FAQs

  • About

    How was MHCF started? - +

    The Montana Healthcare Foundation was created in 2013, and came into existence as result of the sale of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Montana (a not for profit) to a private corporation. In accordance with State law, the assets were transferred to a charitable trust to be managed for public benefit. The Foundation is a permanent resource for Montanans. Rather than spending the money in the trust over a few years and then dissolving, the Foundation will spend the income from trust investments (roughly five percent of the total value of the trust each year), and provide a stable, reliable resource supporting health for Montanans.

  • What is the role of the MHCF Board of Trustees? - +

    Our Board of Trustees ensures that the operations and programming of the Foundation are carried out in a manner that is consistent with the purpose of the trust. Using their knowledge of the state and expertise in a range of disciplines, trustees establish the Foundation’s policies, overall goals and strategy; monitor the success of its programming; and develop and oversee the implementation of the Foundation’s investment policies.

  • How does MHCF determine how much money will be awarded each year? - +

    MHCF manages its trust so that the Foundation will serve as a permanent resource for Montana’s health. As such, we make grants and conduct other activities that support MHCF’s purpose—such as research, convening meetings, and employing program staff that support the success and impact of MHCF’s programming—based on the income earned from trust investments each year. This is consistent with IRS regulations which require that private foundations use five percent of the value of their restricted assets for grants and related activities each year.

  • How did MHCF choose its current focus areas? - +

    MHCF has consulted with many stakeholders (including reviewed extensive research, state health data, and carried out a strategic planning process that included reviewing data and research to identify the important health issues in Montana, and consulting with stakeholders (including healthcare organizations, public health departments, community members, and others). The 2015 Strategic Plan describes this process, and the Foundation’s initial approach to developing its programming.

  • Does MHCF plan to allocate a specific amount to each focus area? - +

    MHCF will make major investments in each focus area, but we do not have a specific, predetermined amount of grant dollars allocated to each focus area. Instead, the final allocation of grant dollars to each area will be based upon the number, quality, and need demonstrated by proposals we receive. MHCF seeks to support a range of projects across Montana and across each focus area. We recognize that preparing a high-quality grant application may be more difficult for smaller communities and organizations that lack staff and resources. We may, therefore, also give preference to proposals based on their contribution to the overall diversity and balance of our portfolio, and in particular, to proposals from communities with the greatest demonstrated need.  To view our investments, visit our Grantee Library.


  • Eligibility

    What types of organizations are eligible for funding? - +

    MHCF will only fund Montana-based organizations. Montana-based organizations that are eligible to apply for funding include:

    • Tax-exempt organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (excluding those classified as private foundations or any type III non-functionally integrated supporting organization under section 509(a) of the Code)
    • Tax-exempt educational institutions
    • State, tribal, or local government agencies

     

    Under rare circumstances MHCF may choose to fund organizations based outside of Montana. Such proposals must be invited by MHCF, and must include:

    • A sole focus on improving the health and well-being of Montanans.
    • A strong partnership with Montana-based organizations or communities.
    • Substantial funding to Montana-based organizations included in the grant budget.
    • A strong case for why funding for an organization outside of Montana is needed for successful completion of the project.  
    • All applicant organizations must be located in the United States or its territories.

     

    The American Indian Health focus area has special eligibility criteria

    Montana-based organizations that are eligible to apply for funding include:

    • Native non-profit organizations based in Montana (organizations with an American Indian-controlled Board and a primary focus on programming serving Montana’s American Indian communities), and tax exempt as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (excluding those classified as private foundations under section 509(a) of the Code).
    • Montana-based federally or state-recognized Tribal government agencies.
  • If we currently have a grant from MHCF, are we eligible to apply again? - +

    Yes. Current grantees of MHCF may apply for a new grant. Your new grant application should either (a) propose an entirely different project from your current MHCF-funded project, or (b) if you are seeking additional funds for a project that is related to your current MHCF grant, clearly describe specific, separate outcomes and deliverables that would be achieved with your new grant. For example, if you currently have a planning grant from MHCF, you might consider building on that planning work by submitting a proposal for funding to implement the plan.

    In order to be considered for a second grant, you must:

    • Be current on all required grant reporting
    • Demonstrate that you are making adequate progress on your current MHCF-funded project(s)
  • If an organization is not eligible to apply for funding, can a partner organization apply for and receive funds? - +

    MHCF encourages proposals that involve partnerships among two or more organizations. One of the partners must serve as the primary applicant, however. If the proposal is selected for funding, the primary applicant will receive the entire grant. The primary applicant’s budget may include subcontracts or sub-grants to pay for the work of partner organizations.

    The primary applicant must meet our eligibility criteria, but the partners do not necessarily need to meet those criteria. For example, while individuals are not eligible for our funding, the primary applicant may propose to contract with an individual consultant to accomplish some specific part of the work.

    The primary applicant must not, however, serve as a “pass-through” in which an organization that is not eligible for funding receives a large portion of the grant and leads or controls the project. In general, MHCF expects that the primary applicant will have a substantial role in the work that is being proposed.

     

  • What does "Montana-based organization" mean? - +

    Our eligibility criteria states:

    “MHCF will only fund Montana-based organizations. Montana-based organizations that are eligible to apply for funding include:

    • Tax-exempt organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (excluding those classified as private foundations or any type III non-functionally integrated supporting organization under section 509(a) of the Code).
    • Tax-exempt educational institutions.
    • State, tribal, or local government agencies.”

     

    The term “Montana-based organization” means “organized, incorporated, and with offices in Montana.”

    Independent 501(c)(3) organizations that are “Montana-based” according to these criteria and are controlled by a Montana board but are part of a chain of related non-profits that may also conduct operations outside of Montana may be eligible to apply for funding that is restricted to the Montana-based organization. Please email us at info@mthcf.org if further clarification is needed.

  • Are 501(c)6 organizations eligible to apply? - +

    No. Our eligibility criteria states that we will only fund Montana-based organizations that include:

    • Tax-exempt organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (excluding those classified as private foundations or any type III non-functionally integrated supporting organization under section 509(a) of the Code).
    • Tax-exempt educational institutions.
    • State, tribal, or local government agencies.

     

    501(c)6 organizations are not, therefore, eligible to apply. We understand, however, that many trade associations also have a sister charitable organization or a state umbrella charity that coordinates charitable programs for local trade associations. If this is the case for your organization, it is possible that the charitable organization could be eligible to apply.

  • Are organizations that have 501(c)3 IRS applications submitted and pending approval eligible to apply? - +

    Yes, however the application will be rejected if IRS approval has not been approved by the time that MHCF is due to make a funding decision.

  • What type of activities are NOT supported by MHCF? - +
    • Individuals
    • Capital campaigns
    • Operating deficits or retirement of debt
    • Construction projects, real estate acquisitions, or endowments unless part of a MHCF-invited proposal
    • Fundraising events
    • Organizations that discriminate because of race, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, age, or political orientation
    • Lobbying as defined by the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (IRC), section 4945(d)(1)
    • Activities supporting political candidates or voter registration drives, as defined in IRC section 4945(d)(2)
    • Large equipment purchases (for example: medical equipment, vans)
    • Medical research or research lacking a direct, targeted, and practical benefit to Montanans’ health
    • Organizations or foundations for redistribution of funds via sub-grants

     

    In addition, please note that MHCF funds may not be used in any way that might supplant government funding of existing programs. All applicants must read our Guidance on Supplanting.

  • Does MHCF help organizations conduct Community Health Needs Assessments? - +

    As we understand it, the IRS requires Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA) of all non-profit hospitals. As such, the costs of conducting a CHNA can be viewed as part of the general operating costs of the hospital. MHCF does not fund activities that would be considered operating costs (or an operating deficit if not funded). MHCF grants must supplement activities that would occur without our funding (see also our discussion on supplementing versus supplanting, found here).

    You may wish to consider, however, whether a small planning grant from MHCF could allow you to achieve important goals that would not be part of your normal CHNA process. For example, considering MHCF’s emphasis on creating partnerships (see, for example our Partnerships for Better Health portfolio here, and our selection criterion on “Creating Partnerships). Could a grant from MHCF allow you to form new, substantive partnerships with a local health department, community action agency, or other organization that would allow you to more effectively address the needs identified through the CHNA?


  • Choosing a Project Focus

    I don't know if my proposal fits in any of MHCF’s focus areas: what should I do? - +

    Please attend one of our webinars, which will offer applicants more information about each focus area, and will also give people a chance to ask questions. In case you are not able to attend one of the webinars, they will be archived on our site and may be viewed later.

    We suggest that all eligible organizations begin by reading the Call for Proposals carefully, to understand each focus area and the selection criteria and types of projects we will consider under each focus area.

    Finally, if you have reviewed these resources and are still uncertain whether your proposal fits any of our focus areas, you may email info@mthcf.org. Please note, however, that due to the large volume of inquiries, MHCF may not respond individually to all inquiries we receive.

  • My proposal fits in more than one of MHCF’s focus areas: which one should I apply for? - +

    There is some overlap between the focus areas: applicants should decide which category best fits their initiative. We suggest that:

    • Organizations that intend to focus on the health of Native American people and are eligible should apply to the American Indian Health focus area, even for projects that may overlap with Behavioral Health or Partnerships for Better Health.
    • Organizations with a primary focus on behavioral health but are not focusing mainly on Native Americans should apply to the Behavioral Health focus area, even for projects that may overlap with Partnerships for Better Health.
    • Organizations seeking to address issues besides Behavioral Health and American Indian Health should apply to Partnerships for Better Health.
  • My proposal doesn't fit in any of MHCF’s focus areas: will you consider funding it? - +

    MHCF does not generally fund unsolicited proposals that fall outside our focus areas. These focus areas were developed to allow eligible applicants to address a wide range of issues important to the health of Montanans. We hope that the structure of this Call for Proposals will help maximize the impact of our investments, at the same time as allowing considerable flexibility for eligible organizations to bring new and innovative ideas to fruition.

    If your project does not appear to fall within any of MHCF’s focus areas, you may email info@mthcf.org to tell us briefly about your idea. In your email, we suggest you briefly outline what you would want to do, whom the project would serve, and why you do not believe it falls within MHCF’s focus areas. We suggest you limit your email to two paragraphs.

    We are not likely to consider project ideas submitted to info@mthcf.org for funding. However, because MHCF intends to continuously update its programs to address statewide needs through investigation, collaboration, and learning from experience, we will consider these project ideas in developing the structure and criteria for future funding cycles.

  • Does MHCF support fundraising activities? - +

    As a general practice we do not sponsor fundraising events or capital campaigns.


  • Budget

    How much can I request for my project and what are the grant periods? - +

    Grants awarded under this call for proposals will fund projects that must be completed in between 12 and 24 months. We are offering two types of grants:

    1. Rapid Response Grants: Our Rapid Response program will offer grants between $10,000 and $75,000 for projects implemented within a 12- to 24-month period. These grants will be awarded through a one-step application process offered twice in 2017, with a possibility of a third opportunity this fall. The Rapid Response program is intended to support proposals focused on planning, training, and smaller-scale pilot projects. The minimum request is $10,000. The maximum request is $50,000 for a one-year project and $75,000 for a two-year project.
    2. Large Grants: Our Large Grant program will offer grants above $75,000 and up to $150,000 for projects implemented within a 12- to 24-month period. These grants will be awarded through a two-step application process offered once in 2017. The minimum request is $50,000. The maximum request is $75,000 for a one-year project and $150,000 for a two-year project. MHCF expects to award few grants at the maximum $150,000 level, and encourages applicants to request only what they need for a successful project. Applicants will be asked to present a basic business plan and pro forma budget as part of the full invited proposal.
  • Will MHCF continue to fund our project after the grant term if our work is successful? - +

    MHCF is not intended to be a sustainable source of funding for ongoing programs. MHCF grants will support projects that have a lasting impact beyond the term of the grant, as opposed to providing an ongoing source of programmatic funding. MHCF selection criteria focus on projects that have a high potential for becoming self-supporting, or those that will have a lasting impact through a project that has a limited grant term.

    We recognize that some initiatives may require a multi-year period to develop a stable base of funding. As our funding base grows in future years, MHCF will continue to evaluate the most effective investment strategies to support long term sustainability for effective initiatives, such as providing larger grants, longer grant terms, or more opportunities to renew funding.

  • What does "financial sustainability" mean? - +

    MHCF selection criteria focus on projects that have a high potential for becoming self-supporting, or those that will have a lasting impact through a project that has a limited grant term. MHCF grants will support projects that have a lasting impact beyond the term of the grant, as opposed to providing an ongoing source of programmatic funding. Many opportunities exist for funding health and related services through effective billing. Implementation of Montana’s Medicaid expansion along with related policy changes should significantly strengthen the financing of services for Montana’s at-risk populations. Collaboration between entities such as hospitals, clinics, health departments, behavioral health providers, corrections, and schools can also create sustainable financing through more efficient and effective use of resources.

  • What type of budget and financial information will I be required to submit? - +

    For Large Grant submissions, a detailed budget is not required at the Brief Proposal stage, but will be required as part of an invited Full Proposal.


  • Application Process

    How does MHCF decide which proposals to fund? - +

    All proposals are assessed according to the selection criteria for each focus area, which can be found in the call for proposals.

    In addition, MHCF considers the applicant’s finances and capacity for carrying out the proposed work, and the clarity and feasibility of the work plan.

    For Large Grant submissions, MHCF staff will review the Brief Proposal and determine, based on the criteria above, which applicants to invite for a Full Proposal.

    Full Proposals will be reviewed by MHCF staff and trustees, and the final funding decisions will be made by the trustees.

    On occasion, MHCF may engage external experts to review proposals: external reviewers may make recommendations but do not have final decision-making authority.

  • Will I receive specific comments on my proposal after a decision is made? - +

    Due to the large volume of proposals we receive, we cannot promise to provide individual critiques of or comments on each proposal. We may be able to offer limited feedback on a case-by-case basis, but this is not guaranteed and is dependent upon the volume of proposals received.

  • If my proposal is not initially accepted for funding, can I resubmit it? - +

    Organizations that are not accepted for funding may not re-apply with the same or similar project in the same year. If an organization is interested in re-applying in a subsequent year with the same project,  MHCF recommends discussing the proposal with a program officer in order to understand and address any issues that prevented the proposal from being considered for funding initially.

  • What happens after a proposal is approved for funding? - +

    When a proposal is conditionally approved for funding by MHCF, and before any funds are released, the prospective grantee and MHCF must negotiate and sign a Grant Agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the grant, and the measurable objectives and the frequency of required reporting. Grant decisions are not considered final until the Grant Agreement is fully executed. No Grantee work carried out prior to the date of execution of the Grant Agreement is considered reimbursable under the grant.

  • How many proposals can one organization submit per year? How many grants can a single organization receive per year? - +

    One organization may submit up to two distinct proposals under this call for proposals.

    Because of the level of interest in this opportunity from organizations around Montana, it is likely that we will not be able to fund all of the proposals we receive. According to our selection criteria, MHCF will give preference to proposals based on their contribution to the overall diversity and balance of our portfolio, and in particular, to proposals from communities with the greatest demonstrated need. Therefore, it is unlikely but not impossible that we will fund more than a single proposal per organization.

  • If an entity (such as a university) has separate eligible organizations (such as a foundation and a tax exempt educational institution), can each eligible organization submit up to two letters of interest? - +

    Yes. MHCF will accept up to two distinct proposals from each eligible organization. Entities such as a major university may house separate organizations, such as a tax exempt educational institution and a separately organized foundation. Provided that each of those organizations meets MHCF’s eligibility criteria, MHCF will accept up to two distinct proposals from each organization. Applicants should bear in mind, however, that MHCF will give preference to proposals based on their contribution to the overall diversity and balance of our portfolio, and in particular, to proposals from communities with the greatest demonstrated need. Therefore, it is unlikely but not impossible that we will fund more than a single proposal per eligible organization.

  • Will MHCF accept more than two proposal submissions from one organization if the Rapid Response Round 3 grant opportunity opens? - +

    In the event the third round of Rapid Response opens, MHCF will accept one additional application from an organization who has submitted two prior applications under the current Call for Proposals. Please note that the additional proposal should be distinct from the projects proposed in any previous applications; applicants should not re-apply with a proposal that is the same or similar to a proposal that was previously rejected unless you have been specifically advised to do so by MHCF staff. If you have questions regarding the review of your past proposal(s), please contact our office at info@mthcf.org.

  • Can multiple organizations submit a joint proposal? - +

    Strong partnerships or coalitions of groups with a stake in the outcome are often very important to the success of a project, and are a critically important aspect of our selection criteria. We strongly encourage collaborative proposals from two or more organizations. Only one organization, however, can be designated as the grantee.  Collaborative proposals will need to identify the lead project director, the organization that will receive the grant, and the relationship between the lead organization and other partners. Other partners may receive funds through subcontracts or honoraria negotiated and overseen by the grantee.

  • How do you define “indirect costs?” What percentage is allowable? - +

    Indirect costs funded by MHCF are limited to 10% of salaries and benefits for staff at the grantee organization. Indirect costs are expenses of a grantee that are not specifically identifiable to the project funded by MHCF but represent overhead costs of grantee operations related to the grant. For example, if you typically charge a general rate for office supplies, this would likely be covered in the indirect line item. However, if you will need to use specific supplies for the training or stakeholder meetings, these should be included in the supplies line item instead. Salaries and benefits of partner organizations should be listed under the consultants line item and do not count towards indirect costs.

  • How does MHCF define an “at risk” population? - +

    Certain people in our state face particularly difficult challenges to health. “Health disparities”—defined as the higher rates of illness and death that are consistently documented among certain subgroups—are all too common among certain racial and ethnic groups, among those who face social and economic disadvantage, and among young children and older adults. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that health disparities can occur in many demographic subgroups of the population, in relation to age, disability, gender, socio-economic status, geography, gender, and sexual preference. Across all of our work, MHCF places a particular emphasis on reducing health disparities, and ensuring that every Montanan has an opportunity to enjoy a full, productive, and healthy life.

  • How can I learn more about submitting a proposal? - +

    Please sign up for our mailing list. Those on our mailing list will be the first to receive information on grant offerings, upcoming webinars and other updates.

  • I can't log into the online application system: what should I do? - +

    Email us at info@mthcf.org, or call our office at (406) 451-7060.


  • Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) Initiative

    Which grant application do I use for the IBH Planning Grants? - +

    Grantees applying for the IBH Planning Grant should use the IBH Planning Application. If you are applying for a grant in the Behavioral Health focus area that is not an IBH Planning Grant, please use the respective Behavioral Health Application (Rapid Response or Large proposal) under Behavioral Health.

  • Are IBH Implementation Grants available through the call for proposals? - +

    MHCF is not accepting unsolicited proposals for IBH Implementation Grants. For invited applicants, MHCF will provide two-year grants of up to $150,000 to support the initial implementation of IBH initiatives by organizations that have developed strong partnerships and a sound business and operations plan. IBH Implementation Grants can also be used to support expansion of current IBH initiatives. Existing IBH initiatives proposing to expand activities must clearly articulate what additional services the grant would enable, and how the proposed work will address specific unmet needs in the community. If you are interested in applying for an IBH Implementation Grant, please contact Scott Malloy at (40)451-7060 or scott.malloy@mthcf.org.

  • How many times are the IBH Planning Grants available in 2017? - +

    The IBH Planning Grants will be available with each of the Rapid Response grant cycles. Please read the call for proposals for all grant cycle dates and deadlines.

  • Will IBH grants be offered in 2018? - +

    It is the intent of MHCF to support IBH as a long-term investment. While that is the case, MHCF trustees will review priorities each year and will decide upon any funding priorities prior to the 2018 Call for Proposals.

  • Do the IBH Planning Grants transition into IBH Implementation Grants after one year? - +

    Planning grants do not automatically transition into implementation grants. Implementation grants are by invitation only and interested organizations should contact MHCF for questions.

  • If my organization is already providing some level of IBH, can I apply for an IBH Planning Grant? - +

    Yes. IBH Planning Grants are for organizations that are not providing any IBH activities or for organizations that are providing some level of IBH that they want to enhance. When applying, grantees should clearly articulate current IBH activities and what a planning grant will do to enhance those activities.

  • The budget for IBH Planning Grants indicates that up to $50,000 is available. Can you please clarify how this breaks down to training, consultation, and staff time in the budget? - +

    The Foundation anticipates the cost of the consultant for each grantee to be approximately $20,000 for the planning year. If awarded, the grantee contracts directly with the consultant for the $20,000. This amount is pre-populated in the budget template. The Foundation also anticipates additional expenses from the grantee for staff time related to the project that the grantee needs to specifically budget. This could be for partial salaries for administration, clinical, medical, etc. It is expected that grantees also have in-kind time committed to the project.

  • Can you clarify what “organizational commitment” is and what level of involvement is needed/required? - +

    “Organizational commitment” is the administrative, medical, clinical, and support staff’s commitment to engage in IBH. This includes contributions of staff time and energy across the spectrum to engage in IBH planning, implementation, and activities. Project oversight should clearly demonstrate organizational leadership commitment. Grant funds should clearly indicate leadership involvement, through for example, paying for partial FTE of medical director, clinic manager, CEO, COO, or CFO.

  • What do you mean by, “placing high priority on collaborations that preserve or enhance the spectrum of patients served and behavioral health services provided in the community?” - +

    It is critical that community resources and partnerships are maximized toward collaboration and value. Agencies that are seeking to enhance integrated behavioral health activities should work closely with partners that are serving like patients to ensure that services are not duplicated and that by “expanding” services the agency doesn’t inadvertently compromise another part of the health system. If an agency is expanding IBH activities and key partners are not formally part of this expansion, reasons should be articulated and detailed clearly.

  • Is there an in-kind requirement? What is the amount or expectation? - +

    There is no specific in-kind requirement though it is expected that grantees will demonstrate commitment through staff participation in planning, consultations, meetings, training, etc.

  • Can you explain what type of training and consultation will be provided as part of the IBH Planning and Implementation Grants? - +

    Consultants will work with grantees to develop strategies and goals for integration that are tailored to the agency and community. Training and consultation will include planning, preparation, meetings, and calls leading up to on-site visit. Grantees should be committed to multiple meetings with consultant and learning communities. There will also be ongoing virtual one-on-one coaching calls with grantees, webinars on specific topics, and ongoing peer learning communities with grantee cohorts.

  • Is there an evaluation component for IBH Planning Grants? - +

    Yes. There is a minor evaluation component that will be facilitated by the consultant, and will focus on integration readiness and infrastructure as rated by the agency.

  • What are the required outcomes for IBH Planning Grants? - +

    Required outcomes of planning grants are a final business and operations plan that includes the following elements:

    • A patient-centered and team-based model for service delivery.
    • A Scope of Practice that defines when to treat, when to consult, and when to refer individuals to specialized treatment.
    • An assessment of organizational readiness, capacity, feasibility, and potential barriers to integration.
    • An assessment of the workforce needs for implementing the plan and any recruitment challenges, and plans to address them.
    • A plan for the use of technology for elements of IBH that are not feasible.
    • A plan for utilizing care coordination and population health strategies, such as registries.
    • A plan for Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT).
    • A timeline for implementing behavioral health services.
    • A realistic pathway to sustainability through third-party billing and/or shared savings among project partners.
    • A viable plan for sharing electronic health record data among project partners while meeting applicable regulatory standards.
    • A plan to address any other organization-specific concerns identified by the applicant.