Find answers to frequently asked questions regarding the Mass IDEAS planning grants. This page will be updated throughout the application period as new questions arise.
Last updated October 1, 2018
The FAQs are organized by topic:
Eligibility (updated 10/1/2018)
Stakeholder Support for Grantee Teams’ Work (added 9/27/2018)
Planning Grants Overview
What is the purpose of a Mass IDEAS planning grant?
Mass IDEAS has issued a Request for Learning (RFL) for planning grants for whole-school redesign and new school creation. Over several months, grantees will receive funding and support to catalyze the outer edges of school design and to fundamentally “rethink school” by reinventing current Massachusetts public schools and creating new ones. We are looking for courageous leaders from communities across Massachusetts who want to create the great schools our students deserve.
Will the Mass IDEAS planning grant support new school designs or redesigns of existing public schools?
Planning grants will be used to support both teams that are engaging in whole-school redesign and those that are designing new school models.
How long do planning grants last and what happens after the planning period?
The initial planning grant period will run from January 15, 2019 through April 30, 2020. Subsequently, in winter 2020, Mass IDEAS will invite a select group of planning grantees to apply for an implementation grant based on their work during the planning period.
How many Mass IDEAS planning grants will be awarded?
In the first cohort, we plan to award up to six planning grants of up to $150,000 per team.
What types of schools will the Mass IDEAS planning grant support?
The planning grants are designed to support schools across Massachusetts, in any K-12 grade span, and using any public governance model (e.g., district, charter, Innovation, Pilot, turnaround).
Is it required that a team be from a certain geographic region in order to apply?
Planning grants will be awarded to teams creating new schools and redesigning existing schools in Massachusetts. Teams from across the Commonwealth are welcome and encouraged to apply.
Will funds be made available to support implementation?
In winter 2020, Mass IDEAS will invite a select group of planning grantees to apply for an implementation grant based on their work during the planning period. We project the maximum grant size for an implementation grant to be $375,000.
How do I know if my team is eligible for a Mass IDEAS planning grant?
Mass IDEAS encourages applicants who are looking to open new public schools in Massachusetts or redesign existing public schools in Massachusetts. Mass IDEAS planning grants are intended to support only comprehensive, full-time models, not separate programs, extracurricular or summer activities, or interventions that are limited in scope. Please see the Eligibility section of the RFL for more information.
Can teams from outside Massachusetts apply?
Local teams may choose to collaborate with organizations with deep experience and demonstrable success in high-quality, innovative learning models nationally. Organizations working outside of the Commonwealth will need to partner with in-state groups or communities in order to secure a grant.
Can private or parochial schools apply for a Mass IDEAS planning grant?
No, private and parochial schools are not eligible for a Mass IDEAS planning grant.
Can a district or Charter Management Organization apply for a Mass IDEAS planning grant to support multiple schools in the district/network?
Mass IDEAS planning grants will be given for single schools (not one grant for multiple schools).
Is there a minimum number of students our school must serve in order for our team to be eligible for a planning grant?
Redesigned schools must serve a minimum of 100 students in order to be eligible for a planning grant. A team creating a new school must plan to serve a minimum of 100 students in order to be eligible.
Our team is creating a new school. Do we need to have our governance finalized in order to be eligible for planning grant?
Teams creating new schools do not need to have their governance model finalized in order to be eligible for a planning grant. For instance, a team may choose to go through the process to create an Innovation school or apply for a Commonwealth charter as part of its planning work.
Would a 9-14 school model be eligible in which additional years are added to a high school for college-level course work?
The planning grant can be used to fund planning for school models in which additional years are added to a high school to allow students to complete an Associate’s degree or work toward a four-year college degree. However, there are state funding (Chapter 70) issues with a high school model with grades beyond grade 12. Mass IDEAS strongly recommends that potential applicants reach out to Alyssa Hopkins (AHopkins@doe.mass.edu) at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to learn more about these funding issues. A team choosing to submit a planning grant application for a 9-14 school model must provide evidence of its thinking about how grades 13 and 14 would be funded given the lack of state funding. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for specific directions about how to submit this information with your application.
Would a school model be eligible in which Pre-K is added to an elementary school?
The planning grant can be used to fund planning for school models in which Pre-K is added to an elementary school. However, there may be state funding (Chapter 70) issues if universal Pre-K is not currently offered by the district/CMO in its elementary schools. Mass IDEAS strongly recommends that potential applicants reach out to Alyssa Hopkins (AHopkins@doe.mass.edu) at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to learn more about these funding issues. A team choosing to submit a planning grant application for this type of model must indicate whether the district/CMO currently offers Pre-K in its elementary schools, and if it does not, must provide evidence of its thinking about how Pre-K would be funded given the lack of state funding. Please email email@example.com for specific directions about how to submit this information with your application.
How do I know if my team’s composition is appropriate for a planning grant?
Mass IDEAS is looking for diverse teams from communities across the Commonwealth, believing strongly that teams that include diverse stakeholder roles and members bring a variety of assets that enhance their school design work. To this end, eligible design teams will include a combination of students, parents/family members from the school community, educators, district/CMO staff, school support organizations, local businesses, funders, and/or community members. In addition to members’ roles, we encourage team diversity along multiple axes of identity, including gender, race, age, sexual orientation, nationality, and other identities.
Are there any requirements for team membership?
Teams must include among their members at least one parent/family member from the school community (for all grade spans) and/or one student (for high schools). This requirement was recommended by past participants in Mass IDEAS programming who felt strongly that including these important school "end users"/stakeholders would maximize the design experience for teams. Teams that include both family members and students are welcome and encouraged. See the Description of Grantee Teams section of the RFL for full details.
Is there a requirement around the number of team members?
The average team size will be three to five members, with at least two and no more than five members. Teams are encouraged to include additional stakeholders in their planning work in their home communities.
Is there a requirement for the team to designate a team leader?
Teams must designate at least one leader who can devote the time necessary to serve as project manager and keep the team’s work on track between Mass IDEAS convenings. Because planning a new school model or a whole-school redesign is a significant scope of work, we strongly recommend that the team leader dedicates at least 30% of their time to this work throughout the planning period. Some teams may choose to designate a person to focus on their planning work full time. Planning grant funds may be used to pay for staff time. Please see the Budget Guidance section of the RFL for more information.
Must the school leader serve as the team leader?
There is no requirement that the team leader be the school leader; in fact, it is likely that current school leaders would have difficulty serving as the team leader unless their time can be freed up for this work.
Can an external organization, such as a consultant, serve as the team leader?
The team leader must be a member of the team, not someone external to the team and its work. This is to ensure that leadership capacity is built within the team, to sustain that capacity beyond the grant period.
Application & Timelines
What is the timeline for applying for/decisions on Mass IDEAS planning grants?
Below is the working draft of the timeline for the application and decision-making process for the Mass IDEAS planning grants:
September 17, 2018: RFL released
September/October 2018: Support opportunities for prospective applicants
November 5, 2018: Planning grant applications due by 5:00 p.m. Eastern
Week of December 3, 2018: Interviews of applicant finalist teams (required)
By December 31, 2018: Planning grant awards announced
January 24, 2019: First in-person convening of Cohort 1 (required)
How do I apply for a Mass IDEAS planning grant?
The planning grant application is available on the SurveyMonkey Apply grant application platform. This platform requires users to create a basic account (name and email address only), which enables their ability to save and return to applications that are not yet complete. Mass IDEAS has provided guidance for how to use the application platform.
Is there guidance for prospective applicants who are new to the SurveyMonkey Apply platform?
Mass IDEAS has created a user guide for prospective applicants to use as a reference when completing their applications in SurveyMonkey Apply.
What does the application include?
The application for the Mass IDEAS planning grant includes empathy pre-work, a detailed work plan and budget for requested funds, statements of support from key stakeholders, acknowledgement from team members of the grant’s expectations, and other items in a series of questions and upload tasks. Potential applicants are encouraged to review the grant application and to email firstname.lastname@example.org or join one of the applicant support opportunities if they have any questions. Please see the Application Support Resources section of the RFL for more information.
Is the application the only requirement in the planning grant selection process?
For finalist teams that move forward beyond the application reviews, Mass IDEAS will conduct required interviews. Interviews will be scheduled the week of December 3, 2018. Teams must ensure that team members are available during those days; Mass IDEAS will work with selected teams to determine convenient times and locations for interviews. As part of the invitation to interview, Mass IDEAS will conduct a due diligence review to ensure that the potential grantee is an eligible recipient of funding. Please see the Budget Guidance section of the RFL for additional information about eligible funding recipients.
Resources for Applicants
How can my team receive support for writing our application?
Mass IDEAS will sponsor a series of support opportunities for potential applicants, including a webinar of panelists who have successfully engaged in the work of school design/redesign to inspire potential applicants, two in-person application-writing support sessions, and office hours by phone. Please go to the planning grant page to learn more about all of these support opportunities and register for those that are of interest to you.
How can I receive answers to my questions about the planning grant application?
To receive answers to questions about the planning grant application, participate in the office hours by phone and/or email your questions to email@example.com.
Guidelines & Expectations
What are the expectations for teams that are awarded a Mass IDEAS planning grant?
Mass IDEAS will expect the following from grantee teams: active team participation in the planning grantee cohort’s professional community; hosting at least one, potentially more, cohort convenings in your home school/community; actively engaging in coaching and advising provided by Mass IDEAS staff, NGLC grantee coaches, and other experts on governance, finance, operations, and curriculum and instruction; and active and ongoing sharing of ideas and designs with the cohort and others for the benefits of learning and advancement of the field. See the Planned Supports and Expectations for Mass IDEAS and Grantee Teams section of the RFL for full details.
What supports will Mass IDEAS provide to teams that are awarded a planning grant?
Planning grantee supports will include in-person and virtual learning opportunities on a variety of school design content and skills topics, and ongoing coaching throughout the planning period. See the Planned Supports and Expectations for Mass IDEAS and Grantee Teams section of the RFL for more details about the supports grantee teams will receive.
Stakeholder Support for Grantee Teams' Work
Why does a prospective applicant need to describe and demonstrate stakeholder support for its application?
The support of stakeholders in teams’ home communities will provide a critical foundation for planning a new school model or a whole-school redesign. As such, Mass IDEAS requires teams to engage stakeholders immediately. In the application, teams must describe the support they have received from stakeholders and upload signed statements of that support. (The statement template is available in the application platform.)
What statements of support are required from teams proposing to plan whole-school redesigns?
For teams applying for a planning grant for their work on whole-school redesigns, Statements of Support from the school leader and the district/CMO leader are required.
What statements of support are required from teams proposing to plan new school designs where the school location is confirmed?
For teams applying for a planning grant for their work on a new school model, where the location for the school is confirmed, Statements of Support from the school founders are required. If a team already has a board or umbrella organization for its new school model, statements from these stakeholders are also required.
What statements of support are required from a team proposing to plan a new school design, but where the location for the school has not yet been determined?
For teams applying for a planning grant for their work on a new school model, where the location for the school is yet to be determined, Statements of Support from the school founders are required. If a team already has a board or umbrella organization for its new school model, statements from these stakeholders are also required. In addition, teams with a school location yet to be determined will identify at least one stakeholder organization in each of the two communities identified in their application pre-work to complete the Statement of Support. Please see the Application Pre-Work section of the RFL for additional information about this part of the application process.
What statements of support are required from a team proposing to create a new school model co-located in a district or CMO, where the district/CMO is not the applicant?
For a team proposing to create a new school model co-located in a district or CMO, where the district/CMO is not the applicant, multiple Statements of Support are required. As with other new school model applicants, Statements of Support from the school founders are required. If a team already has a board or umbrella organization for its new school model, statements from these stakeholders are also required. In addition, a Statement of Support from the district/CMO leader is required.
What additional statements of support are recommended from teams proposing to plan both whole-school redesigns or new school designs?
For both whole-school redesigns and new school models, we strongly encourage prospective applicants to engage students, parents and other family members, community members, teachers, other school staff, school leadership, local business partners, and others in their work. We encourage teams to submit Statements of Support from these additional stakeholders in the application as well.
Mass IDEAS Planning Grant vs. Barr Foundation Engage New England Grant
Is a Mass IDEAS planning grant the same thing as the Engage New England grant offered by the Barr Foundation?
Mass IDEAS planning grants and the Engage New England grant offered by the Barr Foundation are different opportunities. While both grants have school design at their core, Engage New England is a grant opportunity that is focused on developing high school models that specifically target students who are off track for high school graduation. Mass IDEAS planning grants are intended to support the design of new schools and redesign of existing schools serving students throughout the K-12 grade span, and to support only comprehensive, full-time models, not separate programs, extracurricular or summer activities, or interventions that are limited in scope. In addition, the Mass IDEAS planning grants focus exclusively on Massachusetts schools, while the Barr Foundation opportunity includes schools throughout New England. If you have any questions about the Engage New England initiative, please reach out to Cindy Lung at the Barr Foundation (CLung@barrfoundation.org).
If I have applied for the Engage New England grant offered by the Barr Foundation, have I also automatically applied for a Mass IDEAS planning grant?
Mass IDEAS planning grants and the Engage New England grant offered by the Barr Foundation are different and separate opportunities with different eligibility criteria. Teams interested in being considered for both grants must complete two separate application processes. If you have any questions about the Engage New England initiative, please reach out to Cindy Lung at the Barr Foundation (CLung@barrfoundation.org).
Budget Information & Fiscal Requirements
What is the maximum possible grant award?
Mass IDEAS will award grants of up to $150,000 to teams that are designing or redesigning schools across Massachusetts. A team may apply for any amount up to $150,000. However, applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for the funds really needed to conduct activities necessary to model planning, not to apply up to the grant ceiling for activities only tangentially related to the model.
Are all applicants eligible to receive the maximum grant award?
We are more likely to fund at the maximum $150,000 amount for new schools (as opposed to whole-school redesigns) and for larger schools (enrollment of 500+ students). Funding amounts will be commensurate with the complexity of the work proposed.
What expenditures are allowed/not allowed with planning grant funds?
Grant funds can be used for a variety of types of expenditures, including professional learning, stakeholder engagement, positions to support planning, partnerships with national organizations, and other planning activities. Grant funds cannot be used for capital expenditures, furniture, or contract buyouts. Funds for technology and funds for indirect or overhead costs are each limited to no more than 10% of the overall budget. See the Budget Guidance section of the RFL for full details.
Can applicants creating new school models use planning grant funds to purchase or lease a facility?
Planning grant funds may not be used for facility-related expenditures.
Is there a matching funds requirement for the Mass IDEAS planning grant?
There is no matching funds requirement to receive a Mass IDEAS planning grant.
What types of organizations are eligible to receive planning grants?
The following types of organizations are eligible to receive Mass IDEAS planning grant funds:
Exempt from United States Federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (the “Code”) and not a private foundation
Exempt from United States federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Code and a private foundation
Exempt from United States federal income tax under a section of the Code other than 501(c)(3) (e.g., Section 501(c)(4) or 501(c)(6))
Not a tax-exempt organization under the Code
A state, tribal, or local government unit
Our team is not one of the organization types described above/does not have a tax ID number. Can our team still receive a Mass IDEAS planning grant?
In order to receive a planning grant, the team would need to find an organization that qualifies as one of the organization types above to serve as the team’s fiscal agent for the grant. While the team would still be responsible for the planning work required in the grant, the fiscal agent would receive and hold grant funds on the team’s behalf.
Our team is developing a new school. We are so new that we aren’t an official organization yet! Can our team still apply for a Mass IDEAS planning grant?
As described in the response to the previous question, the team would need to find an organization to serve as its fiscal agent to receive and hold grant funds on the team’s behalf.
Our team is not one of the organization types described above/does not have a tax ID number. Can Mass IDEAS/Next Generation Learning Challenges serve as our fiscal agent?
Mass IDEAS/Next Generation Learning Challenges is not able to serve as a fiscal agent for the planning grants.