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Frequently Asked Questions

The Innovation Mission fellows have been selected and are hard at work on projects aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty in Cleveland. The application process is currently closed.

What are you looking for in a proposed project?
Applicants will propose an innovative approach 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 problem, which the applicant has reason to believe based on experience and knowledge, needs to be addressed in a new way. Projects may address a problem in any field, such as education, housing, healthcare, food access, or economic development. An approach may take any number of forms, such as a program, a policy, a communications campaign, or a technology.

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?
If you are self-employed, you may request this compensation. On behalf of your business, you must make a case for the requested amount of compensation and how it will be used to support your business while you are away.

What if my organization cannot accept funding from the foundation or does not need to compensate me for my time away from work?
The foundation recognizes that an employee’s 12-week commitment to the fellowship may be a burden on some organizations. Therefore, up to $15,000 is available for organizations that will need to be compensated for an employee’s participation in the fellowship. A fellow’s organization is not required to accept the funding.

Why is it required that my employer provides endorsement for my participation in the fellowship?
Fellows are required to work on their project for at least 12 weeks over the course of the 18-month fellowship. During these 12 weeks, fellows will spend three to five consecutive workshop days as part of a cohort and five independent days working on their project each quarter.

Because this time commitment means that the fellow will be away from their job for an extended period, the foundation wants to be sure that this participation does not create an unacceptable burden on the fellow’s employer. Therefore, we require that the employer endorses the fellow’s participation in the fellowship to show 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. City of Cleveland residents who would potentially be impacted by proposed projects will also provide feedback on the relevancy and importance of the projects to their lives.

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 Margaret Eigsti 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 research and development phase, 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 to leverage additional funding. The foundation will connect fellows to opportunities to pitch their ideas to other potential investors during the last six months of the fellowship.

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.

How will funds be granted to the fellow to develop and implement the project?
The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland is partnering with Cleveland Leadership Center to serve as the fiscal administrator of the fellows’ research and development funds. Fellows will request funds as needed from CLC for activities to advance the work of their projects. Fellows will be required to document and provide rationale for their expenses.

Fellows will apply to the foundation for up to $20,000 of seed funding after the first 12 months of the fellowship. If awarded these funds, fellows will need to identify a nonprofit organization with 501(c)3 tax-exempt status to serve as a fiscal agent.

Am I still eligible to apply if I don’t submit a project summary by May 22?
Yes. Applicants who submit a statement of interest by May 22 will be given feedback from foundation staff by June 2, which can be incorporated into their full application. Applicants who apply after May 22 will not receive feedback.

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


Contact Margaret Eigsti, program officer at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, at 216-357-4462 or