Request for Proposals

Blackstone Innovation Grants Request for Proposals 2015-2016
I. Overview
Each year, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation (the “Foundation”) makes a series of targeted grants to non-profit organizations that support entrepreneurship and benefit regional ecosystems as part of the Blackstone Innovation Grants program (formerly known as the Blackstone Organizational Grants program). In coordination with its regional efforts to spur entrepreneurship, the Foundation is creating a global network in which the participating organizations can share best practices, methodologies, and contacts, and are connected with Blackstone’s intellectual capital and resources. The Foundation releases an annual request for proposals (RFP) as part of this program to evaluate and select eligible organizations and programs.
Due to the overwhelming response for 2014-2015 Blackstone Innovation Grants, the Foundation will be allocating $3 million to Blackstone Innovation Grants in 2015-2016. The Foundation is specifically looking for innovative program models with the potential to be scaled significantly (nationally or globally) after the one-year grant period. During this one-year period, organizations will have the opportunity to pilot, expand, or replicate their programming. Responses to this year’s RFP will be due on Friday, October 3, 2014 at 8pm EDT. Selected organizations will be announced in February 2015.
Updated: The answers to the questions submitted will now be posted on Tuesday, September 16th at 8pm EDT.

II. Program Areas
  1. Supporting High Growth Entrepreneurs
  2. The Foundation is seeking to support organizations with programs that provide start-ups with access to the tools and resources they need to expand to new markets, invent new products, generate increased revenue, and create jobs. In addition to providing tools and resources to individual companies, a program should be able to prove its value to the economic development of its region.
    Ideal organizations eligible in this program area: non-profit accelerators or incubators.
    Sample of baseline metrics that the Foundation will be using in this program area to evaluate success:
    • Number of jobs created or supported
    • Number of companies created or supported
    • Revenue increase (if any) for companies within program
    • Amount of funding secured by companies within program
    • Number of mentors/ advisors/ entrepreneurs-in-residence engaged
    • Number of coaching sessions
    • Number of events
    • List and number of partner organizations (network)
  3. Building the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
  4. The Foundation is seeking to support organizations with programs that are actively building out the entrepreneurial ecosystem of their geographic regions or states. These programs should open entrepreneurship to new populations and strengthen the ecosystem through events, demonstration days, and other convenings.
    Sample of baseline metrics that the Foundation will be using in this program area to evaluate success:
    • Number of participants/ people engaged
    • Number of entrepreneurs engaged
    • Number of events
    • Number of connections made between entrepreneurs and other resources
    • Number and list of partner organizations engaged
    • Public relations/media hits for the Foundation and the organization
    • Social media usage

III. Elgibility Guidelines for Organizations
  1. Non-Profit Status: The Foundation will only consider a grant to an organization that is (i) exempt from U.S. federal income tax pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) and classified as a public charity under section 509(a)(1) or section 509(a)(2) of the Code, (ii) a non-U.S. organization able to demonstrate that it is the legal equivalent of a public charity, or (iii) affiliated with a non-profit academic institution. The Foundation is unable to provide a grant to an organization that is exempt from U.S. federal income tax pursuant to section 501(c)(4) or 501(c)(6) of the Code. The Foundation may consider a grant in connection with a proposal that consists of a partnership between a Code section 501(c)(3) organization and a Code section 501(c)(4) or 501(c)(6) organization, so long as the grant funds are restricted for charitable purposes.
  2. Financials: Each organization should be able provide the Foundation with an audited financial statement for its most recent prior fiscal year. If an audited financial statement is not available, the organization should be able to demonstrate financial stability.
  3. Location: The Foundation welcomes proposals from all geographies globally. Each U.S. organization must be exempt from U.S. federal income tax pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Code and classified as a public charity under section 509(a)(1) or section 509(a)(2) of the Code. An organization does not need to be based in the U.S. to apply. Each non-U.S. organization must be able to demonstrate that it is the legal equivalent of a public charity.
  4. Multiple Proposals: The Foundation will accept only one proposal from an organization. Each organization, including an academic institution with multiple departments, should work to submit a single proposal.
  5. Previous Blackstone Innovation Grantees: : The Foundation will accept proposals from previous Blackstone Innovation Grantees. Each proposal from a previous Blackstone Innovation Grantee should pursue an opportunity developed or discovered as a direct result of the previous grant, and should demonstrate how the program could be developed into a national or global model for the Foundation.
  6. Blackstone LaunchPad/Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network/Blackstone Accelerates Growth Partners: The Foundation will not consider a proposal from an organization that has received funding as part of the Foundation’s regional initiatives.
  7. University or College Programs: The Foundation will not support the development of an entrepreneurship curriculum. The Foundation does not provide grants for scholarships. Each program based at a university or college should engage the broader community in the region or state.
  8. Engaging Blackstone Employees: While the Foundation encourages Blackstone employees to volunteer with organizations funded by the Foundation, a proposed program should not be contingent on engaging Blackstone employees.

IV. Proposal Guidelines
  1. Format: After completing the information on the landing page, organizations will be able to attach a 10 page (maximum) proposal. While there is no specific format or template for the proposals, each proposal should include the following elements:
    • An overview and history of the organization 
    • A description and explanation of how the program proposal relates to one (or both) of the two program areas - Supporting High Growth Entrepreneurs and/ or Building the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem 
    • The amount of the grant requested from the Foundation, and a clear description of how the grant will be used 
    • Proposed metrics and deliverables 
    • Risks and contingencies 
    • Expected outcomes at the conclusion of the one-year grant 
    • Detailed program budget 
    • Timeline for implementation 
    • List of members of the board of directors (or other governing body, if no board)

V. Grant Details
  1. Amount: The Foundation will provide individual grants of up to $300,000, with an average grant of $100,000. These grants cannot be used as loans or to provide capital to companies or other for-profit entities.
  2. Duration: Grants will be limited to a one-year period, starting in March 2015 and ending on or before March 2016. The Foundation will not award multi-year grants.
  3. Payment Schedule: Grants are separated into two payments. The Foundation anticipates making the first grant payment one month after notification of the award and execution of a grant agreement. The second grant payment will be made six months after the first grant payment.
  4. Monitoring and Reporting: The Foundation will require semi-annual reports from grantees during the grant period. The Foundation may request additional reports or documentation on a program-by-program basis.
  5. Indirect Costs:The Foundation does not fund indirect costs. The Foundation defines indirect costs as the expenses of doing business that are not readily identified with the grant or program, but are necessary for the general operation of the organization and the conduct of activities it performs.

VI. How to Apply for a Grant
  1. On August 15th at 9am EST, the Foundation will open an online Innovation Grants application portal at www.blackstone.com/citizenship/the-blackstone-charitable-foundation, and applicants may start the submission process. After reviewing the requirements of the RFP, please be prepared to submit all information requested by the online portal, including:
    • Legal name and contact information for the organization
    • Contact information for primary point of contact
    • Tax identification number of the organization 
    • Headquarters of organization
    • Brief description and mission statement of the organization
    • Brief abstract of proposed program
    • Geographic area of the program
    • Exact amount of funding sought
    • Program area(s) (Supporting High Growth Entrepreneurs and/ or Building the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem)
    • Number of employees at the organization
    • List of the members of the board of directors (or other governing body, if no board)
    • 10-page proposal of the program
    • Prior year’s audited financial statement
  2. View FAQs here. Please do not contact the Foundation or Blackstone directly with questions.
  3. All applications must be submitted through the online Innovation Grants portal. No submission sent directly to the Foundation or Blackstone employees will be considered. Please submit all application materials, including supplementary documentation, by Friday, October 3rd at 8pm EST.

VII. What Happens Next
  1. Every submission will receive an automatic acknowledgement reply.
  2. During the review period (October 3, 2014 - January 31, 2015), do not contact the Foundation. The Foundation staff will contact you if additional information is required.

VIII. Timeline
Event Date
Release of RFP Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 10am EDT
Online application portal opens Friday, August 15, 2014 at 9am EDT
Deadline to Submit Questions to RFP Friday, August 29, 2014 at 8pm EDT
Answers to Questions Posted to Foundation Site Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 8pm EDT
Deadline to Submit Proposals Friday, October 3, 2014 at 8pm EDT
Review Period October 3, 2014 – January 31, 2015
Grants Awarded February 2015

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