Leadership Grant Program - How to Apply

1. Program Criteria
2. Eligibility - Who Can Apply
3. How to Apply
4. Application Deadlines
5. Where to Apply
6. Evaluation of Proposals
7. Grant Reports & Requirements
8. How to Find A Fellow or An Organization

1. Program Criteria

Leadership Grant Projects may address any environmental issue, however there must be a clear partnership between the Fellow and the non-profit agency that accomplishes three things:

  • Advances the professional career, expertise and leadership skills of a Switzer Fellow;
  • Builds the capacity of a non-profit or public agency to effectively address issues of environmental quality through the skills provided by the Switzer Fellow; and
  • Achieves measurable improvement on a specific environmental issue or condition through the work of the Switzer Fellow.

One-year grants of up to $40,000 are available to qualified organizations for projects which involve Switzer Fellows in a substantive role. Fellows may be employed as full or part time staff or on a contractual or consulting basis. Funds are awarded to the organization, which is responsible for advising and mentoring the Fellow toward achieving his or her professional goals.

In some cases a Leadership grant will support a project in an organization where a Fellow is already employed. Such requests may be considered if the project will significantly elevate the Fellow's leadership role in the organization and take his or her work in a significant new direction that will have direct environmental benefits.

The Leadership Grants Program is most appropriate for organizations creating new project initiatives or proposing to add a Switzer Fellow to staff. Funds may be used to cover direct program costs, including salaries and benefits, consulting fees, travel, materials and equipment. Up to 15% of overhead recovery will be considered. In some cases, a second or third year of funding may be sought from the Leadership Grants Program; however, the applicant organization is expected to demonstrate an increasing cost-share over time and substantial progress towards project goals. At this time, the Foundation is only awarding one-year grants and will not commit to subsequent years’ funding at the time of the initial grant request. Requests for successive grants will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

For projects in which the Fellow will be based at an academic institution, please be advised that projects which create new institutions, centers of study, or educational programs will NOT be eligible for Leadership Grant funding.  Only those projects in which Fellows will make a significant contribution to research, policy or practice BEYOND the university will be considered.  For all academic-based projects, additional criteria will apply and advance communication with Switzer staff is required.

A Fellow may not receive more than three years of funding through the Leadership Grant Program in one or more projects. A single organization may only submit one concept letter per cycle and may not receive more than one grant per year.
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2. Eligibility - Who Can Apply

Grants are available to U.S.-based organizations with 501(c)(3) status, government agencies, or educational institutions. Support for Fellows doing international work may be considered as long as a U.S.-based host organization is the grantee and all other criteria are met.

Proposals must be developed jointly by the organization and a Switzer Fellow. Only Fellows who have concluded their graduate program are eligible to participate in a Leadership Grant Program project.
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3. How to Apply

First Steps:

  • Leadership grant proposals are to be written collaboratively between the Switzer Fellow and the applicant organization. No proposals will be considered from an organization that has not made direct contact, and developed the specifics of the proposal, with a Switzer Fellow.
  • Once an organization and a Fellow have made contact and agree to pursue a Leadership Grant project, the organization MUST contact the Switzer Foundation by phone or e-mail to discuss the anticipated project BEFORE proceeding with the proposal process. This pre-proposal review is to ensure that the project idea is appropriate to the guidelines.
  • After this initial conversation, the organization will be directed to submit a concept letter summarizing the proposed project. Concept letters may be submitted at any time, but at least 4 weeks prior to the proposal deadline to be considered during that cycle. A concept letter should be 1-2 pages and describe the project, the position for the Fellow, and the ways in which the proposed project will enhance the host organization's capacity to address issues of environmental quality.  Please include the dollar amount to be requested and whether matching funds will be contributed to the project.
  • Concept letters will be reviewed after the deadline and the applicant will be notified within 2-3 days by Foundation staff as to whether a full proposal will be invited.
  • If a full proposal is invited, follow the Grant Proposal Guidelines below. A telephone interview will be conducted during the review process.

All proposals should include the following:

  1. A completed Switzer Foundation Leadership Grant Program Cover Sheet
  2. Project Proposal Narrative:
    • A brief description of the applicant organization, its current programs and services.
    • A statement of the environmental problem being addressed and the particular skills, capacity and position that qualify the organization to undertake this work.
    • A description of the activity to be undertaken with Switzer Foundation support and outlining the specific work plan for the year and a time line.
    • A statement of anticipated results and evaluative criteria that the applicant organization will use in assessing these results. Please specify the targeted environmental outcomes.
    • A statement of how the organization will be strengthened by the collaboration with the Fellow, and the specific role and responsibilities of the Fellow. In addition, please specify training or professional development opportunities that will be provided to the Fellow during the project.
    • An explanation of the timing and commitment for raising matching funds for the project. Specify who is responsible for raising matching funds.
  3. A letter from the Switzer Fellow relating the proposal to his or her professional development and professional career objectives.
  4. The Switzer Fellow's and the project supervisor's curriculum vitae.
  5. A statement signed by both the Fellow and the applicant organization regarding the nature of the collaboration and agreement between the two. Indicate whether the position is a temporary, part-time, full-time or consulting position and whether the position is expected to become permanent. An explanation of pay rate and benefits should be included.
  6. A list of current board members of the organization, and their organizational affiliations.
  7. An itemized income and expense budget for the project proposed, indicating other known or anticipated sources of funding. Please budget for the Fellow and another representative of the host organization to attend the annual fall Fellows' Retreat in California or New England as appropriate. In addition, please budget for any other training needs or professional development opportunities needed to meet the career objectives of the Switzer Fellow.  Click here for budget guidelines.
  8. The organization's current operating budget and most recent financial statement.
  9. For non-profit organizations, a copy of the IRS tax status determination letter along with a statement signed by an officer of the applicant organization that the IRS determination letter is still valid.
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Click here for Frequently Asked Questions and Tips for Organizations and Fellows submitting concept letters or proposals.

4. Application Deadlines

Proposals are reviewed twice yearly, in the spring and fall.  See below for deadlines.  Concept letters and telephone contact must be made at least four weeks prior to the full proposal deadline.           

 SpringFall     
Concept Letter:
February 1
September 1
Proposal Deadline:March 1October 1
Review / Decision:May 15December 15
Award Notification:June 1January 1

5. Where to Apply

Proposal materials should be submitted electronically to:

Erin Lloyd, Program Officer – erin@switzernetwork.org
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6. Evaluation of Proposals

Projects are evaluated on their ability to identify and address critical environmental problems, directly improve environmental quality, achieve quantitative results, provide scientific or technical expertise to organizations with limited resources, and advance the professional career of the participating Fellow.

All Leadership Grant Program proposals submitted for review are evaluated in a three step process. First, Foundation staff evaluate proposals for completeness and have phone or in-person interviews with the lead contact for the organization, and with the Fellow. Then, proposals are reviewed using the Leadership Grant Review Evaluation Matrix that identifies the qualities and parameters by which each proposal is evaluated. This matrix is meant as a tool to help applicants hone their narrative towards issues of greatest interest to the Foundation, and to help Switzer staff and trustees in their evaluation of the proposals. All proposals are reviewed by the Board of Trustees who make the final grant decisions.
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7. Grant Reports & Requirements

Organizations receiving Switzer Leadership Grants are required to submit a detailed final report at the end of their grant period. (Click here for grant report budget guidelines.)  Final reports are used by the Foundation to track progress of projects funded through the program, and to assist us in program planning. In addition, all Fellows participating in a Leadership Grant Project will be asked to present their results or project to other Fellows at a Switzer Fellows Retreat, convening, via webinar, or in writing for Switzer Foundation publications.
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8. How to Find A Fellow or An Organization

Organizations seeking a Fellow with whom to develop a proposal should contact the Switzer Foundation office, but may also browse the Directory of Fellows.  The Directory is searchable by Fellow name, geographic location, or area of expertise.

Organizations wishing to be listed on the Leadership Exchange should submit the following information to Erin Lloyd, Program Officer (erin@switzernetwork.org):  organization name, contact name and title, full organization contact information including email and website address, brief organization description, and a summary describing the position or project you hope to fill with a Switzer Fellow. Please indicate any time restrictions if applicable.

Fellows interested in finding an organization with which to partner on a Leadership Grant project should visit the Leadership Exchange section of the website and contact the Switzer Foundation office to express their interest in the program. The Foundation may be able to facilitate connections between Fellows and prospective organizations suited to a Fellow's interests and skills.

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