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Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs: FY2018

Systems for Student Success Initiative
Fund Code: 248

Purpose: The Systems for Student Success (SfSS) initiative is designed to support districts that want to thoughtfully examine and systematically address their students' most significant barriers to learning. These identified barriers might include, but are not limited to:
  • Insufficient or ineffective approaches for supporting the social emotional aspects of learning, (e.g., developing students' social emotional competencies and fostering academic engagement and motivation through personalization, student voice and choice, etc.);
  • Alignment and prioritization of academic and social-emotional outcomes for students;
  • Adult mindset around supporting students' holistic needs beyond academics;
  • Disproportionate, punitive and poor discipline practices;
  • Lack of a safe and supportive school and classroom climate;
  • Ineffective family-school communication and collaboration;
  • Reactive rather than proactive, student support practices;
  • Ineffective, and potentially detrimental practices around language and cultural competence;
  • Adult capacity to support youth affected by trauma and/or poverty; and
  • Housing, transportation, and other challenges related to basic needs, poverty and economic instability.
The SfSS Initiative provides participating districts with grant funding, targeted assistance and networking opportunities to not only identify and prioritize these barriers, but to then plan and implement systems and strategies to address them. Plans are developed through the lens of five interrelated domains: school climate, engaging instruction for academic and social-emotional learning, proactive student support, systematic family engagement, and strategic partnerships. In addition, districts go through a process of assessing and redesigning the infrastructure they need to support this work with coherence (e.g., policy changes, role shifts, resource needs, teaming structures, etc.).

There are two grant opportunities outlined in this RFP: SfSS Implementation grants and SfSS Planning grants. The requirements for each grant are outlined below. The Department has up to $415,000 allocated for implementation and planning grants in FY18.

Funding Type: Federal CFDA:84.027


SfSS Implementation Grants
Implementation Grant Priorities & Participation Requirements: The Systems for Student Success Implementation Grant provides districts with a targeted assistance opportunity to implement their SfSS Action Plans. These plans should effectively identify their students' most significant barriers to learning and articulate the systems and strategies needed to address them. This might include sustainable approaches for:
  • Optimizing the systems to collect, review, analyze and manage data related to the conditions for learning within the schools/district (including academic performance/engagement, school climate, family engagement, etc.)
  • Improving targeted aspects of school climate (e.g., adult mindset, teacher-student relationships, cultural competence, student or family voice, etc.)
  • Building the capacity of staff to support the development of students' social-emotional learning and embedding SEL across the curriculum
  • Implementing effective positive behavior management and equitable discipline practices
  • Creating a tiered systems of supports and professional learning to meet the needs of youth from diverse backgrounds (e.g., impact of trauma, poverty, English language acquisition, etc.)
  • Improving the systems used to identify student strengths and needs, provide appropriate supports, and monitor support effectiveness (e.g., universal assessment, coherent tiered services strategy, follow-up methods)
  • Building school and educator capacity to effectively engage families
  • Developing and managing strategic partnerships that are aligned with school and district needs

Districts applying for SfSS Implementation grants will be expected to:
  • Demonstrate they have conducted a robust planning process, including stakeholders from a minimum of two schools (at least one of which is a Level 3, 4 or 5 school), as well as district staff and leadership. The process could have involved all schools within the district and should have included the collection and analysis of a range of data (attendance, discipline, school climate, SEL, academic data) and the assessment of systems that may or may not have been in place relative to school climate, academic and social emotional learning, student support, family engagement and strategic partnerships. This should have led to the identification of 2-4 challenges/barriers to target.
  • Submit a detailed action plan, which outlines the 2-4 high priority challenges/barriers, evidence to support those challenges, root causes, target outcomes and systems/strategies the district/school intends to implement to address these challenges/barriers. The plan must also include details about school- and district-level infrastructure/systems to support these efforts.
  • Ensure that a robust team (representing the district and schools) participates in two cross-district meetings with other participating SfSS districts.
  • Hold regular (at least monthly) in-district team meetings to monitor plan implementation. ESE staff and a partnering targeted assistance organization will also provide two on-site visits to help facilitate local team meetings and planning activities. They are also available for support as needed throughout the year.
  • Implement and monitor the systems and strategies outlined in the action plan. District will be expected to report out on progress and target outcomes for both the school and district implementation throughout the duration of this grant.

Implementation Grant Eligibility: Districts that engaged in the SfSS Planning Grant during SY17 are eligible to apply for implementation funds. These districts include Fall River, Framingham, Holyoke, Lowell, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Salem, Somerville and Springfield.

Other Level 3, 4, or 5 districts may also apply for this funding if they recently engaged in a robust planning process that is aligned with the scope and goals of this initiative. These districts will be expected to provide a detailed description of what that process entailed, who was involved and the conclusions that were drawn.

Implementation Grant Fund Use: Grant funds must be used to implement systems and strategies outlined in submitted action plans. Grant funds may be used for staff stipends, consultants, substitutes, professional development and materials to be used in the implementation of the action plan.

Implementation Grant Funding: Each applicant district may apply for no more than $40,000 to implement systems and strategies outlined in their action plan.

Applications will be reviewed and award decisions will be made based on the following criteria: alignment of the application and implementation plan proposal with grant priorities and requirements; demonstrated engagement of a robust action planning process that identified high priority challenges/barriers to learning and strategies aligned with the challenges listed above; inclusion of both school-level and district-level approaches to addressing supporting the articulated challenges; appropriate and strategic fund use proposal; and overall quality of the response.

Funding is contingent upon availability. All dollar amounts listed are estimated/approximate and are subject to change. If more funding is to become available it will be distributed under the same guideline as listed in the initial RFP document.

Project Duration: Upon approval - June 30, 2018

SfSS Planning Grants
Planning Grant Priorities & Participation Requirements: The Systems for Student Success Planning Grant provides districts with an opportunity to identify and develop a plan to address their students' most significant barriers to learning.

Districts applying for SfSS Planning grants will be expected to:
  • Conduct a robust planning process, including stakeholders from a minimum of two schools (at least one of which is a Level 3, 4 or 5 school), as well as district staff and leadership. The process will include collecting and analyzing a range of data (attendance, discipline, school climate, SEL, academic data) and assessing the systems that may or may not be in place relative to school climate, academic and social emotional learning, student support, family engagement and strategic partnerships. This will lead to the prioritization of 2-4 challenges/barriers to be targeted.
  • Submit a detailed action plan, which outlines the 2-4 priority challenges/barriers to learning, evidence to support those challenges, target outcomes, root causes, and systems/strategies the district/school intends to implement to address those challenges. The plan must also include details about school- and district-level infrastructure/systems to support these efforts.
  • Ensure that a robust team (representing the district and schools) participates in two cross-district meetings with other participating SfSS districts.
  • Conduct regular (at least monthly) in-district team meetings to develop an action plan. ESE staff and a partnering targeted assistance organization will also provide two on-site visits to help facilitate local team meetings and planning activities. They are also available for support as needed throughout the year.
  • Districts will be expected to report on their planning progress throughout the duration of this grant.
Districts applying for SfSS Planning Grant funds may also want to refer to the Implementation grant requirements section above for examples of system improvements that fit the purpose and goals of SfSS funding opportunities.

Planning Grant Eligibility: Level 3, 4, or 5 districts who are ready to fully engage in the SfSS planning process are eligible to apply. Applicants must involve district staff (to develop district level systems) and propose two or more of their schools (at least one of which is a Level 3, 4 or 5 school) to pilot this work. Applicants can opt to include all schools within the district if appropriate.

Districts that have not previously received an SfSS Planning Grant will be prioritized to receive this award.

Planning Grant Fund Use: Grant funds must be used to develop an action plan that will systematically address priority challenges/barriers to learning. Grant funds may be used for staff stipends, consultants, resources to collect and analyze key data related to the conditions for learning in the schools/district, substitutes, and introductory professional development for the purposes of researching challenges and possible strategies.

Planning Grant Funding: Each applicant district may apply for no more than $20,000 to engage in the planning process and create an action plan.

Applications will be reviewed and award decisions will be made based on the following criteria: alignment of the application and proposal with grant priorities and requirements; ability to access and/or collect data in key areas (student performance, behavior, student needs, family engagement, school climate, etc.); demonstrated ability and commitment to participate in the SfSS planning process; willingness to focus on both school-level and district-level approaches to supporting the articulated challenges/barriers to learning; appropriate and strategic fund use proposal; and overall quality of the response.

All funding awarded as RFP posting is contingent upon availability. All dollar amounts listed are estimated/approximate and are subject to change. If more funding is to become available it will be distributed under the same guideline as listed in the initial RFP document.

Funding is contingent upon availability. All dollar amounts listed are estimated/approximate and are subject to change. If more funding is to become available it will be distributed under the same guideline as listed in the initial RFP document.

Project Duration: Upon Approval - June 30, 2018
Program Unit: Systems for Student Success Office
Contact:Rebecca Shor
Phone Number:781-338-3559
Date Due: Monday, October 23, 2017
Proposals must be received at the Department by 5:00 p.m. on the date due.

Required Forms:
Download Word Document
Part I - General - Program Unit Signature Page - (Standard Contract Form and Application for Program Grants)

Download Excel Document
Part II - Budget Workbook

Download Word Document
Part III - Required Program Information

Submission Instructions: Email submission to rshor@doe.mass.edu and submit 2 sets, each with an original signature of the Superintendent.
Mail to:
Rebecca Shor
Systems for Student Success Office
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street
Malden, MA 02148-4906

Awarded Recipients: Upon award, recipients will be required to enter the approved budget and Part I in EdGrants. Once selected, recipients will be contacted with further instructions on the process.



Last Updated: October 6, 2017
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