CIC Proposal FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Community Impact Contracts (updated November 10, 2020)

Please note that many of these questions and answers reflect content in the CIC-Cohort Brochure and guidance within the online application at my.rwjf.org. Access these and other program resources as dashconnect.org/cic.  If your question is not answered in either of those two places or below, please send it to info@dashconnect.org.

DASH operates three major funding programs, which are described here.  These programs operate on different timelines.  For example, DASH’s Learning and Action in Policy and Partnerships program is open at the same time as the Community Impact Contracts opportunity. At the same time, both CIC and LAPP will close before the DASH Mentorships open late this year. Please review the three opportunities to see which one(s) might be appropriate for your community initiatives.

ELIGIBILITY

Q: I have applied for or received funding from DASH in the past.  Am I eligible for this opportunity? 

A: Yes, although priority is given to new applicants.

Q: Can I apply if I am currently funded by one of the All In Partner program offices (DASH, PHNCI, BUILD, CACHI, NJHI, CHF, etc.)?

A: Yes. Priority is given to community collaborations that are currently not funded and those that are implementing new strategies to engage partners, build capacity and/or share data. However, all members of All In are encouraged to apply.

Q: Can a public entity, such as a Public Health Department, be an applicant if it is leading and convening a collaboration among community partners?

A: The eligibility criteria states that applicants must be either public entities or nonprofit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and must not be private foundations or non-functionally integrated Type III supporting organizations. A Public Health Department would qualify under that status. DASH is looking for active, pre-existing collaborations to apply.

Q: Would a foundation be eligible to apply on behalf of a community collective impact initiative?

A: A foundation is not eligible to apply for CIC-Cohort. However, if one of the members of the community collaboration meets the eligibility criteria they can apply on behalf of the collective impact initiative – this would also make for a more compelling application.

Q: If my organization is not yet a 501(c)(3), but is in an active application process, can I apply? Or must I have definitive 501(c)(3) status as time of application?

A: Having 501(c)(3) status shows that your organization has reached a certain point in its development, and met legal requirements regarding non-profit status. It is very important to DASH on behalf of RWJF, due to restrictions regarding how they distribute funds. If you have a documented history of working together that you can point to, it would be useful to write more about your situation and send your question to info@dashconnect.org.

Q: If my organization is working through a charitable fiscal agent that is not a 501(c)(3), can I apply?

A: You can use them as a fiscal agent if they are a public charity. You could need to look at their tax status and it is acceptable if they are 509(a)(1) or 509 (a)(2) or 509 (a)(3) 170 (b) (i) (a) (vi).

Q: Am I eligible for another CIC-Cohort contract if I am a current or past CIC-START awardee?

A: You are eligible to apply, but the contract is not intended to support multiple stages of work, but rather clearly defined activities with specific products or 1-2 deliverables.

Q: Can I apply to CIC-Cohort if I previously applied and was turned down? Would our application be considered again?

A: Yes. The awardees for each round of CIC-START and CIC-Cohort are selected based on the pool of applicants and the quality of the application. If you re-apply, please review the selection criteria and strengthen sections of the application that may have been weak. Because the CIC-Cohort awards are intended to address a relatively immediate need or opportunity, your application may look different from previous submissions.

Q: From among our immediate partners, it appears this particular application would most likely come from our Foundation (a 503(c)(3)).  As a university we have a fairly formal internal proposal approval process, particularly if rates other than the university’s standard fringe and indirect rates are being requested.  Can we get more information on indirect and restrictions?

A: The budget worksheet that is part of the proposal contains guidance about rates. Fringe does not have a specified limit, but should not be included in the calculation of indirect. The Foundation’s approved rate for Indirect Costs varies by applicant type.  For colleges/universities and hospital/health systems, the rate 12 percent of Personnel, Other Direct Costs and Purchased Services. That rate is 20% for non-profit organizations.  When Purchased Services total more than 33 percent of the budget, the Foundation limits indirect costs on the Purchased Services category to 5 percent. If one member of the collaboration cannot meet this cap, we recommend considering another partner to take the lead. More guidance on this is available within the online application system.

Q: What is considered a multi-sector partnership?

A: By sectors, we mean those organizational categories that have a specific focus or purpose.  Examples include public health, health care, housing, education, transportation, civic engagement, community development, law enforcement, the private sector — any set of organizations or industry that has an impact on individual and community health. When DASH talks about multi-sector partnerships, we mean to support collaborations that include participants from organizations from different sectors.  We support multi-sector approaches because we believe that individuals and communities are better understood by incorporating and integrating information and data from multiple lenses — and as a corrective to the idea that we should only be using clinical health care metrics when we think about health, well-being and equity. In 2020 and beyond, DASH is especially interested in collaborations that include public health, health care and at least one community-based social service sector. Multiple organizations or jurisdictions do not necessarily translate into multiple sectors.

Q: How many sectors need to be included in a multi-sector collaborative effort?

A: The brochure addresses this directly in the Eligibility Criteria: “Demonstrate strong, active, documented relationships, including collaborative relationships and/or data sharing, among organizations in two or more sectors that have roles relevant to specific, mutually acknowledged health, equity, or community wellbeing goals or objectives. Include organizations from public health and/or health care and at least one other sector, such as housing, human services, community development, education, transportation, criminal justice, public safety, the private sector, public health, behavioral health, or others that have a stake in or influence on individual and community health and equity.”

Q: Is the participation of a health care sector a requirement? If so, can FQHC/community health centers qualify?

A: Within the context of DASH’s definition of a multi-sector collaboration, an FHCQ or CHC does qualify as an organization from health care.

Q: Our clinical care setting also includes services that are often associated with community-based social services organizations, such as care managers and social workers within a health care system. Would this count as two sectors?

A: While different types of organizations may utilize similar services, such as social care management, to meet their institutional goals, the requirement for multiple sectors reflects the idea that different types of organizations organize their work differently, and that the drivers for different sectors are positively different, and that bringing those different sectors together can result in a fuller and more meaningful understanding and approach to individual and community health. Therefore, DASH requires the meaningful participation of at least two different sectors, and encourages the presence of health care AND public health AND community-based social services.

Q: What types of organizations have you previously awarded funds to?

A: Please start your review at the CIC Landing page at DASHconnec.org.  You can browse past CIC-START awardees and there is also an All In project directory (you will need to be a logged-in member of the site to access the latter). Previous CIC-START awardees come from a variety of organization types, including public health departments, hospitals and community clinics, Health Information Exchanges, civic data intermediaries, community development organizations, community-based non-profits, housing agencies, etc.

Q: Does my organization have to be based in the United States to be eligible?

A: Yes. This opportunity is limited to organizations based in the United States or its territories.

ALL IN MEMBERSHIP

Q: How do I join All In?

A: If you’re new to All In, the first step to join is to sign up for the online community (community.allindata.org) and create an individual member profile. If you do so by the application deadline, you will be eligible for CIC- START funding.

Q: Is there a cost to becoming an All In member?

A: There is no financial cost to joining All In, but members are encouraged to participate in discussions, attend webinars, and use and contribute resources to generate a rich community of practice to advance this field.

Q: I attempted to join All In, but accidentally made an error in typing my email address, thus didn’t receive the confirmation e-mail. How can I fix that?

A: First, re-register with the correct email address.  If you already completed your profile on the account with an error, email info@dashconnect.org and we will transfer it to the new account.

Q: Is there a limit to the number of people in an organization or collaboration that can or should join All In?

A: We encourage all project participants and partners to join All In. All In is a broad learning collaborative that can help connect you to resources and other supports for this work.

APPLICATION QUESTIONS

Q: Can you help me decide whether/how this opportunity would be a good fit for my organization or collaboration?

A: DASH is not able to respond to specific requests of this type when the opportunity is still in solicitation. Please carefully review the eligibility and selection criteria in the brochure, the webinar recording, and FAQs at dashconnect.org/cic to determine whether this opportunity is a good fit for your organization and collaboration.

Q: Is there someone we can consult to see if our project should apply for the current cohort or wait until the next round?  We are new to All In.

A: DASH encourages submissions from community collaboration who are new to All In or DASH. While the CIC-Cohort application period is open, DASH staff are not able to meet individually with communities or provide direct feedback. See answer above. You may consider applying for future funding if you feel your community project is not currently ready to make a compelling case for funding.

Q: Can I apply for both CIC-Cohort and other DASH program funding?

A: Yes, although you will still need to submit a separate application for each funding opportunity.

Q: How far along in the multi-sector data sharing does the organization have to be?  Our organization has not implemented any solutions or plans, but have convened local multi-sector partnerships in planning a framework. Will this suffice?

A: DASH welcomes applications from collaborations at all stages of maturation that are responsive to the eligibility and selection criteria. Having good collaborative relationships is a key prerequisite. If you are in the planning phase, it may be possible, though we typically fund applicants who are focused on a specific community use case. If your collaboration is not yet ready for the CIC-Cohort program, you might be a better fit for DASH’s Mentorship program, which will be available in December/January 2021. 

Q: How many applications will be funded?

A: We expect to fund up to 10 applications in the integral round of CIC-Cohort.  We expect to receive more high-quality applications than we will be able to fund, so we are also encouraging applicants to join the online community at allin.healthdoers.org to reach out to those similar projects or find where they have shared lessons learned or advice.

Q: To get a feel for how competitive the grant is, can you give us a ballpark of how many organizations have applied in previous rounds?

A: DASH has administered five rounds of the Community Impact Contracts (CIC-START) program. In R1, which was invitation-only, we received roughly 15 applications and funded five; in R2 we received around 25 applications and funded six communities. Four rounds 3-5, we funded 16 of 33 applications, 14 of 56 and 12 of 38.

Q: How do you define sectors?

A: By sectors, we are referring to fields or people/organizations working in a specific area of expertise. For CIC-Cohort, we are interested in sectors relevant to community health improvement objectives (e.g., health care, public health, behavioral health, housing, human services, community development, education, transportation, criminal justice, public safety, the private sector, or other sector that has a stake in or impact on community health). As part of the application, you’ll be completing a survey about the collaboration with the list of sectors to choose from.

Q: Can a private technical solution provider who works with nonprofit communities co-apply with one of the nonprofit partners?

A: DASH seeks strong, active collaborative relationships from across multiple sectors working towards a common goal. A 501(c)(3) public entity or nonprofit organization can include a business as a partner in the collaborative endeavor, but the application lead must meet the eligibility requirements.

Q: I am part of a multi-sector collaboration. Which organization in our collaboration should apply?

A: The application can be submitted by any eligible organizational member of a collaboration. Ideally, it would come from the collaboration member most central to the management or implementation of the proposed work. The budget and project activities may reflect expanded roles for other organizations in the collaboration beyond the lead applicant.

Q: Is it possible for another organizational member of our partnership to apply separately?

A: Yes, as long as the other organization and the collaborative project meets the CIC-Cohort eligibility criteria.

Q: Can an organization submit multiple proposals?

A: Yes. Each proposal should address a unique opportunity. It is unlikely that one organization would be funded for two projects in one application period.

Q: Can two organizations apply for funding if they would be working collaboratively on the same project?

A: No, one organization should apply on behalf of the collaboration.

Q: Can separate entities within the same state’s government apply separately (two different projects within one state)?

A: Yes, as long as the other organization and collaborative project meet the CIC-Cohort eligibility criteria.

Q: Should a site visit from the DASH Program Office (PO) be included in the budget?

A: A “low-effort” site visit is a possible activity of a CIC-Cohort project. The DASH PO may request this, or the awardee may request it. If there is mutual interest, staff from the DASH PO will travel to the awardee site and DASH will assume all staff travel costs.  As of October 2020, any site visit is likely to be conducted virtually.

Q: What other financial materials may we send if we do not have two years of audited financials?

A: If an organization meetings the eligibility criteria but does not have audited financial statements, please provide whatever financial statements are available, and the DASH PO may follow up with additional questions.

Q: What should documentation of a multi-sector shared data project look like in our application? Letters of support, MOUs, other documentation?

A: The Brochure describes selection criteria, which represents the priorities for this funding opportunity.  The application describes the specific limitations (if any) for types of materials to be uploaded. We encourage you to submit documentation that offers specific detail regarding your past and proposed efforts to advance collaboration and data-sharing. Letters of support (addressed below), memorandums of understanding, data sharing agreements, governance processes are examples that may strengthen your proposal. These are important but ancillary to the clear and compelling case you will make in your narrative application questions.

Q: How many letters of support are required?

A: The application describes the specific limitations (if any) for types of materials to be uploaded; none are required. We are more interested in applications that can describe the depth and quality of your partnerships than in documentation from multiple partners that are only superficially engaged.

Q: Will there be any challenge with teams submitting applications for programs that are similar in nature to previously funded projects?

A: The CIC-Cohort program has three purposes: to build local community capacity, to learn and disseminate local lessons and evidence, and to build the peer network of communities in this field.  DASH balances these three purposes as we assess CIC-Cohort applications. If your application seems similar to a funded project, we encourage you to reflect that in the application and describe how you might leverage the All In: Data for Community Health peer learning opportunities to accelerate your capacity change.

Q: I don’t see the DASH CIC-Cohort grant listed as a current call for proposals when I log in to myrwjf.org.

A: The CIC-Cohort program is offered by the DASH Program Office, which is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  We use the RWJF automated application system, but the DASH Request for Proposals will not appear on the RWJF Current Calls for Proposal list.  You must click on the application link provided at dashconnect.org/cic to access the solicitation.  When you log in to the RWJF portal subsequently, it should appear at the top of the screen in “My Applications.”

Q: I just logged into RWJF to check this out and see I have an ID.  Does this mean I started an application?

A: If you have ever made an application to RWJF before, or been included in one, you may have an ID. If you have started a proposal, you should have received an email from rwjf.org with the proposal ID. If you believe you have started an application we recommend you try to find it before starting another. If you run into any problems or questions, please e-mail info@dashconnect.org with as much detail as you can provide, and we will make sure that you don’t duplicate your effort.

Q: If we have an active application for another RWJ grant, can we still apply for this one?

A: DASH does not place any restrictions on submitting an application while you have other active applications. If you have concerns about that particular RWJF grant, it may be worth reaching out to the program officer.

Q: What are the requirements in terms of an abstract, proposal, and budget?

A: The application requirements are listed in the CIC-Cohort Brochure. The best way to understand what is required from the application is by creating an account at my.rwjf.org and exploring the application itself. The link is available at dashconnect.org/cic.

Q: We may not be able to apply for this round of CIC-Cohort.  When will we know about the next round, and where should we be looking for information?

A: CIC-Cohort contracts are meant to be low-effort in application and administration. It is our hope that applicants will be active collaborations who have already identified a challenge or opportunity in their ongoing work that this type of short-term, targeted funding would help address.  We expect to offer the next round of CIC-Cohort later in 2021. We post information about funding opportunities at dashconnect.org, in the All In: Data for Community Health online community at community.allindata.org, and in the All In monthly newsletter.

CIC-START CONTRACT AND ACTIVITIES

Q: Can you speak more to participation and reporting requirements?

A: The DASH CIC-Cohort contracts are intended to be a low-administration award.  Awardees will participate in short, periodic check-in calls with the PO staff, be invited to engage in discussions on the All In platform, and may be asked to host a low-effort, in-person meeting with PO staff. The in-person meeting is for the PO staff to witness activities and/or milestones alongside the awardee, and not an elaborate presentation.  PO staff will be available for additional consultation if requested.  Also, the DASH PO will offer communications consultation and other support services, though awardees will not be required to participate.

Upon completion of the contract, awardees will be expected to submit a concluding report, which will include lessons learned that others could benefit from, and when appropriate to share products of their project. Awardees should also expect to participate in an exit interview to discuss their contract successes and challenges.

Q: Can funds be used for consultants and contractors?

A: A potential activity that CIC-Cohort funds can support includes engaging individual consultants or other collaborative experts to address a problem or an opportunity (legal, collaboration, governance, etc.). In fact, the short-term nature of the CIC-Cohort program suggests that consultants and contractors with specific technical knowledge or experience are appropriate uses of funds. Please note that the most relevant, experienced and cost-effective sources of contract expertise may be other community organizations that have already addressed the particular challenge or opportunity to be addressed.

Q: Can funds be used for temporary staff persons?

A: Yes, that is an acceptable use of funds. You would also want to address how the impact of that temporary position will build your community collaboration’s longer-term capacity for collaboration and data sharing. Please see the Brochure, which includes a non-exhaustive list of uses of funds.

Q: Can the funds be used for data system programming staff time?

A: Yes, staff time is an allowable use of funds. We recommend you tie the use of the budget for programmer time to the demonstrated objectives of your work plan in your application, as well as explain how the funds would be a supplement to regular programming staff time.

Q: Can we use CIC-Cohort funds for evaluation?

A: CIC-Cohort leverages DASH funds to learn important lessons about what works and doesn’t work for multi-sector collaborative data sharing.  A  robust evaluation focused on understanding successful and unsuccessful work in this field is a welcome component of any application.  If the application is focused primarily on evaluation, then the initiative being evaluated should be especially significant in terms of lessons, replicability or impact.

Q: Is there a specific electronic tool or model preferred?

A: There is no specific tool, model or approach preferred or required, as DASH recognizes that tools are responsive or relevant to the local context.

Q: Will DASH fund the purchase of a data platform if the community collaboration has a solid work plan?

A: Use of funds to purchase technology is an eligible use of the award, and we have funded similar work before. In our experience, a particular technology implementation is not the answer but more of a tool for systems change. A compelling proposal would explain why this activity would generate a change in the community, and how this tool would accelerate your progress and create value for the field.

Q: This opportunity could augment our already-existing project in a very helpful way – specifically, by enabling us to achieve a significant project expansion or extension. However, our project’s timeline is over a year; how do you suggest we align this six-month time frame with collaboration work that might not fit neatly into that time window?

A: We recommend focusing your application on how the CIC-Cohort award will help you make progress on a very concrete aspect of your project within the six-month time frame. This is intended to be an opportunity to access funds that will enable specific planning activities or next steps in an existing plan for sharing data, or to overcome a specific challenge.

Q: If we are a nonprofit that has a fiscal agent with a project fee (indirect rate), is this allowable under this contract?

A: Indirect costs are an allowable part of the contract.

Q: When and how is the money paid to the participant?

A: DASH will distribute 90% of the award amount when contracts are initiated, paid to the lead agency on the application. Awardees will be responsible for contracting and dispersing funds, in accordance with their proposed work plan and budget.  The 10% balance of the award will be provided upon completion of the final report.  In the event that your collaboration relies on one organization to be the fiscal agent and another to lead the proposed work plan, please make a note of this in the budget narrative.

Q: Will there be another round of CIC-Cohort?

A: Yes. We expect to offer another round of CIC-Cohort awards later in 2021.