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Health Care Access Design Challenge 2017 FAQs

For specific information please be sure to review the Information and Application package which is available both as a Word and pdf document.

General Questions

Q: I missed the webinar, will there be another one?

A: We will not be hosting another pre-application webinar. However, we have posted a recording of the webinar here, and you can view the PowerPoint slides here.

Q: Can you please define "mobility manager"?

A: As the field of mobility management grows and becomes more diverse, so do mobility manager job descriptions. You can find some model job descriptions from around the country on this page. In general, though, mobility managers help individuals and communities connect to, manage, and expand transportation options in the community.

Q: In terms of the focus areas, do we pick just one?

A: Yes, please only select one focus area per application. However, if teams are interested in applying for more than one challenge area, they may submit an additional application. However, each selected applicant will be funded to respond to only one challenge area.

Q:What, if any, rural projects have been funded? And do the experts working with the funded groups have rural expertise?

A: The NCMM Partner (there are three- CTAA, APTA, and Easterseals) that has the primary responsibility for the grants is CTAA, which has its roots in rural transportation. In the last round of these grants (2015), we had several rural projects: rural Boise, Idaho; rural Southern Illinois; Missouri Rural Health Association; Sandusky/Wood Counties, OH; Whatcom Co., WA; and Waukesha, WI.

Q: Is there a fixed number of grants that will be awarded?

A: We will be awarding grants to 7 communities.

Q: When would the grant be approved?

A: We hope some time in November, but the timing will be determined by the FTA.

Q: Is it possible to attach letters of support from partner organizations for the project?

A: Although letters of support are not required as a part of the application, we welcome their inclusion in the application submission.

Q: Like other FTA grants, are location and previous grant awards taken into consideration when selecting awardees for this opportunity?

 A: Awards will be made through a competitive process to qualified applicants. A review committee will evaluate the proposals based on the evaluation criteria specified below. NCMM will recommend those projects receiving the highest recommendations by its review committee. It looks to fund at least one project in each of the four challenge areas, and also strives to ensure geographic diversity among the grantees. FTA will make the final selection of successful applicants for this Design Challenge opportunity.

Q: Is there any benefit for an organization that receives this grant to get future FTA funds for implementation?

A: Teams that participate in this Design Challenge opportunity will have completed work that can form a strong basis for future grant opportunities in the area of health care transportation.

Q: In reviewing materials on the website, I see the last challenge was in 2015, do you anticipate another challenge in 2019?

A: Whether or not we have another round of grants will be decided in future discussions with the NCMM's funder, the Federal Transit Administration. We cannot predict if and when the next round of grants will be.

Questions on Grant Eligibility

Q: Where can we find FTA grantees in our area? By city?

A: If your team will be based in an urban area (population >50,000), then your local metropolitan planning organization can help you find an FTA grantee. the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations has a directory of MPOs ( If you are in a rural area, there may be a rural development organization that serves your community and can help answer this question; to find out if there is, contact the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) at 202.624.7806. You also can always contact your state department of transportation and ask for the office that deals with transit. After you have tried these options and still can’t find an FTA grantee, contact and we will try to help.

Q: My organization is not an FTA grantee. Are we able to apply for this Grant? Or would an eligible recipient have to submit the application with the intention of funding my organization to lead the project?

A: Yes, an eligible recipient (or subrecipient through that direct recipient) would need to apply for this opportunity. We would encourage you to partner with an eligible recipient.

Q: What constitutes an eligible applicant?

A: Eligible applicants are designated or direct recipients for funds under 49 U.S.C. 5307, 5310 or 5311, or an eligible subrecipient of these funds. Eligible subrecipients under FTA programs include state or local government authorities, nonprofit organizations, and operators of public transportation. The applicant must have the capacity to successfully execute the project, and its partners should have the capacity to execute their roles successfully. The applicant should have no outstanding legal, technical, or financial issues that would make this a high-risk projects.

Questions on Funding/Financing

Q: Is there a restriction on what these funds can be spent on – operations, service, technical infrastructure, administration, and such?

A: Information specifically on where funding can be spent can be found on page 4 of the Information and Application package (Word and pdf) under "Funding Support."

Q: Is this a reimbursement grant?

A: Yes.

Q: Is this 80/20 match?

A: No, matching funds are not required.

Q: What type of expenses are reimbursable?

A: The funds can be used in conjunction with any of the design-thinking activities (e.g., team expenses, creating prototypes, expenses necessary to test assumptions about what will and won’t work with solution concepts). Note that the funds cannot be used to fund a consultant to fully implement the work of the Design challenge project; there is no substitute for the knowledge, experience, and mutual support team members receive when they work together as a community team to solve issues of mutual importance. Consultants can be used for activities such as facilitating the group’s work, conducting secondary research, and creating visual prototypes of potential solutions. More information is available in the Information and Application Package. (Word and pdf).

Q: While this is a planning grant, is the learning launch part of funded grant activities?

A: Planning for the learning launch is certainly part of the funded grant activities. We will consult with FTA on what types of learning launch activities can be funded.

Q: What is the allowable overhead for this grant? 

A: If applicants have an approved indirect cost rate plan they should use the approved indirect cost rate in their budget. If they have no approved indirect cost rate plan (approved by a cognizant federal agency), they can use a de minimus indirect cost rate of 10%. This is also explained in FTA's 5010. 1E Circular, "Award Management Requirements".

Q: Can you use the grant funds to bring team members in for meetings?

A: Yes

Q: Do any of the grant funds need to be used to bring NCMM staff to our sensemaking and idea generation meetings?

A: No, NCMM will cover all expenditures for its staff to travel to the chosen communities.

Questions on Pre-Application Work

Q: Do you have any resources you can share as we prepare and complete the interviews required for our pre-application work

A: Yes! We have three documents we recommend you review which offer tips for creating and completing ethnographic interviews: 1) Interviewing for Empathy; 2) Tips for the Enthographic Interview Process; and 3) Empathy Tips. In addition, another great resource is IDEO's Design Kit which has specific tools for conducting interviews and offers a step-by-step guide to unleashing your creativity, putting the people you serve at the center of your design process to come up with new answers to difficult problems.

Q: You mentioned in the good interview, "interviewing 15 people." Is 15 a good/sufficient amount of pre-application research? Is there an appropriate number of interviews?

A: Completing 15 interviews would definitely be a sufficient amount of pre-application research. We recommend conducting at least 10–12 interviews (total across the team) and/or observations with individuals in your community to learn about how they are affected by the challenge area, what their current workarounds are, and how they would address the problem, among other input. Teams are encouraged to use design thinking interviewing and research techniques to deeply understand different types of customers affected by health care access barriers.

Q: Are pre-grant application activities reimbursable?

A: No, pre-grant application activities are not reimbursable.

Q: Just to confirm, research has to be conducted and included in the pre-application submission?

A: Yes, during the pre-application period, NCMM expects proposing teams to complete Phase 1 work (Examining the question and planning the research) and the first half of Phase 2 work (conducting the research); the second half of Phase 2 work (uncovering insights) will be facilitated with successful applicants during the Design Challenge.

Q: What do you consider secondary research?

A: Secondary research is the summary, collation and/or synthesis of existing research such as previous research, surveys, reports, studies, and other data sources.

Q: To clarify, primary research for this grant must be new and not a product of previous grant work?

A: You can certainly use previous research as part of your secondary research; however, the application requires your team to do new primary research (e.g., interviews, observations, potentially focus groups although less valuable than interviews for this type of information gathering) with customers (e.g., patients, caregivers, health care or transportation professionals) in your community. We would like to see this research as being “fresh” and contemporaneous to the team’s application. For example, interviews completed 6 months or a year ago would not be considered as “contemporaneous” research. Primary research can be done at any time during the project when the team feels it needs additional insights into its target customer groups.

Q: Performance Measures - Is it recommended that references of performance measures be dispersed throughout the applicant’s responses to the template sections, is there supposed to be another section on performance measures or are performance measures something that will be focused on in the next stage after project selection?

A: In short, we would like each applicant to at the very least gather baseline data before they apply and indicate how they would gather data to measure outcomes. NCMM will provide support to chosen applicants on developing performance measures based on the available data and projected outcomes. Because this is a planning grant, and not an implementation grant, clearly no outcome data will be collected (i.e., until the applicant implements the project, which is after this planning grant is completed). However, we want to position grantees so that they are ready to collect those outcome data.

Questions on Expected Outcomes

Q: Is there a presumption that the results of this design process would lead to "new" services or could it lead to simply better utilization of current resources and services?

A: The Design Challenge opportunity should be looked at as an opportunity to develop and test new solutions, whether those are wholly a new solution or new parts of an existing service.