Rural Vaccine Equity Initiative
Community Based Organization Funding Opportunity
Application Package

This is a reopening of the application for rural regions who did not apply in the first application cycle. Rural regions eligible for this reopening are 495 Corridor, Blackstone Valley, Central Pioneer Valley, East Franklin, Essex, Hilltowns, Nantucket, and Southeastern, West Franklin. All other regions were funded in the first application cycle open from 10/31-12/3. If you are in one of those regions, we are happy to connect you with the funded organization for collaboration.  

Overview of Rural Vaccine Equity Initiative

The Rural Vaccine Equity Initiative was designed to adapt the current framework and best practices of the state’s Vaccine Equity Initiative to rural regions. Devoting appropriate resources to rural communities to address their unique needs for COVID-19 vaccination and mitigation and support needed infrastructures. Led by DPH’s State Office of Rural Health (SORH), this initiative will include direct funding to local community-based organizations (CBOs), rural-specific technical assistance, DPH staff to assist with navigating resources, and a peer learning network. This three-year initiative will allow rural communities to both meet immediate needs for COVID 19 mitigation and implement long range strategies to ensure resiliency from the factors that created poor outcomes during the COVID19 pandemic. 

The Vaccine Equity Initiative supports efforts to address health inequities (differences that are unjust and avoidable) by leading with a framework that acknowledges the history and existence of structural racism - the public policies, institutional practices, and social norms that together maintain hierarchies. This funding announcement supports the use of upstream strategies and interventions that are expected to address health inequities which relate to increased morbidity and mortality from COVID-19. The SORH acknowledges that the impact of structural racism across the country and within the Commonwealth is often overlooked or unacknowledged, yet it is pervasive and unmistakably harmful to everyone. The social marginalization and inequities that racism cultivates in housing, education, employment, the built and social environments, and healthcare are felt across generations, most acutely in communities of color.  Additionally, while these efforts must lead with racism explicitly, it is with understanding of the intersectionality of factors such as gender, socioeconomic status (SES), and ability, which also contribute as overlapping or interdependent systems of discrimination and disadvantage, that we address inequitable health outcomes. To this end, the SORH seeks to fund organizations with experience lifting up and addressing social justice issues related to local or regional policy, systems, and environmental changes. This work supports the SORH’s goals to build partnerships to increase access to health services, develop better systems of care, and improve the health status of rural communities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  

Applicant Criteria and Funding Amount

Applicants must be in a rural area as defined by the State Office of Rural Health. We will be utilizing the rural clusters included in the MDPH State Office of Rural Health’s Rural Definition to identify rural areas to fund. These clustered regions of rural towns enables better resource allocation and data analysis.  A map of the rural clusters and towns is included in the Appendix. More details on the methodology of the rural definition can be found here:  

This request for proposals is looking to identify rural community-based organizations across the commonwealth to fund for three years, up to $75,000.00 per year to coordinate partners and engage the community to respond to immediate needs for COVID-19 mitigation and work on longer range strategies to ensure resiliency from the factors that created poor outcomes during the COVID19 pandemic. Eligible applicants are rural nonprofit private or rural public entities. Applicants must serve the entire rural cluster they are applying for in this funding. Only one applicant per cluster will be funded. We anticipate making around 15 awards. Applicants will be expected to have multi-sector partnerships, as such we encourage communities to consider the best entity to apply for these funds through collaborative conversations. 

Program Requirements

Funded applicants will be expected to convene local partners and engage community members to identify and coordinate various activities related to COVID 19 mitigation. Applicants will work with local partners on principles and practices of vaccine equity. These principles and practices include assessment and planning, education and outreach, vaccine administration, stopping the spread, connecting residents to essential services, and strengthening community safety nets.  In the first phase of the initiative, we will be asking funded applicants to focus on immediate needs surrounding COVID 19. This could include activities such as: building partnerships, assessment and planning, coordinating community education and outreach, disseminating information about clinics or other services, and working with DPH to coordinate services. In the second phase we will be asking funded applicants to identify projects to support resiliency and address the factors that created poor outcomes during the pandemic. This could include projects such as: adapting or changing policies, creating a system to address a community need or gap, or increasing availability to a service like transportation or food.  

This funding requires a minimum of 0.25FTEs be allocated to the direction and coordination of this project. This can be dedicated time from a current staff member. This dedicated staffing is to ensure coordination with local partners and the state.  There may be need for additional staffing time during the project and if needed we would require justification of staffing needs from funded applicants. 

This funding is to support the administration and coordination of partners, outreach to community members, and coordination with MA DPH. Additional resources will be made available to communities through contracted vendors and the state for implementation. For example, if a community identifies an immediate need for a community vaccination clinic, this funding will support the CBO to coordinate partners and do outreach to community members about the upcoming clinic. DPH would provide the administration of the clinic, outreach materials (such as fliers and incentive cards), and technical expertise. A detailed budget is not required with the application, upon award NERHA and SORH staff will work with you to establish this. 

Application Submission, Due Dates and Questions

Applications must be submitted through the online portal by Monday, February 14th 2022 at 5:00 PM EST. The online portal can be found at:

Any questions should be directed to [email protected] by Friday, February 4th 2022 at 5:00 PM EST. All submitted questions and answers will be posted on the online application portal by Monday, February 7th 2022 at 5:00PM EST. We will not entertain questions after Friday, February 4th 2022. 

For any problems with application submission please contact [email protected]


FAQ's From First Application Cycle

  1. We are currently experiencing and expect to have long-range needs for addressing significant COVID impacts that are related to substance use and mental health; these include overdose death risks, need for support for persons in recovery at risk of relapse, mental health conditions that underly substance use risks, etc. Can we use these funds to provide supportive education, groups, activities for persons in recovery? Can we use funds to purchase Narcan and provide Narcan training? Can we use funds for other harm reduction supplies and community training in harm reduction practices? Can we use these funds for educational supplies and activities for persons in recovery such as social outings, arts, and physical recreation programming? 

If your agency is funded we would work with you to identify a budget that meets the federal funding guidelines.  Funding is to support both immediate needs and address long range structural causes of COVID 19 disparities. This could include tailored support to identified subpopulations who have been disproportionately impacted. Funds can be used for COVID-19 mitigation support, but not to directly purchase vaccine or clinical items. Budgets will be reviewed and approved based on individual community needs. We will also work to provide technical assistance support and resource navigation for any activities not able to be funded with the Rural Vaccine Equity monies.  

  1. Can funds be used to increase availability of and support direct transportation costs for persons to attend workshops, employment, education/training, etc. to improve employability and reduce long-term economic impacts of COVID?

Funds can be used to implement long range strategies that address the barriers that have caused COVID 19 disparities in the funded region.

  1. Can the lead applicant agency sub-contract funds and if so, is there a cap on how much can be subcontracted to partners?

Yes with approval and there is no cap.

  1. Can the minimum 0.25 FTE staffing be split between 2 or more staff members, or do you prefer that the 0.25 FTE be one person?

The preference is one staff member to fulfill the .25FTE, but would entertain a split staffing proposal.

  1. Can funds be used for paid advertising to encourage COVID vaccination among specific target audiences with low vaccination rates?


  1. Are there any limits on or parameters for funds to be used for paid consultants such as outside trainers, content experts, evaluators, etc.?

There are not limits on using the funds to pay for outside support and expertise, there will also be technical assistance support provided as part of the award and a number of state resources available to awardees.  

  1. Can funds be used to provide stipends/childcare to community members for participating in trainings, community meetings, listening sessions, leadership team meetings, etc.? Can we use funds for food at meetings?

Yes, funding can be used to provide direct support to community members and incentives for participation.

  1. If we need to further build our capacities to address structural racism and other oppressions that underpin health inequities, will the grant timeline allow for such processes and skills-building?


       9. Should I submit two applications for $75,000 each or should I submit one application for $150,000 and indicate in my responses which cluster(s) each statement refers to?

One application that indicates and demonstrates that applicant serves both clusters with a budget ask to reflect the work in two clusters is appropriate.

     10.  Does the application have to come from an organized entity with the ability to receive funds?

Yes , if they have a relationship with a fiscal agent they would describe that relationship in the “ability to manage funds section”.



Partnership and Capacity Table

This section will not be competitively scored and is to help the SORH and NERHA better understand your organization’s current partnerships and current involvement with Covid19 equity activities; as well as your hopeful partnerships and what activities you may be interested in engaging in if you were to be funded. 

Please download and fill out the following Doc. to be submitted with your application form.

Application: Partnership & Capacity Tables Doc.

Fill this out BEFORE clicking below to finish your application!

You will have to finish the application in one sitting as your answer will not be saved. You may review the application before submission if you wish to get a sense of the questions before beginning. Attached is a PDF which includes all questions and a scoring rubric.

Other Assets for Download: Rural Clusters Diagram , Structural Drivers


Click Here To Fill Out Application & Submit Tables Doc.