HealthSpark is not currently accepting applications for the Innovation Lab. We anticipate opening a new round of funding in spring 2022.
Designed by our community partners, the Innovation Lab grant program is a unique approach to grantmaking that funds innovative, system-changing project ideas that will create a more financially resilient and just social safety net in Montgomery County, PA.
Grant Program Scope
The Innovation Lab offers grant funding to social safety net providers to research or plan projects, develop proof-of-concept ideas, or pilot new projects or service delivery models. The Innovation Lab is designed fill a gap in the funding landscape in Montgomery County, where our community partners have identified a lack of funding specifically for new, emerging, or untested projects; for planning, group facilitation and partnership-building; for research and consumer engagement support; and for projects without established outcomes.
The Innovation Lab is an important component of the Safety Net Resiliency Initiative, where community partners are able to test new ideas that have the opportunity to address the priorities identified in the Safety Net Resiliency Initiative Framework, linked below. The Innovation Lab grant program is not intended to provide long-term support for new projects, but rather to help organizations develop new ways of doing business that create a more equitable, efficient, coordinated, inclusive, or financially sound system.
The Innovation Lab does not support an individual nonprofit's direct services or general operating costs.
Grant Program Parameters
Applicants are encouraged to apply for a 6 month project period, though some funded grants have been shorter and others have been up to one year. Applicants are encouraged to think about a realistic time frame for project proposals (given that many times, applicants will be testing new ideas on top of their current work) and consider breaking larger design or research projects into smaller, sequenced project applications.
For example, the Deaf-Hearing Communication Centre and Women's Center of Montgomery County have received two grant awards for their project regarding accessibility for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, by first focusing on planning their research work and then focusing on conducting the research itself.
Project grants are funded up to $30,000. Eligible costs include any work related to project planning, research, facilitation, partnership-building, consumer engagement, meeting facilitation, consultant costs, staff time, and overhead, among other costs (please see published RFP for full details). Applicants are encouraged to ensure all project partners are paid for their time and contributions. While a project budget is submitted as part of the grant application, grant awards are made as unrestricted lump sum payments to the lead agency so that grantees may adjust line items and other costs as appropriate throughout the course of the grant, as long as the use of funds supports the execution of the project and does not violate the terms of the grant agreement. Grantees are required to account for any unspent funds at grant period end and will jointly determine a course of action for any unspent funds with Foundation staff. Please note that detailed and final information on eligible costs, reporting requirements, use of funds, and other information is contained in the RFP and executed grant agreement.
Grant Program Priorities
Priority Funding Areas
All funded projects under the Innovation Lab must align with one of the six goals outlined in the Safety Net Resiliency Initiative Framework:
- Build the safety net system’s capacity to advance racial and social justice.
- Put an end to chronic underfunding and cut the red tape of the safety net system by increasing support for and engagement in the safety net system.
- Sustain technology advances and support equitable access to technology.
- Support the emotional well-being of safety net staff and community members.
- Strengthen the operational practices of safety net providers.
- Build a more vibrant, active, and inclusive community.
HealthSpark and our community partners recognize that racism and social injustice underpin many of the dynamics that create the need for the safety net system and weaken its ability to deliver comprehensive solutions. Therefore, while this is noted explicitly in our first goal, the commitment to address inequities should be reflected in every grant project submitted. Applicants have an opportunity to share how their project will address known disparities and incorporate data, community voice, and other mechanisms for addressing these disparities.
Other Priorities in Program Design
HealthSpark prioritizes the inclusion of community voice in designing how the social safety net functions, and in particular providing authentic, meaningful, and respectful inclusion of consumers of safety net services into decision-making processes. To support this ideal, applications are evaluated on the extent to which the intended beneficiaries of the project are included in all aspects of research, design, planning, and implementation. Applicants are strongly encouraged to use Innovation Lab funds to support this engagement and to plan for how to overcome challenges to consumer engagement in the process.
Projects must serve Montgomery County residents. Applicants must have a 501(c)(3), have a fiscal intermediary, be a religious organization, or part of Montgomery County government. Each agency submitting a project must have at least one partner agency engaged in the project.
Organizations based outside of Montgomery County, including organizations serving nationally, are encouraged to have in place strong partnerships with local providers before applying and to ensure that the project is directly informed by, and inclusive of, Montgomery County residents and their priorities.
How to Apply
To apply for grants through our Foundation, access our online grant application. Organizations that have not applied to us before will need to set up their account in our system first. If you are unsure if you organization has an account, or you do not have the login credentials, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Foundation publishes a Request for Proposals which outlines the intent and eligibility requirements for the Innovation Lab Grant Program. Please download the most recent RFP below. As well, please note that the Innovation Lab Grant Program is intended to support grant project ideas prioritized by our community partners through the Safety Net Resiliency Initiative Framework, which is also linked below for download. We encourage all interested applicants to review both documents before starting an application.