Neighborhood and Community Services

703-324-4600 TTY 711
12011 Government Center Parkway
Fairfax, VA 22035
Lloyd Tucker
Director

Innovation Fund Pilot

NOTE: The Application Process Closed October 11, 2023

PILOT PROGRAM PURPOSE

Fairfax County Government through its Innovation Fund Pilot (The Fund) seeks proposals from businesses and nonprofits to create innovative, sustainable, and replicable human service programs or projects. The Fund will provide financial assistance to businesses and non-profits to address barriers to economic mobility among the most vulnerable residents in Fairfax County. 

With its quality school system, low unemployment rate and high median income, Fairfax County is known for being a good place to live. However, despite being one of the wealthiest communities in the country, not all county residents share in this prosperity. There are disparities and poverty throughout the county. The intention of this funding is to impact the economic mobility of the county’s most vulnerable residents by addressing barriers to success or tackling a social or environmental problem through a market-driven approach. With the understanding that no single organization can solve any major social problem by itself, this fund encourages businesses and non-profits to partner to design programs or projects that positively impact human services and use a ‘collective impact’ approach and ‘social impact investing’ to achieve program goals. 

Collective impact is a collaborative approach to address complex social issues, consisting of five conditions: a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication and backbone support organizations. Social impact investing is defined as the placement of capital with the intent to create benefits beyond financial return.

INNOVATION FUND PILOT SCOPE

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has allocated $200,000 to the 2023 Innovation Fund. There will be a total of six awards: two awards at $50,000 each and four awards at $25,000 each. The Fund will provide one-year seed funding to businesses and non-profits to start a new social impact initiative or to enhance a current initiative with the understanding that grantees will pursue non-county funding to sustain the initiative beyond the first year. 

Proposals should include a sustainability plan that is not limited to resources from Fairfax County grants or contracts. The proposed social impact project/program must benefit Fairfax County residents. Proposals benefitting residents who live in the ZIP Codes identified by the Fairfax County Vulnerability Index with a score of 3 or higher will receive extra points. The vulnerability indices are used to highlight disparities within a geographical area and allow county staff, partners, and other decision makers the ability to make data-informed decisions about equitable service delivery and resource allocation. 

Priority consideration will be given to businesses and non-profits collaborating on social impact project/program proposals. One entity must identify as the Lead Applicant. Collaborative proposals must include Letters of Commitment from the identified partners. The Letters of Commitment should detail the nature of the partnership. Businesses and nonprofits may apply as a Sole Applicant.

LEAD OR SOLE APPLICANT ELIGIBILITY: 

Small businesses and non-profits that are proposing new, innovative programs or projects, or enhancements to existing programs or projects to benefit individuals residing within the identified Fairfax County vulnerability indices are eligible to apply if they meet the following criteria: 

Small Businesses

  • Serve residents of Fairfax County. Fairfax County includes the Towns of Herndon, Vienna and Clifton. The City of Falls Church and City of Fairfax are separate jurisdictions from Fairfax County and are not eligible. 
  • A small business is defined as a business that is at least 51% independently owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are U.S. citizens or legal residents, and together with affiliates, has 250 or fewer employees, or average annual gross receipts of $10 million or less averaged over the previous three years. (§ 2.2-1604 of the Code of Virginia)
  • Lead or Sole Applicant must be properly registered with all required federal, state and local entities including the Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration. 
  • Lead or Sole Applicant who is certified with the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity will receive extra points in the evaluation process. 
  • Lead or Sole Applicant must provide evidence of sustainability/liquidity within the past two years to prove their capacity to deliver and sustain the proposed program. 
  • Innovation Funds shall only be used for new projects/programs or new enhancements to existing programs. Projects/programs currently funded by any Fairfax County funding streams (for example, contracts, grants, etc.) are not eligible. 

Non-profit Organizations

  • Serve residents of Fairfax County. Fairfax County includes the Towns of Herndon, Vienna, and Clifton. The City of Falls Church and City of Fairfax are separate jurisdictions from Fairfax County and are not eligible.
  • Lead or Sole Applicant must be a nonprofit organization as described in Section 501©(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (includes colleges and universities). 
  • Lead or Sole Applicant must provide evidence of sustainability/liquidity within the past two years to prove their capacity to deliver and sustain the proposed program or project.
  • Innovation Funds shall only be used for new projects/programs or new enhancements to existing programs. Projects/programs currently funded by any Fairfax County funding streams (for example, contracts, grants, etc.) are not eligible. 
     

TIMELINE (new dates)

  • A pre-application conference call is August 23, 2023.
  • Application process opens on August 21, 2023.
  • All applications must be submitted by October 11, 2023, at 4 pm.
  • Applications will be reviewed and scored October 30, 2023 through November 17, 2023.
  • Award notification letters will be sent by mid-February 2024.

Innovation Fund Budget Template         Innovation Fund Application Form

Email completed application, including budget spreadsheet and financial statements for two previous years, to NCSResourceDevelopment@fairfaxcounty.gov.


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Will this presentation or recording be available after this meeting?  
    Yes. Both the presentation slides and recording can be found at https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/neighborhood-community-services/innovationfund.
  2. What is the phone number and email address to follow up with you after this meeting?
    Questions can be directed to NCSResourceDevelopment@FairfaxCounty.gov or  Patricia.Arriaza@FairfaxCounty.gov or 703-324-8241.
  3. What is the period of time to use the funds? 
    Funds will need to be used in FY2024 by June 30, 2024.
  4. How many awards will be offered and for how much?
    Six awards will be offered: Two $50,000 awards and four $25,000 awards.
  5. You stated cross sector partnerships between nonprofits and small businesses are prioritized. What about between two non-profits? 
    Two non-profits can submit a joint application.
  6. Can this be for a one-year project only or do you prefer projects that will continue after the grant period?
    We want to see projects continue beyond the funding period. The application asks that a sustainability plan be included in the funding request.
  7. To clarify, we do not need a financial audit in order to be eligible, correct?
    A financial audit is not required. 
  8. What qualifies as a financial statement?
    For the financial statements, please submit an Income Statement (also known as a Statement of Activities or Profit & Loss Statement) and a Balance Sheet (also known as a Statement of Financial Position) for fiscal year 2022 (July 1, 2021 - June 30, 2022) and for fiscal year 2023 (July 1, 2022 - June 30, 2023).
  9. Just to be clear, you stated that expansions to programs currently funded by Fairfax County would be permissible, correct?
    Yes, expansions to programs/projects currently funded by Fairfax County are allowed; however, the proposal would have to clearly describe how the expansion adds to the program and its impact on the economic mobility of community residents. 
  10. Would acceptable expansion include equipment for a new and innovative activity at an existing program?
    Yes, equipment can be included in the proposal.
  11. Would working with places of worship count as a cross-sector partnership?
    Places of worship are typically non-profits; a business partnering with a place of worship would be a cross-sector partnership. 
  12. Is this fund open to religious organizations?
    The fund is open to organizations that meet the requirements for a 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service.
  13. We are a non-profit Community Arts Center, can we apply?
    The fund is open to organizations that meet the requirements for a 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service.
  14. Can the non-profit partner be a PTA?
    If the PTA meets the requirements for a 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service, then yes, they could be a non-profit partner.
  15. On the application, there is a possibility to include more data than the physical space allows; a scrollbar appears on the pdf to scroll further down. Will applications require that the text content fit exactly into the box provided? Or, is it possible to fill the entire space that is provided, including the scrollbar space?
    No, you are not limited to the size of the content boxes. Applications can include as much information as you deem necessary to adequately describe the scope of the project/program.
  16. Is there a word limit to the narratives?
    There is no word limit to the narratives.
  17. Can we have attachments in the application? 
    Yes, attachments are acceptable. Please make sure to reference them in the application so that it is clear what constitutes a complete application.
  18. Is it possible to submit more than one proposal if the programs are not related in any way?
    Yes.
  19. If a proposal believes that it can provide services to the entire county, is that type of platform preferred or is it more desired to have a program address the highest risk communities specifically?
    Applications that address the highest risk communities may be scored higher; however, perhaps due to economies of scale or the organization’s structure, a countywide project may be more feasible to implement. Programs/projects could do focused outreach to vulnerable communities. Each proposal will be reviewed on the strengths of the proposed project and impact to the economic mobility of the county’s move vulnerable residents.
  20. Are proposals that serve only Fairfax County preferred or are possible national initiatives given higher priority?
    National initiatives will not be given a higher priority. We want to see how a business or non-profit is connected to their community. If there is a national initiative that can drill down to the local level and the proposal can clearly describe how local information was used to identify a challenge and develop a solution, then the use of a national initiative is acceptable.
  21. We have a company that is Fairfax County based, but the facility where we do trainings is in Arlington. Is that permissible?
    The Innovation Fund Pilot requires that clients served reside in Fairfax County. Services can be provided in a non-Fairfax County location; however, the proposal should clearly explain how the program will ensure that the clients served reside in Fairfax County. 
  22. What if the program award is not completely spent during the award year? Is there any punitive action that happens to the awardee?  
    Any unspent funds at the end of the funding period would be returned to the County.
  23. What are the program requirements for keeping funds and submitting accounting of the how the funds were applied during the course of the fiscal year?
    Programs selected to receive an Innovation Fund award will have an opportunity to participate in a training that will provide information on reporting requirements.
  24. Do all ideas have to be new or can they be old ideas that are simply not being offered in an undeserved area?
    No, the ideas proposed don’t have to be new.

Please contact NCSResourceDevelopment@fairfaxcounty.gov if you have questions about the Innovation Fund.

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