Capacity Building Initiative for Family Engagement

Propel Nonprofits is seeking proposals for a new Capacity Building Initiative (CBI) for Family Engagement. Nonprofits and fiscally sponsored organizations led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and serving BIPOC communities through family engagement programming in the Twin Cities’ K-12 education system are invited to apply. This initiative will use a cohort model to build participants’ infrastructure, deepen their work, and increase their power and that of the families they work with.

The intent of CBI is to help participants deepen their efforts to engage families, and ultimately, create more culturally responsive, welcoming, and hospitable schools for BIPOC families by strengthening their internal capacity. This program is rooted in the belief that families and communities should be seen and supported as leaders and full partners in the schools, that their partnership and participation in schools is a pathway to systems change, and that they play a critical role in advocating for improved school, district, and state policies and practices.

Interested in applying?

To find out more about the initiative, plus review the application questions, check out the Request for Proposals.

Download the RFP

Program Details

  • Timeline: Applications open on June 8, 2020, and will be due July 17 by 5 pm. Cohort members will be announced by the end of August with the first cohort gathering to take place virtually in late September
  • Number of cohort organizations that will be accepted: 12
  • Length of cohort engagement: 2 years

Cohort Program Model

The 2-year Capacity Building Initiative (CBI) for Family Engagement cohort will engage 12 nonprofit or fiscally sponsored organizations in a participant-driven capacity building model to empower families in K-12 educational systems. This program is built on a hybrid of self-determined, individualized capacity building activities coupled with cohort learning and relationship building. This multifaceted approach will include 5 areas:

1. Organizational Assessment

    • Propel Nonprofits’ strategic consultants will conduct an organizational assessment for each participant to better understand organizations’ needs and opportunities.
    • Assessment results will be used to develop a custom capacity building plan, goals, and timeline.

2. Grant Support

    • Grants totaling more than $1 million will be distributed during the 2-year cohort to the 12 organizations in the following category areas: general operating, professional development, capacity for change, and opportunity funds. All grantees will be required to submit financial and program updates.

3.  Convenings

    • Organizations will participate in 1 to 2 all-group convenings annually, including a program launch, to form connections and share achievements, aspirations, and common capacity goals. At least one convening will focus on collaboration.

4. Learning Labs

    • Organizations will participate in quarterly nonprofit management/leadership training on topics including fiscal management, evaluation, donor relations, communications, board development, and more, based on organizational assessments and program participant input.

5. Responsive Technical Assistance

    • Propel staff will provide one-on-one support, acting as a partner, guide, and coach as organizations implement their capacity building plans.

Eligible Organizations

  • Existing nonprofit or fiscally sponsored organizations led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and serving BIPOC communities through family engagement programming.
    • Executive director identifies as BIPOC OR 50 percent of voting board members identify as BIPOC
  • Paid executive director and at least one staff member dedicated to family engagement programming
  • Primary constituents are members of BIPOC communities
  • Based in the 7-county Twin Cities metro area

Readiness Indicators

Ideal cohort participants are organizations that meet the above criteria and:

  1. A track record of family engagement with education systems such a parent advocacy, education, and resource navigation
  2. Family engagement project goals and desired outcomes that they are actively working toward
  3. A desire to invest in capacity building such as leadership development, infrastructure, technology, or financial management
  4. Energy and interest in collaborating for systems change and are willing to share learnings and outcomes, both during and after the cohort engagement
  5. Annual organizational budget under $2 million

Interested in applying?


Request for Proposal, which includes the questions to respond to for the application

Press release about initiative

Informational webinar: After registering for this optional informational webinar, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

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Advisory Committee

We’re grateful to the following partners for helping to design and inform this new initiative:

  • Lynnea Atlas-Ingebretson, Advancement and Communications Officer, Youthprise
  • Antonio Cardona, Director of PUC-Oak Park Center, Pillsbury United Communities
  • Theresa Gardella, Vice President of Programs and Operations, Nexus Community Partners
  • Karen Kelly-Ariwoola, Chief Operating Officer, Northside Achievement Zone
  • Neeraj Mehta, Director of Learning, McKnight Foundation
  • Dan Rodriguez, Executive Director, Merrick Community Services
  • Tiffany Scott Knox, Director of Promise Neighborhood, Wilder


Naima headshot

Don’t hesitate to reach out!

Naima Farah, Program Manager




The Capacity Building Initiative for Family Engagement is made possible with funding from and partnership with the McKnight Foundation and The Minneapolis Foundation.