Skip Navigation

Comprehensive Community Initiatives, Improving the lives of youth and families through systems change, a toolkit for federal managers
How the toolkit was created What is a CCI? CCI Tools for Federal Staff
Develop your CCI Project
Guidelines to plan funding
1. Develop a funding strategy that will support the initiative's purpose and desired outcomes.
How do I determine the amount and duration of funding?
To determine funding...
  • Get advice from agencies and communities that have experience with similar initiatives.
  • Fund the lifetime of the initiative--planning, implementation, and the transition to sustainability.
  • Estimate levels of funding to support activities.
  • Build in flexibility.
  • Revisit initiative goals to make sure funding is realistic.

Seek out advice. Consult with other Federal agencies involved in projects with a similar purpose and desired outcomes. Draw on their experience to determine realistic funding levels and duration. Invite representatives from communities experienced with CCIs to participate in planning the initiative and its funding strategy.

Plan funding for the lifetime of the initiative. Designate three phases:

  • Planning.
  • Implementation.
  • The transition to sustainability.

Estimate the levels of funding required to support the activities in each phase. (Use the initiative's logic model to match activities to phases.) Estimate also the mix of funding and technical assistance for each phase. Compare the resulting cost estimates to your available funds.

Example: Activities to fund during the planning phase

The planning phase typically requires funding for:

  • A seasoned, high-level initiative director to pull together the various stakeholders and lead the community through the planning activities.
  • Time for agency staff to take part in the planning.
  • Community meetings and stipends for facilitators.
  • Transportation and child care for family and community members.

Build in some flexibility.

  • Add 15 to 20 percent to your initial estimates to account for inevitable delays and setbacks.
  • Set aside funds in a trust for the transition phase (if this is allowed).
  • Ramp up funding incrementally at the outset, and taper off at the end to smooth the transition to sustainability (a bell curve approach).
  • Focus on the goals of the initiative and allow flexibility in the use of funding as long as goals are being met.

Make sure your plan is realistic. Once you have a funding plan, revisit the initiative's goals. If funding is inadequate to accomplish them, adjust the plan.

How can I make the most of limited funding?
When funding is limited...
  • Focus on short-term and interim goals.
  • Time funding for when it will make the most difference.
  • Offer TA in lieu of direct funding.
  • Join with other agencies or foundations with similar goals.
  • Consider community matching funds or in-kind supports.
  • Use small infusions of Federal funds to leverage existing community-driven change efforts.

Focus on short-term and interim goals that could be achieved within the available resources. (See Evaluation Guideline #1.)

Time funding to the developmental phase of the CCI when it will make the most difference. For example, since the early stages of a site's development focus on planning, it might make sense to begin with minimal Federal funding, and then ramp up the investment for implementation.

Make judicious use of technical assistance in lieu of direct funds. Use TA to help communities identify and make use of existing funding streams.

Identify other Federal agencies or foundations with goals that overlap yours. Discuss the possibility of joint or sequenced funding for the CCI. Clearly identify costs the initiative will cover and costs funding partners will cover. Document the agreement in an MOU. (See Federal Partnerships Guideline #2, and also Greenbook.)

Ask for matching funds or in-kind supports from the community. Ask the grantee to specify in writing which activities the community will support and which will be covered by Federal funds.

Use small infusions of Federal funds to leverage existing community-driven change efforts. The Weed and Seed initiative uses this approach.

How can I ensure that sites devote adequate resources to systems change?
To make sure that sites give priority to systems change...
  • Structure the solicitation and award so that systems change is built in.
  • Be realistic about the costs of systems change.
  • Designate funds for the work of systems change.
  • Fund partnerships and initiatives rather than programs.
  • Be clear about what part of the systems change process you're funding.
  • Help the community conduct fiscal and policy analyses.
  • Stay close to the community.

Structure the solicitation and award to make certain that systems change remains a continuous priority. Systems change can be eclipsed easily by the day-to-day pressures of operating programs. See an example of solicitation language that directs funding to systems change.

Be realistic about the costs of systems change. CCIs need dedicated, high-level personnel who can facilitate communication across agencies and systems. Allow enough resources to attract and retain skilled staff.

Designate funds specifically for the work to bring about systems change--such as building partnerships, collaborating, forging shared goals, and addressing incompatible policies and procedures--to ensure that these funds aren't absorbed into programs.

Fund partnerships and community initiatives--rather than programs. Programs change, whereas partnerships and initiatives remain more constant. Disburse funding through an organization that has staying power in the community--an existing partnership, a collective of programs, a school district, or city/county government.

Be clear about what part of the long-term process of systems change you intend to fund. Systems change--and the community change that results from it--can take 10-20 years.

Make sure that TA providers help the community conduct fiscal and policy analyses. These analyses will provide the site with information that will enable it to direct funds to bring about targeted systems change. See Unified Financing Options to Support Comprehensive Systems Reform.

Stay close to the community. Participate in planning sessions. Observe TA. Be available to listen and to provide the Federal perspective.

When multiple agencies join together to fund an initiative, how can I coordinate the delivery of funding to sites?
To coordinate funding from multiple agencies...
  • Decide together whether each agency will fund one component of the initiative, OR whether all agencies will contribute to funding the entire initiative.
  • Structure funding so that sites submit just one application, one budget, and one set of reports. (See also Federal Partnerships Guidelines.)

Decide together how you will divide the responsibility for funding. At the front end of solicitation development, consider two options:

  • Each funder supports a particular aspect of the initiative: TA, evaluation, planning, site operations, etc.
  • Each funder allocates funds to the entire initiative to be used as needed.

Each funder will also need to decide whether it will make new grants/contracts or direct its existing grantees and contractors to support the CCI.

Make joint funding as seamless as possible from the perspective of the community. To accomplish this:

  • Use interagency agreements (IAAs/IAGs) to transfer funds from each agency to a single administering agency.
  • Create an integrated and simple-to-access package of monetary supports for grantees. Even if you are not using an IAA (for example, if funding partners are supporting different phases of the site work), structure the application process so that a prospective site submits just one application and one budget. In the solicitation, explain how Federal agencies are working together. See a chart describing five options for coordinating multi-agency funding.
How integrated funding benefits sites:
An example from Safe Schools/Healthy Students
"SS/HS braided what were essentially three individual grants (each authorized under different parts of the U.S. Code) in a manner so that applicants wrote only one application (not three), made one annual report (not three), received technical assistance from a uniform set of providers, and participated in only one national evaluation" (Felix et al., 2007, p.7).


Felix, E. et al. 2007. Implications for evaluating multi-component, complex prevention initiatives: Taking guidance from the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative. Journal of School Violence 6(2): 3-22.