Request for Applications (RFA)
Release Date: October 14, 2020
Program or Initiative: 2021 Volunteer Generation Fund
Summary: Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) grant funds support development and strengthening of the volunteer infrastructure in Iowa through Volunteer Centers. All organizations funded under this RFA will be expected to support functions of a Volunteer Center external to their own organization: a) connect people with opportunities to volunteer and serve, b) increase capacity for organizations to engage volunteers in meaningful service, c) promote volunteering and d) develop internally and/or support partners in developing local programming/projects designed to utilize volunteerism as a solution to community problems.
Due Date: November 16th, 3:00PM
Link to Application Materials: www.iowagrants.gov
About Volunteer Iowa
The mission of Volunteer Iowa is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. Our staff members provide technical assistance, support services, and capacity-building resources to help organizations effectively utilize the time and talent of volunteers and national service members.
If you determine the attached opportunity is not a good fit for your organization, we encourage you to review the opportunities listed below and to consult with our staff about other ways in which you may be able to receive resources and support from Volunteer Iowa or other national service programs.
Programs that require an application:
AmeriCorps NCCC: Organizations may apply to host a team of AmeriCorps NCCC members to provide intensive, short term service on projects in the areas of disaster services, environment, infrastructure improvement, energy conservation, and urban and rural development. Projects are normally six to eight weeks in duration but will vary depending on the requirements of the project. Organizations must be capable of utilizing at least one full team of eight to twelve members effectively.
AmeriCorps VISTA: Organizations can apply to become a host site in an existing AmeriCorps VISTA project or they can directly sponsor their own VISTA project. AmeriCorps VISTA focuses on anti-poverty, community empowerment, and sustainable solutions by having members provide capacity building services at their host organizations. AmeriCorps VISTA project sponsors must be able to support three or more full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members serving for one-year on an anti-poverty project.
Volunteer Iowa also has our own AmeriCorps VISTA project that accepts applications for host sites where members can address the opioid epidemic or serve in rural communities improving education and economic opportunity. Host sites can host a minimum of one member and can have multiple members serving.
Iowa AmeriCorps State: Iowa AmeriCorps State grants provide funding to help organizations manage an AmeriCorps program, which involves recruiting, training, and supporting a cohort of at least ten AmeriCorps members who serve on a full-time or part-time basis to help the organization address a community need. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis to projects that support organizational capacity-building, education, healthy futures, environmental stewardship, veterans and military families, economic opportunities, public safety, disaster preparedness/response, and other identified community issues in Iowa. Successful programs utilize service as a strategy to meet community needs, while supporting the development and growth of the AmeriCorps members serving with the organization.
RSVP (formerly Retired and Senior Volunteer Program): RSVP collaborates with organizations in addressing identified priority community needs, through the mobilization and management of adult volunteers aged 55 and over. RSVP volunteers provide support that enhances the organization. Host organizations must have positions that match program priorities and must be able to provide supervision of the volunteers.
Other AmeriCorps State & National opportunities: Organizations wishing to place AmeriCorps members in multiple states should apply directly to the Corporation for National and Community Service for an AmeriCorps National grant. Some AmeriCorps State and National grantees act as intermediary organizations and accept applications from organizations wishing to serve as host sites for one or more AmeriCorps members. Volunteer Iowa can help agencies connect with existing intermediary programs.
Not Finding What You Are Looking For?
Contact us! We can help you with:
• How to improve your community through service and volunteering
• How to recognize your volunteers, employees, and other groups
• How to access more volunteers or build a culture of volunteering and service
• Improving your existing programs or developing new opportunities
• Connecting you to mentoring programs that strengthen families and communities
For More Information
Contact the AmeriCorps NCCC North Central Region campus for more information about AmeriCorps NCCC
Contact the Corporation for National & Community Service Regional Office in Kansas City for more information about AmeriCorps VISTA
Contact Volunteer Iowa for more information about all other opportunities
VOLUNTEER GENERATION FUND GRANTS
2021 REQUEST FOR APPLICATIONS (RFA)
ISSUING AGENCY NAME: Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service
ISSUE DATE: October 14, 2020
VGF GRANT AGREEMENT PERIOD: January 1, 2021-December 31, 2023
VGF GRANT BUDGET PERIOD: January 1, 2021-December 31, 2021
GRANT OPERATIONS: Regional or Local Areas in Iowa
APPLICATION & MATERIALS DUE: November 16, 2020, 3:00 PM
TABLE OF CONTENTS
OVERVIEW Page 3
SECTION 1 VOLUNTEER GENERATION FUND GRANT REQUIREMENTS Page 5
SECTION 2 CONTINUATION APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS Page 6
SECTION 3 PROPOSAL PREPARATION AND SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS Page 12
SECTION 4 EVALUATION OF PROPOSALS Page 13
SECTION 5 ACCEPTANCE OF TERMS AND CONDITIONS Page 13
SECTION 6 PROPOSAL SUBMISSION CHECKLIST Page 13
SECTION 7 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Page 14
The Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service (Volunteer Iowa) is pleased to announce continued funding of the Volunteer Generation Fund grants. Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) grant funds support development and strengthening of the volunteer infrastructure in Iowa through Volunteer Centers. The 2021 grant represents year one of a three-year federal appropriation.
The purpose of this Request for Application (“Application”) is to solicit applications from existing programs and from new applicant public or non-profit organizations wishing to plan for and develop functions of a volunteer center. Volunteer centers provide the following services external to their own organization: a) connect people with opportunities to volunteer and serve, b) increase capacity for organizations to engage volunteers in meaningful service, c) promote volunteering and d) develop internally and/or support partners in developing local programming/projects designed to utilize volunteerism as a solution to community problems. See FAQ 7.1.7. for examples of volunteer center structures.
Current Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) grantees and new applicant organizations that have the capacity and funding to support Volunteer Center functions are eligible to apply. The following entities are encouraged to apply: non-profit organizations, state agencies and local governments, elementary and secondary schools, Indian tribes, colleges and universities, community and faith-based organizations, labor organizations, partnerships and consortia, or intermediary organizations representing a combination of these or similar groups working together. This application is designed for organizations that propose to operate in the State of Iowa. There may be a possibility for Iowa-based programs to benefit other states (because of physical proximity), but program activities and services must be designed to primarily benefit the State of Iowa. If a benefit is expected for a neighboring state, this should be outlined in the application, so that Volunteer Iowa staff can discuss this impact with the state service commission of the other impacted state(s).
Applicants may request $5,000-$35,000, and it is anticipated that three to ten grants will be awarded. The source of funds for the VGF competition is a federal award from the Corporation for National and Community Service (“CNCS” or “Corporation”), CFDA Number 94.021.
IOWA GRANTS MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (www.IowaGrants.gov): This web-based system is used by the State of Iowa for the submission and tracking of grant applications. All applicants who wish to receive a Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) grant must utilize the Iowagrants system to submit their request. The IowaGrants system will be open for applications on or before October 19, 2020. Individuals who do not have an account must register to obtain one. Accounts can be set up at any time by completing the registration form and selecting “Volunteer Generation Fund” as the program area of interest.
Organizations may have additional staff working on the grant in IowaGrants by adding additional users in the “General Information” tab in IowaGrants. All users of the system must have an account created using the instructions above.
Overview Webinar: Volunteer Iowa will host a VGF grant overview webinar on October 20, 2020. Advance registration for the webinar is required. If there are no attendees, the webinar will not be held. During the webinar, we will review the Request for Applications document and the IowaGrants application site. If time allows, we will address questions. The webinar will be recorded and made available on the IowaGrants website.
Date: October 20, 2020
Time: 1-2 PM
*Registration Link: https://attendee.gototraining.com/r/4595637956686324482
*Note: Advance registration is required.
Clarification and Questions: In order to ensure equitable treatment for all applicants, any questions must be submitted through the Ask a Question feature in IowaGrants. This feature is viewable once you have logged into IowaGrants. Responses to questions will be posted on the Funding Opportunities Details page for the opportunity in IowaGrants. The final date for submitting questions is November 3, 2020 at 3 p.m. Questions submitted after this time are not guaranteed to be answered.
APPLICATION DEADLINES AND TIMELINE
RFA Released: October 14, 2020
Application Open in Iowagrants (www.IowaGrants.gov) October 19, 2020
Overview Webinar October 20, 2020, 1-2 PM
Clarification Questions due to Volunteer Iowa: November 3, 2020, 3 PM
Responses to Clarification Questions posted November 6, 2020, 3 PM
Application Proposals due to Volunteer Iowa: November 16, 2020, 3 PM
Clarification/Negotiations: November 24- December 7, 2020
Grant Agreements sent: December 15, 2020
Start Date: January 1, 2021
Proposals and associated attachments must be submitted to the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service via the Iowa Grants Management System (www.IowaGrants.gov) by 3:00 PM CDT on November 16, 2020. All proposals that do not meet the established deadlines or application requirements may be declined through the on-line system and will not be considered.
SECTION 1: VOLUNTEER GENERATION FUND GRANT REQUIREMENTS
In addition to the required activities that the VGF grantees are expected to conduct at the local level, there are expectations of the grantees to participate in the statewide VGF project. Each grantee is expected to have a designated staff member fully participate in Iowa VGF trainings, webinars, events, and activities, regardless of their status as a full-time or part-time staff member. This section details some of these requirements. Other requirements are detailed in the grant agreement itself.
1.1. Volunteer Centers of Iowa
All grantees are expected to be active members of the Volunteer Centers of Iowa (VCI). The VCI will serve as a way to continue to expand the capacity of the Volunteer Centers through training, mentoring, best practice sharing and on-going professional development.
All funded programs are responsible for developing their own system for collecting and analyzing local program data in a consistent and reasonable manner on an ongoing basis. For the measure of “Number of organizations implementing three or more effective volunteer management practices as a result of capacity-building services provided” a standard assessment tool for use by all grantees will be provided. Programs will be required to submit programmatic progress, periodic expense and financial status, closeouts, and other requested reports as described in the grant agreement. Reports will be submitted in iowagrants.gov and Volunteer Iowa will track and report on aggregate data to CNCS.
1.3. Training and Technical Assistance
Grantees are expected to fully participate in all trainings and technical assistance sessions required by Volunteer Iowa. If needed, applicants should utilize VGF funds to support staff time to participate in the training sessions. Sessions will be developed with the input of the grantees and will be designed to help strengthen capacity to effectively manage a Volunteer Center. Volunteer Iowa will employ a variety of training methods, including webinars and conference calls, which will maximize the training value and decrease the amount of out-of-office trainings. However, for the purposes of forming a collaborative network of organizations, some face-to-face meetings may be held in the future for VGF grantees (late 2021 at the earliest), based on guidance from health officials. To the extent possible, we will work with grantees to select training dates and combine VGF trainings with other relevant training opportunities.
Grantees are expected to participate in on-going evaluation efforts conducted by Volunteer Iowa or its designees.
All VGF grantees selected for development/new funding are expected to use the term “Volunteer Center” in the title of the program/project. Organizations may request use of an alternate name with Volunteer Iowa, but all names are expected to reflect the key functions of a Volunteer Center. It is expected that this name will be used in promotional materials, communication, public meetings, press releases and other settings to advance the awareness of a network of Volunteer Centers that provide consistent, quality services.
VGF grantees are expected to include “Volunteer Generation Fund” on all public materials related to this project. This applies to both printed and on-line materials such as: brochures, newsletters, websites, business cards, PowerPoint presentations, posters, Facebook pages, twitter accounts, etc. In addition to the name, as appropriate, grantees should include reference to the fact that the Volunteer Generation Fund grant funding is provided by AmeriCorps (formerly known as CNCS) through Volunteer Iowa. Grantees are expected to include the Volunteer Iowa logo on materials such as: brochures, newsletters and websites. Please review guidelines for proper logo placements for these materials.
Programs are encouraged to share local media coverage and photographs of their VGF funded activities with Volunteer Iowa through the Communications and Engagement Officer, Betsy Shelton (email@example.com).
Programs are also encouraged to include Volunteer Iowa on any social media communications surrounding the program. Volunteer Iowa manages both a Facebook (#Volunteer Iowa) and Twitter (@VolunteerIowa) account, and can help amplify the story/message if made aware by tagging accordingly. When possible #VolunteerGeneration should also be included in relevant VGF social media posts.
1.6. Communication and Responsiveness
Rallyhood (rallyhood.com) is the primary communication method for the VGF grant. All grantees are expected to create an account(s) and regularly monitor and participate on Rallyhood. In addition, grantees should respond as soon as possible (or by established deadlines) to Volunteer Iowa inquiries and remain in communication about significant issues with their grant activities. Grantees may use Rallyhood or contact staff directly to address any concerns or share successes. In order for Volunteer Iowa to maximize its resources, grantees should maintain regular communication with Volunteer Iowa staff.
1.7. Organizational Policies and Procedures
All grantees are expected to maintain updated organizational policies and procedures in accordance with CNCS requirements and federal OMB (Office of Management and Budget) guidance and regulations. VGF grant recipients may be asked to provide copies of or links to organizational policies and procedures upon receipt of the VGF grant including, but not limited to: Table of contents for personnel/Employee Handbook/Manual, Table of Contents for Financial/internal Controls Policy manual, Delegations of Authority, Timekeeping Guide or Policy, Travel Guide or Policy, Meal Policy, Reimbursement Policy, Standards for Use of Federal Funds Policy, Staff Code of Conduct/Statement of Ethics, Document Retention Policy, Cost Allocation Plan/Indirect Cost Rate Agreement, and Background Check policies.
SECTION 2: APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS:
Applicants should address the items listed below in the relevant application sections as described. Each section has an established character limit, so please make note as you move through the application. In writing the program narrative, please refer to the specifics detailed throughout this RFA.
All organizations funded under this RFA will be expected to support two or more functions of a Volunteer Center: a) connect people with opportunities to volunteer and serve (required), b) increase capacity for organizations to engage volunteers in meaningful service (required), c) promote volunteering (optional) and d) develop internally and/or support partners in developing local programming/projects designed to utilize volunteerism as a solution to community problems (optional).
2.1 Applicant Information
Complete and update the cover sheet and general information fields in Iowagrants as necessary. Ensure that key staff has their own accounts in Iowagrants. For example, performance measure and budgetary reporting occur in the system, so both the program director and financial personnel should typically have their own accounts. Because Iowagrants is an official record-keeping system for purposes of federal audit, it is not acceptable to have shared usernames and passwords among staff.
2.2 VGF Application Narrative
VOLUNTEER GENERATION FUND ACTIVITIES
The activities described below designated as *REQUIRED* are minimum expectations for all applicants under the Volunteer Generation Fund grant. Additional *OPTIONAL* activities are encouraged and allowable activities under the grant. It is understood that new and/or rural applicants may only have the capacity to complete minimum requirements. Current grantees and applicants serving urban areas are expected to include some or all additional non-required activities to be considered a competitive application. If the applicant does not intend to implement key functions because they are already provided by another entity in the community and would create duplication of services, this should be noted in the narrative. If the applicant does not intend to implement an optional key function, this should be noted by putting “NA” in the narrative section.
Narrative sections should describe year one grant activities in detail, as well as an overview of how those activities will be built upon in years two and three. Applicants are encouraged to be creative in identifying activities, programming, and partnerships within these functional areas to achieve their organizational goals, build sustainability, and meet community needs. For each section applicants should:
1. Describe in detail how key functions will be met, including expected number, length, and/or frequency of services and activities, as relevant; and
2. Outline the timing for activities, corresponding with your Grant Timeline (Exhibit B).
1. Connect people with opportunities to serve
a. Build relationships with local nonprofits, schools and government entities that utilize volunteers in order to learn about their volunteer needs and to refer prospective volunteers to their organizations based on the volunteer’s skills, interests and abilities.
b. Use, update and maintain an active Get Connected account for the purposes of volunteer recruitment and management. Work with local volunteers and agencies to register and utilize Get Connected as the portal for volunteer recruitment, matching and data collection. (Training and technical assistance on the Get Connected statewide platform will be provided to grantees to enable them to effectively utilize this system to increase their capacity to recruit and match volunteers to meaningful roles based on skills and interests.)
Grantees may request approval to have an alternative locally administered online connecting site with functionality that connects nonprofits’ volunteer opportunities and volunteers and the ability to manage volunteers during times of disaster. These grantees not participating in the statewide platform must maintain an updated posting on the statewide site with information and zip codes included for their service areas and a link from the system to their local site to facilitate volunteer connection. Costs for alternative systems are not allowable grant expenses.
2. Increase capacity for organizations to engage volunteers in meaningful service.
a. Increase the capacity of organizations to implement effective volunteer management best practices, such as by providing or partnering to provide coaching, training, technical assistance, professional development opportunities, best practice sharing, and/or support.
b. Work with nonprofits, schools and government organizations to identify skills-based volunteer opportunities.
c. Engage skills-based volunteer(s) within your own agency.
d. Share information about the Employer Volunteer Initiative and the benefits of employee volunteerism with employers. (Information about the Employer Volunteer Initiative is available at www.volunteeriowa.org/employers.)
e. Develop a fee-based program including community research, program development, marketing, training, recruitment, placement, tracking and evaluation and continuous improvement for the project.
f. Ensure participation from organization leadership, a board member, and volunteer manager (or relevant staff) in the Service Enterprise Initiative, including an assessment, check-in meetings, and training modules. Work toward becoming a certified Service Enterprise or serve as a hub. Information about the Service Enterprise Initiative can be found at https://www.volunteeriowa.org/SEI
3. Promote volunteering.
a. Develop a community volunteer recognition program, including submission of at least one local nominee for a state volunteer award.
b. Conduct one-day project activities for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service (on MLK Day annually) and 9-11 Day of Service and Remembrance (on 9/11 annually) and consider participating in other Days of Service, as appropriate for the community and program design.
4. Develop internally and/or support partners in developing local programming/projects designed to utilize volunteerism as a solution to natural disasters and other community problems.
a. In partnership with local emergency management officials develop or support an existing system for engaging unaffiliated volunteers during times of disaster (additional support in identifying models is available from Volunteer Iowa and the Iowa Disaster Human Resource Council).
b. Identify other programming that can be operated/managed by the Volunteer Center to address community needs, such as service-learning. Applicants are encouraged to consider programming that will generate revenue or resources as a way to build sustainability for the project.
c. Engage volunteers in meaningful service within the Corporation for National and Community Service’s focus areas and/or state priorities. More information on the CNCS focus areas can be found on their website at: http://www.nationalservice.gov/focus-areas. More information about Iowa priorities can be found in the State Service Plan at: https://volunteeriowa.org/document/state-service-plan-2019-2022
Organizational History: Provide a brief history of your work as an organization, including the year the organization was established. In addition, describe how the volunteer center activities connect to the organizational mission and advances the goals of the agency.
Organizational Experience and Accomplishments: Provide specific examples of your organization’s experience and past accomplishments in the proposed areas of activity and your experience operating and overseeing a program comparable to the one proposed.
Staff Responsibilities: Identify the key program and fiscal positions responsible for your proposed program, and the percent of time dedicated to the program. Explain relevant experience that staff has for administering a grant and program like VGF, or if a key staff position is to be hired, the qualifications that will be sought.
Management and Monitoring: Describe your capacity to manage a federal grant and to provide on-site monitoring of financial and other necessary systems. Provide examples of other federal grants received, including amount and duration.
Community Assets and Need: Please describe the community to be served by the program, including population, geographic location, and demographics of those served. Describe any documented community needs or results of recent community needs assessments. Document the level of local philanthropic support, including any funding commitments already in place.
Community Support: Describe the level of community involvement in developing your program structure. What community stakeholders were involved or consulted for the development of the volunteer center activities, and what is the level of internal organizational support and external community support for the project? What plans do you have for community stakeholder involvement in the future?
CURRENT AND FORMER GRANTEES ONLY:
Please include information about the following in the narrative sections described above.
- Any significant changes being made and an explanation of why the changes are being proposed should be included. Continuation changes may include, but are not limited to new site or service locations, changes in key staff, changes in scope or nature of VGF activities, and/or changes participation in activities/programming
- Organizational Experience and Accomplishments: Challenges or hurdles faced in previous grant years and steps or actions taken to overcome these roadblocks. If you noticed any activities that went well and which you plan to expand or build upon in the future, please detail those in this section as well. Describe how the engagement of Iowans in meaningful service and the number of volunteer opportunities has increased in your service area as a result of previous VGF funding.
- Organizational Experience and Accomplishments: Describe your success in meeting past performance measures. If you were unable to meet your performance measures, please identify any challenges you had with tracking, reporting or meeting identified performance measures and steps you have taken to overcome these challenges.
- Management and Monitoring: Describe your level of participation in VGF requirements such as trainings and VCI meetings, and submitting reports and claims on time.
- Community Assets and Need: The number of years the Volunteer Center has received VGF funding, and why continued funding is needed to support the Volunteer Center. Describe plans to ensure the Volunteer Center’s sustainability without VGF funds in the future, including your success in obtaining diverse non-federal support for the VGF project in previous years and any plans for continued or new support. Discuss the non-federal commitments (in-kind and cash) that you have obtained, the additional commitments you plan to secure, and how they will be used to support this project.
- Community Assets and Need: If you are requesting increased funding from the current grant (or previous grants for former grantees), please describe the expanded work that will be completed with the additional revenue.
The detailed budget must provide a full explanation of associated costs including their purpose, justification, and the basis of your calculations. Budgeted costs should be relevant to the activities described in the narrative section of the grant. As appropriate, calculations should be presented in an equation format, identifying the number of persons involved with the event, per person/unit cost, and/or annual salary cost.
2.3.1 BUDGET REQUIREMENTS
Applicants may request grants in the amount of $5,000-$35,000. Current grantees requesting an increased federal share from their 2020 award should provide justification for this request in the narrative section.
There is a match waiver in place for the 2021 subgrant year, so there is no required matching threshold for year one. However, providing some level of match for 2021 is encouraged, and because the match waiver has not been provided for the 2022 subgrant year, grantees should be prepared to provide match at the levels noted below in years two and three of the grant.
Local minimum matching requirements vary based on the population of the largest city within the organization’s service area (based on the average population from the 2010 census data). Matching above the minimum level is encouraged and applicants providing additional matching funds will receive additional points in the grant scoring process. Match can be cash or in-kind, but must be appropriately documented in accordance with federal OMB circulars and regulations. During grant operations, match must be adequately documented and be based on actual costs, expenses and time spent.
|Largest city population within service area
||Minimum matching requirement
|20,000 and greater
||1 to 1 match; Federal grant of $10,000, local match of $10,000
||3 to 2 match; Federal grant of $12,000, local match of $8,000
|Less than 10,000
||7 to 3 match; Federal grant of $14,000, local match of $6,000
Required Budget Items:
All grantees are expected to budget for the following two items in order to maximize resources for VGF.
- Web-Based Volunteer Portal: All grantees are expected to budget for the use of Get Connected or an alternative web-based volunteer portal. It is acceptable for funding to come from federal or local share for use of the Get Connected site. Funding for an alternative web-based volunteer portal may only come from the local share, not the federal share. This should appear as a specific budget listing within an appropriate line item. There is no set cost or recommended amount as the cost will vary, but programs must budget something in this category.
- Training: In years 2 and 3, all grantees will be expected to budget at least $500 under “travel” or “training” to attend/participate in Volunteer Iowa training activities. This will not be required in year 1, but grantees should be aware of the requirement to participate in trainings, which may require travel in late 2021.
Limitations on Costs
- Administrative costs must not exceed 5% of the total federal share requested.
- Activities charged to the VGF grant should be new activities or significant expansion of activities (that can be documented). It is not allowable to supplant other funds or staff costs with VGF/federal funds to carry out the same activities.
- Equipment costs are not allowed on this grant. Equipment is defined as tangible, non-expendable personal property having a useful life of more than one year AND an acquisition cost of $5,000 (five thousand) or more per unit (including accessories, attachments, and modifications). Include items that do not meet this definition in the Supplies line item.
- No Federal VGF funds can be used for supply costs; therefore, they should not be included in the year one budget. Upon expiration of the match waiver, supplies may be charged to the Grantee Matching Share of the budget. All supplies over $1,000 must be itemized in the budget.
- Though not applicable in year one because of the match waiver, grantees should note that in future grant years when tracking match, costs for supplies must be attributed across programs. Therefore, unless something will be used exclusively for VGF activities, it is not allowable to charge the full share as match to the VGF grant. For example, there is a staff member who supports VGF and a computer is purchased for their use. If they work 100% on VGF, it is allowable to count the entire amount as match to the VGF grant. If, however, they support other projects or activities of your organization, and they spend 15% of their time on the other activities, only a maximum of 85% of the costs of the computer can be counted as match to the VGF grant and the remaining 15% cannot be counted as match to the VGF grant.
2.3.2 Budget Instructions
18.104.22.168. BUDGET: Enter only the year one budget in the Iowagrants system. The budget should be sufficient to perform the tasks described in the proposal narrative. Do not include unexplained amounts for miscellaneous or contingency costs or unallowable expenses such as entertainment costs. Round all figures to the nearest dollar. The narrative must be completed for funds requested from the VGF under “federal” and for all other matching funds under “match”. For each line item, a full explanation must be provided in the budget narrative that specifies the purpose, cost basis, and calculation.
22.214.171.124. BUDGET NARRATIVE: For each budget line item, enter a full explanation in the budget narrative field(s) to specify the purpose, cost basis, and calculation. This information should be entered in to the Budget Narrative Workbook and attached to the application in IowaGrants. Please note that the Budget Narrative Workbook has four tabs, one for instructions and the other three that should be completed by the applicant and attached to the application in IowaGrants at the time of submission.
126.96.36.199. SOURCE OF MATCH: Grantees that propose match in their budget should describe the grantee match contribution by clearly indicating the source(s), the type of contribution (cash or in-kind), the amount (or estimate), whether this match is proposed or secured, and the intended purpose of the match. Enter this information in the Source of Match field in the Budget Narrative Workbook on the “Source of Match” tab.
2.3.3 Performance Measures
The performance measure section reflects measures as approved by the Corporation for National and Community Service, in alignment with the National Performance Measures “capacity building” area and as detailed in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). https://www.nationalservice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2020%20VGF%20Panel%20Introduction%20Guidance.508.pdf
Performance Measure Expectations: The targets noted in the chart below are those set for the Iowa VGF grant. Individual VGF grantees are expected to contribute to the overall state goals in their programming and activities. It is anticipated the programs serving urban areas will have higher performance measure targets than those serving rural areas. In addition, you will notice blank targets for numerous items below- these are for data to be reported for statewide measurements that Volunteer Iowa will be collecting and reporting to the federal government and other constituents. Volunteer Iowa has not established statewide targets for these items.
|Number of organizations that received capacity building services
|Number of organizations that increase their efficiency, effectiveness, and/or program reach as a result of capacity-building services provided
|Number of staff and community volunteers that received training
|Number of volunteers leveraged (recruited, coordinated, and supported by your grant)
|Number of hours served by leveraged volunteers
|Number of individuals who served as leveraged volunteers who are NEW volunteers
|Number of hours leveraged volunteers served that were by NEW volunteers
SECTION 3 – PROPOSAL PREPARATION AND SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS – VGF
The Iowa Grants Management (www.Iowagrants.gov) system is the official application system, therefore applications that are not entered in the Iowa Grants Management system by the deadline may not be considered. Hard copies or other formats are not acceptable. Proposals lacking key information or that are substantially incomplete may be rejected by Volunteer Iowa. Applicants should carefully review the Proposal Checklist (Section 6) to ensure that all required items are submitted. Applicants should consider submitting their application in advance of the deadline to allow additional time to submit any missing documentation. The deadline for submission of proposals is 3:00 p.m. CDT on November 16, 2020.
3.2. PROPOSAL PREPARATION
A. All proposals become the property of Volunteer Iowa and shall not be returned to the applicant.
B. All proposals shall be placed in the public domain and are available upon request for inspection by interested parties at the conclusion of the selection process.
C. No payments shall be made to cover costs incurred by any applicant in preparation for the submission of this Continuation Application or any other associated costs.
D. The original proposal must be submitted by an authorized representative of the applicant organization.
E. By submission of a proposal, the applicant certifies that:
- No attempt has been made or will be made by the applicant to induce any other applicant to submit or not to submit a proposal for the purpose of restricting competition;
- Applicant is not presently debarred, suspended, proposed for debarment, declared ineligible, or voluntarily excluded from covered transaction by any federal or state department or agency;
- Applicant is not delinquent on federal debt.
3.3. APPLICATION INFORMATION
3.3.1. All applicants should submit their application as detailed within these Application Instructions.
3.3.2. All applicants must submit their proposals in the electronic grant system, Iowa Grants at www.Iowagrants.gov. Volunteer Iowa recommends that applicants access the system in advance of the proposal due date to ensure that adequate time is allowed for approval of user account, grant entry and editing.
3.3.3. Additional Submission Items: Attached to the application within Iowagrants.gov. (See Section 6 Proposal Submission Checklist.)
A. Completed budget narrative form. (Exhibit A)
B. Timeline of grant activities. Include each activity for meeting key grant functions, as described in the grant narrative. List the time period for each activity, including the anticipated start and completion date. (Please see Exhibit B for a sample timeline. Please note this example is given for illustrative purposes only, and does not represent the expected activities and timeline for each grantee.)
C. Copies of staff position descriptions for all staff reflected in the VGF budget (as federal share or match).
D. Copy of most recent agency audit or financial review
E. Organizational Chart (showing the Volunteer Generation Fund program and associated staff members)
F. Letters of Support. Minimum of two letters of support from community partners (up to five letters will be accepted). Letters of support should detail: how the organization/individual will help/has helped to fulfill the goals and objectives associated with this proposal, how the organization/individual has been involved with the Volunteer Center.
SECTION 4 – EVALUATION OF PROPOSALS
4.1. GRANT REVIEW: Volunteer Iowa staff and commissioners will evaluate submitted applications by considering the information submitted in the application, the capacity of the identified organization to support the plans as outlined, the program design, whether it meets the Volunteer Center key functions, its ongoing plans to design programming to increase sustainability and meet local community needs, the proposed program’s cost-effectiveness and budget adequacy, the demonstrated community need, and the program’s performance to-date (including program and financial management, such as timeliness of reporting, participation in VGF activities, achievement of performance measures, etc.).
SECTION 5 - ACCEPTANCE OF TERMS AND CONDITIONS
5.1.1 Submission of a proposal will constitute acceptance of terms, conditions, criteria, and requirements set forth in this RFA and operate as a waiver of any and all objections to the contents of the RFA.
5.1.2 Volunteer Iowa staff reserves the right to negotiate any and all aspects of the grant application, including performance measures, funding amounts, program components, and training requirements, at any time prior to issuance of the grant agreement, including during the grant submission, review and negotiation periods.
5.1.3 Volunteer Iowa reserves the right to accept or reject any exception taken by an applicant to the terms and conditions of this RFA or grant agreement. Should the successful applicant take exception to the terms and conditions required by Volunteer Iowa, the successful applicant’s exceptions may be rejected and Volunteer Iowa may elect to terminate negotiations with that applicant. However, Volunteer Iowa may elect to negotiate with the successful applicant regarding terms that do not materially alter the substantive requirements of the grant agreement, RFA or contents of the applicant’s proposal.
5.1.4 Results of the review process or changes in federal or state law may require additions or changes to final grant agreement requirements.
SECTION 6 – PROPOSAL SUBMISSION CHECKLIST
All items listed below must be submitted as part of the overall proposal.
Iowa Volunteer Generation Fund State Grant Application
❑ Application submitted in Iowa Grants.
❑ Budget submitted in Iowa Grants
o Limit of no more than 5% of the federal share of the grant award may be used toward administrative or indirect costs
o Limit Supplies costs to only the local matching share
o Include budget for web-based volunteer portal, Get Connected
Supporting Documentation (must be attached in iowagrants)
❑ Budget Narrative (Exhibit A)
❑ Timeline of grant activities. Include each activity for meeting key grant functions, as described in the grant narrative. List the time period for each activity, including the anticipated start and completion date.
❑ Copies of VGF Staff position descriptions for all staff reflected in the VGF budget (as federal share or match).
❑ Copy of most recent agency audit or financial review
❑ Organizational Chart (showing the Volunteer Generation Fund program)
New Applicants ONLY:
❑ Letters of Support. Minimum of two letters of support from community partners (up to five letters will be accepted). Letters of support should detail: how the organization/individual will help/has helped to fulfill the goals and objectives associated with this proposal, how the organization/individual has been involved with the Volunteer Center, and, if the organization is a nonprofit organization, the commitment to utilize the on-line recruitment system as a way to recruit and manage volunteers.
SECTION 7 – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
7.1. GENERAL QUESTIONS
7.1.1. What is the grant timeframe?
The grant will reflect a three-year grant period from 1/1/2021-12/31/2023. The current application will reflect activities from 1/1/2021-12/31/2023 and a budget from 1/1/2021-12/31/21. A continuation application will be released in the fall of 2021 to collect information regarding changes to grant activities and the budget for 1/1/2022-12/31/2022.
7.1.2. How does the application process work?
1. Staff will review all applications to ensure that application guidelines are met and that appropriate attachments and supporting documents are included. Staff and grant review committee members will review all grants meeting the minimum requirements and evaluate the program design, organizational capacity, cost effectiveness/budget adequacy and any other elements as required in the application instructions.
2. Submitted applications will then be considered by the Program Committee of Volunteer Iowa. The Program Committee will consider the staff scores and comments, written grant application, supporting documentation and current program performance and financial management.
3. Decisions on funding may be negotiated with applicants by Volunteer Iowa staff. Following negotiations, applicants will be required to make the agreed-upon changes in the Iowagrants system.
7.1.3. What are the goals and background of the VGF grant?
The Volunteer Generation Fund is a grant program funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Volunteer Generation Fund was established by the 2009 Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. The VGF is designed to strengthen the nation’s volunteer infrastructure.
The goals of Volunteer Generation Fund as described in the legislation are:
- To assist nonprofit, faith based, and other civic organizations by expanding and improving the capacity of such organizations to utilize such volunteers;
- Spur innovation in volunteer recruitment and management practices, with the goal of increasing the number of volunteers;
- Enable the people of the U.S. to effect change by participating in active volunteer and citizen service.
7.1.4. Are there other specific goals for VGF grants in Iowa?
The intention of Volunteer Iowa is that Volunteer Generation Fund grants will serve to inform the process of volunteer infrastructure development in Iowa, leading to discovery of innovative program models, development of statewide partnership opportunities, heightened awareness of volunteerism and service, and strengthening the volunteer infrastructure for the long-term, allowing organizations to capitalize on the assets in their communities, while addressing the challenges identified by the community.
7.1.5. Who are eligible applicants for VGF grants in Iowa?
Volunteer Generation Fund Iowa (VGF) Grants are available for funding of those meeting key Volunteer Center functions in their service area.
7.1.6. For the purposes of this grant, what is a Volunteer Center?
A Volunteer Center is an organization whose mission is designed to support public and nonprofit organizations (by increasing volunteer management capacity) and volunteers (by connecting them with meaningful opportunities) within an identified service area. Volunteer Centers must connect volunteers and make their services available to community organizations outside of their own and promote volunteerism among citizens.
7.1.7. What is the typical structure of a volunteer center?
Volunteer center structures can vary. They can be a stand-alone 501c3; a program of another organization such as a community nonprofit, United Way, or Extension Office; or a part of a local government or college or university. Volunteer Iowa is looking for applicants to develop models that are a fit for their local community.
- A Chamber of Commerce, may develop increased trainings and opportunities for nonprofit and government organizations to increase their capacity to engage volunteers, support local businesses in staff development and leadership opportunities through volunteering, and serve as a point of contact for local volunteer opportunities.
- A school or college may increase service learning to include trainings and opportunities for nonprofit and government organizations to increase their capacity to engage volunteers (including students seeking service learning or “silver-cord” hours) in quality opportunities, identify opportunities for students and community members to volunteer together in professional skill-building positions, and support students and community members in identifying community needs and developing volunteer projects to meet them.
- A city government could serve as a connection point for volunteer opportunities in the community, convene organizations engaging volunteers to share best practices, promote and recognize volunteerism among residents, and develop programs that engage volunteers to address community needs.
- A hospital or healthcare facility could serve as a connection point to volunteering with other organizations as part of their commitment to a healthier community. The hospital could highlight the health benefits of volunteering generally and encourage volunteers to support health-based volunteering opportunities in the community.
7.1.8. What is a Service Enterprise?
The Service Enterprise Initiative (SEI) serves to strengthen the capacity of organizations to fundamentally leverage volunteers and their skills to address community needs. SEI strengthens the capacity of organizations through a comprehensive change management approach that include a research-based assessment, training, coaching and certification. Organizations introducing the initiative to agencies in their community are witnessing fundamental changes to how they are strategically engaging volunteers.
Participating organizations have access to a holistic and customized approach that includes:
- A thorough research-based assessment of existing organizational volunteer engagement approach and practices called the Service Enterprise Diagnostic (SED);
- Up to 16 hours of change management training;
- Individualized coaching to address unique organizational opportunities and challenges; and
- National certification signifying the organization’s commitment to and proficiency in appropriately leveraging the time and skills of volunteers to meet the social mission of the organization.
For more information about the Service Enterprise Initiative, visit https://www.volunteeriowa.org/SEI.
7.1.9 I’m a new applicant, and am concerned about completing a grant for federal funds in the timeframe given. What are the expectations for me?
Though the grant is awarding federal funds, the applications are being reviewed at the state level. While we are looking for quality applications, the process is not as arduous and competitive as many federal grants. We encourage you to participate in the overview webinar on October 20th and utilize the Ask a Question feature if you have remaining questions. You may also find it helpful to visit the websites of other Volunteer Centers in the state to gain a better understanding of how they operate. A list of Volunteer Centers of Iowa members can be found at https://www.volunteeriowa.org/volunteercentersiowa.
7.2.1. Can I use my VGF grant funds to pay for my time while I write our continuation application?
Generally, no, but it depends on the organizational structure of the grantee. For most organizations, it is not allowable to charge time to the federal or match share of a federal grant while you are writing a grant application for federal funds. Please review the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circulars/Regulations, based on the type of organization receiving the federal funds to verify whether grant writing time is an allowable expense.
7.2.2. Can the value of the volunteer hours generated under this grant be counted as match?
No, because the primary purpose of this grant is to generate volunteers, the value of their volunteer hours is not considered an acceptable source of match. However, in cases where professionals are providing their services on a pro bono basis, such as an accountant who does your organizational books or an attorney who provides legal advice, the hours and value of these services may be allowable, as detailed in the federal cost principles. As a reminder, there is no specified matching requirement in year one of the grant. If you have questions about specific services or activities, please raise the issue during the technical assistance webinar.
7.2.3. WHAT ARE THE BUDGET CATEGORIES FOR THE 2021 VGF grant?
The following budget categories and descriptions apply to the VGF continuation grant.
Personnel Expenses. Include the portion of principal staff time attributed directly to the operation of the community collaborative project. List each staff position. Personnel costs will be paid based on actual time spent on the grant, not budgeted amounts. All staff listed in the grant budget on the federal or match side will be required maintain a timesheet documenting time spent on their grant as a portion of their total time and to meet National Service Criminal History Check Requirements as outlined here: http://www.nationalservice.gov/resources/criminal-history-check. Volunteer Iowa will conduct and maintain record of the background checks for all staff on the grant in compliance with NSCHC requirements including checks of the NSOPW registry, state criminal history registry, and fingerprint-based FBI check. NSCHC determines eligibility, as defined in the Serve America Act. The Serve America Act explicitly defines the following individuals as ineligible to serve or work on CNCS grants:
- Anyone who is listed, or required to be listed, on a sex offender registry is ineligible to serve or work in a covered position.
- Anyone convicted of murder (as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1111) is ineligible to serve or work in a covered position.
- Anyone who refuses to undergo the NSCHC is ineligible to serve or work in a covered position.
- Anyone who makes a false statement in connection with a program’s inquiry concerning the person’s criminal history is ineligible to serve or work in a covered position.
Checks must be run before staff may begin work on the grant. Results will not be released; you will only be informed if an individual is ineligible. Therefore, you should still plan to conduct any necessary staff background checks as outlined in your organizational policies. This may increase the timeline for hiring individuals.
Personnel Fringe Benefits. Include costs of benefit(s) for staff listed in Personnel Expenses section. You can identify and calculate each benefit or show cost as a percentage of all salaries. You must include FICA, Worker's Compensation, and Unemployment Insurance for all applicable staff.
Travel. Describe the purposes for staff travel. Costs allowable are transportation (limit-organizational reimbursement rate), lodging ($69.00 + tax per night limit), subsistence ($28 per day limit), and other related expenses for local and outside the project area travel. Calculations must be included. Federal share of out-of-state conferences expenses are limited to attendance of one staff member per event (grantees may pay for additional relevant staff to attend from local funds and use that as match to the VGF grant). Example: Staff travel to VCI meetings – 1 staff x $.50 per mile x 500 miles = $250.00
Supplies. Include the funds for the purchase of consumable supplies and materials. Grant funds cannot be used to pay for supplies, however supply costs may be counted as match in future grant years when match is no longer waived. At that time you must individually list any single item costing $1,000 or more. Example: office supplies: (pens, paper, binders, folders, flash drives) x 2 staff x $200.00 per year = $400.
Contractual & Consultant Services. You may include costs for consultants related to the project’s operations. Payments to individuals for consultant services under this grant may not exceed $400 per day (exclusive of any indirect expenses, travel, supplies, etc.). Where applicable, indicate the daily rate for consultants. Example: $400 x 1 consultant x 3 days professional development for consortium members = $1,200.
Training. Include the costs associated with training of staff working directly on the project, especially training that specifically enhances staff project implementation and professional skills. Example: staff training: registration fees $250, lodging $69 x 1 night, $28 for food costs x 2 days = $377.
Other Program Operating Costs. Allowable costs in this category may include volunteer background checks, and office space rental (for sites where projects are operating, utilities, and telephone and Internet expenses that are specifically used for Volunteer Center). If shared with other projects or activities, you must allocate the costs proportionately across programs. List each item and provide a justification in the budget narrative.
Administrative. Definitions: Administrative costs are indirect or centralized expenses of the overall administration of an organization that receives federal funds and do not include particular project costs. These costs may include administrative staff positions. For organizations that have an established indirect cost rate for federal awards, administrative costs mean those costs that are included in the organization’s indirect cost rate agreement. Such costs are generally identified with the organization’s overall operation and are further described in Office of Management and Budget Omni Circular 2 CFR. The Corporation’s share of administrative costs is limited by statute to 5% of the total federal funds actually expended under this grant.
7.2.4. How do I calculate the CNCS share of administrative costs?
Take the total CNCS share and multiply it by 0.05. This calculation will provide you with the maximum amount of administrative funds you can request under CNCS share. You are not required to include any funds under the administrative line item. Because of the way that the budget works, VGF grantees are never eligible to count any administrative costs as match to the grant (under state or local share) in this section. Please note that the CNCS share of administrative costs is limited to 5% of the federal funds actually expended under this grant.
7.3. Volunteer Iowa Support
7.3.1. Are there other resources we can access through Volunteer Iowa?
Yes, Volunteer Iowa has several resources that could be useful to your organization depending on program design. Please see the RFA Coversheet for more information about these programs.
7.3.2. What other activities will Volunteer Iowa provide to support the VGF?
Volunteer Iowa will continue to hold training and technical assistance sessions designed to increase the capacity of the VGF grantees and to bring consistency to services and programming provided by the VGF grantees. In addition, Volunteer Iowa will share other relevant training opportunities with VGF grantees. All VGF grant programs are expected to participate in Volunteer Iowa required trainings and budget to support their attendance.
7.3.3. How does Volunteer Iowa view its role in this grant?
Volunteer Iowa sees itself as a partner with Volunteer Centers and nonprofit organizations in Iowa. Of course, we also have a fiscal responsibility to ensure that the grant funds awarded are appropriately managed. We take our responsibilities for stewardship of federal funds seriously and will provide regular monitoring and oversight for programs funded under this grant. Programs that fail to meet grant requirements, including timeliness of reporting may have their funding rescinded or may be declined future funding.
7.3.4. What is Volunteer Iowa hoping to accomplish with this grant?
We believe that Volunteer Centers have an important role to play in professionalizing the role of volunteer manager and strengthening volunteer management at nonprofit organizations – we intend to partner with them in this endeavor. Throughout the process, we will look to soliciting input from stakeholders and grantees to improve the process and provide appropriate technical assistance and training supports. We feel that the state will benefit from an effective volunteer infrastructure and desire to learn and promote the outstanding volunteer managers, volunteer engagement activities, and volunteer recruitment, training and retention practices carried out by Iowa’s nonprofit sector.
7.3.5. Where can I find more information about planning tools for volunteer center activities?
More information about the planning resources mentioned can be found as follows:
Points of Light Foundation- http://www.pointsoflight.org/ or by requesting an electronic Volunteer Center Startup Guide by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
7.4. PERFORMANCE MEASURES
7.4.1. I NOTICED THAT THE VGF PERFORMANCE MEASURES ARE IN THE CAPACITY BUILDING MEASURE FOR CNCS – WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION ON THE DEFINITIONS AND OTHER REFERENCES RELATED TO CAPACITY BUILDING?
Below are the 2020 CNCS Performance Measures Instructions. https://www.nationalservice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2020%20VGF%20Panel%20Introduction%20Guidance.508.pdf
7.4.2. IS IT OKAY TO USE ESTIMATES FOR THE PERFORMANCE MEASURES?
No, the number of leveraged volunteers must be reported using accurate numbers. For the purposes of VGF all of the data on leveraged volunteers must be accurately counted, tracked and reported. Please note that individuals funded by other CNCS programs cannot be counted by VGF grantees if they are providing this service as part of their CNCS grant activities. (For example, if you are reporting your volunteers under a CNCS RSVP grant, you cannot also count those volunteers for VGF grant purposes.) We recommend using your best judgment in determining to which grant the volunteers should be attributed. Grantees should ensure that their data collection systems and processes allow for consistent and accurate tracking and reporting of volunteers.
7.5.1 WHAT DO THE BRACKETS [ ] REPRESENT IN THE TIMELINE?
The brackets demonstrate an additional level of detail that can be provided but is not required for the timeline. For example, the applicant can include “Hold strategy session” OR “Hold strategy session with community and organization leaders to discuss what a volunteer center is, and collect feedback on proposed structure and key services and resources to be provided.” Only the first is the required level of detail, however the second may serve to be more useful for the applicant in implementing the grant activities upon award. While both would be scored equally in the timeline, it is expected the narrative section would include the additional detail.
7.5.2 I NOTICED THE SAMPLE TIMELINE LISTS A NUMBER OF SUB-ACTIVITIES (HOLD A STRATEGY SESSION, HOLD A WELCOME PARTY, ETC) THAT WERE NOT MENTIONED IN THE RFA, ARE THESE ALSO REQUIRED ACTIVITIES?
No, the sub-activities listed on the Sample Timeline are for example purposes only. They are intended to demonstrate the level of detail requested for each activity, NOT outline expectations for each activity. We understand each community is different, and encourage applicants to be creative and take into consideration local conditions when determining what sub-activities to use in their area to meet activity requirements.
7.5.3 THE SAMPLE TIMELINE ONLY INCLUDES THE ACTIVITIES FOR THE KEY FUNCTION OF “CONNECT PEOPLE WITH OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE”. DOES THIS MEAN I DO NOT NEED TO INCLUDE ACTIVITIES FOR “INCREASE CAPACITY … MEANINGFUL SERVICE”, “PROMOTE VOLUNTEERING”, AND “DEVELOP INTERNALLY… COMMUNITY PROBLEMS”?
No, it is expected that you include all grant activities in your timeline. The Sample Timeline serves as an example of a potential format, as well as to demonstrate the level of detail requested. As such, a sample is only given for the first key function, but applicants are expected to complete a timeline inclusive of all proposed grant activities. If the applicant is not implementing optional key functions, these do not need to be included in the timeline.
7.5.4 I’M A NEW APPLICANT, AND AM NOT SURE ABOUT THE TIMELINE FOR THESE ACTIVITIES. WE WON’T BE IDENTIFYING A STAFF PERSON UNTIL WE KNOW THAT WE’VE RECEIVED THE GRANT. HOW SHOULD WE GO ABOUT COMPLETING THE TIMELINE?
All applicants are expected to complete a timeline as best they are able. There will be opportunities for the applicant to propose changes to the timeline after the grant is awarded, and throughout the grant year. We see the timeline as a valuable tool, especially for new grantees, to remain on track for meeting grant requirements