NEHA-FDA Retail Flexible Funding Model Grant Program: FAQ
Fall 2023 Application Period for CY 2024 Grants
What is the NEHA-FDA Retail Flexible Funding Model (RFFM) Grant Program?
The NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program was opened in the Fall of 2021 as the new method to apply for and receive Retail Program Standards grant funding from FDA. The program will be entirely administered by NEHA. Each year there will be multiple grants and eligibility tracks offered to accommodate jurisdictions at different places in their progress toward conformance with the Retail Program Standards.
What is the open application period for NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program CY 2023 grants?
The Grant Portal will open for applications on August 16, 2023 and will close at 7:59 PM ET on October 11, 2023. All grants offered for CY 2024 will be one-year grants, with a project period of January 1 - December 31, 2024.
What grants are available for CY 2024?
The five different grant types offered to support Calendar Year (CY) 2024 projects include:
- Track 1 Development Base Grant (1-Year Combined Award), for:
- Completing a Self-Assessment of All Nine Standards (SA9) and a Comprehensive Strategic Improvement Plan (CSIP), OR completion of a CSIP only with a current SA9 (August 2018 or later).
- Additional funds are available through the Mentee Optional Add-On, offering funding to be a Mentee, and
- Through the Training Optional Add-On, offering funding for up to two (2) staff members to attend an in-person Self-Assessment and Verification Audit (SA VA) Workshop,
- All through a single application.
- Track 2 Development Base Grant (1-Year Combined Award), for:
- Work on Continuous Improvement in Standards 1-8, and
- An optional outcome to include work on Standard 9 in Pursuit of a Public Health Metric.
- Additional funds are available through the Mentee Optional Add-On, offering funding to be a Mentee, and
- Through the Training Optional Add-On, offering funding to attend Retail Food Safety Training, Workshops, and Conferences,
- All through a single application. NEW for 2024.
- Three Optional Add-On Grants, available for Track 2 applicants and current Track 3 grantees, including:
- Mentorship Optional Add-On Grant (1-Year Award, for Track 2 and 3 applicants), with the option to apply to be a Mentor for Track 2 applicants (instead of choosing the Mentee Optional Add-On in the Base Grant), or to be a Mentee or a Mentor for current Track 3 Maintenance and Advancement Base grantees;
- Training Optional Add-On Grant (1-Year Award, for current Track 3 Maintenance and Advancement Base grantees only), to support attendance at Retail Food Safety Trainings, Workshops, and Conferences.
- Special Projects Optional Add-On Grant (1-Year Award, for Track 2 applicants and current Track 3 Maintenance and Advancement Base grantees), to support Integrated Food Safety System (IFSS) projects.
Will the 3-Year grants offered for CY 2022, the Maintenance & Advancement Base Grant and the Capacity Building Grant, be offered again for CY 2024?
Since this program is funded by a 3-year Cooperative Agreement between FDA and NEHA, the 3-year grants offered through the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program will likely not be offered again until at least CY 2025. NEHA and FDA will be gathering data to measure the effectiveness of all the different grant types, so the 3-year grants may appear again in the next phase of this program beginning with CY 2025 awards.
How much funding can be requested through each of the three eligibility tracks?
Applicants submitting a Track 1 Development Base Grant can request up to $26,500 when they choose to apply for all optional outcomes: up to $5,000 for completion of an SA9 and/or a CSIP; $14,000 to be a Mentee; and up to $7,500 for SA VA Workshop attendance.
Applicants who submit a Track 2 Development Base Grant can request up to $61,500 when they choose the optional outcome to work on Standard 9 in their base grant and the Training Optional Add-On, and also apply for maximum funding for all three of the Optional Add-On grants: up to $17,500 through their Track 2 Development Base Grant; up to $24,000 to be a Mentor with 5 Mentees;; and up to $20,000 for a Special Projects grant.
Applicants who have an open Track 3 Maintenance and Advancement Base Grant cannot request additional base grant funding but can request up to $51,500 by applying for all three of the Optional Add-On grants: up to $24,000 to be a Mentor with 5 Mentees; up to $7,500 for Training; and up to $20,000 for a Special Projects grant.
I understand that the Reimbursement Request process has been simplified for CY 2024 Grants. Please explain.
As an innovation for CY 2024, with the goal of significantly reducing the administrative burden for jurisdictions, several grant types will now utilize deliverables-based payments (Fixed Funding).
Grant types and options that will utilize Fixed Funding based on deliverables include:
- Track 1 Development Base Grants (Base funding, Mentee Optional Add-On funding)
- Track 2 Development Base Grants (Base funding, Public Health Metric Funding, Mentee Optional Add-On funding)
- Mentorship Optional Add-On Grants (Mentee and Mentor funding)
To receive payment for the Fixed Funding grants or options, specified deliverables must be met for each grant type and option. Payment will be based on deliverables achieved during the project period. Expense documentation WILL NOT be required for payment of Fixed Funding outcomes and options, and your actual spending DOES NOT need to conform to the deliverables-based payment amounts. You are free to expend funds as determined by your unique needs, with the only requirement for payment being confirmation that each selected deliverable has been met. For audit purposes, however, keep in mind that your spending must always adhere to all applicable federal subaward grant funding rules.
Traditional Reimbursements still apply to several grants and options, and payment will be based on an approved budget in the grant application and detailed receipts included with a Reimbursement Request.
Grant types that will utilize Traditional Reimbursements include:
- Track 3 Maintenance and Advancement Base Grants
- Capacity Building Optional Add-On Grants
- Training funds (offered as Training Optional Add-On for Tracks 1 and 2, and through the Training Optional Add-On Grants for current Track 3 Maintenance and Advancement Base grantees)
- Special Projects Optional Add-on Grants
Advance Payments are still an option for all grant types.
For complete details on CY 2024 program changes, please review the Grant Guidance.
We received an award for CY 2022 and/or CY 2023. Will we need a new login to access the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Portal?
No. The same NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Portal used to apply for grants in CY 20233 and CY 2023 and that is currently used to manage those grants, will be used again for CY 2024 applications. Simply log in to the Grant Portal using a current username and password - which can be recovered/reset from the grant program website.
For jurisdictions entirely new to the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program, meaning one that did not register or apply for grants in Year 1 of the program, the initial step to apply for grants is to register for an account. Registration is now open for CY 2024 grants.
Both existing grantees and new applicants can access the Grant Portal by clicking on the "Access the Grant Portal" button from the NEHA Retail Grants home page.
Our jurisdiction has limited staff, and we continue to be stretched by the response to COVID-19. Will I have time to apply for and manage grants through this program?
The NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program Support Team is dedicated to keeping the burdens of application submission, grant management, and financial reporting as low as possible. Our online, web-based platform is designed for users of any skill level. Additionally, we actively maintain a dedicated phone number and email address for reaching a live team of experienced grant managers who are eager to provide unparalleled support.
What are the basic requirements to apply for applicants in each of the three eligibility tracks?
Full details on each of the three eligibility tracks can be found in both the CY 2024 NEHA-FDA Grant Program Guidance and by logging into the Grant Portal. In summary:
Applying through Track 1 requires enrollment in the Retail Program Standards.
Applying through Track 2 requires enrollment in the Retail Program Standards, a current (August 2018 or later) Self-Assessment of all Nine Standards (SA9), and a completed Comprehensive Strategic Improvement Plan (CSIP). Track 2 applicants can also apply for up to two Optional Add-On grants.
Applicants who have an existing 3-year Maintenance and Advancement Base Grant cannot apply for a new Base grant but are eligible to apply for any/all of the three Optional Add-On grants.
What grants should we apply for if we have never completed a Self-Assessment of All Nine Standards (SA9)?
Newly enrolled jurisdictions, or jurisdictions who have been enrolled in the Retail Program Standards but have never completed an SA9, should consider applying for a Track 1 Development Base Grant, offering up to $5,000 for completion of an SA9 and a Comprehensive Strategic Improvement Plan (CSIP), as the entry point into the Retail Program Standards.
Two additional options are also available through the Track 1 Development Base Grant - request to be a mentee (providing an additional $14,000) and/or funding for staff to attend Self-Assessment and Verification Audit Workshops (up to an additional $7,500).
What can we do if our Self-Assessment of All Nine Standards (SA9) is not current (August 2018 or later), but we would like to apply for a higher impact Track 2 Development Base Grant?
Because a current SA9 is required to apply for a Track 2 Development Base Grant, the only option for eligibility will be to complete an updated SA9 before October 11, 2023, and submit it to FDA.
If this is not an option for a jurisdiction, applying for a Track 1 Development Base Grant to work on both an updated SA9 and a Comprehensive Strategic Improvement Plan (CSIP) is likely the best option, which also allows the options to apply to be a Mentee and to attend Self-Assessment and Verification Audit Workshops.
What can we do if we have not yet completed a Comprehensive Strategic Improvement Plan (CSIP), but would like to apply for a higher impact Track 2 Development Base Grant?
As long as a CSIP is completed by the application deadline (October 11, 2023) and submitted with the application, a jurisdiction with a current Self-Assessment of All Nine Standards (August 2018 or later) will be eligible to apply for a Track 2 Development Base Grant. Instructions for completing a CSIP can be found on the NEHA Retail Grants webpage under Program Resources (found on the Left Menu).
If this is not an option for a jurisdiction, applying for a Track 1 Development Base Grant to complete a CSIP is likely the best option, which also allows the options to apply to be a Mentee, and to attend Self-Assessment and Verification Audit Workshops.
The NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program uses the term "Public Health Metric" in several places. What is meant by this term?
The term "Public Health Metric," in simple terms, refers to completing the work required to meet Standard 9, especially completing a Risk Factor Study and implementing one or more Intervention Strategies to reduce the occurrence of common risk factors.
For CY 2024, up to $5,000 in additional funding can be added to a Track 2 Development Base Grant, allowing work on any of the Elements required to meet Standard 9. Please see the following FAQ question for additional details on the Public Health Metric option available for CY 2024.
For the CY 2024 Track 2 Development Base Grant, the maximum additional funding provided to work on a Public Health Metric is $5,000, which may not be enough to complete either a Risk Factor Study or to implement an Intervention Strategy. How can we use the Public Health Metric funding offered in this track to work on our jurisdiction's goals for progress with Standard 9?
The options for working on Standard 9 in pursuit of a Public Health Metric have been expanded for this year, with the goal of offering flexibility for each jurisdiction who chooses to work on Standard 9 to begin or continue their work, no matter where they are in their pursuit of this important Standard.
The four options offered for this year for pursuit of a Public Health Metric include:
- Implement a risk factor study or equivalent protocol to develop a baseline survey
- Develop one or more intervention strategies aimed at mitigating the occurrence of out-of-control risk factors, and begin implementing
- Continue to add inspectional data to the survey instrument
- Statistically measure the outcomes of new information compared to the baseline survey
RFFM Mentorship Program FAQs
Would a jurisdiction be able to apply as a mentor for a Standard and as a mentee for another Standard during the same funding period?
No. Although a jurisdiction could qualify for both in a single year, they will have to choose to be either a mentor or a mentee for each 1-year award. Qualified jurisdictions will have the opportunity to make this choice each year during the 3-year duration of the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program Cooperative Agreement.
If an applicant applies to be a mentee, can they choose a mentor? And if applying to be a mentor, can they specify their mentee(s)?
Both the Track 1 and Track 2 Development Base Grant applications (by selecting the Mentee Optional Add-On) and the Mentorship Optional Add-On Grant application allow jurisdictions to request a specific mentor, or specific mentee(s), and justify why the proposed choice is ideal. Final assignments, however, will depend on the numbers and qualifications of both mentor and mentee applications and will be made by the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program project leadership (including members from FDA, NACCHO, and NEHA).
Our program is new to the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (hereafter Retail Program Standards) and applying for a Track 1 Development Base Grant. Is the Optional Outcome 1 - Mentorship / Mentee recommended?
Absolutely! As an important part of the Track 1 Development Base Grant application, Optional Outcome 1 - Mentorship/Mentee is designed to provide additional and customized support (along with additional funding) to programs new to the Retail Program Standards. Mentee awardees will be paired with a skilled mentor who will offer assistance throughout the grant performance period, with the goal of enabling progress in the Retail Program Standards.
As part of the Mentorship grant, we understand a Work Plan will be required, but we won't know many of the relevant details until we receive our mentor/mentee pairing with a grant award. If funded, will we be able to revise our Work Plan?
Yes. We understand it can be difficult for a mentor to develop an appropriate Work Plan to support mentee(s) with which they have not yet been paired. Similarly, it can be difficult for a mentee to develop an achievable Work Plan, especially if they are new to the Retail Program Standards.
Both mentor and mentee applicants should simply complete the "planning" sections of the grant application to the best of their ability, including the Project Information, Project Implementation Plan, and Budget sections. Once pairings are assigned and grant awards are made, both mentors and mentees will have a chance to work together and use the "planning" information from their grant application to develop a Work Plan, which will then be attached to the awarded Mentorship grant. The Work Plan, which will likely revise information submitted in the application, will become the guiding document for each jurisdiction's one-year mentorship project.
What are some of the features and benefits of the Mentorship Program?
Mentorship participants will benefit from building collaborative relationships with similar programs with the focus of achieving conformance with the Retail Program Standards. Both mentees and mentors will participate in sharing sessions, site visits, webinars, and an end-of-year meeting.
Additionally, it is not uncommon for mentorship participants to have Retail Program Standards met and verified within the period of performance. Mentorship Program participants will also benefit from outcomes that will likely include:
- increased staff familiarity with the Retail Program Standards;
- increased retail food regulatory program capacity for implementing continuous quality assurance and quality improvement for retail food regulatory programs; and
- improved inspection and oversight of retail and food service establishments under the jurisdiction of the retail food regulatory program.
What if the mentorship award amount is more than my program needs?
Mentorship applicants can request $14,000 to be a mentee, while mentors can request from $12,000 (for one mentee) up to $24,000 (for 5 mentees) (see the 2024 Grant Guidance for details).
The funding amounts for both mentees and mentors are provided as incentives to complete all deliverables required by the Mentorship Program and outlined in the grant application. Reimbursement is based on completing specified deliverables, and documentation will not be required for payment.
The goals for this change for CY 2024 are that mentors and mentees will be able to use the funding provided to meet the unique needs of their jurisdictions to allow full participation in the Mentorship Program, and that they will be incentivized to achieve all specified deliverables during the program year.
What are the specific deliverables that must be met by mentors and mentees to receive full payment?
The keep the Mentorship Program as simple as possible, deliverables that must be met focus on the basics of the program.
For mentees, the deliverables include active participation as a mentee during the program year, completion of project goals specified in the mentee application, completion of a site visit with the mentor, and attendance at the NACCHO end-of-year meeting.
For mentors, the deliverables include active support of your mentees during the program year, encouragement of mentees to complete the project goals specified in their mentee application, completion of a site visit with all mentees, and attendance at the NACCHO end-of-year meeting.
For complete details on specific deliverables for both mentor and mentees, and the funding allocated for each deliverable, please review the Grant Guidance.
What specific costs should be included in my mentor or mentee request?
As per the change to Fixed Funding for all Mentorship funding, no budgets are required, and payments will be based on meeting specified deliverables.
For complete details on CY 2024 program changes, please review the Grant Guidance.
What is the NACCHO Mentorship end-of-year meeting, and do I need to include the expenses for this in my grant budget?
NACCHO will be conducting an end-of-year meeting with all mentors and mentees. This meeting will provide a valuable opportunity for participants to share progress in the Standards they have achieved, and lessons learned throughout the Mentorship program.
Both mentors and mentees can use their Fixed Funding to send up to two participants to the NACCHO Mentorship end-of-year meeting. Again, no budgets are required in the application for any mentorship funding, and there is no set amount of the fixed funding that must be expended on travel to this meeting. Although $3,000 will be paid as a fixed amount for meeting the "end-of-year meeting attendance" deliverable, jurisdictions are free to spend more or less than this amount, as dictated by need.