EITC Rapid Response and Policy Development Fund

The EITC Rapid Response Fund (RRF) was developed in 2012 as a rapid response fund mechanism to facilitate the quick dissemination of targeted funds to state groups engaged in key communications battles. The RRF is guided by an advisory group and administered by GIST and the EITC Funders Network in partnership with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Hatcher Group.  

Recognizing that in some states changing the public dialog on state EITCs will take a longer-period of time, a new invitation only State EITC Policy Development Fund (PDF) was created in 2015 to provide multi-year support. To help maximize learning and shared experiences, the PDF focused on selecting participants from southern states. The South was chosen because of the tremendous need to develop new and shore-up existing state EITCs in this deep-poverty region, the belief that by focusing on an area we’d be able to maximize the learnings across grantees and better export them to neighboring states, and the desire to work collaboratively with the vibrant community of local and regional southern funders. In August 2015, the PDF awarded contracts to three states (GA, MS, and WV). Each state was awarded $150,000 ($75,000 a year for two years).   For more information, contact Ami Nagle at anagle@gistfunders.org.

Background: Born out of the Communications Collaborative, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Rapid Response Fund (The Fund) was developed as a rapid response fund mechanism to facilitate the quick dissemination of targeted funds to state groups engaged in key communications battles. Threats to state EITC policies were identified as a focus for the first Rapid Response Fund in 2012. The Fund is guided by an advisory group and administered by GIST and the EITC Funders Network in partnership with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Hatcher Group.

A Virtual Fund: GIST and the EITC Funders Network support a “virtual fund” structure. That is, we provide a table around which multiple funders can align support for key ideas and grantees. Sometimes these funds are pooled with GIST while other funders work collaboratively but deploy their own funds directly.

Why the EITC: The EITC is the nation’s largest poverty alleviation policy—lifting 6.2 million people, including 3.3 million children, out of poverty. Not only is there a federal EITC, but now 26 states and the District of Columbia have a state EITC policy which expands to reach and impact of the federal policy. While the EITC has been around since 1975 and receives broad support across the political spectrum, in recent years it has come under attack. From 2010 to 2013, five states either cut back or eliminated their state EITCs, and funders and the field recognize that this critical tool is threatened with reduction or elimination in others.

Rapid Response Activities: To date, The Fund has awarded 34 rapid response contracts to 20 state networks, for a total of $864,000 of support.

Award Year Number of Awards Total Amount Awarded State Awarded Funds
2012
4
$67,000 Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, Washington
2013
7
$112,000 Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Vermont
2014
10
$250,000 Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine North Carolina, New Mexico, Rhode Island, *Utah, Virginia
2015
5
$150,000 Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Montana
2016
5
$180,000 Kansas, Maryland, *Missouri, Hawaii
2017
3
$105,000 Michigan, Montana, Hawaii

*awarded two contracts in same year

Polling and Message Testing: In 2012, The Fund contracted with a national polling firm (Hart Research) to support new research on EITC messaging through focus groups and national polling. In 2013, The Fund provided technical assistance to Rapid Response Fund awardees to implement this new messaging. Findings from this research are available upon request.

In 2015, The Fund built on these polling and focus group findings by contracting with a messaging firm (Topos Partnership) to explore the set of messages that might shift how people think about the EITC. This research, using deep “talk-back” message testing in several locations across the country, explored how people think about the EITC as a mechanism to reduce poverty and their reactions to messages regarding fraud and abuse of funds and other key message points. See findings from this research here.

Technical Assistance from National Partners: To help shape the work of The Fund and deliver technical assistance to state groups, The Fund also provides support to two national field partners – Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and The Hatcher Group. Each year, these national partners work collaboratively to prepare a scan of the state EITC policy field and identify opportunities and challenges that The Fund could work to address. National field partners also provide direct technical assistance to Rapid Response Fund awardees and share learnings with the field.

Evaluation: In 2016, the fund hired two consultants to conduct an evaluation of the RRF and PDF. Evaluation activities include document reviews, awardee surveys and interviews, group data collection at convening(s), funder and leadership team interviews, awardee coaching on data collection, awardee capacity assessments, surveys of a subset of awardees’ peers/partners, funding landscape analysis, and in-depth case studies. The evaluation began in Summer 2016 and will conclude in December 2017. See RRF evaluation outcomes and lessons learned here. PDF evaluation activities are still underway. Findings and lessons learned will be available in early 2018.  

Resources:

EITC Rapid Response and Policy Development Fund Overview and History

2016 EITC Rapid Response Fund Summary

2015 EITC Rapid Response Fund Summary

2014 EITC Rapid Response Fund Summary

2013 EITC Rapid Response Fund Summary

2013 EITC Rapid Response Fund Grantee Materials

2012 EITC Rapid Response Fund Summary

EITC Case Studies