Civic Engagement RFP

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Civic Engagement RFP

United Way of Olmsted County knows communities hold the solutions to the obstacles they face. As such, culturally specific organizations (CSOs) play a critical role in building power for their communities to participate in civic life.  These organizations are ideally situated to understand the cultural norms, beliefs, and traditions of the people they serve; effectively engage community members; interpret and remove barriers that impede access to services; and bridge norms between communities and institutions.   

United Way of Olmsted County’s Civic Engagement RFP is designed to build the capacity of Olmsted and Winona County’s CSO's to advocate for self-determined solutions to the challenges their communities face by supporting civic engagement.    

For the purposes of this proposal, we are defining Culturally Specific Organizations (CSOs) as non-profit or community-based organizations that serve and are led by people from communities disproportionately impacted by barriers to civic engagement. We will prioritize proposals from agencies serving and led by Black, Indigenous, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrant, and refugee communities. Proposals from other communities disproportionately impacted by barriers to civic engagement are also eligible to apply.   

To be considered a CSO eligible for a Civic Engagement grant, organizations must meet all three of the following criteria:  

  • Primarily serve a single target population that has been historically marginalized; at least 50% of total number of people you serve share a common identity which has been disproportionately impacted by barriers to civic engagement.  
  • That single target population's lived experience is central to the organization's mission as shown through program design and general organizational activities  
  • Organizational leadership is representative of the experience of the single target population; at least 50% of staff and 50% of the Board of Directors identify as the target population.  

 

The proposal period begins April 26th and you are invited to review the Request for Proposals and consider applying. 

 

What We’re Funding: 

We anticipate a total investment of $15,000 in Civic Engagement grants to organizations that serve and are led by people from communities disproportionately impacted by barriers to civic engagement. One $5,000 award is available in Olmsted County and two $5,000 awards are available in Winona County. Grants are intended to support programs and activities that have the goal of increasing civic participation in historically marginalized communities. All activities must be non-partisan. 

The following are examples of non-partisan activity: 

  • Provide education on roles and responsibilities of elected offices and education on candidates  

  • Provide education on civic engagement and voting processes broadly  

  • Host community forums 

  • Conduct skill-building trainings to engage community members in civic activities 

  • Write letters to the editor 

  • Help register people who are eligible to vote 

  • Support youth in community leadership development such as participating on student council or in other youth-led advocacy activities 

  • Providing trauma-informed education to build community engagement and resilience 

  • Facilitating intergenerational mentorship opportunities  

 

For more examples of the types of programs we are looking to fund, please review our 2022 Civic Engagement Report to read about some of our past partners.  

Activities may not include persuasion to support any particular candidate or party. Should an activity violate this non-partisanship requirement, funds must be returned, and your agency or fiscal host agency’s tax-exempt status may be in jeopardy.  

For more information on what are appropriate non-partisan activities for non-profits, please review either of the following resources from the MN Council of Nonprofits: Staying Nonpartisan—Permissible Elections Activities Checklist and What Nonprofit Staff Can Say about the Elections

 

Timeline:

April 29th 10:30am-11:30am: RFP information session was held via zoom. You can view the recording HERE. PASSCODE: @=wpp5K1

May 15th at 11:59pm: RFP Closes and proposals are due on Community Force. 

May 25th: Finalist will be notified. 

Funds disbursed no later than June 20, 2024  

We would be happy to talk with you about your proposal ideas! To schedule a time to meet with our team, please contact Sierra Verdin, Grants Coordinator, at Sierrav@uwolmsted.org or 507-535-5504. 

 

How to Apply: 

Proposals are accepted through United Way of Olmsted County’s online grants portal. The grants portal works best in Google Chrome.   

We strongly encourage you to review the grant application materials carefully before beginning your application. The following documents may help you as you prepare your application:  

Request for Proposals 

Proposal Questions 

Evaluation Rubric 

Sample Partner Agreement  

Frequently Asked Questions 

Budget Help 

 

 

To be considered for a Civic Engagement grant, agencies must meet the following criteria:    

  • Serve primarily low-income (185% FPL) residents of Olmsted County or Winona County  

  • Primarily serve a single target population that has been historically marginalized. The single target population's lived experience is central to the organization's mission as shown through a staff AND board primarily made up of the single target population. (See CSO definition below)  

  • Be an eligible nonprofit agency   

 

Eligible nonprofit agencies include:   

  • Agencies designated as a 501(c)3   

  • Faith-based organizations, provided they can demonstrate that there will be no explicitly faith-related content included in their programming and that there are no discriminatory restrictions on service recipients   

  • Unincorporated community groups, provided they can document their relationship with a proper fiscal sponsor.   

 

Funding will not be provided for:   

  • Individuals    

  • For-profit entities   

  • Political campaigns, candidates, parties, or partisan activities   

  • Programming that includes theological functions or requires religious participation.  

Culturally Specific Organization Definition

For the purposes of this proposal, we are defining Culturally Specific Organizations (CSOs) as non-profit or community-based organizations that serve and are led by people from communities disproportionately impacted by barriers to civic engagement. We will prioritize proposals from agencies serving and led by Black, Indigenous, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrant, and refugee communities. Proposals from other communities disproportionately impacted by barriers to civic engagement are also eligible to apply.   

To be considered a CSO eligible for a Civic Engagement grant, organizations must meet all three of the following criteria:  

  • Primarily serve a single target population that has been historically marginalized; at least 50% of total number of people you serve share a common identity which has been disproportionately impacted by barriers to civic engagement.  

  • That single target population's lived experience is central to the organization's mission as shown through program design and general organizational activities  

  • Organizational leadership is representative of the experience of the single target population; at least 50% of staff and 50% of the Board of Directors identify as the target population.  

 

We welcome questions and open dialogue with potential partners. If you’d like to discuss your proposal or are wondering if this grant opportunity is a good fit for your agency, please contact Sierra Verdin at Sierrav@uwolmsted.org or 507-535-5504. 

 

April 29th at 10:30am: RFP information session is held via zoom. This will be recorded and uploaded onto the RFP page for those unable to attend. 

May 15th at 11:59pm: RFP Closes and proposals are due on Community Force.

May 25th: Funding decisions will be shared with applicants.

Funds disbursed no later than June 20, 2024 

Proposals will be evaluated by United Way of Olmsted County staff and community volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering to on our review team for this grant, please review our volunteer timeline overview or reach out for more information Reviewers will look for evidence of the following:   

  • Organization serves and is led by people from a community disproportionately impacted by barriers to civic engagement 

  • Proposed program or activities demonstrate strong impact or potential impact on civic engagement 

  • Agency demonstrates capacity to effectively engage their identified community 

We take a holistic approach to review grant applications. This means reviewers consider how the overall application meets the criteria outlined above. To assist you in understanding how proposals will be reviewed, we are making available our complete evaluation rubric.