Youth Sports

FAQs: The Million Coaches Challenge


What are the key steps to this process?

All interested candidates must follow the steps below to be considered for this funding opportunity.

  1. LOI Stage (through January 2021): All candidates must submit a letter of inquiry (LOI) in our Foundant portal prior to the deadline of 5:00pm CST on January 29, 2021.
  2. Application Stage (February-April 2021): Following a review period, SCE will contact the most promising candidates in February to request a formal application (i.e. grant proposal). Candidates will have approximately 4-6 weeks to complete the application. We will provide specific dates later in the process. SCE will review submitted applications and contact applicants with clarifying questions or requests for additional information as needed.
  3. Decision Stage (May 2021): All grantees require approval by SCE’s Board of Directors. Candidates who make it to this stage will be notified of the funding decision in May 2021. SCE will provide specific dates later in the process.

Do I need to create an account in Foundant to access the LOI?

Foundant is SCE’s grant management system. If you have not previously created a Foundant account, you will be prompted to do so prior to submitting the LOI.

Do I need to submit the LOI in Foundant, or will you accept Word/PDF versions?

Letters of inquiry must be submitted in Foundant. If you are invited to complete a formal application (i.e. grant proposal), this will also need to be submitted in Foundant. We do, however, encourage you to type out your responses in Word and then copy/paste them into Foundant.

Who do I reach out to with questions?

For issues related to Foundant, please reach out directly to Kevin Connors ( For clarifying questions related to the Challenge, please email and include “Million Coaches Challenge Application” in the subject line.

Together with the Aspen Institute’s Project Play and Positive Coaching Alliance, we will be hosting an informational webinar on November 18th. Please sign up for the webinar here.


I have a project in mind, but I’m not sure if it is a good fit for this initiative. Would it be possible to connect with SCE to determine whether I should submit an LOI?

To be fair to all candidates, we are not able to discuss the merits of potential proposals. We encourage you to submit an LOI if you think your project may align with this initiative.

My project is longer than three years. Can I still submit an LOI?

Yes. We request that you include the full budget for your project but clearly articulate which parts of the budget will be supported by SCE funds. SCE will provide funding for up to three years.

Does SCE have an Indirect Cost Policy?

Yes. SCE’s indirect cost policy provides that the indirect cost rate may not exceed 10% of the direct costs of the project.

Can I submit multiple LOIs?

Yes. If you have multiple projects that you would like considered, you may submit multiple letters of inquiry. If projects are related enough to be bundled into a single LOI, we encourage you to do so.

Are fiscally-sponsored organizations eligible?

Only 501 (c)(3) organizations are eligible to apply, though we will also accept applications from programs that have a fiscal sponsor.

What types of organizations are eligible to apply? Are school districts eligible?

We welcome proposals from a range of actors, including but not limited to youth sports providers, coach providers, coach training organizations, intermediaries, and governing bodies. This includes school districts and state athletic associations. All applicants must be a 501 (c)(3).

Is this initiative limited to certain cities or regions?

No. Susan Crown Exchange is a nationally-focused foundation, and the Million Coaches Challenge is a national initiative. We invite proposals from organizations across the United States. We will not accept submissions from organizations based outside of the U.S.

Can you provide additional clarification on the eligible age range?

Our intention is to reach coaches who are supporting young athletes between the ages of 5-18. If you are an organization who also supports young people outside of that range, please ensure that your application is primarily focused on coaches who support athletes ages 5-18.

How are you defining “organized sport”?
For this initiative, we are defining organized sport as physical activity that is directed by adult or youth leaders and involves rules and formal practice and competition. School and club sports are included in this definition. Physical education classes at schools do not typically fall into the category of organized sport. This definition derives from a report in the Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics entitled “Organized Sports for Children, Preadolescents, and Adolescents.”

Are you prioritizing specific sports?
No. We welcome applications for coaches working in any organized sport setting, whether team-based or individual-based sports, competitive or non-competitive, and free, low-cost, or fee-based. You will see in the LOI that we ask a series of questions to gain a better understanding of who you serve, but please know your answers to these questions won’t impact your evaluation.

Does e-sports qualify?
Given the increasing popularity of competitive e-sports and the role that coaches play in supporting young people, we welcome applications from initiatives that include e-sports.

I already train coaches in these techniques. Can I count them towards the goal of reaching one million?

First, and most important, thank you! Thank you for your current efforts to train coaches. For this Challenge, our goal is to reach an additional one million coaches. If a grant from SCE would enable you to grow from 10,000 coaches to 25,000, we will consider funding to support the entire training effort but only count the additional 15,000 toward the goal.

I see that your goal is to reach an “additional” one million coaches with training. Can coaches who have been trained before be counted towards this goal?
For this initiative, we are focusing on coaches who have not been trained in the past three years. If your proposal also includes coaches who were more recently trained, you are still eligible to apply, but we will not count these recently trained coaches towards the goal of one million.

Do the coaches need to be “new to my organization” in order to be counted toward the goal of one million?

No. You may count coaches who are new to you organization (i.e. you are expanding your reach), as well as coaches who are already in your network, so long as they have not received high quality SEL/youth development training in the past three years. For instance, if you currently train 5,000 coaches on health and safety and this grant would allow you to add high quality SEL/youth development content, you may count these 5,000 coaches toward the goal.  As a general rule of thumb, if a coach has not been trained in the last three years, they may be counted.

My organization is not able to reach a total of 5,000 coaches over the three year grant period. What should I do?

We recognize that many effective organizations will not be able to meet the minimum number of coaches required by this initiative. In these cases, we encourage you to consider two approaches:

  1. Apply with partners. Think about applying to the Challenge in partnership with other organizations to increase your reach. If your combined number of coaches trained meets the 5,000 coach minimum, we’ll consider your application.
  2. Ask an intermediary, governing body, or network to apply on your behalf: If there are not any viable partnership opportunities, we encourage you to share this funding opportunity with any intermediaries, governing bodies, or networks with whom you may be affiliated. For example, while an individual school may not meet the coaching requirement, the school district might. In this case, the district may apply for funding on behalf of all schools.

If I plan to partner with other organizations for this initiative, should we each submit an LOI?

No. In the case that you do work with a partner, we request that one organization serves as the “lead organization” and submit a single LOI on behalf of the group.

Can I start a new training program with these grant funds or is this opportunity only open to organizations with already established programs?

We invite submissions for both new and existing programs. We will also consider projects that seek to enhance current training efforts by adding youth development-aligned content to the current curriculum. If an existing training program, please share any data that speaks to your impact. If new, please share your rationale for why you believe it will be an effective program and the evidence-base for its approach.

Are you requiring a certain training program?
No. Applicants are able to choose their own training partners or curriculum, so long as the content and quality meet the standards laid out for this initiative.

You mention the phrase “high quality training.” What does that mean in this context?

Quality is critical, and it is an essential part of a competitive application. At the same time, we recognize that there is not an established or common definition of quality coach training in the youth sports sector. Therefore, we will evaluate the quality of your program based on the principles of effective professional development that are widely used in other sectors, particularly K-12 education. While there are multiple frameworks available, we commonly reference The Learning Policy Institute’s “7 Elements of Highly Effective Professional Development” and the U.S. Department of Education’s “Checklist for Online Professional Learning.” At the LOI stage, we simply ask you to summarize your training design and briefly articulate how you ensure it is of high quality. During the full application stage, we will ask you to analyze your training design and practices based on The Learning Policy Institute’s framework.

You mention the phrases “youth development” and “social and emotional learning” throughout the LOI. How are you defining these?

We agree that the language is important. In the Challenge question, we broadly use the term “youth development” to cast a wide net for this initiative. Social and emotional learning, positive youth development, and trauma-informed care – just to name a few – are all uniquely important approaches and all aligned to this Challenge.

In the LOI, we ask you to describe how your training content aligns to credible, evidence-based frameworks. We commonly reference the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASELCompetencies, David P. Weikart Center’s Preparing Youth to Thrive guide, or the Aspen Institute’s Calls for Coaches, but you are welcome to reference different frameworks in your submission.

What criteria will you use to determine who receives a grant?

In the letter of inquiry stage, we are interested in the most compelling ideas that bring high quality youth development and social and emotional training to coaches. Your letter of inquiry should clearly articulate why you are uniquely positioned to solve the Challenge, give us confidence in the quality and alignment of your training efforts, and make us want to read more.

If you are invited to the application (i.e. grant proposal) stage, we will consider a range of criteria when evaluating proposals. This includes: leadership capacity, organizational stability, alignment with the initiative’s challenge question, potential for impact, quality of the training and curriculum, quality of the implementation plan, financial sustainability/stability of the program, and the ability to measure outcomes. We have a rigorous selection process, and all grantees require approval by the SCE Board of Directors.

Image © Positive Coaching Alliance