CFP: Call for Proposals

What is a CFP?

A CFP (Call for Proposals) is an open competition posted on It is the primary tool we use to solicit grant proposals.  CFP announces the availability of funds by using a uniform written format that includes a statement of the program, eligibility and selection criteria, instructions on how to apply, a program timetable, and key people associated with program implementation.  To assist you with planning and writing phases, use the CFP macro. 


The CFP is only one part of program development. The development of a program competition begins with a CFP draft based on an initial program idea and ends when the grants have been awarded. A typical high-level time continuum looks something like this:


  • Authorization Approval
  • CFP Drafted
  • CFP Process Completed
  • Program Launch & Application
  • NAC Review & Recommendation
  • RWJF Review
  • Grant Start


RWJF and NPO Staff Roles in the CFP Development Process

The Program Officer (PO) has primary responsibility for the CFP process, including requesting a CFP release date. National Program Office (NPO) staff provide input, and in the case of repeat CFPs (e.g., in programs that have multiple rounds of funding), the NPO may even take the lead in writing the CFP, or in editing the previous version.


Once a final draft is completed, it will be reviewed and approved by key RWJF staff responsible for the program. Then RWJF PO/Communications Officer (CO) will produce the final copy for posting to the RWJF website. New programs will officially launch (including website, press release, Application & Review (A&R) proposal submission process, etc.) on the same day the CFP is released and posted to the RWJF website.


The PO should discuss with the National Program Director and Deputy Director what their role should be in the development of the CFP. Responsibilities may include:

  • Reviewing and providing input on CFP programmatic content.
  • Confirmation of logistics such as NPO contact information, key NPO staff responsible, awards available and key dates (e.g., proposal due date, applicant Web conferences, award dates) relating to the grant solicitation process.


CFP Process Step-by-Step

Planning Phase: The key elements of the program are developed.
  • Program officer (PO) completes Program Development Worksheet, with input from team and other staff (as appropriate). PO reviews Program Launch-at-a-Glance for timeline planning.
  • PO and national program office (NPO), if NPO in place, meet with National Program Services to define launch schedule.
  • PO and NPO (if NPO in place) review the completed Program Development Worksheet to discuss and confirm program elements.
  • Program name is created and approved, following the Program Naming Process and Guidelines involving the PO, CO, Director, NPO (if in place), Communications Vice President (CVP), Office of Proposal Management manager (OPM), Law Department (Law), and the Senior Vice President (SVP).
  • PO, CO, and NPO (if in place) develop program website.
    National Program Services will provide appropriate landing page URL for inclusion in CFP.
  • Use of a collaborative site is recommended.

Writing Phase: Final decisions about program design, structure and implementation are made.
  • PO drafts a clear, accurate, and succinct CFP, with input from NPO, CO/CA and, as needed, director, NAC chair, partners and consultants. To assist you with the writing phase, you may use the CFP macro. The final CFP document is a PDF. The CFP should be saved as a PDF created from the Foundation's standardized Word macro.
  • PO posts draft to collaborative site or NPO collaboration site.
  • PO makes final content edits to CFP, as necessary, and posts final draft to collaborative site or NPO collaboration site for approval phase.
  • Grants Management Coordinator begins A&R site.


Approval Phase (Three weeks)

Key staff members review and provide input to ensure the program concept is consistent with the team's strategic objective and précis, i.e., the implementation details are sound, funds are appropriately budgeted and potential legal matters are addressed. National Program Services is responsible for obtaining approvals.

  • Director and program financial analyst (PFA) review and approve CFP. Director decides if team review is needed considering some of the following factors: new versus repeat CFP, political considerations and complexity of CFP content.
  • National Program Services continues with A&R site.
  • Law and SVP review and approve CFP. PO makes final edits.
  • CO finalizes CFP copy.
  • A&R Approvals - National Program Services sends PDF of site to PO, NPO, Law, PFA, CO, CA, OPM, and PFA for review and approval.

Please note:

  1. If a new CFP, the PO should send the document to National Program Services and highlight in the email what are the sections to be read, eliminating the areas identified as standard language. This will eliminate the need for review of the entire CFP and allow reviewers/approvers to just focus on the necessary sections.

    Four sections have been identified as standard language:
    1. How to Apply;
    2. Legal Eligibility and Criteria Options;
    3. Evaluation and Monitoring; and
    4. Use of Grant Funds.
  2. If a repeat CFP, the PO should send the document to National Program Services and highlight in the email what are the changes and/or use “track changes” in the document to clearly identify the revisions from the previous CFP. This will eliminate the need for the review of the entire CFP and allow reviewers/approvers to just focus on the changes.
  3. If a regranting program, only the director and PFA approve the CFP with the exception of advocacy programs which will also require Law approval.

Production & Posting Phase (One week)

From this point, the CO works with National Program Services and others to produce and post the final PDF.

  • CO is responsible for editing the CFP copy so that it is accurate and content is approved for production. CO sends the final CFP (Word document) to Loretta Cuccia for adherence to RWJF style and format.
  • Once Loretta returns to CO, CO saves Word document as PDF and submits Word document and PDF to the NPS Associate.
  • National Program Services drafts landing page.
  • National Program Services incorporates A&R final edits and does final system check.
  • National Program Services posts PDF and works with web producer to finalize landing page on


RFP: Request for Proposals

What is an RFP?

An RFP is a closed competition falling into two general categories: Program-oriented and Other RFPs. It is also defined by three characteristics:

  • It is a closed competition
  • we directly ask applicants to apply, and
  • we do not post the RFP on


Program-Oriented RFPs

Program-oriented RFPs solicit grant proposals for multiple-site competitions. To assist you with planning and writing phases, use the CFP/RFP macro to help with structure and format. It follows the same content guidelines and format as the CFP/RFP macro. You may use the other CFP tools and support available to you for the RFP; staff roles and responsibilities are the same as for a CFP.


The approval process for a competitive RFP is the same as for a CFP (allow three weeks). National Program Services is responsible for obtaining approvals:

  • Director and PFA review and approve RFP. Director decides if team review is needed considering some of the following factors: new versus repeat RFP and complexity of RFP content.
  • PO reviews and approves dissemination plan.
  • Law Department and Senior Vice President (SVP) review and approve RFP. PO makes final edits.
  • CO finalizes RFP copy.


If a non-competitive RFP, only the Director and PFA approve the RFP.


If an RFP is for a regranting program, only the Director and PFA approve the RFP with the exception of programs which will also require Law Dept. approval.


The final RFP document is a PDF. The RFP should be created from the Foundation's standardized Word macro. Production process (one week). Once the CO finalizes the RFP copy, they will be responsible for creating the final PDF. The CO must enlist the help of Loretta Cuccia for adherence to RWJF style and format.


The CO needs to copy the "OPM Group" (via email) in case they get applicant questions that need to be redirected.

Other RFPs

Other RFPs include invitation for proposals seeking National Program Directors, National Program Offices, Administrative Support Offices, communications vendors, program evaluators—and tend to be for more specific work-for-hire.


RFPs for finding a national program office (NPO)/national program director (NPD) should follow the separate template available on the intranet. These RFPs should be reviewed/approved by the appropriate director and assistant vice president.


Furthermore, RFPs issued by the Communications and Research, Evaluation and Learning Departments (e.g., for communications vendors and program evaluators), and other work-for-hire contracts, should follow the format and approval processes appropriate to the departments issuing the RFP.



Note: The responsible program officer should obtain Director and Senior Vice President (SVP) approval on the use of an RFP versus a CFP.

Applicant Deadline Policy

To be true to the RWJF Guiding Principle “we treat everyone with fairness and respect,” late submissions will not be accepted for any reason.


While late submissions will not be accepted, RWJF may choose, in its sole discretion, to extend the application deadline for all applicants. Such extensions generally will be granted only in the event of (1) a verified issue with the RWJF application system that prevented completion and submission of applications, or (2) a disaster, emergency, or significant internet outage that affects one or more regions. For purposes of this policy, a region is generally considered to be one or more states.


RWJF strives to give all applicants any support needed to successfully submit their proposal prior to the deadline. If the deadline is extended for any reason, the extension will be posted on the funding opportunity page on and an email will be sent to all individuals that have started an application in the RWJF online system. Please note that, in the 24-hour period leading up to the application deadline, staff may not be able to assist all applicants with any system-related issues. Therefore, we encourage you to submit your proposal in advance of the deadline so that any unforeseen difficulties or technical problems may be addressed well before the deadline. Submission is defined as all sections completed, marked finished, the proposal “submit” button used, and the proposal status shows “Submitted.”

National Advisory Committee

NAC Selection Guidelines for NPOs

We use a National Advisory Committee (NAC) and other expert reviewers in competitive review processes to use the expertise of a broad set of experts in assessing program fit; and to ensure a fair and externally-based selection process.

Selection of NAC Members

The primary responsibility for NAC selection rests with RWJF staff. NAC candidates are solicited, approved and appointed by RWJF. The nature and extent of NPO involvement in the selection process varies depending on such factors as timing of NPO selection and the NPO’s degree of knowledge about potential NAC candidates.


In selecting the members of a program's NAC, it is of foremost importance to determine the expertise needed to accomplish the goals of the program. Factors that should be considered when selecting potential NAC members include expertise, availability, diversity, current foundation relationships, and possible conflicts.


National Advisory Committees (NACs) generally consist of 10-15 members. NAC functions vary by program. Their core responsibility is the selection of sites or fellows/scholars under a National Program (NP). However, at times, NACs have been involved in a wide range of activities including program design, programmatic advice, performance monitoring and technical assistance.

Length of service depends upon the number of rounds under the program and on whether or not the NAC will be used beyond site selection to provide ongoing programmatic advice, grantee technical assistance, or assistance with monitoring functions. Generally, long-running programs (e.g., those that have been renewed) develop a time limit for NAC members (e.g., two three-year terms).

NACs of research-oriented or demonstration programs that have rolling open-ended deadlines may review proposals as they are received. (Generally, they then make site recommendations in a conference call with National Program Office (NPO) and Foundation staff rather than at in-person review meetings).


On occasion, a Technical Review Committee (TRC) is formed instead of a NAC – and generally has a smaller membership size. In general, the primary role of a TRC is consultation on technical programmatic issues rather than site selection. (Examples of TRC involvement include consultation on research methodological issues or providing advice about detailed regulations – e.g. Medicaid or Medicare regulations.)


Staff should clearly delineate in the invitation letter the role the NAC will play. For instance, if the NAC is needed only for selection purposes and not for ongoing advice, that should be made clear in the letter. It’s also helpful to outline the term of service.


Sample Duties of NAC Members Prior to and During Review Process
  • Prior to CFP launch
    • Suggest target audiences for CFPs
    • Finalize timeline for CFP and proposal review
  • Attend Orientation Meeting
    • Review National Program goals, design, structure
    • Review Call for Proposals
  • Review application materials
  • Help determine criteria for applicant selection and develop scoring mechanisms (variable by program)
  • Participate in proposal review
  • Attend Selection Meeting(s)
  • As appropriate, participate in selected site visits to prospective grantees—including chairing the meeting. Lend expertise to the NPO, as needed
  • As appropriate, attend Annual Meetings of grantees, RWJF and NPO staff (variable by program)
  • Recognize the importance of confidentiality and adhering to the RWJF Conflict of Interest Guidelines


Sample Duties of NAC Chair

These are sample duties. They do not apply in all programs.

  • Perform duties as described above for NAC members.
  • Chair NAC review meetings—with special attention to conflict of interest issues.
  • Assist NPO in planning agenda for review meeting(s)
  • For some programs, serve as spokesperson for the program.
  • For some programs, provide strategic advice on topics such as:
    • content of CFP (e.g., eligibility, selection criteria, types of projects that may be funded);
    • program outreach/marketing/dissemination of results;
    • strategic alliances; and
    • technical assistance needs of grantees.