CHALLENGE GUIDELINES AND CRITERIA
What is the aim of the Southern Virginia Community Challenge?
The aim of the Southern Virginia Community Challenge, sponsored by the Microsoft Datacenter Community Development Team, is to support existing groups and individuals (once they form a team), to either start a new project from a selection of available projects or to expand an existing project, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life for communities. Applicants choose the project they want to start based on their community’s needs, from a portfolio of ideas on the ChangeX site, or alternatively submit an existing project, once it meets the criteria outlined in the following section. Once the applicant has demonstrated their commitment and ability to start or expand the chosen community project by successfully completing a 30 Day Challenge on the ChangeX website, ChangeX will provide funding, information guides and support to give the applicant the best chance of success. In addition, once the applicant has demonstrated the impact the new project is having in their community, they will receive a further installment of funding to support the maintenance of the project. All projects should be managed in an inclusive and welcoming manner and any events organised as part of your project should comply with any relevant public health guidance.
The following criteria must be met by all applicants:
The project must address at least one of the following themes: Environmental Sustainability, Digital Skills, or Community Prosperity
Projects must take place in Southern Virginia (Mecklenburg, Halifax, Charlotte, Lunenburg, and Brunswick Counties).
If applying for a grant greater than $6,000, the applicant must be a registered charity in the United States (EIN number will need to be provided).
Applicants must be at least 18 years old or have the permission of a guardian to apply for funding.
The challenge opens for applications on 29 November 2022. Registrations for all projects will close on 26 January 2023.
Open grant applicants will be notified by 26 February 2023 as to whether they have been allocated funding and can progress with the 30 Day Challenge or whether they have been unsuccessful.
What can the funding be used for?
The funding can be used to cover direct costs relating to the set-up or maintenance of the new or existing project. For example, funds can be used for space rental, insurance fees, seeds and planting materials, tools, training fees; pretty much any materials you might need for a project that benefits your community.
What can the funding not be used for?
Funds may not be used to promote or engage in criminal acts of violence, terrorism, hate crimes, the destruction of any state, or discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, religion, military and veteran status, disability, sex, age, gender identity or sexual orientation, or support of any entity that engages in these activities.
The fund cannot be used to cover costs of work that has already been carried out and can’t be used for anything that is not related to the setup and maintenance of the new or existing community project. It cannot be used to cover the promotion of religious causes, non-charitable activities, sponsorship or fundraising events. Funds cannot be used as payment to group members for their work on the project.
Reporting Requirements and Funding
In return for any funding you may receive, you are required to share the outcomes of your new project with ChangeX and Microsoft.
The funding allocated to your new project is divided into two stages. The first payment (70% of total funding amount) can be accessed upon successful completion of a 30 Day Challenge on the ChangeX website. For individuals or organizations who choose to replicate one of the available projects on ChangeX, during the 30 Day Challenge, several steps that demonstrate the commitment and ability of you or your community group to start or expand the project are taken. These include scheduling a support call with a ChangeX team member; setting up a team meeting; sharing a photo of your team meeting and providing a narrative on what you will spend the funding on, your next steps as a group, and how you hope the project will ultimately benefit your community. For individuals or organizations who are selected to receive funding to expand an existing project, the 30 Day Challenge only requires that you share a team photo and provide an update on their project after being notified of their successful grant application and before receiving the first payment.
The second payment (30% of total funding amount) will be issued to you after you have completed an impact survey demonstrating the outcomes of your project. The impact survey will be accessible to complete on your page on the ChangeX platform from three months after you applied to start the project. You will be sent email reminders about completing this survey and will have up to six months after you originally applied to complete it. You will be asked to answer questions such as the number of beneficiaries impacted by your project, as well as specific questions related to the idea you have started. At this stage, you will also be asked to share photos that show your project is up and running and having an impact. These photos should show your group in action and should ideally be taken at any significant events, for example: planting events, trainings, workshops or planning meetings and should include as many of your organizing group and beneficiaries as possible.
It is very important that you keep all receipts and records of how any funding you might receive is spent as ChangeX will collect and review these receipts before releasing the second installment of funding. If receipts cannot be shown, or the funds are found to have been spent on costs other than those relating to the set-up or maintenance of the new or existing community project, no further funds will be allocated to this project and ChangeX reserves the right to retrieve the funds that have already been distributed. The applicant will be indefinitely ineligible to apply for any subsequent grants through ChangeX.
Each individual is only eligible to submit one replication application and one open grant application to receive funding. Existing community groups can apply for and receive funding to start up to three different portfolio ideas, once each application and the resulting project is submitted and led by a different member of the organisation's team. Projects taking place at the same location must be different and complementary.
Family and close relatives of ChangeX employees or of Microsoft are not eligible to apply for funding.
How to apply
Once you have ensured that you meet all of the criteria above, you can go to https://www.changex.org/at/funds/desmoines-community-challenge, and choose one of two routes; either select your preferred idea from the portfolio of proven ideas and register to start it; or alternatively, if you are already working on a project in your community that you want to expand, select the option to submit your own project. The amount of funding available for your project depends on which idea you chose to start. Funding amounts generally range from $500 to $5,000 for the proven portfolio ideas (the amount of funding available per idea can be found on the webpage of each idea; funding amounts align with the cost of starting each project). For your own, existing community project, there are three available price points, of $500, $1,000 and $2,500 depending on need. Once you have completed the application form for either option you will be allocated funding and assigned your own page on the ChangeX platform, where you can complete a number of simple steps to access the allocated funding. You will be able to access the funding in 2 payments; the first payment (70% of your total funding) is unlocked upon completion of the 30 Day Challenge, and the second (30% of your total funding) once your project outcomes have been demonstrated. If you do not complete the 30 Day Challenge within the allocated time period (30 days from registration), your funding will be reallocated to another group and will not be accessible to you any longer.
Once you have completed your Challenge and entered your bank information ChangeX will review your application to make sure all elements of the Challenge have been completed successfully. Payment will then be made, and the transfer will take an average of 4 working days to reach the applicant’s bank account.
When the final impact survey has been completed (between three and six months after the original application was made) it will also be reviewed, to ensure the project is active and the second instalment of funding is necessary. Payment will then be made, and the transfer will take an average of 4 working days to reach the applicant’s bank account.
In order to give you the best chance of success to get your new project active, ChangeX will provide you with a number of supports, resources and tools. These include a 5-Step Guide relating to the idea you are starting, a general guide to starting projects in your community, a call with a member of the ChangeX team (which is a mandatory step in completing the 30 Day Challenge), email support, a local webpage to manage your team and previous starter stories to provide information and inspiration.
If you require any additional support to complete the application process or access resources please contact [email protected] and we will do everything in our power to help.
Where is this funding coming from?
This fund is sponsored by the Microsoft Datacenter Community Development team. ChangeX is solely responsible for the management of the fund, including the selection of applicants, starter support, fund distribution and impact tracking.
Sharing your project with media or on social
We encourage you to share news about your community project through social media in order to find people to join and support your project, or just to share some positive news with your wider community. If relevant, you can provide visibility to the project’s sponsor by tagging @Microsoft and/ or by adding the hashtags: #MicrosoftDCCommunity and #MicrosoftCommunityChallenge and #ChangeX.
Fund Terms & Conditions
By submitting an application, you are deemed to have read and accepted the fund guidelines and these terms and conditions. ChangeX.org reserves the right to disqualify any entries which do not comply with the Fund Guidelines and Terms and Conditions.
In the event that circumstances beyond the reasonable control of ChangeX effect, or could effect, the proper operation of this fund, ChangeX reserves the right to cancel or amend the fund or these terms and conditions at any time but will make every effort to avoid causing undue disappointment to applicants where such action is deemed necessary.
If you are a successful fund awardee, you agree that ChangeX and Microsoft may use your name, image and location for any reasonable and related promotional purposes. You further agree to participate in any reasonable publicity required by ChangeX or Microsoft.
Your fund application and any accompanying material submitted to ChangeX (such as motivation statements, group or impact photos, action plans) will become the property of ChangeX on receipt, and many be used by Microsoft for any reasonable and related promotional purposes.
Parental/guardian consent must be secured before any images of children can be uploaded to ChangeX, and any images uploaded to ChangeX will be presumed by ChangeX to have parental/guardian consent. Individual children should not be identified by name on the ChangeX site.
By applying to this fund, you:
Agree that any personal information provided by you with the fund application may be held and used only by ChangeX and Microsoft to administer the fund and for any other purposes to which you have expressly consented;
Understand that you may withdraw such consent at any time by contacting ChangeX at [email protected]
Agree to abide by the following Microsoft policies:
Anti-Discrimination: Microsoft does not consider a nonprofit organization eligible to receive corporate charitable donations if it has a policy or mission of discrimination in hiring, compensation, promotion, termination, retirement, training, programs, and/or services based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, gender identity or expression, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, political affiliation, union membership, or veteran status. The only exception to this policy is for religious organizations that are exempt from laws that prohibit such discrimination. The religious organization needs to provide an attestation that “My organization is a religious organization that is exempt from laws that otherwise prohibit such discrimination.”
Insofar as is permitted by law, ChangeX will not in any circumstances be responsible or liable to compensate applicants or accept any liability for any loss, damage, personal injury or death occurring as a result of taking part in the fund except where it is caused by the negligence of ChangeX or its employees.
Nothing in these terms and conditions shall operate to limit or exclude its liability for death or personal injury caused by its negligence or for fraud (including, but not limited to, fraudulent misrepresentation) or for that which cannot lawfully be excluded.
Nothing in these terms and conditions shall impact the awardee’s statutory rights.
If any provision of these terms and conditions is held by a competent authority to be invalid or unenforceable, the remaining provisions of these terms and conditions will not be affected and will remain valid.
Nothing in these terms and conditions shall confer any rights on any third person owing to the rule of privity of contract.
These terms and conditions shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Ireland. Any dispute arising under these terms and conditions (whether such disputes or issues are contractual or non-contractual in nature, such as claims in tort, for breach of statute or regulation or otherwise) shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of the Republic of Ireland.