RFP: Addressing Critical Needs – Systems and Policy Innovations

RFP release: November 23, 2020 (View the full RFP)
Information session: December 02, 2020 at 10 A.M. CST (View Webinar)
LOI deadline: December 07, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.
Full application deadline: January 08, 2021, at 11:59 p.m.
Funding decision: February 22, 2021
Announcement: March 1, 2021 – March 31, 2021


The Chicago Community Trust will be seeking organizations whose core missions are providing services in one or more of the following domains:

  • Policy & Advocacy for Advancing Human Services
  • Systems Innovations within the Human Services Sector

Priority will be given to proposals that are working across sectors and different domains. Please indicate if your program model provides evidence-based interventions for specific populations (including, but not exclusive to, people with disabilities, veterans, aging adults, children and youth, immigrants and refugees, individuals exposed to trauma).

Need/Opportunity Statement

The Trust will continue to support organizations that address the critical needs of our residents. In addition, through this funding opportunity, the Trust will support organizations advancing systems and policy innovations in the human service sector. The human service sector does not lack innovative ideas but often lack resources to pilot and test ideas. This initiative seeks to support the efforts to disrupt existing systems and to support community-led innovation. The approaches listed below will fund the following areas with the estimated timelines.

Goals and Outcomes

As part of the application process, the Trust is developing a new outcomes-tracking approach in collaboration with grantees. When reflecting on the outcomes of your organization’s policy and systems efforts to address critical needs, consider how your organization tracks progress toward the outcomes focused on increasing the stability of residents and, ultimately, civic engagement.  If invited to apply, organizations will submit their proposed outcomes, measurement approach and baseline information (if available). Recognizing the policy and systems change efforts are multi-year in nature, organizations will be asked to share measures of progress. Measures of progress are benchmarks towards achieving the outcome.  As a peer learning effort, cohort participants will meet several times throughout the grant period to refine collective measures of progress, share key learning, reflect on best practices and progress towards achieving shared outcomes.

Priority Strategies and Activities

Supporting Systems and Policy Innovation will fund existing organizations that work in coalition, partnership, or through a membership structure to share key learning and collaborative action. Organizations focusing on policy and advocacy efforts must demonstrate capacity in working at the local, state, or federal level.  Organizations that work on a statewide or national level must have an established coalition or partnership with local partners, and the advancements in policy and innovation must directly benefit residents of the Chicago region. Under this initiative, we seek organizations whose core work is to advance the collective power, knowledge, strategy and systems that build well-being for individuals and, more broadly, our communities. The long-term impacts under this initiative will advance equity and strengthen the Chicago region’s social impact sector.

Direct service organizations are eligible to apply, but they must demonstrate a staffing model or organizational structure that supports public policy work. If a coalition of organizations is applying, one organization must serve as a lead and the budget must reflect the breakdown for each coalition member.

Grant Type

This is a one-year grant with an opportunity to renew for a second year. These grants will support general operations; however, grant recipients will be required to indicate measures of progress. Grant recipients are also expected to meet the Trust’s requirements for the submission of financial and narrative reports at the end of the grant cycle, including a final report.

Grant Amounts Available and Grant Term

The total amount available for the Addressing Critical Needs – Systems and Policy Innovation grants is $2,000,000, with grant ranges between $50,000 and $150,000. Grant sizes will vary based on organizational size, need, and role in the coalition(s).

For more information about the criteria and application for this RFP, please visit GrantCentral, The Chicago Community Trust’s online grants management system.