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Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are you looking for in a proposed project?

We are looking for social innovators. Applicants will propose an innovative change or approach at a systems level to improve the lives of City of Cleveland residents living in poverty. The proposed approach will be grounded in a strong understanding of a significant community need, and you will use your own experiences and knowledge to demonstrate how this need must be approached in a different way. Approaches may address a need in any field, such as education, housing, healthcare, food access or economic development. Approaches may take any form, and must be rooted in developing a strategic, multi-faceted pathway to systems change.

For more details, view the Criteria page.

Are applicants who work in post-secondary education eligible?
While employees of colleges and universities are not excluded from applying, this fellowship is not intended to fund academic research.

Can two people apply jointly for the fellowship?
Two people may apply jointly to work on one project and to split the funding available for one fellow. However, the joint application must make a compelling case for why this project will benefit from a joint endeavor.

I am self-employed. Is my business eligible to receive the funds available to compensate an employer for the fellow’s time away from work?
We learned from our first cohort of fellows in 2018-2019 that social innovation projects are better positioned to succeed when the fellow and his or her full-time employer are working closely to support and advocate for the project. Because of this, applicants for this cohort must be employed full-time. Please contact the foundation if you would like to discuss your eligibility or other opportunities for support within the community.

Why am I required to identify a colleague at my employer to champion the project?

We learned with our first cohort of fellows in 2018-2019 what best positioned social innovation projects to succeed. Fellows whose projects aligned with their employer’s overall values, goals and sense of community responsibility and who received ongoing support from a like-minded colleague or supervisor were able to develop the strongest pathways for systems change.

Fellows are also required to make a significant time commitment to the fellowship. Requiring applicants to identify an employer champion at the application stage demonstrates their recognition and acceptance of the fellow’s time commitment to this fellowship.

Fellow criteria includes the ability to understand the mission and ministry of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and embrace the Foundation’s mission and values. What does this mean?
The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland is a Catholic-based organization. Our mission is to extend the values of Jesus Christ by improving the lives of people most in need, with special attention to families, women and children living in poverty. The foundation’s work is guided by this mission and founded in the values of compassion, courage, respect, justice, and collaboration. We welcome and encourage fellows of all faith backgrounds, but ask that fellows feel comfortable working in a Catholic-based organization and that their projects align with our mission and values as well as with Catholic social teaching.

How are fellows selected?
Fellows will be selected based on the criteria stated in the guidelines by a committee made up of Sisters of Charity Foundation board members, staff and other local leaders.

What if I do not meet all of the eligibility criteria?
If you believe that you could be successful in The Innovation Mission but have concerns about meeting the criteria stated in the guidelines, please contact Christine Mitton at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland to discuss your individual situation.

How will the foundation support the implementation of my project?

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland is committed to helping each project succeed. Throughout the fellowship, the foundation will use its network to help connect fellows to experts and community resources as needed.

At the end of the 12-month fellowship, fellows will pitch their idea to the foundation with the potential of being granted up to $20,000 in seed funding. If awarded, these funds can be used by the fellow to leverage additional funding and continue the work’s development.

Is it OK if my project changes over the course of the fellowship?
Yes! In fact, we hope that your project does change and evolve. We don’t expect fellows to implement the exact approach that they describe in their application. We are seeking fellows who are passionate about solving a particular problem and flexible enough to adapt their solution to best meet the identified need.

What if I have more questions?
If you have additional questions, please attend one of our information sessions or contact Christine Mitton at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland at


Contact Christine Mitton, director, knowledge and learning at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, at 216-357-4468 or