NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures | Awards to NCSL Programs


Award Descriptions for the 2021 Fiscal Year

Center for Ethics in Government—$225,000

Since its inception in 1999, the mission of the Center for Ethics in Government is to champion ethical standards and practices for legislators, legislative staff and advocates in the legislative process. The center has grown to become the source on state ethics laws for state legislators and legislative staff. The center offers a program of values-based ethics training in which we provide ethics training for our constituents and, often, other organizations. Our research covers seven broad areas: conflicts of interest, financial disclosure, gift restrictions, lobbyist regulation, ethics commissions, ethics committees and staff ethics. The funding covers training/facilitating for legislators and staff, website maintenance and updates and related research.

Legislator and Legislative Staff Engagement—$200,000

Engaging state legislators and legislative staff is one of NCSL’s most critical functions. We work year- round to build our constituents’ awareness of NCSL’s services, from policy information and expert assistance to networking opportunities and professional development. The messages in our print and digital communications are supported and complemented by the work of NCSL staff liaisons to each state and the State Coordinators, legislators who serve as NCSL’s ambassadors in their states.

The NCSL Foundation award will allow us to create printed materials to welcome new legislators elected in November 2020 and to strengthen NCSL’s brand across our platforms. NCSL will host Legislative Staff Week twice a year and produce dedicated content for legislative staff and highlight the NCSL resources available to them as members. The NCSL Foundation support allows us to be flexible and nimble in developing new content and strategies for engaging our members throughout the year. This award will also support NCSL staff travel to state capitols for policy assistance, professional development training and relationship-building, as travel restrictions allow.

Leaders Program—$200,000

This award supports the NCSL Leaders Center, which provides legislative leaders with specialized products and services including high-caliber training, timely public policy briefings and innovative ideas to effectively lead legislative chambers. Specifically, the award supports two symposiums, an Emerging Leaders program and the development and delivery of programs for targeted groups of leaders. For FY21, we are planning two symposiums (in December and June), a New Leaders Workshop following the election, an Emerging Leaders program in spring 2021, and outreach activities throughout fall 2020. We also plan to use part of this award for continued communication, outreach and specialized leadership projects throughout the fiscal year.

Center for Legislative Strengthening—$200,000

The Center for Legislative Strengthening is focused on supporting a core tenet of NCSL’s mission: improving the quality and effectiveness of state legislatures. The Foundation’s fiscal year 2021 award will allow the Center to continue to offer NCSL’s members crucial data, key insights and best practices in organizational and staff management, legislative operations and procedures, and institutional technical assistance and consulting services. In addition, in the coming year, the Center will continue to increase awareness of and prompt discussion about trends, innovations and events that impact legislative operations, prerogatives and power. Finally, the Center will bolster resources and information-sharing for legislators, staff and partners around continuity of government during an emergency—crucial information in a time when our constituents need it the most.

Quad Caucus & Women’s Legislative Network—$150,000

NCSL provides staff support to the Women’s Legislative Network and the Quad Caucus. The groups operate independently of each other. The networks and relationships supported in both groups increase diversity in legislatures and promote NCSL’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The Women’s Legislative Network represents 2,145 women and 29% of all state legislators. The Quad Caucus represents approximately 1,300 legislators of color, or 20% of NCSL’s members. During this unprecedented time in our country’s history, support to both groups continues to offer a unique opportunity to strengthen NCSL’s virtual programs, research and response to a shifting climate. The Women’s Legislative Network and the Quad Caucus request continued general operating support to carry on building the network and relationships among the groups. The Quad Caucus refers to the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL), the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL), the National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators (NAPACSL) and the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators (NCNASL).

Legislative Professional Development—$100,000

This award supports NCSL’s professional development and training work, which provides legislators and legislative staff with specialized services including high-caliber in-state training, expert facilitation and strategic planning guidance and timely professional development skills. Specifically, the award supports development of new programs, materials and travel costs to deliver training in the states and at NCSL events. For FY21, we anticipate an increase in demand for virtual delivery, though we expect to travel to states as well, especially for orientations following the election. We also expect to refine and recreate some programs for new legislators

Legislative Staff Services—$100,000

This award provides support to NCSL’s Legislative Staff Services Program, which provides strategic, programmatic and administrative support to the professional staff associations of NCSL, carries out the priorities and projects for NCSL’s staff chair and the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC) and delivers many of the professional development programs specifically designed for legislative staff. The fiscal year 2021 programs include the 2020 Legislative Staff Management Institute, the new Legislative Staff Certificate Program and the continued development of a staff directors’ network with targeted professional development for these directors.

Database and Research Development—$60,000

This award will allow NCSL to expand the development of online databases on key policy topics. Having access to the full text of state and federal legislation through LexisNexis State Net will also enhance NCSL research resources overall in responding to research requests, preparing articles, blogs, briefs and other publications while developing pending and enacted legislation summaries.

Legislative Staff Management Institute—$50,000

Since 1990, NCSL has offered the Legislative Staff Management Institute (LSMI), the premier leadership and management development program for America’s leading legislative staffers. The Foundation’s assistance enables NCSL to discount the tuition for senior legislative staff attending this executive management program. NCSL partners with the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy and the Center for California Studies at California State University – Sacramento, to administer the Institute. Plans are underway for the 2020 program, which will be held online during the month of August. This is the first time in the history of LSMI that it will be held in a completely virtual format.

Our American States—$32,000

This Foundation award provides funding for NCSL’s “Our American States” podcast. The podcast, which is produced three times a month, provides legislators, legislative staff and Foundation sponsors with focused, bipartisan conversations on key public policy issues, leadership and the business of legislatures. In fiscal year 2021 we expect a continued focus on how states are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. NCSL produced more than a dozen podcasts on the subject in FY 20—including interviews with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, author and chief sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act— and we expect to stay with that theme on many of the podcasts through the new fiscal year. We are also working on some potential partnerships to help broaden the coverage and discuss more on leadership challenges. Overall, the podcast, with an audience of more than 2,000 listeners for each episode, provides another channel in which NCSL members can stay up to date.

Partnerships in Parliament German Exchange—$70,000

This award supports the International Program’s exchange agreement with the PoP (Partnership of Parliaments). Every other year, a delegation of PoP members visits the U.S. (typically in October/November of an election year) to make connections and have fruitful exchanges with state legislators on various topics. In the opposite years, NCSL sends a delegation of state legislators to Germany. The long-standing exchange agreement has been that the organization (NCSL or PoP) covers airfare, lodging and transportation costs for a small delegation (around 12 participants) for their week visit.

This year, the delegation is planning to come to the U.S. (pending COVID-19 travel restrictions) in early November. The topic of the trip is U.S. elections. This grant will be used to host our foreign partners and colleagues in up to two states while providing the opportunity to teach them about American elections.

KnowWho Database – $10,000

The KnowWho data we receive helps support our new constituent database with weekly feeds and keeps our legislator information including party, chamber, state and district up to date especially in an election year.

Total Awards: $1,397,000