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Comprehensive Community Initiatives, Improving the lives of youth and families through systems change, a toolkit for federal managers
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How the toolkit was created What is a CCI? CCI Tools for Federal Staff
Develop your CCI Project
Guidelines to plan funding
4. Be clear about how funds can be used and how they will be disbursed.
What groundwork will help prevent confusion about the use of funds?
To lay the groundwork...
  • Be sure that you are clear about what funding is for.
  • Make sure that all partners agree about how funding may be used.
  • Define precisely the kind of systems change you are seeking.
  • Determine to what degree you will fund services versus systems change work.
  • Decide whether you will fund only evidence-based practices.
  • Determine what type of funding instrument you will use.

First be sure that you yourself are clear about how you want funds to be used.

If you're working with Federal partners, also make sure that all partners agree about how funding can be used. (See also Federal Partnerships Guidelines).

Define precisely the kind of systems change you are seeking as well as your criteria for systems change (for example, agency mandates or cross-agency agreements.) Use a logic model to clarify your thinking. Seek TA if you need help.

Determine to what degree you will fund services versus systems change work.

Decide whether you will fund only evidence-based practices, or whether you will also accept approaches based on less rigorous evaluation--for example, practice-based evidence. Will you give sites a preapproved list of programs/practices to select from or will you allow innovation?

Determine what type of funding instrument you will use. Funder expectations for sites may differ depending on whether the funding instrument is a grant or a cooperative agreement, Under a cooperative agreement decisionmaking is shared between funder and grantee.

How should I communicate my expectations to sites?
To communicate your expectations...
  • State expectations in the solicitation and revisit them in your communications with sites.
  • After site selection, request a memo from the site explaining what has changed.
  • Restate your expectations in the first postaward meeting.
  • Establish a schedule for reporting and check-ins.
  • Post the funding requirements on a project Web site.

In the solicitation, clearly state your expectations, and revisit them frequently in your communications with sites, testing for mutual understanding. Stay alert for the tendency to divert funds earmarked for capacity development and systems change to the delivery of program services.

After site selection, request a memo from each site explaining what has changed since the application was submitted. Use this as opportunity to discuss how the community's goals align with the goals stated in the solicitation.

Restate your expectations in the first postaward meeting. Allow time for discussion.

Establish a schedule for reporting and check-ins to assess the use of funds. Be prepared to negotiate changes in budgets throughout the funding process. Encourage a "can do" approach. Make it easy for sites to contact you and ask: "How can I do this within our funding requirements?"

Post the funding requirements on a project Web site. On the site, make available a help-desk function to answer site questions about spending guidelines.

Services and supports based on practice-based evidence have been validated through the experience of providers and community members (rather than through formal evaluation research); they are accessible and culturally appropriate.