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Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)

FY 2018-2022 Transition to Community College RFP Q&A

Please Note: No hard copies will be accepted. Please refer to re-posted RFP — new deadline of March 31, 2017 by 3PM.

**Proposals must be submitted electronically**

New Questions in red

General

Q1:
Is attendance at the Bidders' Conference required to apply for the Transition to Community College RFP?
A1:
No. Any community college in the state can apply whether or not someone attends the Bidders' Conference.

Q2:
I did not see a letter of intent requirement in the RFP. Is one required?
A2:
No. Letters of intent are used for proposal reader team planning purposes to estimate how many applications could be received. Since the only eligible applicants for this RFP are the 15 community colleges in the state, the maximum number of applications that ACLS could receive is 15.

Q3:
I see that there is a snow date of December 21 listed for the Bidders' Conference. How will attendees know if ACLS is going to move the Bidders' Conference to that date?
A3:
The Bidders' Conference will be moved to December 21 if:
  • On December 19, the Governor declares a state of emergency due to bad weather
  • The Governor does not declare a state of emergency, but there is snow in the central region of the state and public schools are closed
If there is some snow, but neither of the above occurs, then check the City of Worcester's website to find out if the Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board office is open.

By 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 18, ACLS will have a recorded message at 781-338-3812 stating whether the Bidders' Conference will take place on December 19 or December 21.

Of course, if there is bad weather where you live, please use your judgment as to whether you feel comfortable driving.

Q4:
Is the Bidders' Conference on December 19th about preparing a bid to open an adult education program?
A4:
No. The purpose of the Bidders' Conference on December 19th is to learn about the FY 2018-2020 Multi-Year Open and Competitive Request for Proposals (RFPs) for Adult Basic Education Transition to Community College. This RFP is only open to the 15 community colleges in Massachusetts.

Transition to Community College Bidders' Conference Questions and Answers

Q1:
Is there a list of Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)-funded Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs?
A1:
Yes, on the ACLS webpage. See ABE and ESOL Directory on the left side of the page.

Q2:
In the RFP, it reads, "degree-bearing credit courses"? Does that mean "classes that lead to a degree"?
A2:
Yes.

Q3:
How many Transition programs/colleges will ACLS fund?
A3:
11

Q4:
How many Transition programs/colleges are currently funded?
A4:
11

Q5:
Could the required College for Success course be non-credit?
A5:
Yes.

Q6:
Could the College for Success course be a workshop?
A6:
Yes, if it is a full semester.

Q7:
Could the credit for courses be institutional credit?
A7:
Yes.

Q8:
If an applicant has a non-credit College for Success course, then would students have to have access to another course that has credit?
A8:
Students must have access to degree-bearing college credit courses. College for Success does not have to be one of the courses. ACLS cannot advise applicants on specifics of program design.

Q9:
What about offering classes that are non-credit and use ESE funding for those classes?
A9:
ACLS cannot advise applicants on specifics of program design. However, programs can use ACLS funds for credit or non-credit courses.

Q10:
What about the Technology for College course? Not required?
A10:
Correct.

Q11:
Could the application be scanned with blue ink if the scanning is in color?
A11:
Yes.

Q12:
Please say more about the match. Does it have to be cash match only or other?
A12:
See the FY18 Transition to Community College policy manual found at Transition to Community College (fund code 668) Programs webpage for information on match funds.

Q13:
Could ACLS provide a sample budget narrative template or exemplary narrative with a good match example?
A13:
In the SMARTT Technical Manual found at SMARTT System Information webpage, there is information about match. Also, see the FY18 Transition to Community Colleges policy manual found at Transition to Community College (fund code 668) Programs webpage. At this time, ACLS cannot provide an exemplary narrative with a good match example; however, applicants can, through the Freedom of Information Act, write to ACLS's ABE Director asking to obtain copies of high-scoring Transition to Community College proposals from previous years.

Q14:
What are the parts of the proposal that are part of the page limit?
A14:
Parts I, II, and III within Part III are limited to 10 pages.

Q15:
In Part III-Required Program Information, Part I: Past Performance/Student Outcomes, Column A, should the years be broken out or lumped together?
A15:
ACLS cannot give guidance on how to write or organize a proposal.

Q16:
What about a college that has not had ESE funding in the past? Are those applicants at a disadvantage?
A16:
No. This is an open and competitive RFP. All applicants must demonstrate success in offering this type of programming to adults.

Q17:
In Part III-Required Program Information, Part I: Past Performance/Student Outcomes, would data for certificate programs be put in Column C?
A17:
ACLS cannot give guidance on how to write or organize a proposal. The chart is included so that the reader team will have data for all applicants categorized in the same manner; however, the applicant can provide information and data in the narrative as well. ACLS has revised the outcome chart from Part III Download MS WORD Document of the RFP. Please use this revised table in your application.

Q18:
Could you please provide more information on the RFP outcomes chart especially regarding Column C? Where would data go for completing a credit course vs. matriculating into a degree or certificate program? What about students who complete Transitions but don't immediately enroll in a degree program?
A18:
ACLS has revised the outcome chart from Part III Download MS WORD Document of the RFP. Please use this revised table in your application.

Q19:
In Part III-Required Program Information, Part I: Past Performance/Student Outcomes should the second E column be Column F?
A19:
Yes, that is a typo. ACLS has revised the outcome chart from Part III Download MS WORD Document of the RFP. Please use this revised table in your application.

Q20:
In Part III-Required Program Information, Part II: Applicant Capacity and Commitment, Question #1, is "financial support" match? What about waived fees?
A20:
Yes, financial support and waived college fees can be counted as match.

Q21:
Should the academic courses be listed or summarized?
A21:
That is left up to the applicant to decide.

Q22:
Where do applicants write about the Technology for College course?
A22:
That is left up to the applicant to decide.

Q23:
What about certificate program vs. degree-credit courses? Where do we write about these?
A23:
That is left up to the applicant to decide.

Q24:
Certificate programs versus degree programs: will one be weighted more than the other?
A24:
No.

Q25:
One of the proposal's priorities is bypassing developmental education courses. Does this mean bypassing a complete sequence of courses, or could it also mean advancing students along a sequence of courses (e.g., advancing students from intermediate to advanced developmental courses)?
A25:
It means either bypassing a complete sequence of developmental education courses or advancing students along a sequence of developmental education courses.

Q26:
Is there a MAPT assessment requirement?
A26:
No. There is no longer a MAPT requirement for Transition to Community College programs.

Q27:
The policy manual reads that College for Success must be one semester. Does it matter if it's one credit or more as long as it's one semester?
A27:
The policy only states that it must be one semester; there is no policy around how many credits the course should be.

Q28:
Please provide more information about the budget narrative and budget forms. Could links to ESE budget information be provided?
A28:
Yes. Here is the link to the Grants Management page that includes links to forms and other information: Essential Information; see Forms and Procedural Manual at the bottom of this webpage.

Q29:
What is SMARTT?
A29:
SMARTT is an acronym for System for Managing Accountability and Results Through Technology, and it is ACLS's data entry system. Here is the link to the SMARTT page on the ACLS website. Cognos is the companion system that shows data that is entered into SMARTT by programs. There are reports in Cognos for programs.

Q30:
Do applicants need to send resumes of key staff as part of the application for funding? What if the person is not hired yet for the position?
A30:
Yes. Applicants could provide job information if the position has not yet been filled.

Q31:
Are all of the RFP docs online?
A31:
Yes. The link to the Transition RFP can be found at FY2018 Adult Basic Education Transition to Community College - Fund Code: 668.

Q32:
Why does the Maintenance of Effort match requirement cross funding cycles after an open and competitive RFP? Could programs just start from scratch?
A32:
This is a federal requirement for ACLS. ACLS passes down this federal requirement to all of its funded programs.

Q33:
Is a SMARTT program plan required?
A33:
No, not for this RFP. Upon notification of funding, successful applicants will be required to enter certain program design elements, including required classes, into SMARTT.

Q34:
Are course syllabi required as part of this funding application?
A34:
No.

Q35:
Could a syllabus be attached to a narrative?
A35:
Only if by attaching it, the proposal narrative would not exceed the 10-page limit. Any narrative or attachments over the 10-page limit will not be read unless otherwise stated in the RFP.

Q36:
Could a program, once funded, add a column in the annual data collection report for students who finished the Transition program?
A36:
Yes. This is something that can and should be discussed with the program's ACLS program specialist after funding is awarded.

Q37:
Will SMARTT training be provided for new successful applicants?
A37:
Yes. SMARTT training is done by The SABES Center for Using SMARTT and Cognos.
A schedule of upcoming trainings can be found on this website.

Q38:
What are the fiscal requirements once a program is funded?
A38:
All financial reporting requirements, including end-of-the-year financial reports, can be found on the Grants Management page, on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's website.

Q39:
If a funded program finds that more funding is needed in a particular fiscal year, can more funds be requested from ACLS? There have been cases when programs have not been able to use of all of their funds in a particular fiscal year. Would those funds be available to programs that need them?
A39:
ACLS requires that programs that anticipate not using all of their funding notify their ACLS program specialist as soon as possible so that the money can be used elsewhere in the state before the end of the fiscal year.

Q40:
Programs are required to maintain a minimum enrollment of 15 students per semester, no less than 12 of whom are graduates of ACLS-funded ABE programs. Do the 12 ABE graduates have to be enrolled before the non-ABE graduates?
A40:
No, a program can enroll students in any order as long as 12 seats are reserved for ABE graduates from ESE-funded programs.

Q41:
I think your budget numbering is wrong in the RFP.
A41:
The numbering restarts in the budget section of the RFP.

Q42:
One of the required RFP appendices is resumes of key staff. Could a job description with minimum qualifications be provided in lieu of a resume if a key position (e.g. Educational Advisor) is not currently filled?
A42:
Yes, in this case, a job description listing the minimum qualifications could be provided in lieu of a resume.

Q43:
Some of us just looked at the electronic copy of the RFP located on the ESE website and the past performance table asks completely different questions. Could you please explain what one is the correct form? Also, we cannot find any Q&A from our Bidder's Conference, so as to clear up some of the doubts and questions put forth.
A43:
The updated RFP outcomes chart online is the correct one. We apologize for the delay in getting this Q&A posted. This is the full list of bidders' conference Q&A.

Q44:
Please clarify the specific guidelines DESE would like applicants to use in reporting the number of students from Column D that dropped out or stopped out (Column F). The possibilities seem to be: number of students who are no longer enrolled, did not graduate, and who have not transferred.
A44:
In Column F, applicants should report the number of students from Column D who are inactive, on leave of absence, or are otherwise not currently enrolled in a specific degree or certificate program. This includes students who have left the college and provided no information about their current situation.

Q45:
Can an ABE Program sign more than one Transition MOU? Our ABE Program students could benefit from having two Transition programs in the area.
A45:
Yes, ABE Programs can sign multiple Transition MOUs.

Q46:
Quincy College is a public municipal community college. Are we eligible to apply?
A46:
Yes, Quincy College is eligible to apply for this grant. ACLS will still only fund up to 11 grants.

Q47:
Have there been changes to the RFP?
A47:
Yes. Eligible applicants now include all Massachusetts public community colleges. The submission instructions have also changed and there is a new due date. Please see the RFP which was re-posted on February 16, 2017.

Q48:
Please clarify the due date: is it March 1, 2017 or March 31, 2017?
A48:
It is March 31, 2017 at 3:00 PM.

Q49:
Part III — Required Program Information, Section III, Profile of Proposed Services states: "Note: All applicants must submit a program design that meets the program element requirements in the FY18 Massachusetts Policies for Effective Adult Basic Education Transition to Community College. See Additional Requirements section of the RFP." However, the Additional Requirements section of the RFP states that "Upon notification of funding, successful applicants will be required to enter certain program design elements, including required classes, into SMARTT." Is there a requirement to submit a Program Design with the proposal, and if so, as part of the Narrative or as an Appendix?
A49:
There is no requirement to submit a Program Design with the proposal. Applicants are asked to describe their program design in Part III — Required Program Information questions, such as questions #5 and #6 in Section III, Profile of Proposed Services.

Q50:
How will the 10 page limit for Part III — Required Program Information be enforced?
A50:
Applicants are asked to paste responses to the questions in Part III - Required Program Information in the appropriate places on the web portal. The total for these responses may not exceed 10 pages.

Q51:
Where is the Statement of Assurances to be uploaded?
A51:
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. This was an oversight. There is now a space on the web portal to upload the Statement of Assurances.

Q52:
The spaces for Part III — Required Program Information allow only text. Is there a way tables or charts can uploaded?
A52:
Yes. For Questions 1-9, new spaces for this purpose have been added. Applicants who wish to upload any charts or tables can do so in the spaces provided. More than one table or chart can be uploaded in each space.

Q53:
If a section is uploaded and runs 1.5 pages, is that 2 pages? Do each of the charts or tables count as a page?
A53:
Applicants are asked to paste responses to the questions in Part III — Required Program Information in the appropriate places on the web portal. The total for these responses may not exceed 10 pages. Any charts and tables count toward the maximum 10 pages. Applicants are advised to write their responses first in a Word Document that is not to exceed 10 pages before copying and pasting responses into the portal.



Last Updated: March 10, 2017
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