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Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions. You may also submit questions to Evelyn McCoy, All questions received that are not already answered on this page will be published in a separate document that can be downloaded here: 
FAQs 6.4.18

Please check back often for updates.


What do you mean by innovation? Do I need to have a completely original idea that’s never been done before?
Innovations are solutions that are intended to be more effective, efficient, and/or sustainable than current approaches to a given issue, and that utilize cross-collaboration in a way that engages different stakeholders to achieve a common goal. Innovation need not be completely original or unique, and can involve the application of existing ideas or approaches to new problems or contexts. You can propose an idea that is innovative locally, nationally, thematically, and/or in its approach to tackling challenges around jail population.

Is priority given to ideas that address particular parts of the justice process? 
We will make efforts to select innovations that represent the continuum of decision points in the criminal justice system. These decision points include: arrest; charge; appointment of counsel; pretrial release/bail; case processing; disposition and sentencing; and reentry/community supervision. The work undertaken by the first cohort of Innovation Fund sites is described here. 

Do you accept e-mailed or mailed submissions?
No. Applications are only accepted through the Fluid Review platform located at

Can a jurisdiction submit more than one application for different innovations?
Yes. Jurisdictions may submit more than one application. However, we will not fund more than one innovation in the same jurisdiction.

Can award be used to augment or supplement an existing program?
Yes, however, there must be a new or innovative aspect. We are not anticipating that every participant will be inventing something from the ground up, but if you’re building from existing activities, we want to know: how is Fund participation creating something that’s new?

Will someone critique a draft of our application before we submit?
No. In order to create a fair application process, we will only look at final submitted applications. We will not provide feedback on drafts.


How long is the award period?
The Innovation Fund implementation period is scheduled to last a total of fifteen months from October 2018 to December 2019.

When will we be notified if we are a recipient of the award?
Selected applicants for the Innovation Fund will be notified in September 2018.

Will we be notified if we are not a recipient?
All applicants will be notified of their status in September 2018.

Can someone submit an application after the application deadline? 
No. Unfortunately, we cannot accept applications after the application deadline on June 15, 2018 at 11:59PM EST.


Will current IF site jurisdictions be eligible to apply for another Innovation Fund grant through the second Innovation Fund competition?
No, the 2018 Innovation Fund competition will only be open to sites that have not previously received funding under either the Innovation Fund or the broader Safety and Justice Challenge.

Do I need to be the operator of a jail to be eligible to apply?
No. The lead applicant agency does not need to be the operator of the jail.


What does the package of support entail?
Those selected to participate in the Innovation Fund will benefit from a package of support that includes:
  • Grant awards of $50,000;
  • Access to expert technical assistance and feedback from Urban to help make your innovation a reality over a 15-month period (October 2018 – December 2019);
  • Virtual peer learning opportunities with Urban and the broader SJC partners;
  • Elevation of your jurisdiction’s work through attendance at the Safety and Justice Challenge Network convenings;
  • Mechanisms for sharing innovative ideas about jail reform broadly; and
  • Forming part of a network of jurisdictions at the forefront of a national movement to rethink the use of jail.
What does “peer learning” entail?
Peer learning includes access and participation in MacArthur’s Safety & Justice Challenge Network, supported by the Urban Institute. The network consists of forty sites that are geographically and structurally diverse, and numerous partners and champions of change. Some of the peer learning activities Innovation Fund sites will have access to include:
  • Participate in Safety and Justice Challenge Network convenings.
  • Webcasts and online trainings facilitated by various members of the network to assist sites with challenges, share ideas, highlight lessons learned, and elevate resources.
Opportunities to engage in peer consultation with other jurisdictions in the network.

What are the permitted uses for spending grant funds?
Funds can be used at the discretion of the jurisdiction or the lead applicant agency in accordance with a budget developed in the early planning phase upon receipt of the Fund. Funds may not be used for lobbying, supplementing or covering the salary of an existing staff member, or facility renovation. 


What are the progress and data reporting requirements of awardees?
Innovation Fund awardees will be expected to provide a total of 4 reports to Urban on grant-funded activities: 3 progress reports and 1 final report. Awardees will also be expected to share information with the other Innovation Fund sites on an ongoing basis, participate in virtual learning opportunities convened by Urban and the SJC Network, as well as participate in regular conference calls with the Urban TA team.
When will funds be distributed?
50% of the funds will be disbursed up front, 40% will be disbursed at the halfway point with receipt of a financial report, and the remaining 10% will be cost reimbursable. However, if this is restrictive based on your jurisdiction’s funding structure and/or proposed innovation, if necessary, we are flexible and will work with you to create an alternate funding distribution plan.



What is the Safety & Justice Challenge convening?
Semi-annually a network of jurisdictions from across the country is brought together by MacArthur to problem solve, discuss, learn, and collaborate with and from each other about the most pressing issues around reducing jail population. The next convening will be held October 17-19, 2018.

What if we cannot make the SJC Convening? Is this mandatory?
Representation at the SJC Convening is required as part of the Innovation Fund award. Travel and lodging expenses will be paid by the Urban Institute and attendees will be given enough notice to plan appropriately.

Who is required to attend the Safety & Justice Challenge convening? 
Two people from each jurisdiction awarded are expected to attend and participate in the SJC convenings. Appropriate attendees will be identified by the awardee in consultation with Urban.



Fluid Review isn’t working, what do I do?
In the event that Fluid Review is having technical difficulties, please email Evelyn McCoy at, and contact the Fluid Review Support desk at which is available Monday-Friday, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. EST or weekends from 10 a.m. to 8p.m. EST.


I still have more questions – who do I contact?
Should you have more questions you can tune into one of 2 live webinars hosted by the Urban Institute and MacArthur Foundation. Registration is required to participate in one of these sessions.

The webinars are scheduled as follows:
Tuesday, May 15, 2018 from 12:00pm-1:00pm Eastern Standard Time
Thursday, June 7, 2018 from 1:00pm-2:00pm Eastern Standard Time

Please register for the Tuesday, May 15, 2018 webinar by clicking 

Please register for the Thursday, June 7, 2018 webinar by clicking 

Should you have any questions about the application process beyond what is covered here and in the webinars, please send an e-mail to Evelyn McCoy at We will make an effort to answer your individual questions and structure our webinar according to frequently asked questions and concerns. Responses to all questions received will be posted regularly at