Apr 27, 2021

2021 Nursing Innovations Fund Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to general, technical, and funding questions.

General Questions Funding Questions Technical Assistance Resources
General Questions

Who is eligible to apply?

Only Action Coalitions or approved organizations affiliated with an Action Coalition may apply. Affiliations must be evidenced by a letter from the Action Coalition. The approved organization must show how they will engage the Action Coalition as outlined in the request for proposal (RFP).

  • Preference will be given to Action Coalitions with a co-lead who belongs to an organization represented by the Campaign’s Equity Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee.
  • Preference will be given to applicants that are either public entities or nonprofit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.
  • Organizations unaffiliated with an Action Coalition are encouraged to contact the Action Coalition in their state to discuss opportunities for collaboration. Click here to find the contact information for each Action Coalition.

Are co-principal investigators and/or co-project directors allowed?

Yes. Co-principal investigators and/or co-project directors are allowed; however, one person from the applicant organization needs to be designated as the official contact for the award on the application. Describe the roles of personnel, including co-principal investigators or directors, in the budget narrative.

Is a public university eligible to apply for funding?

Yes. A public university is a public entity and eligible to apply for the award.

Can a university research foundation be a lead applicant in conjunction with an Action Coalition partner?

Yes. As long as the lead applicant includes a letter from the Action Coalition supporting their application to lead the project and describing the role of each partner organization in the project.

When is the application due?

Applications must be submitted to NursingInnovations@aarp.org by 10 p.m. ET on June 30, 2021.

What criteria will reviewers use when determining finalists?

Projects must:

  • Demonstrate a commitment to addressing nursing’s role in promoting health equity and a Culture of Health
  • Advance and enhance nursing’s role working on projects that help ensure everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy and well as possible by addressing policies relating to structural inequities, preferably structural racism, and in one or more of these priority areas: access to care and services, housing insecurity, food insecurity, social isolation, poverty, low-income or employment insecurity, or educational attainment through policy solutions
  • Secure 1:1 matching funds (preference will be given to Action Coalitions that secure $25,000 or more in matching funds)
  • Show evidence of using The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action’s Health Equity Toolkit in your proposed strategy
  • Show evidence of replicability and sustainability
  • Show evidence of stakeholders that represent racial and ethnic diversity, as well as diverse professional fields, experiences, locations, and other aspects of the community
  • Preference will be given to Action Coalitions with a co-lead who belongs to an organization represented by the Campaign’s Equity Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee.

What is meant by access to care and services?

In this context, access to care relates to the many ways that community members lack being able to access the care they need. The focus is on policies that promote equitable access to care, services and options that help people live as healthy and well as possible.

What is meant by educational attainment? Are projects that focus on nursing students allowed?

Educational attainment is less about promoting nursing education and more about the overall improvement of the education of a community. This could include addressing barriers to learning and creating better conditions that help people graduate and prepare for more stable employment and professional careers. Proposals that go beyond nursing will be viewed more favorably.

May funds be used to support COVID-19 related work?

Yes. Funds may be used to support COVID-19 related work, as long as the proposed project also addresses policy solutions related to structural inequities and one of the priority areas described in the RFP.

How many finalists will be selected?

Up to 10 Action Coalitions each can receive the full award of $25,000.

Can an Action Coalition partner other than a co-lead organization accept funds on behalf of the Action Coalition?

Action Coalition co-lead organizations must submit letters of support for the designated recipient organization. This letter should be attached as a separate PDF file. The approved organization must explain how they will engage the Action Coalition as outlined in the request for proposal (RFP).

The recipient of the funds must be a public entity or a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization at the time of submission. If the co-lead organizations are not 501(c)(3) nonprofits or public entities, the Action Coalition may approve another organization to accept funds on behalf of the Action Coalition.

Can we include additional letters of support with our application, such as from key partners we have listed?

Action Coalitions may submit letters of support. Letters will not count toward the 10-page limit.

How will the award be distributed?

AARP will distribute the full award, in one payment, after a memorandum of understanding is executed.

Can an Action Coalition submit more than one proposal and receive multiple awards?

An Action Coalition may submit more than one proposal. However, an Action Coalition may collect only one award, regardless of the number of proposals submitted.

Can two or more Action Coalitions apply as a team?

Yes, Action Coalitions may collaborate and apply as a team. Either:

  • Each Action Coalition could apply separately for a $25,000 award each, then combine the funds toward one project; or
  • Two Action Coalitions could apply together for a $50,000 award and divide the funding. (A total of $50,000 in non-RWJF matching funds must be secured.)

Joint applications must designate one Action Coalition as the primary applicant. The memorandum of understanding will be between AARP and the primary applicant, which will represent the other Action Coalition.

If more than two Action Coalitions are considering joint applications, follow the guidance for two Action Coalitions submitting jointly.

If an Action Coalition received a prior Nursing Innovations Fund award, is it eligible for this round of funding?

Yes. If you are a past awardee or currently implementing an award, you may apply again.

Can a previous Nursing Innovations Fund award be used toward a project being proposed for the second round of funding?

No. Previous Nursing Innovations Fund awards may not be used for any projects other than those outlined in the original memorandum of understanding.

There may be an overlap in project timelines, but each project will have separate funding.

Can a previously planned project be considered as a Nursing Innovations Fund project? 

Yes, provided the Action Coalition can demonstrate how that project relates to the new RFP criteria.

Can a project have multiple alignments with RWJF’s Culture of Health Framework?

Yes. You may indicate as many area(s) of alignment that are applicable for your specific goal.

Do we need to identify a principal investigator for this proposal and include his or her biography or curriculum vitae?

We encourage you to identify key staff members and their qualifications in the budget  narrative.

If we want to include numbers or additional information in an appendix, does that count toward the 10-page limit of the application?

The only items accepted in addition to the 10-page limit are:

  • Letter of support from an Action Coalition, if applicable; and
  • Confirmation letters from the funders that are approving matching funds for this project

All other supporting materials must fall within the 10-page application limit.

What is the project start date?

Projects should start no later than October 1, 2021.

Applicants will be notified of funding decisions in August/September. Awards will be disbursed after a memorandum of understanding are executed.

What are the reporting requirements?

Awardees must provide a brief, final report at the end of the funding period.

What font and size should be used for the application?

Use Arial font, size 11, single-spaced.

Will there be another future Nursing Innovations Fund award?

The Campaign for Action will assess this initiative and may consider future opportunities.

Funding Questions

How much is the Nursing Innovations Fund award?

Selected Action Coalitions may each receive up to $25,000.

What is the matching fund requirement?

Action Coalitions must secure a 1:1 match. Matching funds may come from any source and preference will be given to Action Coalitions that secure matches of higher amounts. Matching funds must align with the project timeline; if there are timing conflicts, they should be explained in the application.

In-kind support is encouraged but will not count toward the match. 

Can RWJF funds be used as matching funds?

No. Matching funds must come from sources other than RWJF.

Where may an applicant seek matching funds?

Matching funds may come from organizations such as independent and private foundations; family and community foundations; corporations and business partners; religious groups; local charities; Action Coalition member organizations; from city, county, state, and federal funds, including block grants; or from individuals. Matching funds from multiple groups may be combined to meet the 1:1 requirement.

Federal grants are permitted.

Should matching funds be “in hand” at the time of submission, or will commitment letters from funders suffice?

Applicants should have either matching funds or letters of commitment from funders in hand at the time of submission. Letters of commitment must include the award recipient name, amount of funding, purpose of funding, funding period of the award, the date on which funding will be disbursed, and any special conditions.

Is there a limit on the letters of commitment from funders an Action Coalition can submit?


What if an Action Coalition does not secure matching funds or commitment letters from funders by the time the application is due?

If there are circumstances that will delay the process, provide an explanation on the application.

Can matching funds be used for a specific focus of the project as well as for overall use?

Yes. Matching funds may be used for either general or specific purposes. Applicants should describe how the funds will be used in the budget narrative.

Can matching funds be used for staffing, personnel, or consultants?

Yes, matching funds may be used for staffing, personnel, and consultant costs. Include a detailed explanation in the budget narrative for how the funds will be used.

What constitutes an indirect cost? Should a grant supervisor/manager be listed in the section for personnel costs or indirect cost?

Indirect costs are overhead expenses that the applicant organization incurs as a result of the project but that are not easily identifiable with a specific project. Indirect cost include:

  • Administrative expenses that are related to overall operations and are shared among projects and/or functions; and
  • Executive oversight, accounting, grants management, legal expenses, utilities, and facility maintenance

If an Action Coalition receives ongoing support in a general fund from different organizations, can these funds be used toward the match?

General funding from outside organizations may be considered toward the match. However, applications that raise matching funds in support of this specific Nursing Innovations proposal will be viewed as stronger than those using existing general funds.

Will funding secured from a non-RWJF source for a current project unrelated to the Nursing Innovations Fund be considered as matching funds? 

Previously secured, non-RWJF funding may be considered as matching funds only if they are used for the proposed Nursing Innovations Fund project.

May an Action Coalition apply for less than $25,000?

Yes, Action Coalitions may apply for any amount up to $25,000. However, applications with a match of $25,000 or more will be viewed as stronger than those securing less than $25,000.

Technical Assistance Questions

What technical assistance will be offered to awardees?

Awardees will receive a social media toolkit with materials to announce their award across multiple platforms. They may also receive assistance with stakeholder engagement, coalition-building, and fundraising.

Are unsuccessful applicants eligible to receive technical assistance?

All Action Coalitions, regardless of funding status, may receive technical assistance for stakeholder engagement, coalition-building, and fundraising.


AARP Community Challenge – A grants program that is part of the AARP Livable Communities initiative that helps communities become great places to live for people of all ages.

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps: Explore Health Rankings – A searchable resource providing data for the counties in your state (and state profiles) on the issues that affect how we live, work, and play.

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps: What Works for Health – A site offering strategies that can affect health, rated based on evidence of effectiveness.

Culture of Health Action Framework – From the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action Fundraising Toolkit – The toolkit includes overview materials, resource guides and workbooks to aid Action Coalitions in their work to secure support for their programs.

Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action Health Equity Toolkit – A resource for Action Coalitions and their partners to use as they work on improving health equity locally.

Healthy People 2030 – United States Department of Health and Human Services social determinants of health framework.

Meeting Individual Social Needs Falls Short of Addressing Social Determinants of Health – A January 2019 HealthAffairs article that assesses ways to address the social determinants of health.

What Is Health Equity?A report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that is designed to build consensus on the meaning of the term “health equity.”