I-HOPE "Together We Will" mini-grant funding still available
Monday, May 16 2022 - Indianapolis,
At the start of Indiana Healthy Opportunities for People Everywhere (I-HOPE), the initiative’s Together We Will mini-grant and technical assistance program received $5M from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to distribute on a competitive basis to Indiana-based community organizations to reduce the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic among racial and ethnic populations that have been disproportionately affected. Approximately $2M of that funding is still available.
Sunny Lu Williams, CEO of TechServ, the firm that oversees management of the grant for the Indiana Department of Health (IDH), says most of the funding requests so far have fallen into three functional camps: 1) personnel costs, 2) event costs (i.e., health fairs, outreach events, mobile clinics, etc.), and 3) innovative initiatives such as pilot projects. Together We Will funds eight priority areas: Infant & maternal mortality, environmental justice, substance use disorder, mental health, COVID-19 hesitancy, access, violence, and structural and systemic barriers. The grant’s website provides examples of the activities associated with these priority areas. Mental health is the focus of one-third of the requests to date, and many of the submissions have sought to renew services paused during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The main thing to consider when deciding on whether to request funding from this grant, Williams says, is whether the activity to be funded can be completed within the duration of the grant period, as required. Unfortunately, that only leaves one year’s time for communities to implement, expand or improve a social service delivery program to improve health equity. She says something to consider would be funding the time of individuals or groups who have traditionally provided services without compensation, or funding new ways to reach a target audience. For example, one awardee is utilizing local barbershops as a place for community health education and training barbers to deliver health education.
To be eligible to apply, groups need only have a history of community service and tax-exempt status or tax ID from the Indiana Secretary of State showing their nonprofit status. Grants in the neighborhood of $75,000 have been the most common amounts awarded, but the program has awarded two larger opportunities of $250K a piece.
Since Together We Will is structured to entice smaller organizations―including those who may have never applied for a grant―to make a funding request, a learning component was built into the submission process. “It is important that we make monies available to groups that have personally taken on the costs associated with the important and valuable work they are doing to impact our targeted public health priority areas,” Williams said. TechServ’s team has reached out to more than 200 coalitions and organizations, created a how-to-apply video and comprehensive website, and continues to provide direct one-to-one guidance in advance of a submission so applicants don’t get held up on alignment with priority health areas, representing financials in the budget template, or calculating general accounting categories such as salaries, fringe, supplies and equipment.
TechServ's Sunny Lu Williams joined Antoinette Holt, Director of the IDH's Office of Minority Health, and Melanie Cline, Director of Purdue Healthcare Advisors, to talk about I-HOPE's Together We Will mini-grant program on a segment of Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick.
During the first submission round for the Together We Will grant, almost 40% of the applicants failed to make it to the review stage because they had not included the required components. “We are seeing applicants at the community-level and from smaller organizations who don’t have as much familiarity with the grant-submission process tend to struggle with both the technical and financial sides of the application,” Williams said. “The grant submission requires a budget, so understanding how to create one that accurately reflects the ask is critical.”
If a request for funding doesn’t make it through the IDOH Office of Minority Health review process, the TechServ team is on standby to help organizations improve and re-submit their proposals for consideration. “The goal is to ensure that applicants are funded for the work that they are doing. Our Peer Technical Assistance Team (PTAT) provides the coaching and recommendations towards a revised and resubmitted application. Its members are community leaders that have successfully executed community-level projects. Their one-on-one coaching and recommendations are invaluable to enhance an organization’s resubmission.” For more information, visit the Together We Will website at https://intogetherwewill.com/.