Frequently asked questions

We will keep this list updated with questions posed during the 2016 grant cycle.

Q. KPCF Advisors have focused the Fund on three social determinants of health: early life, educational attainment and economic opportunity. Will you consider proposals that address other social determinants of health in addition to these focus areas?

A. Yes. However, a proposal that would affect multiple social determinants must convey how the proposed strategy will primarily impact one or more of the three focus areas. You may briefly reference if you expect to improve additional social determinants, but competitive proposals clearly demonstrate how they align with one or more of the focus areas.

Q. Will proposals that aim to improve more than one of the three focus areas have a competitive advantage over proposals that focus on only one priority?

A. No. We welcome proposals that aim to affect multiple focus areas, but they are no more competitive than a single focus proposal. Advisors will evaluate each proposal on the demonstrated need, opportunity and community readiness, the soundness of the proposed strategies, and the capacity of the organization to carry out the proposed work. We will ask each applicant to choose one primary focus area.

Q. One of the Fund’s guiding values is to address the systemic causes of health outcomes and disparities. Will you also consider proposals that provide direct health and social services to disadvantaged populations within these priority areas?

A. Not exclusively. We appreciate the value of direct services in improving health. However, the mission of the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund is focused on addressing the systemic conditions that contribute to health disparities. We have, however, funded projects that include a mix of systemic change strategies and direct services, particularly when the services help build community capacity and momentum to drive those systemic changes.

Q. How competitive is the process?

A. In 2015, we received 118 letters of inquiry. We invited 22 full proposals and were able to fund 12 of them – 5 Capacity-Building grants and 7 Implementation grants, totaling just over $1.6 million.

To ensure the greatest odds of success for your initiative, we encourage every potential applicant to consider KPCF as one potential partner within a broader funding strategy.

Q. How successful have capacity-building grantees been in pursuing implementation grants from KPCF?

A. We introduced the capacity-building track in 2008. From then to 2012, the Fund has awarded 51 capacity-building grants. Twenty-seven of those organizations have pursued implementation grants, and 16 of those 27 proposals were funded. (Updated numbers forthcoming.) However, we do not expect all capacity-building projects to continue as implementation projects.

Q. Our organization is a current grant partner through a Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit program or by another Northwest Health Foundation program. Are we eligible to apply to the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund?

A. Yes. KPCF places no restrictions on eligibility based on your current or previous status as a grant partner of either Kaiser Permanente or the Northwest Health Foundation.

Q. Are proposed projects or initiatives required to have a strong base of evidence in order for the proposal to be competitive?

A. Not necessarily. We believe that one important role the philanthropic sector plays is to take risks and allow community partners to expand the evidence base for effective strategies to improve population health and equity. 

A guiding value of KPCF is strategically and appropriately applying the evidence base. While KPCF advisors may look to evidence-based practices to understand how a proposal would improve community health, KPCF also provides partners with the flexibility to apply emerging and promising practices to reach their goals.

Promising and emerging practices are also important contributions to expanding the evidence base. In such cases, we would like to understand your working hypothesis for how your initiative/proposal would improve community health, your plans to evaluate its efficacy and its potential applications for broader implementation if it is proven effective.

Q. Where can I learn more about strategies, research and resources about social determinants of health and health equity?

A. We've collected just some of the research and resources that align with the KPCF focus areas as well as strategies to improve the social determinants of health and health equity. View the resources here.

Q. Given the limited word count, what is most important to highlight about evaluation?

A. There is a question in the proposal narrative for capacity building applications that asks about assessing the success of the project. Because capacity building work can be less concrete than implementation or program work, we ask this question as a way of asking our applicants: how will they evaluate and/or determine success?

Q. Could you provide practical examples of what you mean by an upstream approach to prevention?

A. We have provided an example within each of our three priority areas below:


NW Down Syndrome Association {Empowering Families and Building Equity: Improving Access and Readiness for Young Children with Disabilities} To strengthen the NW Down Syndrome Association's continuum of early childhood programs, partnerships and family supports in order to positively impact and engage more families and children with disabilities.


Muslim Educational Trust {American Muslim Community Positive Integration Project: Engagement, Collaboration and Connectivity} To support the Muslim Educational Trust's efforts to develop leadership skills for Muslim youth, parents and grandparents; increase cultural responsiveness of public schools in understanding Muslim student populations; and support connectivity of Muslim serving organizations in the community.


The Rosewood Initiative {Aligning Economic Opportunity Resources to Rosewood Community} To improve economic opportunity within the Rosewood community by incubating new businesses, aligning with culturally specific organizations to support family wage job acquisition and partnering with training institutions to provide on-site technical training.

Q. Given the high priority that the Fund places on equity, what is the working definition of health equity that the Fund’s Advisors are using to guide their work?

A. We join with The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in defining health equity as being achieved when everyone has the opportunity to attain their full health potential and no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of their social position or other socially determined circumstance. Please see KPCF resources for links to more information.

Q. Are colleges and universities eligible to apply for funds from the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund?

A. Not on their own, but in a partnership led by a community-based organization.

Academic institutions can contribute a wealth of expertise and resources to the development, implementation and evaluation of projects designed to address the social determinants of health and equity. Indeed, a number of the proposals we have funded include an academic institution as a partner.

Historically, however, the balance of power between academic institutions and the communities in which they work has been skewed toward the interests of the academic partners.

In recent years, a number of private funders and public health professionals have sought to correct this imbalance by supporting programs in which the needs, assets and methodologies are defined by the community. Such an approach is more likely to yield results that are culturally relevant to the community and whose benefits can be sustained.

In order to help ensure that the community is an equal partner in proposed projects, the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund will welcome proposals from community-university partnerships provided that the proposal is submitted by a community-based organization, rather than the academic institution.

Q. Can I see a list of KPCF partners?

A. Absolutely! You can view them here.

Q. After the grant is funded and we’ve begun to implement, are we able to change components to the evaluation we laid out in the proposal?

A. Yes. We understand the ever changing nature of our work and all that we ask is that if funded, you communicate with NWHF prior to and during interim reports so that changes to reporting are not a surprise to us.

Q. When reviewing the proposals, will there be consideration given to the size/resources of an organization?

Yes. We understand that community-based organizations and non-profit partners come in all shapes and sizes. Each proposal will be read and reviewed relative to the size of the organization applying.