August 28, 2020

Media Contact:

Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-941

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Today, County Executive Calvin Ball announced $1 million for innovation and operational grants for Howard County non-profits. The Rise to the Challenge grants, which are funded through the CARES Act, will begin accepting applications September 1 through September 15, 2020. Grantees can apply for grant amounts ranging from $10,000 and up.

“With the Rise to the Challenge grants we are looking to support innovative solutions to problems that have arisen directly due to the pandemic,” said Ball. “Across the county, non-profits 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. This is an incredible opportunity for our non-profits to dream big and bring to life original and necessary innovations. Together we can rise to the challenge and continue creating a better Howard County for all.”

Ball launched the Innovation Fund in 2019 and provided $235,000 in grants to organizations in Howard County with unique and original projects. 

“I know that there is an innovative spirit in Howard County,” said Angela Cabellon, Chief Innovation Officer and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer. “From several conversations with community members, it is evident that organizations are finding new and imaginative ways to support the public. This funding is a way we can continue to spur new ideas, support non-profits, and benefit all our residents.”

Funding Criteria for Innovation and Operations Grants 

Application Requirements

  • 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 on the website. 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 three pages.
  • Applications should provide clear performance measures for the project and also provide financial information that demonstrates readiness and good standing.

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.

For complete application requirement and to apply, please visit

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