PROJECTUpward Mobility Cohort FAQ

The Upward Mobility Cohort RFI application period has ended. Applicants have been notified about whether they have been selected as finalists as of October 19, 2020.


Updated Thursday, August 27, 2020


Who can apply for this opportunity?

County governments in the 50 US states and the District of Columbia must be the lead applicants for this opportunity. However, counties will be encouraged to demonstrate partnership with other local organizations in their application, and the engagement with Urban will include building on or creating cross-sector partnerships.

Is there a population size restriction for county applicants?

There is no population size restriction on applicants. Successful applicants will need to demonstrate sufficient county staff capacity to implement this partnership, and sufficient population to ensure that representative mobility metrics data are available. While this application does not have a minimum population threshold, Urban anticipates that larger counties (e.g., those with populations above 50,000) are more likely to meet these criteria.

Can multiple counties apply jointly?

Yes, multiple counties may submit a joint application. One county government will need to serve as lead applicant and designated grantee for contracting and payment purposes. On page 1 of the Qualtrics application, please list all counties that are applying under “county name,” with the lead applicant listed first.

Are consolidated cities/counties eligible to apply?

Yes, consolidated city/county governments are eligible to apply.

What if my state doesn’t have counties?

County equivalents in states without county governments may apply. For example, parishes in Louisiana, boroughs in Alaska, and the District of Columbia are eligible to apply.

What if my state doesn't have county governments?

In states where counties are only geographic units and governmental functions and authorities are not assigned to counties, potential applicants should email [email protected] to propose an alternative geography for the engagement. Urban would evaluate the feasibility of this alternative geography, considering the availability of mobility metrics data, and respond to clarify whether the applicant would be eligible. Even in these cases, a government partner (e.g., town or state) still needs to be the lead entity and applicant.

Are local governments in US territories eligible?

At this time, only counties and county equivalents in the 50 states and the District of Columbia are eligible. This is because many of the data sources used in the mobility metrics aren’t consistently available at the local level in US territories.

I'm not part of a county government. How can my organization still be involved in this work?

For this initiative to be successful, counties need to have strong partnerships with other organizations. We encourage you to forward this RFI to your county government contacts and encourage them to consider applying. Within the application, counties are asked to describe the partnerships they have with other local organizations to promote mobility and racial equity. If your county is selected, your organization can be a part of the mobility coalition working with the county in its engagement with Urban.

Technical Assistance and Support

What financial and technical support will be offered to the cohort?

Applicants selected for the cohort will receive $125,000 in financial support. They will also receive technical assistance from Urban, including support with data analysis, stakeholder engagement, and policy and programmatic advising. Participation in the cohort will also involve regular peer learning with other participating counties and with organizations working on mobility-related topics. This peer learning will take the form of webinars and several in-person or virtual events. After this 18-month period of technical assistance, which concludes in June 2022, the Upward Mobility Cohort counties should be prepared to implement their mobility action plans. This funding opportunity does not extend financial or other support for the implementation phase.

How will this project support efforts to promote greater racial equity?

Issues of structural racism are central to our definition of mobility and our approach to improving access to opportunity, especially for people of color who face additional structural barriers to economic mobility. Our data analysis will highlight disparities faced by people of color on certain metrics, and our technical assistance and policy and program recommendations will also focus on reducing racial inequities and targeting strategies to support marginalized groups. We encourage applicants to demonstrate how your county is working on and thinking about racial equity and how this opportunity might support the county in those efforts.

Does Urban need to gain access to any proprietary and confidential information from the county?

Almost all the mobility metrics are nationally and publicly available, therefore Urban’s calculations of the metrics will not require any confidential data. Local data can be used to supplement the mobility metrics, and Urban can work with counties that are interested in analyzing local data to better understand mobility challenges in their communities.

What are the permitted uses of the grant funding?

Funds can be used to support staff time on the project and associated direct costs. Funding might also be used to support an outside consultant to supplement staff capacity. Finalists will be required to submit a line item budget during the full proposal stage. Funding will be provided through a cost-reimbursable grant over the course of the engagement.

How long is the funding period?

The implementation period is from January 2021 to June 2022, though the signed grant agreement and the initial disbursement of funding may occur a few weeks after the start of the implementation period.


What do you mean by “continuity of county leadership support”?

In order to ensure continued commitment to this work over the length of the grant period, counties should ideally be able to demonstrate some form of continuous leadership support. This may take the form of elected county leadership whose tenure lasts the length of the initiative, a commitment from a county board to prioritize this work, or other plans that demonstrate the county will continue to engage in this initiative even if elected county leadership changes.

Is a letter or resolution from county elected officials expected with submission of the RFI?

A letter or resolution from county elected officials is not due with submission of the RFI, but it would be submitted with the full RFP response for counties that are selected as finalists.

Will someone critique a draft of our RFI before we submit it?

No, Urban will not be able to review applications in advance of submission.

Who should fill out the RFI?

The RFI should be completed by county staff who will likely be the lead or point of contact if selected for this engagement.

Does the county government lead have to be from the county administration or commissioners’ offices?

The lead point of contact within the county should be a senior staff member with the authority to assemble a project team with staff across relevant departments and to keep elected leadership updated on project progress. While leaders from county administration offices and commissioners’ offices are well-positioned to play this role, senior staff from other departments that play cross-cutting functions within county government may also apply as lead point of contact, explaining in the RFI response how they would staff and manage the project team.

Can a county submit multiple applications?

Each county should only submit one application. Given the cross-cutting nature of upward mobility and racial equity challenges and of the mobility metrics, it’s ideal that the application presents a unified approach from the county that shows coordination among multiple offices to address issues that touch on different policy areas.

Selection Criteria

How will the RFI be evaluated?

The selection of finalists will be determined by a demonstration of commitment to upward mobility and racial equity, a record of partnership with a range of organizations, and strong staff capacity and commitment to engage in this work. In addition to these criteria, Urban seeks to build a diverse Upward Mobility Cohort of counties with respect to geography, size, capacity, and racial and ethnic composition.

How will a county’s commitment to upward mobility and racial equity be evaluated?

Commitment to these topics can be demonstrated in many ways, including examples of county initiatives that address these issues, particular departments or county staff working on mobility and racial equity, and engagement with community partners working on these issues.


What is the deadline to submit the RFI?

Applications are due via Qualtrics at 11:59 p.m. EST on September 16, 2020.

How many counties will be selected? When will we be notified if we are a finalist?

We will be selecting up to eight counties to form the cohort. Finalists will be notified of their selection on October 19, 2020. Counties not selected as finalists will also be notified. Finalists will be required to submit their full proposal by November 24, 2020, and will receive notice of final selection by the end of December.

If my county is not selected as a finalist, will we still be able to receive the county’s metrics data?

Yes, counties that are not selected as finalists may ask Urban to calculate and share their metrics results. Please note that it may take additional time to share those reports, and Urban may not be able to provide technical assistance with interpretation.

What are the progress reporting requirements for the cohort?

Cohort counties will be expected to actively participate by sharing lessons and takeaways with Urban throughout the learning process. Counties will use a short template to report progress on grant-funded activities semiannuallly and provide quarterly financial reports.

Application Submission

Qualtrics isn’t working. What do I do?

Please contact [email protected] for any technical issues with Qualtrics.

Can I start the application and return to where I left off at a later time?

No, the application must be completed and submitted in one sitting. We recommend that you draft responses outside Qualtrics and make sure they are saved, then cut and paste them into the Qualtrics form. The questions and character limits for each response are listed in the full RFI.

I still have more questions. Who do I contact?

Email [email protected] for any additional questions not answered by this FAQ. Urban will accept questions through Tuesday, August 25, and will post an updated list of frequently asked questions on this page on Tuesday, September 1. To ensure equal access to information, Urban will not respond directly to individual emails.

Research Areas Economic mobility and inequality Wealth and financial well-being
Policy Centers Research to Action Lab