School-to-Work Intermediary Projects
Billing Code 4510-30-M
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Employment and Training Administration
ACTION: Notice inviting proposals to identify and develop intermediary entities that would serve as agents to connect schools, employers and other stakeholders involved in building School-to-Work (STW) systems.
SUMMARY: This notice contains all of the necessary information and forms to apply for grant funding. The Departments of Labor and Education jointly invite proposals for a new award in FY 98, as authorized under section 403 of the School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994 (the Act). The Departments believe that the long term effectiveness of STW partnerships is enhanced when there are convenient and effective mechanisms for connecting school based learning and work based learning, as well as mechanisms for connecting the various STW stakeholders, particularly schools and employers. Further, the Departments believe that the capability of STW systems to be sustained beyond the life of the Act will be influenced by the identification, evaluation, and replication of intermediary entities that would serve as agents to connect schools, employers and other community stakeholders.
DATES: Applications will be accepted commencing (date of publication). The closing date for receipt of applications is (45 days from date of publication), at 4 P.M., (Eastern Time) at the address below.
ADDRESSES: Applications shall be mailed to Ms. Laura Cesario, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Division of Acquisition and Assistance, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room S-4203, Washington, D.C. 20210, Reference: SGA/DAA 98-013.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Questions should be faxed to Ms. Laura Cesario, Division of Acquisition and Assistance, Fax (202) 219-8739. This is not a toll-free number. All inquiries should include the SGA number (DAA 98-013) and a contact name and phone number. This solicitation will also be published on the Internet, on the Employment and Training Administration's Home Page at https://www.doleta.gov. Award notifications will also be published on this Home Page.
I. Definition of Intermediary
Any entity or organization which brokers and supports relationships between schools and employers for the purpose of providing students with real work experiences. Intermediary organizations may recruit employers for schools, match students with work-based learning opportunities, provide technical assistance to teachers, employers, parents or other stakeholders, and help students connect what they are learning on the job with their classroom activities. Intermediary organizations may include, but are not limited to nonprofit organizations, Chambers of Commerce, workforce development or employment entities, or schools.
Status of Investments in STW Systems. Building the capacity of key stakeholders to participate in STW systems at the community level is critical for STW sustainability. The strength of the STW framework is the foundation of voluntary partnerships comprising key stakeholders that cross traditional boundaries of association. By statute, most of the Federal funds that a State receives in its implementation grant go to local partnerships. The law also provides direct federal funding for local partnerships that are ready to implement STW but are located in States that have not received implementation funds or are in their first year of implementation. To date, 105 communities have received either Local Partnership grants or Urban/Rural Opportunities Grants (UROG) and more than 900 additional local partnerships have been formed and funded through State implementation grant roll-out strategies.
UROGs provide direct federal funding in high poverty communities for the purpose of addressing the specific challenges of implementing STW systems in urban and rural locales. These initiatives are funded for 5 years. In the first round of competition in FY 1994, $10 million was distributed to 21 partnerships. In FY 1995, $7.5 million was awarded for continuation grants and an additional $17 million was invested in 32 new partnerships. FY 1996 funds are being used to invest $35 million in 30-40 new partnerships and in continued funding to grantees from rounds one and two.
It is evident, however, that the broad range of work-based learning opportunities that are an essential component of STW are dependent on wide ranging participation of employers. A recent study indicates that employers are participating in greater numbers and that as many as 25% of the nation's employers are involved in some small way in STW. However, the same study indicates that most employers are participating in narrow areas of work-based learning such as job shadowing and mentoring. Employers can learn about and take advantage of STW initiatives. Schools, with dedicated personnel, can take better advantage of the employer resources necessary for the range of work-based learning opportunities appropriate for an effective STW system characterized by strong community partnerships.
Two other circumstances reinforce the urgency of investments in the formation and the long term effectiveness of community STW partnerships. First, early surveys of STW partnerships conducted through the National School-to-Work Evaluation revealed that only a small percentage of local STW partnerships were engaged in all three primary STW components: school-based learning, work-based learning, and connecting activities. Difficulties connecting these components was cited as a common theme, as was logistical problems associated with linking partners with diverse agendas and constrained available time to devote to establishing and nurturing these linkages. Second, the National School-to-Work Advisory Council, in its most recent meetings, strongly recommended that a greater emphasis needs to be placed on these connecting activities if sustainability is to be achieved in STW systems. The Council specifically recommended future investments in the identification, evaluation and replication of intermediary entities that would serve as agents to connect schools, employers and other community stakeholders.
Therefore, one new comprehensive, targeted investment for FY 97 is being funded that promotes, identifies, strengthens and informs STW partnership formation and sustainability through the use of intermediary entities.
III. Statement of Work
Required Areas of Effort. The successful applicant will assume the lead responsibility for coordination and technical support designed to build the capacity of local communities to: 1) identify intermediary connecting activities, and 2) identify the appropriate community resources to serve as intermediary connections to STW stakeholders. The applicant must provide evidence that the needs of all youth, as defined in the Act, are addressed. The Departments are particularly interested in intermediary relationships through which students participate in STW systems and are not limited by educational or categorical labels. Based on lessons learned from previous national investments, the status of STW systems development, and the urgency of sustaining STW systems, the Departments believe it is necessary to approach the enhancement of intermediary entities that connect STW community partners by requiring the successful applicant to demonstrate concerted effort in the following five activities:
1. Identify, catalogue, and assess at least 50 examples of STW intermediary activities in established local partnerships. The nature of intermediary connectors is potentially as varied as each of the communities in which STW systems have been implemented. The Departments are aware that these connectors include a range of diverse entities, including business driven organizations such as, chambers of commerce, existing nonprofit community based organizations, workforce development agencies, central labor councils, and specially created entities to address STW connecting activities. Thus, the Departments are interested in learning more about the nature of these entities: who governs them, how they relate to the community of STW stakeholders, how they gauge their own effectiveness, and what populations are served. Applicants should describe how they will organize the task of identifying and selecting effective STW intermediary activities, how effectiveness will be assessed, and how the critical common features of each will be identified to inform the development of a replicable intermediary framework (see Activity 2). In addition, the applicant should describe how the information will be categorized.
2. Develop a replicable design of key components of intermediary operation. Based on identified effective practices gleaned from the sample local partnerships described above, and the relevant literature in the field, the Departments are interested in the development of a replicable design framework from which communities can develop a plan for sustainable intermediary connecting activities in their STW systems. At minimum, this framework should include a description of participating intermediary connectors, a categorization of the qualities of effective intermediary entities, how they are administered, how STW stakeholders contribute to and interact with these entities, how they measure their effectiveness, and how the needs of diverse populations are addressed. The successful applicant will also be expected to actively disseminate the design framework including targeted training sessions, technical assistance institutes, electronic media, publications, conferences and other related means.
3. Provide intensive Technical Assistance (T.A.) to established STW partnerships to develop effective intermediaries. Through a well defined process, the successful applicant will be expected to select no fewer than 25 local partnerships that will receive targeted and concentrated technical assistance on intermediary establishment or enhancement. When selecting a local partnership the following factors need to be considered: 1.) Are key STW stakeholders represented at the partnership level? 2.) Are the needs of all students being addressed? 3.) Are intermediaries present in the community and if so, do they offer the potential of connecting school and work? 4) If the intermediary is well established, clear delineations of the enhancement activities also should be presented.
4. Establish a framework to assist intermediaries in serving all students. Based on information obtained and detailed through TASK #1, and the field at large, identify gaps in services to students not typically served by the intermediary. This could include populations such as students with disabilities, academically talented students, or youth who are out of school. The framework should reflect needed supports and accommodations, curricula modifications and other assistance as appropriate. This information should be packaged to assist those currently providing intermediary assistance, built into the TA activities with the 25 local partnerships identified in TASK #3 and be included in the development of a replicable design in TASK #2.
5. Identify and convene community leaders/Community Based Organizations. The Departments recognize that replicable and sustained intermediary connecting activities will require knowledgeable community leaders and respected, effective Community Based Organizations (CBOs). The successful applicant will therefore be expected to hold at least two national forums for the purposes of convening CBOs and other organizations in the community representing key STW stakeholders, such as local chambers of commerce, central labor councils, and boards of education. These forums should include an interactive format that uses key features of effective intermediaries identified in Activity 2 as an organizing framework. Opportunities should be provided for attendees to learn about communities where exemplary intermediary sites have been identified by the applicant. Key components to their success will be shared and barriers will be identified.
IV. Eligible Applicants: National non-profit organizations, business organizations, or associations experienced in building the capacity of STW systems nationally who can demonstrate the ability to enlist the support and active participation of key STW stakeholders such as education, business, organized labor, parents, and community based organizations. Potential applicants, however, should note the Departments' priority in seeking applications supported by a consortium of organizations. In preparing the proposal, please use the following headings and respond to the information in each of the following categories.
1. Project Description. Summarize the scope of the project, outline how its activities will relate to the five required areas of activity described in the previous section, and provide succinct and measurable project objectives.
2. Operational Plan. Provide a detailed workplan that includes a description of the proposed activities matched to the objectives presented in the Project Description, with accompanying time lines and individuals responsible. Provide an organizational structure and clear management plan detailing the staff and organizational resources to be devoted to the project. The applicant should clearly, and in detail, show how the proposed work will address each of the activities that are described in the section Required Effort. The time lines should indicate what activities and related results are anticipated for the 18 month funding period and, if continued, what activities and results would be anticipated for future optional funding.
3. Results. The applicant should provide specific and quantifiable outcomes that are anticipated from the proposed plan of activities. In identifying outcomes, the offeror should also explain how it will collect data, document results and use these results to inform its ongoing operating plan.
4. Capability. The applicant should demonstrate the capability of the organization or consortium and the key staff assigned to undertake the workplan, including examples of prior related efforts that demonstrate accomplishment in developing, implementing, managing and/or researching, and evaluating intermediary relationships in STW. The offeror should also show knowledge of integrating categorical systems in the intermediary process, as well as, knowledge and experience with business/education partnership development and management.
V. Funding Availability and Period of Performance
The Departments expect to make one award for approximately $1,500,000. The period of performance will be for 18 months from the date the grant is awarded. The Departments may, at their option, provide additional funds beyond the 18 months, depending on funding availability and performance of the offeror.
VI. Application Submittal. Applicants must submit four (4) copies of their proposal, with original signatures. The applications shall be divided into two distinct parts: Part I - which contains Standard Form (SF) 424, "Application for Federal Assistance, (Appendix A) and Budget Information Sheet," (Appendix B). All copies of the SF 424 MUST have original signatures of the legal entity applying for grant funds. Applicants shall indicate on the SF-424 the organization's IRS status, if applicable. According to the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, Section 18, an organization described in Section 501(c) 4 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 which engages in lobbying activities shall not be eligible for the receipt of federal funds constituting an award, grant, or loan. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance number is 17.249. In addition, the budget shall include--on a separate page(s)--a detailed cost break-out of each line item on the Budget Information Sheet. Part II shall contain the program narrative that demonstrates the applicant's plan and capabilities in accordance with the evaluation criteria contained in this notice. Applicants must describe their plan in light of each of the Evaluation Criteria. Applicants MUST limit the program narrative section to no more than 30 double-spaced pages, on one side only. This includes any attachments. Applications that fail to meet the page limitation requirement will not be considered.
VII. Late Applications. Any application received after the exact date and time specified for receipt at the office designated in this notice will not be considered, unless it is received before awards are made and it - (a) was sent by registered or certified mail not later than the fifth calender day before the date specified for receipt of applications (e.g., an application submitted in response to a solicitation requiring receipt of applications by the 20th of the month must have been mailed/post marked by the 15th of that month); or (b) was sent by the U.S. Postal Service Express Mail next Day Service to addresses not later than 5:00 P.M. at the place of mailing two working days prior to the date specified for receipt of applications. The term "working days" excludes weekends and federal holidays. The term "post marked" 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 or affixed on the date of mailing by an employee of the U.S. Postal Service.
VIII. Hand Delivered Proposals. It is preferred that applications be mailed at least five days prior to the closing date. To be considered for funding, hand-delivered applications must be received by 4:00 P.M., (Eastern Time), on the closing date at the specified address. TELEGRAPHED AND/FAXED APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE HONORED. Failure to adhere to the above instructions will be a basis for a determination of nonresponsiveness. Overnight express mail from carriers other than the U.S. Postal Service will be considered hand-delivered applications and MUST BE RECEIVED by the above specified date and time.
IX. Review Process. A careful evaluation of applications will be made by a technical review panel who will evaluate the applications against the criteria listed below. The panel results are advisory in nature and not binding on the Grant Officer. The Government may elect to award the grant with or without discussions with the offeror. In situations without discussions, an award will be based on the offeror's signature on the SF-424, which constitutes a binding offer. Awards will be those in the best interest of the Government.
1. The extent to which the applicant outlines a clear and detailed plan of operation. (40 points)
- Does the plan provide clear strategies for addressing the tasks specified under required efforts?
- Is the plan likely to result in the identification of effective intermediary practices; result in the development and enhancement of intermediary activities in 25 STW communities; and establish a framework for serving all youth; and likely to engage key STW stakeholders?
- Are the outcomes proposed specific and replicable?
- Does the proposal provide an organizational structure and clear management plan detailing staff and organizational resources to be devoted to this project?
- Does the plan include a comprehensive dissemination strategy that reaches all key stakeholders.
2. The extent to which the applicant demonstrates the capability and capacity to meet the requirements of this solicitation. (30 points)
- Does the organization provide examples and documentation of prior related
accomplishments in developing, implementing, managing, researching and evaluating intermediary relationships in STW?
- Do the organizations participating reflect a broad range of school-to-work stakeholders?
- Are the roles and activities of stakeholder organizations clearly defined?
- Does the organization possess the capability to develop and disseminate technical
- Does the organization demonstrate knowledge of integrating categorical systems in the intermediary process?
3. The extent to which the applicant demonstrates the willingness and ability to engage and convene other organizations that are critical to the success of engaging and developing intermediaries in School-to-Work system building efforts. (20 points)
- Does the applicant propose specific activities that are likely to result in strategic alliances with key STW stakeholders, including but not limited to business,
organized labor, public and private sector entities and community based organizations?
- Does the applicant show relevant past experience in collaborating with national, state and local groups involved with education and workforce development efforts?
- Does the applicant possess a wide range of experience in convening conferences that bring together disparate groups?
- Does the organization demonstrate extensive knowledge with business/education partnership development and management?
4. The overall ability of the applicant's plan to evaluate its activities and use its results to inform the ongoing plan. (10 points)
Is the plan for evaluation clearly tied to clear objectives and specific outcomes?
- Is there a clear mechanism for adjusting the work plan based on results?
- Are there clear descriptions of the type of data to be collected and a clear data collection plan?
The grants will be awarded based on the applicant response to the above mentioned criteria and that which is otherwise advantageous to the Departments.
XI. Reporting Requirements. Once a grant is awarded, the awardee will be required to submit reports on a quarterly basis; a Standard Form 269 (financial status report), and a narrative report (in a format to be determined). A final report will be required at the conclusion of the project. Location of model sites and sites to receive technical assistance are to be submitted to the Grant Officer's Technical Representative (GOTR), identified in the grant award document, for approval before commencing any activities. Conference plans and all products including publications shall be submitted for review to the National S-T-W Office to ensure alignment and collaboration with ongoing national activities.
Signed in Washington D.C., this day of June, 1998, by
Janice E. Perry
Appendix A: SF Form 424 - Application Form
Appendix B: Budget Information Form