4 questions about
Programs of scale grants
with K.R. “Ravi” Ravindran
Chair-elect, Trustees of The Rotary Foundation
1. What are the key elements of programs of scale grants?
This is a new type of grant intended to provide measurable and sustainable solutions to issues affecting many people in a large geographic area. Every year, The Rotary Foundation will award a $2 million grant to one project that aligns with one or more of Rotary’s areas of focus. The grant will support project activities for three to five years.
These grants do not require an international Rotary partner. However, applicants are expected to work with partners outside Rotary, such as nongovernmental organizations, government entities, and private-sector institutions. These partners may assist Rotarians at any stage of program development, and we encourage them to contribute funding. While Rotary is required to have a leadership role, our partners must have “skin in the game.”
Finally, proposals for this grant type must demonstrate that similar projects have been successfully implemented. In turn, it should be possible to replicate the grant-supported project in other communities with similar needs.
2. Why did Rotary create this new grant type?
We wanted to complement the existing grant types with one that would benefit a much larger community. Programs of scale grants challenge Rotarians to think big and to work with other organizations to find comprehensive solutions to large-scale issues. As we’ve learned from the PolioPlus program, if you want to make a significant impact, you need to have partners who are willing to jump in with you.
For example, in Sri Lanka, we have been working on a project to eliminate cervical cancer. My club, the Rotary Club of Colombo, had set up a cancer detection center. We then partnered with the Rotary Club of Birmingham, Alabama, on a global grant that funded HPV (human papillomavirus) testing machines. In addition, we brought in the University of Alabama at Birmingham to train staff, a leading telecom company to fund the construction of a new facility, and the Sri Lankan government to cover the cost of vaccines. In 2018, the project ensured that 83 percent of all 10-year-old girls in the country were vaccinated.
The power of Rotary is much greater when we partner with like-minded organizations. This project involves multiple partners at a national and international level that are working together to prevent disease on a massive scale. Programs of scale grants give Rotarians the opportunity to replicate achievements like this one.
3. How does the application process work?
Rotary clubs and districts are invited to submit a proposal for a fully developed program, including proof of concept, baseline data from a community assessment, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation plans. Proposals are due 1 March. Those with the strongest proposals will then be invited to submit an application by 30 June.
Proposals and applications will be reviewed by a committee that includes members of The Rotary Foundation Cadre of Technical Advisers and other subject-matter and grants experts. The Trustees will then consider the recommendations of the selection committee and will make the final award determination at their October meeting.
4. How will we measure the success of these grants?
The fundamental thing is that anything we do must benefit the community. Success will be measured in the ultimate impact of these grants on recipient communities. It will also be measured in Rotary’s ability to position itself as a leader in implementing solutions to long-standing development issues, especially in partnership with other organizations that represent the values and aspirations of Rotarians.
— JOHN M. CUNNINGHAM
• Interested in applying for a programs of scale grant? Go to my.rotary.org/programs-scale-grants.
• Illustration by Viktor Miller Gausa
• This story originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of The Rotarian magazine.