Solutionaries of the World, or at Least Chicago… Unite!
One of the most exciting things about the Hive Chicago Learning Network is the innovation that is spawned when passionate, talented adults work together to make learning more relevant, more interesting, more accessible, and more stimulating for – and with – our City’s kids.
Which is why you may have heard Hive member organizations and the individuals who represent them described as “solutionaries” – people who are ready to tackle obstacles that stand in the way of cultivating a connected learning ecosystem or in seizing the opportunities that will accelerate its growth in Chicago. The Hive Chicago Fund’s twice-annual Request for Proposal (RFP) offers Hive solutionaries an incentive to combine your diverse disciplines, approaches, perspectives to create rich learning experiences and ways to connect them using digital media and technology.
The Hive Chicago Fund for Connected Learning at the Chicago Community Trust has issued its RFP for Round 1 of its 2015 grant making effective Friday, November 7. We have $600,000 available in the grant pool for this cycle, so if a project idea to be implemented during Summer 2015 is not yet simmering on the fire, now is a good time to light a match, because proposals are due February 2 – 12 weeks from now.
As in our other recent RFPs, the Fund will use grant categories as the structure for our grant making strategy. Successful proposals have a vision for what the project can eventually be. The proposed project at a Glimmer or Spark level is just one step in the journey toward that destination. Sure, we know that the project can change during the grant period or from one level to the next. That’s to be expected… that’s what we hope. Successful proposals are clear about what they have learned at each stage, how they are applying those lessons to the proposed iteration, and where they see the work going.
The Fund & The Network
This is also a good point to remind you of the close relationship between the Fund and the Hive Chicago Learning Network (Hive Chicago or the Network). Network staff – Sam Dyson, Robert Friedman and Elsa Rodriguez – support the growth of Hive Chicago as a professional learning community of diverse, yet like-minded, educators. Hive Chicago fosters relationships, incubates innovation, provides the forum in which to share new ideas and approaches to connected learning, and builds a platform where Network members can solve problems that hinder the growth of connected learning.
The Fund, seeded by the MacArthur Foundation and housed at the Trust, raises money and provides financial support to Hive members to stimulate innovation – to create the tools, practices, programs and conditions that advance connected learning as a concept and a practice. We do this in large part through the semi-annual Hive RFP.
While the Network and the Fund are two separate entities, we work together closely to provide the conditions and resources for members to do what we envision for Chicago teens – Explore + Create + Share.
What’s New in 2015
You will notice several new features in this RFP in both substance and process, the most noticeable being the Fund’s transition to The Chicago Community Trust’s new online grant application and management system called Grant Central.
The new online RFP application aims to make applying for a Hive Fund grant simpler and more streamlined. Questions are fewer in number and more direct in purpose. New word and character limits mean that narrative responses will need to be crisper and clearer. Good news: once project partners register their organizations in the system and populate their organizational profiles, you will not need to provide the same information again in future proposals. Better news: if your organization has previously applied for a grant from the Trust using the new system, your profile is already completed!
The Fund will place a greater emphasis on participation in the Chicago City of Learning as a way for project partners to promote the proposed learning opportunity, point out learning pathways, and recognize youth accomplishments through badging.
We would also be looking at how a proposed project supports the Hive’s Moonshot work, the Network’s primary mechanism for organizing and curating the solutions to challenges that members have identified as the barriers to a flourishing connected learning ecosystem in Chicago.
A New Grant Schedule
We also hope Network members appreciate our new RFP schedule. We have moved release dates earlier in the year, increased the time between an RFP release and the due date, adjusted the cycle to better accommodate for Summer and School-year activities (though not exclusive to them), and provided ample time for Fund managers to connect with applicants to better understand and clarify their proposals.
In the new schedule, Round 1 is targeted at Summer programs that start in May and June – though not exclusively; it is announced in early November and due in early February with notifications going out in early April. Round 2 is targeted at school-year programs that start in September – though not exclusively; it is announced in early February and due in early May with notifications going out in early July.
|Released||Due||Notification||Project Start||Optimal Categories|
|Round 1||November 7||February 2||early April||June||Catalyst & Lever|
|Round 2||February 2||early May||early July||September||Glimmer & Spark|
Although both rounds are open to proposals at any grant category, due to their timing, there is an advantage to applying for Glimmer and Spark grants in Round 2, leaving just enough time to develop or pilot test an idea that can scale up to Catalyst before the next round is due. This makes Round 1 a good time to scale your projects up to Catalysts and Levers.
Next Steps for the 2015 Round 1 RFP
Let us know if you are considering submitting a proposal this cycle by completing this form. This will alert Hive Network staff members to schedule a follow-up conversation to support your development.
Learn more about the goals of the Fund and this RFP here.
In order to address the new changes to the RFP, we will offer an Application Workshop on December 11 from 3-5pm – mark your calendars, details to follow. During the workshop we’ll walk through the new process and offer ample time for questions. I urge anyone who is considering applying to attend this session so you’re familiar with the new process before proposals are due.
Also on December 11 workshop agenda will be further explanation of the substance of the RFP, including goals and expectations for projects. We’ll also highlight some strong examples of project progression at the workshop and in future posts.
What’s exciting about Hive is being part of building a new field from the ground floor – envisioning possibilities that can benefit all young Chicagoans, identifying common and persistent challenges, working together to solve them, creating new opportunities, testing (and sometimes failing), learning and sustaining what we learn. Think of the RFP as yet another tool in the Hive platform available to solutionaries like you to continue building the field in support of our youth.