HWPP Capacity Building

Change Incubator Funding

Change Incubator funding (PDF) aims to invest in community-based partnerships to overcome challenges or key next steps to increase their readiness for and effectiveness in carrying out larger community health improvement initiatives. When working on a long-term community health improvement initiative, new challenges and opportunities often arise that require a partnership’s dedicated time and attention in order to continue advancing the larger initiative. Change Incubator funding serves to fill that gap. Funding supports partnerships of diverse organizations and perspectives to jumpstart the collaborative planning, implementation, evaluation, dissemination and sustainability processes of a community health improvement initiative.

There are three Change Incubator funding focus areas:

  1. Partnership Development and Action Planning – funding to support the development and initial infrastructure and action planning of new health-related partnerships, coalitions or networks

Examples of previously funded projects:

  • Develop a shared vision and measurable action plan to prioritize and align efforts for greater collective health impact
  • Develop a sustainability plan to align activities across partners, establish shared measurements, advance policy and mobilize funding to improve health
  1. Strategic Planning and Partnership Growth and Sustainability – funding to support existing partnerships to continue to grow as a group and engage new partners, develop detailed strategic plans to sustain the partnership, and collaboratively engage in community health improvement initiatives

Examples of previously funded projects:

  • Conduct focus groups to ensure the partners are accurately representing the preferences and needs of the target population
  • Engage stakeholders to redesign partnership evaluation processes to plan for scale-up of programming and work towards sustained increases in positive health outcomes
  1. Communicating your Impact – funding to support partnerships to strengthen communication skills and form comprehensive communication plans and materials to effectively tell their story, demonstrate their impact, and drive the initiative forward to increase awareness and support for next steps

Examples of previously funded projects:

  • Develop an actionable communications plan to tell the partnership’s story, recruit new partners, and catalyze movement for greater alignment and health impact
  • Engage community members in listening sessions and develop a community engagement toolkit to ensure that community voices are included in local health improvement planning

All proposed projects must result in an end product or deliverable to guide the partnership as they move forward in the larger initiative and to share with HWPP as a key outcome of the investment. Applicants can request up to $10,000 in funding and should aim to conduct the project over a 6-12 month period.

**Informed by the Meyer Foundation Capacity-Building Grants and The Nonprofit Partnership Capacity-Building Grants

For information on previously funded HWPP Change Incubator projects, please see the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program Funded Awards.


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  Who can apply?

Change Incubator funding is intended to support community and academic stakeholders engaged in partnerships focused on improving health in communities throughout Wisconsin. Eligibility requirements include:

  • Applications must be submitted by a partnership of Wisconsin-based, health-related entities invested in improving the health of Wisconsin communities and that include representation from diverse organizations and perspectives
  • Partnerships can be new or existing
  • Partnerships may involve a MCW academic partner, but are not required
  • One partner must be a Wisconsin-based, non-profit, IRS tax exempt 501(c)3 or government organization, have an EIN number, and have the capacity to serve as the fiscal and contracting agent for the partnership
  • Proposed project cannot be directly related to a current, active HWPP Responsive, Strategic or Legacy award
  • Applicants must be committed to partnership principles
  • Demonstrate capacity to sustain and build on the results of the Change Incubator funding investment
  • Previous involvement with HWPP is not required
  What are allowable expenses for Change Incubator Funding?

Change Incubator funding may only be used for allowable, project-specific expenses and partners must receive approval from HWPP for all expenses prior to incurring the cost. Funds can be used to support:

  • Consultant fees to facilitate the Change Incubator process
  • Supplies including general meeting materials and printing
  • Meeting expenses including facility rental fees and refreshments
  • Mileage and travel for partners to attend in-person meetings

Funds may not be used to support:

  • Personnel time (salary and fringe)
  • Reimbursement solely for grant proposal development
  • Indirect costs such as ongoing operating expenses of an organization’s routine functions and principal programs
  • Equipment or capital expenditures
  • Debt reduction
  • Entertainment or alcoholic beverages
  • Lobbying
  • Projects conducted outside of Wisconsin
  • Reimbursement solely for patient care or clinical service delivery
  • Funds cannot supplant existing funding resources

Please see the HWPP Guide for Costs for additional guidance, noting the exceptions above.

  How does my partnership apply?

Change Incubator funding requires a two-step application process.

  1. A written application using the HWPP-provided form (DOC) must be submitted collaboratively by the partnership to HWPP at healthierwisconsin@mcw.edu. Application must include:
  • Contact information for and supplanting attestation from the eligible partner organization that will serve as the fiscal and contracting agent for the project
  • Intended end product or deliverable of the proposed work  and goal statement
  • Description of the partners participating on the project and their roles and commitment to the larger community health improvement initiative
  • Justification of the need for Change Incubator funding, including how the proposed work will fit into a larger community health improvement initiative and is necessary to advance that larger effort to the next stages
  • Description of how the goal will be accomplished, including specific activities to be accomplished during the time period
  • Proposed timeframe and funding amount, including a detailed budget of what expenses HWPP funds would be used for and any in-kind or matching support

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the fiscal year and are reviewed on a first come first serve basis until available funds for the year have been distributed.

Upon receipt of an application, HWPP staff will conduct a technical review to ensure compliance with the following criteria:

  • Engages a partnership of at least two Wisconsin-based, health-related entities
  • Aims to result in an end product or deliverable to advance the larger initiative
  • Supports and advances a larger initiative aimed at improving health for Wisconsin residents
  • Demonstrates capacity to sustain and build on the funding results
  • Presents a clear plan for the proposed timeframe that is realistic and has an achievable end goal to be accomplished during the timeframe
  • Requests $10,000 or less in funding support and provides a proposed budget that includes only allowable expenses and does not present any supplanting concerns
  1. HWPP staff will conduct a pre-funding site visit with the applicant partners to discuss the proposal and address any questions that came up during the technical review as well as expectations and next steps if selected for funding.

Following the site visit, the application will be reviewed for supplanting concerns. Pending no supplanting concerns, HWPP staff will make a funding recommendation to the MCW Consortium who will make the final funding decision. The recommendation may include funding the application as it was submitted, funding with recommended changes or not funding.

  If selected for funding, what are the reporting requirements?

Funded partners will be required to:

  1. Complete a contract with MCW prior to beginning the work.
  2. Submit invoices approximately quarterly with all supporting documentation for expense-reimbursement based on the approved budget.
  3. Complete written progress updates as a partnership for every full quarter of the project to demonstrate progress to date, successes/challenges and next steps. Partners will be required to share any products developed, such as strategic plans, partner agreements and marketing materials, to serve as a demonstration of the immediate funding outcome.
  4. Participate in site visits in which HWPP staff will attend partnership meetings or events approximately once every full quarter of the project to monitor the process and assist, as needed, with identifying qualified consultants, managing HWPP funds and processing payments, and connecting partners to additional funding opportunities and resources.
  5. Following completion of the funding period, partners will be expected to remain in communication with HWPP staff for at least two years post-project to share long-term impact achieved that correlates to the funding opportunity.
  What if we have questions and would like to learn more about this opportunity?

For more information about the Change Incubator funding opportunity or to discuss your application idea, please contact Tracy Wilson, Program Officer, at trwilson@mcw.edu or (414) 955-4364. We welcome and highly encourage your partnership to contact us to discuss your idea!

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Are the three focus areas mutually exclusive or can a partnership apply under more than one area?

The three focus areas are not mutually exclusive. HWPP understands that a proposed project may cross over among the focus areas. However, please keep in mind that Change Incubator funding is meant for a partnership to overcome a specific challenge or key next step in a larger initiative and must result in an end product to guide the partners forward. Applicants are challenged to think about which focus area(s) their proposed project fits into and may select multiple areas, if appropriate.

  1. What if my partnership has an idea, but we aren’t sure if it fits this funding opportunity?

We highly encourage partnerships to contact us in advance of completing the application to discuss your idea and the funding opportunity. Please contact Tracy Wilson, Program Officer, at trwilson@mcw.edu or (414) 955-4364.

  1. How long does the application process take?

We aim to make the application process as streamlined as possible while still collecting adequate information from your partnership to meet all requirements and inform the funding decision. We strive to move applicants through the process as quickly as possible, although we advise applicants to anticipate a project start date no earlier than two months from the date of application submission.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about the HWPP Capacity Building component, please contact Tracy Wilson at trwilson@mcw.edu or (414) 955-4364.