Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs

FY2019: 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.);
  • Poor systems for identifying and monitoring student academic, behavior, and social-emotional strengths and areas of need;
  • Ineffective, and potentially detrimental practices around language and cultural competence and racial bias;
  • Adult mindset and capacity related to supporting students' holistic needs;
  • 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;
  • Lack of 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 identify and prioritize these barriers and 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 systems and infrastructure needed to support this work with coherence (e.g., policy changes, role shifts, resource needs, teaming structures, etc.).

Examples of how districts have used / are using the SfSS grant opportunity include:
  • Revamping school improvement planning to include regular collection and analysis of school climate data from students, parents, and staff.
  • Systematizing professional learning opportunities related to the social emotional dimensions of learning.
  • Conducting equity and social emotional audits to understand existing practices, professional development strategies, staffing, etc.
  • Creating or refining more effective multi-tiered system of support models.
  • Aligning disparate initiatives and team structures at school and district levels (e.g., PBIS, SEL, equity, restorative practices, school climate, etc.).
  • Revising roles, job descriptions, hiring, and induction processes to include explicit focus on school/classroom climate and social emotional dimensions of learning. Improve flow of discipline data to schools and establish regular district level meeting and professional learning community to systematically review discipline/behavior data and implement responses. Revised guidelines related to office referral practices and policies (when to manage in classroom, when to refer) and Code of Conduct to reflect a restorative framework.

There are two competitive 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 $400,000 allocated for implementation and planning grants in FY19.

SfSS Implementation Grants
Implementation Grant Priorities & Participation Requirements: The Systems for Student Success Implementation Grant provides districts with funding and targeted assistance 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 professional learning and coaching models to help educators meet the needs of youth from diverse backgrounds
  • Improving the systems used to identify student strengths and needs, provide appropriate supports, and monitor support effectiveness (e.g., universal assessment, coherent tiered support model, 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, as well as district staff and leadership. The process could have involved all schools within the district and must 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 (schedule for November 1st and April 10th).
  • 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 and submit a final progress report for the year.

Implementation Grant Eligibility: Districts that engaged in the SfSS Planning or Implementation Grants during SY18 are eligible to apply for implementation funds. These districts include Fall River, Framingham, Lowell, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Salem, Somerville, Springfield, Waltham and West Springfield.

Other districts with 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. Priority will be given to districts with schools that are classified as needing focused/targeted or broad/comprehensive support.

Funding Type:Federal CFDA:84.027
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.

Project Duration:Upon approval – August 31, 2019
SfSS Planning Grants
Planning Grant Priorities & Participation Requirements: The Systems for Student Success Planning Grant provides districts with a 10-month 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, 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: Districts who are ready to fully engage in the SfSS planning process are eligible to apply. Priority will be given to districts with schools that are classified as needing focused/targeted or broad/comprehensive support. Applicants must involve district staff (to develop district level systems) and propose two or more of their schools 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.

Funding Type:Federal CFDA:84.027
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; demonstrated ability and commitment to participate in the SfSS planning process; clearly articulate how current efforts in district and school align with this 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.

Project Duration:Upon approval – August 31, 2019
Program Unit:Systems for Student Success Office
Contact: Rebecca Shor
Phone Number:781-338-3559
Date Due:Monday, October 15, 2018

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 submit all required materials through EdGrants. Once selected, recipients will be contacted with further instructions on the process.

 
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