Neighborhood Development Fund 2021-22 Capacity-Building Grant Program

Request for Proposals
The Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s Rhode Island office hereby invites proposals from non-profit, Community-Based Organizations having the development of affordable housing as a primary line of business to participate in our Neighborhood Development Fund (NDF) capacity-building grant program for the 2021-22 grant cycle. LISC will consider proposals requesting up to $100,000 in funding. This is a competitive program and LISC cannot guarantee that all applicants achieving threshold eligibility will receive a funding award. Documents and templates needed for this application are linked below.

About the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
Working with residents and partners, LISC forges resilient and inclusive communities of opportunity across America – great places to live, work, visit, do business and raise families. LISC is a comprehensive community development enterprise, working holistically across sectors to address the interconnected factors that drive inequality of opportunity, and focused on Empowerment, Transformation, Capacity Support, and Systems Change. LISC aims to:

      • Empower people so that more of us can contribute to and take advantage of economic growth.
      • Transform places experiencing distress and underinvestment.
      • Support the capacity of enterprises building robust economies and communities.
      • Drive systems change by working to address institutional challenges and injustices.

All programmatic activity undertaken by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation- including our Neighborhood Development Fund capacity-building grant program- is aligned with these mission goals.

The NDF Capacity-Building Grant Program
Rhode Island’s Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) are the entities through which our neighborhoods combat adversity, adapt to and rebuild from shocks, and access opportunity. CBOs are the entities through which the diverse yet complementary elements of neighborhood vitality are identified, encouraged, and created.

An ample supply of safe, decent, and affordable housing is foundational to neighborhood vitality. Accordingly, LISC has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in neighborhoods across Rhode Island to improve the quality of our housing stock, to repurpose vacant lots as sites for new units, and to give derelict buildings new purpose. However, while foundational, better housing is only one of many elements necessary for a community to thrive. Thriving communities also offer access to healthy foods, decent schools, safe and well maintained parks, a clean environment, technology interconnection, robust transportation options, responsive government, and living-wage jobs. For housing markets to work, these and other elements of community vitality must also work. And just as Rhode Island’s CBOs have been instrumental in improving the housing markets within LISC’s communities of focus, so too are these CBOs called upon to assemble the other elements of vitality delineated above.

LISC is committed to assisting our CBOs in their efforts to answer these calls, to build the internal capacity necessary to identify areas of community need, to craft and vet interventions to address these needs, and to pursue the effective implementation of these interventions once crafted. LISC does so through our Neighborhood Development Fund capacity-building grant program.

For the 2021-22 NDF capacity-building grant cycle, we seek proposals focused on one or more of the following capacity-building areas:

• Internal Capacity-Building (i.e. hiring and/or augmenting specialized staff and/or technology to leverage, extend, or expand organizational core competencies).
• Planning Capacity-Building (i.e. launching and/or extending efforts to identify unmet community needs and /or to vet potential strategies to address those needs).
• Programmatic Capacity-Building (i.e. creating and/or scaling community interventions and the collaborations, partnerships, and innovations necessary to implement those interventions).
• External Equity-Building (i.e. recognizing the imperative to promote social justice across our footprint, LISC affirmatively states our desire to support strategies which foster inclusiveness by empowering BIPOC and other historically marginalized communities).
• Internal Equity-Building (i.e. LISC affirmatively states our desire to support strategies to create or extend CBO workforce diversity within an equitable and inclusive workplace).

Through narrative response and by using the application templates provided in this RFP, applying CBOs will articulate a self-evaluation of current organizational capacity, propose a set of capacity-building activities to be pursued with NDF funding, and identify specific strategies to be employed to implement those strategies. Applying CBOs will also identify outcomes to be measured and will report quarterly on those outcomes.

NDF Program Requirements / Limits
Applicants should keep the following in mind when developing their respective proposals:

• The NDF capacity-building grant program application process is competitive and funding cannot be guaranteed to all CBOs demonstrating threshold eligibility.
• NDF capacity-building grant requests cannot exceed 25% of an applicant’s total proposed operating budget in the year(s) covered by the grant term (2021-22).
• Allowable uses of awarded funds include:
o Staff salaries and benefits (no more than 75% of any one salary)
o Staff development and travel related to staff development
o Operating expenses including but not limited to: utilities, rent, office supplies and/or equipment
• Subject to a formal procurement process, funds may be used to retain consultants to improve the efficiency of business/administrative systems, effectiveness of financial/asset management strategies, or to increase the scope of programs.
• Other related activities may be considered.

NDF Capacity-Building Program Eligibility Criteria
Entities applying for NDF Program funding must meet all of the following threshold criteria to be eligible for funding consideration. All applicants:

• Must be a 501(c)3 non-profit incorporated in the state of Rhode Island that engages in community development activities primarily within an identified geographic area of operation;
• Must have as a primary line of business, the development and/or preservation of affordable housing;
• Must be a community-controlled organization with at least 51% of the Board of Directors being community residents, business/civic leaders or other stakeholders in the CBO’s service area;
• Must conduct an annual audit through an independent certified public accountant and /or firm;
• Must NOT currently be in default on any LISC transaction;
• (For returning applicants) Must have previously demonstrated a commitment to NDF program compliance including timely submissions of requested information and active engagement in training, technical assistance, and public policy analyses.

Additionally, in order to be considered for funding, all applicants must:

• Agree to provide all requested financial materials;
• Agree to convene representative staff and board members to meet with representatives of Rhode Island LISC staff and members of the NDF Steering Committee for NDF application review.
• Agree to work with Rhode Island LISC to establish independent evaluations of the organization’s overall operating capacity (as requested);

LISC reserves the right to request additional information from all organizations that are selected to participate in the Neighborhood Development Fund capacity-building grant program.

2021-22 NDF Capacity-Building Program Application / Award Process
CBOs planning to apply for a 2021-22 NDF award will be required to complete and submit to LISC the full set of application documents in the format requested. Incomplete applications will not be accepted and may be returned to the applicant for revision / correction at LISC’s sole discretion.

The set of required application documents includes the following:

    • 2021-22 NDF Application Form/Checklist
    • Application Narrative, including:
      1. A discussion of your organization’s history, current programs, challenges / opportunities faced, and eligibility justification. (1-2 pages)
      2. An explanation of your Schedule of Selected Capacity-Building Activities, specifically: How these activities will strengthen your organization and how increased capacity in the selected areas will allow your organization to better respond to challenges and opportunities. *If any activities selected were selected in previous NDF rounds, please explain why the goal recurs and describe any factors indicating an improved ability to meet the selected goal this year. (1-2 pages)
      3. A description of your organization’s fundraising strategy including anticipated impacts if the organization is not awarded NDF funds and, conversely, what an award of NDF funding this round would mean to the organization’s ability to leverage other resources. (~1 page)
      4. A description of any anticipated obstacles to advancing the real estate development projects identified in your 2021-22 Real Estate Development Pipeline. (~1 page).
    • Real Estate Development Pipeline (using provided LISC template)
    • 24-Month Organizational Cash-Flow projection (using provided LISC template)
    • Schedule of Selected Capacity-Building Activities (using provided LISC template).
    • Current Board of Directors List (w/ Term Limits and Demographic Info if available)
    • Current Organizational Chart and brief Bios of key staff w/ corresponding Job Descriptions
    • Last 3 Audits and Operating Budget for the Current Fiscal Year

Applications materials will be forwarded to the NDF Steering Committee which is the body responsible for NDF program funding decisions. After an initial review of all applications received, the Committee will schedule “in-person” discussions with all applicants that have met the threshold eligibility criteria detailed above. For the 2021-22 NDF grant cycle, all “in-person” discussions will be conducted virtually.

The NDF Steering Committee, after reviewing all application documents and analyzing any relevant additional information gleaned from the “in-person” discussion process, will make 2021-22 NDF capacity-building program grant awards based on the availability of funds and based on the extent to which the applying CBO:

• Prioritizes comprehensive community development activities as part of a broader revitalization strategy within the CBO’s geography of focus;
• Has a track-record of successfully completing previous development projects and /or delivering quality community programming;
• Demonstrates organizational fiscal health and stability;
• Demonstrates a commitment to sustained affordable housing and real estate production and continual capacity improvement;
• Values an active relationship with LISC.

KEY DATES / RFP PROCESS SCHEDULE

2021-22 NDF Capacity-Building Grant Timeline

      1. Release of RFP — Friday, March 26th
      2. Informational Conference Call —  Friday, April 16th (10AM)
      3. Responses Due to LISC — Friday, April 30th (COB)
      4. Applicant Pre-Conferences — Weeks of May 10, 17, 24
      5. Announcement of Awards — Friday, June 25th
      6. Start of Grant Term — Thursday, July 1st
      7. End of Grant Term — June 30th, 2022