Leadership Grant Program - How to Apply
3. How to Apply
11. Tips for Fellows
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 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.
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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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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- 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:
- A completed Switzer Foundation Leadership Grant Program Cover Sheet
- 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.
- A letter from the Switzer Fellow relating the proposal to his or her professional development and professional career objectives.
- The Switzer Fellow's and the project supervisor's curriculum vitae.
- 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.
- A list of current board members of the organization, and their organizational affiliations.
- 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.
- The organization's current operating budget and most recent financial statement.
- 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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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.
|Concept Letter:||February 1||September 1|
|Proposal Deadline:||March 1||October 1|
|Review / Decision:||May 15||December 15|
|Award Notification:||June 1||January 1|
Proposal materials should be submitted electronically to:
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
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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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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 (firstname.lastname@example.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.
- HOW DO WE START TO
PURSUE A LEADERSHIP GRANT?
Organizations should start early and get a Switzer Fellow’s commitment first. It is critical that you connect with a Switzer Fellow before you begin the process. A specific Switzer Fellow must be named, and you must work together to submit a proposal. Fellows seeking a particular organization to work with should cultivate the relationship in advance of a concept letter deadline. Switzer Foundation staff are available to clarify guidelines.
- HOW DOES AN INTERESTED ORGANIZATION FIND A SWITZER FELLOW?
- First and foremost, contact Switzer Foundation staff and indicate your interest in finding a Fellow. Often, we know of Fellows who may be looking and can suggest possibilities.
- After initial contact with Switzer Foundation staff, organizations can post a description of their interest on our LEADERSHIP EXCHANGE. Organizations should send us a written description of your project idea and the description of your ideal candidate (several paragraphs), and we will post it on our Leadership Exchange and notify Fellows.
- Organizations should look through our DIRECTORY of Fellows. Using keywords, you can search for Fellows in your field and can then contact them directly. Generally, Fellows who are just graduating from their academic programs are the most flexible.
- WHAT ARE THE KEY
CRITERIA FOR LEADERSHIP GRANT PROGRAM PROJECTS?
- Your project is relevant: You have related the goals and objectives of your project to a current and critical environmental issue. The project has the potential to solve a problem or improve a condition.
- The project advances the professional career of the Switzer Fellow. The Fellow's role is substantive in carrying out the project. The project will utilize the skills and professional interests of the Fellow in a way that advances their leadership skills.
- The project and the Switzer Fellow will help build the capacity of the organization. The Fellow has special skills needed to fulfill the project. The skills and expertise of the Fellow will leverage the organization to make a significant contribution on the environmental issue described in the proposal.
- CAN A SWITZER FELLOW BE HIRED AS A CONTRACTOR RATHER THAN AS FULL TIME STAFF OF THE ORGANIZATION? Yes. Many Leadership Grant projects are for a specified term with the Fellow hired as contract staff. If this is the case, the applicant will need to specify the exact working arrangement between the parties (full time or part time, length of term, payment rate and pay periods, whether the Fellow will work in the organization’s office or at home, use of supplies and computers, etc.) In fact, hiring a more experienced Switzer Fellow for a contract position can be a very effective strategy for certain projects. However, staffing arrangements will be reviewed by Foundation staff to make sure they are tailored appropriately to the Fellow’s needs.
- HOW SHOULD THE PROPOSAL BE WRITTEN AND PRESENTED? All proposals should be prepared jointly by the organization and the Fellow. Follow the program guidelines and be sure to include all the requested materials. Be sure your proposal is clear, free of jargon and emphasizes outcomes. Furthermore, responsibilities for accomplishing the project should be clearly articulated. The roles of the Fellow, the Fellow’s supervisor, and other members of the organization involved in the project must be addressed.
- HOW SHOULD WE ADDRESS EVALUATION IN THE PROPOSAL? Describe the lasting results expected from the project. Include a plan to evaluate the successes and failures of the project and measurable outcomes. (Note: Outcomes are the specific conditions you hope to achieve - like reduction in pollution, increase in community involvement or changes in policy. This is different from outputs, or the things you will do - like hold meetings, write reports, etc.) How will the impact of your project live on after the grant period has expired?
- WHAT TIME FRAME SHOULD WE PLAN FOR THE PROJECT? Your project should match the resources available. Be realistic about what can be carried out within the time schedule and with the budget you propose.
- ARE MULTI-YEAR GRANTS AVAILABLE? At this time, multi-year grant proposals are not accepted. Grants of up to $40,000 may be requested for a one-year period. Successful applicants may be permitted to apply for a second year of funding if needed. If possible, please specify if you expect to apply for a subsequent year's funding.
- ARE MATCHING FUNDS REQUIRED? Yes. We expect that additional funds will be required to carry out the proposed project, and a plan for raising those funds should be articulated in the project budget. For organizations invited to apply for a second year of funding, we anticipate that the organization's share of funding the Fellow and the project will increase over time and the Switzer Foundation’s share will decrease.
- WHAT IF WE NEED TO RAISE ADDITIONAL FUNDS IN ORDER FOR THE PROJECT TO HAPPEN? Fundraising and professional commitments must be made clear at the outset. The proposal must address who will raise other needed funds for the project and the role of the Fellow in any fundraising activities. For start-up projects, the Foundation may be willing to take on more of the costs, but a funding strategy for the duration of the project should be described.
- HOW DO WE ENSURE THAT THE SWITZER FELLOW'S PROFESSIONAL OBJECTIVES WILL BE MET? Applicants should have discussed the Fellow’s career goals prior to drafting the proposal. The proposal should address specific steps to build the professional standing of the Fellow and appropriate training or professional development opportunities for the Fellow that will be available during the project period. If known, outline specific trainings or professional development opportunities that will be made available to the Fellow.
- WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR GRANT REPORTING? One FINAL REPORT (including a FINAL BUDGET) is required at the end of the grant cycle, one year from the time the grant is awarded. If a second year of funding is requested, an interim or progress report should be included with the renewal request.
- WHAT OTHER
EXPECTATIONS DOES THE FOUNDATION HAVE FOR LEADERSHIP GRANT PROJECTS?
- We expect that any media stories generated by the project will be shared with us, and that the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation will be acknowledged as a funder of the project.
- The Switzer Fellow and a representative of the organization will be invited to attend a fall or spring Switzer Fellowship Retreat or convening where they will have an opportunity to present strategies and results from the project, or to engage Switzer Fellows in the project, or to take part in a training or professional development opportunity. If it is not possible to attend a retreat or convening in person, the Foundation expects that the Fellow and an organizational representative will present findings or results to the Switzer Network via webinar, conference call or other shared learning opportunity.
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- Remember that Fellows must have completed their academic studies before beginning a Leadership Grant project. Proposals can be submitted while the Fellow is still in school, but start dates should be coordinated with the Fellow’s degree completion.
- Be clear about the scope of your project. Although it is tempting to think you can accomplish all the big-picture plans you have, remember that Leadership Grants are for a one year time frame. It is much better to temper your plans to a realistic level. This will be scrutinized during the grant review process.
- Use the LEADERSHIP EXCHANGE and Switzer staff as resources in finding a Fellow and posting your interest. Start early! Working out a project idea with a Fellow is time-consuming and you must have developed the project jointly before submitting a concept letter or proposal.
- Work with the Switzer Fellow to prepare the proposal. The proposal should be written jointly so that it captures not only the essence of the project, but also how the project fits into the overall career and leadership goals of the Switzer Fellow.
- Be prepared to support the Fellow’s leadership development. The Leadership Grant Program is designed to foster the leadership development of our Fellows. It is not simply a project grant program. Supporting leadership development could involve setting up trainings for the Fellow to participate in, guided leadership on the project itself, or other professional development opportunities.
- If you are not sure about the long term commitment to the Fellow’s position, be honest and frame a realistic one-year project. If it goes well and you are in a better position to commit to a longer term project later in the grant year, you may be eligible to apply for another year’s funding.
- For grassroots organizations, be sure that your organization can handle the commitment to a professional salary for the Fellow. This will include being able to handle the additional fundraising commitments that may be required.
- Be open to how a
Switzer Fellow can bring project design and other skills to the project.
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- If you are contacted
by an organization, get to know the organization first, to be sure it is
a good fit.
- If it is a start-up or has minimal staff, talk to us about questions to ask of the organization before you sign on. You will want to be clear about the ability of the organization to support your project to completion.
- Review the overall mission of the organization. Although you will be working on your particular project or in your specified position, be sure its mission is aligned with your interests and goals.
- If you are unfamiliar with the organization, talk to as many people as possible (staff, if appropriate; ex-staff, if appropriate; other colleagues) about its work, perceptions of the organization, and staffing stability.
- Work carefully with the organization to define the project scope and expectations. Be sure you are a part of the proposal writing process.
- Be as clear as possible about the roles of all parties and the relationship between you and your potential supervisor. Be sure your potential supervisor is also a part of the proposal process. This is particularly true if you will be working offsite. If that is the case, we recommend making an agreed upon schedule of meeting times with your supervisor to maintain regular contact.
- Be clear and honest with the organization about your expectations for leadership development. Ask about professional development trainings or opportunities that may be available.
- Understand the pros and cons of working for small or large organizations. Small, grassroots organizations can offer opportunities to lead and shape projects, but they may have limited fundraising experience or capacity. Large organizations may have so many good projects underway simultaneously that it can be challenging to get supervisors to focus on your work.
- Realize when you are approaching an organization that the interview process should work both ways. Not only will the organization want to know about your background and experience, but you should be sure to question the organization as well.
- Inquire as to how much of your time, if any, will be devoted to raising funds for the position or project. Is there a development director at the organization, or someone who is dedicated solely to raising money?
- Look carefully at the structure of the organization in terms of number of staff in comparison to the work the organization does. What is the culture of the organization in terms of work hours, communication and collaboration among staff as well as expectations for performance, overtime, or travel? Talk openly with your supervisor or the executive director about expectations and the work culture of the organization.
- Ask about staff
support available to you. Depending on the specifics of your position,
you may want to inquire about development staff, administrative staff,
GIS staff, etc. If many of these duties will fall on you, you will want
to be especially clear about expectations for job outputs during the
course of the project.
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