Understanding How It Works

The Foundation relies upon a cadre of external reviewers that are experts in the field of paralysis. They are both people living with paralysis as well as those not living with paralysis. Current and past reviewers include doctors in both medical and mental/behavioral health, lawyers, advocates, experts in assistive technology and other related fields, caregivers and other stakeholders vested in improving the lives of people living with paralysis.

The aim of the external review is to obtain peer and expert feedback on a proposed application. The role of the external reviewer is to bring an informed, objective and unbiased perspective to the assessment of the application. External reviewers read, evaluate, and rate the application; identify strengths and weaknesses; and provide comprehensive feedback on various aspects of the proposed application such as:

  • Project Design. Does the application demonstrate that the proposed project design can be successfully implemented?
  • Project Reach. Does the application demonstrate that the proposed project will reach people living with paralysis, their families, and/or caregivers, as well as the targeted audience identified?
  • Project Evaluation. Does the proposal demonstrate the applicant's capacity to identify and measure quantitative outputs and qualitative outcomes to evaluate the impact of the proposed project?
  • Organizational Capacity. Does the applicant organization have the capacity to carry out the project as proposed?

Reviewers are provided with evaluation criteria including information about the Quality of Life Grants Program, funding restrictions, and allowable expenses, as well as an evaluation form containing a list of questions to be addressed and scored and a scoring rubric. The external reviewers score and comment on the applications and the scores are compiled. They also recommend to fund or not fund the application.

Those applications that have received high scores generally 80% and above are sent to an Internal Review Committee. The Internal Review Committee, consisting of Foundation board members and staff (not associated with the Quality of Life Grants Program), review those top applications and score and ranks them. They are discussed and evaluated at an Internal Review Committee Meeting and the Committee chooses the grants based upon ranking and evaluation.

Reviewer evaluation forms and scoring rubrics are included in each cycle's Program and Application Guidelines to enable applicants to better understand how applications are reviewed and scored.

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.