Frequently Asked Questions


Are these funding opportunities related to the Determination of Need (DoN) funds that support the CHNAs? Would you recommend we share this information and encourage the CHNAs to participate? 
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.  

Massachusetts-based nonprofits, municipalities, or quasi-governmental entities (ex. Regional Planning Agency) are eligible to apply to the Massachusetts Community Health & Healthy Aging Funds.  

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 

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 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). 

The vision for the Policy, Systems and Environmental change (PSE) and Community Health Improvement Planning (CHIP) funding streams is that all Massachusetts residents have an equitable opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life. This vision aligns with DPH’s goal to eliminate health inequities through addressing the social determinants of health.  

The vision for the Healthy Aging funding stream is to contribute to equitable systems across sectors affecting community-level physical environments and social and economic conditions, ultimately leading to a better quality of life and health outcomes for older adults as they age in Massachusetts. This vision aligns with DPH’s and the Executive Office of Elder Affairs’ (EOEA) commitment to advancing health equity and having a positive impact on the social determinants of health.  

To work towards realizing these visions, the Funds will invest in community-centered approaches that are intentional in addressing the root causes of inequitable health outcomes. 

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. 

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:

The 2022 cycle will prioritize community-based organizations with staff and leadership who are reflective of the populations they serve. This cycle will also focus on groups that expand the range of funded projects across the state. For this cycle, that includes: 

  • Populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and not widely represented in the current awardee cohort including: Black, Latinx, Asian, and Tribal/Indigenous populations, people for whom English is not their first language, people with disabilities, people who identify as LGBTQ+, people with mental illness and/or substance use disorder  
  • Groups located in and serving:  Barnstable, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Bristol Counties, the Merrimack Valley, and southern Worcester County 
  • Groups addressing the Social Determinant of Health (SDoH) areas of Education, Employment, and Violence/Trauma 

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. 

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.

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?
Funds are not available to support lobbying activities. Expenses to support capital campaigns are also not eligible. 

Grant Period and Funding

What is the grant period? 
The award period will begin in July/August 2022 and end in June 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026, or 2027 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: $50,000 – $200,000 per year, up to 5 years 
  • CHIP: $10,000 – $75,000 per year, up to 5 years 
  • Healthy Aging: $10,000 – $100,000 per year, up to 5 years  

The funding limits listed are per year. 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.

For how many years can an organization apply for funding?  
For all funding opportunities, applicants can submit proposals for up to five years of funding.  

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 opportunity. Within a funding opportunity, applicants are encouraged to submit their best idea. If submitting more than one proposal within a funding opportunity, applicants should explain their rationale in the Approach section.  

Can a 501c3 serve as a fiscal agent for multiple proposals?
Yes, an organization can serve as 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, we ask that you indicate whether line items are covered by other funding sources, especially if it provides helpful context for why are requesting a certain amount from the Funds.

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.  

Will you be developing a guide to this fund that is more accessible to people who don’t speak English as a first language, have low literacy levels, or low education levels?  Will there be support for applicants that do not have employee positions or have limited grant writing capacity? 
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 within the maximum 7 pages 
  • If you would like to use narrative and more visuals, you might consider the slide deck option  
  • If you have any sort of video content, we suggest the video format – this could include both voiceover of a presentation, filming someone speaking, and other video content (ex. Testimonials) 

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.  

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 MA[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 4-6 weeks after the final submission deadline.  

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 site visits 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.  

What are the expectations for program evaluation? 
Awardees will collect and report data metrics as developed in an evaluation plan co-created with HRiA, including:  

  • Measuring progress of PSE change strategies  
  • Measuring community engagement in their activities  
  • Measuring changes in racial equity   
  • Collecting data at the community level   
  • Providing data, participating in one regional gathering OR annual site visit, and completing annual reporting. We expect site visits will begin in year two of the award.  

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 make healthy choices practical and available to all residents.​

  • Policy change approaches may include a law, regulation, procedure, administrative action, incentive, or voluntary practice of governments and other institutions.
  • Systems change approaches may include changes that impact all elements, including social norms of an organization, institution, or system.
  • Environmental change approaches may include changes to the physical, social, or economic environment. Strategies may focus on geographic or population-based communities at the local, regional, or statewide levels.

Our recent recorded session about PSE change approaches, available at, includes more helpful information.

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.  

Will all CHIP process steps have to be written into the proposal? 

Support may be requested for any phase of the community health improvement process. Applicants will be asked to describe the status of their CHIP process. 

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. 

Is the CHIP funding opportunity for those planning to conduct a CHNA or for proposed initiatives coming out of a CHNA already completed? 

This funding opportunity will support both.  Applicants will be asked to describe the current status of the CHIP process and how the funding will be used to support that process. 

Can hospitals or ACOs be partners in our proposal? 

Yes, hospitals or ACOs can be partners. 

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 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?
The vision for the Healthy Aging Fund is equitable systems across sectors affecting community-level physical environments and social and economic conditions, ultimately leading to a better quality of life and health outcomes for older adults as they age in Massachusetts. There is not a specific age associated with this vision.

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 [include URL].