Frequently Asked Questions


Are these funding opportunities related to the Determination of Need (DoN) funds that support the CHNAs?
These funding opportunities are separate from local Determination of Need (DoN) Funds. In January 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) completed a landmark revision of the Determination of Need regulation. The revised regulation authorized the creation of the Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds. The statewide funds prioritize communities that have not historically and routinely benefitted from DoN funds.  

For more information on local Determination of Need funds, see here.

What types of hospital infrastructure projects would trigger the dissemination of DoN funding?  
Most health care projects that require Determination of Need review also require a community health initiative commitment. For more information on the types of projects that require Determination of Need review, see 

How do we know if our community historically benefited from the DoN dollars?

Before the Funds was established, the Community Health Initiative funding went primarily to the communities that hospitals were located in. This resulted in concentrated funding, primarily in Boston. You can visit this website to find out more about DoN contributions.

Funds’ Purpose

What is the purpose of this grant program? 

The Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds (the Funds) are both a grantmaking and capacity-building resource. The purpose is to assist organizations and communities in addressing the root causes of health inequities. The Funds focus on addressing health and racial inequities through community-centered policy, systems, and environmental change approaches. The Funds are guided by the following principles: 

  • The Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) account for significant variation in health outcomes. 
  • Policies, systems, and social/physical environments are historically based in structural and institutional racism and other forms of oppression. 
  • Structural and institutional racism and other forms of oppression need to be understood and disrupted to eliminate inequities in population health outcomes and the social determinants of health (SDoH).

How do you define high rates of health inequities? How do we demonstrate high rates of health inequities in communities with insufficient data due to low population or other factors? Is there a list of communities ranked according to health disparities or other criteria? 
You do not need to be located in a specific community to apply. In your application, highlight how your approach would seek to help populations (demographic or geographic) that are experiencing inequities. We welcome a range of information or data to help define/quantify health inequities in the communities/areas/populations you are working with.

While we do not have any prescriptive sources to determine communities with high rates of health inequities, these resources may be helpful.

How is “community” defined? Is it possible to define a population in ways other than geography? 
Community can be defined broadly, both geographically or population-based, among people with shared identity, affinity, or affiliation. 

How is “equity” defined?  
There are many ways to define equity. We have used a definition from Human Impact Partners. They define health equity as everyone having a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. To achieve this, we must remove obstacles to health — such as poverty, discrimination, and deep power imbalances. We must also address the consequences, including lack of access to good jobs, quality education, housing, safety, and health care.  


Who can apply for this funding? 
Massachusetts-based non-profit 501(c)3 organizations or groups with a 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor quasi-governmental organizations, and municipalities are eligible to apply. 

** Hospitals, for-profit businesses, and colleges/universities are not eligible to apply as lead applicants but – in places where they play key roles as anchor institutions – can participate as partners with community-based organization as the lead applicant. Hospitals that have contributed DoN funds are not eligible to receive any funding. 

Community Health FundHealthy Aging Fund
For this round of funding, priority will be given to activities that benefit communities outside of Boston that:
  • Have not historically and routinely benefited from previous local Determination of Need (DoN) community health funding; and
  • Have high rates of health inequities.
For this round of funding, preference will be given to activities that benefit communities that:

Do we need to fit all of the above criteria in order to apply? 
No, you do not need to meet all of the criteria listed above to be eligible to apply. All Massachusetts based nonprofit organizations or fiscally sponsored programs, quasi-governmental organizations, and municipalities are eligible to apply. All applications submitted by the deadline and deemed complete will be considered.  

We are not a certified 501(c)3 organization. Can we apply through a fiscal agent that is? 
Yes, you can apply with a non-profit organization that serves as your fiscal agent (meaning it would receive and manage the grant funding). If you are applying as the lead organization, it is expected that your organization would be performing the majority of the work. And, that most of the funding would be used to support your proposed activities.  

Proposed budgets should include no more than 20% for indirect or “overhead” costs for your organization or your fiscal agent. Indirect costs do NOT include fringe benefits or payroll taxes, which should be budgeted as part of your proposed personnel costs. 

Can one organization apply for funding? Does the application need to come from a collaboration of several organizations?  
Yes, single organizations can apply for funding. But, collaboration is encouraged. 

If we have received local DoN money or will receive money from local DoN, are we eligible to apply?

Yes, you are still eligible to apply. Even if your primary service is focused in the city of Boston, you are still eligible to apply. The city of Boston is not our funding priority geography. We recommend that those who primarily serve in the city of Boston consider expanding their scope to include areas outside of Boston.  

Are current awardees eligible to apply? Are we eligible to apply if our partner is a current grantee? When will another funding cycle happen? 
Current MA CHHAF awardees are not eligible for this funding cycle. However, organizations that currently serve as fiscal sponsors or subcontractors of grantees are eligible to apply as a lead organization for this funding cycle. **Current awardees who are regional planning agencies (members of Massachusetts Association of Regional Planning Agencies) or statewide organizations and who are in their final 2 years of their current grant can apply for an approach that reaches a different geography or population.    

Future funding opportunities will depend on the availability of funds. We anticipate future funding cycles being offered regularly over the coming years. 

Funding depends on the contributions of hospitals and long-term care facilities as part of their Determination of Need activities. So, the total amount of funding available will be different for each funding cycle. Find more information about the Massachusetts DoN program here. To learn more about current awardees, visit  

Are organizations who have previously received funding from HRiA through another grant program eligible to apply?
Yes, if you were funded by another grant program at HRiA, you are eligible for this funding opportunity. While HRiA is the fiscal agent responsible for implementation of the Funds, they are overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

If your community is predominantly white, is that a disadvantage for the racial equity focus of these funds?
No, this will not be considered a disadvantage. The Massachusetts Community Health & Healthy Aging Funds use an approach known as “leading with race and racism.” This approach recognizes that people of color in Massachusetts have historically and consistently had less opportunity to lead a healthy life. The Funds also recognize that the root causes of health can create barriers to health for all types of populations, including those that are predominantly white. As a result, the Funds want communities to lead with race and racism, explicitly but not exclusively. We will prioritize approaches that impact communities – whether geographic or population-based – that experience high rates of health inequities. We encourage applicants to explain how their approach will work to disrupt the root causes of health inequities through policy, systems, and environmental change approaches.   

What kinds of activities can we propose? Can funds support general operating costs?
Organizations should propose activities that fit the purpose described above and meet the unique needs of their communities. Proposed activities should complement and enhance existing efforts in the community. A range of unique and creative ideas are welcome and will be considered. Organizations can propose ideas that build upon existing efforts or establish new ones.  

Applications should include a description of how your approach/activities address the root causes of health inequities through policy, systems, and environmental change approaches.  

For examples of funded projects, please see a list of our current awardees at   

Can activities address national policies that impact local/regional communities?
Proposals that have the potential to impact local and regional communities and that meet the criteria listed in the Request for Proposals (RFP) will be considered.

Can activities include internal organizational culture change?
Yes, approaches that impact policies, systems, and environments are eligible, including internal policies and systems at organizations.  

Can funding support staffing for boards of health/local health departments? 
Funds can support staffing, however this funding opportunity is not intended solely to support funding for local boards of health or public health department activities. We encourage you to consider and explain how your approach is addressing the root causes of health inequities through policy, systems, and environmental change. 

What activities are not allowed?
We will not fund projects that are purely research or capital expenses.

Grant Period and Funding

What is the grant period? 
The award period will begin in July 2024 and end in June 2025, 2026, 2027, 2028, or 2029, depending on the number of years of your award. 

What is the total amount of funding available? Is there a set number of awards that are going to be made?
Funding depends on the contributions of hospitals and long-term care facilities as part of their Determination of Need activities. The total amount of funding available to the Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds will be different for each funding cycle. Find more information about the Massachusetts DoN program.  

Each cycle is distinct and funding for current grantees does not impact this funding cycle. DPH oversees all of the funds, and they determine the allocation of the resources for each of the individual funding streams. 

What is the source of this funding? 
Funding is made available from hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare entities that go through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Determination of Need Program. Click here for more information on the Determination of Need program). 

What is the expected amount of each grant award? 

  • PSE: $200,000 per year, 3-5 years
  • CHIP: $375,000 total for 3-5 years
  • Healthy Aging: Up to $100,000 per year, 3-5 years
  • Planning Funding: Up to $50,000 per year for 1-2 years 

For PSE, Healthy Aging, and Planning grants, requests cannot exceed the maximum in a given year. For example, the maximum you can apply for in 1 year for PSE is $200,000. For five years that would total $1M. You cannot apply for any amount more than $200,000 per year whether your request is for a 1-, 2-, 3-, 4- or 5-year period. The funding ranges apply to all applications whether you are covering one municipality/population, or several.

Applicants could be conditionally accepted as a grantee pending revisions to their proposal including budget or workplan changes. Whether you are applying as an individual organization or a partnership of several entities, the maximum funding amounts still apply to the group application. You cannot request more than the maximum amount across all of the partner organizations, unless you apply separately.

Does the amount we request need to be tied to our organization’s annual operating budget?
No, the amount you request is not tied to your organization’s annual budget. However, 1 of the 4 review criteria is feasibility. Please outline a realistic budget for the activities you are proposing and include context for why this project is feasible for your organization.

Is there a limit to indirect/overhead costs?
The limit for indirect costs is 20% of direct costs per year.

We would like to give stipends to people with lived experience to participate in our process and to support aspects like transportation, childcare, and food during meetings. Are these eligible expenses? 
Yes, those are eligible expenses. We encourage you to budget for in-depth community engagement. When compensating community members (those who are not paid staff by the organization or subcontractors) for their time, we recommend the following:  

  • A minimum payment or incentive amount of $25/hour or at least a living wage in your region. We encourage paying individuals with an extra role, such as a meeting facilitator, at a higher rate.  
  • Translation, interpreting, childcare, and transportation reimbursement are offered to support participation in events. 

Will you be seeking to connect potential partners to collaborate?  
We encourage applicants to list current and potential partners in their proposal. The Funds team may look for ways for potential partners to collaborate on shared and common activities.  

Can an organization submit more than one application for one funding opportunity? Is it possible that you would fund more than one proposal from an agency?
Applicants can apply to more than one funding stream for the full applications only. Within a funding stream, applicants are encouraged to submit their best idea. If you apply for the full application in any of the three funding streams, you cannot apply for a Planning Grant. Applicants for Planning Grants cannot apply for a full application during the same grantmaking cycle. Planning Grants applicants can only apply to one funding stream within the Planning Grants.

Can a 501c3 serve as a fiscal agent for multiple proposals?
Yes, an organization can serve as a fiscal agent for multiple proposals.

Are applicants required to show any match funding? Are proposals that have leveraged funds from other sources considered favorably? 
Applicants are not required to show any match funding. In the budget form or your proposal, feel free to add information about other funding sources if it provides relevant content or helps explain why you are requesting funds for certain things.

Can we still apply if my organization wants to do PSE change work but doesn’t know how to?

Yes, the Funds will take applications from organizations that seek to move from short-term, time-limited efforts to long-term, sustainable approaches. Planning Grants will support planning, technical assistance, capacity building, and learning for emerging Healthy Aging, CHIP and PSE approaches. Recipients of planning grants are welcome to apply for a full grant in the next funding cycle, however, funding is not automatically guaranteed for planning grant awardees.

Application Process

How do I submit an application? 
A link to the application portal for each funding stream is available on the How to Apply page. Follow the portal link, create an account, and submit your application within the portal. Please review the application guidelines for guidance on how to use the application portal, and tips and guidelines for developing your application attachments.  

What support is available for people who don’t speak English as a first language, have low literacy levels, or have limited grant writing capacity for any reason?
We are providing support throughout the application process including office hours and trainings for all interested applicants, especially those who may have limited grant writing experience or capacity. Our staff are also available to answer questions via email. While we are unable to accept applications in another language at this time, we have some resources & capacity to support language and accessibility needs throughout the application process. Please reach out to [email protected] if there are specific materials, formats, or resources that would be helpful to you. We will do our best to accommodate requests and make resources available to all applicants.

How do I submit a proposal attachment (narrative, presentation, or video)?  
There is a field in the application to include your attachment. Please review the application guidelines for more information on how to submit your attachments.  We encourage you to consider which format would best allow you to share the information you want to about your work.  Each format allows for a blend of content.  

  • In the narrative, you could use some minimal visuals if you think they best convey information to answer one of the questions, but you should still remain 4-6pages
  • Presentation format: 20-24 slides
  • If you would like to use narrative and more visuals, you might consider the slide deck option 

What other attachments do we need to submit?
Please submit the following attachments:

  • Workplan/Activities
  • Budget
  • W9
  • Tax Exempt Designation

How much detail should we include in the Workplan and Budget? Do we submit activities and costs for just 1 year or all years we are requesting funding?
The purpose of the workplan document is to help you operationalize your approach and help us understand how you will implement the approach outlined in your proposal. Please include at least 3 major activities you will conduct as part of your approach. You are welcome to include additional details, but we understand that you may not yet have each specific detail of your approach for the full lifespan of the grant planned out yet. Our team will work with those applicants who are awarded grants to further develop their workplan.  

Similarly, for the budget, we would like to receive a budget request for the full number of years you are requesting funding. However, we understand that some costs for future years may be estimates. There will be an opportunity for awardees to revise their budgets.  

Can I submit supportive documentation to prove that our project is effective?

You can add visuals in both the narrative and presentation to show your project. However, these documents cannot be used to answer questions that are in the application as our reviewers will focus most on your actual application to identify answers to the application questions. Please visit the RFP to find out the 5 key review criteria.

What is the purpose of the community engagement question in the budget? Do we just need to select Yes or No?
Community engagement and community-centered approaches are a key aspect of the Funds. We would to have an understanding of the resources being requested specifically to conduct community engagement activities both for individual applicants and overall. You just need to select Yes or No. However, there may be instances where only some of the line item is dedicated for community engagement. Feel free to add a brief note or context if you think it would be helpful.

I’m having trouble submitting my application in the portal. What do I do?
Here are some troubleshooting options for common problems. If you still have questions, please reach out to [email protected]. If you are still experiencing challenges the day of the deadline, especially after business hours, please email all your attachments (Proposal questions, budget, workplan, W9, and Tax Exempt designation) to [email protected]. If you do so, please answer all the organization information questions so that we know the basic information of your organization.

Unable to Log In / Access Saved Application

Don’t know where/can’t upload attachments

  • There is a 4th tab on the top says “Attachment”, click that tab to upload the documents
  • Make sure your file tab is correct
    • Budget – .xls, .xlsx, .pdf
    • Workplan -.doc, .pdf
    • W9 – .pdf, .png, .jpeg
    • Tax exempt Designation- .pdf, .png, .jpeg

Who do we contact if we have technical challenges/questions related to application submission?  
Please contact [email protected] for assistance with the application portal.  

Review Process

How will applications be evaluated?  
Applications will be reviewed and scored by individual members of a diverse Review Committee comprised of subject matter and lived experience experts. HRiA will facilitate a process in which Review Committee members will share and discuss their reviews. Applications will be reviewed based on the criteria of equity, impact, collaboration, and feasibility. Each of these criteria are explained further in the Request for Proposals (RFP) document. 

Who will be on the review committee? 
The Review Committee will consist of a range of members from across the state of Massachusetts with both subject matter expertise and lived experience with health inequities. If you or someone you know is interested in participating on the review committee, please reach out to Alberte Altine-Gibson, Director of the Funds at [email protected] AND [email protected] for more information. 

How will organizations be selected for an award? 
The review committee will read proposals and take part in an objective review and scoring process. The committee will make recommendations to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Executive Office of Elder Affairs for further consideration of equity across the slate of recommended applications. The resulting recommendations will be reviewed by EOEA and DPH leadership, with final approval authority by the MDPH Commissioner. 

When will we hear if we have been selected for an award? 
Applicants can expect to be notified regarding the status of their application in June. 

Will feedback be available to applicants who are not funded? 
The Funds staff will do our best to provide feedback, upon request, to any interested applicant via email or a 15-minute phone call. When decision notifications are made, we will share more information about how you can request and receive feedback.  

Grant Program

What administrative activities will be required as part of this grant program? Are there particular outcomes or deliverables grantees will be required to complete by the end of the grant?
There are not set deliverables or measures grantees are expected to achieve by the end of the grant period, and we look to applicants to define what they see their deliverables or measures being based on the approaches and activities planned with funding. Our Evaluation staff will support grantees in the development of an evaluation plan to assess impact. We will engage grantees in annual conversations to learn more about their work and progress. Please see more about the expected administrative activities below.

Reporting – Awardees will take part in quarterly check-ins with a Program Officer throughout the award period. Here, awardees can share feedback, success stories, lessons learned, and status updates. Awardees will share end of year progress each award year, summarizing work completed to date. Awardees will submit detailed financial expenditures each year.  

Capacity Building – Throughout the duration of the award, HRiA will provide opportunities to build capacity of awardees, community members, and Funds staff. We expect awardees to attend and participate in as many of these events as possible.  

Evaluation – Grantee will collect and report data metrics as developed in an evaluation plan, including:

  • Progress of PSE change strategies
  • Community engagement in their activities
  • Changes in racial equity
  • Community level data
  • Grantees will also be expected to participate in overarching evaluation activities. Examples of these activities could include virtual site visits, short written reports, surveys, and/or focus groups.

Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change (PSE) Funding Stream

What is Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) Change?

Policy, systems, and environmental change (PSE)strategies are a way of making sustainable, lasting change within a community to within a community to support healthy environments and behaviors across populations.

  • Policy change is not just legislation. It includes the passing or changing of laws, ordinances, resolutions, mandates, regulations, or rules.
  • Systems change creates fundamental shifts in how problems are solved and changes the way resources and services get distributed.
  • Environmental changes involve changing the economic, social, or physical surroundings or contexts that affect health outcomes.

Please check out this document for more information about PSE change approach.

Does PSE approach need to be community-wide – or town-wide?  
PSE approaches can vary in scope. Strategies may focus on geographic or population-based communities at the local, regional, or statewide levels. The applicant can determine how broad their PSE approach will be based on need and capacity.  

Community Health Improvement Planning (CHIP) Processes Funding Stream

What is a Community Health Improvement Process (CHIP)?
According to the CDC, a community health improvement plan (or CHIP) is a long-term, systematic effort to address public health problems based on the results of community health assessment activities and the community health improvement process.  A community health improvement plan is critical for developing policies and defining actions to target efforts that promote health. It should define the vision for the health of the community through a collaborative process and should address the gamut of strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities that exist in the community to improve the health status of that community. Find more information on the CDC’s website. 

Overview of the Community Health Improvement Planning Process

Would the funds allocated for CHIPs be allowed for a Community Health Assessment as the first step towards a CHIP? 
Yes, the CHIP funding opportunity will support any steps in Community Health Improvement Processes. For more information, see Nevertheless, we also know that there are many assessments happening or that have recently happened, and we will want to understand why an additional assessment in a region/community is a necessary step in for the proposed CHIP process.  

Can CHIP planning be incorporated into applications touching on the other two funding opportunities = healthy aging and PSE? How will that integration be viewed? 
CHIP planning processes are not prohibited from being included in the PSE or Healthy Aging funding opportunities if they meet the requirements. Applicants should review the eligibility requirements for each funding opportunity to determine the best fit.  

Can you use CHIP funds for just a Community Health Assessment?
No, the Assessment is an important component of the CHIP, but on its own does not help the Funds reach its long-term goals to advance policy, systems, and environmental change. If you are currently in starting or in the midst of an assessment, your proposal should outline how the Assessment phase will inform and help you identify upstream public health issues in the Planning phase.

Is there a way for us to see where the communities have CHIP plans in place and the nature of the success of those programs in moving in a positive direction of community health outcomes? 

While there is no central repository for CHIPs, applicants are encouraged to connect with their local health departments, local human service departments, or local hospitals to see what CHIP plans are in place. 

Can hospitals or ACOs be partners in our proposal? 

Yes, hospitals or ACOs can be partners. Hospitals who have conducted a Determination of Need project and therefore contributed to the statewide funds are not eligible to receive funding but can participate in-kind.

Healthy Aging Funding Stream

What is the definition of a Gateway City?  
Gateway Cities are midsize urban centers that anchor regional economies around the state. The Legislature defines 26 Gateway Cities in the Commonwealth, which are Attleboro, Barnstable, Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Peabody, Pittsfield, Quincy, Revere, Salem, Springfield, Taunton, Westfield, and Worcester. For more information, visit this link:  

What is the focus of the Healthy Aging Fund? Will only requests focused on housing and transportation be awarded?  

The Healthy Aging Fund will provide preference to those approaches that focus on housing or transportation but welcomes approaches that address any of the other domains as well. 

Housing & Transportation, two of the Eight Domains of Livability for Age-Friendly Communities are also connected to two of the six social determinants of health prioritized by DPH (Housing & Built Environment). Applicants are not limited to just approaches focused on housing and transportation, though those will be prioritized.  Applicants can address any of the eight Domains of Age-Friendly Communities in their approach.

Is the Healthy Aging Fund just focusing on policy, systems, and environmental change activities?  
The Healthy Aging Fund places an emphasis on policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change approaches. An applicant may request support for costs that address planning, or staff/personnel in support of a PSE approach. A full detailing of the types of possible activities is included in the Request for Proposals (RFP). 

Do Healthy Aging approaches need to serve a specific age group?
There is not a specific age associated with this vision. However, this funding stream focuses on older adults, not life spans.

Could an aging project also apply to the general community fund?  
It is possible that proposals related to Healthy Aging could apply to the PSE and CHIP funding streams. For more information about the Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change and/or the Community Health Improvement Planning (CHIP) Processes, visit the RFP.