Applying to the First 5 LA Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Fund (EC PAF)
What funding is currently available and who is eligible to apply?
- The Community Opportunities Flexible Fund provides a broad range of grants, stipends, contracts, honoraria, and related expenditures of $2,500–$85,000 to organizations and volunteer efforts. Funding may be used to change systems affecting children prenatal to 5 and their families by helping to build community connections and voice of the people most impacted. No deadline; applications are open as of July 10th, 2023.
- The other component of the EC PAF is the Reimagining Systems Fund, which closed for new applications in April 2023.
The Community Opportunities Flexible Fund (COFF) creates funding opportunities for emerging groups, volunteer efforts, and/or nonprofit and fiscally sponsored organizations that are working to advance systems change for Los Angeles children, prenatal to 5, and their families.
Funds must support First 5 LA’s overarching systems change goal: that public systems most critical to children’s development prenatal to 5 advance belonging and justice for communities that experience significant inequities.
Unsure if your work is connected to systems change? Our friends at Social Justice Partners LA put together a wonderful guide defining systems change and explaining how it differs from direct service.
The Fund aims to be accessible, including by people with little or no prior experience applying for grants or funding, or prior relationship with First 5 LA. Priority for funding will go to initiatives led by people historically excluded from and/or negatively impacted by the systems for which they are advocating change. For example, this includes people who experience poverty and/or other injustices based on racism, anti-Blackness, disability status, immigrant status, anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, and the like.
The Community Opportunities Flexible Fund will distribute over $2 million across multiple years in amounts of $2,500 to $85,000. Activities must be connected to changing systems that affect children prenatal to 5 and their families. Specifically, funded activities should support First 5 LA’s overarching systems change goal: that public systems most critical to children’s development prenatal to 5 advance belonging and justice for communities that experience significant inequities.
Funds may be used for a wide variety of purposes related to building community connections and voice of people most impacted to change systems affecting children prenatal to 5 and their families in Los Angeles County, including but not limited to:
- Community engagement
- Grassroots relationship-building
- Community-driven research
- Building or sustaining coalitions and networks
- Community convening
- Oral histories
- Culturally-affirming narratives and agendas
- Cultural celebrations and gatherings
- Artmaking that advances systems change
- Community care
- Policy and systems education and knowledge exchange
- Policy implementation and monitoring
- Other activities that help build grassroots connections and voice for systems change by the people most impacted
Under First 5 LA by-laws, no funds may be used for grassroots lobbying.
Any person, organization, or entity receiving funding must submit a W-9 form. Please be aware that receiving over $600 may have tax consequences and may impact eligibility for public benefits.
We invite Los Angeles-serving volunteer groups, networks, consultants, LLCs/businesses, and nonprofit organizations of any size to apply. Activities must be related to changing public systems most critical to children’s development prenatal to 5 to advance belonging and justice for communities that experience significant inequities. Formal 501(c)(3) status or fiscal sponsorship is not required for funding.
We especially encourage applications from the following:
- Organizations with small budgets
- Groups that have never received foundation or government grants or other forms of funding in the past
- Early childhood provider groups
- Volunteer groups or other entities
- Other initiatives working on systems change related to children prenatal to 5 and their families.
Larger and/or established organizations may also apply for Community Opportunities Flexible Fund monies. For example, they may do so for specific projects and initiatives related to collaborating with community members and/or other organizations on efforts concerning policy affecting Los Angeles children prenatal to 5 and their families.
We also encourage larger and established organizations to share information about the Community Opportunities Flexible Fund with people/grassroots initiatives in their networks who have not previously received funding.
FORMS OF AVAILABLE FUNDING
The Community Opportunities Flexible Fund offers funding in various forms to support systems change activities that advance belonging and justice for all Los Angeles children, prenatal to 5, and their families:
- Payment of direct expenses (e.g., translation services, transportation, equipment, space rental, childcare for meetings, catering, and others (this is not an exhaustive list).
- Grants (to nonprofit and fiscally sponsored organizations only)
Formal 501(c)(3) status is not required.
APPLICATION DUE DATE
There are no deadlines to apply. The Community Opportunities Flexible Fund operates on a rolling basis between 2023 and 2028, subject to fund availability.
HOW TO APPLY
All applications must be submitted through the online application platform, Submittable. There are two different applications depending on the type of applicant that you are. Links for each application are as follows:
- ORGANIZATIONS: Application form via Submittable for nonprofits, fiscally sponsored organizations, LLCs/businesses, and other incorporated entities
- NON-ORGANIZATIONS: Application for all unincorporated entities, including volunteer groups, individual consultants, etc.
Upon receipt of your application, a member of the Community Partners team may follow up to discuss your application in further detail. Depending on the nature and size of the request, we may ask you for additional information before final decisions are made by First 5 LA staff. Funding decisions may take up to 12 weeks following receipt of each application.
HELP WITH YOUR APPLICATION
We welcome questions via email to Priscilla Romero at promero@CommunityPartners.org (en Español tambien).
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
We are a group of people working on systems change issues in our community but are not incorporated and don’t have a 501(c)(3). Can we still apply for funds?
Yes! Use the application for non-organizations here.
May we apply for multiple COFF awards?
We understand that the timeline for completing funded activities will vary, given the wide variety of purposes for these funds. Depending on the availability of funds and the nature of the funding, awardees may apply and receive funds multiple times over the four years of this fund. However, funding for each awardee will not exceed $85,000 per fiscal year (July 1 – June 30).
May funds be used to purchase equipment such as laptop computers for our work?
Yes, equipment purchases are eligible for consideration for COFF awards.
Are statewide groups that are not headquartered in Los Angeles but are doing work in this area eligible for funding?
Yes. However, strong applications will demonstrate significant engagement with and leadership by community members in Los Angeles County.
Are grantees of the Reimagining Systems Fund eligible to apply for COFF awards?
No, Reimagining Systems Fund (RSF) grantee organizations are not eligible to apply for COFF awards. However, community members collaborating with RSF grantees are eligible to apply.
Are current and/or previous grantees of other First 5 LA initiatives eligible to be considered for COFF awards?
Yes, as long as your COFF request is not for the same purpose as your other First 5 LA funding.
Which application should I use?
The organization application is for organizations and incorporated groups including 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(6) organizations, fiscally sponsored projects, or LLCs/businesses involved in systems change initiatives affecting children ages prenatal to 5 and their families. The non-organization application is for unincorporated entities, such as all-volunteer community groups, individual consultants, and other unincorporated initiatives working on systems change activities affecting children prenatal to 5 and their families. Both applications gather the same information, though each have questions geared towards the type of applicant requesting funds.
HOW DOES THE AWARD PROCESS WORK?
What criteria will Community Partners and First 5 LA use to evaluate and approve awards?
Strong applications will demonstrate that your activities are deeply rooted in Los Angeles County, strongly connected to systems change affecting children prenatal to 5 and their families, are community-driven and include community voices in leadership as much as possible, and are achievable.
How long does the application review process take?
After we receive your application, a member of the Community Partners team may follow up to discuss your proposal in further detail. Depending on the nature and size of the request, we may ask you for additional information before final decisions are made by First 5 LA staff. Funding decisions may take up to 12 weeks following receipt of each application.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS IF WE RECEIVE AN AWARD?
What do we have to do if we receive an award?
You will be required to sign an agreement and provide a W9 form and payment information.
What are reporting requirements if we receive an award?
Requirements for reporting back to Community Partners will be determined case by case.
What is considered grassroots lobbying?
Under First 5 LA’s bylaws, no EC PAF grant funds may be used for grassroots lobbying activities. Grassroots lobbying is any action to encourage others to take action to influence a new or existing public policy with a policymaker or staff (i.e., urging the general public to communicate the organization’s position on legislation to legislators). IRS information about grassroots lobbying can be found here.
HOW DO WE GET HELP?
Is there a way to talk with someone to get help with my application?
Yes. You can email specific questions to Priscilla Romero at promero@CommunityPartners.org (en Español tambien).
How do we use Submittable?
Submittable is an online application portal. To submit an application, you must first create a free, Submittable account: https://manager.submittable.com/signup. The email address associated with your account will be used to communicate about your application. Please be sure to use an email account that is readily accessible and that you check often. Submittable should be accessed on Chrome, FireFox or Safari (Internet Explorer is not supported).
How do we get help with Submittable?
For technical assistance related to Submittable, please contact Submittable Customer Support: https://www.submittable.com/help/submitter/. They are available between 9am – 5pm Mountain Time and aim to respond within 24 hours. Additional help for applicants can be found here: https://submittable.help/en/collections/185534-help-for-applicants.
First 5 LA has contracted with Community Partners as an intermediary to co-design and implement the First 5 LA Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Fund (EC PAF) over a five-year period, 2023–2028. Community Partners is facilitating the grant selection process, in alignment with input provided by key stakeholders as described below, and recommends awards for final approval by First 5 LA.
In co-designing EC PAF, Community Partners’ team held listening and learning sessions from July 2022 to February 2023. We interviewed a wide range of organizations and individuals, including service providers and parents from historically excluded communities. The purpose was to open further communications with persons, organizations, and professions (e.g., early childhood care and education providers) that have deep and direct experience and expertise with children’s early development and the systems and supports that help, neglect, or harm them and their families. Those interviewed included early childhood care providers, parents, members of underserved communities, policy advocates, community organizers, government officials, funders, and leaders of networks in Los Angeles County and statewide.
Community Partners made particular efforts to include parents and home childcare providers from highly marginalized communities and grassroots organizations serving – and in many cases led by – people with lived experiences of economic and other injustices, racism, anti-Blackness, colonization, and xenophobia.
We also commissioned a historian to research and write a short history of U.S. policy concerning families and children, and in particular the long history of exclusionary policymaking that continues to the present to harm marginalized communities. The purpose was to deepen our understanding of how policies, past and present, disparately affect quality of life amongst different communities today. We are using some of the rich information gained from these sources to help shape EC PAF.
The people we spoke with also recommended specific grantmaking practices, including providing flexible, multi-year funding with minimal strings attached, supporting compensated participation and leadership by community members, avoiding an “overseer” mentality, extending trust, being more transparent, and funding activities such as process, implementation, celebration, rest, and storytelling. We have tried to incorporate some of these suggestions and recommendations, in alignment with First 5 LA’s long-term goals of enhancing power-sharing and equity in systems, in the design of EC PAF.
For those who are interested, you can find the list of organizational affiliations for the 50 people who provided input at our listening sessions, as well as a summary of what we heard here. You can also read the history of US policy concerning families and children that we commissioned as part of our co-design process.
You do not need to read these documents to apply for funding, however. We are making these available in the spirit of transparency and a commitment to sharing information, as well as appreciation for those who contributed their time and experiences.
First 5 LA believes that every child in Los Angeles County deserves to reach their full developmental potential throughout the critical years of prenatal to age 5. First 5 LA uses a “whole child, whole family” framework that considers the context in which children and their families live, grow, and develop. Context includes, for example, economic security, quality childcare, social supports, food security, safe neighborhoods, housing security, mental and physical well-being, the quality of built environments, and the systems and institutions that serve these populations.
First 5 LA’s framework also addresses the pervasive discrimination and racism woven into institutions and structures across society that compound the challenges faced by Black, Indigenous, immigrant, rural, low/no-income, language/cultural groups, and others, and that harm children and families. Histories of colonialism, enslavement, segregation, xenophobia, disinvestment, and discrimination have contributed to current systems that too often fail and harm children and families.
First 5 LA is refocusing its policy advocacy, research, and grantmaking towards an overarching systems change goal: that public systems most critical to children’s development, prenatal to 5, advance belonging and justice for communities that experience significant inequities. Specifically, this goal targets the following four long-term systems outcomes:
1. Children prenatal to age 5 and their families have their basic needs met: Healthy food, secure housing and economic security are the essential cornerstones needed for all young children to reach their full developmental potential.
2. Children prenatal to age 5 have nurturing relationships and environments: Young children’s interactions in both social environments — with their families, caregivers and communities — and physical ones — the spaces where they live, play and explore — have lasting effects on their health and well-being.
3. Children prenatal to age 5 have a solid foundation for well-being, lifelong learning and success: Access to resources such as early care and education, early identification and intervention services, and culturally affirming services and supports are crucial in ensuring children reach their full potential.
The Reimagining Systems Fund is awarding grants of $250,000 to $350,000, renewable for three additional years, to nonprofit organizations active in Los Angeles County. Read about the Reimagining Systems Fund grantees here.
Although the Fund is no longer accepting applications, we are including the information below in case it is of interest.
We invited applications from 501(c)(3) or fiscally sponsored organizations that are working to change public systems and services most critical to children’s development prenatal to 5 and their families, and are doing this in a way that meaningfully involves members of communities that have been historically harmed because of economic injustice and inequities, racism, anti-Blackness, colonization, xenophobia, ableism, anti-immigrant injustice, anti-LGBTQ+, and the like.
We had particular interest in organizations of any size that are in and from these communities and/or where people from these communities are active in leadership roles. We were also open to proposals from two or more organizations working in partnership.
Specifically, priority for funding is focused on organizations that:
- Have meaningful involvement and leadership in decision-making by community members negatively impacted by the systems they are advocating to reimagine, including people from communities that have historically experienced economic injustice and inequities, racism, anti-Blackness, colonization, xenophobia, ableism, anti-immigrant injustice, anti-LGBTQ+, and the like
- Engage in systems or policy change affecting children prenatal to 5 and their families, including but not limited to: agenda setting, narrative change, policy change, practice change, budget/financing change, community mobilizing, relationship-building, implementation, and policy monitoring.
- Are addressing in a meaningful way one or more of First 5 LA’s long-term systems outcome areas:
- Equitable: Public systems eliminate systemic biases in mindsets, policies, procedures, and practices
- Power Sharing: Communities and public systems share power in the development, implementation, and improvement of policies, procedures, and practices that impact children and families
- Financing: The financing mechanisms of public systems are sufficient and incentivize a whole child, whole family, prevention-oriented approach
- Accessible: Public systems are connected, aligned, and seamless
Funding from the Reimagining Systems Fund may be used for staffing (including health and other benefits, vacation and leave time, training, self-care, etc.), overhead expenses, and a wide variety of other activities directly related to changing systems serving children prenatal to 5 and their families. Examples include – but are not limited to – organizing early childhood provider communities, trainings and information sharing with a systems/policy or implementation change focus, health policy projects, community leader stipends, community-building, organizing, and policy implementation.
Under First 5 LA’s bylaws, no EC PAF grant funds may be used for grassroots lobbying activities (such as urging the general public to communicate the organization’s position on legislation to legislators). More information about grassroots lobbying can be found here.
Deadline and application process for the Reimagining Systems Fund
The application deadline for Year One of the Reimagining Systems Fund was Friday, April 21st, 2023. Organizations receiving funding may be eligible for renewal, subject to fund availability and grantee progress and circumstances, for up to three additional years. All grant recommendations are subject to final approval by First 5 LA, while keeping in mind the recommendations and practices derived from Community Partners’ listening and learning sessions.
Reporting, convening, and other requirements for the Reimagining Systems Fund
Grantees are required to participate in a limited set of evaluation activities, including providing written reports/reflections and participating in occasional surveys or conversations with Community Partners and/or First 5 LA staff and evaluator(s) upon request. Community Partners and First 5 LA value learning about what grantees are finding that works as well as what doesn’t work. Both are important and equally valuable in understanding problems and solutions.
Grantees of the Reimagining Systems Fund may be required to attend at most one funder-led convening annually.
Reimagining Systems Fund Timeline
- Optional informational webinar: Thursday, March 30 at 3 pm
- Application due: Friday, April 21, 2023
- Award notifications: late May 2023 (delayed to mid-June 2023)
- Year One grant period: starts in June or July 2023
A full proposal consists of the following:
- Application form completed via Submittable.
- Response to the five (5) required narrative questions, uploaded through your Submittable application in Word or PDF format.
- Completed budget template, uploaded through your Submittable application in Excel format.
- Organization’s financial statements from the most recently completed fiscal year, audited if available (in PDF or Excel format).
In evaluating proposals for funding recommendations, the Community Partners team is focused on:
Systems Impact: The proposal demonstrates the potential to create meaningful system change (policies, processes, institutions, common practices, etc.) impacting children prenatal to 5 and their families in LA County.
Equitable/Meaningful Involvement: The proposed work attempts to address root causes of inequitable systems and is led by community members who have lived experiences with inequities.
Actionable: The proposal seems feasible within the described timeframe and budget. The applicant appears to have the capacity, capability, and knowledge to execute the work.
For more information
For more information
Please send questions to Priscilla Romero at promero@CommunityPartners.org (en Español tambien).
For technical support with Submittable, please contact Submittable directly at https://www.submittable.com/help/submitter/. They are available between 9am-5pm MT and aim to respond within 24 hours.
For additional applicant resources, please see: https://submittable.help/en/collections/185534-help-for-applicants