Building Capacity for Health Advocacy Proposal Guidelines


Outside of open calls for letters of inquiry, the first step in engaging with the Building Capacity for Health Advocacy grant program is to send a one-page summary of your interest and questions to [email protected]. If you are then invited to submit a proposal, please follow the guidelines on this page. We do not accept unsolicited proposals.

The Rx Foundation’s Building Capacity for Health Advocacy grant program aims to boost:

(1) The capacity and infrastructure of local, state, and national non-profit organizations in the US to champion issues that promote social justice through better health and better health care, and

(2) Enduring networks that can sustain advocacy, organizing, and civic engagement on issues that impact health and health care in their communities.

The Rx Foundation seeks to build partnerships with applicants that function as hubs or anchor organizations for building advocacy, organizing, and civic engagement capacity and infrastructure among networks and coalitions of non-profit organizations. A hub or anchor organization must have a clear vision for impacting health and health care, a pragmatic plan for strengthening technical skills and infrastructure, and a track record of effective collaboration with non-profit partners. 

If you have not already done so, we encourage applicants to complete the free Advocacy Capacity Tool (ACT!) developed by the Bolder Advocacy program at Alliance for Justice. This tool is designed to help organizations and coalitions gain a clearer understanding of their current assets and opportunities for strategic growth. Please note that your ACT! tool responses are confidential and the Rx Foundation does not have access to your answers. If you have any questions about the ACT!, please contact [email protected].

The Big Picture

Before tackling the list of questions, we want to share with you some of the things we at the Rx Foundation are thinking about with regard to the Building Capacity for Health Advocacy program, especially in terms of language and definitions. If the following does not resonate with how you describe your own work, that does not put your proposal at a disadvantage, but it does invite you to be really clear in the proposal about your own language and definitions, so that we come to a shared understanding of the landscape you are working in and your goals and intentions for the next three years.

Since launching this program in 2019, the Rx Foundation has been on a learning journey, each year gaining new understanding and new ways of thinking about advocacy, organizing, civic engagement, and what it means to build capacity for long-term change. We have learned from and alongside our grant recipient partners, and have engaged with practitioners, researchers, and foundations who share our belief that power is a social determinant of health.

In addition to learning from the on-the-ground work of our grant partners, we have followed research and analyses emerging from the USC Dornsife Equity Research Institute, the P3 Lab at Johns Hopkins University, and the Lead Local Collaborative. Combined, this learning brought into focus that building power is at the heart of building the capacity, infrastructure, and “connective tissue” to champion issues that promote social justice through better health and better health care over the long term. While “power” can be defined in many ways, we often refer back to the definition of community power used by the Lead Local Collaborative:   

Community power is the ability of communities most impacted by structural inequity to develop, sustain and grow an organized base of people who act together through democratic structures to set agendas, shift public discourse, influence who makes decisions and cultivate ongoing relationships of mutual accountability with decision-makers that change systems and advance health equity.

We also understand that power is relational, dynamic, and context-specific. We appreciate Hahrie Han’s Reflections on Measuring Community Power, which reminds us that:

Unlike other strategies for change, community power-building is focused not on winning one policy or campaign, but instead, on developing, winning, and then governing a broader agenda for health equity. As such, it has the potential to get at the root causes of inequity, and create vehicles through which long-term, large-scale change can be developed, won, and sustained.

A second important point that has come into focus is the importance of building the ecosystem or the field for advocacy, organizing, and civic engagement. Building Capacity for Health Advocacy is not a one-size-fits-all program, and our grant partners utilize with a variety of strategies and goals. One helpful visualization is the Equity Research Institute’s Power-Building Ecosystem Framework, which uses a “power flower” to show the connections between advocacy and policy, organizing and base-building, alliances and coalitions, and other elements of a robust ecosystem for challenging the systems and structures that produce inequities.

And one last point that has come into focus for us is that there is a great deal of variation in how people use terms like power, organizing, and advocacy. As one example, we find that applicants and grant partners use the term “organizing” to mean different things. Our current understanding of organizing aligns with the Equity Research Institute’s definition of organizing as Involving people in efforts to change their circumstances by altering the underlying structures, decision-making processes, policies, and priorities that produce inequities.Similarly, the Leading Change Network explains that Organizing is leadership that enables people to turn the resources they have into the power they need to make the change they wantThis brief video from the P3 Lab offers a helpful explanation of the differences between mobilizing and organizing, which are both important but distinct strategies for social change. If you include organizing in your proposed work, we encourage you to be specific about what you mean – does your planned work include community organizing, relational organizing, or do you use this term to mean something else?

IMPORTANT NOTE: It is OK if terms like building power, ecosystems, and organizing do not exactly align with how you think about and describe your priorities, plans, and goals. We share this reflection to give you some idea of the things we are learning and thinking about, and to encourage you to be clear and specific in your proposal about how you describe the context for your planned work, your partnerships and collaborations, and your goals not only for the duration of this grant but for the years and decades beyond.

Grant Size and Scope

Grants are awarded for one to three years and will be for either $75,000 or $150,000 annually. The applicant organization may budget up to 10% of the total grant as general operating support (e.g, “indirect”). We welcome applications that will share funding among coalition-building partner organizations or that allocate a portion of the funding as field grants to non-profit partners in the capacity-building work.


Your proposal is due by Tuesday, August 15th, 2023 at 8PM Eastern

The cover page to your proposal should include:

  • Organization Name
  • Executive Director
  • Project Director (if different)
  • Administrative Contact (if different)
  • Mailing Address
  • Phone | Email | Website
  • Geographic area covered by the primary applicant and non-profit partners
  • Total amount of funding requested (up to $150k per year)

Three big picture things to remember when writing your proposal: (1) We believe that sustained on-the-ground efforts to build power and citizen-engagement are more important than short-term policy results; (2) We also recognize that each state or community is different and starts with distinct assets, opportunities, gaps, and challenges; and (3) We know that you will need to be nimble in responding to changes on the ground and that your plans may shift over the course of the grant.

Your proposal should answer the following questions, within the estimated space limits provided after each question. A strong proposal will help us to understand the context in which you are working, and will be specific and detailed about your plans, goals, and how you will know if you are making progress.

  1. Executive Summary: In one paragraph, give us a top-level summary of your capacity-building priorities and what you hope to accomplish over the next one to three years. (We recommend coming back to write this section after you have developed the rest of the proposal.)

  2. Describe the key people, resources, experience, and strengths that allow you to serve as a hub or anchor organization for building health advocacy, organizing, or civic engagement in your community, state, or nationally. (1/2 to 1 page)

  3. Describe health advocacy, organizing, or civic engagement in your geographic target area, including the specific opportunities, challenges, and stakeholders involved. Prioritize the most critical goals for building power and building capacity and infrastructure to champion issues that promote social justice through better health and better health care. (1-2 pages)

  4. How will you build advocacy, organizing, or civic engagement capacity and infrastructure in your target geographic region? Be specific about: (2 pages)
    a: The non-profit groups and leaders you are partnering with, why they will be engaged, and how you will work together.
    b: The communities and constituents who will be engaged, empowered, and organized.
    c: The strategies and activities that you will use to work toward your goals.

  5. How will you know if you and your partners are succeeding in moving toward the goals you have set? Are there specific milestones you anticipate achieving over the next three years? (1/2 to 1 page)

  6. Include up to three letters of support from non-profit groups that are committed to partnering on this work. Each letter should be specific and detailed about the nature and goals of your partnership.

  7. Include a budget and narrative to help us understand how you will use these grant resources to support the activities and strategies you described above.
    a: Indirect costs for the applicant organization may be no more than 10% of the total budget. (Indirect costs represent the expenses of doing business that are not readily identified with a particular grant, contract, project function or activity, but are necessary for the general operation of the organization and the conduct of activities it performs.)
    b: A portion of the total award may be shared with coalition partners or used for field grants to non-profit partners in the capacity-building work.
    c: The budget should be submitted in a format that will easily allow you to report actual spending against budgeted expenses in the same format.
    d: In the narrative, explain what Rx Foundation funding would allow you to do that would otherwise not be possible.


  • The proposal should use a minimum 12-point font.
  • All proposal materials should be submitted in PDF format.
  • The proposal should be submitted by email to [email protected]

Additional Documents

Along with your proposal, please submit the following documents or information:

  • Board List (if not publicly available on your website)
  • IRS Determination Letter
  • IRS Federal Form 990 (most recent available)

Invited Applicants Only:
Your proposal is due by Tuesday, August 15th, 2023 at 8PM Eastern