Frequently Asked Questions

 To ensure technical assistance is provided uniformly to all, the WIC project team will post a summary of all questions submitted to wic@csg.org below. All questions will remain anonymous and be posted within 10 days of the initial inquiry. 

Would integrating wrap-around services, including early learning resources to WIC families, qualify as an innovative proposal?

It is possible that this project idea could qualify under this opportunity if it meets the definition of innovation found on page 5 of the RFA and complies with all federal WIC regulations. As you develop your full proposal, please refer to the grant’s definition of innovation as outlined below.

For the purposes of this grant, innovation is defined as being at least one of the following:

    • A project that is new to the WIC State agency, or a project that has never been 3funded by FNS;
    • A project that has not yet been evaluated for impact on WIC certification and customer service measures; or
    • A project that will substantially improve upon an existing strategy or adapt it for a WIC agency of differing size, demographic context, and clientele.

Project ideas meeting at least one of the criteria listed above will qualify as innovative proposals.

Furthermore, in “Section 2: Project Plan” of your application, you should clearly identify the WIC certification and customer service barriers and/or opportunities for improvement that exist within your state or local WIC agency. The way(s) in which your proposal meets the grant’s definition of innovation should then be reflected in how you plan to address this need through your project.

Certification activities do include referrals. However, we encourage SAs to ensure that any wrap-around services in their proposed project ideas are directly connected to certification.

Do project proposals falling under enhancement opportunity #4 still need to be technologically web-based? Would a mobile bus be an acceptable cost for Mobile WIC services?

Although project proposals falling under Enhancement Opportunity #4 are not required to be technologically/web based, applicants are encouraged to consider incorporating these elements into their proposal to improve the WIC certification process. Ultimately, projects relating to this enhancement opportunity should meet at least one aspect of the following definition of innovation, also found on page 5 of the RFA:

    • A project that is new to the WIC State agency, or a project that has never been funded by FNS;
    • A project that has not yet been evaluated for impact on WIC certification and customer service measures; or
    • A project that will substantially improve upon an existing strategy or adapt it for a WIC agency of differing size, demographic context, and clientele.

It is possible that this project idea could qualify under this opportunity if it meets the definition of innovation found on page 5 of the RFA and complies with all federal WIC regulations. As you develop your proposal, you will need to consider and describe how your proposed project differs from existing mobile WIC service programs that have already been evaluated for impact on WIC certification and customer service measures.

A mobile bus by itself is not an innovative proposal, but the State may connect with CSG to identify ways to make it fit within the definition of innovative.

Would Videoconferencing be consistent with your definition of innovative?

The use of videoconferencing to enhance the WIC certification process could be considered for project proposals if its use is consistent with existing WIC regulations.
It is possible this project idea could be considered innovative if it meets at least on aspect of the definition of innovation found on page 5 of the RFA. As you develop your full proposal, please refer to the grant’s definition of innovation as outlined below:

    • A project that is new to the WIC State agency, or a project that has never been funded by FNS;
    • A project that has not yet been evaluated for impact on WIC certification and customer service measures; or
    • A project that will substantially improve upon an existing strategy or adapt it for a WIC agency of differing size, demographic context, and clientele.

As a reminder, WIC regulations do have a physical presence requirement, and videoconferencing cannot be used to meet this requirement. However, applicants may consider use of a partial video conference for a certification appointment, or testing the use of video conferences for participants who are given a physical presence waiver per 246.7(o)(2).

Can applicants utilize technologies to problem solve any discrepancy to provide a better shopping experience for the participant?

The WIC Special Project Innovation Grant will only fund project proposals that seek to enhance the WIC certification process, eligibility determination and processing of applications. For more information regarding certification enhancement opportunities, please reference Section 5 of the Request for Applications (RFA). Although CSG and FNS recognize that opportunities exist to improve shopping experiences for participants, projects with this focus fall outside the scope of this funding opportunity.

Is a project allowing our county to service clients in a variety of settings outside of our 5 WIC centers considered innovative?

A project with alternative locations is an allowable project idea as long as it focuses on certification and is innovative.  Ultimately, projects relating to enhancement opportunity #4 should meet at least one aspect of the following definition of innovation, also found on page 5 of the RFA: 

    • A project that is new to the WIC State agency, or a project that has never been funded by FNS;
    • A project that has not yet been evaluated for impact on WIC certification and customer service measures; or
    • A project that will substantially improve upon an existing strategy or adapt it for a WIC agency of differing size, demographic context, and clientele. 

It is possible that this project idea could qualify under this opportunity if it meets the definition of innovation found on page 5 of the RFA and complies with all federal WIC regulations , such as 246.4(a)(23) and (27), 246.5, and 246.6. As you develop your proposal, you will need to consider and describe how your proposed project differs from existing WIC programs that have incorporated alternative certification locations and have been evaluated for impact on WIC certification and customer service measures. 

Have WIC agencies previously used RED CAP for certification purposes?

FNS and CSG do not believe so. When filling out your application we recommend you indicate whether NY WIC has used RED CAP before, and explain why RED CAP could be an innovative tool for WIC Certification. 

Would using NOW POW to give referrals and RED CAP to streamline the certification process be considered innovative?

For your application, we suggest informing CSG of the reasons NOW POW would be considered innovative to the WIC program.

How should the coronavirus situation/concerns be considered in the development of project proposals?

Implementation of proposals will occur after COVID waivers have expired, therefore, proposal design and plans for implementation should be made without the waivers currently issued in mind. The goal of testing these innovative projects is to make them replicable for other WIC agencies, therefore proposal should be crafted in consideration of operating in typical WIC clinic environment.

Will FNS rules regarding the APD process outlined in Handbook 901 apply to this project? 

The RFA, as posted, is the lead governing document throughout the grant application period. As indicated in this document, The Council of State Governments will be the primary administrator of this grant, however, all proposals must still comply with all existing WIC policies put forth in the FNS Handbook 901. Although applicants are not required to submit an APD, many of the elements outlined in the handbook represent best practices and are closely related to the WSPI grant application process. For example, applicants must adhere to WIC regulations regarding allowable costs and unallowable costs, as discussed in the handbook.

Is there a match requirement on this funding?

No, there is no match requirement for the WSPI funding opportunity.

When we send the Letter of Intent, will you then respond and ask for a full application?

The Council of State Governments will not request full applications from interested WIC agencies upon submission of a Letter of Intent. CSG will only confirm that this letter has been received. As such, interested applicants will neither be invited nor discouraged from applying based on the content of this letter. After submitting your LOI, please proceed to submit your application by the deadline of January 31, 2021.

Please note, the Letter of Intent is not required for an application to be considered complete, however, it is strongly encouraged as it serves to provide CSG and FNS with an understanding of the level of interest in the grant, informing our approach to technical assistance.

Is a specific resume format required and is the NIH Biosketch format acceptable?

The Council of State Governments is not requiring a specific resume format for this funding opportunity. As with the NIH Biographical Sketch format, resumes should include information pertinent to the application. For example, staff resumes should be clear and concise as well as contain sections such as professional experience, education, contact information etc. Please also attach a job description for any anticipated external hiring. This information can also be found on page 20 of the Application Form.

Did we have to submit a letter of intent to apply, or can we proceed with looking into this and submitting an application by January 31?

The letter of intent deadline for this funding opportunity has passed, however, submission of this letter was optional. Interested applicants who did not submit a letter of intent but are still wishing to apply for the WSPI grant are encouraged to do so by the January 31, 2021 deadline. As you develop your project proposal, please don’t hesitate to reach back out to request technical assistance. The WSPI team here at CSG will be available to provide ongoing technical assistance up until the January application deadline.

For the WIC Innovation Grant Application character limits-3,000, 4,000, etc. Is this referring to characters including spaces or characters excluding spaces? We also wanted to confirm that these limits are for characters and not word limits.

The 3,000 – 4,000 limits on the WSPI Grant Application refer to characters, not words. These limits do not include spaces.

Our state WIC agency would like to formally address their letter of support. Can you provide more information regarding to whom the letter of support should be addressed?

The letter can be addressed to:

Mr. Matt Shafer

The Council of State Governments

1776 Avenue of the States

Lexington, KY. 40511

Do you know if the character limit on the grant application is with or without spaces in the count?

The character limit is without spaces. Character limits were added to try and encourage applicants to err on the side of brevity. However the fillable form will not cut off once you hit the limit. If you go a few characters over the limit that is fine.

The attached workplan and budget form templates in the application attachments will not allow us to enter information. Are we permitted to duplicate the templates on our own form and attach to the email with the application for submission?

Yes, you can use the template we included was meant to be a sample to act as a guide for how to format the budget, but it does not need to be the exact same form that we provided.

On the application form, there is an assurance about sending two key staff to the kickoff meeting in Washington DC in March. Are you expecting this meeting to be virtual in light of COVID-19? We want to be sure to include appropriate travel costs in our budget if needed.

Yes, the subgrantee kickoff meeting will be virtual so you do not need to account for the travel costs in your budget.

Are there samples of previous projects that can be viewed on the website?

Both the literature review and the previous SPG projects are examples of previous projects and you are welcome to review these. However, we highly encourage State agencies to focus on the needs of their clinics and participants. Both CSG and GSCN are available to assist with project idea development that will align with the grant opportunity.

How will contractor partners be able to be engaged?

This grant opportunity is only available to WIC State and local agencies. Contractors who are interested in participating should submit their questions through the WIC agency with whom they intended to work with.

Is a contracted project management organization considered a key partner and need to provide a support letter?

Any existing contract partners can engage in the work of your project proposal as you deem beneficial and outline in your project work plan. It will be necessary to outline their role within your project and describe how the partnership will help your agency improve the WIC certification process in your local context. Please keep in mind that all project proposals must comply with existing federal WIC regulations. If a State Agency decides to engage with contractors through a financial agreement, the award money will be granted to the State and they can award contract money to their contractors.

Will the recording of the July 15th WIC Special Innovation Grant Applicant Webinar and the slides used be posted on the website?

The recording of the July 15th WIC Special Innovation Grant Applicant Webinar and the slides used during the presentation are now live on YouTube and on the project website.

How does the pandemic factor into this work? If we continue with waivers for mostly remote services, we may not be back to “normal” until a date TBD. How we deliver services pre-vaccine vs. after could be quite different.

Many agencies have responded to the unique challenges posed by the pandemic through utilizing innovative technologies and other strategies. For example, some States have developed mechanisms to accept documents electronically. Such mechanisms could be used to simplify the certification process and shorten in-person appointments. Although the duration of remote services is uncertain at this time, proposed projects MUST comply with existing federal WIC regulations, not including waivers. It is not feasible to assume that WIC waivers relating to COVID-19 will be extended through the duration of the grant performance period. 

Can applicants receive help with writing the letter of intent?

At this link you will find a sample LOI for this funding opportunity. Please use this as an optional guide for your LOI. Although the WSPI project team will not be reviewing an applicant’s LOI prior to submission, we are available to answer any questions regarding the development of your project proposal idea prior to application submission. 

For this funding opportunity, applicants are strongly encouraged to submit a non-binding letter of intent before submission of a full application by 5:00 p.m. ET on Nov. 30, 2020 to wic@csg.org . This document will not be considered in the application review process, but it provides useful information to CSG in preparing for providing technical assistance to WSPI applicants. 

To whom should the WIC Special Project Innovation Grant Letter of Intent be addressed? 

Matt Shafer is CSG’s manager for this project so addressing the letter of intent to him is correct.

Should project details be included in the Letter of Intent or is the template provided adequate wording and detail for this Letter?

The wording in the sample letter of intent is a sufficient level of detail. If you are choosing one of the Certification Enhancement Opportunities outlined in the RFA, you can just check the box that relates to your proposal. If you are choosing Certification Enhancement Opportunity 4 where you are able to propose your own innovative strategy, some high level detail about the topic of your proposed project would be helpful.

Is extra funding available for staffing that provide WIC services generally due to uptake they may experience rather than just for the staff involved with the grant?

Funds can only be awarded to support staff working on the grant. When filling out your application please provide details as to how many hours your staff will work on the grant project and what grant activities they will participate in. 

Is solicitation of anonymous feedback from participants post-implementation an appropriate evaluation method?

The Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition (GSCN) will be working with all grantees on evaluation efforts. Don’t get too far into the weeds about evaluation methods for your application, but rather consider what key outcomes are you interested in seeing/learning and what types of data you already have available to use towards the evaluation. Once the grants are awarded, GSCN will help grantees think through what methods can be used to reach meaningful conclusions regarding these outcomes.

When the project information says we will be provided “technical assistance” does that include website development, if part of the grant, or would we be required to contract that out as part of our budget?

CSG and our partners at the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition are available to help your staff think through how to tailor website content and functionality to further the aims of your project proposal. We will not be providing assistance with the actual construction of project webpages (e.g. web design and maintenance). If contractors are required for these purposes, they should be included in your proposal’s budget. 

If we were to use part of the grant to pay for employees, can those positions be paid internships or would they need to be full employees? Or is that up to us?

Staff that will be working on grant funded activities are not required to be full-time employees. Your agency has discretion to determine the appropriate staff needed to implement your project proposal. In your application, the roles and responsibilities of key project personnel should be identified and outlined. Relevant experience/qualifications of these staff should be documented and professional resumes provided. We also encourage you to include in your application plans to ensure continuity of operations for when staff assigned to the project are expected to transition out or unexpectedly leave the project.

Our agency has a program called One Door to Pathways and offers Presumptive Medicaid that we would like to offer as an add on service to WIC clients. The grant funds would just be needed to cover partial salary of a staff member completing the services and managing the grant deliverables. Is this something that would be eligible for the WIC Special Project Innovation Grant opportunity?

Based on the anticipated impacts your proposal could have on the WIC certification process and the potential ability of enrollees to submit documents electronically, we believe your project would be eligible to receive WSPI funds. We do ask that you be very thorough in your proposal on how this project would improve the WIC certification process.

Our local WIC agency is seeking to partner with a local Head Start center to co-enroll families in both programs, which will streamline the application (certification) process. This concept is based on the WIC Special Project Grant-funded Better Together project in Connecticut. Because that project was funded by USDA/FNS, am I correct in assuming we cannot be funded for replicating that project (based on RFA page 5, first bullet point: A project that has never been funded by FNS)?

In order to qualify for the WSPI grant and meet RFA’s definition of innovation, your proposal would need to modernize and/or enhance the co-enrollment project with Head Start that was previously funded by FNS through the Better Together collaboration. This may include, but is not limited to, adopting new technologies or other innovative practices pertaining to co-enrollment that have not been funded by FNS previously.

Can State WIC staff be paid through this grant or can they only be included as in-kind?

Yes, WIC agency staff can be paid for their work on this grant project. These funds cannot be used to cover time spent on other agency activities, but all time spent on planning/implanting your project can be covered by these grant funds.