State Releases Request for Grant Applications for Healthier Buckeye Grant Pilot Program

The state Healthier Buckeye Advisory Council was created in the 2014 Mid-Biennium Review and was tasked with helping to establish local Healthier Buckeye Councils at the county level. The aim of local Healthier Buckeye Councils is to encourage collaboration at the community level between businesses, social services, health care providers, service recipients, schools, Medicaid managed-care organizations, faith-based organizations, and other stakeholders to yield streamlined processes and infrastructure that can assist low-income families in moving up and out of poverty. Local councils will coordinate public assistance programs and any additional services that people need. County commissioners (or multiple counties’ commissioners for multi-county councils) must designate an existing entity or create an entity to serve as the Healthier Buckeye Council.

Last year’s state budget included funding for the Healthier Buckeye Grant Program (HBGP) at $11.5 million over the biennium. The HBGP funding is distributed through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) and will be awarded to local Healthier Buckeye Councils.  On March 3, ODJFS released the request for grant applications (RFGA) for the Healthier Buckeye Grant Pilot Program. The maximum grant amount per program a local Healthier Buckeye Council may apply for and be awarded is $750,000 (the maximum grant award for project applications submitted by two or more local councils in collaboration is $1,500,000). Ultimately, the amounts of the award depend on the total amount of state funding available and the number of applicants who are awarded grants.

Key Dates

March 3, 2016 RFGA released by ODJFS, applicant Q&A period begins: submit inquiry
April 25, 2016 Q&A period closes
May 3, 2016 Complete application due to ODJFS by 3pm
May 17, 2016 (estimated) ODJFS will issue notification letters to successful applicants
Start Date 2016 Implementation of project upon approval for spending
Completion Date: June 30, 2017 All funds must be obligated by this date (end of state fiscal year 2017)

As of early April, 14 counties had a designated local council which must be in place in order to apply for any grants. Most counties designated their existing Family and Children First Council (FCFC) as their Healthier Buckeye Council, but the intention is for counties to choose an entity that best fits their community. Each local council can submit up to three proposals in conjunction with local partners that identify “a need or needs in its community and outlining proposed solutions through the promotion of self-sufficiency.”  The RFGA says that grant recipients will be those applicants “that propose creating sustainable, replicable, and innovative programs that positively impact the lives of Ohio’s low-income individuals and families.” Despite the focus on sustainability of the program, the grants to local councils are one-time money, so applicants should be aware that identifying how to continue the program beyond the grant-funded period is important.

Successful project applicants will be able to do the following:

1. “Alignment and coordination of public and private services that assist low-income individuals and families achieve self-sufficiency;
2. Maintenance of continuous mentoring support and coordination of community-level participation for low-income individuals and families;
3. Use of matching local funds;
4. Use of volunteer and peer supports;
5. Managing or providing similar services with public or private funds;
6. Effectively evaluate program outcomes, including success at assisting individuals and families in achieving and maintaining financial self-sufficiency, and to report relevant participation data;
7. Evidence of the ability to sustain the program long-term and offer continued assistance to individuals;
8. Achieve positive and improved livelihood for low-income individuals and families through detailed and measurable strategic and outreach plans; and
9. Collaboration between entities that participate in assessment and planning processes.”

Each application must identify a lead collaborator. The lead collaborator organization must be able to show successful experience with programs that help individuals achieve self-sufficiency. The RFGA includes more details about the “experience and capabilities” of entities involved in the proposed project. Additional required components of the application include: a scope of work, a proposed work plan, description of proposed program, and program outcomes and measures. The final application is due to ODJFS by May 3, 2016.