988 Planning Grants
About the Funding Opportunity
In July 2022, 988 will become the national three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, replacing the current phone number of 1-800-283-TALK (8255). As the administrator of the Lifeline since its inception in 2005, Vibrant Emotional Health knows that a national three-digit phone number can improve access to vital crisis services, improve the efficacy of suicide prevention efforts, and reduce the stigma about mental health and getting help.
Vibrant, through a special funding opportunity, seeks to collaborate with public health and mental health agencies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to plan for the development of appropriate infrastructure and operations necessary for the full implementation of 988. U.S. Territories who, as of December 7, 2020, have a crisis center currently in the application process to join the Lifeline are also eligible for this funding opportunity.
Through this grant opportunity U.S. states, territories and Lifeline centers receiving grant funds will:
- Develop clear roadmaps for how they will address key coordination, capacity, funding and communication strategies that are foundational to the launching of 988 which will occur on or before July 16, 2022.
- Plan for the long-term improvement of in-state answer rates for 988 calls.
The number of awards to be paid depends on the number of successful applications, however, up to 54 awards may be made. As the lead applicants, state/territory agencies must partner with Lifeline-affiliated call centers in their state/territory for this grant.
Applications are due no later than 5 pm EST, Friday, January 8, 2021. Click here to submit your application. Directions and application requirements are listed within the Request for Applications (RFA). Frequently asked questions are below and more will be added to this page regularly.
RFA and Supporting Documents
911 Fee and Revenue Report to Congress
FAQ - Funding
How many grants will be awarded and how much is the grant in total?
The grant is up to $9 million for all combined awards. Up to 54 awards may be made through this grant competition depending on the quality of the applications and the availability of funds.
How much can we apply for?
The amount a state/territory can apply for depends on the number of Lifeline member centers in their state/territory. The funding levels are:
- States/Territories with 1-2 Lifeline centers = $125,000 + center stipends (ex: a state with two centers could ask for a maximum of $135,000)
- States/Territories with 3-6 Lifeline centers = $175,000 + center stipends (ex: a state with six centers could ask for a maximum of $205,000)
- States/Territories with 7-10 Lifeline member centers = $225,000 + center stipends (ex: a state with ten centers could ask for a maximum of $275,000)
- States/Territories with 11 or more Lifeline centers = $275,000 + center stipends (ex: a state with thirteen centers could ask for a maximum of $340,000)
- Note: in determining the number of Lifeline centers in their state, agencies may include those centers that are already actively in the Lifeline application process as of 12/7/20. Due to budget limitations for the grant program, centers who apply to join the Lifeline after 12/7/20 are not eligible to be counted towards the funding brackets noted above. A list of centers currently in the application process may be found in Appendix B of this funding announcement.
Is the call center stipend included in the grant budget or does the state need to provide funding for this through another means?
The call center stipends will be paid from the total grant award made to the state/territory agency. Please refer to page 5 of the updated RFA.
Can we provide stipends larger than $5,000 to our Lifeline member centers?
Please see the Allowable Expenses FAQ section below.
Is this a federal SAMHSA grant using federal funds?
No, this is a private grant from Vibrant Emotional Health (the administrator of the Lifeline) and is made possible by private donations.
Supporting FTE at the state/territory agency is required in the RFA. Does that have to be a full FTE or can it be partial FTE? Can FTE be split between multiple individuals?
Yes, FTE can be split among multiple individuals. A full time FTE allocation is not required, however do expect there is meaningful engagement on this grant from state agency employees. Because of some budget constraints, some states are creating FTE that works for their budget, but including more staff members as in-kind contributions.
Could more than one award be made to a state if two different state agencies apply?
No, only one award per state/territory will be made.
The RFA says we have to support FTE in our agency with this grant but there is probably no way we would be able to recruit, hire and train for this program until the project is likely half way through. What should we do?
A number of agencies have told us they could accomplish this. However, if you are certain your agency can’t, we ask you to consider ways of re-allocating FTE on current positions. In fact, the reallocation scenario was the primary consideration we had in mind because we hope new staff aren’t hired just for this time-limited grant if that means they would lose their position once the grant ends. We are wanting to support initial FTE and build sustainable, institutional knowledge within the agency for 988 – knowledge which lasts beyond the grant period, through the lead up to full 988 implementation, and beyond.
Is this a competitive grant process?
These awards are non-competitive. However, applications will be reviewed for the degree to which they have addressed the required elements of the application as outlined in Section V. of the above included RFA. Applicants who have sufficiently addressed the required elements of the application shall receive awards.
- Note: Additional information may be required of the applicant by Vibrant prior to award, including the possibility of budget modifications.
When does the Lifeline plan to announce the awards?
If you are approved for funding, we anticipate you will receive a Notice of Award (NoA) via email by Wednesday, January 20, 2021.
If approved for funding, what are the important dates that I should be aware of?
The following dates are important:
- February 1, 2021 – Beginning of Performance Period.
- April 15, 2021 – Quarterly financial report submitted.
- July 15, 2021 – Quarterly financial report due.
- August 30, 2021 – Initial draft of 988 planning report due to the Lifeline and SAMHSA.
- September 30, 2021 – Grant Performance Period Ends. Quarterly financial report due.
Final grant progress report due. Final grant financial report due.
- December 31, 2021 – Final 988 planning report due to the administrator of the Lifeline and SAMHSA.
Are indirect costs allowed?
Yes. If you are claiming indirect costs you must use your federally negotiated indirect cost rate. If your organization does not have such a rate but uses a Public Assistance Cost Allocation Plan (PACAP) please use that rate instead and note it in the budget as a PACAP instead.
Are indirect costs within or above the allowable funding limits?
As stated on page 5 of the RFA: “State / Territory agencies may budget for direct costs up to the following amounts…” Thus, IDCs or PACAP costs are above these funding levels.
FAQ - Eligibility
Who is eligible to apply?
State mental health, public health and behavioral health agencies in all 50 U.S. States and the District of Columbia are eligible. Also, public health and mental health departments in U.S. Territories that have Lifeline member call centers or who have applied for Lifeline membership as of 12/7/20 (See Appendix B of RFA) are also eligible. However, if a U.S. Territory does not have a current or pending call center in the Lifeline network and would like consideration for grant eligibility please email Matt Taylor, Director of Network Development at [email protected].
We would like to use the services of a state suicide prevention coalition as the central lead on the grant. Is this allowed?
Non-profit organizations (ex: suicide prevention coalitions) and even Lifeline member call centers may, at the discretion of the state/territory agency, be subcontracted to perform some aspects of the grant work scope (ex: as 988 Implementation Coalition meeting facilitators). However, the state/territory agency must be the lead applicant of the grant, must have FTE on the grant, and must be centrally engaged in all grant activities. We are concerned when state agencies subcontract too many aspects of 988 and Lifeline-related capacity planning because this can result in planning that is not sustainable or well-integrated into state policy and funding structures.
Is there an option for centers to apply for funding if the state agency declines to apply?
No, state or U.S. Territory departments of mental health, public health or behavioral health must be the lead applicants on the grant.
As a center, is there anything we need to do/should do to make sure our state is actually applying for this? / If we don’t know which agency would even apply can we assume our state will include us? / How do we find out who is responsible for applying for each state?
The oversight of suicide prevention and crisis call center activities varies greatly from state to state. It is difficult for us to say with certainty who/which agency will be applying. We strongly encourage centers to be proactive if they are concerned their state might not apply. We suggest that, a minimum, you reach out the your state suicide prevention coordinator. You can find out who that is by visiting: https://www.sprc.org/states. When a state/territory agency does apply, they are required to work with, and provide participation stipends to every current Lifeline member center as well as those that were in the Lifeline application process as of 12/7/20.
Our state has multiple call centers, we need to submit the grant together, is that correct?
Only a state department of mental health, public health or behavioral health may submit a grant application.
FAQ - Partnerships
Can centers who become Lifeline members after the end of the 988 planning grant, be added to our state’s 988 implementation plan? Or are we required, in our build out for 988, to stay limited to current centers? In other words, can we recruit and incentivize new centers to join the Lifeline and 988 after this grant ends?
Yes, additional centers in your state can become Lifeline members in the future so long as they meet Lifeline and SAMHSA standards for participation. They can become part of your implementation plan during -or after- both the grant and your implementation plan is finalized.
How will agencies decide which centers they will consult with for planning purposes?
Each Lifeline member center within the state or territory and part of the Lifeline network by 12/7/20 (or with a pending application by 12/7/20) must receive, from the awarded applicant agency, a stipend for project participation unless a center has formally chosen to not participate. Such a choice should be evidenced by a letter of intent to decline provided from the center to both the state/territory agency and the Lifeline by the end of the second month of the grant.
What other Lifeline centers are in my state?
You can find centers that are a member in your state by going to the Crisis Center Map on the Our Network page: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/our-network/. You may also refer to Appendix A of the Request for Applications.
What if my center isn’t picked by the state to handle 988 calls? Is there a role for me in the Lifeline network?
- While the decision on which centers to route 988 calls to will ultimately be a state decision, the Lifeline will provide critical guidance to states on the pros and cons of routing structures the state is considering. By design, the 988 Planning Grants ensure all current Lifeline member centers are given an initial “seat at the table” where they can make the value of their services known to state agencies.
- However, because call volume increases will only be fully understood after 988 is implemented and marketed, and those volume increases may only be clearly seen 4-5 years after 988 implementation, we encourage states to find roles for all current Lifeline centers to remain active in our network. The services of all centers may become key as call volume increases.
- Additionally, the services of all current Lifeline centers in a 988 environment may be key in realizing the vision of 988 as a central point in the crisis care continuum. For example, local centers can serve as critical linkages for follow up services, referrals, and coordination with crisis stabilization units and mobile crisis teams – even if call routing is centralized.
Will states allocate 988 funds [meaning funds the state raises, not this grant funding] to centers by call volume or some other main metric?
How states allocate 988 funds raised within their state (as opposed to federal funding or direct Lifeline funding) will be a state decision. We expect call volume levels, center staffing capacity, and the range of 988 services provided by the crisis center will be the main factors in deciding how such funds are distributed.
If the state is funding us as a 988 center are they going to be setting clinical and performance standards on us as centers which are different or more stringent than what the Lifeline has for us?
The Lifeline and SAMHSA will set core operational, clinical and reporting standards for all 988 centers. States may lay additional expectations on top of the Lifeline’s. However, through the 988 Planning Grants and beyond, the Lifeline is committed to ensuring state agencies understand the performance challenges that can arise from additional standards. The Lifeline is also committed to ensuring state agencies understand that staff well-being, recruitment, retention requirements and overall costs of providing the service are associated with additional standards. If more performance standards from states lead to more staff time, this usually means more resources/funding will be needed.
What will prevent counties to start up their own hotline or expand existing lines to vie to be part of the 988 network?
Throughout the 988 State Planning Grant period we encourage this issue to be carefully considered. The notion of trying to “cap” the number of Lifeline member centers in each state will need to be addressed in each state’s draft and final 988 implementation plan. The grant process allows centers to make their concerns known. While we will encourage states to strongly consider making 988 routing decisions based on the strengths and capacity of current Lifeline member centers, we will not prohibit them from recommending new call centers join the Lifeline network in the future as part of their strategy for addressing 988 call volume increases. What is most important is which routing models deliver the highest quality of care for individuals in crisis, which ones are the most sustainable, and which ones provide results in keeping with Lifeline operational, clinical and performance measures for the Lifeline/988 network.
Will 988 calls will be coming into each Lifeline center or will another center be created in each state?
Through the 988 planning process, the state will submit plans to Lifeline and SAMHSA about how they want calls to be routed and which centers they want to receive 988 calls (though the centers must be Lifeline members). The final decision on how calls will be routed will be a collaboration between the Lifeline and the state agency with weighting towards what the state/territory wants, what is funded by them, the history of the centers in the Lifeline network, what is most sustainable, and what helps best achieve the highest quality services for individuals in crisis.
FAQ - Allowable Expenses
Are non-Lifeline member crisis contact centers eligible to receive funds through this grant opportunity?
This funding opportunity is intended for state and U.S. territory agencies. Participation stipends for crisis contact centers are included in the grant, however only Lifeline member centers are eligible to receive these stipends because Lifeline member centers are the organizations that will receive 988 calls.
Can funds be used after the end of the grant period for implementation plan completion? For instance, can we use the grant funds to support FTE through the entire implementation period – February 2021 – July 2022?
No, grant funds must be used for work occurring between February 1 – September 20, 2021. Carryover of funds beyond that period is not permitted.
When calculating how many Lifeline centers are in my state, can I count centers who have not yet onboarded into the Lifeline network but are in the application process?
Yes, state/territory agencies may count those centers who are already actively engaged in the Lifeline application process (meaning application is already received by the Lifeline) as of 12/7/20. For more information see Appendix B off the Request for Applications.
Can I count centers who haven’t yet applied to join the Lifeline but who plan to?
No. For budgeting purposes only those centers who have pending applications as of 12/7/20 may be counted by state agencies for the purposes of this grant.
Can the grant be used to pay call center staff salaries?
No, this a 988 planning grant, so it is intended to fund only planning-related activities of this type.
The RFA requires all current and pending Lifeline member centers receive a $5,000 stipend for participation. Can we give them more money to help with their 988 planning, including possible technology upgrades?
How much money the funded state/territory agency provides to the call centers is left to the discretion of the agency. However, the funds cannot pay salaries of call center counselors because such funding from this source is not sustainable. Any funds going to call centers through this grant must be for activities that are absolutely central to 988 planning. These are not funds for expanding capacity. Similarly, using funds to invest in a new call system or chat/text functionality at the centers would be problematic and viewed by Lifeline as a capacity expansion proposal. Allocating funding for such enhancements would be premature because technical assistance on platform integration with 988 will occur during the planning grant itself. If states choose to provide more money to call centers, the state/territory will still have the full obligation of meeting all other grant requirements including: supporting some state/territory agency FTE specific for this grant, attending all required technical assistance sessions, convening monthly 988 implementation coalition meetings, and submitting both a draft and final 988 implementation plan. Finally, if state/territory agencies wish to budget more than $5,000 to the Lifeline member call centers, they need to sufficiently describe these as planning related costs in the budget justification section of their application. The Lifeline reserves the right to request pre-award budget modifications if we do not agree with the justification.
Can the planning grant help cover implementation of new systems to assist centers with 988 crisis services growth?
That will be a decision of the state/territory agency applying for the grant, but it is not the primary intention of this RFA and the applicant has many other core grant activities they will need to accomplish during the short time frame of the project period.
FAQ - Application Submission & Content
The RFA mentions a required budget format that must be used. Where do I find that?
The required Excel budget template is now on the 988 State Planning Grant website. We apologize that it was not posted there initially.
When is the application deadline for the grant?
The initial application for the grant is due no later than 5pm EST, Friday, January 8, 2021.
How do I submit the application?
You will upload your application at: https://nationalsuicidepreventionlifeline.submittable.com/submit
- Note: will need to create a free username and password log-in for the application. In order to speed up the award and contracting process, you will also need to have information about your agency such as its Federal DUNS#; Tax ID/EIN#; and the name, title and email address of the individual in your agency responsible for signing award contracts. You will not be able to upload your application without this information.
What are the application requirements?
Please see application requirements on pages 6-12 in the full RFA, as well as the Review Criteria section.
What file formats can I upload and do I upload one document or is it broken into several documents?
There are multiple file formats allowed however we want your application narrative in .doc; .docx, or pdf formats. Although the overall page limit for the grant narrative is 5 pages, you will be asked to upload each section of the narrative separately in order to help us streamline the review process. You are required to use our Excel budget format (.xlsx file). Your Budget Narrative will need to be in one of the following formats: doc, .docx, pdf, .xls, ir .xlsx. Supporting documents are allowed but not required and will not be scored. There are numerous available file formats for such materials including: .ppt, .pptx, gif, .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .svg, .tif, .tiff.
In the Review Criteria Section B: Proposed Approach part of the RFA, it indicates we needed to describe 911 fees being collected in our state. The RFA told us to refer to the 11th report to Congress. However, I heard the 12th report to Congress just became available. Should we use that data instead?
Yes, please use data from the 12th report to Congress. That report was released shortly after we released our grant RFA. The 988 Planning Grant RFA has now been updated and the 12th report is linked both there and is available for download on the 988 State Planning Grant website.
What is the maximum number of pages for the application?
The application may not exceed five pages in total. This five-page limit does not include budget and budget justification or other supporting documentation.
988 Core Implementation Planning Concept #3 on page 10 of the RFA requires consideration of call volume and identifying how a state will plan to maintain 90% in state answer rate. Do we need to consider text and chat volume predictions as well?
For the purposes of submitting an application, you do not need to have a proposed plan for achieving 90% answer rates. However, during the technical assistance which will occur during the grant, Vibrant/Lifeline will provide call, chat and text call volume growth assumptions and the draft and final 988 implementation plans that awardees will submit at the end of the grant period must outline steps the state/territory agency and the Lifeline member call centers will take so they have the greatest likelihood of achieving the 90% rate by July 2022.
Will call center data reporting during the grant period be collected by the State or will there be a link provided by Vibrant similar to the State Capacity Building Grant for call centers?
Call centers must share their data with the state agency who in turn will share it with Vibrant. Vibrant wants state agencies to be very involved in understanding the center level data as a way of better understanding the impacts of call volume changes, the degree to which the centers de-escalate crisis calls, and the capacity and funding challenges the centers face.
We already do follow-up calls to ensure ongoing safety as a part of our services to Lifeline callers. But the amount of time this takes is considerable yet is not "counted" in our statistics for reaching our call answer requirements. Will there be consideration for this very important time investment, which is often longer and more in-depth than the original incoming call?
Yes, the technical assistance that will be provided during the grant period to all the awardees will emphasize this point however follow up calls are likely to remain a metric that is different than answering the initial Lifeline/988 call.
Will 988 calls only go to NSPL centers or will they also be routed to non NSPL Crisis Assessment Centers as well?
The Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Congress have passed rulings and legislation indicating that 988 calls will only be routed into and answered by centers in the Lifeline network.
How do we find what the expected call volume is per state, rather than nationally?
The Lifeline is exploring call volume predictions by state and if made will be shared via technical assistant materials/sessions during the grant period.
How do we resolve that 988 goes to local centers based on geo location rather than based on area code?
The FCC has put out a Notice for Public Comment regarding Geolocation and 988. You can see the public notice here and leave a comment: www.fcc.gov/document/comment-sought-costs-and-feasibility-988-geolocation-information