The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has opened round 22 of the Innovation for WASH in Urban Settings Grant under the Grand Challenges Explorations Program. Until the 14th of November, you can apply for up to 100,000 USD within a project in the area of finding digital, innovative solutions to make it easier to access safe, clean water and sanitation services for the urban poor. In a second phase, this can be scaled up to 1,000,000 USD. Here are some tips if you want to apply for the grant with your NGO.
Who can apply?
The GCE is open to both foreign and domestic organizations, including non-profit organizations, for-profit companies, international organizations, government agencies, and academic institutions. The foundation accepts applications from all geographical regions, but the urban context in emerging or developing countries with a high burden of sanitation related problems will be preferred.
What does the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation want to fund?
GCE seeks digital technology-based solutions that promote access to essential resources and services (clean water, sanitation) and can make a difference in reducing morbidity and mortality to promote healthy, safe, and productive lives. The innovative solutions that will be proposed must be contextually grounded and designed in response to on-the-ground needs of women, children, and families living in challenging urban environments.
Some examples of what the foundation would like to see would be:
- Technologies that help improve or strengthen WASH quality, accessibility, delivery, distribution, and awareness and will support the most vulnerable children living in cities
- Tools/platforms that connect urban communities with the tools, services, and relationships they need to measure, alert, organize, and respond to specific urban concerns
- Tech-enabled tools that expand urban planning and policy processes (specifically those related to WASH concerns) to include vulnerable populations, especially youth
- Generative data collection + analysis methodologies to improve our sense of what specific WASH problems exist where and for whom
- Solutions may involve deepening understanding (moving towards proof of concept), and/or experimentation, and/or evaluating promising ongoing programs
- New solutions for influencing people to behave differently in relationship to their hygiene (preventative and treatment seeking)
- Solutions may target gaps in knowledge, gaps in delivery systems to meet the demand for care, or bottlenecks blocking those with knowledge and demand from seeking services (access, cost, stigma, taboos, distance, etc.)
The project should be executed within the timeframe of 18 months and should be scalable. If the applicants are chosen and can show that their project works well within the first phase, they are eligible for the second phase with additional funding.
How to apply?
To apply for this grant you have to submit your proposal through an online system. Your proposal should not be longer than two pages and basically cover two questions:
- What is your idea?
- How will you test it?
Information about the budget and a plan to scale it up should be included.
What to watch out for?
The foundation is very clear about the fact that they will not accept any applications that do not adhere 100% to their guidelines. Be careful to stick to every requirement, from the content of your proposal to the formatting. The proposals will go through a blind review process, so you have to make sure to not include any personal information in the body of the proposal.
Not all the reviewers might be experts in your field, so you should use simple language and no jargon in your proposal. Make sure that somebody who is reading about the topic for the first time can also understand what your proposal is about.
Precision is key in this application. You have to explain your idea and particularly the way you want to test it in as much detail as possible and be precise in what you want to do. Avoid vague statements and platitudes. Explain in detail how you want to analyze and evaluate your project and how it produces interpretable and unambiguous data.
Another key factor for the success of a proposal under this program is a clear way how you would move from phase 1 to phase 2. Make sure that you include a clear strategy for scalability and show it in your proposal.
For further information about the requirements and the application process please see this article or directly visit the foundation’s website. We also wrote an article with Tips on Proposals in the Water Sector – make sure to check it out before you write your own application.
Best of luck for your proposal!