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Announcing New Strengthening Partner Capacity Guidelines

Author: Megan MacDavey

Our newly-launched “Strengthening Partner Capacity” grant guidelines for 2019 mark the beginning of a more streamlined approach to capacity building funding at the Tower Foundation.

The Foundation’s Trustees and staff are committed to supporting the organizations, and their leaders, responsible for advancing our goals across the four fields we fund (intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, mental health, and substance use disorders). We’ve tried in the past to be responsive to organizations’ unique capacity needs through small grants, technology grants, and broader capacity building funding which was historically by invitation only. We also collaborated with other funders on capacity building initiatives supporting cohorts of organizations and leaders. We carried out this funding while simultaneously supporting programming that directly benefits the populations we serve and systems transformation work.

We’ve worked hard over the past two years to revise our grantmaking so that it is clear, accessible, and transparent. Our newly posted Strengthening Partner Capacity guidelines reflect an effort to bring all of our capacity building funding under a single umbrella in a way that is consistent with the rest of our changes. Like each of our other funding opportunities, we invite applications three times per year. (The Strengthening Partner Capacity deadlines and grant guidelines are available here.)

Key Changes

  1. Our Technology Initiative has formally ended. Requests for technology plans or implementation support will, however, still be considered through the Strengthening Partner Capacity grant program. The amount of funding that can be requested has decreased to $20,000 for technology planning and $50,000 for technology implementation. Please note that the dollar-for-dollar cash match requirement is still in place for technology implementation grants.
  2. Our Small Grants Program has been rolled into the Strengthening Partner Capacity guidelines. The same types of requests that would have been considered through our small grants program are still allowable under our new Strengthening Partner Capacity grant program. The only new element is that requests for small capital projects or equipment purchases are now limited to $20,000.
  3. The new guidelines also reflect an opportunity to request funding to support additional capacity building activities that were not previously captured in any of our grant programs, including mergers and strategic affiliations and network- or field-building convening events.

What Hasn’t Changed

Consistent with the Small Grants Program, we aimed to keep Strengthening Partner Capacity grants applications simple. We ask up front for the information we need to make a funding decision. While we may have a few clarification questions, we don’t anticipate a two-phase process (preliminary submission followed by a full proposal invitation) for most applicants.

Strengthening Partner Capacity grants can serve as a stop gap measure for last-minute, hard-to-fund needs, or as a springboard: These grants can help prepare organizations to be competitive in applying for Programs & Services grants, and/or to accelerate their system transformation work through a Community Change grant. We hope these changes will make this funding opportunity more accessible and transparent.

We expect applications in this portfolio to be competitive, but if we are unable to support your organization through a grant, the conversation doesn’t have to end there. The Tower Foundation team is always open to conversations outside of grant requests to get to know organizations and people you work with better.

For more information, check out the following video in which Don Matteson, Chief Program Officer, walks you through all the important information.