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2018 Round 1 Hive Fund Request for Proposals

Proposal Deadline: December 8, 2017

Award Notification: February 23, 2018

Grant Pool: Up to $300,000

Download or View the 2018 Round 1 Hive Fund RFP Document

Considering Submitting A Proposal? Complete this Intent to Apply Form and Schedule an RFP Consultation with Network Staff First.


The Hive Chicago Fund for Connected Learning (Fund) at The Chicago Community Trust invites proposals from the Hive Chicago Learning Network (Network) members to leverage digital media, technology, or the Web to make learning more relevant for youth who may otherwise have limited access to digital learning opportunities in Chicago. This support is for project-based grants that leverage digital media, technology, or the Web to create learner-centered practices or experiences through the following strategies:

1) PROGRAM: New or existing program opportunities;

2) PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Build in-school or out-of-school educator knowledge and capacity;

3) SERVICE to the NETWORK: Infrastructure, tools, or processes to develop or connect practices.

Special Opportunity – Youth Digital Media Activism (YDMA)

In collaboration with the Chicago Youth Voices Network (CYVN), the Fund is excited to announce the new Youth Digital Media Activism (YDMA) grant opportunity. Although it’s widely known that civic engagement is connected to the political process, young people are utilizing digital media and technologies to create a broader definition of civics. The Fund invites Network members and Chicago youth organizing groups (i.e. outside of the Hive Chicago Learning Network) to collaborate and redefine the notion of youth civic engagement through civic media. This support is for project-based grants that bring together youth media creators and youth organizers in order to leverage and exchange their expertise to address issues within their community. According to the United Nations World Youth Report on Youth Civic Engagement, this form of “media activism” through the use of digital technologies can help in coordination and amplification of issues.

Within this special opportunity, the Fund anticipates supporting seven Spark-level projects with grants up to $10,000 in 2018 Round 1 and 2.

Please see the Fund’s tiered grant categories and eligibility requirements before applying.

Background and Context

About one in five students who have considered dropping out explain that the two major reasons were that they disliked school or didn’t see the value in the work they were doing. Although many young people do not fully understand the potential ramifications of this prospect, the costs are high for their lives and for society. If we are to address the achievement gap that low-income youth of color face, we must look at the engagement gap first. In relation, research shows that digital media, technology and the Web can be leveraged to make learning more relevant, provide opportunities for anytime, anywhere learning, and prepare young people to thrive in the rapidly changing 21st Century economy.

With this in mind, the Fund is focused on reimagining learning to be more learner-centered through digital media, technology, or the Web. The use of technology is only part of the solution. Trusted people like educators, mentors, and peers are critical in guiding that process. These principles make up the connected learning pedagogy or, as some say, learner-centered practices that are central to the Fund’s work.  

Reimagining the learning landscape in Chicago is a big task; it requires a concerted effort. The Fund works in partnership with the Hive Chicago Learning Network—a peer professional learning community for innovation in education—and Chicago City of Learning and LRNG:CHI—online enrichment and workforce development platforms—to spread engaging learning opportunities. Together, we are leveraging the digital age to transform the learning landscape to be more connected and learner-centered.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Before submitting a proposal to the Fund, all interested applicants are required to submit an Intent to Apply form.
  • All proposals to the Fund must be led by a Hive Chicago Network Member.
  • Collaboration with a Hive Chicago Network Member or Ally is required at all levels except for the the Glimmer-level, or for Youth Digital Media Activism grants.
  • *For Youth Digital Media Activism grants, partnership with a Hive Member and youth organizing group is required.
  • Projects can serve varied direct-service audiences including youth (13 – 24), educators, or community; however, all projects should seek to create equitable learning opportunities that ultimately benefit Chicago’s youth who may otherwise have limited access to digital learning opportunities in Chicago.
  • Please see the grant categories table for all other details.
  • An organization can serve as the lead applicant on one proposal and as a partner on only one proposal.
  • Please note that new Hive Chicago Learning Network Members and Allies are only eligible to partner during their first funding cycle.  

Grant Categories

Funding through grant categories – Glimmer, Spark, Embark, and Catalyst – aims to encourage innovation and collaboration and to spread successful ideas by supporting programs from inspiration to implementation to sustainability.


Please note: The various strategies can be implemented at any grant category. The Fund will award project-based grants that leverage digital media, technology, or the Web to create learner-centered practices and experiences through the following strategies:

1) PROGRAM: New or existing program opportunities;

2) PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Build in-school or out-of-school educator knowledge and capacity;

3) SERVICE to the NETWORK: Infrastructure, tools, or processes that develop or connect learner-centered practices.

Funding Priorities

Priority is given to projects that:

  • 1.The project advances equitable learner-centered practices, which leverage and encourage the active creation of digital media, technology, or Web knowledge or products.
  • 2. The proposal demonstrates: a need that the project will address; research that supports this approach; a comprehensive strategy to recruit and retain participants; an appropriate work plan and budget; a mutually beneficial partnership (if applicable); and the capacity to manage the project and partners.
  • 3. The project goals and outcomes to be achieved are clearly specified and measurable.
  • 4. The partners plan to “work in the open.
  • 5. The project develops 21st Century Skills (i.e. collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and creativity) and/or life skills/new literacies (i.e. financial, media, web literacies).
  • 6. The organizations participate in the Hive Chicago Learning Network.
  • 7. The project address one of the Hive Chicago Moonshot challenge areas.

Applying for a Grant

See calendar below for key dates and deadlines.

Step 1:  Submit an Intent to Apply (required) form and schedule a consultation meeting with the Network’s Portfolio Strategist, Brenda Hernandez.

Step 2:  Lead organization prepares full application in The Chicago Community Trust’s Grant Central online system. All non-profit project partners who seek direct payment from the Fund must complete a “partner application,” which requires fewer details, through Grant Central.  

Please remember to consult the Application FAQ on the Hive Chicago website for support on the process. If you have additional questions, please e-mail Sana Jafri, Hive Chicago Fund for Connected Learning, at   

Proposal Review Process

All proposals are reviewed by the Fund’s Review Committee, which includes but is not limited to its donors, the City of Chicago, and a representative drawn from Networks in other cities. The Review Committee’s recommendations are reached by consensus, and advance to the Fund’s Advisors for final approval. Network staff consult during proposal review, but do not vote on grant recommendations.

A great idea is not enough!

A great idea AND a great partnership lead to success.

As you move into the final stretches of your proposal prep, please do not overlook the value of forming a healthy partnership with your collaboration team. Now is the time to establish clear roles and responsibilities based on an honest assessment of your mutual working styles and needs.

Review the Hive Healthy Partnerships Toolkit before you submit!

New: Final Reports

If your organization is in a funded project or has participated in the past three years (i.e. 2014-2017) as a lead, partner(s), or fiscal agent, we ask that all parties complete and submit grant requirements. All project partners (i.e. lead or partner) who have outstanding portfolio pages and final reports will not receive payment(s) until all past grant requirements are met.

Please note that this rule does not affect an organization’s eligibility to apply for the upcoming RFP. We look forward to receiving your applications.

Application Templates

Glimmer grant template

Spark grant template

Embark grant template

Catalyst grant template

RFP Timeline

Proposal Review Committee

January 2018

RFP announced at September Meetup September 21, 2017
RFP released September 28, 2017
Grant Application will be available on the Trust’s Grant Central online system October 13, 2017
Consultations with Network staff October 2 – November 20, 2017
Webinar/Workshop November 16, 2017 (post Meetup)
Intent to Apply Form Due (REQUIRED) December 6, 2017
Proposals Due on Grant Central December 8, 2017
Final Approval by Hive Fund Advisers February 2018
Award announcements February 23, 2018
Funded Cohort Meeting (required for all grant recipients) March 2018