Collaborative Change Initiative
Frequently Asked Questions
This is a list of frequently asked questions that we’ve received from applicants in the past. We will continue to update this list of FAQs at the end of each week during the current application cycle. We higly encourage that you watch the 2024 informational webinar recording as many questions that may not be reflected on this page were answered during the live Q & A portion at the end of the webinar.
If your question is not addressed below, please email: email@example.com
Where on the Hellman website can I access the RFI Application?
- Navigate to the How to Apply page
What is the difference between a partner institution and a member of the collaboration?
- A partner institution is an organization from a particular sector. A member is an individual participating in the collaboration. For example, LAUNCH grant applicants should have a collaborative table with at least 4 partner institutions (organizations represented in the collaborative table) and at least 6 members (individuals from these organizations or the community who are actively involved in the collaborative table).
What advice would you give to a collaboration who might be interested in responding to the Request for Information?
- We advise you to:
- Watch the informational webinar that we held on February 13th here.
- Review all overview and eligibility requirements carefully, including the Five Phases of Collaboration, to confirm that your collaboration is eligible to apply.
- Read about our current awardees to get a better sense of what we’ve supported in the past.
- If you are unsure about your eligibility, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm.
We have been getting a lot of questions about whether a collaboration is a better fit for a LAUNCH or a GROWTH grant. Please make sure you have read through all of the eligibility criteria of both grants to make sure you are applying for the appropriate grant.
- The key difference between a LAUNCH grant and a GROWTH grant is where your collaboration is with regard to piloting your program or strategies. If you are just starting to develop plans for a pilot or are early in the testing/learning phase, then you are in the LAUNCH phase--even if your collaboration has been working together for some time. If you have been testing and piloting a project or strategy for a while and are poised to begin scaling, then you are in the GROWTH phase.
Are there specific issue areas that the Foundation is most interested in?
- We give priority to collaborations tackling disparities in health, education, and opportunity, but are also open to compelling collaborative projects that address other disparities in individual outcomes and community well-being (e.g. gun violence prevention, economic security, access to green space)
Do we need to meet all eligibility requirements?
- Yes, due to the high volume and competitive nature of the applications we receive, collaborations must meet all eligibility criteria to be considered.
Our collaboration is led by an organization that is not in San Francisco County or Alameda County. Should we apply?
- No, the Collaborative Change Initiative is currently limited to collaborations located and operating within Alameda County or the County of San Francisco.
My collaboration has non-profit and business partners, but no partner from the public sector. Do we qualify?
- No, to be eligible you must have at least one lead partner from the public sector (e.g., local/state government, public school districts, public hospitals and universities).
I am part of a long-standing collaboration that needs ongoing general operating support. Should I apply?
- This funding is not for ongoing general operating support of existing collaborations without an ambitious plan and current activities underway for growth/scale/systems change. Please carefully review the eligibility and funding guidelines for LAUNCH Grants and GROWTH Grants to understand purposes for which funding can and cannot be used.
I am part of a collaboration with a great track record. We need funding mostly to expand our programming to a new site. Should we apply?
- Probably not. Expanding services to a new site or simply to reach more participants will not be a competitive application, unless the expansion is strategically contributing to a larger collective goal of creating scaled or systems-level change.
I am passionate about a pressing issue in my community and would like to pull together a collaboration to respond to this opportunity. Should I apply?
- No, your collaboration must be already formed with a clear strategy and a track record of working in partnership.
My organization works in collaboration with many partners to implement our programs but not as a large table that meets regularly to discuss collective strategy on an issue. Should we apply?
- No. We applaud your collaborative approach, but you are not eligible for this initiative if:
- Your collaborative effort is focused on implementation of a single organization's activities (even if the goal is citywide scale).
- You do not meet regularly as a multi-party table to implement strategies.
Can a backbone agency for a citywide collaborative apply even if they are doing primarily backbone functions, with the partner organizations leading direct support services?
- YES: Our hope is that the collaboration informs and guides the implementation of solutions including direct services. The Initiative seeks to support collaborations, not a single organization driving the implementation and scaling.
In the education realm, is a district considered a single partner or can different schools or administrative units within the district be counted towards the 4 partners?
- We consider the district to be a single partner and schools to be part of the district. Different schools or administrative units within the district would not be counted as additional partners.
I am a current/past Hellman Foundation grantee. Will that help or hurt my chances?
- No. We encourage eligible collaborations that include current Hellman Foundation grantees to apply.
- However, if you are the lead agency of a current or past Collaborative Change Initiative project, please discuss any potential applications with staff before submitting an RFI.
Can you provide an example of a "one sentence measurable goal for a collaboration" as requested in the RFI?
Where possible, these goals should be measurable, include a proposed time frame, and give a sense of the work that will lead to this goal. Here are a few examples:
- By 20XX, XX% of low-income preschoolers in Oakland will participate in high quality early literacy and math programs, leading to a significant increase in kindergarten readiness.
- Over the next XX years, ABC Collaboration will transform access to prenatal nutrition, ensuring that XX% of all pregnant mothers have consistent access to healthy food.
- By 20XX, suspensions and expulsions in San Francisco schools will decrease by XX%, through programs that provide mentoring, early intervention, and parent education.
- Over the next XX years, DEF Collaboration intends to eliminate preventable oral health conditions among San Francisco kids by providing universal access to dental care and information.
For GROWTH grants, could this include scaling an existing solution and also expanding with additional activities that might be new to the collaborative?
Are we allowed to subcontract the grant to the organizational members of the collaborative? Does the funding for a GROWTH grant need to be split evenly over 5 years?
- Yes, we look to the collaboration to inform us how the flexible dollars will be spent which allows for subcontracting the grant. The funds do NOT need to be split evenly over 5 years for a GROWTH grant.
What are common reasons why applicants do NOT get selected for an award?
- Typically applicants who are NOT selected are not truly active collaborations, do not have scalable solutions that have the potential for citywide/countywide impact, and do not meet the minimum eligibility criteria. The Initiative seeks to support ambitious cross-sector work that have a proven track record of working together that pre-dates this proposal.
Can faith-based organizations be considered as part of the applying collaboration?
Can a partner institution be part of multiple applications?
- Yes, we have found this to be true especially with large institutions (e.g. UCSF, Department of Public Health, etc.), who submit multiple applications.
Is there a word or character count for each of the sections of the application?
- There are no word or character limits, but page recommendations are included in each section where they apply.
If we proceed to the next round of the application process, what will that entail?
- Please see our timeline for a list of steps.
If we receive this grant, will participation in capacity building activities be optional?
- No. Capacity building activities are a crucial component of the support we provide to awardees. The Foundation team will work closely with awardees to customize activities to ensure they meet the unique capacity needs of each collaboration.
Our collaboration is unique and our current needs do not fit within the categories in your “Use of Funds” section. Is that a problem?
- These grants are intended to be flexible and we are open to considering costs outside those listed. However, please read eligibility requirements carefully to ensure that your collaboration is otherwise still a strong match with this funding.
I’m not ready to apply this year. Will you be offering the Collaborative Change Initiative awards again?
- Our current plan is to provide Collaborative Change grants every other year, though that is subject to change.
Can collaborations include broader partners beyond SF and Alameda if impacts will be seen Alameda and SF counties?
- Yes, as long as the cross-sector collaboration is active, its membership is made up of leaders and representatives in SF or Alameda, and the solutions that it is piloting or scaling is taking place in SF or Alameda county.
Our collaboration does not include a lead public sector partner, but we do have a co-governance model that we employ with elected officials, and we do work with boards and commissions to win on campaigns centering racial, economic and environmental justice. We are also a member of coalitions that include labor and progressive elected officials. Does this meet the qualification?
- Having public sector leaders and policymakers engaged in collaborative work is essential.
What, if any, percentage of committed resources (in-kind) are required for GROWTH grant?
- There is no required percentage of in-kind and committed resources; however, collaborations with secured support and resources reflect a greater commitment to the work and are more likely to be sustained over time.
Can charter schools apply?
- Yes, as long as there is an active collaboration that is made up of cross-sector representatives at the table in addition to the school.
What materials are needed for the application, such as letters of support? Do we need to have a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with partners to be considered?
- Additional materials such as letters of support are welcomed, but not required. While MOUs are an indicator of collaborative strength, especially for GROWTH applicants, we would also expect to see a positive track record of working together and accomplishments to date.
Can you review again what activities the growth grants fund?
- The general operating grant is flexible and can be used to support core operating costs such as, but not limited to: staffing, consultants, collaboration-strengthening activities, conferences, pilot implementation, and program evaluation.
May we apply for both a launch grant for one new initiative with an Alameda and San Francisco collaboration and a growth grant that operates in SF and Alameda (and many other counties
- Yes, as long as the eligibility requirements and criteria are fully met for each. We do not encourage applying to more than one track to increase your chances of funding.
We have a solution already implemented in San Francisco for 3 years, if we want to create that model in Alameda, will that be considered as “LAUNCH” or “GROWTH”?
- It depends. An active, mid-stage collaboration in SF could apply for the GROWTH track if they were looking to scale a solution that was piloted within the same county. If a collaboration that has implemented a successful pilot in SF wanted to extend the solution into Alameda, we would expect to see cross-sector members at the table that are working to adapt the solution to address the specific priorities and landscape of Alameda county.
Would a project taking place in San Francisco with potential for statewide scalability be eligible?
- The grant is intended to support the piloting or scaling of solutions across San Francisco or Alameda counties. Statewide scalability is not a priority at this time.
Can you speak a little more on what you mean by “cross sector” approach?
- Our research and experience tell us that no one organization or sector can solve an intractable, complex problem. We expect cross sector collaborations to have representatives from diverse sectors, including the public sector (i.e., Mayor’s office, School District, Department of Health, Business sector, etc.) and community members with lived experience work together in planning, implementation, assessment, and piloting or scaling solutions.
What are the criteria guidelines for a sufficient evidence base?
- There are no specific guidelines on the types of evidence provided. However, the evidence should indicate, through data or otherwise, that there is a reasonable connection between the problem and the pilot solution. Please refer to the Awardees page to learn more about how awardees have leveraged data to design their solution.
What types of change does the program want to invest in: policy change, coordination of direct services, and/or narrative change?
- There is no specific change or set of changes that this Initiative seeks to fund, but direct services do play an important part of the change. At the same time, our research and experience tell us that a policy advocacy strategy strengthens the likelihood that those services will have a system wide impact.
What are some examples of capacity building support that grantees received in the past?
- Collaborative partners have received funds for leadership coaching, training on a variety of topics (e.g., policy advocacy, evaluation), participation to conferences, and collaborative convenings. They have also received support with the creation of strategic communications and policy advocacy implementation plans.
If our collaboration consists of many stakeholders from the public sector that serve system-impacted youth (schools, courts, probations, foster care, etc.) but does not currently include youth at the table, would we still be competitive?
- We’ve found that cross-sector collaborations that include community members with lived experience are often most successful. If your collaborative table aims to target youth, and your collaborative table does not have youth engaged, it is likely not competitive for this Initiative.
If an organization applies for a launch grant, fulfills the criteria, and receives one, would it be able to apply for a growth grant later, given your spendown plan?
- Yes, as long as there are calls for applications and the collaboration meets the criteria, you can apply for a GROWTH grant at a later time.
Can an organization be part of more than one collaboration that is submitting an application?
- Yes, as long as there are calls for applications and the collaboration meets the criteria, you can apply for a GROWTH grant at a later time.
Can you elaborate on the types of education priorities this initative seeks to support?
- We encourage you to look at the Awardees page to see examples of previous grantees. We are open to any and all compelling solutions that address educational disparities.
Can you share more about ‘flexible dollars’ and ‘trust based philanthropy’? What does this look like in action?
- The Collaborative Change Initiative provides multi-year, flexible funding for cross-sector collaborative work, which means we're open to how the collaborative table chooses to use the funds to advance their work since they are the experts. Other Trust-Based Philanthropy approaches involve centering communities and their expertise, and providing thought partnership and other capacity building dollars and resources beyond the grant funding. For more information about this approach, please go to www.trustbasedphilanthropy.org/.
How many people are on this 2024 call and how many submitted last year?
- Nearly 200 people registered for the informational webinar and 150 people attended this year's informational webinar. In 2022, we received nearly 50 initial applications, about 50% were invited to the proposal application phase, and 4 awardees were selected.
My organization has funding and support from First 5 Alameda County. Does that count as a public org collaboration?
- If they are are an acting member and highly engaged with the collaborative table, then they count as a public sector partner.
To clarify, and going off of the question on statewide initiatives, are collaboratives that span multiple Bay Area counties ineligible?
- Funding from the Collaborative Change Initiative supports work only in Alameda and San Francisco Counties.
What are some examples of factors in an application that would *downvote the desirability of an application?
- We ask that you please review the elibility criteria to determine eligibility.
Is there a number of individuals required as representatives of the public for the collaboration?
- No, as long as there is meaningful engagement and you have enough representatives to implement the work.
Does providing technical assistance / training to staff at public sector partner (i.e. a school district) count as direct service?
- Yes, this may be considered direct service.
Does leadership training of new immigrants count as direct service?
- It depends on the goals and aims of this leadership training but unlikely if this is considered organizing efforts.
Does the project need to prove long term sustainability (especially for hiring new staff, etc).
Does there need to be a financial strategic plan to continue the project services after the conclusion of the grant period?
- Long term sustainabilty is an important element. To help think through this, our team partners closley with collaborative partners to provide thought partnership to identify sustaibility goals. In the past, we've also provided capacity building funds, including consultants, to partner with collaboratives to identify sustainbility goals and establish plans.
Would a community based organization that is fiscally sponsored be eligible?
Could the grant managing entity be in the private sector, or does it need to be a non-profit?
- Please follow up with our grants team on how best to respond to this question.
What if existing collabs were in a different county, and we're expanding programming into SF?
- Yes, your collaborative may be eligible if you're interested to pilot or scale solitions in San Francisco.
Does Hellman have an indirect rate cap? And if so, what is it?