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Stories from the Field Contest

Share your experiences building new business relationships, negotiating contracts, and expanding or establishing new lines of business!

The HCBS Business Acumen Center is looking for stories and examples of promising business practices from Community-Based Organizations (CBOs[1]) serving people with disabilities. These stories will help inspire, shape and elevate the status of CBOs across our country.


Stories from the Field Contest


  • Seeking narrative examples of CBO experiences developing and utilizing skills and strategies to sustain or grow your community-based business
  • All stories submitted will be eligible for highlights in HCBS Business Acumen webinars, spotlight reports and participation in conference presentations
  • 3 organizations will be selected from submissions and will receive prizes which include[2]:
    • Complimentary registration for up to two staff at the 2018 HCBS conference in Baltimore, MD
    • Participate in a panel at the 2018 HCBS conference in Baltimore, MD
    • Guaranteed highlight in national webinar, HCBS Business Acumen website spotlight and YouTube Interview

Submission Guidelines

1. Introduction

The expansion of Medicaid managed long term services and supports (MLTSS) and other efforts to integrate healthcare and long-term services and supports is creating opportunities for CBOs seeking to work within new program designs. Program design changes at the state level also present an overall opportunity for CBOs to evaluate the services they currently offer, their payer portfolio and the outcomes they produce. They can use this information to develop strategies that will help them build their value proposition, update service designs and diversify their portfolios. While CBOs are still contracting directly with government funders, they are also negotiating contracts with hospitals, health systems, accountable care organizations (ACOs), health plans, and other integrated care entities. They also have an opportunity to provide services and receive payment directly from private citizens, cities, counties or local municipalities. For CBOs to create a sustainable path for their organization, they need to think differently about the services they offer, the customers they serve, and the way they demonstrate the value they add to services and supports.

The identification and sharing of experiences and promising practices can strengthen the understanding of the role of business acumen for CBOs that serve people with disabilities. Real examples from CBOs that have been successful developing new relationships, diversifying their portfolio or creating unique and effective payment strategies can inspire other CBOs seeking ways to address these same issues. Examples from CBOs currently working through new opportunities and challenging situations can also illustrate how organizations need to think and maneuver through change as they work to sustain their organization.

The HCBS Business Acumen Center, administered by the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD), with support from its national partners[3] and with funding provided by the Administration for Community Living, is launching this Stories from the Field Contest to collect examples of business strategies used by disability CBOs to sustain or grow their community-based business. This contest will identify and disseminate promising operational and fiscal business practices that highlight the use of business acumen skills and strategies by disability CBOs.

While this not an exhaustive list, we encourage CBOs to think about business acumen promising practices that have helped their organization to:

  • Prepare
    • Conducting an environmental scan
    • Reviewing and refining your vision and mission
    • Identifying and developing champions
    • Engaging stakeholders
  • Plan
    • Preparing your CBO for successful organizational change
    • Articulating your business case
    • Understanding and maximizing your financial position
  • Execute
    • Developing and sustaining relationships and partnerships
      • Expanding on fee-for-services offerings
    • Negotiating and contracting
    • Continuous champion and stakeholder engagement
  • Monitor/Evaluate
    • Continuous quality improvement based on outcomes measures and management
    • Compliance - meeting contract expectations
    • Modifying approaches
    • Continued engagement
    • Scaling up
      • Utilizing the contract
  • Other successful or creative business promising practices not captured in the above categories
2. Eligibility

We invite stories from disability-focused CBOs that have used business acumen to promote the sustainability of their organization in a changing environment. That change may have been prompted by a move to integrated managed care or a desire to diversify the organizations payer portfolio so that they are no longer reliant on any one funder. We welcome an array of stories and promising practice submissions (see introduction above), and encourage agencies of all sizes, including those that serve rural communities or specific sub-populations to share their promising practices. No idea or experience is too small!

Stories may address successful business practices working with or for:

  • Managed care
  • Private pay
  • Health systems
  • Cities, counties or municipalities
  • Other Community Based Organizations
  • Universities
  • Any other organization that helped to improve the operations or financial performance of your business
3. Selection Criteria
Several submissions from this ‘Stories from the Field’ contest will be selected for awards. Additional submissions may be identified for development and dissemination of promising practice profiles. Selection criteria for awards include the following:
The story highlights a strategy that was used to improve the financial position of your organization.
The story is relevant and replicable to disability CBOs navigating a changing environment.
The practice demonstrates a positive impact on the persons served.
There is a positive impact on the administration and/or delivery of the CBOs services.
The practice improves the delivery and accessibility of the CBOs services to a diverse range of inquirers.
4. Awards
Three promising practices will be selected for awards. The first, second, and third place awards are described below. Additionally, all awardee organizations will receive a certificate of recognition. The HCBS Business Acumen Center will work with each awardee organization to develop, publish and disseminate a promising practice profile. The profiles will be widely disseminated to disability CBOs across the country, and will be posted to the NASUAD website.
1st place award: Complimentary registration and lodging for two for the 2018 National Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Conference (August 27-30, 2018, Baltimore Marriott Waterfront).* Participation in a panel at the HCBS conference. Guaranteed story distributed on HCBS Business Acumen website; YouTube interview.
2nd place award: Complimentary registration for two for the 2018 National Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Conference.* Participation in a panel at the HCBS conference. Guaranteed story distributed on HCBS Business Acumen website; YouTube interview.
3rd place award: Complimentary registration for one for the 2018 National Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Conference.* Participation in a panel at the HCBS conference. Guaranteed story distributed on HCBS Business Acumen website; YouTube interview.
*Please note that travel expenses, meals not included with the conference, and incidentals will be the responsibility of the awardee organization.
5. Submission of practices
The submission deadline is March 23, 2018. For the submission form in an alternate format, please contact the HCBS Business Acumen Center at
6. Award announcement 
Awards will be announced the week of April 23, 2018.
For more information, or questions, please contact us at 202-898-2578 or
[1] CBO is a broad term to describe local organizations that offer community living services and supports to advance the health, well-being, independence, and community participation of people with disabilities and older adults. CBOs include Centers for Independent Living, developmental disability organizations, University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research & Service, behavioral health organizations, Protection and Advocacy Agencies, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, Area Agencies on Aging, aging services contorganizations, faith-based organizations, Native American tribal organizations (American Indian/Alaskan Native/Native Hawaiian), nutrition program providers and other local service providers for persons with disabilities and/or older adults.
[2] See awards section for full prize details
[3] Grant Partners include: American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD), American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS), National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD), National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), National Council on Aging (NCOA), National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), University of Minnesota – Institute of Community Integration