General questions about Transforming LA

What types of services does my organization need to provide in order to be eligible for Transforming LA?

Organizations need to provide prevention services. 

Prevention in mental health involves reducing risk factors or stressors, building protective factors and skills, and increasing support. Protective factors increase resiliency, interpersonal connections and raise the general level of health and wellbeing for individuals, families and communities.  Prevention promotes positive cognitive, social and emotional development and encourages a state of well-being.

Who will evaluate applications and selecting organizations to participate?

A review panel including representatives from DMH, private philanthropic organizations, the Center for Strategic Partnerships, Community Partners, and the County CEO’s Office will conduct the initial application reviews. Representatives from these organizations will also participate in site visits for the highest scoring applicants for a second level of review.

What is the timeframe for Transforming LA?

Transforming LA takes place over three fiscal years, (July 2019 through June 2021) and consists of three phases:

  • Phase One: July 2019 – September 2020

Project planning and outreach, application and selection of participants, and intensive training for selected applicants.  Participating organizations will be selected and notified in September 2020.  Intensive training sessions will take place in October, November and December of 2020. At the conclusion of Phase One, selected organizations will receive one-time grants from Community Partners to support the implementation of their short-term projects.

  • Phase Two: January 2021– December 2021

Short-term project implementation with individualized coaching and consulting for selected organizations along with half-day seminars on topics that may include program planning and proposal development, fundraising for sustainability, board development, financial management and using data effectively. Mini-grants will be available to support program needs that cannot be supported by grants from Community Partners, which will mirror the same grant restrictions as LA County contracts (e.g., no funding for equipment or software). Phase Two will also include at least one peer-learning convening for participating organizations. 

  • Phase Three: January 2022-June 2022

This phase will include an evaluation of Transforming LA.  Participants who are able to successfully procure a DMH contract after Phase Two will receive ongoing technical assistance from DMH.

What training and capacity-building services will be provided through this initiative?

Over the course of Transforming LA, participating organizations will receive training on DMH regulations, guidelines, service delivery, and the process for contracting with DMH. Some of the topics that will be explored during the intensive training include staffing and workforce development; financial viability and liability; building a program budget; billing and payments; Federal, State, County and DMH Accounting Practices; fiscal auditing; and developing Performance Based Outcomes. The intensive training will include technical assistance on project/contract management for the implementation of the short-term projects in Phase Two. 

Participating organizations will also receive modest stipends for staff time spent completing the trainings and funding of up to $200,000 to implement a short-term mental health prevention project.

Coaching and specialized consulting will also be offered to program participants during the short-term project implementation phase.

Transforming LA organizations will also receive ongoing technical assistance on DMH contract management, if awarded a DMH contract in Phase Three (January – June 2022).

Who is eligible for Transforming LA?

In order to apply for Transforming LA, organizations must be on the DMH Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Master Agreement list. The funding for this initiative is subject to California state MHSA regulations requiring that all funding disseminated go to organizations that have been qualified as on the DMH Master Agreement List. 

 In addition to the mandatory requirement that applicants are on the DMH Master Agreement List, participating organizations will be selected through an application review process that considers demonstrated involvement in community engagement activities and knowledge of the community they are serving or proposing to serve. Applicants should also describe how prevention-related services are being provided and/or a viable proposal for providing prevention-related services in their community. Applicant organizations should have annual budgets under $1 million.

Completion of this application will require the following attachments:

  • Organization brochure or document that has an overview of the organization
  • Proposed Budget for Short-Term Project
  • Board of Directors Roster
  • Key Management Staff Roster
  • List of sites where you provide services
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation
  • Copy of 501 (c )(3) letter (tax exemption letter)
  • 990 Tax Form or Audited Financials

Please note that current DMH contractors are not eligible for this program.  

Does my organization have to provide proof of long-term financial sustainability in order to apply?

No. The purpose of Transforming LA is to build the capacity of small- to mid-sized organizations to successfully pursue and manage contracts from DMH. We recognize that some organizations that provide valuable and effective preventive mental health services to under-resourced communities are not always financially strong. Not having a sustainability plan will not be counted against applicants. 

Our organization meets the criteria but we can’t commit to participating in the intensive training schedule. Can I still apply to receive funding through Transforming LA?

Transforming LA is primarily intended to be a training and capacity building initiative that will support participating organizations with grant funding from Community Partners to carry out short-term projects that are an essential part of Transforming LA. This initiative is not mainly intended to provide general operating grants or be a funding source for community organizations. Participation in the intensive training and follow-up coaching and consulting are mandatory elements of this effort.

My organization has received a DMH Community Engagement Mini-Grant in the past several years. Am I still eligible to apply for Transforming LA?

Yes. These $1,000 - $5,000 grants offered Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) funding in collaboration with CalMHSA to engage communities and promote health and wellbeing. Receiving these grants is not the same as receiving a DMH contract. 

I went through the DMH Incubation Academy about five years ago. Am I eligible to apply for Transforming LA?

Yes. Your participation in the previous DMH Incubation Academy does not disqualify you from applying for Transforming LA, assuming your organization meets the eligibility criteria.

Do I have to be a nonprofit in order to apply for Transforming LA?

Only nonprofits can apply to participate in Transforming LA. 

What if I have received my nonprofit designation from the State of California but my application for tax exempt status from the IRS is still pending? 

In order to apply for Transforming LA you must already have a letter from the IRS confirming your status as a 501c3 organization. 

Are faith-based organizations allowed to apply?

Yes. In fact, faith-based organizations are encouraged to apply since these are often the community institutions that people turn to for emotional support and healing and can offer the type of community-based prevention services that DMH wants to support.

If my organization is accepted for Transforming LA and we complete the intensive training will we automatically receive a contract from DMH?

No, but this initiative is being designed to help selected applicants build their organizational capacity to apply for future DMH solicitations that match their organizational strengths and successfully manage those contracts if they are awarded them. 

How many people from each selected organization can participate in the Transforming LA training opportunity?

Each selected organization will be able to send up to two participants to attend the three intensive training sessions that will take place in Phase One, from April through June 2020. At least one of these individuals should commit to attending all three intensives.

Our organizational budget is over $1 million. Can we still apply? 

If your organizational budget is slightly over $1 million and you meet all of the other application criteria, we encourage you to apply. If you have specific questions about this requirement, please email Lupe Solorio at Community Partners,  LSolorio@CommunityPartners.org.


Questions about the DMH Master Agreement List

Why does my organization need to be on the Master Agreement List to apply for Transforming LA?

The funding for Transforming LA is subject to California state MHSA regulations requiring that all funding disseminated go to organizations that have been qualified as on the DMH Master Agreement List.

Once my organization is on the list how long will it stay on the list before I need to reapply? 

The Master Agreement list will be effective upon execution to June 30, 2027.  Per the MHSA, the County shall have the sole option to extend the Master Agreement term for up to two (2) additional one-year periods, through June 30, 2029, for a maximum total Master Agreement term of ten (10) years. 

Was I required to attend one of the Master Agreement List trainings at Friendship Auditorium to apply to get on the list?

No. Those trainings were intended to be a resource for organizations interested in getting on the list, but not a requirement to apply for the list.  

How can grassroots organizations get on the Master Agreement List if they cannot afford the $1 million liability insurance requirement?

For the purposes of this RFSQ, County is waiving the insurance requirements contained in Appendix H – Sample Master Agreement, sub-paragraphs 8.23 – General Provisions for all Insurance Coverage and 8.24 – Insurance Coverage until Proposer is awarded a contract. 

Is there a glossary of terms to help me understand some of the items on the RFSQ? 

Yes. A glossary is online at http://file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/dmh/159359_GlossaryFinalVersion2013.pdf

Where can I access the MSA Application materials?

Please visit https://dmh.lacounty.gov/contract-opportunities/open-solicitations/ and look for RFSQ for Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) No. DMH030719B1.

For specific inquiries about the DMH Master Agreement list, please email SolicitationsTeam@dmh.lacounty.gov

Training sessions on potential contractor qualifications were offered in 2019. Presentation slides are available here


Questions about the Transforming LA Application

How many organizations will be selected for Transforming LA?

We anticipate that five to seven organizations in each Supervisorial District will be selected to participate from the pool of applicants so the total number of organizations in the cohort is expected to range from 25-35.

What are the award amounts that will be given to selected organizations?

Award amounts will vary, depending on what each organization needs to implement their short-term project, but the upper limit will be $200,000.

Will organizations selected for Transforming LA get contracts that pay in arrears to support their short-term projects or will they receive grants?

As part of Transforming LA, selected organizations will receive grants from Community Partners, not contracts. Grant payments will not be made in a lump sum but will be provided in installments, with narrative and reporting reports required to release each installment. 

Was I required to attend an Orientation Session in order to apply for Transforming LA? 

No. Orientation Sessions were intended to be a resource for organizations interested in applying for Transforming LA, but not a prerequisite for application. 

Can I apply if my nonprofit has a fiscal sponsor?

Yes, but only if the organization that serves as your organization’s fiscal sponsor has a budget under $1 million.  

My organization provides services in several Supervisorial Districts. Do I have to apply to just one District?

Yes. Transforming LA is structured as a countywide initiative that allocates funding for the short-term projects by Supervisorial District. Even if your organization provides preventative mental health services in multiple Districts, you should select one for your application. 

Can my organization submit multiple applications to be more competitive?

Each organization can only submit one application.

How should I define which community I serve? 

Applicants can define the community they serve in geographic terms and/or by describing the population(s) they serve. It’s up to you. 

Can I use the same three letters of recommendation I used to reply to the RFSQ to get on the DMH Master Agreement List?

Yes. If you choose to get letters of recommendation from three additional recommenders that is fine, but it’s not necessary. 

Does my short-term project have to be a new program for my organization?

No. Your short-term project can be an ongoing program that your organization has been operating that could benefit from one year of funding to increase your organizational capacity. Funding can be used to support expenses for operations and staffing for a short-term project, but keep in mind that funding is for only one year. Applicants are encouraged to be sensitive to the implications of using one year of Transforming LA funds for staff members who may expect to be employed beyond the short-term project period. 

If your short-term prevention project represents a new program area or idea you’ve had for your organization but haven’t had the funding to test or implement, that’s fine, but you shouldn’t feel compelled to come up with a new program area for purposes of Transforming LA.

Funding for short-term projects in Transforming LA is not intended for general organizational operational support.

Does my short-term project have to be completed by the end of one year (Phase Two, January through December 2021)?

Yes. Transforming LA is designed so that short-term projects will be completed in one year. Selected organizations will receive coaching and consulting to help them complete their proposed projects in one year.