NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures | Awards to NCSL Programs


Award Descriptions for the 2020 Fiscal Year

Center for Ethics in Government—$295,000

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 since then to become the source on state ethics laws for state legislators and legislative staff. The center offers a program of value-based ethics training where 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 training will cover training/facilitating for legislators and staff, website maintenance and updates, research as well as administrative costs of the Center. 

Legislator and Legislative Staff Engagement—$250,000

Member outreach and engagement is one of NCSL’s most critical functions. We work year-round to ensure that legislators and legislative staff are aware of the full range of services NCSL provides, from policy information and expert assistance to networking opportunities and professional development. NCSL reaches legislators and legislative staff through a variety of channels to encourage their involvement with NCSL. These include the State Coordinator system and the work of NCSL staff liaisons to each state, as well as print promotions in State Legislatures magazine, brochures, and postcards, and digital promotions through e-mail, social media, the NCSL Blog and the Our American States podcast.

The support of the NCSL Foundation allows us to continue our ongoing work of developing messages, products and materials targeted to both new and seasoned legislators and legislative staff. In addition, we will continue to host Legislative Staff Week twice a year, during which we will produce dedicated content for legislative staff and highlight the NCSL resources available to them as members.

Leaders’ Program—$250,000

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 to three symposiums/workshops and the development and delivery of programs for targeted groups of leaders. For FY20, we are planning an international Symposium in Milan (exchange with our counterparts in Lombardy), an Emerging Leaders program in November, a leaders’ workshop in December, and outreach activities in June. We also plan to use part of this award for continued communication and outreach with leaders throughout the fiscal year.

Legislator and Legislative Staff Professional Development—$230,000

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 a full-time employee and travel costs to deliver training in the states and at NCSL events. For FY20, we anticipate an increase in demand for delivery and development of in-state services and this position will help NCSL meet that demand.

Center for Legislative Strengthening—$225,000

The Center for Legislative Strengthening is focused on supporting a core tenant of NCSL’s mission: improving the quality and effectiveness of state legislatures. The Foundation’s FY 2020 award will allow the Center to continue to offer legislators and staff crucial data, key insights, and best practices in organizational and staff management, legislative operations and procedures, institutional technical assistance and consulting services for NCSL’s members. In addition, in the coming year, the Center will increase awareness of and prompt discussion about trends, innovations, events and historical frames that impact legislative operations, prerogatives and power. Finally, Center staff will increase the visibility of legislative institutional issues through professional development opportunities and improved web-based resources.

Quad Caucus & Women’s Legislative Network—$205,000

Quad Caucus: There are more than 1,300 state legislators of color in the U.S. who represent almost 20 percent of NCSL’s members. NCSL has worked for the past seven years with the four national caucuses that represent those members. As a result, NCSL has built relationships with many of those legislators and come to better understand the issues of greatest concern to them.

The groups—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)—are collectively referred to as the Quad Caucus.  NCSL’s role in bringing the groups together strengthened the relationships between the groups and between NCSL and caucus leaders, legislators of color and caucus staff. It also highlighted an opportunity to support diversity in legislatures.

Women's Legislative Network: The Women's Legislative Network of NCSL is the professional development organization that includes every female state legislator in the 50 states, United States territories, and the District of Columbia. In 2019 there are more than 2,130 female legislators. The mission of the Women's Legislative Network is to promote the participation, empowerment, and leadership of women legislators. The network’s primary goals are to expand legislator participation and engagement; to prepare women to be more effective legislators; to increase the number of women in legislative leadership positions; to celebrate female legislators and to provide pathways for more women to serve in state legislatures. The network is governed by a bipartisan 15-member board of directors.

Challenge Grants—$120,000

This award will support the entrepreneurial spirit of NCSL staff, who are challenged to develop innovative ideas to expand services and support legislators and legislative staff in the 50 states and territories. Strong consideration will be given to proposals that not only expand services but also generate revenue. Proposals will be submitted to the NCSL executive director and approved at his discretion.

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 and many of the professional development programs specifically designed for legislative staff. The programs include the Legislative Staff Management Institute, the Senior Staff Leadership Development Program, the upcoming 2020 pilot legislative staff certificate program and the development of a staff directors’ network.

NCSL Strategic Plan—$100,000

This award will allow the NCSL leadership to spend the next year engaged in planning for NCSL’s future and studying the changes in legislatures that will impact NCSL’s ability to serve legislators and legislative staff over the next five years. This award would fund strategic planning consultants as well as surveys and focus groups of NCSL’s members.

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 information requests, preparing articles, briefs and publications, and developing pending and enacted legislation summaries.

Legislative Staff Management Institute—$55,000

Since 1990, the Foundation has supported the operation of the annual Legislative Staff Management Institute. The Institute is the nation’s premier program for developing and enhancing management and leadership skills 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.


This award provides online learning and training for legislators and legislative staff and funds NCSL’s new podcast series, “Our American States.” E-learning technologies assist NCSL in expanding opportunities for legislators and legislative staff to participate in NCSL programs when they are unable to travel. This award also will provide on-going content for the podcast series, which features conversations telling the story of America’s state legislatures, the people in them, the politics that drive them, and the important work of democracy.

Civics Education—$25,000

In order to continue NCSL’s commitment to civics education and role as a leader in the civics education space by providing important civics education resources, the civics education project team requests a $25,000 award for FY 2020. NCSL will raise awareness about the importance of representative democracy by creating civics education products and programs that members can use to educate citizens about the important role state legislatures play in American government. Projects will include convening a focus group of legislators and staff at the NCSL Capitol Forum, establishing a network of civics education coordinators, organizing programming at the Legislative Summit, and creating new and updated print materials. In addition, we will explore the creation of a new online civics game.

Standing Committee Priority Setting—$20,000

These funds would be used to bring the legislator and staff officers of the standing committees to the winter Executive Committee meeting to be part of a new conference priority setting process.  The standing committee staff officers will also have an opportunity to brief the executive committee on their work.

NCSL Professional Development—$20,000

This award will supplement NCSL’s training programs for staff.  It will be used to contract with trainers to deliver programs on skills like writing and delivering presentations.

Young and New Legislative Professionals—$15,000

NCSL’s Young and New Professionals program will continue to connect young and new legislators and legislative staff with networking opportunities, offer continuing education to support professional growth and acknowledge outstanding achievements and innovations in state legislatures. Plans for FY 2020 include maintaining a quarterly newsletter, providing professional development webinars, highlighting YNP’s on the website/magazine and hosting a special reception during NCSL’s 2020 Summit in Indianapolis. We remain extremely grateful for Foundation support of this important program.

KnowWho Database – $10,000

We are continuing to use the KnowWho data to serve NCSL’s constituents. NCSL relies on this data to stay in touch with the state lawmakers, to produce reports and build rosters. The Personify database is refreshed each week with current information from KnowWho. With the transition into Fonteva, instead of a direct integration, NCSL is exploring ways to utilize KnowWho on a more ad-hoc manner after December 2019.




Total Awards: $2,010,000