By Nicki Connell, ECF Technical Director nicki@eleanorcrookfoundation.org

The Eleanor Crook Foundation (ECF) recently announced the 2018 Request for Applications (RFA) for its RISE (Research, Innovate, Scale and Establish) for Nutrition portfolio. The 2018 RISE grants will consist of up to seven grants of $1.35 million each. The RFA is for implementation research projects designed to test scalable innovations and delivery mechanisms with the potential to increase the effectiveness of nutrition interventions in East Africa.

In previous RFAs in 2016 and 2017, ECF recognized a lack of capacity and expertise in scaling and sustain- ability concepts in proposed research projects. Most of the large NGOs and universities that ECF funds are not often asked to consider scale and sustainability when developing projects. As a result, ECF developed guidance on Sustainability and Scaling which is publicly available on ECF’s website and was therefore avail- able to all applicants submitting a Concept Note to the 2018 RFA process. In addition, ECF built a Face-to-Face Workshop into the current RFA process for successful Semi-Finalists during the Proposal Development phase. The objectives of the Face-to-Face Workshop were:

  • To strengthen scalability, sustainability and costing elements of the final proposals submitted to ECF by sharing best practice and developing ideas on these specific proposal elements;
  • To foster collaborative relationships between Semi-Finalists and ECF and to better communicate ECF’s priorities and expectations.

This three-day Face-to-Face Workshop held in Washington DC in February 2019 was designed to help ECF’s RFA Semi-Finalists critically consider their pro- posed innovations and further improve their intended final proposal in ways that increase impact and scalability. To this end, the Workshop consisted of a series of sessions across a variety of topics, including Scaling, Sustainability and Costing, led by scaling expert Larry Cooley and costing expert Steve Vosti. The Semi- Finalists were given time to think through the theory presented on each of these topics, speak to the experts individually and apply what they learned to their own proposals.

The feedback received to date from the ECF 2018 RFA Semi-Finalists, as well as invited experts, has been extremely positive. Many said this was the first time they were incentivized to consider scaling, and that this Workshop prompted them to go back to the drawing board and comprehensively alter their original concepts. ECF views this Workshop as a much-needed opportunity to focus more critically on scaling and sustainability throughout the broader nutrition sector. ECF is excited to continue playing a role in the wider effort to have longer-lasting, effective nutrition programs on the ground through our grant-making cycles through Workshops like this. We look forward to continuing to focus on scale and sustainability as specific criterion as we make final decisions on this year’s round of nutrition grants.

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