We’re funding U.S. programs that address commercial sexual exploitation. Learn More and Apply!

FAQ

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    What are The Life Story Grants?

    The Life Story Grants are a new funding opportunity through the NoVo Foundation: a $10 million, 3-year commitment for programs in the U.S that open exit ramps and close on-ramps to commercial sexual exploitation (CSE). The grants will fund solutions across six system-focused “moments”: housing, medical needs, law enforcement, trauma and mental health, immigration and systems impacting youth. This system-focused work will address those in sexual exploitation today and those at-risk, answering short-term needs while building long-term wellbeing.

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    Why these moments?

    Guided by a decade of deep listening and partnership with survivors, we’ve learned that girls and women in the sex trade experience a pattern of moments when social systems fail to support them. In early 2018, we launched The Life Story: Moments of Change to illuminate these often unseen realities, lifting up the voices, experiences and insights of survivors. In this funding opportunity, we have prioritized six moments when we believe system-based solutions can create lasting change.

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    What do you mean by exit ramps and on-ramps?

    NoVo has found the majority of girls and women enter the sex trade by on-ramps such as poverty, violence, discrimination, and moments when systems fail them, like school expulsion or lack of housing. Girls and women who want to leave the sex trade need support, or exit ramps, in order to leave. This might mean access to stable housing and a living wage, support for treating substance use issues, or the opportunity to clear criminal records accrued as a result of their exploitation. Closing on-ramps also means providing the preventative support necessary for girls and women who are at risk of experiencing the harsh realities of the sex trade.

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    Who should apply?

    Any organization, Tribal government, or Tribally-chartered institution that is currently or is seeking to address CSE within one or more of these six moments is encouraged to apply. The Request for Letters of Inquiry includes descriptions of the work we will support.

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    How do I apply?

    NoVo is inviting Letters of Inquiry (LOI) through this online submission form. At this time, we are only accepting LOIs in English. If you are facing accessibility challenges or need us to make alternate accommodations to submit your LOI, please contact us at thelifestorygrants@novofoundation.org. Letters of Inquiry will be accepted beginning Wednesday, February 20, 2019 until 3pm Eastern time on Friday, April 19, 2019. LOIs will not be accepted by mail or email.

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    What is the process and timeline for applying after the Letter of Inquiry (LOI) stage?

    After the open call ends in mid-April, we will review the letters we’ve received. In mid-June, we will begin to reach out to set up conversations with potential awardees. We may adjust this timing if the volume of letters requires more review time. All other applicants will be notified within the same timeframe. We are planning to announce the grants in September 2019.

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    Will there be another opportunity to submit a Letter of Inquiry after this submission period?

    At this time we do not expect there to be another open call for Letters of Inquiry.

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    Does the applicant have to be a nonprofit organization?

    Yes. Registered nonprofit organizations (or any initiatives/groups/collaborations with a 501c3 fiscal sponsor), or tax-exempt Tribal governments or Tribally-chartered institutions, are welcome to submit a Letter of Inquiry. Collaborations will need to have a lead applicant. At this time, we are unable to directly support individuals or other formations outside of nonprofit organizations or tax-exempt Tribal entities.

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    Can current NoVo grantees apply?

    Yes. Current NoVo grantees are eligible to apply, but are encouraged to consider how this project support will enable them to engage with particular systems or moments in new or particular ways that they are not able to do within their existing funding structures.

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    Can my organization submit more than one LOI?

    Organizations may submit more than one LOI, but are encouraged to be judicious and strategic when doing so, clearly demonstrating how one funding request cannot achieve the envisioned outcomes.

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    Is there a geographic or community focus?

    While NoVo does support organizations that work to end commercial sexual exploitation globally, this funding is limited to US-based organizations within contexts where social systems have have failed to support communities affected by historical discrimination. The funding will deliver resources to those who are sitting at the intersection of systemic failures: girls and women who are Indigenous, immigrant, trans, as well as girls and women of color. This includes adult women and mothers of all ages in the sex trade who don’t currently receive the support they need, and girls and women on or near Tribal lands and in rural communities.

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    Why does the focus of your work not include boys and men?

    Sexual exploitation impacts boys and men as well. Their needs are no less real. We also know that the sex trade is comprised overwhelmingly of men as buyers, and cis and trans women and girls as those who are being exploited. Given the central role that combating violence against girls and women plays in NoVo’s mission, we focus on the experiences and needs of girls and women (both cis and trans) and the specific systems with which they intersect. We also believe that the approaches we are seeking will reduce violence against all impacted people, including vulnerable boys and men.

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    What are some examples of the type of projects NoVo is seeking to fund?

    Funding will be allocated primarily as project support to maintain focus on closing on-ramps and building exit ramps within these systems-based moments. For example:

    • Housing: a project within an housing agency to offer transitional housing support for women exiting the life;
    • Medical Needs: protocols for screening and supporting victims of sexual exploitation, as we have for victims of domestic violence;
    • Law Enforcement: strategies that support women in clearing criminal convictions related to their exploitation;
    • Systems Affecting Youth: multi-agency collaborations between foster care and schools to support the educational needs of survivors in foster care;
    • Immigration: legal support to increase the number of women able to access legal protections for survivors;
    • Trauma and Mental Health: specialized mental health or addiction services for survivors of sexual exploitation.

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    Do all proposed projects have to be new, or can the The Life Story Grants support my organization’s core work?

    The funding can support an organization’s core work as long as it addresses one or more moments of change and opportunity to shift the life trajectories of girls and women in the sex trade. We will also fund a new idea from existing organization and new collaborations among partners who have a strategy to address a particular moment/moments.

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    My organization does work to address commercial sexual exploitation outside the six moments you are focusing on. Can we apply?

    Many opportunities for change exist outside of the focus of this funding, and we know that all of these efforts are essential to building lasting solutions. We’ve chosen these six as our focus because these contexts are currently overlooked in efforts to support those impacted by commercial sexual exploitation, or because of the pivotal role they play in closing on-ramps into sexual exploitation and opening exit ramps. Therefore, The Life Story Grants will only fund programs that address CSE within these particular systems-based moments.

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    What will be the project timespan?

    Projects may be on a one- or two-year timespan, but most grants will support reaching project goals over the next three years.

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    Can the project include a planning phase?

    Yes, particularly if new emerging collaborations/alliances are key to the project objectives. Organizations must demonstrate a strong likelihood of partnership for any new alliances and collaborations.

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    What can I include in my funding request?

    We anticipate that most funding for The Life Story Grants will be allocated as project support, in order to maintain focus on closing on-ramps and building exit ramps within particular systems. We will consider general support on a limited basis only.

    For a single organization, funding requests should not exceed 33% of the organization’s total budget. For collaborations between multiple organizations, funding requests should not exceed 33% of the total combined budgets of all organizations in the collaboration.

    Indirect costs can be included in funding requests. Please note that the expected maximum grant size will be $600,000 per year. This highest level of funding will be directed towards projects that seek to comprehensively address systems, or significant collaborations between multiple systems or partners.

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    What other budget information will I need to provide?

    All applicants will be asked to submit the size of their organizational budget alongside the project budget. If your organization is fiscally sponsored, you will also be asked to indicate the size of their organizational budget.

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    Can I submit a funding request for the full project amount?

    We will consider funding requests for the full project budget, but encourage applicants to consider and identify additional sources of funding where possible.

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    How many awardees do you expect?

    The final number depends on the selected projects’ scopes and budgets. We’ve set a minimum project budget of $100,000 per year, and projects can range from 1-3 years. Maximum grant size is $600,000 per year, and this level of funding will be directed towards projects that seek to comprehensively address systems, or significant collaborations between multiple systems and organizations. Our early estimate is that 10-15 projects will receive funding.

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    How will you decide—and who makes the decision?

    Letters will be reviewed by NoVo Foundation staff, who will decide which organizations will be invited to submit a full proposal. Full proposals will be shared with a group of survivor leaders, advocates and practitioners for additional input and direction. Final grants are approved by our grants committee. Grantmaking priorities are included in the Request for Letters of Inquiry.

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    If funded, will my project be eligible for renewed funding after three years?

    Given The Life Story Grants will be primarily be issued as project support, the commitment will be to support programs for up to three years. We have not yet determined what renewal opportunities will exist at the end of the grant term, and hope that all funded projects will include a plan to ensure continued sustainability beyond this funding opportunity.

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    How can I learn more?

    For more information, please refer to the full Request for Letters of Inquiry. You may also join us for informational webinars in March to explain the process and answer any questions you might have. Participation in the webinars is not mandatory and has no impact on project evaluation. Should you have any questions, please participate in one of the upcoming webinars on either:

    • Tuesday, March 19th: 1:00-1:45am EDT / 10:00-10:45am PDT
    • Tuesday, March 26th: 2:00-2:45pm EDT / 11:00-11:45am PDT

    Register here to join the webinar(s). You may also contact us at thelifestorygrants@novofoundation.org.

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    What if I have a technical issue with the online submission form?

    Please refer to the The Life Story Grants Application Guide for technical assistance or email info@novofoundation.org for any problems with the submission website. For any questions regarding the content of your Letter of Inquiry, please email thelifestorygrants@novofoundation.org.