Frequently Asked Questions

Supporting Grassroots Efforts to Promote Equitable Early Childhood Outcomes



Why is this funding opportunity specifically targeted to organizations led by, and serving Black, Latino, American Indian, and other communities that have been negatively impacted by racial and ethnic inequities?

Because race plays a significant role in the health inequities we see in our communities, it must also have a significant place in our strategies to improve health and well-being. Black, Latino, American Indian, and other leaders of color are uniquely situated to bring forward strategies that respond to the lived experience of those who have experienced race-based disinvestment and discrimination. Additionally, nonprofits led by people of color have been, and are still, discriminated against (intentionally and unintentionally) by philanthropic organizations, which has deprived them of needed resources; we want to begin to address that inequity.

What do you mean by “systems change”? What does that work look like?

Systems change means making the case for things to work differently. Here are a few hypothetical examples:

  • Organizing a letter-writing campaign so that parents can share their stories with policymakers about challenges with child care.
  • Convening a community meeting to gather input about the stresses facing young children and their families in the wake of the pandemic.
  • Educating the public about the lack of sufficient mental health services in a community – this could happen through social media, door-to-door canvassing, texting, phone calls, etc.
  • Creating a coalition of organizations to strategize how you can meet the needs of young children by working together.
  • Circulating a petition to ask the county or a large employer to make changes to their parental leave policies.
  • For additional examples from current grantees, go to the RFP and scroll down to the bottom of the document.

Additionally, eligible organizations can submit proposals to participate in ongoing regional or state-level advocacy efforts. Many statewide groups are eager to work with local partners. For more information on existing state-level work, please email Rob Thompson.

What are examples of work that would not be a fit with the RFP?

For this RFP, we are focused on supporting community-driven advocacy for systems change. Below is a list of examples that we believe do not align with this funding opportunity. We recognize that this list includes work that is critical for young children in the community, though for the purpose of maintaining project focus, we are not able to support it in this RFP.

Work that is not a fit with this funding opportunity:

  • Providing direct services for children and families.
  • Scaling up a program or starting a new program to serve more children.
  • Creating new service models to serve children. For instance, a project to expand child care services to include financial literacy for parents would not be eligible.
  • Educating parents or community members about different issues – unless it is part of a larger plan to engage them in advocacy efforts.
  • Training programs for parents or service providers that are unrelated to advocacy to change the way a system currently supports children and families. For example, a training program for parents to help them navigate mental health services for their child would not fit with this funding opportunity.

This funding opportunity is focused on advocacy – what’s the difference between advocacy and lobbying?

Advocacy comes in a range of forms, including raising the voices of parents, educating neighbors about the need for more child care, gathering petition signatures to show public support of an issue, creating a coalition of people and organizations to address problem, and much more. Lobbying is a very specific type of advocacy that has specific rules around it. For more information about nonprofit lobbying and advocacy, follow this link. The bottom line is that most advocacy work isn’t lobbying.

Grantees will receive training about the difference between advocacy and lobbying, and about complying with state and federal regulations regarding lobbying.

Are nonprofit organizations allowed to lobby? Can we use this funding for lobbying?

Nonprofit organizations can lobby, so long as they comply with state and federal regulations. Funding from the Blue Cross NC Foundation and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust cannot be earmarked for lobbying.

If my organization provides direct services, am I eligible?

Yes! Even though this funding opportunity is not for direct services to children and families, we hope it is an opportunity for service providing organizations to draw on their experience to improve broader systems. For instance, funding could be used by an organization to elevate the voices of their clients in community conversations about the needs of young children and their families.

How do you define early childhood?

We define early childhood as the prenatal period through age 5.

Applicant Organizations and Eligibility

Who is eligible for this funding opportunity?

  • Any nonprofit organization that is exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and is classified as “not a private foundation” under Section 509(a).
  • A group or project with a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization acting as a fiscal sponsor.
    • The fiscal sponsor is responsible for all legal aspects of the organization or project.
    • The fiscal sponsor is considered the grantee by the foundations and agrees to be accountable to the foundations for the programmatic and financial outcomes of the grant.
  • Any federal- or state-recognized tribal governments, tribal organizations, or Native-controlled community organizations with 501(c)(3) nonprofits or fiscal sponsorship.
  • Businesses and school districts are not eligible.

All organizations must be led by, and serving, Black, Latino, American Indian, and other communities that have been negatively impacted by inequities in early childhood systems to be eligible for this RFP. With regards to this funding opportunity, each of the following must be true:

  • The executive director or CEO is Black, Latino, American Indian, or identifies as a person of color.
  • The community served is primarily Black, Latino, or American Indian as demonstrated by the demographics of those directly impacted by an organization’s programming.
  • The staff and board reflect the community served.

We understand that this guidance is based on industry standards for traditional non-profit organizations. We realize that these standards do not account for all organizational structures and types. If you have a question about your organization’s eligibility after reviewing this criteria, please contact us directly

Are joint proposals allowed?

Yes, joint proposals are allowed and encouraged as they demonstrate existing community collaboration. The applying organization must meet all eligibility requirements.

In the case of a fiscal sponsorship, what if the fiscal sponsor is not led by a person of color, but the project director (or equivalent) is led by a person of color? Is that project eligible?

Yes, so long as the project director has autonomy over the program and expenditure of funds.

What is a grassroots organization?

We think of grassroots organizations as being community-driven, which means that people directly impacted by early childhood systems, such as parents and service providers, drive the organization’s strategy and play an active role in governance. Grassroots organizations will receive preference in the application review process.

Are current grantees allowed to apply?

Yes, current grantees are eligible, though part of the aim of this initiative is to provide funding to communities and organizations that haven’t traditionally been prioritized.

Are universities allowed to apply?

Universities can apply as a fiscal sponsor of a project that is addressing early childhood systems and led by a person of color.

Does the Foundation cover administrative fees for fiscal sponsors?

The Foundation recognizes that some organizations need to apply using a fiscal sponsor. In such circumstances, it is permissible for the fiscal sponsor to collect a small fee in return for managing the grant funds. We encourage the fiscal sponsor and the sponsor organization to work together to keep the administrative fee as low as possible.

Is there a cap on indirect or overhead?

The Foundation does not have an established cap on indirect or overhead expenses. We understand there are various expenses needed to operate an organization and trust that our grantees are using funds as necessary to achieve the agreed upon grant outcomes. If you are affiliated with a university, please note that we are unable to pay for any university overhead costs. These are costs associated with providing facilities and administrative support for sponsored activities and include operating and maintaining buildings and grounds, equipment, libraries, and providing administration at the university, college, and department levels.

Our organization is insured by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina – does that affect our eligibility?

No. The Blue Cross NC Foundation is an independent charitable organization, so an applicant’s insurance provider has no bearing on its eligibility.

Application Process and Selection Criteria

How do I apply?

To access the online application portal, click here.  Applicants will provide basic organizational information and complete a project narrative form. For detailed instructions on how to apply, please watch minutes 33-39 of the recent webinar for this funding opportunity. For questions about the proposal submission process, contact Lasindra Webb.

If we are using a fiscal sponsor, does the fiscal sponsor submit the application via their own account on our behalf?

Yes, the fiscal sponsor should complete the application on behalf of the sponsored organization. The sponsored organization should work closely with the fiscal sponsor to complete the application and provide the necessary information. The fiscal sponsor will assume the fiduciary responsibility for the grant, including receiving and disbursing the grant funds and reporting.

Is there priority given to organizations with smaller budgets?

While we aren’t looking specifically at budget size, we seek to provide resources to community-driven organizations that haven’t had capacity in the past to engage in policy and advocacy.

What are the selection criteria?

LOIs from eligible organizations will be assessed by foundation staff and external reviewers by considering the following questions:

  • Does the organization have a current or intended focus, experience, and/or connections to early childhood work?
  • How does the organization propose to improve the systems that support or impact young children and their families?
  • How does the applicant engage community members or residents to develop their priorities as it relates to early childhood advocacy and systems change?
  • How do the people served by the organization have decision making or a strategy setting role within the organization? For example, do the staff and Board reflect the community served?

How does the review process work?

The review process is divided into two stages. The first is the online LOI submission, which is due on February 5, 2021. After an initial screening, applications will be assessed in relation to the criteria listed in the previous question. To draw on the wisdom of the field and to mitigate our own blind spots and biases, we plan to have an external reviewer with a background in grassroots advocacy and/or early childhood review all applications that pass through the initial screening process.

Finalists will be notified on March 5 and will participate in virtual site visits from March 22 to April 16. Questions will be provided to finalists at least two weeks in advance to prepare for the site visit.

Grant recipients will be notified in mid-May.