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How to Apply

McKnight’s Strategic Framework

The McKnight Foundation’s Strategic Framework informs the work of all our program areas, including the Global Collaboration for Resilient Food Systems. It guides how we do our grantmaking, our perspective and role, and our relationships. The Strategic Framework, which is adapted regularly, describes the Foundation’s mission, values, commitments, and ways of working.

Selection Criteria: Questions We Ask

For the Global Collaboration for Resilient Food Systems, grants are selected based on criteria that include alignment with program and regional priorities and strategies, quality, innovation, and awareness of local context. In reviewing proposals, we consider the following:

  • Are the project approach and focus aligned with our theory of change?
  • Does the project contribute to agroecological transformation?
  • Is the focus on improving key aspect(s) of smallholder agriculture within regional food systems and in ways that improve the food security, income, nutrition, and equity outcomes of smallholder farmer households?
  • Does the project demonstrate a systems perspective, including consideration of factors such as crop improvement and seed access; pest/disease management; soil and water management; strengthening of farmer organizations; enhancing market access; Intended systems changes may include sustainable production, consumption and/or rural social infrastructure and markets. Entry points may include crop improvement and seed access; pest/disease management; soil health; strengthening of farmer organizations; enhancing market access; and/or nutrition research and education?
  • Is the project designed appropriately for addressing the problems identified in food and agriculture systems?
  • Does the project design show a likelihood of positive impact for smallholder farming families?
  • Is there authentic collaboration and partnership that involve research, development, community- based organizations, farmers, and the private sector as appropriate and necessary, and also innovative approaches as relevant?
  • Does the project demonstrate cultural and gender sensitivity?
  • What is the project’s ability to contribute improved “public goods” knowledge and practice beyond its specific sites, contexts, and objectives?

Submission Process

If invited to apply, you will be contacted by both McKnight staff and regional consultants to discuss your ideas and guide you through the following application process, which takes approximately three months from application submission to final funding decision:

  1. Submit a full proposal upon invitation. Instructions, deadlines, and a weblink to McKnight’s online application portal will be emailed to you.
  2. If invited, submit a full proposal online. The proposed work will include both an inception or planning phase that typically lasts six months to a year followed by an implementation phase that typically lasts two to three years.
    • During the inception phase, the project will consolidate and engage all proposed partners; develop a full research work plan, project theory of change, monitoring and evaluation questions, and research questions and protocols, in addition to conducting any initial research or data gathering.
    • Implementation phase funding will be contingent upon a successful inception phase.

Important: If a regional proposal is approved for funding, the project also becomes a member of a regional Community of Practice (CoP) as described in the Expectations for CoP Involvement.

Please note:

The Global Collaboration for Resilient Food Systems has a closed application process with occasional targeted calls. Requests for funding are accepted only from organizations that have been invited to apply or in response to a targeted call.