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School-to-Work Opportunities Act: Out-of-School Youth

Billing Code: 4510-30

Department of Labor

Employment and Training Administration

School-to-Work Opportunities Act: Out-of-School Youth

AGENCY: Employment and Training Administration, Labor.

ACTION: Notice of Availability of Funds and Solicitation for Grant Application (SGA).

SUMMARY: All information required to submit a proposal is contained in this announcement. The U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (DOL/ETA), in collaboration with the U. S. Department of Education and the National School-to-Work Office, announces the availability of $1,270,000 to award competitive grants to youth employment and/or education program providers that currently have a solid foundation of serving out-of-school youth in a school-to-work framework. The purpose of the grants will be to support the adaptation of school-to-work principles by existing out-of-school youth initiatives and to connect their efforts to the Federally-funded school-to-work systems in their states. This project is not designed to help existing youth programs plan how to serve out-of-school youth in a school-to-work framework. Rather, the purpose is to select a variety of types of youth initiatives that already are implementing school-to-work elements for out-of-school youth, and to help them build on this foundation. Applicants are required to demonstrate that they have already designed and begun implementation of a substantial number of the components and strategies of a school-to-work system, as described in the School-to Work Opportunities Act of 1994, to be considered.

DATES: The closing date for receipt of proposals at the Department of Labor shall be August 14, 1997, at 2:00 P.M., Eastern time. Any proposal not received at the designated place, date and time of delivery specified will not be considered.

ADDRESSES: Proposals shall be mailed to: Division of Acquisition and Assistance, Attention: Ms. Brenda Banks, Reference: SGA/DAA 97-017, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room S-4203, Washington, D.C. 20210.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brenda Banks or Laura Cesario, Division of Acquisition and Assistance. Telephone (202) 219-8694 (Note: This is not a toll-free telephone number). This solicitation will also be published on the Internet at "http://www.doleta.gov." To gain access to the solicitation, click on "What's Hot."

SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION: This announcement consists of four parts: Part I Background/Description, Part II Application Process, Part III Statement of Work, and Part IV Evaluation Criteria for Award.

PART I. BACKGROUND/DESCRIPTION

The School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994 is intended to create statewide systems to help all students attain high academic and occupational standards and identify and navigate paths to rewarding roles in the workplace. "All students" is defined in the Act as "both male and female students from a broad range of backgrounds and circumstances, including disadvantaged students, students with diverse racial, ethnic or cultural backgrounds, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, students with disabilities, students with limited-English proficiency, migrant children, out-of-school youth, and academically talented students."

Experience in implementing the School-to-Work Opportunities Act has shown that out-of-school youth -- including school dropouts and those high school graduates who are not adequately prepared for careers -- are extremely difficult to serve under school-to-work precisely because they are not in the school buildings that have been the major focus of school-to-work activities to date. A major problem for many young people, especially those who leave high school without a degree, is their inability to secure full-time career-track employment and their lack of preparation for further education or training. School-to-work is designed to respond to these problems.

In addition, there are currently many effective employment and training programs for school dropouts and other out-of-school youth. The purpose of this solicitation is to focus these programs on ways to better serve these youth which incorporate the twin school-to-work goals of high academic achievement and progressive mastery of career competencies and which include these programs in State and local school-to-work systems.

PART II. APPLICATION PROCESS

A. ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS This competition is open to current youth employment and education program providers who can clearly demonstrate that their programs meet a majority of the "threshold criteria" in Appendix C. Applications are encouraged from Adult High Schools. Adult High Schools are defined as schools offering full-time high school curricula to youth 16 years of age or older who are officially designated as school dropouts.

Entities described in section 501(c) (4) of the Internal Revenue Code who engage in lobbying activities are not eligible to receive funds under this SGA. The new Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, Public Law No. 104-65, 109 Stat. 691, which became effective January 1, 1996, prohibits the award of federal funds to these entities if they engage in lobbying activities. Applicants must complete the IRS Form (Appendix D) and include it in Section I of the offeror's proposal.

B. INITIAL SCREENING. Applicants are required to demonstrate that they have already designed and begun implementation of a substantial number of the components and strategies of a school-to-work system, as described in the School-to-Work Opportunities Act of l994, to be considered. Before proposals are accepted for full review, an initial screening will be conducted to determine that the applicant's current program meets a majority of the threshold criteria in Appendix C. For screening purposes, "a majority" shall mean (more than 50%) of each of the partnership, programmatic and measurement criteria and at least one of each of the work-based learning, school-based learning and connecting activities criteria. Only applicants that meet this criterion and include all four attachments listed in D.5 (below) will be accepted for review.

C. GRANT AWARDS The Department has allocated approximately $1,270,000 for grants awarded under this SGA and expects to award approximately 10 grants in a range of $75,000 to $150,000. The maximum award will not be greater than $150,000. Proposals in excess of $150,000 will not be considered. DOL/ETA expects to select a variety of types of existing programs that serve out-of-school youth and a variety of approaches. The Department expects to award at least $200,000 of the $1,270,000 to Adult High Schools. The Period of Performance shall not exceed fifteen (15) months from the date of execution by the Government.

D. SUBMISSION OF PROPOSAL. An original and three (3) copies of the application shall be submitted. The application shall consist of three (3) separate Sections and should not be bound or stapled together.

Section I shall address the "threshold criteria." List and briefly describe the treshold criteria (see Appendix C) the project currently meets. (Maximum of 2 Pages)

Section II shall contain the IRS Status Form, (Appendix D; Standard Form (SF) 424, "Application for Federal Assistance," (Appendix A); and "Budget Information Sheet." (Appendix B). All copies of the SF 424 shall have original signatures. The budget shall include -- on a separate page(s) -- a detailed cost break-out of each line item on the Budget Information Sheet.

Section III shall contain technical data that demonstrate the applicant's capabilities in accordance the requirement of this solicitation. This section of the proposal shall follow the outline below:

1. Foundation of School-to-Work Elements. Provide a brief description of the existing youth program and the school-to-work elements, as laid out in the STWOA, that are currently a part of the program and services for out-of-school youth. The description should provide qualitative and quantitative information about current activities, keyed to the threshold criteria, and sufficient to demonstrate substantial conformance with the threshold criteria. If the program receives funds under the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, describe the level of service currently provided to out-of-school youth. Describe the program's major sources of funding, e.g., Federally-funded State or local school-to-work program (STWOA), State average daily attendance (ADA) funds, Adult High School, Job Corps (JTPA), Youth Fair Chance (JTPA), YouthBuild, alternative education program, JTPA Title IIC.

2. Proposed Activities. Applicants must be specific in describing 1) which school-to-work elements, components or strategies are being proposed for implementation or enhancement under the grant, 2) how the project will build on the current program(s) and 3) how the activities proposed are or will coordinate appropriately the activities of youth-serving organizations with Federally-funded school-to-work activities in the State or local area. Applicants are advised to be specific about the proposed processes, products and outcomes of the proposed out-of-school youth/school-to-work project.

3. Systemic Connecti ons between organizations serving out-of-school youth and Federally-funded State or local school-to-work systems. Describe how the proposed activities will connect youth service delivery organizations to Federally-funded school-to-work systems. Describe previous collaborations between the applicant and the local school-to-work partnership.

4. Capability of Staff. Describe the proposed staff's relevant knowledge and expertise.

5 Attachments. Attach the following required documents in the order they are listed..

a A memorandum of understanding with the local school-to-work partnership specifying the role of each party in the project. If the applicant is a local partnership, the memorandum shall be with local providers of services to out-of-school youth.

b. A letter from the State school -to-work implementation or planning director indicating 1) the proposal was made available for review and comment and 2) the comments or suggestions made by the State. If a response from the State is not available by the application due date, the offeror may attach a copy of the letter to the State requesting such a review.

c. Letters of support from local secondary post-secondary institutions.

d. Letters of support from local employers demonstrating commitment to the principles of school-to-work and the strategies for serving out-of-school youth proposed by the offeror and the employers' willingness to collaborate with the offeror in addressing the needs of out-of-school youth.

E. PAGE COUNT. Section III of the applications (technical proposal) shall not exceed a maximum of 12 pages (not including attachments); the "threshold criteria" shall not exceed two (2) pages. The application should be typed with a font size no smaller than 10cpi or 12pt print size, with 1 inch default margins (i.e., for top, bottom, left, and right margins).

.F. HAND DELIVERED PROPOSALS. Proposals should be mailed at least five (5) days prior to the closing date. However, if proposals are hand-delivered, they shall be received at the designated place by 2:00 P.M., Eastern Time, not later than August 14, 1997. All overnight mail will be considered to be hand-delivered and must be received at the designated place by the specified closing date and time. Telegraphed and/or faxed proposals will not be honored. Note: Failure to adhere to the above instructions could be a basis for a determination of nonresponsiveness.

G. LATE PROPOSALS. Any proposal received at the office designated in the solicitation, after the exact time specified for receipt, will not be considered unless it is received before award is made and was sent by either: (1) U.S. Postal Service registered or certified mail not later than the fifth (5th) calendar day before the date specified for receipt of application (e.g., an offer submitted in response to a solicitation requiring receipt of applications by the 20th of the month must have been mailed by the 15th; or (2) U.S. Postal Service Express Mail Next Day Service - Post Office to addressee, not later than 5 p.m. at the place of mailing two working days prior to the date specified for receipt of proposals. The term "working days" excludes weekends and U.S. Federal holidays.

The only acceptable evidence to establish the date of mailing of a late proposal sent either by U.S. Postal Service Registered or Certified Mail is the U.S. postmark both on the envelope or wrapper and on the original receipt from the U.S. Postal Service. Both postmarks must show a legible date or the proposal shall be processed as if mailed late. "Postmark" means a printed, stamped, or otherwise placed impression (exclusive of a postage meter machine impression) that is readily identifiable without further action as having been supplied and affixed by employees of the U.S. Postal Service on the date of mailing. Therefore, applicants should request the postal clerk to place a legible hand cancellation "bull's eye" postmark on both the receipt and the envelope or wrapper.

H. PERIOD OF PERFORMANCE. The period of performance shall not exceed fifteen (15) months from the date of execution by the Government. The first three months will be devoted to project planning and the technical assistance review described in Part III, C of this solicitation.

PART III . STATEMENT OF WORK

The Department of Labor has a strong interest in assisting youth programs to apply school-to-work principles and components to their out-of-school youth strategies and to connect their efforts to the Federally-funded school-to-work systems in their States. In addition, the Departments of Education and Labor, which jointly administer the School-to-Work Opportunities initiative, have a strong interest in ensuring that school-to-work systems being developed and implemented in the States and local communities are designed to provide the same opportunities and benefits to out-of-school youth as they do for youth who are attending school. This project will demonstrate a variety of comprehensive approaches for serving out-of-school youth effectively in a school-to-work framework.

A. OUT-OF-SCHOOL THRESHOLD CRITERIA. The expectation is that most, but not necessarily all, of the strategies and essential elements of a school-to-work system, as laid out in the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, will be present in the existing youth initiatives selected for funding. The degree to which each is present will vary from project to project, however. The intention is to demonstrate a variety of more fully developed models for serving out-of-school youth in a school-to-work framework than is now available. The out-of-school youth/school-to-work project is not intended to help out-of-school youth initiatives begin to design school-to-work systems; nor is it intended to fund existing State or local school-to-work initiatives that have not already begun to implement strategies for out-of-school youth. Applications that do not show a strong, appropriate connection between programs serving out-of-school youth and existing school-to-work components and systems will not be selected for funding. Appendix C contains the threshold criteria that the Departments and the National School-to-Work Office consider a baseline of activity for effectively serving out-of-school youth in a school-to-work framework.

B. ALLOWABLE ACTIVITIES. The objective of the out-of-school youth/school-to-work initiative is to encourage existing programs serving out-of-school youth to adapt and adopt school-to-work elements, principles and strategies and to assist school-to-work systems to learn more effective ways to serve out-of-school youth as they design and implement school-to-work systems for all students. Thus, activities to be funded under the out-of-school youth/school-to-work project must be related to components and activities in the School-to-Work Opportunities Act (most of which are referred to in Appendix C), must be designed to serve out-of-school youth more effectively, and must show a connection -- that is appropriate to the status of school-to-work implementation in the State or locality -- between the organization(s) delivering services to out-of-school youth and the Federally-funded school-to-work system. Appropriate activities might include: implementing a school-to-work element, principle or strategy not currently part of the project, enhancing a school-to-work feature which the project already possesses and activities designed to better link the existing out-of-school youth program with a Federally-funded school-to-work system.

C. OTHER ACTIVITIES. A Request for Proposals (RFP) will be issued by the Departments for an evaluation of this demonstration program. Grantees will participate in the evaluation by cooperating with evaluation contractor personnel during at least two site visits and providing other information as requested. Grantees will also participate in monthly telephone calls with the Grant Officer's Technical Representative (GOTR} assigned to the project, the evaluation contractor's project officer and the evaluation contractor.

We anticipate that, no later than the third month of the period of performance, the evaluation contractor, in collaboration with the GOTR for each demonstration project, will conduct an on-site review of each project. The purpose of this review is to assist both the contractor and the grantee in identifying areas in which the existing project does not conform to school-to-work elements or principles and, thereby, identify areas where the project might benefit from technical assistance and establish a baseline against which the project's progress can be evaluated. A written report based on this review will be submitted to the contractor's project officer, the GOTR, and the grantee. The grantee will assist the contractor in conducting this review and participate in a telephone debriefing on the report. No later than the fourth month of the period of performance, the grantee will submit an implementation plan based on the review.

Pending the availability of funds, the grantees funded under this procurement may have access to a technical assistance line of credit with the School-to-Work Learning and Information Center. The evaluation contractor will assist the grantees in identifying appropriate sources of technical assistance upon request.

Grantees will participate in up to two grantee conferences to be arranged by the evaluation contractor and scheduled during the period of performance. The first such conference is tentatively scheduled for November, 1997 in Chicago. Project budgets should include travel, lodging and per diem for a maximum of four attendees at each of the conferences.

PART IV - EVALUATION CRITERIA FOR AWARD

Prior to the formal review, applications will be screened to insure that all the information requested in this grant application is provided and complete. Complete applications will be reviewed against the criteria listed below by a rating panel from the Departments. The panel's recommendations are advisory in nature to the Grant Officer.

A. Foundation of School-to-Work elements. (25 points)

The extent to which the current program provides service to out-of-school youth using school-to-work components and elements described in the School-to-Work Opportunities Act and reflected in the threshold criteria (Appendix C)

The extent to which the current program demonstrates that it substantially meets threshold criteria in the 3 criteria areas -- partnerships, programmatic and measurement.

The extent to which the activities proposed are designed to provide youth who are no longer in school the opportunities and benefits envisioned in the STWOA and reflected in attached threshold criteria.

B. Plans for adding new school-to-work component(s) or accelerating the development of an existing promising practice in school-to-work. (35 points)

  • The extent to which the proposed activities will lead to an out-of-school youth/school-to-work system which meets all the threshold criteria by the end of the period of performance.

The extent to which the proposed activities will promote higher academic achievement and greater mastery of career competencies.

  • The extent to which proposed activities will improve out-of-school youth's prospects for career-track jobs and/or further education.

C. Systemic connections between organizations serving out-of-school youth and Federally-funded State or local school-to-work systems. (25 points)

The degree to which the proposed activity(ies) appropriately connects youth service delivery organizations with a Federally-supported school-to-work system(s) in the State and local communities so that existing promising practices, strategies, and curricula for effectively serving youth in a school-to-work framework are incorporated into the out-of-school youth/school-to-work project, and the lessons learned as a result of the out-of-school youth/school-to-work project are shared.

  • The extent to which the applicant and the local school-to-work partnership have collaborated in establishing a network for reaching out to and engaging employers in school-to-work.

D. Capability of staff. (15 points)

The extent to which the staff proposed have the knowledge and expertise in school-to-work and in serving out-of-school youth required to successfully complete the project.

Final selections will be made based upon the panel's review and such other factors as type of current program, diversity of programmatic approaches, and geographic balance and what is in the best interest of the Government.

Signed at Washington, D. C., this 7th day of July, 1997,

JANICE E. PERRY

Grant Officer

APPENDICES

A. SF-424, Application for Federal Assistance

B. Budget Information Sheet

C. Threshold Criteria (5 Pages)

D. IRS Status Form

APPENDIX C

SERVING OUT-OF-SCHOOL YOUTH IN A SCHOOL-TO-WORK FRAMEWORK THRESHOLD CRITERIA

Partnerships:

1. There is a strong community-wide partnership that is committed to preparing young people for the world of work and/or further educational and occupational training by providing appropriate activities and services which reflect the fact that youth learn best by learning in context and being actively engaged in their own learning.

2. There is strong support for the existing initiative and for the school-to-work concept from appropriate out-of-school youth/school-to-work stakeholders -- such as secondary schools, alternative high schools, adult high schools, parents, young people, employers, community-based organizations, labor, post-secondary institutions, private industry councils, government agencies -- as well as strategies for maintaining their support and involvement. In particular, a strong leadership role played by CBOs and, where appropriate, adult high schools as stakeholders in the school-to-work initiative should be demonstrated.

3. Collaborative agreements exist among a variety of institutions, including: those serving out-of-school youth (e.g., CBOs, adult high schools, Job Corps); public post-secondary and secondary schools; vocational education entities; employers and employer organizations; labor organizations; apprenticeship agencies; local government agencies; and JTPA private industry councils.

4. Employers play strong and active roles in the planning and governance of the existing initiative, and provide a range of services for the out-of-school youth component, such as providing a variety of worksite learning experiences, developing assessment criteria, and participating in career exposure activities.

5. Resources from a variety of sources (e.g., school-to-work, federal categorical, State and local education funds, private sector) are systematically used in an integrated manner, to effectively address the work and learning needs of out-of-school youth.

6. A realistic and coherent strategy is in place to collaborate with the statewide school-to-work system, as well as any existing local school-to-work systems.

Programmatic Criteria:

1. Effective strategies are in place for recruiting, retaining, and serving out-of-school youth in the school-to-work framework.

2. A system of integrated school-based learning, work-based learning and connecting activities is present in the existing out-of-school youth initiative, and is responsive to the cultural diversity of the youth it serves.

3. Learning is organized around an appropriate system of career pathways that are consistent with emerging industry and State standards for mastery of academic competencies and occupational skills.

4. Learning includes activities that offer students exposure to all aspects of an industry.

5. Work-Based Learning activities include the following:

a. A variety of different types of high quality work experiences and on-the-job training tailored to the individual needs of each out-of-school youth served.

b. Adult worksite mentors.

Attainment of skill certificates and academic credits.

6. School-Based Learning activities include:

a. A commitment to high academic standards for all out-of-school youth participants.

b. Workplace basics and learning in applied context integrated with academic learning.

c. Opportunities for post-secondary education -- including both academic and further occupational/job training opportunities (e.g., dual enrollment option so that students can earn both high school and college credits simultaneously).

6. Connecting Activities include:

a. Ongoing professional development for worksite and "school-based" staff to ensure understanding of school-to-work components and the provision of high quality services for out-of-school youth.

b. A range of strategies that serve to effectively connect school-based and work-based learning activities, including dedicated staff that serve as school-based, work-based liaisons/coordinators.

c. The conduct of outreach and public relations for all stakeholders involved in out-of-school youth activities, including:

o Parents

o Youth

o Community-Based Organizations

o Local elected officials

o School Boards/School Administrators

o Employers

o Alternative schools and Adult High Schools

d. Linkages between human resource service organizations and academic institutions to meet the needs of individual youth (e.g. pregnant and parenting teens).

e. The provision of transportation and other support services specific to the needs of out-of-school youth.

f. Strategies that develop the interpersonal skills of students, such as personal responsibility, teamwork, and conflict resolution.

Measurement Criteria includes:

Specific goals and objectives and outcomes (or progress indicators) as they relate to the provision of services to out-of-school youth in a school-to-work framework.

2. The ability to implement and adjust improvement plans based on the continuous measurement of progress of the goals, objectives and outcomes, as indicated above.

3. The use of various types of "assessment tools" that would measure not only student mastery of skills, but also whether the student is able to integrate, apply and perform the learned knowledge, skills and abilities in real life situations, and that would serve as predictors of readiness for a variety of work, community college, advanced training and other real life situations.