Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about program benefits, selection criteria and application details.


What are the goals of the Innovation Awards?

The Innovation Awards program aims to help fill the funding gap in the under-resourced children’s mental health sector and provide runway for game-changing ideas. Our goal is to connect nonprofits with funders, in order to match much-needed capital with innovative projects in the field of mental healthcare for youth. We also offer leadership learning opportunities to build capacity for nonprofits.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

Who can apply for the Innovation Awards? 

While all registered 501(c)(3) public charities based in the U.S. are eligible to apply to the program, it is focused primarily on those with an annual total revenue under $10 million. Applicants with an annual total revenue over $10 million must demonstrate why existing funds cannot be used to support the proposed initiative. 


What projects are eligible?

We are looking for new or piloted projects from direct-service organizations that will help address the far-reaching challenge of stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health issues in children and young adults in the U.S. Projects must tackle specific issues and address unmet needs, with a goal of reducing stigma, increasing access to care, improving equity in mental health, enabling early identification/prevention or enhancing intervention, especially among disadvantaged and vulnerable populations.


How are the winners selected?

Applications are reviewed by an expert panel of judges and are evaluated based on the equally weighted criteria below:

  • Innovation: Applications must present an inventive solution for addressing unmet needs in children's mental healthcare, especially among disadvantaged and vulnerable populations.

  • Expertise: Applications should outline executable services informed and/or delivered by mental health professionals, highlighting any related mental health expertise and evidence-based models. 

  • Impact: Applications should offer measurable deliverables aimed at improving the state of children’s mental wellbeing, with a clear evaluation model and measurable outcomes.

  • Potential: Applications will also be judged on the feasibility of replicating or scaling the proposed service to benefit children in broader communities.


Are local and regional projects eligible or do they need to be national?

A proposed project can be national, regional or local in scope. We are especially interested in projects that can potentially replicate or scale the service to benefit children and youth in broader communities.


Are international organizations eligible?

No, only U.S.-based public charities are eligible to apply.

Application Details

When does the application period open? 

The application period for the next cohort will open in early May 2024.


What are the key dates for the program?

  • Early May 2024: Applications open. 

  • May/June 2024: Briefing session. 

  • Early July 2024: Application deadline. Shortlisted applicants may be asked to submit additional information during the ensuing review process.

  • Spring 2025: Winners are announced and a broader group of applicants are invited to join the Leadership Learning Series.


If I applied for this program in previous years, can I apply again?

Yes, past applicants are welcome to apply again, especially with a new or enhanced proposal. You are encouraged to review the selection criteria and questions listed on our application form and prepare your new proposal accordingly. 


How many applications can each organization submit?

One application may be submitted per organization, or per department for higher education institutions.


How are applications reviewed? Do I need to provide any further information?

Applications are reviewed by an expert panel of judges based on the selection criteria stated above. You may be asked to provide further information on your organization and proposed project during the process. Decisions by the Alliance are discretionary and final.


When will I hear back about my application?

We will notify applicants of their status before we announce the next cohort of winners in Spring 2025.

Benefits of the Program

What are the potential benefits for winning organizations?

Five winners will receive grants to scale their innovative work. In addition, they will receive leadership training from industry experts, build powerful connections and raise their profile.


How much funding is available? 

Grants of $100,000 will be awarded to each winner. 


Can funding cover overhead costs? 
The funding does not cover institutional overhead on the proposed project. Funds will go directly to the project itself and will not cover or contribute to any overhead costs of the organization.


Are grants recurring or made on a one-time basis?

Grants are made on a one-time basis.


What are the opportunities for recognition?

After winners are announced in Spring 2025, we will promote their innovative ideas through Morgan Stanley’s global communications channels.

Leadership Learning Series

What is the Leadership Learning Series?

The Leadership Learning Series includes expert-led learning sessions and networking opportunities for a select group of applicants.


What are the goals of this series?

In response to the high volume of applications in previous years, this series aims to support more charities beyond the five winners.    


Will organizations selected for this series receive a grant?

No, only the five winners will receive a grant. Participants in this series will receive in-kind support.


Who is eligible for this series?

All Innovation Awards applicants, which must be registered 501(c)(3) public charities based in the U.S., can indicate their interest in joining this series. Note that this series is aimed primarily at small and mid-sized nonprofits and/or those that have identified a crucial need to grow their organizations and connect with peers.


How do I apply for this series?

When the Innovation Awards application reopens in May, on the application form you will be asked to indicate your interest in joining this series.


When will I hear back after indicating my interest in joining this series?

Your indication of interest does not constitute an official enrollment in this series. We will review all applications and invite a select group of applicants to join this series in Spring 2025.