Standard Grant Application Process
The Community Children’s Services Fund and the Community Mental Health Fund use a virtually identical process by which 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations can apply for funding. The two tax funds initiate the process on alternate years so there is never more than one tax fund RFP active at a time. There are four distinct phases in the standard process:
Step 1: Assess Community Needs and Set Funding Priorities
Every three years a Needs Assessment is conducted for each tax fund target population (e.g., children up to age 19 and adults with serious behavioral health conditions). The results of the Needs Assessment and funding priorities are presented at a community meeting that serves also as a kick-off to the announcement of funding availability. Typically, the kick-off community meeting is held in the early fall of the year prior to the Trustees’ funding decisions. Area service providers are encouraged to attend the community meeting. At this meeting, the request for proposals, funding along with a schedule and materials is distributed. Immediately following, all materials are posted on the MHB website to be made accessible to any organization wishing to know how to apply.
Step 2: Pre-Application Phase
Pre-applications are requested in two ways:
- Currently funded projects in good standing submit an “Intent to Apply” (ITA), which carries an automatic invitation to submit a full proposal.
- Projects not currently funded by MHB are required to submit a Concept Paper (CP), which is reviewed by staff and Trustees. Projects with the most promising concepts are invited to submit a full project proposal.
Pre-applications are usually due in November or December so that invitations to submit full applications can be issued by January.
Step 3: Application Phase
Full proposals are required to be submitted online in MHB’s grant portal using the application template; this template is designed to allow the agency to more fully describe the approach presented in their pre-application.
Once the invitation to submit a full proposal is received, the agency signs up for a mandatory application training session. In addition, assigned MHB project directors provide a 90-minute technical assistance consultation with any agency who makes a request. Technical assistance is highly encouraged, though it is not mandatory.
Full proposals are normally due in early March. Staff reviews the full proposals and provides MHB Trustees with recommendations. Trustees and consumer reviewers divide into work teams and meet in April to determine recommendations. Proposals are screened using an objective rating instrument – first by staff, and then by the MHB Trustees and community residents – in a consensus meeting. The screening is rigorous, resulting in only the most robust proposals being selected for three-year grant funding. The full Board makes final funding decisions by the May Board meeting.
Best practice programs conducted by organizations with good track records offer the highest assurances that outcomes will be achieved. In certain situations, grants will be awarded to encourage promising innovative programs if data or evidence exists that a proposed approach has a reasonable likelihood of success. This approach to funding prioritizes social return on investment, including benefits to City residents, level of improvement in the conditions of the people served, as well as cost effectiveness.
Step 4: Contracting Phase
Immediately after Board funding decisions are made, contracts are prepared. The month of June is dedicated to the contracting process, and all efforts are made to ensure that contracts are reviewed and properly executed in time for projects to begin implementation by July 1 (the first day of the new fiscal year).
Standard Grant Application Process Timeline
Below is the standard timeline for applying for MHB tax funds, either through the Community Mental Health Fund or the Community Children’s Services Fund.
- Board of Trustees accepts Needs Assessment and other findings.
- Board of Trustees approves funding framework priorities and authorizes application process.
- Community meeting with prospective grantees is held to share MHB Needs Assessment findings, funding framework priorities and announce opening of application process.
- Online Grant Portal opens to accept pre-application submissions (Concept Paper or *Intent to Apply).
- Pre-application workshops conducted.
- Deadline for pre-application submissions.
- Staff reviews and develops recommendations.
- Board of Trustees approves Concept Papers invited to submit a full application.
- Grant portal opens to accept full applications.
Late January – Early February
- Application workshops are conducted.
- Technical assistance sessions with applicants (closes one week prior to application deadline).
- Application deadline; web-based system closes.
- Staff reviews applications.
- Staff completes application reviews and recommends finalists for Trustees’ consideration.
- Trustees and consumer reviewers receive applications and staff recommendations.
Mid-April – Early May
- Trustees and consumer reviewer teams review applications and recommendations in preparation for Review Team Meetings.
- Trustees and consumer review teams (3–4 teams) meet to make recommendations to the full Board.
- Trustee and consumer review team recommendations are received by MHB Board.
- Board selects grantees for the next three-year cycle and approves the first year of funding.
- Selected grantees are notified of their award.
- Year 1 contracts are drawn up and executed.
- Fiscal year start date for newly selected project grants.
* Intent to Apply is available only to projects that are receiving MHB funding in the current cycle and in good standing. All projects submitting an Intent to Apply are invited to submit a full application, which is reviewed with all other applications.