Frequently Asked Questions

This section contains answers to questions that may arise through the Innovation Grant Program process. It also contains definitions to commonly used words and phrases. Please see the Glossary for definitions of terms.

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May I receive additional help with my application?
Yes. You may email ta@acinnovations.org. for technical assistance. Applicants may receive certain types of help with their applications, such as: 1) Accessing the online application; 2) Checking to see if proposal meets the Innovation criteria; 3) Seeking collaboration partners for the INN project. Applicants are also encourage to post questions to the Innovation Grants Program community on Facebook and Twitter. Click the links to these pages on the website to connect.
How can I find other organizations/ individuals who are interested in collaborating on an INN Proposal?
Email ta@acinnovations.org for contacts to form collaborations. Please have in mind the types of organizations you are interested to collaborate with.
What is MHSA?
MHSA stands for the Mental Health Services Act, also known as Prop 63. To read more, please visit: About MHSA
How do I know if my project is innovative enough?
This website was designed to provide information on how to submit a successful application. Please make sure to read the content and FAQ page. A more in-depth description of Innovative Projects can be found on this page. Learning from the First and Second Round Funding Cycles has been incorporated into the Third Round Funding Cycle. The Target Populations and Learning Questions for the Third Round Funding Cycle will address issues emerging from the reports found here.
Making the Invisible Visible by HHREC
Isolated Consumer Findings and Recommendations - March, 2012
Will the Innovation Grants Program fund existing strategies?
No, the Innovation Grants Program will not fund existing strategies if no changes have been made in the model or target population to be served. Funding will be considered for existing strategies that have been adapted to a new population or area; adopted from another field and applied for the first time to mental health. Proposed projects must add something new to the existing body of learning and research in the field of mental health. Applicants will be asked how the proposed project is different in the application.
To what extent does a proposed project need to relate to mental health?
All projects must demonstrate a clear focus on mental health to be considered for this funding. The purpose of this funding is to improve outcomes among low-income individuals with or at risk for serious mental illness or serious emotional disturbance, and their families. A project with a focus on this purpose is likely to be rated higher than a project with a just a link to this purpose. Please note that there are some issues that may appear to be related to mental health, but do not fall under the California Code of Regulations definition of serious mental illness and serious emotional disturbance. These excluded diagnoses include autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s, anti-social personality and substance use disorders.
What are the Learning Questions?
BHCS provided the Learning Questions for the Innovation Round Three Funding Cycle. Click here for the INN Round Three Applicant Key Requirements and Learning Questions for the Innovation Grants Round Three funding cycle.
How much does a proposed project need to focus on low-income populations?
A project is not required to focus on low-income populations. However, a project with an identified focus on low-income populations is likely to be rated higher than a project that does not specify a focus on low-income populations. Click here to view a map of low income areas within Alameda County.
Can I apply for ongoing funding?
No. This funding is for short-term, time-limited learning projects, which will be treated as pilot projects. The Innovation Grant Program is not meant to fund ongoing services. Some technical assistance around sustainability may be available to projects that demonstrate successful outcomes.
Who is eligible to apply?
Organizations, groups and individuals that are located in and benefit community members of Alameda County are invited to apply. This includes:
  • Nonprofit organizations & organizations with a 501 (c) 3 status, such as community based organizations , academic institutions, and churches;
  • Public entities, such as libraries; schools; school districts; First Five Alameda County; the Alameda County Office of Education; Alameda County Social Services Agency; Alameda County Public Health; Alameda County Probation Department;
  • Fiscally sponsored individuals & groups, including consultants and collaborations, such the Justice and Mental Health Planning Collaborative;
  • Organizations that do not traditionally focus on serving individuals with mental health issues, such as The Boys and Girls Clubs and senior centers;
  • Other organizations, such as for profits.
What is an organization?
The awarded grantee or contractor may be an entity that is part of a larger administrative and functional association provided all County requirements are met.
What is Fiscal Sponsorship?
Fiscal sponsorship allows individuals or groups to receive grants and tax-exempt donations from government, foundations, and individuals. Fiscal sponsorship involves financial and programmatic oversight by a 501(c)3 non-profit agency over projects initiated by individuals or groups. All Innovation Grant applications from individuals or groups that do not have a nine digit federal tax identification number are required to have fiscal sponsorship. Please ensure any overhead costs for a fiscal sponsor is included in your Non Personnel Budget.
What if I do not belong to a ‘legal entity’ or have a fiscal sponsor?
Applicants who need fiscal sponsorship may email ta@acinnovations.org to receive technical assistance in identifying a fiscal sponsor.
Does my Fiscal Sponsor have to be located in Alameda County?
No, your fiscal sponsor is not required to be located in Alameda County. However, your project must benefit Alameda County residents.
Can for-profit organizations apply for Innovation Grants?
Yes. For-profit agencies should click ‘For-Profit’ in the Type of Applicant portion of the application. For profits must have a nine digit tax identification number.
What if I have not completed a project like this before?
In your application, it is important to describe the experience and qualifications that you have to implement this type of project. This could include an existing relationship with the proposed target population, familiarity with the proposed activity, the ability to manage a different type of work or project, or a partnership with another individual or organization with a high level of experience implementing similar projects.
Can a fiscally sponsored individual, group or organization submit more than one application?
  • Applications for Isolated Adults with SMI: Only one proposal per entity may be submitted, but proposal may address more than one Learning Question.
  • Applications for LGBTQI2S consumers/ clients: More than one proposal per entity may be submitted.
How much can my organization apply for?
See Innovation Grants Round Three Key Application Requirements for Isolated Adults and Older Adults with Serious Mental Illness or LGBTQI2S consumers/ clients
How detailed will the budget need to be?
Proposals require a detailed budget itemizing the resources required for each activity, including personnel costs for management of the project. All personnel costs must be directly related to the proposed Innovation project and any administrative personnel costs, such as Executive or Program Directors, must be proportionate to their role on the project.

BHCS allows a maximum of 15% Administrative Overhead and applicants must identify the costs that have been included.

Innovation funds are not available for any costs not directly related to the proposed project’s activities, including:
  • Expenses related to replacing or supplementing existing programs or services, including personnel, space and facilities, and/or information technology
  • Out-of-state or out-of-area consultants
  • Out-of-state or out-of-area travel for project participants
Is there a limit on the percentage of overhead (indirect costs) I can include?
Proposals require a detailed budget itemizing the resources required for each activity, including personnel costs for management of the project. All personnel costs must be directly related to the proposed Innovation project and any administrative personnel costs, such as Executive or Program Directors, must be proportionate to their role on the project.

BHCS allows a maximum of 15% Administrative Overhead and applicants must identify the costs that have been included. Innovation funds are not available for any costs not directly related to the proposed project’s activities, including:
  • Expenses related to replacing or supplementing existing programs or services, including personnel, space and facilities, and/or information technology
  • Out-of-state or out-of-area consultants
  • Out-of-state or out-of-area travel for project participants
How can I ensure that my application meets the criteria?
Review and follow parameters in Innovation Grants Round Three Key Application Requirements
How do I use the online application?
Be brief, yet clear to the point with your responses. You may email ta@acinnovations.org to receive technical assistance.
The process is online, I'm wondering if all the material will be on the website?
Yes, all the information you need will be on-line.
Can I print my application before submitting?
Yes, just click the printer icon in your browser. It should print your application. If not, you may need to go to each section to print.
Does the application response have a page length?
Yes. Please see Innovation Application for the word and character limits of each section.
How can I apply?
  1. Click the "apply" button in the navigation bar on this web page
    • Click on "Click Here to Create Your Account"
      1. Input all information.
        • Please make sure to input your correct email.
        • Create your own password
      2. Once all information has been input, click "Submit".
  2. You will be redirected to the Application Summary page where you can begin applications.
  3. After your initial entry in this way, you may access your account by going to the apply page (www.acinnovations.org/apply) and entering your username and password
Make sure you remove ta@acinnovations.org from your spam list. Click here to create a log in profile.
What if I do not have an email address?
BHCS would like to receive all applications electronically and will communicate with applicants/grantees by electronic mail (email). Applicants without an email address may click one of the following links to sign up for an email address: Yahoo Email, Gmail
How can I get help if I am having trouble with creating an account and/or logging in?
Email ta@acinnovations.org for assistance.
How long will it take for my application to be reviewed?
Applicant pitches will not be reviewed until the entire application process has closed. After the closing deadline it is expected to take between six to ten weeks to be reviewed. Updates on the review process will be posted on the Innovation Grants Program website.
How long would my organization receive financial support?
Projects may be short in length, but must be completed within 18 months of receiving funding. Innovation Grants are NOT intended for ongoing programs.
What is the best way to contact BHCS Innovation Grant Project staff?
Please email ta@acinnovations.org.
How will BHCS Innovation Grant Project staff communicate with me?
In order to ensure that inquiries are properly addressed and recorded, all communication will be done via email.
How do I apply if I do not have access to a computer?
Email ta@acinnovations.org if you need assistance.
What can I do if I don’t want to apply for funding, but want to stay involved?
We have created forums on two social networking sites: Facebook and Twitter for individuals (applicants and those interested in sharing ideas) to post their comments, questions and feedback to the community. We strongly encourage you to join us on these sites.
What is field-testing? And will it be necessary?
Field testing is defined as testing a technique or product under conditions of actual operation or use. Field testing will ensure that the outcomes and assets for each learning question, i.e. a training curriculum, program design or set of strategies, have been tested and vetted by those who will use them. Field testing may include focus groups, facilitated discussions, curriculum review or other similar activities involving the groups and individuals identified in each learning question. Relevant and appropriate field testing must be conducted and concluded before the end of the grant period (18 months), to ensure that findings and lessons learned are incorporated into the final outcome and grant report.
For the application process, would I be expected to know the curriculum before I applied?
No, but your activities would explain how you’re going to create the curriculum.
If an organization gets a grant do you get an advance payment or do you have to invoice for reimbursement?
Selected grantees will receive an initial payment after execution of grant agreement. Thereafter, grant payments will be linked to submittal of grantee project reports. A schedule of grantee reports and grant payments will be developed and included in the grant agreement.
For each question how many projects do you anticipate funding?
See funding details for for Isolated Adults and Older Adults with Serious Mental Illness or LGBTQI2S consumers/ clients
Will there be preference for evidence based practices that have been utilized other places?
Since the Innovation Grants is based on NEW ideas that have not yet been implemented, there is no preference for evidence based practices.
Does being funded beyond BHCS make me ineligible for this funding?
No.
Who’s going to actually be doing those services? Would the agency who develops the curriculum provide the training afterwards?
If BHCS determines that the services will be implemented, there will be a Request for Proposal to the community.
How do you define SMI?
See “Serious Mental Illness” in INN glossary.
What if there’s something inside the County that’s working? Could that be adapted or adopted?
Yes, a project/ program within Alameda County which is adopted or adapted, would be considered “innovative”.
Is there a preference for an applicant to be a public versus a private entity?
There is no preference for either.
Are you looking for partnerships with agencies that are more ongoing or are you looking for information that will lead to system change?
BHCS is primarily looking for curriculum and program strategies that will lead to system change. This may include on-going partnerships with agencies and faith-based groups.
What about Intellectual Property rights? Who owns the curriculum once it is developed?
TBHCS is a public agency and supports the Innovations Grants Program with public funds. The purpose of these grants is to create Innovations projects for use in the public domain, making them available for use by everyone. BHCS recognizes the importance of the Innovations Grants and the knowledge they provide for the community. For more information about ownership of Innovations project results, see “BHCS Public Domain Info”.
Could you hypothesize an idea and then field test it in an existing program?
Yes.
The training curriculum would be not just for our staff but would have to be useful for all of the county providers?
Yes, to be a successful INN applicant, the INN proposal would have to be useful to other, but not all, county providers who serve similar target populations.
How does the target population fit within the continuum of care … beginning at first episode to episodic, or chronic care?
BHCS consumers/ clients are those who have experienced or at high risk of experiencing serious mental illness. These consumers/ clients may be at various points in their continuum of care.

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last updated 02/18/2013
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Round Four
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Mental Health Technology Pilot Projects RFP
(DUE November 3, 2017)
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