Building Capacity to Reduce Tobacco Inequities in the South and Midwest

2019 Call for Proposals

    Release Date: July 1, 2019 | Application Deadline: Thu, 29 Aug 2019

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To successfully reduce tobacco-related disparities we need to empower leaders from those communities most harmed by tobacco. Tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable deaths in the United States and disproportionately harms people of color, people with lower incomes, and people living in rural areas—especially in the South and Midwest.  

To move the needle in reducing these inequities, RWJF will fund projects that support communities in 13 Southern and Midwestern states to strengthen capacity to advocate for stronger local and regional tobacco-related policies.  

Listen to the July 17 applicant webinar to learn more about this funding opportunity.


Through this funding opportunity, RWJF seeks to support and engage black community members, persons of lower socioeconomic status, and rural  residents in the South and Midwest in order to increase their ability to advocate for stronger, locally or regionally driven tobacco-control and prevention policies and practices. We recognize that these are not the only populations in the United States that experience tobacco-related inequities. We hope that planned additional programming will help us understand how we can support other marginalized populations that face tobacco-related inequities.

This funding stream will support organizations working with and representing black residents, lower-income residents, and rural residents in the following 13 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Proposals can focus on a single state, on multiple states, or the entire region. We recognize, however, that it may not always make sense to focus resources on just these 13 states. For example, strategies that are successful in Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia may be more applicable to Pennsylvania and Wisconsin than to Alabama and Mississippi. We will, therefore, consider proposals that plan to focus on states within and adjacent to Tobacco Nation as long as the application provides a compelling justification for working outside of Tobacco Nation.

This initiative will support up to six, two-year projects with the possibility of a second round of funding. The total available funding for this round is $4 million, and individual project budgets should not exceed $1.5 million. As part of the review and selection process, we may ask applicants to alter the scope of their proposed work and/or reduce their budgets to ensure we maximize the reach and impact of the selected grantees. We are interested in and encourage applications that include regranting to support community-based organizations or efforts. We anticipate that applications that do not include regrant to support community-based organizations would have lower budgets.

We are also interested in organizations partnering together to oversee projects, but we ask that one of the joint applicants be named as the project lead (i.e., the organization responsible for administering the grant and reporting to RWJF).

We are seeking new and innovative approaches to addressing tobacco-related inequities. A history of working on commercial tobacco control and prevention is not required. We do, however, expect that funded organizations will work closely with organizations that focus on commercial tobacco control and prevention, including organizations that are currently funded by RWJF, such as the American Nonsmokers Rights Foundation and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.      

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

The successful applicant organization should have: 

  • A demonstrated history of managing funds (e.g., foundation or government) to support nonlobbying advocacy efforts; 
  • Strong previous or current relationships with legal counsel with expertise in the lobbying and political activity restrictions that apply to public charities and private foundations;
  • Applicant organizations must be either public entities or nonprofit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and are not private foundations or nonfunctionally integrated Type III supporting organizations. The Foundation may require additional documentation; 
  • Applicant organizations must be based in the United States or its territories.

Key Dates

July 17, 2019 (2 p.m. ET) 
Applicant webinar recording.

August 29, 2019 (3 p.m. ET)
Deadline for receipt of brief proposals.

September 3–September 27
Follow-up interviews with select applicants.

November 11, 2019 (3 p.m. ET)
Deadline for receipt of full proposals.

January 15, 2020
Anticipated grant start date.

Total Awards

  • Total funding through this solicitation will be up to $4 million;
  • Budgets for each proposal can be up to $1.5 million, but we may require budgets to be reduced if we fund more than two projects;
  • We will fund up to six projects;
  • Projects should run 24 months and may be renewed.

Application is Now Closed

Application closed as of:
August 29, 2019, 3:00 p.m. ET

Key Contacts

Matthew Pierce, program officer, RWJF

Tobacco Control

Creating a Tobacco-Free Nation

RWJF advocates for higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free air laws, and programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit.

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