Quality of Life Grants Program Reopens in January 2018 with Significant Changes

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Quality of Life Grants Program reached a major milestone in 2016, surpassing $20 million in funding to nonprofit organizations all over the United States and in 37 countries. And, thus far in 2017, the Reeve Foundation awarded 122 grants in four different programs, totaling over $1.7 million. To ensure the continued growth of the program and to clarify the vision and mission of the Quality of Life grants program created by the late Dana Reeve, a retreat was held in April 2017, convening program staff, members of the Board of Directors, and an external professional facilitator.

The Quality of Life Retreat resulted in the following facts:

  • Two Quality of Life grant cycles have been offered annually, making tracking overlapping program calendars difficult.
  • The maximum grant amount of $25,000 has not been increased since the inception of the program, while costs of living have steadily risen.
  • The majority of Quality of Life grants have ranged from $5,000 - $8,000.
  • The types of projects for which requests were submitted and funded likely did not accurately reflect the true priorities of the community of people living with paralysis and their families that we serve.
  • The majority of applications submitted and subsequently funded have been for sports programs. While there is no dispute that participation in sports provides tremendous benefits for all concerned, it is not the highest priority need for the community.

The first change to be implemented as a result of the Quality of Life Retreat was to condense two cycles of Quality of Life grants into one. Therefore, the 2nd Cycle 2017 Quality of Life grant was suspended and budgeted funds combined with the 1st Cycle 2018 to open in mid-January with results announced before May 31, 2018.

Other significant changes include:

  • creation of grant tiers to reflect the needs and priorities of the community of people living with paralysis and their families;
  • drastic simplification of the application components to make the process effective and efficient for grantee organizations;
  • creation of a Letter of Intent (LOI) for all grant applications that will help determine where proposed projects fit in the new structure, saving valuable staff time for organizations of all sizes.

New Quality of Life Grants Structure

In 2018, we are piloting a tiered approach to the structure of the Quality of Life grants program to better reflect and respond to the priority needs of the community of people living with paralysis and their families. The structure below is supported by a community needs assessment survey that was conducted by Vanderbilt University to identify “Topics & Public Policy Areas of Importance to the Paralysis Community.” The survey was broadly disseminated through diverse strategies, and 238 individuals responded, comprising an even mix of individuals living with paralysis, caregivers, people working in a professional role related to people living with paralysis, as well an even mix of people who have and have not engaged with the Reeve Foundation in any capacity previously.

The Reeve Foundation Quality of Life grants will continue to support the broad range of projects and activities that we have in the past; we are just changing how we do it so that we can achieve maximum impact for all. Two types of grants will be offered: Direct Effect (Tier 1) and High Impact (Tiers 2, 3, and 4).

The Direct Effect (Tier 1) is open-focused and will award grants of up to $15,000 to support the wide range of projects and activities of the traditional Quality of Life grants. Grants will fund specific budget items that will clearly impact individuals living with paralysis and their families, and the project must be completed within 12 months. Examples of funded projects may include: sports wheelchairs for wheelchair basketball team; adapted glider in a community playground; kayak for a rowing program; accessible lockers in a gym; hydraulic lift at a pool; electronic door openers at a community center; wheelchair accessible picnic table at a county fairground; camp scholarships; subsidized lessons for therapeutic riding; transportation costs for an inclusive after-school program; stipends for support group leaders. These grants will have short- to mid-range impact. Long-range impact and sustainability is not expected for these projects funded at this level. Application process is streamlined and turn-around time is shorter. At the end of the project period (12 months or less) grantees will be required to complete a final report on the use of funds, along with a brief survey that well help to evaluate project impact.

High Impact Quality of Life Grant Tiers offer three increasing levels of grant funding. Each tier is targeted to focus on a High Priority issue for the community of individuals living with paralysis and their families, as follows:

Tier 2 -- Grants of $30,000 for the following Priority Areas:

  • Transportation
  • Respite/Caregiving
  • Disaster Response

Tier 3 -- Grants of $40,000

  • Nursing Home Transition

Tier 4 -- Grants of $50,000

  • Employment

Applicants for all grant tiers are required to first submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) through the online application portal. The LOI will be reviewed by Quality of Life program staff, who will review and assess whether or not the proposed project fits in the parameters of the program and if it fits, into which Tier it belongs.

The Letter of Intent is the same for the Direct Effect and High Impact Tiers. However, the full application and review processes differ for both tier types.

  • Direct Effect LOIs and subsequent full applications will be accepted on an on-going basis, with LOIs accepted until 4/11/18 and full applications accepted until 5/1/18. Grant applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis through May 2018, and grants will be awarded starting in February through May 2018 , with all applicants notified by May 31, 2018 and all grants awarded by June 2018.
  • High Impact LOIs will be accepted until 2/15/18. Full Applications are accepted until 3/17/18. Full applications will be reviewed from 3/17/18 through May 2018. All applicants will be notified by May 31, 2018, and grants awarded in June 2018.

Program Timeline

Applicants with approved LOIs will be invited to submit a full application into the respective tier, according to the program timeline below:

2018 Quality of Life Grants Program Timeline

1/16/18 - Online Application opens with Letter of Intent (LOI) as first step for all Tiers

1/17/18 - Technical assistance webinar: Applying for a Quality of Life Grant in 2018

2/15/18 - LOI deadline for High Impact Tiers

3/17/18 - Full Application Deadline for High Impact Tiers

4/11/18 - Final LOI deadline for Direct Effect Tier

5/1/18 - Final full Application Deadline for Direct Effect Tier

5/31/18 - Deadline for applicants to receive email notification of status

June 2018 – Remaining Direct Effect Grants and High Impact Grants Awarded

Project periods are typically 12 months in duration or less. If the proposed project will not be completed within one year of the award, it is advised that applicant delay applying until such time that the proposed project can be completed within a period of 12 months or less.

Information about additional Quality of Life funding opportunities in 2018 will be available soon.

Helpful information

  1. People-First Language Guide
  2. A Quick Guide to Establishing Evaluation Indicators
  3. LOI Questions - Direct Effect Tier
  4. LOI Questions - High Impact Priority Tiers
  5. Grant application guidelines
  6. List of Direct Effect Application Questions
  7. List of High Impact Priority Application Questions

Applicants unsure of which LOI to submit may use either; the questions are the same for both.

Click here to access the online application portal.

Thank you
We appreciate your patience as we launch the new processes.

Helpful Video

This presentation is tailored specifically for nonprofit organizations seeking a Reeve Foundation Quality of Life grant for a program or project that directly impacts the lives of individuals living with disabilities and their families.

Recorded from a live broadcast on January 17, 2018.

This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90PRRC0002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.