Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs

FY2019: Connecting Activities Competitive Grant Program

Fund Code: 428


To enable the state's Workforce Development Boards (WDBs) to sustain the state's Connecting Activities (CA) initiative, by serving as the intermediaries that broker connections among and between public school districts in their regions and employers and community-based organizations, in order to sustain and grow the regional and state system that sponsors and supports career readiness experiences and activities for the students of those districts, especially high quality "work-based learning" (WBL) experiences, with an emphasis on paid work experiences.

  • Continue to build the capacity and capabilities of CA network of schools, employers and community partners who provide career development and work-based learning opportunities for youth.
  • Increase the number of students placed in WBL immersive experiences (e.g. internships, whether paid or unpaid) and youth employment compared to the number placed in FY18, and the number of employers engaged, especially in STEM fields, as reflected in new goals, by developing new strategies and efficiencies for the region's Connecting Activities (CA) initiative.
  • Support DESE's efforts to improve equity and access for underserved student populations by working with school partners to target these populations for CA services.
  • Continue to implement high quality career awareness and exploration activities for partner schools, and document key elements of those activities in the CA database.
  • Improve the quality of the region's partnerships with its partner schools.
  • Offer targeted programmatic efforts designed to respond to the Workforce Skills Cabinet (WSC) Regional Blueprints and the STEM@Work initiative


The Commonwealth's 16 Workforce Development Boards

Funding Type:

State Competitive Funds — Connecting Activities — 7027-0019


A total of approximately $4,000,000 is projected to be available.

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

Fund Use:

Connecting Activities funds may be used for the following purposes:

  1. Employer Outreach:
    1. Develop and recruit business and industry to participate in work-based learning experiences and other career development activities;
    2. Manage employer relationships; and
    3. Coordinate with Career Specialist/Job Coach to place students.

  2. Students' Work Readiness and Career Development:
    1. Prepare and place students in quality worksite learning experiences connected to classroom teaching and learning;
    2. Coordinate career development activities in collaboration with counseling and other staff of participating schools;
    3. Monitor student experience at worksites and support their success; and
    4. Facilitate the implementation of the Work-Based Learning Plan that connects classroom learning to worksite placement, including data entry.

  3. Continual Improvement of Region's CA Performance:
    1. Analyze overall performance of region for continual improvement, both quantitatively and qualitatively;
    2. Support implementation of strategies to improve performance;
    3. Sustain and enhance partnerships with public school districts and schools to improve quality of efforts and to increase scale.

Please Note: Recipients of Connecting Activities funds may enter into contracts with one or more public or private organizations to provide the connecting activities services and functions. Such organizations may include One Stop Career Centers, community colleges, chambers of commerce, community-based organizations, or other similar labor market intermediaries.

A minimum of 70% of Connecting Activities funds must be used to support staffing. Up to 30% of Connecting Activities funds may be used for other priorities, such as professional development, youth support services, data management and accountability. Indirect Costs may be sought as long as the Region has obtained an approved indirect cost rate through DESE procedures.

Prohibited expenditures:

  • Student wages or stipends
  • Computer hardware

Project Duration:

Upon Approval (no earlier than 7/1/18) through 6/30/2019 — Connecting Activities Competitive Grant Program grants are renewable for the duration of a maximum of three (3) years
(FY20, FY 21 and FY22).

Program Unit:

Office for College, Career, and Technical Education


Shailah Stewart

Phone Number:

(781) 338-3904

Date Due:

Monday, June 25, 2018

Proposals must be received at the Department by email, as described below, by 5:00 p.m. on June 25.

Required Forms:
Download Word Document
Part I — General — Program Unit Signature Page — (Standard Contract Form and Application for Program Grants) Note: Please sign and date your cover page and ensure the amount matches the amount budgeted
Download Excel Document
Part II — Excel Budget/budget comments
Download Word Document
Part III — Required Program Information (Narrative)
Download Word Document
Partnership Agreements with Partner Districts (one per district), using the template provided. These should be combined into a single PDF for emailing.

FY18 Year-To-Date "Work and Learning" Performance Report, generated from MACR database

FY18 Qualifying Wages Report, generated from MACR database (please submit 1 original report only, by mail)


The narrative pages (Part III) must be numbered with a one inch margin. The font size should be no smaller than 10-point Arial type. It is in the best interest of the applicants to ensure that the proposal is easy to read, is developed logically in accordance with grant priorities, and addresses each question fully.

Additional Information:

Section I — Implementation Funding for FY19 — Tier I

In order to receive base level Implementation funding (funding equivalent to FY18 full year funding), the Applicant WDB must:

  1. Have generated at least two times the amount of its FY18 grant award in qualifying wages paid to students placed through brokering activities. "Qualifying wages" will consist of the total private sector wages paid from July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2018 to high school students in school-to-career programs.
  2. Present a Year-to-Date Connecting Activities "Work and Learning" Performance Report to show the status of the region's efforts with respect to its FY18 regional student and employer work and learning goals
  3. Establish performance goals for FY19 (compared to FY18 outcomes) relating to
    1. Number of students placed in immersive WBL experiences;
    2. Number and percentage of those for which the MA Work-Based Learning Plan will be implemented (100% is preferred);
    3. Number and percentage of students who participate in a related classroom or workshop instruction component (100% is preferred);
    4. Number of those placements that will take place in STEM industries or occupations (FY19 only);
    5. Number of those placements that will be connected to any new Innovation Pathway, Vocational (Ch. 74) or Early College program that is currently designated in the region, where relevant (in FY19, this will affect only a few regions);
    6. Number of placements that will be paid by the employer; and
    7. Number that will take place during the school year vs the summer.
    8. Number of employers providing placements
    9. Number of Partner schools

  4. Identify all partner schools for FY19, by presenting a signed partner agreement
  5. with each partner school, and describe plans to improve quality of partnership work
  6. Describe leveraged resources that support CA activities.
  7. Plan regional professional development, and participate in network gatherings as required by DESE, including sending representatives to at least two leadership meetings and at least one state level conference sponsored by DESE.

Section II — High Performance Funding for FY19 — Tier II

Anticipated awards will range from $40,000 up to a maximum of $250,000 per Workforce Board, but not to exceed 50% of their base level annual implementation funding (FY18) award. (Projected resources available of approximately $750,000, depending upon final state allocation)

In order to receive High Performance funding, a WDB must offer a detailed description of projected plans and projected outcomes for:

  1. Significant expansion of the number of partnering schools participating in Connecting Activities (unless the region already partners with all the high schools in the region);
  2. Significant expansion of the number of students participating in Connecting Activities, both placements and career awareness/exploration activities;
  3. Significant expansion of the number of employer partners and work based learning placement opportunities specifically in the priority industry sectors or critical sectors identified in the region's Regional Blueprint;
  4. Targeted career development education (CDE) activities for any newly designated Innovation Pathways, Vocational (Ch. 74) or Early College programs, and active support for any partner school's FY19 application for designation by DESE, by serving as lead or supporting industry partner to that application, and by developing internship programs and sites, and other supports, for those programs seeking designation;
  5. Alignment to and collaboration with Youth Works and/or Signal Success or other types of state or federal youth workforce development programs
  6. STEM Week awareness activities in collaboration with the STEM Advisory Council and regional STEM Networks, and STEM@Work collaboration with the STEM Advisory Council and regional STEM Networks by supporting engagement of existing and development of new STEM related Connecting Activities employers and school partners.
  7. Addressing issues of equity and access by targeting under-represented student subpopulations (especially ELLs and students with disabilities) for participation in CA activities, in collaboration with any partner school, will target for CA supports.

Section III — Planning Grant to support Development of Three Year Plan relating to Regional Blue Prints & STEM

Award Level — Up to $10,000 per Workforce Board; total of up to $160,000 in resources available

In order to be awarded a planning grant to create a three year Connecting Activities Plan of Action (FY19 - FY21) that is specifically responsive to its Regional Blue Print and STEM talent pipeline needs (hereafter referred to as CA Blue Print Plan), WDB must provide an Outline of its intended planning process which: 1) identifies key partners and stakeholders, 2) defines deliverables, and 3) establishes milestones between July 1, 2018 and the CA Blue Print Plan submission date of December 31, 2018. (Note that the CA Blue Print Plan must align with and build upon proposed FY19 CA activities.)

The full CA Blue Print Plan, due December 31, must demonstrate how education, industry and workforce leaders will collaborate over the three fiscal years ending June 30, 2021, to develop Connecting Activities actions that will support these areas. The CA Blue Print Plan must offer details about:

  • Number of placements that will take place in STEM industries or priority Regional Blue Print occupations and industries
  • Alignment to and collaboration with Youth Works and/or Signal Success or other types of state of federal youth workforce development programs
  • the type and number of those placements that will be connected to any Innovation Pathway, Vocational (Ch. 74) or Early College program that is to seek designation in the region

Submission Instructions:

Email one complete application to, to be received no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, June 25, 2018, and mail one set of the same documents, to be postmarked no later than June 25 (it is acceptable if the mailed set is received after June 25, as long as it is postmarked by that date). Mail the set to Carrie Harrington, DESE, 75 Pleasant St., Malden, MA 02148.

The receipt by DESE of the emailed set is what will establish the timeliness of the submission. A complete application consists of:

  • Part I — A PDF of Part I Signature Page, which has been signed and scanned
  • Part II — Excel Budget with budget comments
  • Part III — Required Program Information — Word Document
  • Partnership Agreements with Partner Schools, using the template provided. These should be combined into a single PDF for emailing
  • FY18 Year-To-Date "Work and Learning" Performance Report, generated from MACR database

The mailed set of documents must also include one hard copy the region's Qualifying Wage report, which documents and corroborates the total wages in FY18 that will be stated in the Narrative.

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

Last Updated: June 13, 2018

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

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TTY: (800) 439-2370


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