, region, or city?
The grant funded activities are not required to cover the entire four state Heartland region.
How do we confirm we have achieved the required match?
Co-applicants will be required to submit a letter from their funders confirming the match funding. The funding will also need to be shown in the application budget form.
How do you define “Lead Applicant”?
The Lead Applicant is the non-profit 501(c)(3) or University based in one of the Heartland states (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, or Kansas) that will be responsible for administering the grant. These responsibilities will include reporting on grant progress, distributing funds to co-applicant organizations, etc.
How you define “Co-applicant”?
Co-applicants are any organization that will be working with the lead applicant in a formal capacity on the grant. This could include partnering non-profits, universities, or for-profit companies that are providing relevant services or support to the project. Unlike the requirement that the Lead Applicant be based in the Heartland, Co-Applicants can be headquartered anywhere in the U.S.
I submitted an application to the last round of Central Standards—can I submit the same one again, or do I need to change it?
Yes, you are welcome to submit the same application as you submitted last time. In some circumstances, you may find that making a few changes to your previously submitted application can make it more competitive. If you have not already received feedback on a previously submitted application and have related questions, please join an office hours session or email email@example.com with your request.