Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs

FY2021: Adult Education Transition to Community College

Fund Code: 668


The purpose of this competitive grant program is to provide a foundation of services within Massachusetts community colleges that enable adult learners to transition into and ultimately complete postsecondary education.


The priority is to support programs in community colleges that:

  • successfully enroll and retain at least 15 adults, 12 of whom were previously enrolled in DESE-funded Community Adult Learning Centers (CALCs) or Correctional Institutions; any ACLS funded program or services

  • are fully integrated into the community college;

  • include at least one cohort strategy (e.g., students' enrollment in a common course, ongoing group advising, a study group, etc.);

  • provide academic instruction, including a required College for Success course, and advising support to ensure that students function successfully in postsecondary education;

  • priority will be given to proposals that propose two (2) cohorts of students, one in the fall and one in the spring;

  • offer at least two credit-bearing courses (3 credits per course);

  • provide students access to credit-bearing courses at no cost through participation in the program; priority funding will be given to proposals that propose high numbers of credit-bearing courses above the required minimum; and

  • create clear, effective pathways to degree and certificate programs for students upon completion of the Transition Program.


Eligible applicants are Massachusetts public community colleges.

Funding Type:



Approximately $1.8 million is available to fund up to 16 community colleges with grants ranging from $110,000 to $150,000. Funding is subject to state and federal appropriations.

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 guidelines that appear in this RFP document.

Fund Use:

Funds must be used in accordance with the FY 2021 – 2023 Massachusetts Policies for Effective Transition to Community College Programs to provide adult education services. Programs should adhere to the community college's policies around student eligibility when determining the eligibility of prospective students.

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 15% of grant funds.

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%, then 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.

Applicants are required to provide an auditable matching share of 30% of the total amount of the requested grant award. Currently funded grantees must provide a matching share that is not less than their FY 2020 matching share (maintenance of effort amount) or 30% of the requested amount, whichever is greater.

Project Duration:

Upon approval through 6/30/2021; conditionally renewable for up to an additional two (2) years.

Program Unit:

Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)


All inquiries must be submitted in writing to; all answers will be posted to the ACLS webpage.
The deadline to submit questions is Friday, February 21, 2020.

Requests for assistance utilizing the RFP mailbox and/or the ACLS webpage may be directed to the ACLS receptionist at (781) 338-3850.

A Bidders' Conference program will be held on Tuesday, January 21st, 2020 from 10:00 AM – 12:00 noon, at the MassHire Central Region Workforce Board at 340 Main Street, Suite 400, Worcester, MA (directions and parking information will be posted on the ACLS website). Snow date will be Thursday, January 23rd, 2020, same time and location.

Date Due:

Friday, February 28, 2020

Proposals must be received at the Department by 3:00 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 Documents:
  • Budget Narrative
  • Match Narrative
Download Excel Document
Schedule B — Cost Sharing or Matching Schedule
Download Word Document
Part III — Required Program Information
Download Word Document
FY21 Statement of Assurances for DESE-funded Transition to Community College Programs
Download Word Document
General Education Protection Act (GEPA) form

Required Appendices:
  • Appendix A Updated MOA with partnering agencies - Appendix B Guidelines and Policies Manual

  • Appendix B Resumes of key staff

  • Appendix C Organizational Chart

Additional Information:
Download Word Document
Letter from AE State Director
Download Word Document
Negotiation Admin Cost Form (if needed)
View HTML Page
FY 2021-2023 Massachusetts Policies for Effective AE Transition to Community College Programs, posted on the ACLS Transition webpage
View HTML Page
Adult and Community Learning Services Disability Guidelines, posted on the ACLS Disability Services webpage
View HTML Page
DESE Grants Management Procedural Manual

No Paper Applications will be accepted.

Proposal Submission Instructions:

Application Packages must be in PDF format and emailed to the following email address with required elements in the following sequence:

  • Part I — General — Program Unit Signature Page — (Standard Contract Form and Application for Program Grants)

  • Part II — Budget Workbook (see FY21 Workbook Instructions Download Word Document)

  • Applicants must submit budget and match narratives that detail proposed expenditures, including hourly rates and weekly personnel time commitments for proposed activities for the grant.

  • Part III — Required Program Information

  • FY 2021 Statement of Assurances for DESE-funded Transition to Community College Programs

  • General Education Protection Act (GEPA) form

  • Administrative Cost Justification Form (if needed)

  • Required appendices

Awarded Recipients: Any recipient awarded a grant will be required to enter the approved budget and attach Parts 1 – 6 in EdGrants. If the Administrative Cost Justification Form is needed, this must be entered in EdGrants as well. Once selected, recipients will be contacted with further instructions on the process.

Pagination Directions:

Applicants are required to provide page numbers on every page of the proposal, including appendices and material not subject to the page limits.

All narrative responses must be in Arial 10 point font, with 1" margins.

Narrative responses may not exceed 10 pages.

Additional, non-required appendices and narrative pages that exceed 10 pages will not be read.

Last Updated: January 29, 2020

Contact Us

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

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


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