Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

What is the Economic Opportunity Challenge?

The Economic Opportunity Challenge is a public competition launched with the support of Lever for Change to award $10 million to the most scalable, transformative, and proven solution aimed to meaningfully expand economic opportunity for low-income individuals in the US. Learn more.

Who can participate?

Only 501(c)(3) organizations based in the United States or its territories with operating budgets of at least $1 million may apply. Use the Organizational Readiness Tool to find out if you’re a good fit for the Challenge, and refer to the Rules for a complete set of eligibility requirements.

Who cannot participate?

The following are not eligible to apply for the Economic Opportunity Challenge: organizations with budgets of less than $1 million; 501(c)6 organizations; individuals; for-profit entities; government agencies; Doctoral Universities, Master’s Colleges and Universities, and Baccalaureate Colleges (please note: public community colleges ARE eligible to apply); and organizations that are not based in the United States or the United States Territories.

Fund aggregators are not eligible to apply as a lead organization for the Economic Opportunity Challenge, however they might be eligible when proposing to implement a specific solution with pre-defined partner organizations. In this case, the applicant must demonstrate persuasively that the project is distinct and separate from the organization’s traditional (valuable) role as a fund aggregator and grant-maker.

Such ineligible persons or entities may, however, act as a partner to any team that is led by a Primary Organization that meets the above eligibility criteria.

How do we apply?

You must first assess your fit and eligibility for the Economic Opportunity Challenge, and then register no later than Tuesday, January 28, 2020, at 5:00 PM Pacific. Registration is required and is a simple two-step process. First, create a username and password, and then check your inbox to confirm your registration. Next, complete the online registration form. Once you are registered, submit your application online no later than Tuesday, February 18, 2020, at 5:00 PM Pacific.

What types of initiatives are you looking for?

We are looking for proven, data-driven solutions ready to serve as a model for communities across the United States. Winning solutions will utilize a powerful strategy to change lives and permanently remove key barriers to economic opportunity. Teams will demonstrate that they have the track record, experience, partnerships, and resources to create lasting change, as well as the evidence-based approach to accelerate their impact at a larger scale. Complete the Organizational Readiness Tool to find out if you’re a good fit for the Challenge.

How will applications be assessed?

During Administrative Review, the Economic Opportunity Challenge team will confirm each submission meets the rules and application requirements before advancing to the Evaluation Panel.

Each valid application will receive scores and comments from at least five (5) Evaluation Panel judges using four scoring citeria (all scores are normalized). In partnership with Lever for Change, the Selection Committee will review the top-scoring submissions and request additional information as needed to select up to five Finalists based on considerations that may include, but are not limited to, Evaluation Panel resulting rank order, organizational capacity, geographic diversity, and feasibility. The donor will make the final determination of the Finalists, the $10 million awardee, and the $100,000 awardees of the Economic Opportunity Challenge.

Should the proposed solution be evidence-based?

We are prioritizing evidence-based solutions delivered by highly qualified teams. Winning solutions should incorporate one of the following methods of evaluation:

  • There has been an external assessment of impact (e.g., randomized controlled trials; quasi-experimental design; contribution analysis; collective impact).
  • There has been at least one external evaluation of outcomes.
  • Your team (or others) has conducted internal evaluations or outcome assessments.
  • Your team formally collects and documents qualitative and/or quantitative feedback to assess progress.

Will you consider funding the pilot of a proposed solution?

No, solutions in early development or pilot stages without existing results are unlikely to be competitive. Successful proposals will be in one of the following project stages:

  • Operating at Scale: Team has evidence its strategy achieves impact and is delivering the solution at scale.
  • Scaling: Team has evidence of impact and is expanding/adapting the strategy to a greater number of target beneficiaries, potentially in new geographies, but has yet to achieve large-scale implementation.
  • Proof of Concept: Team has been implementing the strategy for a small number of target beneficiaries and has plans to scale.

How can we use Economic Opportunity Challenge funding?

Award funds must be used for the project for which they are awarded, and MAY NOT be used:

  • For non-charitable purposes;
  • To carry on propaganda or otherwise to attempt to influence legislation within the meaning of Code Section 4945(d)(1);
  • To influence the outcome of any specific public election, or to carry on, directly or indirectly, any voter registration drive within the meaning of Code Section 4945(d)(2);
  • To make a grant to any individual for travel, study, or other similar purposes, or to make a grant to any organization, except in compliance with the provisions of Sections 4945(g) or (h), as the case may be;
  • For the creation of any endowment or for the aggregation of philanthropic capital by organizations that regrant to nonprofit organizations.
  • Litigation (While impact litigation is valuable and can contribute to addressing economic inequality, it is ineligible for this Challenge. The provision of legal aid services to low-income communities, however, is an eligible use of Challenge funds as long as the proposal clearly demonstrates how these services help expand economic opportunity for low-income communities.)

We recognize that applicants may have overhead costs that are not directly attributable to the proposed project but are necessary for implementation. We will consider paying for these indirect costs up to a maximum of 25% of direct project or activity costs within the $10 million award limit. Please ensure that any indirect costs are accounted for in your budget in the application. Please also note that as requested in the Budget Narrative section of the application, explain what portion of the budget, if any, is expected to be spent on capacity building to ensure effective execution on the project, as well as what portion of the budget is expected to be spent on measurement and evaluation of results.

Are subgrants allowed?

Funds may be subgranted from lead organizations to other nonprofit partners to implement the proposed solution, and not for general funds used for broader purposes. There are no requirement or limitations on the amount of regranting – we leave this up to the team's discretion on what is needed to successfully implement the proposed solution. All funds must be used for the proposed solution and for charitable purposes only.

What are important dates for the Economic Opportunity Challenge?

The deadline to complete the registration form is Tuesday, January 28, 2020, at 5:00 PM Pacific. The deadline to submit applications is Tuesday, February 18, 2020, at 5:00 PM Pacific. We expect to announce Finalists for the award in June 2020, and the Winner will be announced in November 2020. The expected grant period will be up to five years.

Join the Economic Opportunity Challenge and share your game-changing solution today.

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