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Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)

FY20 Workplace Education RFP Questions and Answers (Q&A)

Questions as of November 21, 2019

  1. Is a one-week extension to the Phase 1 Planning Grant to have the WNA Report and Implementation Plan for Phase II submitted to EDGrants on Friday December 6, 2020 possible?
    Answer: No. However, any documents that require a signature can be emailed by 3:00 PM December 6, 2019. In addition, nothing should be submitted to EdGrants. All deliverables should be sent to the address in the RFP:

  2. Is there an extended final date for the Planning grant because of the delayed start (Part I Standard contract form indicates 11/01/19)?
    Answer: No. However, applicants were given until November 29, 2019 to submit the deliverables for Phase II.

  3. The Part I Standard Contract form still has the November 1 deadline.
    Answer: That is a mistake. It is not possible to change a form once it is posted. However, the deadline for Phase II deliverables is Friday, November 29th, 2019 at 3:00 PM.

  4. Is the 32 weeks of required instructional delivery going to be prorated as a result of the delayed start date?
    Answer: The 32-week requirement has been waived for FY 2020. Applicants should submit both a full year budget and a pro-rated budget for FY 2020.

  5. Is the budget expected to be for the entire period (until 08/31/20) or is it expected that we prepare one budget through 06/30/20 and a second budget from 07/01/20 – 08/31/20?
    Answer: There should only be one budget for FY 2020. It should go until 8/31/2020.

  6. Is the administrative cost calculated on 100% of budget lines 1, 3, 9, and 10 as it is for DESE Adult Education funding?
    Answer: Administrative costs include Line 1 — Administrators, Line 3 — Support Staff, Line 5 — Fringe Benefits (for administrators and support staff only), Line 9 — Other Costs, Line 10 — Indirect Costs, and Line 11 — Equipment.

  7. Please explain the cap on funding: is the $350k mentioned on the website per year and/or per award, is it an annual amount to distribute amongst all Implementation grant recipients?
    Answer: The $350k is the annual amount available to distribute to Phase II applicants.

  8. Are we expected to provide a copy of our HHS negotiated indirect cost rate if we are using our approved DESE rate?
    Answer: No.

  9. Are we expected to provide documentation of our FY20 approved MA DESE indirect rate and if so, where is expected to be included in the sequence of required submitted documents?
    Answer: No. Applicants should visit Grants: Essential Information webpage to see if their FY 2020 Indirect Cost Application has been approved.

Questions as of June 14, 2019

  1. Was it possible that data transferred from SMARTT to LACES was skewered or incomplete? The total number of hours for one of the fiscal years does not make sense, as we would have had many more hours than that.
    Answer: ACLS was not aware of any issues with SMARTT data entry transfer to LACES. Applicants should contact their program specialists with LACES questions.

  2. In Section II, Past Performance, it states that the "Data provided must be verifiable by ACLS." We discovered that the numbers of "level completions" were very low. As we studied the information, it became clear that the number is low because we did not know that students had to be post tested in the same fiscal year. Our records show many, many examples of students who, from one BEST Plus test to the next, make very good progress, showing SPL gains of 1, 2, or even 3 levels, but the tests are not in the same fiscal year so they don't show up as demonstrating a level gain. These workplace students enter at different times in the year and we have to wait a certain number of hours before we post tested anyway which might be in the next fiscal year. In addition, the grant ends August 31st so we always thought we could post test after June 30th.
    Answer: We are not entirely clear on what is being asked. Based on our understanding of the question, applicants should submit what data they have in response to Section II, Past Performance. Applicants should also know that grantees will be required to follow the assessment policies in the Massachusetts Policies for Effective Workplace Education Partnerships.

Questions as of June 12, 2019

  1. If our agency is applying with more than one business partner, the work of the WNA will largely be the same, meaning only the company information and its workforce needs will be unique, not how the work is carried out by our organization. Therefore, the proposals will look very similar. Is this acceptable?
    Answer: We are not entirely clear on what is being asked. Based on our understanding of the question, an agency would submit one proposal per business partner. In each proposal, the applicant would describe the workforce needs analysis that would be done for each business.

From the May 28, 2019 Bidders' Conference

  1. Can workplace education classes take place in a training shop setting?
    Answer: No. Workplace education grants are for incumbent workers and the classes are typically offered at the workplace. In addition, these are not job training grants. They are for contextualized ESOL or high school equivalency instruction.

  2. For the planning grant, is the expectation that you have a business partner already identified?
    Answer: Yes, an applicant must have a business partner identified to apply for Phase 1.

  3. Is there a certain number of students that are expected to be enrolled?
    Answer: Yes, programs are required to maintain an enrollment of ten students per class. Please see page 12 of the Massachusetts Policies for Effective Workplace Education Partnerships.

  4. How often does the Planning and Evaluation Team (PET) meet?
    Answer: It is expected that the PET meets regularly. Typically, the PET meets more frequently at the beginning of a program, sometimes as often as on a weekly basis. Once a program has been running for several months, PET meetings are usually monthly. Please refer to the Massachusetts Policies for Effective Workplace Education Partnerships for more information on PETs.

  5. Do we submit the Administrative Cost Justification Form with the application?
    Answer: Yes, if needed, the Administrative Cost Justification Form should be submitted in Phase 2 with the other required forms.

  6. Do agencies get help in accessing the statewide management system if funded?
    Answer: Yes. The system is called LACES and guidance will be provided on what should be entered into it.

  7. For the submission of the required forms, do all forms get uploaded as a single document or is each document its own PDF?
    Answer: Each document should be done separately as a PDF. Applicants can include the budget narrative and match narrative as one PDF.

  8. What is the match requirement?
    Answer: No match is required for Phase 1. For Phase 2, the match requirement is 50% and must come from the business partner.

  9. Can applicants use federal funds for match?
    Answer: No. For all federal awards, any matching funds, and all contributions, including cash and third-party in-kind contributions, must be part of the non-federal entity's match. These contributions must be verifiable from the non-federal entity's records and not included as contributions for any other federal award. See page 21 of the Massachusetts Policies for Effective Workplace Education Partnerships for examples of eligible match.

  10. For Part III, Question #1, do applicants provide descriptions of the business partner and the adult education program?
    Answer: Yes. All partners should be described here. If there are partners in addition the adult education program and business, they should be described here as well.

  11. A question about Part III, Question #3: can the potential students come from multiple departments?
    Answer: Yes. There are no restrictions on the number of departments students can come from. Be sure to provide a brief description of each department.

  12. Do eligible applicants have to have previous experience in providing adult education services?
    Answer: Yes, this grant opportunity is only for programs that have experience in providing adult education services.

  13. A question about completing the Past Performance Table in Part III. The Table is asking for two years of data. Would an agency be ineligible to apply if it only had one year of experience?
    Answer: No. In that example, the agency should just explain why there is only one year of data.

  14. Is there a recommended prep time ratio for teachers?
    Answer: It is up to the applicant to decide how much prep time is needed to make the program successful. Programs are encouraged to provide the maximum time for teacher preparation: one hour of teaching to one hour of prep time.

  15. On page 11, the fifth bullet says: "Design a program and prepare the required web-based program plan." What is this in reference to?
    Answer: This refers to the agency entering the class schedule into LACES, the state's data management system. This would happen after an agency is approved for Phase 2. Applicants would submit this as part of the Phase 2 application that is due November 1.

  16. Does an agency have to offer the workplace education program for 32 weeks?
    Answer: Yes, 32 weeks is the minimum number of weeks for a workplace education program.

As of May 24, 2019

  1. Are you looking for geographic representation?
    Answer: No, proposals from all 16 local workforce areas are welcome.

  2. Do the incumbent workers need to be unionized?
    Answer: No, the workforce does not need to be unionized.

  3. Can one agency submit two proposals? For example, if an organization operates out of two different sites, can it submit two applications for two separate sites for one organization?
    Answer: We are not entirely clear on what is being asked. Based on our understanding of the question, an agency would submit one proposal per business partner. If the business partner has multiple sites, and the agency is proposing to hold classes at each site then this should be reflected in the program design. The class schedule for each site should be included. If the agency plans to partner with two different businesses, then two proposals should be submitted.

  4. Is there any flexibility with the minimum of four hours per week of instruction per class requirement? Could a few of those hours be done online? In other words, is a blended approach allowable?
    Answer: No, there is no flexibility with the minimum number of classroom hours (4) per week. Programs can propose adding additional hours that could be done online, but there must be a base of four instructional hours per week.

  5. Does a new application need to be submitted for Phase II?
    Answer: Only applicants who completed Phase 1 may apply for Phase 2. The list of required documents that need to be submitted for Phase 2 is in the RFP.

  6. We have a business partner and have completed almost all the activities described in Phase 1. This RFP appears to be for partnerships that have not started Phase 1. Is it still possible to apply if we have completed almost all of the activities in Phase 1?
    Answer: Yes. In this case, the applicant would respond to the questions by describing which activities have been completed and which are still left to be done. The proposed budget would only include funds for activities that need to be done.

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