November 2023 update

The Knowing-Doing Network Leadership Coalition (KDNLC) has officially launched!

Learn more


*This page has been updated as of March 24, 2023 with additional questions.

This FAQ is intended to support civil society organizations (CSOs) that are considering submitting an Expression of Interest to join the Knowing-Doing Network Leadership Coalition (KDNLC).

The Brookings Institution is looking for up to 10 CSOs working to transform education systems toward holistic learning in geographically, economically, and culturally diverse local communities across the world—particularly in Global South contexts. Over the next three and a half years (2023-2026), the KDNLC will:

  • Co-create research agendas and engage in collaborative inquiry and shared learning around effective policies and practices for education systems transformation toward inclusive and holistic learning.
  • Connect members of the broader Knowing-Doing Network across contexts and thematic areas.
  • Develop both locally specific and global communication and engagement strategies.


What is the full application process? Is this form all that is needed or do any documents need to be signed?

The Expression of Interest form is the first step of the application process. Organizations will be notified in late March or early April of 2023 if they are eligible and therefore invited to submit a full application, and the Center for Universal Education (CUE) will provide complete application materials to those organizations. Selected organizations will need to sign a sub-award agreement with the Brookings Institution to participate in the KDNLC.

When will organizations be alerted if they are eligible to submit a full application?

Expressions of Interest will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning on March 20. Organizations will be notified in late March or early April of 2023 if they are eligible and therefore invited to submit a full application.

What are the selection criteria?

Please review eligibility criteria and organizational qualifications at:

At the time of submitting the Expression of Interest, must the organization provide the specific names of the senior staff that will participate?

No. The organization does not have to identify staff by name to express interest. However, you will need to indicate which staff position titles you currently envision would be involved. These should be existing staff positions within the organization, or part of a new position; this opportunity is not meant to support the creation of new full-time staff positions.

Will there be a chance to edit a previously submitted Expression of Interest form?

If you have already submitted your Expression of Interest and would like to revise it, please contact us at [email protected].

Could we provide positive press generated from another country’s office (headquarter office) as the one locally registered for which we would apply is new?

It is important that the local organization is well-established in the community in which it works and can demonstrate impact in that context. For this reason, we ask that you provide examples of press coverage of the local organization.


Is the call open to individual organizations?

Yes, individually registered organizations are the eligible entities for this opportunity (as opposed to informal networks or individual professionals).

Are coalitions of smaller organizations eligible?

Yes, but ONLY if the coalition meets other eligibility considerations. Most importantly, the coalition must

  • be legally registered as a nonprofit entity,
  • have its own internal organizational and financial structure, and
  • operate within a local education jurisdiction.

Note: International or regional coalitions are not eligible at this time; however, they are encouraged to consider nominating local hubs or partner organizations.

Are for-profit organizations (including for-profit social enterprises) eligible?

While CUE recognizes that this distinction is challenging in many contexts, due to contractual and organizational fiduciary constraints, for-profit organizations including for-profit social enterprises are not eligible for this opportunity at this time. If you believe there is an extenuating context in which your organization lacks official non-profit status, but functions as a charitable entity, please reach out to us at [email protected].

For non-profits and NGOs from outside the U.S., what is the equivalent of 501(c)3 status?

Under U.S. tax law, a 501(c)3 refers to a not-for-profit organization. This designation may vary by country/context, and organizations should be able to provide official designation of such not-for-profit status by national/local authorities.

Note: Official 501(c)3 equivalency determination by the U.S. government is NOT required for this opportunity.

Is an organization eligible if its global headquarters and/or legal registration is not located in the local area within which it operates?   

No. This opportunity is for local organizations headquartered and/or legally registered in the area within which they primarily operate (and where they intend to focus their efforts as part of the KDNLC project). Organizations may work in other contexts as well, but their primary focus should be local.

For example, an organization headquartered in Kenya, which works across East Africa, would be eligible if a substantial focus of their work is local, in Kenya. An organization legally registered in the U.K. but working primarily in Kenya, would not be eligible.

Organizations with multiple legal registration locations should lead in this application process with their local affiliation.

Does an organization need to demonstrate that it has global partnerships?

No, prior experience at the global level is NOT required for this opportunity. However, a track record of engagement with local education ecosystem actors and established or emerging institutional positioning to inform systems change in the local context should be demonstrated.

What capacity must a group be operating at to be considered (i.e., years in operation or number of people served)?

We do not have minimum requirements for these areas; however, we are looking for organizations that are well positioned to inform policy change in their local context, which would be challenging for very young organizations to demonstrate.

Are organizations eligible if they are located in a country under U.S. embargo or targeted sanctions?

No. Organizations located in countries under U.S embargo or targeted sanctions are not eligible at this time.

Are organizations eligible if staff are unable to participate in English?

Owing to the need to collaborate on global research projects in real time, the two staff members assigned to the KDNLC must have written and verbal English proficiency to participate effectively. English does not need to be the working language of the organization, nor does it need to be located in an anglophone country.

What organizational structure are applicants expected to have?

There is no one organizational structure that is required to participate in the KDNLC. As collaborative research and policy will make up a large part of the work of the KDNLC, applicant organizations should be organized in ways that effectively support these activities.

Is there an operating budget range you would be looking at as part of the process for evaluating an applicant?

The Expression of Interest form asks for the operating budget range in U.S. dollars for the applicant. We are open to a range of organizations with various budget sizes participating and are not looking for a specific answer to this question. The goal is to ensure that the organization has the financial capacity to absorb the funding and would ideally not be overly reliant on a single source of funding.

Does the requirement that an organization not receive 50 percent or more of its funding from a “political or government entity” include funding from the aid arms of multiple governments?

Funding from the aid arms of different foreign governments will not impact your eligibility.

Why should the organization’s primary activities be in research and policy change as opposed to implementation/direct service?

We are looking for organizations that have demonstrated experience in supporting transformative change by using research to inform policy. An organization may do some implementation as part of its overall work, but it must have the capacity and primary focus on research and policy change.

Is an organization eligible if education is just one of the organization’s lines of work among several?

Your organization may have different lines of work; however, it is important that education be a significant focus of the organization’s work and that the organization have clear goals related to education research and policy work.

Are organizations involved primarily in nonformal education eligible?

Yes, provided that the organization works in one of the specified focus areas:

  • early childhood education
  • family and community engagement in education
  • gender equality in and through education
  • innovative pedagogies
  • climate education
  • teacher professional development


How much funding will selected KDNLC organizations receive?

KDNLC organizations will receive up to approximately US$400,000 total over the duration of this phase of the project (2023 through December 2026). Subgrants to support staff participation in the network, as well as the implementation of local research and impact projects, will be distributed on an annual basis and will be dependent on continued and active participation in the KDNLC as well as continued compliance with the organizational, fiscal, and legal terms of the subgrant agreement.

In addition to these subgrants, KDNLC members will receive financial support to cover the costs of travel, convenings, and public events.

What does the funding support?

Subgrant funds are expected to support both staff time for those participating in KDNLC meetings, as well as in research, peer learning, engagement, and impact activities. CUE recognizes that organizations may choose to budget their activities in different ways. Our goal is to provide organizations with the flexibility they need to most effectively structure their participation in this project according to their organizational and local contexts. While funding is not unrestricted nor meant to cover general operating expenses, a portion of these funds may be used for indirect costs/overhead on the project-specific budget.

Budgets will be discussed with organizations invited to submit the full application.

Can an organization based/registered outside of the US receive the funding through their US-registered non-profit entity (501c3) and bank account?

Yes, this is possible, provided that the applying organization is locally based in the context in which they work, and other criteria regarding local work and staff are met. The U.S. organization and accounts must be registered to a 501c3 nonprofit organization, and funds must be transferred within the organization’s accounts, and cannot be sub-granted between different legal entities.

If selected, will the organization need to receive the KDNLC funding in U.S. dollars (USD)?

Yes, awards will be made in USD. The recipient’s bank might convert the USD value into the local currency. All reporting requirements will be in USD.

How do I know if my organization can receive grant monies from the United States?

This process is specific to an applicant’s country. Some organizations need to be “certified” by their country to receive grants/monies from foreign sources.

Are audited financial records required?

No. If you are invited to submit a full application, then we will ask to review your most recent yearly financials, audited or otherwise.


Will the KDNLC focus on specific issues?

The KDNLC will focus on issues and topics relevant to education systems transformation for holistic learning/breadth of skills. Each organization in the KDNLC may have their own specific focus area(s), and we will consider organizations working on a variety of issues, including:

    • early childhood education
    • family and community engagement in education
    • gender equality in education
    • innovative pedagogies
    • climate education
    • teacher professional development

How will KDNLC organizations be expected to participate in the coalition? What time commitment does CUE anticipate for members of the KDNLC?

KDNLC members will be expected to participate in collaborative activities both virtually and in person, both synchronously and asynchronously.

CUE anticipates the following time commitments as part of an organization’s ongoing participation in the KDNLC:

  • Virtual, synchronous meetings: Up to three per month. These will include meetings of the full KDNLC, as well as work done in smaller committees. (Up to 6 hours per month)
  • Asynchronous work: Meeting preparation, collaboration on shared documents, and independent learning. (6 to 10 hours per month)
  • In-person convenings: One per year (three days + travel).

How will the research activities of the KDNLC be defined and carried out?

The KDNLC aims to be a collaborative space, focused on learning and co-constructing knowledge and action together. We understand that knowledge does not sit in one particular place and is created in relationship with others, bringing experiences and ways of knowing from diverse contexts around the world, from the local to the global. The research—from questions to methodological design to implementation to analysis and reporting—will be co-constructed by the 11 organizations that make up the KDNLC (10 civil society organizations and CUE).

The research in year 1 will be collective and broadly focused on understanding the implementation of policies for holistic learning in local contexts (specific research questions and methodologies to be determined by the KDNLC); Additional research and policy projects in years 2 to 4 will be identified and prioritized within the KDNLC.

How do you hope to measure or evaluate education systems transformation as a result of the project?

Through collaborative processes, KDNLC organizations and CUE will co-construct shared indicators for evaluating education systems transformation and the impact of our work together.


The following definitions will be used in relation to the selection of KDNLC partner organizations.

1. Civil society organization (CSO)

CSO is defined in this selection process as a formally registered, nongovernmental, non-partisan, not-for-profit organization (including research entities) or voluntary citizens’ groups that operate in the social sphere and is separate from the State and the market.

2. Local organization

For the purposes of this opportunity, “local organization” refers to CSOs that are headquartered and have a primary focus on working within a specific national or subnational education jurisdiction. This could be, for example, at the national, state/province, municipality or district level depending on where education policy authority lies.

3. Education systems transformation

“Education systems transformation” (EST), for the purposes of the KDNLC, refers to efforts to rebuild education systems so as to bring all components of that system into alignment around a clear and shared purpose.

Building from systems thinking, EST works to:

  • Engage actors across the education ecosystem (in schools, school districts, education ministries, families, communities, civil society, and the private sector).
  • Identify how different elements of the system impact and move in relation to one another.
  • Understand the social, political, economic, and technological factors in local contexts that can either enable or constrain action.
  • Incorporate both the visible/hard elements of systems like people and resources as well as the invisible/soft elements like beliefs and culture.

For the KDNLC, CUE is looking to partner with organizations working on systems transformation in support of inclusive and holistic learning for all young people.

For more, please see: “Transforming education systems: Why, what, and how.”

4. Holistic learning or breadth of skills

Holistic learning supports young people’s intellectual, physical, emotional, social, cultural, and moral development. A holistic approach supports the development of the whole child instead of one that focuses only on academic achievement.

Similarly, “breadth of skills” refers to the full range of academic and socio-emotional skills young people need to thrive—from foundational skills such as mathematics, literacy, and writing to creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. A breadth of skills approach is essential to navigating, adapting, and thriving in today’s rapidly changing world.

For more, please see: “Visualizing the breadth of skills movement across education systems.”

5. Global South

For the purposes of our work with the KDNLC, CUE views the term “Global South” as a social-analytical category and not as a geographic descriptor. As such, we recognize the term is not static and does not refer to a specific list of countries, but rather to systemically marginalized and under-resourced contexts across the world. This definition builds off a recognition of the legacies of colonialism, racism, and capitalism that continue to drive unequal access to resources and opportunities between regions and countries globally. At the same time, it acknowledges the growing gaps in wealth and power within countries that must also be addressed.

Our focus on Global South contexts in the selection of the KDNLC means that we seek to partner with organizations located in and working with economically, socially, politically, and/or culturally marginalized communities across the world. In so doing, we aim to challenge the structures and processes that generate, sustain, and reproduce poverty, inequality, and exclusion locally and globally.

6. Children, youth, young people

While the definition of young people can vary from context to context, the primary focus of this work will be on education systems that support holistic learning for children and youth, roughly aged 0 to 20, in schools, communities, and families. This project will not have a primary focus on tertiary education.