Cities Alliance - The Catalytic Fund - 2011

The Catalytic Fund

- Cities Alliance -


The Cities Alliance Secretariat is issuing a Call for Proposals for funding under its Catalytic Fund.


The Catalytic Fund (CATF) is a Cities Alliance funding instrument which provides grant support for projects that strengthen and promote the role of cities in poverty reduction and in sustainable urban development.


Priority for Catalytic Fund support is given to cities, local authorities, associations of local authorities and/or national governments that are committed to:

·        Improving their cities, and local governance, for all residents;

·        Adopting a long-term, comprehensive and inclusive approach to urban development;

·        Implementing  those reforms necessary to effect systemic change, and to achieve delivery at scale; and

·        Decentralising resources to empower local government.

·        The Catalytic Fund has two major strategic objectives:

·        To catalyse urban transformation processes that promote more inclusive cities; and

·        To advance collective know-how through learning distilled from project experiences.


Eligibility requirements:

·        The proposed project must meet the objectives of the Catalytic Fund and fall within the scope of the Cities Alliance Charter.

·        The proposed project must be implemented in countries that are on the OECD DAC List of Aid Recipients.

·        Grant size requests must be limited to between US $50,000 – US $250,000.

·        At least one Cities Alliance member must sponsor the application.

·        The national government must have no objection to the proposed project.

·        All applications must adhere to the following guidelines:

·        Deadline. The deadline for submission is 31 March 2011 at midnight (Washington DC time).

·        Format. All submissions must use the Cities Alliance Concept Note template.

·        Language. Concept Notes can be in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese or Spanish.

·        Submission via e-mail. Concept Notes should be submitted via e-mail only to the Cities Alliance Secretariat at by the 31 March deadline.


Country eligibility

Proposed projects must be implemented in countries that are on the OECD Development Assistance Committee's List of Aid Recipients

    1. Jamaica
    2. Japan
    3. Jersey
    4. Jordan
    5. Kazakhstan
    6. Kenya
    7. Kiribati
    8. Korea
    9. Kuwait
    10. Kyrgyzstan
    11. Lao People's Democratic Republic
    12. Latvia
    13. Lebanon
    14. Lesotho
    15. Liberia
    16. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
    17. Liechtenstein
    18. Lithuania
    19. Luxembourg
    20. Macao (China)
    21. Madagascar
    22. Malawi
    23. Malaysia
    24. Maldives
    25. Mali
    26. Malta
    27. Marshall Islands
    28. Mauritania
    29. Mauritius
    30. Mayotte
    31. Mexico
    32. Micronesia (Federated States of)
    33. Moldova
    34. Monaco
    35. Mongolia
    36. Montenegro
    37. Montserrat
    38. Morocco
    39. Mozambique
    40. Myanmar

Please note that projects submitted by countries in which the Cities Alliance has an approved Country Programme (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Uganda and Vietnam) are given less priority for Catalytic Fund applications and it is advised that proponents contact before developing the proposal.


Cities Alliance member(s) support.

Proposed projects must be sponsored by at least one member of the Cities Alliance. Multiple sponsors are strongly encouraged, in keeping with the Cities Alliance objective of improving the coherence of urban development cooperation. The sponsor should be contacted prior to submission of the Concept Note. Proponent and sponsor(s) should also have discussed the project proposals including the role of the sponsor(s) prior to submission.


What is the selection process for the Catalytic Fund?

There are five fundamental steps in the approval process of a proposal to the Catalytic Fund:


Step 1: Biannual Call for Proposals

Twice a year, the Cities Alliance Secretariat will issue a call for proposals via the Cities Alliance website. Once this call has been issued, the Cities Alliance will accept submissions of project Concept Notes over a period of two months.


Step 2: Submission of Concept Notes

The Concept Note is a concise outline of the intended project. All Concept Notes must be submitted in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese or Spanish using the available template. Concept Notes should be e-mailed to the Cities Alliance Secretariat at


Step 3: Concept Note Assessment and Approval

This step takes approximately 30 business days. The Cities Alliance Secretariat screens the Concept Notes to ensure that they meet the minimum criteria for eligibility. Concept Notes that pass the minimum threshold are referred to an Expert Evaluation Panel (EEP), which will evaluate them on a competitive basis using a predefined set of selection criteria. The panel then makes recommendations to the Secretariat on which Concept Notes should be approved.


While the EEP is conducting its evaluation, the Cities Alliance Consultative Group examines the Concept Notes to ensure that the proposed activities do not conflict with or duplicate Cities Alliance member activities. The Secretariat then reviews the list of recommended Concept Notes. In addition to the selection criteria, the Secretariat may also take into consideration additional factors – such as theme, geography or members' engagement and knowledge needs – in order to maintain the strategic balance of the overall Cities Alliance grant portfolio.


Step 4: Request for Full Proposals and Award Confirmation

Once the evaluation process is completed, the Secretariat notifies successful applicants that their Concept Notes have been approved in principle for funding and invites them to revise and develop the Note into a Full Proposal, incorporating the feedback provided by the Secretariat.


The Full Proposal is essentially an expanded version of the Concept Note that incorporates any feedback provided by the Secretariat and provides information that is needed to process the grant. An application is not considered to be formally approved until a satisfactory Full Proposal is provided that meets the established standards.


Full Proposals must be submitted within two months from the Concept Note approval date. They must use the appropriate Full Proposal Template provided by the Cities Alliance and be in one of the five accepted languages: Arabic, English, French, Portuguese or Spanish. Applicants must ensure that full proposals adhere to the standards of the approved Concept Note and that they are submitted within the two-month time limit. Failure to do so will result in removal from consideration and the applicant must restart the application process during the next Call for Proposals.


Step 5: Secretariat Approval and Consultative Group Endorsement

The Cities Alliance Secretariat approves the final list of proposals and refers it to the Cities Alliance Consultative Group for final endorsement. From there, the Secretariat begins processing the grant according to established procedures.


Guidelines for submitting proposals



I.      Capacity.

This refers to an organisation's potential to perform, i.e. successfully utilise its skills and resources to accomplish the project objectives. Generally, capacity to perform is captured along organisational dimensions, such as human capital, financial and technical resources, and partnerships. Other aspects also include more intangible criteria such as the leadership and the history of the organisation. The external operating environment is also taken into consideration, especially when it might constitute a significant obstacle to an organisation's performance.

II.      Cost effectiveness.

The rationale provided for the project's major costs, which should be well proportioned between the project activities and the intended results. The project should also make an adequate use of existing local and/or national resources.

III.      Results Framework.

The central idea behind the project and how this idea is captured in the result framework should be clear, realistic and achievable within two years or less (the timeframe of project implementation). The project should have a realistic plan with concrete steps or activities for achieving the project objectives, as well as clear and measurable results that will have a direct impact on the intended beneficiaries.

IV.      Fiduciary management.

The project must be in compliance with specific World Bank policies that regulate the use of Cities Alliance grants. This covers procurement, financial management and disbursement policies and is informed by the Cities Alliance Secretariat financial and procurement assessments.

V.      Risks and Mitigations.

The project should adequately identify any potential social and/or environmental impacts and risks connected to its activities, and outline relevant mitigation measures accordingly.

VI.      Co-financing.

All proposals should include co-financing from the recipient organisation, implementing partners, and other sources. The amount of co-financing should match the financial capacity of the proponent as well as the size of the project. Co-financing might also be an in-kind contribution if it is directly related to project activities.



I.      Scalability.

The potential of a project to be expanded over its initial geographic area to benefit more people within a city or country. In order to increase the potential for scaling-up, the selected city should preferably have (or have realistic ambitions to develop) appropriate links to other cities in the country, for example, through local authority associations.

II.      Institutionalisation.

The potential of a project to become an integral part of the urban governance of a city or country. The project should preferably reflect activities which directly or indirectly impact policy formulation, legal framework, institutional reform or work processes.

III.      Transferability.

This refers to a project whose design is flexible enough to be potentially adapted to new and different contexts. While scalability is country-oriented and related more to a quantitative increase in inputs and outputs, transferability refers to the concept of a project and its adoptability in different cities worldwide.

IV.      Follow-up investments.

 In order to strengthen a catalytic transformation and ensure follow-up activities, project activities should be able to stimulate, mobilise and attract potential capital and/or impact on government's budgets. Private and public sector investment partners should be clearly identified and involved in the design of the activity from the beginning in order to increase the odds of investment follow-up. In addition, the project should establish mechanisms to foster continued financing beyond its lifespan.

V.      Targeting the objective.

The project must aim to strengthen and promote the role of cities in poverty reduction, and in sustainable development along the lines emphasised by the Cities Alliance Charter.



I.      Ownership.

A project should reflect strong ownership by the city and/or government supporting the application. The local/national partner should be committed and in a position to lead the development and implementation of the project as well as account for its results. The role of Cities Alliance members is to provide support to the project in response to the request of the proponent city/government. In difficult contexts, capacity development and participatory activities might be critical in creating, strengthening and broadening ownership. This should be adequately reflected in the project design.

II.      Alignment.

Project activities should reflect domestic priorities. The expected results should be aligned with the overall national poverty framework and with urban strategies at the national and/or local level. They should also be aligned with relevant urban development and urban poverty alleviation projects on the ground.

III.      Harmonisation.

Project activities should be designed to promote coordination amongst development partners. The project should also reflect complementary cooperation among Cities Alliance members' activities on urban development in the country/city and other national or international development partners.

IV.      Consultations, dialogue and partnerships.

 Project proposals must be conceived as a participatory process with local stakeholders, including both the private sector and community organisations. The project design must include appropriate strategies and actions to ensure adequate participation of communities, with attention paid to gender, age and other relevant characteristics. The project will need to demonstrate the nature and extent of participation by relevant stakeholders.



Innovative design, process and products. The extent to which a project idea is innovative within its specific context and how this is justified in the project proposal. This includes whether the method employed is distinctive compared to other approaches, and if the project outputs could potentially be used innovatively within the local context.



I.      Learning from monitoring and evaluation.

The project design should incorporate ways to capture the experience and results of the project's implementation. Of particular importance are the quality of the indicators and other monitoring tools that track (and re-adjust) project progress as well as dedicated activities targeted at measuring project success, such as impact assessment.

II.      Learning and dissemination.

A project should convey and/or stimulate learning-oriented activities with the aim of sharing and disseminating the experiences, information and knowledge stemming from project implementation and outputs. Examples include peer-to-peer exchanges, write-shops, communities of practices, centers of excellence, and study tours.

III.      Applicability.

Projects with a focus on knowledge development should envisage outputs that are ready to be used by practitioners engaged in similar contexts. The quality of the knowledge product should consider the potential interest to other governments, cities and practitioners and, most importantly, direct applicability and relevance in the field.

For more info email to:


The NGO Funding Consultants


The Vegan Organization for Social Justice Worldwide