Innovation Lab Grants FAQ

When is the deadline to apply for an Innovation Lab grant?

If I submit a proposal, when will I hear about the foundation’s decision?

Can you provide additional insight into the 12-15 month timeframe for funded projects? If funds are distributed in early January 2019, does that mean the project must be complete by March 2020?

Are there geographic boundaries for requested pilot projects or proof of concept ideas?

Is working with a partner organization an expectation?

What counts as a partnership? Would making referrals to another organization count as a partnership?

How do I find out about the services and programs currently being offered by Montgomery County nonprofits so I know who to connect with about becoming a partner?

Do we have to have a specific partner identified for the proposal?

Could we partner with other types of organizations that may not be 501(c)(3) organizations, such as government agencies, businesses or first responders?

When collaborating with another organization, does it matter which organization is the lead? Are we submitting two different budgets?

Do we need to submit multiple organizational budgets from each of the partner organizations?

Is there a cap on administrative expenses?

Does the lead organization on a proposal have to be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization?

Can an organization be part of more than one proposal?

Will proposals focusing on advocacy efforts be considered for funding?

If we have explained our budget well and it looks sound, are we essentially assured of getting the amount requested?

Are staff open to questions from potential applicants about projects?

Will there be an opportunity to apply for additional funding to implement or expand a project, if successful? 


When is the deadline to apply for an Innovation Lab grant?

Applicants must submit their proposals via the foundation’s online grant portal by 5:00pm on Monday, November 5, 2018. (NOTE: DEADLINE EXTENDED!)

If I submit a proposal, when will I hear about the foundation’s decision?

The proposal review will take place in November and mid-December. Staff may contact applicants with questions about the proposal during this time. The HealthSpark grant committee will finalize its review of all proposals and all applicants will be contacted before December 20th. Grant funds will be distributed in early January 2019.

Can you provide additional insight into the 12-15 month timeframe for funded projects? If funds are distributed in early January 2019, does that mean the project must be complete by March 2020?

Yes. Grants are intended to support short-term, pilot projects or proof of concept ideas that can be completed within a maximum of 12-15 months. The project may end prior to March 2020, but it cannot extend beyond that time.

Are there geographic boundaries for requested pilot projects or proof of concept ideas?

Yes. Projects must target some or all Montgomery County communities and the clients served must reside in Montgomery County. However, applicants do not need to be physically located in Montgomery County.

Is working with a partner organization an expectation?

Yes, applicants should plan to work with at least one other organization on their requested project. The foundation is looking for the Innovation Lab to advance community learning and as such one of our short-term goals is:

Safety net system providers increasingly collaborate to achieve impact through strategic, intentional and system realignment.

Given this goal, the foundation expects that organizations work in concert with each other during this pilot testing phase. The grant application asks for specific information about the lead organization and the partnering organizations.  

What counts as a partnership? Would making referrals to another organization count as a partnership?

Innovation Lab projects are intended to inform and contribute to the long-term financial resiliency of the safety net system. If economic efficiencies and/or cost-savings are anticipated through a new approach to connecting consumers with needed services, then one aspect of that project could refine the referral process.

How do I find out about the services and programs currently being offered by Montgomery County nonprofits so I know who to connect with about becoming a partner?

Resources available include the Bux-Mont Collaborative and the Tri-County Community Network, both of which have monthly meetings and directories of members. The 2-1-1 system also has a searchable database. While these resources may help to identify potential partners, the foundation believes these relationships take time to develop and may require more time extending beyond the due date of the application. 

Do we have to have a specific partner identified for the proposal?

Yes. Partners should be identified in the proposal. Do not include partners that you haven’t spoken to. Having a written agreement between partners is not necessary for the application. Innovation Lab projects are designed to inform organizational and systemic learning so the specific role and contributions of partners should be clearly identified before the project starts. 

Could we partner with other types of organizations that may not be 501(c)(3) organizations, such as government agencies, businesses or first responders?

Yes, you can partner with whomever you believe will make the safety net system more financially resilient.

When collaborating with another organization, does it matter which organization is the lead? Are we submitting two different budgets?

It does not matter which organization is the lead organization, but the lead organization must be the grant applicant. That organization will need to be prepared to explain why it is serving in that lead role. The lead organization will need to prepare one budget that reflects the total cost of the project taking into account their partner’s role and costs.

Do we need to submit multiple organizational budgets from each of the partner organizations?

No. You will submit one organization budget, that of the lead agency/applicant. The budget must include a narrative that explains how grant funds will be shared among the partners and the underlying rationale for this allocation. 

Is there a cap on administrative expenses?

No. The foundation is interested in understanding the full cost to do this work. If you allocate administrative expenses to various partners, that the allocation rationale must be explained.

Does the lead organization on a proposal have to be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization?

The foundation prefers the applicant be a from 501(c)(3) nonprofit or have a (c)(3) as a fiscal sponsor. If the nature of the pilot project is more likely to achieve success with a for-profit or government lead, please contact the foundation to discuss this unique situation. The foundation will carefully consider these requests.  

Can an organization be part of more than one proposal?

Yes. The foundation will assess the anticipated impact to the organization’s core operational and project responsibilities. The organization needs to be clear and realistic about its potential rolls and its capacity.

Will proposals focusing on advocacy efforts be considered for funding?

No. The foundation is phasing in the recommendations from the Design Teams and Community of Practice participants. An announcement about communications and advocacy will be shared at a later time. 

If we have explained our budget well and it looks sound, are we essentially assured of getting the amount requested?

The Innovation Lab supports small-scale proof-of-concept and/or pilot projects that have limited duration (no more than 15 months) and have budgets that do not exceed $50,000. The foundation believes opportunities exist for short-term and smaller project budgets. The foundation’s staff may contact applicants to discuss their budgetary needs but it strongly encourages applicants to develop budgets that are realistic, cost-effective and aligned with the resiliency initiative’s goals for the Innovation Lab.  

Are staff open to questions from potential applicants about projects?

Yes, foundation staff are open to discussions. Please call the office at 215-716-5400 or email info@healthspark.org.

Will there be an opportunity to apply for additional funding to implement or expand a project, if successful?

There is no plan to offer follow-up grant support.