CACF: Strengthening Systems Grants

Charlottesville Area Community Foundation

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Grant amount: Up to US $300,000

Next deadline: Feb 1, 2019 (Letter of inquiry)

Later deadlines: May 15, 2019 (Full proposal)

Applicant type: Indigenous Group Government Entity Nonprofit

Funding uses: Training / Capacity Building, Applied Project / Program

Location of project: Counties in Virginia: Albemarle County, Buckingham County, Charlottesville city, Fluvanna County, Greene County Expand all

Location of residency: Counties in Virginia: Albemarle County, Buckingham County, Charlottesville city, Fluvanna County, Greene County Expand all

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About this funder:

View past grantees & full 990 summary


Our Community Endowment Fund provides grants that enrich our community, strengthen community systems and shape futures for our residents:

Strengthening Systems Grants

The Community Foundation invites concept papers for its Strengthening Systems grant track. Our goal is to work with partners to strengthen how services and activities are delivered and accessed in our community. Oftentimes, systemic limitations of insufficient capacity, lack of coordination, inefficiencies and access barriers keep community members from benefitting from programs and activities that are available. An underlying principle of this grant track is that the community is stronger when the systems in which services and activities occur are functioning well and community members can readily access them.

Through this grant track, we aim to work with partners to clarify their systems strengthening goals and outline the course of action needed to achieve them in a 2-3 year period. We hope to provide thought partnership and guidance through the proposal development phase, and for those selected for funding, we actively find ways to help you achieve program success. While funding provided will vary according to program requirements, we anticipate awarding grants in the range of $75,000-$100,000, annually,for 2-3 years

How is system defined?

For the Community Foundation, we define a “system” as the network of actors, policies and practices affecting the provision of services and activities. Generally speaking, systems are the environment in which activities take place and they can shape how well those activities impact the people for whom they are intended to reach. Systems occur in every sector and in various forms. 

This grant track is focused solely on improving systems delivery for the community, and not on strengthening internal systems within a single organization.

Guidelines to Submit a Concept Paper

The Community Foundation welcomes prospective partners to submit 2-page concept papers that provide an initial overview of a Systems Strengthening opportunity. The concept papers do not need to be a perfect or thorough analysis of a system or the opportunities to strengthen it. These papers are meant to serve as a way for us to identify potential opportunities so that we can follow up with you to further develop the initial thinking and ideas together. It is important, however, to validate that any identified partners in your concept are willing to participate if it is selected to advance.

Please share the following in your concept paper:

  • What trend, issue or challenge are you seeing in the community, and over a 2 or 3-year period, what do you want to change? Please include local data that supports your observations.
  • Describe the system that touches this issue. Think about any stakeholders, processes and policies that affect the environment in which the services or activities occur. 
  • Share the area(s) in which you think the system could be strengthened and your best understanding of what might be a good approach.
  • Describe the degree to which engagement and feedback from those most impacted by this system have influenced the design of your proposal.
  • Describe the demographics of those most impacted by this system with as much specificity as possible. For example, disaggregating data by race or neighborhood.
  • Share a list of unanswered questions that you would want the Foundation team to help you explore and answer during further due diligence of this concept.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Eligibility:
    • Applicants must be a 501(c)(3) organization, governmental or religious entity, or fiscally sponsored by a 501(c)(3) organization.
    • The Foundation will consider applications from organizations working to benefit the City of Charlottesville and the Counties of Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Nelson and Orange.
    • Organizations can submit more than one concept note per cycle.
  • Criteria:
    • The Grants Portfolio Committee uses the following criteria when evaluating proposed opportunities:
      • The presence of a system to be strengthened and how well the concept being presented fits with the goals of the grant track.
      • The size and scope of the system to be strengthened and whether the available funding could have an impact on the identified system.
      • The potential to successfully develop a course of action to impact the identified system.
      • The anticipated timeline and the partner’s current capacity to develop and implement a course of action to have the anticipated impact.
    • Additionally, the Committee considers the following areas when reviewing full proposals of finalists:
      • Feasibility to implement the 2-3 year course of action
      • Timing of this effort (circumstances that may significantly improve or limit chances of success)
      • What specifically the grant funds will cover
      • Organizational leadership capacity
      • Potential impact of key deliverables
      • Sustainability of the systems improvements after the grant period
      • Designated measures and methodologies for proposal evaluation