In our pilot year, we granted $235,000 in innovation funds! Congratulations to those who are currently implementing key innovations across the county. The wonderful progress and highlights of each of our grantees can be viewed here.

We provided a special release of funding. This $1,000,000 funding was for Innovation and Operations grants. Grantees applied for grant amounts ranging from $10,000 and up.  While we anticipate that grant amounts will range from $10,000 - $250,000, there is no ceiling.

We supported innovative solutions to challenges that have arisen directly due to the pandemic. Due to the pandemic, nonprofits across the county are working diligently and creatively to reach the public in different ways and to address the harsh realities that have affected residents, families, communities and the economy.

We also know that non-profits have had many operational impacts due to the pandemic, but continue to still provide critical services to our residents. All organizations have to increase efficiency and effectiveness to thrive in a virtual world.

Funding Criteria for Innovation and Operations Grants

Application Requirements (Closed at this time)

  • Applicants must demonstrate that the organization is a 501c3 and in good standing.
  • Applicants must clearly apply for an innovation or an operational need that is related to needs arising from the pandemic.
  • Applications must be submitted by September 15, 2020 at 11:59pm and all applicants must be available for an interview on either September 21st, 24th, or 28th, 2020.
  • Applicants must also demonstrate strong ability to expend funds by December 30th. See CARES Funding Criteria and related information. Note that if the federal government extends the deadline for funding use, this will be extended to the nonprofit.
  • Applicants must fill out an application and provide a project narrative. The project narrative should not exceed two pages.
  • Applications should provide clear performance measures for the project and also provide financial information that demonstrates readiness and good standing.

Info Sessions (Closed)

We held information sessions at the following dates and times:

Innovation Grants versus Operations Grants

  • Applicants applying for an Innovation Grant must clearly articulate how the innovation is solving a problem related to the pandemic. An innovation must be a new and creative solution unique to Howard County and unchartered to date.
  • Applicants applying for an Operations Grant should clarify the impact of the pandemic on operations of the nonprofit. Again, funding cannot be used to make up for lost revenue. Rather, funding can be used for changes needed for internal operations, programming or technology in order to provide services to the public.

CARES Funding Criteria

Both Innovation and Operations grants are being supported by the CARES Act funding. The funding criteria is directly in alignment with the requirements of the CARES Act. To be eligible, at minimum, grantees must:

  1. Demonstrate that funding can be used by December 30, 2020.
  2. Directly be used for pandemic-related expenses.
  3. Use funding for key initiatives that are not making up for lost-revenue.
  4. Demonstrate that the organization is a 501c3 in good standing.

See these documents for more information regarding CARES funding:

Aligning with County Priorities

  • As with our first Innovation Grant, ideas should be associated with at least one of the County’s priority areas:
    • Ready and Successful Students
    • Safe and Engaged Communities
    • Clean and Sustainable Environment
    • Thriving and Healthy Residents
    • Reliable and Accessible Infrastructure
    • Strong and Prosperous Businesses
  • Ideas should
    • Be Innovative and Original or Necessary - Does the idea demonstrate how it keeps Howard County ahead of the curve and promotes the creativity that is the hallmark of our County? Is the idea necessary to address challenges due to the pandemic?
    • Support Greater Efficiencies - Does the idea improve a process, save time, increase collaboration among partners, provide the support needed during this pandemic?
    • Emphasize Priority Outcomes and Quality of Life - Does the idea help create a prosperous community, a livable and sustainable community or a safe community in the midst of this pandemic?
    • Be Feasible and Measurable - Can the project be implemented by December 30th? A one-time award from the Innovation and Operations Grants should be sufficient to implement your great idea.

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