Next Generation

Immunization Training

Innovative ways to support immunization training and capacity building

Bull City Learning, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launched a request for proposals for Next Generation Immunization Training grants, seeking innovative solutions to support immunization training and capacity building. These grants will fund innovators to develop creative strategies to motivate and educate immunization staff (such as health workers, EPI managers at all levels, logistics specialists) with essential skills and knowledge. The goal is to strengthen the national immunization program in meaningful and measurable ways. The RFP submission period is now complete.


Three recipients have been announced.

Bull City Learning is pleased to announce three recipients of Next Generation Immunization Training grants. The grants fund innovative training and capacity building solutions that will strengthen national immunization programs in meaningful and measurable ways.

Nearly $900,000 has been awarded across 18 months to support the development and implementation of creative strategies deployed by grant recipients to motivate and educate immunization professionals, including health workers, EPI managers, and logistics specialists.

“The global community has set aggressive goals for increasing immunization coverage that will require more effective learning strategies,” said Nathan Pienkowksi, PhD, Bull City Learning co-founder and head of instructional design. “Each winning initiative embodies the innovation that is necessary to break through the training barriers that continue to impede immunization system performance and equitable access to vaccines for all children.”

The Next Generation Immunization Training Grant recipients include Erasmus MC, JSI Research & Training Institute, and VillageReach.

Erasmus MC (The Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands) “Speaking Book” initiative will develop and implement an audio visual tool to train primary health workers (PHWs) to strengthen the EPI program in The Gambia. The “Speaking Book” will support learning when low literacy is a factor and foster understanding and retention of information for key focus areas identified by in-country EPI managers.

JSI (John Snow, Inc.) Research & Training Institute’s “Peer Mentorship and WhatsApp” initiative will seek to strengthen the immunization services at public health facilities in western Kenya by leveraging the demonstrated competence of frontline nurses within a peer mentorship program to effectively teach and reinforce critical immunization skills and processes. This formalized, face-to-face peer mentorship program will be supported by WhatsApp groups to strengthen networking and communication among nurses.

VillageReach’s “Interactive User Guide for Cold Chain Technicians” initiative will focus on improving cold chain equipment performance and uptime through the development and launch of an interactive preventative maintenance and repair application for use by cold chain technicians in Malawi. The user-centered application will supplement existing training efforts of cold chain technicians with hands on, practical training and an innovative user guide to serve as a job aid.

Next Generation Immunization Training initiatives are each replicable, sustainable, and scalable within a low-resource setting, which may ultimately bring effective immunization training solutions to other high-need regions.

“We look forward to working with these excellent grantees and seeing the positive impact their innovations will have on capacity building strategies that achieve immunization program goals,” said Pienkowski.

Access the press release here.


As a global health community, we have not yet reached our goal of universal, equitable access to vaccines for all children. Too many children are still dying from vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly in poor countries. Achieving high, equitable coverage depends on a talented and skilled workforce, and this requires strong training programs. This is not a small challenge, given limited resources, geographical hurdles, high staff turnover, and the unprecedented number of new vaccines being introduced.

The need for strong training programs is clear, and development partners and governments dedicate millions of dollars to these efforts every year. Yet, most training for immunization staff has been done virtually the same for decades. These programs predominantly rely on off-site didactic workshops and printed materials, meant to cascade to others. Research shows these methods do not lead to better practices and improved coverage. Furthermore, they draw essential staff away from their sites. And rewards and per diems are based on attendance rather than on demonstrated learning. In short, current systems are ineffective, insufficient, and costly.

Meanwhile, the past 20 years have seen advancement in our understanding of how people think and learn, leading to improved teaching practices and innovative tools that, when implemented correctly and with the right incentives, can lead to longer-term, more sustainable impact.

How do we improve training and capacity in immunization? To truly make change, we need innovation. We need new ways to use distance learning and other technologies so learners can access training when it’s convenient for them in their own work environments. We need new strategies to deliver content through proven teaching practices, such as blended learning approaches, on-the-job training, and mentoring — strategies designed to translate learning into improved practices. We need new incentives that reward learning and demonstration of skills rather than participation. Any new efforts should also include good measurement system, to help communicate and advocate for change.

The Challenge

This call for proposals — Next Generation Immunization Training—is designed to help identify and fund bold, innovative ideas that support immunization training and capacity building — solutions that would be considered unconventional, or even daring, but aim to strengthen national immunization programs in meaningful and measurable ways.

Bull City Learning (BCL) will award grants between $100,000 and $300,000 to support creative, forward-thinking projects that support immunization training and capacity building. The goal of the Next Generation Immunization Training program is to identify and fund innovative strategies that significantly improve training and capacity building to strengthen immunization programs. We are looking for solutions that break from conventional training methods and programs, with the potential to motivate and train immunization staff (including EPI managers, mid-level managers, logistics specialists, and health facility workers) to apply critical knowledge and skills in the workplace. Our goal is to empower health care professionals to protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Anticipated Outcomes
By the end of the Next Generation Immunization Training program, we expect the funded projects to provide the following:

  1. Innovative models, strategies and tools that improve learning and performance
  2. New models for incentivizing learning
  3. Evidence, based on measurements of learning and performance, that these innovations are effective
  4. Communication with the broader community to share effective innovations and lessons learned

What We're Looking For

New strategies for training and capacity building that strengthen immunization programs. Proposals should:

In addition, we’re also looking for proposals that:

Many of the ideas discussed at the Teach to Reach conferences in 2015 and 2016 reflect the innovations and practices we’re hoping will spread in the global immunization community. We recommend reviewing the videos of these experts by visiting

How It Works

Our Role

If your solution is selected, Bull City Learning (BCL) can be your partner in designing effective learning strategies. We will be available to provide technical guidance on aspects such as instructional design, evaluation systems, and delivery methods. We can help make sure your solution reaches and engages your intended audience — and leads to positive behavioral changes that improve immunization systems.

Bull City Learning (BCL) is a digital learning agency located in Durham, North Carolina, “The Bull City.” BCL creates compelling, media-rich learning experiences. We have extensive experience developing global health eLearning strategies, including training solutions for WHO and UNICEF to strengthen immunization systems. Our solutions speed the learning process and increase learning retention and can be delivered in any digital format to any device. This flexibility allows learning to take place anywhere at any time. Developing high quality learning experiences—simple or otherwise—requires a comprehensive understanding of each organization’s needs, a learner-focused design process, and a relationship that fosters creativity and collaboration. We are able to do this because we understand the psychology of learning, are experts in the application of digital media in learning, and approach learning design from the perspective of the learner.


The evaluation and selection process will adhere as closely as possible to the following schedule. However, the Administrator may modify this schedule at its sole discretion.

See FAQs for more information.

The submission process is now closed. If you have questions related to this grant, contact Bull City Learning at