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NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures | Awards to NCSL Programs

September 1, 2023

Award Descriptions for the 2024 Fiscal Year 


Challenge and Innovation Programs 

For over a decade, the Foundation has awarded funds designed to motivate and inspire the NCSL staff to create new programs to serve legislators, legislative staff, and Foundation partners as well. Through a competitive process, NCSL staff submit ideas for smaller grants to the NCSL executive director. Micro-grants are selected for seed projects that allow NCSL staff to complete critical work that might not have resources available and to explore new areas that might lead to expanded projects. Typically, grants range from $5,000 to $20,000. The NCSL staff are strongly encouraged to think creatively and strategically about how to invest these small awards so that they might lead to discoveries about new products and services to meet the needs of NCSL’s members. 

Professional Development 

This award will fund NCSL staff professional development. The funding will be used to provide access to workshops, seminars, conferences, and other learning opportunities. By investing in professional development opportunities, NCSL fosters a culture of growth and innovation resulting in increased efficiency, productivity, and capability of addressing emerging challenges. NCSL is striving to invest more resources in opportunities for staff. Staff rate professional development opportunities as one of the most important things that the organization can do to support and value them. 

Software Upgrades & Additions 

This award provides funding to enhance software integration across NCSL between systems, increase efficiency, and reduce costs. Specifically, accounting and grant management software will be evaluated. Grant management software is a cloud-based solution for managing federal and private grants through interactive dashboards that track budgets, objectives, activities, and performance metrics. 

State Services 

Center for Legislative Strengthening 

The Center for Legislative Strengthening (CLS) is NCSL’s hub for consulting, projects, training and research in service of the legislative institution. The FY24 Foundation for State Legislatures award will allow CLS continued staff capacity to provide legislatures with analysis and expertise on enduring and emerging issues impacting legislative operations, legislative process, legislator pay and demographics, human resources issues, and the separation of powers. 

Legislative Staff Management Institute 

Since 1990, the Foundation has supported the operation of the annual Legislative Staff Management Institute (LSMI). 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. The FY’24 award will support the 2023 LSMI program, which was held July 21 – 28, 2023 in Sacramento, Calif. and an alumni networking reception at the 2023 Legislative Summit in Indianapolis.  

Legislative Staff Programs 

NCSL’s Legislative Staff Services Program provides strategic, programmatic and administrative support to the nine professional staff associations of NCSL, carries out the priorities and project for NCSL’s staff chair and the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC) and delivers many of the professional development programs designed specifically for legislative staff.  

This award supports NCSL staff time in the development, coordination and execution of key professional development programs for legislative staff. These programs include the annual Legislative Staff Management Institute (LSMI), professional development and networking for staff directors and chiefs of staff, the Legislative Staff Institutional Essentials, designed for staff that are new to the legislative profession and Base Camp an online experience designed for state legislative staff as well as state legislators and policy people. 

Quad Caucus & Women’s Legislative Network 

NCSL provides staff support to the Women’s Legislative Network and the Quad Caucus. The Women’s Legislative Network represents a record 2,397 women and 32.5% of all state legislators. 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). The Quad Caucus represents approximately 1,300 legislators of color, or 20% of NCSL’s members. Support to both groups continues to offer a unique opportunity to strengthen NCSL’s virtual programs, policy research and response to increasingly diverse legislatures. The award supports NCSL staff time and general operating support to continue building the network and relationships among the groups. The Women’s Legislative Network will hold a business meeting and sessions at the upcoming NCSL Legislative Summit. 

Young and New Professionals 

This award supports the Young and New Professionals (YNP) ancillary group, which is composed of legislators and legislative staff who are either 35 years of age or younger, or with 5 years or less of legislative experience. The YNP mission is to engage, educate, and support the state legislative leaders of tomorrow through targeted professional development, networking opportunities and recognition. Award deliverables will be a networking reception and professional development session at the 2023 Legislative Summit in Indianapolis as well as two or three virtual programs. 

Leaders and Legislative Development 

Program for Legislative Leaders 

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, one leadership experience, outreach to leaders and the development and delivery of programs for targeted groups of leaders. For FY24, we are planning two Symposiums (in September and June), a Leadership Experience in Normandy, and outreach activities throughout the year. 

Seminar for Emerging Leaders

This award supports the NCSL Leaders’ Center through an Emerging Leaders program in their efforts to develop and deliver programs, services and materials for new and emerging leaders on a continuous basis throughout FY24. The main deliverable will be in November to bring Emerging Legislative Leaders to Philidelphia for professional development to prepare them for a future leadership track and tools to successfully meet the challenges of the legislative environment, highlighting U.S. history. Additionally, we will follow-up with the Emerging Leaders to keep them engaged with NCSL and informed of additional opportunities and learning programs. 

Legislator & Legislative Staff Training

This award supports the operations of NCSL’s Legislative Training Institute by equipping us to better train NCSL members. By providing more specialized training to legislators and staff, we equip them to become better at their jobs and operating the legislative institution. NCSL will use the award to support the staff who serve as trainers and facilitators and deliver products in-person and virtually. The trainers also develop training programs on an ongoing basis and support NCSL staff to improve their presentation skills. The Legislative Training Institute has been the fastest growing area of demand at NCSL, and this award from the Foundation will also allow us to meet the incredible demand through increased capacity while maintaining the high quality and standards our members expect.  


Base Camp

During the pandemic, NCSL created “NCSL Base Camp 2020,” a three-day online experience to allow state legislators, staff, foundation members and others to get updates on the latest policy issues and get professional development. More than 1,200 people attended the event, from all 50 states and a few foreign countries. The largest group of attendees were legislative staff, making up 47% of the audience. Based on its success, NCSL is returning the event to its calendar.  

Foundation funding for this event will pay for the cost of the production platform. In 2020, an incredible 95% of survey respondents said the platform was “excellent” or “good.” Based on that reaction, we believe it is prudent to continue with the same provider. Registration fees and sponsorships are expected to cover speaker fees, video production, marketing outreach and miscellaneous expenses, such as credit card fees. 

Legislator & Legislative Staff Engagement

Engaging state legislators and legislative staff is critical to NCSL’s mission. This funding supports travel to state capitols for policy assistance, professional development training and relationship-building; creating and executing Legislative Staff Week; producing dedicated content for legislative staff; welcoming newly elected legislators; designing, printing and mailing the NCSL calendar and other materials; and developing new content and strategies for engaging members.  

Our American States

This Foundation award provides funding for two of NCSL’s podcasts: “Our American States” and “Legislatures: The Inside Storey,” hosted by NCSL CEO Tim Storey. Both podcasts have garnered a devoted and enthusiastic following, with each episode having the potential to reach over 1,700 listeners. The Foundation grant encompasses the expenses associated with producing, hosting, editing, and distributing the podcasts. The Foundation grant covers the production, hosting, editing and distribution of both podcasts. 

Capitol Multimedia Project

NCSL has undertaken an ambitious project to create a unique collection of photographs and video of every Capitol, legislative building and state legislative chamber in the United States, commonwealths and territories. The project, designed to be completed in advance of NCSL’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2025, is underway with nearly 10 cities completed. Several more are scheduled for the 2023 calendar year.  

To provide consistent quality, one photographer has been assigned to capture exterior images when foliage is in full bloom. A professional drone will be purchased to take aerial photographs of building exteriors and will be used for interior images, where allowed. 

The prints and videos will become the property of NCSL, which will make them available for online and print purposes to promote the legislative institution. To our knowledge, this will be the first and only professional video and photo library of the exteriors and interiors of legislative-related buildings anywhere. 

State Policy Research  

Fiscal Institute 

The Foundation award provides legislative stipends and general meeting support to the Fiscal Institute, which includes the Fiscal Institute Symposium and the SALT Tax Working Group. The Symposium is an annual convening of state budget and tax committee chairs and members of SALT. It is a high-level look at state fiscal issues and covers a broad range of topics. SALT members meet two additional times during the year to dive deeper into specific tax issues.  

The 2023 Symposium for fiscal leaders will take place in Miami on November 15-17. We anticipate 60 legislators and legislative fiscal directors to attend in addition to SALT sponsors. SALT will meet separately in January 2024, May 2024 and with the 2024 Legislative Summit. 

Research Databases 

This award will provide NCSL staff with access to LexisNexis’ State Net, Lexis+, Westlaw and Quorum. These research databases include the ability for customized searches of state bills, laws, regulations, and related information from every state, territory, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Congress. These tools allow NCSL staff to perform a variety of functions including analyzing policies and identifying trends, which in turn support responses to research requests from members, Foundation sponsors, media and others; testimony to legislative committees; and reports and briefs, webpages and other media for members. They also support NCSL’s publicly available legislative databases that track, categorize and analyze legislation on various topics as well as the Bill Information Service (BIS), powered by State Net, which is NCSL’s bill-tracking tool for members. 


This award will enhance NCSL’s capacity to provide legislatures with updated research, analysis, and expertise on state laws governing ethics in government. NCSL has long been the go-to resource for accurate information on the varied approaches states take on these matters, and with this support will refresh and expand its offerings. 

Legal Grant Support 

This award will provide legal support for grants and contracts, which support services to members across a variety of issues in NCSL’s state policy research and state services divisions. This support will include review of legal terms and conditions, aid in compliance with requirements of those grants and contracts and ensure protection of NCSL.  

Total Awards: $3,200,000 

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