Services to Systems RFP

The application window for Building Community's 2019 Services to Systems RFP closed at 5pm on Tuesday, August 6, 2019.

Preview this RFP

Building Community: Services to Systems RFP details

  1. Funding phases
  2. Information session

The Services to Systems RFP supports organizations that are primarily focused on providing direct services and not deeply engaged in systems change work but want to deepen their connection to the work. Up to $80,000 in new grant funding will be available.

Applicants will be notified of their award status in late September, with Phase I funding available in early to mid-October.

This RFP will provide up to $80,000 in grant funding, disbursed in two phases:

  • Phase I funding will support involvement in a peer-focused Services to Systems learning circle, comprised of 10-12 organizations. (A participation stipend of $5,000 will be provided for each organization, with a maximum of two staff members per organization).
  • Phase II funding will only be available for participating organizations and ranges between $25,000-$75,000 to implement work that deepens an organization’s connection to systems-level change.

Meyer staff will present an overview of the RFP and answer questions during an online information session on Tuesday, July 16, from 11 a.m. to noon.

To register for the session, please visit: Attendance is encouraged but not mandatory.

Got questions about this RFP? Please visit our RFP Q&A page.

Grant Overview

Meyer recognizes that change does not happen in isolation and that we cannot expect long-term transformative change if we focus only on narrowly defined issues. That is why we seek to change systems that protect the status quo and create barriers to equity. With this in mind, Meyer is offering the Services to Systems learning circle, an initiative supporting organizations that primarily focus on providing “direct services” and are not deeply engaged in “systems change” work.

For purposes of the Services to Systems RFP, we are thinking of these two terms as described below. 

Systems change: Meaningful shifts in policies, processes, relationships and power structures, as well as deeply held values and norms. Systems can evolve in many ways, including toward greater oppression or exploitation. Meyer is interested in systems change that moves in the direction of justice. 

Direct services: Meeting an immediate or short term priority so that individuals can get their unique needs met. Many organizations that provide direct services create plans and approaches primarily with a focus on their clients’ immediate needs and less on broader forces (social, economic or political) that create those needs.

Through Services to Systems, we will prioritize work that is focused on people of color and Indigenous communities.

Funding structure

Approximately 10-12 organizations will be selected to participate in a peer-focused Services to Systems Learning Circle. Meyer will provide $5,000 up front to each organization to support participation. Organizations may send up to two staff members to participate, one of whom has decision-making responsibility in the organization. 

To fully participate in the learning circle experience, the program requires approximately 25-40 hours per person in three in-person meetings (one day each), as well as independent “homework” in between sessions. The first meeting will take place in Portland in mid-October 2019. The second meeting will be held in early December 2019, and the final meeting will be in spring 2020. (Stipends for travel-related costs will be available based on organization location.) 

After the first two convenings, participating organizations will be eligible to request new grant funding between $25,000-$75,000 to implement work that strengthens their systems change efforts. Grant funding will be made available based on a plan developed by each participating organization. Individual coaching will be offered as organizations develop plans and Meyer expects that all organizations that choose to submit plans will receive the Phase 2 funding.

Learning Circle benefits

Organizations participating in the Services to Systems Learning Circle can expect:

• Learning alongside geographically diverse organizations that are focused on a variety of issue areas and building systems change objectives into their future work; 

• Support and tools for evaluating an organization’s readiness and opportunities for systems change;

• Information and resources to provide an organization with additional perspective on systems change work;

• Examples and learnings from organizations that are actively providing and linking services to systems change work; and

• Individualized coaching to support systems change work.

Services to Systems also represents a learning opportunity for Meyer. Through this work, we will build our understanding of the relationship between direct service and systems change. Some of our specific hopes include:

• Building an understanding of the obstacles and opportunities for direct service organizations exploring systems change work;

• Learning about patterns or common characteristics for organizations working across the Direct Services to Systems Change Continuum;

• Understanding leadership support and development needs related to incorporating systems change into service delivery; and 

Building an understanding of tools, resources and case studies of Oregon groups that do both social service and systems change work.

Candidate profile

The Services to Systems is focused on supporting direct service providers that envision a world in which their services are no longer necessary, have an initial sense of what is needed to get there and are ready to take further steps in that direction. 

The strongest candidates will be organizations that focus on providing direct services to a specific group or community and:

• Have taken initial steps to incorporate some aspect of systems change analysis and action into their approach and strategic objectives;

• Are ready to explore approaches for doing more systems change work in tandem with their current forms of service delivery;

• Have the capacity to dedicate the staff time and energy required for fruitful participation; 

• Can act and make decisions based on learnings and planning that will take place during the program;

• Have incorporated strategies within the organization’s service delivery method that are designed to support communities of color, Indigenous communities or Tribes (which could be alongside other populations the organization may aim to serve); and

• Meet Meyer’s general eligibility requirements.

While different types of organizations may benefit from Services to Systems RFP, we recommend reviewing Meyer’s Direct Services to Systems Change Continuum to better understand the intention of this learning opportunity. Services to Systems was designed to support organizations in and around the “early analysis” stage. Organizations that have not yet started this work or have already been deeply engaged in systems change will be less competitive.

If you have questions about your organization’s eligibility, please contact us at questions [at] (questions[at]mmt[dot]org) or 503-228-5512.

Information session

Meyer staff will present an overview of the RFP and answer questions during an online information session on Tuesday, July 16, from 11 a.m. to noon. To attend, please visit the event registration page to receive details for joining the session. Attendance is encouraged but not mandatory.

Grant timeline

• Application opens in Meyer’s GrantIS system: Tuesday, July 9, 2019 (apply here)

• Information session: Tuesday, July 16, from 11 a.m. to noon

• Applications due: Tuesday, August 6, 2019, by 5 p.m. (Applicants should be prepared for follow-up questions in mid- to late August and possibly early September.)

• Award decisions: late September. (Grant agreements will need to be signed in an online system.)

• Funding available: early to mid-October

• First convening: mid- to late October in Portland

• Second convening: early December

• Confirmation of additional grant funding: February 2020

• Third convening: Spring 2020

Application questions

  1. Briefly describe your organization’s purpose, mission and major programs and activities. 
  2. Knowing that every organization operates within a larger context or system — that is shaped by political, social, economic and environmental factors, among others — how would you describe the context or system(s) within which your organization works? 
  3. What role does your organization currently play and what role would you like it to play in this system? 
  4. If your organization is invited to participate in this learning circle, what would you hope to learn and what would successful participation look like for you? 
  5. In what ways would participation in this learning circle align with your organization’s existing priorities and strategic direction? For example, are there related activities named in your strategic plan or budget?
  6. How has your organization demonstrated its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion? For example, are there policies or practices in place to incorporate an equity lens into your organization’s work? If so, please provide a brief explanation or attach any written policies. 
  7. How do clients or constituents — the people most impacted by the issues your organization’s programming or services seek to address — influence the organization? For example, are there policies or practices in place for them to have meaningful engagement in the organization’s planning and priority setting? 
  8. What strategies does your organization have in place that are designed specifically to support communities of color, Indigenous communities or Tribes? If your organization’s work is designed to serve the specific needs of other groups as well, please briefly describe those groups and strategies for supporting them. 
  9. To what extent do the demographics of your organization’s staff, board and volunteers (as applicable) reflect the demographics of the population served and the demographics of the broader community in the service area?

Equity commitment

Equity is a central tenet in all Meyer’s grantmaking. 

All applicants — regardless of where in their equity journey they may be today — must demonstrate a commitment to ongoing growth through the integration of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) principles into both their external programming or services and internal structures and operations.

Learn more about how Meyer thinks about equity at


More Questions?

Read our Building Community's Q&A page

Participate in our information session

Contact us at questions [at] (questions[at]mmt[dot]org) or 503-228-5512 to reach an Building Community team member directly with questions about this RFP

Contact our grant operations team at grantops [at] (grantops[at]mmt[dot]org) with questions about GrantIS