Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs

FY2020: Adult Education Services

Fund Codes: 345/674/304


The purpose of this state competitive grant program is to reduce the current English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and Adult Basic Education (ABE) waitlist by providing additional adult education1 services provided by programs designed to serve a minimum of 50 students on an ongoing basis2, to—

  1. assist eligible individuals to become literate and obtain the knowledge and skills necessary for employment and economic self-sufficiency;

  2. assist eligible individuals who are parents or family members to obtain the education and skills that:

    1. are necessary to becoming full partners in the educational development of their children, and;

    2. lead sustainable improvements in the economic opportunities for their family;

  3. assist eligible individuals in attaining a secondary school credential and in the transition to postsecondary education and training, including through career pathways;

  4. assist immigrants and other individuals who are English language learners-

    1. improving their:
      1. reading, writing, speaking and comprehensive skills in English; and
      2. mathematical skills;
    2. acquiring an understanding of the American system of government, individual freedom and responsible citizenship.
  5. Adult Education in Correctional Institutions (AECI) Only: assist institutionalized individuals to obtain the education and skills necessary to reduce recidivism and facilitate:

    1. re-entry into society;
    2. further education and training or employment upon release;
    3. economic self-sufficiency; and
    4. smooth transitions in their roles as family members and citizens.

  1. Priority will be given to applicants that demonstrate:

    1. innovation in their program design and service delivery;

    2. collaboration with local Workforce Integrational and Opportunities Act (WIOA) "shared customer" partners;

    3. past effectiveness (meeting and/or exceeding MSG targets for currently funded adult education programs);

    4. an active waitlist for services they are applying for3;

    5. serving hard to serve populations such as out-of-school youth and/or homeless; organizations providing services to high percentages of parents of infants, toddlers and preschool and school-age children;

    6. capabilities to support or refer individuals to supporting state or federal resources such as SNAP+ or service need of child care benefits program;

    7. integration of digital learning delivery models.

  2. AECI Only: Serving individuals who are likely to leave the correctional institution within 5 years of participation in the program.


Eligible agencies/organizations that have demonstrated effectiveness in providing adult education and literacy services, including those that have not previously been funded by ESE, are eligible to apply.

Eligible Applicant An organization that has demonstrated effectiveness in providing adult education and literacy activities that may include:
a local educational agency;
a community-based organization or faith-based organization;
a volunteer literacy organization;
an institution of higher education;
a public or private nonprofit agency;
a library;
a public housing authority;
a nonprofit institution not described in any of subparagraphs (A) through (G) and has the ability to provide literacy activities to eligible providers;
a consortium or coalition of the agencies, organizations, institutions, libraries or authorities described in (A) through (H);
a partnership between an employer and an entity described in any of (A) through (I)
AECI Only — public entities able to demonstrate effectiveness in operating ABE programs in correctional institutions.

Attached is a list of currently DESE funded eligible agencies/organizations Download Word Document that have demonstrated effectiveness in providing adult education and literacy services eligible to apply for Option 1 or Option 2.

Funding Type:

State Fund Codes: 345, 674 and 304


DESE anticipates that approximately $2,000,000 will be available statewide to fund adult education programs under Option 1, 2, and/or 3 subject to state and federal appropriation. The Department expects to fund approximately 600 new active seats with a cost per active seat range of $2,300–$3,300.

Funds will be competed statewide for Community Adult Learning Centers and separately for Adult Education in Correctional Institutions. Up to $450,000 is available for AECI programing under Option 1, 2, and/or 3, please note that all currently funded AECI programs are eligible to apply for ESOL services under Option 2.

Grant awards will be determined by an applicant's demonstrated capacity to deliver services. CALC funding for applicants not currently receiving DESE adult education funds will be based on an approved set of services with a proposed minimum of 504 active seats in a program.

Note: Proposed expenditures must be allowable and reasonable to achieve the goals of the proposal and adhere to the budget requirements outlined in the Massachusetts Policies for Effective Adult Education in Community Adult Learning Centers and Correctional Institutions.

Option 1: Currently funded in region: expanding existing services at existing site(s). DESE will fund a minimum of one adult education class offering a minimum of 15 active seats (a minimum grant size of $34,500) and a maximum of a sequence of classes up to 100 active seats (a maximum grant size of $330,000). Only applicants who met or exceeded their FY19 enrollment targets are eligible to apply as listed under eligibility.

Option 1 is for eligible currently funded adult education programs that would like to add classes consistent with the currently approved service type (ESOL and/or ABE) and delivery method. For example, adding additional ESOL levels or ABE levels using curriculum and instructional methodologies proposed in FY19 open and competitive proposal. The applicant must be currently funded for ESOL to offer additional ESOL classes or for ABE to offer additional ABE classes.

Option 2: Currently funded in region: proposing new services or new site(s) within region. DESE will fund a minimum of one adult education class offering a minimum of 15 active seats (a minimum grant size of $34,500) and a maximum of a sequence of classes up to 100 active seats (a maximum grant size of $330,000). Only applicants who met or exceeded their FY19 enrollment targets are eligible to apply as listed under eligibility.

Option 2 is for eligible currently funded adult education and correctional programs that would like to add a new site, a new service type (e.g. the program is currently funded for ABE only and would like to add ESOL services), and/or would like to propose a class design that is not part of the currently funded services (e.g. blended learning class).

Option 3: Not currently funded in region or at all: new programs. DESE will fund applicants that propose a program design that offers a minimum of 50 active seats (a minimum grant size of $115,000) and a maximum of 100 seats (a maximum grant size of $330,000).

Option 3 is for eligible applicants that do not currently receive DESE funding for adult education services, or have received in FY19 one year transitional grant that ends in June 2019, or DESE funded agencies that would like to propose a new program outside the local workforce area where they are currently funded.

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.

Fund Use:

Funds must be used in accordance with the FY20-22 Massachusetts Policies for Effective Adult Education in Community Adult Learning Centers and Correctional Institutions to provide adult education to eligible students; eligible students are:

  1. at least 16 years of age; and
  2. not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school under state law,
  3. do not have a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent and have not an equivalent level of education or are basic skills deficient or are English language learners.

Not less than 95 percent of funds must be spent on adult education direct services and literacy activities; not more than 5 percent may be spent on administrative costs (related to planning, administration, (including carrying out performance accountability requirements), professional development, providing adult education and literacy services in alignment with local workforce plans, carrying out one-stop partner responsibilities, and state approved indirect costs charged to the grant.

Programs may negotiate a higher administrative cost percentage by submitting a written request and rationale with application. The state will not grant administrative cost requests that exceed 25% of grant funds (state requirement).

The Adult Education Services is a restricted rate program that is subject to a statutory "supplement not supplant" restriction. Grantees are required to use a restricted indirect cost rate of 8%, unless your calculated indirect cost rate is less than 8%, than you must use the lower rate for your budget. If you have an approved negotiated federal indirect cost rate, it must be submitted to DESE. If you do not have an approved indirect cost rate agreement, you must apply annually to DESE for an approved indirect cost rate. The indirect cost rate is calculated using costs specified in the grantee's indirect cost plan. Those specified costs may not be charged as direct costs to the grant or to any other grant under any circumstances.

Project Duration:

Upon approval to June 30, 2020 (State-funded - Fund Code: 345/674/304); grants may be conditionally renewable for additional two (2) years (FY21 & FY22) subject to satisfactory performance and the adult education appropriation of state funds provided adult education budget for FY21 and beyond is maintained at the FY20 funding level. If adult education state funds decrease below FY20 funding level, grants funded under fund code 345/674/304 may not be renewed.

Program Unit:

Adult and Community Learning Services


Inquiries may be submitted for posting to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) mailbox through August 30, 2019 at and all answers will be posted to the Adult and Community Services webpage.

Phone Number:

Telephone inquiries for assistance utilizing the FAQ mailbox may be directed to Lorraine Domigan (781) 338-3856.

Date Due:

Friday, September 13th, 2019 3:00 pm

Letter of Intent:

Submit an optional Letter of Intent (for planning purposes only, but strongly encouraged) no later than July 19, 2019 by 3:00 p.m. Letters of Intent must be emailed to

Bidders' Conference and webinar:

A Bidders' Conference will be held on Thursday, July 25, 2019 from 10:00 am – noon at the Quinsigamond Community College, 670 West Boylston St. in Worcester, room 109 A/B in the Harrington Learning Center on the first floor and a Bidders' Webinar will be offered on July 26, 2019 from 1–3pm. You can access the webinar through Open & Competive Bidders Conference.

Call-in number 1.877.820.7831/ passcode: 277528#

Passcode to enter webinar: 2019

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 — Class Plan and Budget Workbook (see FY20 Workbook Instructions Download Word Document O&C RFP)
Providers must submit budget and match narratives that detail proposed expenditures, including hourly rates and weekly personnel time commitments for proposed activities for the grant.

Download Word Document
Part III — Required Program Information

Download Word Document
Statement of Assurances

Download Word Document
General Education Provisions Act Form (GEPA)

Required Appendices:
Download Word Document
Appendix A — Program Eligibility and Past Effectiveness

Appendix B — Partnership Memorandums of Agreement (MOA) (developed by applicant, if applicable)

Appendix C — Organizational Chart (developed by applicant) - include all positions funded on the grant

Appendix D — Key Staff Job Descriptions and Resumes (developed by applicant)

Appendix E — Sample Completed Classroom Observation Form (developed by applicant)

Download Word Document
Appendix F — Fiscal Overview of Adult Education Support chart

Download Word Document
Appendix G — Partnership Overview

Appendix H — Audit Report5 — community-based organizations applying for this grant and not currently receiving adult education funds must attach a copy of the applying eligible applicant's latest completed audit report, issued by an independent certified public accountant (developed by applicant, if applicable)

Download Word Document
Appendix I — Administrative Cost Justification Form (if needed)

Additional Information:
Download Word Document
Letter from AE Director

Download Word Document
Scoring Rubric

View HTML Page
Adult and Community Learning Services

View HTML Page
FY20-FY22 Massachusetts Policies for Effective Adult Education in Community Adult Learning Centers and Correctional Institutions

View HTML Page
Accountability System

View HTML Page
Indicators of Program Quality, June 2017

View HTML Page
Grants Essential Information

View External Link
WIOA Combined State Plan for FY2017-FY2020


Download Word Document
ACLS Guidance for Adult Education Programs on WIOA Implementation: Shared Customers

View HTML Page
Professional Standards for Adult Educators (ESOL, ELA, and Mathematics)

View External Link
College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education

View HTML Page
Massachusetts English Language Proficiency Standards for Adult Education (2019)

View External Link
North Star Digital Literacy

View HTML Page
Adult Education Glossary

AECI Only:
View External Link
WIOA Fact Sheet: Corrections Education

View External Link
Reentry Education Model Implementation Study

This information is intended for state entities who require ISAs as part of their grant award process. Not intended for Private or Community Based Organizations.

  1. ISA process timeline Download Word Document

  2. MA Expenditure Classification Handbook

  3. MA Comptroller's Office Fringe Information

  4. ISA and EdGrants Amendment Requirements Download Word Document

Note: DESE reserves the right to conduct an interview or a site visit prior to award.

Submission Instructions:

Proposals (including all appendices) must be emailed to by 3:00 pm on September 13, 2019.

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

1 See Adult Education Glossary under Resources below for definition of adult education and related terms (e.g. adult basic education, adult secondary education)

2 See Adult Education Glossary under Resources below for definition of active seats. Currently funded adult education programs, AECI, and homeless programs are not required to add 50 seats additional seats when responding to this RFP.

3 AECI are exempt from having a waitlist.

4 Currently funded adult education programs, AECI, and homeless programs are not held to the minimum of 50 seats requirement.

5 (Excluded from this requirement are state and local entities whose audits the Department accesses directly (e.g., community colleges, state and county correctional facilities, local public educational authorities and city- or town-operated public libraries.)

Last Updated: July 8, 2019

Contact Us

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

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.