Prior FAQs regarding the RFP process can now be found on this webpage under FAQs for RFP Applicants.
Which projects are being funded?
The university awarded Innovation Fund grants to nine local organizations with deep ties to Baltimore. The winners are:
- Abuse Intervention Support Services, House of Ruth Maryland
- Baltimore Legacy Builders Collective, Job Opportunities Task Force
- Block Captain Boot Camp, No Boundaries Coalition
- Existential Determinants of Health, Womb Work Productions
- Good Harvest Occupational Skills Training Program, St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore
- McElderry Multiracial Organization Project, CASA
- Mildred A. Allen Arabber Equestrian and Heritage Center, Baltimore Heritage
- Safety at the Margins, Charm City Care Connection
- Stable Homes – Safe Communities, Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland
Collectively their reach and impact will support 30 local nonprofit partners serving nearly 16,000 Baltimore residents.
How many years of funding will each grantee receive?
Each project will receive at least 3 years of support, with the potential for an additional year based on the progress of the project and the availability of funds.
How much funding will each grantee receive?
Community organizations were invited to apply for annual grants of up to $250,000 per project. Funding varies and was determined by the financial request made by each of the grantees as part of their application as well as the scope of each project.
What is the timeline for year one funding?
The university’s partnership with awardees will begin in July and follow the university’s July 1-June 30 fiscal calendar.
Which geographies are represented amongst these grantees?
Through this Fund, the university seeks to support community-based solutions to crime with a focus on the neighborhoods we are a part of. In doing so, we are looking to those already embedded in this work to help make Baltimore a safer place to work, live, and thrive. The Innovation Fund’s nine grantees will be serving the East Baltimore and/or Charles Village neighborhoods.
How were these projects selected?
In late March, we announced the Selection Advisory Committee after a concurrent application cycle for those interested to serve on this committee. Comprised of six community residents and six Johns Hopkins affiliates, the Committee was tasked with evaluating these applications and advising the co-directors on funding decisions. Led by Co-Chairs Burgundi Allison, Program Associate – Baltimore Civic Site and National Community Strategies of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Vanya Jones, PhD, Associate Professor, Health, Behavior and Society of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the committee convened in April to review and deliberate on the RFP grant applications. There were two stages of review: (1) a first read by three committee members who completed a scoring rubric provided earlier in the RFP; followed by (2) a presentation to the Committee by these readers and a final consensus vote for priority level. The scoring rubric is below for reference:
- Rationale and Potential Impact. There is a strong rationale for how this effort can reduce community violence in the immediate to near-term.
- Plan. The proposed activities are well planned, make sense, are realistic, and can achieve the goals.
- Experience. The lead organization and partners are experienced, ready, and able to carry out the work.
- Budget. The budget is appropriate for the project.
The committee’s funding recommendations were shared with the co-directors shortly thereafter. Final decisions were made by the co-directors, Bloomberg School of Public Health Dean Ellen MacKenzie, Bloomberg School of Public Health Vice Dean Josh Sharfstein, and Vice President of Economic Development Alicia Wilson. As planned, final decisions were based on recommendations made by the Selection Advisory Committee with minor adjustments to support a diversity of program activities and geographies.
How will you evaluate the success of these projects?
Grantees will be matched with an evaluation partner to measure project impact and desired outcomes for each proposal. Quarterly reporting will be required of the applicants to guide them through the multi-year engagement with the university.
What if I have other questions not answered above?
Please email any additional questions to email@example.com.
FAQs for RFP Applicants
Logistical questions on the RFP
When was the RFP response due?
February 25, 2021 at 5pm local time
How could I have submitted the RFP response?
Information on how to submit the application and the appendices could be found here. Hard copy submissions must have been received by the application deadline and sent to JHU Innovation Fund RFP c/o Office of Economic Development, 1101 E. 33rd Street, Suite D300, Baltimore, Maryland 21218.
Were all the supplementary materials due with the response?
Yes, the application and the appendices must have been submitted by the due date.
Was there be an opportunity to ask questions before submitting the application?
There was be a virtual Q&A session held via Zoom on January 19, 2021, from 5-6pm local time where we answered technical and logistical questions about the RFP process.
What was the partner matching session and did I need to attend?
The partner matching session was a curated forum where applicants could connect with interested JHU affiliates and/or community-based organizations with the goal of securing a proposal partner. The virtual session was held via Zoom on January 25, 2021, from 5-6pm local time. It was intended solely for applicants who were looking for a JHU affiliate and/or community-based organization to partner with.
Questions regarding the focus areas and geographic areas
Could we have proposed a project that involved the Baltimore City Police Department?
Yes, the RFP stated that public agencies could be partners to these projects. A letter of support from the Police Department was required as one of your letters of support.
Mayor Scott has made focused deterrence the cornerstone of his public safety plan along with Commissioner Harrison. A large part of the program relies on building capacity in communities for them to respond to violence with programming and services. Could the fund support efforts that are related to this city project?
Yes, as long as the proposals followed the guidelines in the RFP, projects could be integrated with the city’s anti-violence efforts.
How did the RFP define youth?
Youth included individuals 16-24 years of age, or some subset of these individuals.
Why didn’t this RFP cover all of Baltimore City?
Johns Hopkins has a special relationship with its surrounding communities. The RFP contained language permitting some activities to be available around the city, as long as there was a focus in the geographic areas outlined in the map. The Innovation Fund is also supporting and participating in BMore Invested, a separate citywide effort on violence reduction.
Could trauma-informed interventions be considered for funding?
Yes, as part of an application in one or more of the focus areas. Regardless of whether there was specific mention in the application, technical assistance could be made available to grantees on making services trauma-informed.
Questions regarding partners from Johns Hopkins
What roles might students, staff, or faculty from Johns Hopkins play in the project?
Johns Hopkins students, staff, and faculty can be integrated as part of the projects team or play a discrete role. Such roles might include:
- Advising or designing a data management strategy;
- Assisting with performance management;
- Writing for additional grants to build on the effort;
- Other technical assistance.
All of the partners should be in agreement with the roles of various partners, including the Johns Hopkins partners.
Should an application have proposed that specific Johns Hopkins students, faculty, or staff evaluate the project?
No. The plan for an evaluation of the project will be determined collaboratively after selection. The reason that the Fund has pulled evaluation out of the application itself is that the Fund may work with one or more evaluators across the portfolio of projects.
What if I did not have a Johns Hopkins partner to work with?
It was preferable for applicants to find partners at Johns Hopkins before applying. On January 25th, the Fund hosted a session to match community partners with interested students, staff, and faculty. If it was not possible to find a partner, an organization could still apply without a partner, and the Fund suggested potential matches with these applicants during the selection review process.
What if I both work with a community-based nonprofit organization and am a student, staff, or faculty member at Johns Hopkins?
If you applied through your work with the community-based nonprofit organization, then you should have found other students, faculty, or staff to work with on the project, rather than double count yourself.
Questions regarding the role of the community-based nonprofit organization that is the lead applicant for the grant
Did each application have to be submitted by a lead community-based, nonprofit organization?
Could a religious institution be a lead applicant?
Yes. If it was a nonprofit, community-based organization.
I do not work with a nonprofit, community-based organization. Can I have been matched with one that could be the lead applicant for the grant?
On January 25th, the Fund hosted a session to help small organizations or individuals find a community-based nonprofit organization to work with on the application. Because only nonprofit, community-based organizations could apply, it was necessary to find such an organization to apply.
What is the lead community-based nonprofit organization responsible for?
The applicant organization is responsible for the accuracy of the application, for the management and oversight of the grant spending, and for providing required reports and other deliverables back to the Fund. The applicant can provide funds to other organizations and partners, but should oversee how these funds are used to be sure they are used appropriately.
Is this the same as “fiscal sponsor”?
The term “fiscal sponsor” means different things to different people, so we have not used this term in the RFP. See above for what’s required for the applicant community-based nonprofit organization above.
Can the lead community-based nonprofit organization change during the course of the project?
With the approval of the Fund, the lead organization may change. If there is a likelihood of such a change, please note in the application.
Questions regarding the budget
Can the grant pay community members, including youth?
Can the funds be used for training?
Can the funds be used for capital costs?
Yes. However, if the request was for a capital investment that otherwise would be the purview of a public agency, the public agency must give permission.
What else can the funds be used for?
We were interested in hearing about how funds might be used to have the greatest impact. You could have proposed the specific use of funds and justified them in the application. The applications were judged in part on appropriate use of funds, and there was some further negotiation on the budget during the selection process.
How will the grant support administrative costs?
Each application could have a total of 20% for administrative costs, otherwise known as indirect costs. These costs should have included utilities and rent, fiscal oversight, administrative staff, legal and other professional services, and equipment rental. These funds could be distributed across the various partners, with the exception of Johns Hopkins students, staff, and faculty.
Should the budget presented have included administrative costs, or was that an extra amount on top of the request?
The budget presented should have included all costs, including administrative costs. There were no funds beyond those requested and ultimately awarded.
Additional questions posted on February 2, 2021
Questions about the Fund
Will there be yearly calls for proposals?
We do not know if there will be future calls for proposals. It will depend on how much of the Fund is committed after this call for proposals.
How long can the project last? Can there be a multi-year aspect to it?
Funding was made available for up to four years.
Did you seriously consider a small budget project?
For newer projects with documented success metrics and need, was seed funding available?
Yes, just apply for a grant through the Fund.
Can funding be used for program, salary, internships and renovation expenses?
Yes. The applicant could justify the funding in the budget narrative.
Was the funding (source funding) using federal passthrough dollars?
No. This funding is from Johns Hopkins University.
What projects have you funded in the past?
This is a new Fund, so there have been no prior grants.
How will the impact of these projects be reported to the community? Is this a form of participatory research where a White Paper of some sort will be published?
We hope to share lessons learned with other parts of the city and citywide. This will be one of the goals of the evaluation component.
Questions about fiscal sponsorship and financial audits
I am a community-based organization with a longstanding relationship with a fiscal sponsor. In this case, could I have been the lead applicant?
Yes. We previously said that all lead applicants had to be community-based nonprofit organizations that oversee the funding for the projects. Based on feedback received after the initial release of the RFP, we made the following change: A fiscally-sponsored community-based organization could be the lead applicant if there was a written agreement between the fiscal sponsor and the community-based organization. A fiscally-sponsored community-based organization should have provided a copy of the written agreement between the fiscal sponsor and the community-based organization, and the written agreement should have been be in existence for at least three years (i.e. February 25, 2018) prior to the submission of a proposal for funding. Additionally, the fiscally-sponsored organization should have provided a copy of their fiscal sponsor’s most recent financial audit along with a letter from the fiscal sponsor stating that they reviewed the application and were prepared to handle the finances for the project.
Could I have submitted a financial review instead of a full financial audit?
Based on feedback received after the initial release of the RFP, we modified the requirement for a financial audit: community-based organizations that served as lead applicants, regardless of whether they are a fiscally-sponsored organization, should have submitted the review audit or completed audit required under Maryland law based on their annual revenue. For organizations who are not legally required to undergo an audit due to a gross income below the State threshold, please read below as well for guidance based on your gross income bracket.
For organizations with a gross income of at least $750,000 in the most recently completed fiscal year, a completed audit by an independent certified public accountant was required. Organizations with a gross income between $300,000 – $750,000 in the most recently completed fiscal year were required to submit a review audit by an independent certified public accountant. For organizations with a gross income less than $300,000, they must have submitted the most recent financial audit from their fiscal sponsor along with a letter from the fiscal sponsor stating that they reviewed the application and were prepared to handle the finances for the project.
Questions about the budget
Did you supply a template for the budget and budget narrative?
At our feedback session after the initial release of the RFP, several people requested a template or example for the budget and budget narrative. A suggested budget format has been provided on page 7 of the revised RFP which can be found on the RFP application webpage.
What level of detail did you expect around the budget narrative?
Enough to explain where the money was being spent. Please see the revised RFP for additional guidance.
How will a community organization pay a JHU partner?
We will identify a mechanism to support the JHU partner that is not burdensome for community organizations.
In the RFP it is stated that “Yes, there is an expectation for collaboration with Johns Hopkins students, staff or faculty. Each application should include a budget allocation for the collaborator of at least 10%. ” Could the application have had more than one JHU faculty/staff?
In the budget, how should applicants have described expenses related to their JHU partner?
At the RFP application stage in the process, we were looking for applicants to disclose the total amount of funding requested and a brief description of what it will be used for. Please see the revised RFP for additional guidance.
Questions about the applicant team
Could a JHU partner have worked with multiple organizations?
How many partners could we have for this grant? Could we include our police district as being a part of this?
There was no limit to the number of partners, and the Police District could have been a partner.
Questions about submitting the application
Were organizations allowed to submit more than one proposal for the RFP?
This is a procedural question: did applicants have to complete both the Online Application Form (SurveyMonkey) as well as the Document Upload or is that redundant?
Applicants should have only applied once– either the form or the upload or, if necessary, the hard copy.
Was there someone at the 33rd Street location to accept a hard copy of the application on 2/25/2021?
Yes. Applicants were able to submit a hard copy of their applications at the specified location. It was preferred, however, to submit the application electronically.
If applicants chose to do the survey application, how long could the answers have been in the text boxes?
The total application should have beenabout 5 pages. One way to do this was to put the answers in a word document that should be 5 pages, then cut and paste the text into the online survey.
The RFP states “The Fund anticipates hiring one or more technical assistance partners and an evaluation team” – did this mean that we should not have included evaluation as part of the proposal?
Correct. Applicants should not have included evaluation in the proposal.
Questions about the geographic areas
Was it necessary to have site control at the time of application submission if your project fell under Focus Area 1?
No, but the applicant should have explained the plan for implementation in the proposal.
The target areas do not overlap with Baltimore neighborhoods. Could we have submitted a grant for the entirety of a neighborhood that overlapped with the target area?
Yes, but the applicant should have explained how the project’s work could focus in the target area in the application.
For Focus Area 1 (Environmental improvements) – could these be in process already that needed additional funding (or perhaps this project would provide desired enhancements to the site that were not included in the original budget)?
Yes. These funds could expand on existing work.
Our organization serves a single zip code. Part of the zip code absolutely is in the target area, but much of it is not. Were we okay to submit a proposal for the zip code in its entirety?
Yes. Further explanation as to the broader geographic area should have been clearly stated as well as the purpose of the out of bounds area to be included.
Was it okay to focus on just one of the geographic areas?
Yes, it was fine to focus on just one of the areas.
When and how could I have applied to be on the selection advisory committee for these grants?
Information about how to apply for the selection advisory committee was made available on the Innovation Fund website on January 19th.
What if I have other questions not answered above?
Please email these questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will post answers to additional questions on February 2.