What is the purpose of the Rathmann Challenge?

The Rathmann Family Foundation believes in the power of ideas. Even the greatest ideas, however, are of no use if they are never communicated. The Rathmann Challenge attracts and inspires the best and the brightest to find solutions for difficult issues. This is accomplished through an application process that requires thoughtful, self‐evaluation of past accomplishments as well an Even Bigger Idea® for the future, and a collaborative peer review component reserved for the top applicants where past accomplishments and the Even Bigger Idea® are vetted with others whose experience and insights are well suited to evaluate and provide a constructive critique. Whether or not an application received funding, applicants have universally stated they find value in this challenging process.

What is the funding focus of the 2017 Rathmann Challenge?

We see widespread use of compost as an important tool for recapturing carbon from the atmosphere, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and stabilizing the carbon cycle. For this reason, we seek ideas to significantly expand the use of compost in the United States and selected “Mitigating Climate Change by Expanding the Use of Compost” as the focus of the 2017 Rathmann Challenge.

Who is eligible for the Rathmann Challenge?

Generally, organizations eligible to submit an Application are validly formed legal entities that do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, veteran status, marital status or other factors prohibited by law and do not promote or engage in violence or terrorist activities.

For the 2017 Rathmann Challenge, organizations must also be a public charity as demonstrated through a current 501(c)(3) designation letter from the Internal Revenue Service or by virtue of 26 IRC 170b1A as a fully accredited public or private school or university, or as an instrument of a federal, state or local government (for example a town) and reside in and deliver programs or services within at least one of the 50 United States or District of Columbia. Organizations must also have an annual operating budget of at least $100,000 and must not be a “disqualified entity” nor have a close affiliation with a “disqualified person” as described in our Guidelines and Challenge Portal Terms & Conditions which will posted on this website in November 2016.

When can I submit an application for the 2017 Rathmann Challenge?

Application submission opens on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 11 am Eastern Time and closes on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 11 am Eastern Time or when 200 qualified applications have been received, whichever comes first. Regrettably, updates on the number of applications received to date are not available.

How is the Rathmann Challenge funding structured?

The Rathmann Challenge Recipient’s past outstanding work and big ideas are honored with a $100,000 grant.

The Rathmann Challenge Recipient then has up to six months from the date they receive the $100,000 funding to begin the collaborative Even Bigger Idea® application process in which the Rathmann Challenge Recipient works with the Rathmann Family Foundation to refine various ideas which could result in a $200,000 grant -- $100,000 for each of two years. Funding in Year Two is contingent upon submission of a Year One Follow Up report, from which we will determine, whether in our sole discretion, there is a reasonable basis for continued funding. Please note an invitation to participate or participating in the Even Bigger Idea® application process is not a guarantee of future funding.

Rathmann Challenge recipients who receive first year funding for their Even Bigger Idea® are celebrated with a short video retrospective. Focused on their current work and highlighting implementation of their Even Bigger Idea®, this professionally produced video, running approximately three minutes in length, will be featured on our website. The Recipient may also choose to post the video on their organization’s website.

Will a Rathmann Challenge recipient be selected and $100,000 awarded every two years?

Not necessarily. We anticipate, in our sole discretion, selecting and funding $100,000 to a Rathmann Challenge Recipient as well as $5000 to at least two Rathmann Challenge Honorable Mention Recipients during each Rathmann Challenge cycle. Additionally, we may, prior to entering the Peer Review Phase, choose to delay the selection of the Rathmann Challenge and Honorable Mention Recipients until the following year, in the event we determine that there is an insufficient applicant pool.

Once the Peer Review Phase is initiated, selection and funding of one Rathmann Challenge and at least two Honorable Mention Recipients is guaranteed within that Rathmann Challenge cycle.

If our organization is selected as the Rathmann Challenge recipient, is the full $300,000 a certainty?

No, only the $100,000 funding for the first year is “a certainty.” Funding for Year Two and Three are contingent upon the successful and timely completion and approval of the Even Bigger Idea® application and a Year One follow up report, from which the Foundation will determine whether, in its sole discretion, there is a reasonable basis for continued funding.

If our organization receives the $100,000, are we required to use it for the Even Bigger Idea® as described in our Rathmann Challenge application?

Not necessarily. The only restriction is that funds be used in a manner consistent with the grant terms provided in the Rathmann Family Foundation’s standard funding agreement.

Who reviews the applications and peer review comments?

The Rathmann Family Foundation is solely responsible for identifying members of the evaluation committee (the “Committee”) for each Rathmann Challenge. The Committee will have a minimum of three members representing both for‐profit and non‐profit sectors who hold relevant and varied expertise. Each Committee member signs a Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement and a Confidentiality Agreement prior to joining the Committee and serves with anonymity. It is not possible for applicants to contact Committee members directly.

If our organization is the 2017 Rathmann Challenge recipient, does our Even Bigger Idea® application have to be based on our 2017 Rathmann Challenge application content?

Not necessarily. Your Even Bigger Idea® can build on the 2017 Rathmann Challenge Application work, extend the reach of past successes or current programming, create a pilot program or scale up a new idea and must address one, some or all of the issues described in the “Mitigating Climate Change by Expanding the Use of Compost” objective. An Even Bigger Idea® does not need to align with the Even Bigger Idea® presented within the original Application as submitted by the Recipient for the 2017 Rathmann Challenge.

The Rathmann Challenge currently offered is not a fit for our organization. When will the next Rathmann Challenge be offered? What will the funding focus be?

Subscribe to the Rathmann Innovation Center newsletter to keep up to date on our calendar and funding focus announcements.