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NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures | Awards to NCSL Programs

January 23, 2023

Award Descriptions for the 2023 Fiscal Year


Base Camp: $44,000 

During the pandemic, NCSL created “NCSL Base Camp,” 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 first event. The largest group of attendees were legislative staff, making up 47% of the audience. Based on its success, NCSL has committed to continue this virtual gathering because it specifically brings services to those in legislatures who may not be able to travel to the Summit and other meetings because of funding or other reasons. Foundation funding for this event will pay for the cost of the production platform and supplement registration fees that underwrite the other costs of staging Base Camp.  

Legislator and Legislative Staff Engagement: $110,000 

Engaging state legislators and legislative staff is one of NCSL’s most critical functions. NCSL works year-round to build constituent 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 as well as the State Coordinators who are the legislators who serve as NCSL’s ambassadors in their chambers. 

Funding will support several engagement areas, including: 

  • Travel to capitols for policy assistance, professional development training and relationship-building. 
  • Hosting Legislative Staff Week twice a year. 
  • Producing dedicated content for legislative staff and highlighting NCSL resources. 
  • Welcoming newly legislators elected. 
  • Designing, printing and sending out the annual calendar to all members.  
  • Evaluating NCSL’s branding across platforms, including a comprehensive review of NCSL’s brand colors. 
  • Developing new content and strategies for engaging members throughout the year.  

NCSL Legislative Summit: $220,000 

The 2022 NCSL Legislative Summit in Denver is the first regular summer meeting since 2019. Following the November 2021 Tampa meeting, which drew about half the audience of a regular Summit, the organization made plans for a full three-day Summit. Due to restrictions, the Colorado Legislature was not able to fundraise for the meeting, but otherwise provided assistance. The NCSL Foundation implemented an aggressive fundraising plan to support the meeting, including providing meals, offsetting meeting expenses and attracting noted speakers such as Kevin O’Leary, Missy Franklin, Robyn Benincasa, Clint Hurdle and others. This award supplements more than $650,000 raised by the Foundation in a separate fundraising campaign to support social events, transportation costs and other expenses.  

Legislators and/or staff from all 50 states, as well as all the commonwealths and territories, are represented at the Denver meeting.  

Our American States: $35,200 

This 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 members with focused, bipartisan conversations on key public policy issues, leadership and the business of legislators. Recent podcasts on redistricting and the census, college affordability, transportation and infrastructure were prime examples of diving a deeper into the issues and talking directly to policy experts. “Our American States” continues to have a loyal and strong following with an audience of up to 2,000 listeners per episode. 

Leaders, Legislative Development and International 

Center for Ethics in Government: $247,500 

The Center for Ethics in Government is the premier source for state legislatures on ethics and lobbying issues. The Center provides tailored assistance for legislatures, ranging from workshops to committee testimony. The Center’s goal is to build trust and confidence in representative government by promoting responsible behavior in legislatures and educating the public on the importance of the legislative process. 

The Ethics Center strives to be a leader in building confidence in government by promoting ethical behavior for state legislators, staff, lobbyists and advocates. It designs and leads training programs on values-based ethical decision-making. The Center provides expertise, consultation and analysis of state ethics and lobbying laws and rules. It writes about trends in ethics and tracks ethics laws—all available on NCSL’s website.  

Legislative Professional Development: $330,000 

This award supports NCSL’s professional development 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, travel costs and a full-time employee to deliver training in the states and at NCSL events. For FY23, we are already seeing an exponential increase in demand for both in-person and virtual delivery and expect to be able to serve more legislators and staff than ever. 

Program for Legislative Leaders: $286,000 

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, one leadership experience, outreach to leaders and the development and delivery of programs for targeted groups of leaders.  

Seminar for Emerging Leaders: $132,000 

This award supports the NCSL Leaders’ Center through an Emerging Leaders program. Including development and delivery of programs, services and materials for new and emerging leaders on a continuous basis throughout fiscal year 2023. The main deliverable will be an event in December to bring emerging legislative leaders together for experiential professional development to prepare them for a future leadership. We will follow-up with the attendees to keep them engaged with NCSL and aware of additional opportunities and learning programs. 


Challenge and Innovation Programs: $121,000 

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 CEO. 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: $275,000  

This award will fund staff professional development at NCSL.  The funding will be used to support attendance at job related conferences. Professional development and networking allows employees to become more competent in their profession and excel. NCSL management strongly believes that this is ongoing process. NCSL is striving to invest more resources into opportunities for staff to attend workshops, classes, conferences, and online courses, etc. Staff rate professional development opportunities as one of the most important things that the organization can do to support and value them.  

Website Platform Upgrade: $165,000 

This follow-up award will provide resources to continue the upgrade and transition NCSL's website platform. This major overhaul will lead to far greater capabilities to display data and communicate information to members via NCSL’s massive website (far exceeding 10,000 pages). When completed in this coming fiscal year, the website will be easier to use and find information on. The new site should also be easy to maintain for NCSL staff administrators and content creators and streamline business operations and increase productivity. Another key goal that NCSL’s consultants are focused on is making the website more easily accessible to mobile devices and to fully comply with the Web Accessibility Initiative. Major progress has been achieved over the past year in modernizing NCSL’s website. This award will allow for the completion of that work and result in a dramatically improved user experience for visitors to the website, as well as save countless hours in website administration and posting.    

State Policy Research 

Research Databases: $149,600 

This award provides NCSL with access to LexisNexis’ State Net, Lexis+, and Quorum. These online tools include laws and related information from the states, territories and the U.S. Congress and other beneficial information. Allowing NCSL staff to search and filter current session and archived legislation, state statutes, ballot initiatives, case law, news sources and more. These capabilities are used by staff to respond to research requests submitted by legislators and legislative staff, Foundation members, the media and others. Staff use these resources to create up-to-date analysis, identifying trend information, and providing 50-state comparisons for legislative reports, LegisBriefs, magazine articles, blogs, webpages and other media. They power publicly available legislation databases that track, categorize and analyze legislation on various topics. These databases average 59,000 visits monthly and are among the most visited NCSL webpages. 

The Bill Information Service (BIS), powered by State Net, is NCSL’s bill-tracking tool for members. Through NCSL’s website, legislators and legislative staff can search for legislation in all 50 states, the territories, D.C. and Congress.  

Expand Policy Research: $236,500 

Providing timely, unbiased research and analysis to legislators and legislative staff is perhaps the most valued service that NCSL provides to states and territories. Over 80 of the NCSL staff are devoted to the hundreds of policy issues that states work on. Most of them are recognized national experts who are frequently called on to provide background and testimony to legislative committees. Most of these staff are supported by grants and contracts from foundations and the federal government. This award will go to boost staffing in the policy research area thus sustaining this critical function as a top priority for the conference at a time when demand for information is as high as ever.    

State Services 

Center for Legislative Strengthening: $220,000 

The Center for Legislative Strengthening (CLS) is NCSL’s hub for consulting, projects, training, and research in service of the legislative institution. This Foundation award will add to the Center’s capacity to provide legislatures with analysis and expertise on enduring and emerging issues impacting legislative operations, legislator pay and demographics, legislative human resources issues and the separation of powers. The Center produces one-of-a-kind research about legislatures that would not exist unless NCSL focused resources on the legislative institution.  

Fiscal Institute: $165,000 

The NCSL Fiscal Institute provides a forum for discussion, information sharing and engagement among state fiscal leaders, private sector partners and other interested parties on federal and state fiscal-related issues, trends and challenges. And, when appropriate, the NCSL Fiscal Institute provides leadership, and develops advocacy strategies, on federal-state issues. The Fiscal Institute hosts an annual national Fiscal Leaders Seminar for state legislative budget and tax chairs. It supports the work of the SALT Working Group. Participants have multiple opportunities to convene, collaborate and confer in a bipartisan manner to identify critical fiscal policy issues and provide practical guidance to states by developing model principles for state budget and tax reform and modernization. 

Legislative Staff Exchange Program: $22,000 

The Legislative Staff Exchange program would match individual staff members with a legislative chamber or agency in another state. Staff would travel to that state at an agreed upon time and share best practices tailored as specifically as possible to their individual job duties. Creation and implementation of a LSEP would be left to each individual NCSL professional staff association, if they choose to participate.  Funds would go to each professional staff association to support exchange opportunities. 

Legislative Staff Management Institute: $88,000 

Since 1990, the Foundation has supported the annual Legislative Staff Management Institute (LSMI). The Institute is the nation’s premier program for developing and enhancing management and leadership skills for legislative staff leaders, directors and managers. The Foundation’s assistance supports the tuition for senior legislative staff attending this top-notch executive management program.  

Quad Caucus & Women’s Legislative Network: $231,000 

NCSL provides staff support to the Women’s Legislative Network and the Quad Caucus. The networks and relationships supported in both groups promote diversity in legislatures and demonstrate NCSL’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The Women’s Legislative Network represents a record  

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). Support to both groups continues to offer a unique opportunity to strengthen NCSL’s virtual programs, policy research and response to increasingly diverse legislatures.  

Legislative Staff Programs: $110,000 

This award supports NCSL staff time in the development 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 and the online Legislative Staff Certificate Program, designed for staff that are new to the legislative profession. Furthermore, this award supports the staff professional organizations.  

Young and New Professionals: $13,200 

The Young and New Professionals (YNP) ancillary group is composed of legislators and legislative staff who are either young (40 and under), newly elected and/or otherwise new to the legislative environment. The YNP mission is to engage, educate, and support the state legislative leaders of tomorrow through targeted professional development, networking opportunities and recognition. The group seeks to provide opportunities for networking, professional development and learning for its members. Award deliverables include a networking reception and professional development session at the 2022 Legislative Summit, webinars and other outreach efforts. 

Total Awards: $3,201,000 

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