Grant guidelines

FAQs and guidelines for grant applications

ELIGIBILITY

— The state law that created the Civic Information Consortium requires that groups receiving grants must work in partnership with a faculty member, graduate student or program at one of the Consortium’s member universities: Montclair State University, Rutgers University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University, The College of New Jersey, and Kean University. You do not need to have a partnership in order to apply for a grant. The Consortium can connect you with an interested faculty member, graduate student or program at a member university. However, preference will be given to applicants who have a partnership or an agreement on a partnership in place when applying.

— The Consortium cannot make grants to individuals. All applicants must be 501(c)3 organizations, or fiscally sponsored by a 501(c)3 organization. The Consortium will consider applications from partnerships between a for-profit and non-profit on projects that serve a public good. University partners have also served as fiscal sponsors in the past.

— Organizations that have already received a grant from the Consortium are eligible to apply.

The Consortium, the member universities and the State of New Jersey will not hold any financial or ownership stake in any project and cannot exercise any editorial control in any project.

PROCESS

— Applications will be screened by a panel consisting of Consortium board members. This panel may contact you for follow-up information.

— Final decisions will be made by the Consortium Board of Directors.

— All applicants will be notified of the board’s decisions.

OPEN PUBLIC RECORDS ACT (OPRA)

The Open Public Records Act (OPRA) is a New Jersey statute that governs the public’s access to government records in New Jersey. Because NJCIC receives funding from the State of New Jersey, applicants should be aware that all grant applications are subject to OPRA requests.

CONTACT THE CONSORTIUM

If you have technical difficulty with accessing or completing the application, please email info@njcivicinfo.org for assistance.

Please note that NJCIC is currently a volunteer organization with no formal staff. As such, we are not able to answer questions or meet with you about whether your idea or project falls within our guidelines.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who is eligible to apply for funding?

The Civic Information Consortium provides grants for initiatives to benefit the State’s civic life and meet the evolving information needs of New Jersey’s communities. All grantees must have evidence of a collaboration between at least one member of the faculty or graduate student of a consortium member university.

Funding can only be provided to nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) status. If your organization does not have 501(c)(3) status, then the partner university may be able to act as the fiscal agent.

Do I have to have a university partner to initially pitch a project?

You do not need a university partner to apply for a grant from the Consortium, but you will need one to receive a grant If you do not have a university partner we will work to connect you with an interested faculty member or graduate student at one of the six member universities. The universities make their own decisions on whether or not to work with an applicant.

What role does the university partner play?

The role of the university partner is up to you and your university partner to develop. The role can be one of an advisor or consulting resource that you can tap for advice and guidance. The role could be one of a more hands on manager or resource to provide strategic direction. The role can also simply be to provide administrative support, however our preference is for some form of advisory role.

If a member university acts as a fiscal sponsor, under the state law creating the Consortium, the university must provide a ten percent match towards the project. This can be additional funding or an in-kind contribution such as back office support, research, staffing, student support or more. This can also be in the form of time provided by a faculty member or graduate student. The type of support can be determined between the grantee and the university partner.

When will I hear back from you about the status of my application? 

The review process will start after the application deadline. We may reach out to you during the review process with any questions. 

Who should fill out the application? Do you need one application per project?

The application should be completed by the project manager or leader, ideally a member of the project team who is the best point of contact. Applications should be limited to one per project.

What is the grant period? 

The grant period is for up to one year of application approval, and projects should be completed during this time period. Grantees are expected to be in communication with the Consortium to provide updates on their activities and anticipated timeline. The Consortium will work with grantees to develop a timeline for updates during the grant period. 

Will I have to file a report after the grant period ends?

Yes, you will need to submit a report to the Consortium after the grant period ends. The Consortium will work with grantees to determine appropriate documentation for your project. 

How will I reference the source of this money in any publication?

To name how your grant is funded, you can say something along the lines of: “This project is funded by a grant from the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, an independent nonprofit organization that received public funding to support quality local journalism, promising media startups and other efforts meant to better inform people.”

How detailed of a budget do you need?

We’d like to know how you plan on spending the grant, but we understand there may be unexpected costs. So, please show what you anticipate the money will be spent on, which could include how the funds will be used for staffing, payment of freelancers or community members, events, and any overhead costs.

What can I use the money for?

The money can be used for project costs such as back office support, research, staffing, student support, etc. We don’t need to know the exact details, but we do need an estimated budget and how the money is shared among project partners.

What if we need more than the maximum amount allowed to do our project?

Unfortunately, at this time we can’t provide additional funding to projects beyond their grant. We know these initial grants may not cover everything you intend to do, so we encourage you to be intentional about how you are budgeting for this project. We’ll have future opportunities to apply for grants, and we’d encourage those who received initial funding to continue to apply for more funding at that time.

What if we don’t spend all the money?

Money awarded by the Civic Information Consortium should be used to support the project you apply for. If you haven’t spent all the funds awarded, we’ll work with you to extend the timeline of your project or find other ways that the funds can be used to achieve the outcomes of your project.

How should the money be split between entities? Does it have to be split in any certain ways?

Nope! That’ll have to be determined by the collaborators on the project. 

What paperwork will you need from me to disburse the grant?

Proof of IRS nonprofit status or that you intend to use a 501(c)(3) nonprofit partner or the collaborating university as the fiscal agent.

What if our project runs into problems after it starts and we need to change its focus?

Things change, and we will work with grantees in case any major shifts in focus occur. We are investing in your project and project partners, so we’re confident that you’ll be able to do amazing work, even if it looks a little different from what you originally pitched.

Does state money mean state control?

No. While we receive public funding, we are an independent nonprofit overseen by a board of directors. The state law creating the Consortium specifically states that the State of New Jersey, the Consortium and the member universities do not have editorial control or any ownership stake in any project funded. 

Can an organization submit multiple distinct projects for consideration?

Yes. You can submit an application for any project that you believe would meet the criteria to receive a grant.

What if you haven’t answered my question in these FAQs?

Let us know! We know we haven’t anticipated everything. Email info@njcivicinfo.org. You can also sign up for updates by clicking here.

The New Jersey Civic Information Consortium is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that funds initiatives to benefit the State’s civic life and meet the evolving information needs of New Jersey’s communities. Questions? Contact the Consortium via email at info@njcivicinfo.org.