Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs

FY2022: Adult Education provided by Community Adult Learning Centers (CALC)

Fund Codes: 661/671


The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will administer statewide adult education competitive grants funded with state and federal funds.

The purpose of this 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 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; and
  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.


Priority will be given to applicants that demonstrate:

  1. innovation in their program design and service delivery;
  2. collaboration with local WIOA "shared customer" partners;
  3. past effectiveness;
  4. an active waitlist for services they are applying for;
  5. serving hard to serve populations such as out-of-school youth and/or homeless;
  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;
  8. a design to serve a minimum of 50 participants on a monthly basis during a typical academic year September through June (AE providers whose primary mission is to serve homeless populations are not held to the 50-participant minimum).


Eligible agencies/organizations that have demonstrated effectiveness in providing adult education and literacy services and are not currently funded by DESE, are eligible to apply.

Note: programs that have lost funding during the current funding cycle due to corrective action are not eligible to apply.

Eligible Agency: An organization that has demonstrated effectiveness in providing adult education and literacy activities that may include—

  1. (A) a local educational agency;
  2. (B) a community-based organization or faith-based organization;
  3. (C) a volunteer literacy organization;
  4. (D) an institution of higher education;
  5. (E) a public or private nonprofit agency;
  6. (F) a library;
  7. (G) a public housing authority;
  8. (H) a nonprofit institution not described in any of subparagraphs (A) through (G) and has the ability to provide literacy activities to eligible providers;
  9. (I) a consortium or coalition of the agencies, organizations, institutions, libraries or authorities described in (A) through (H);
  10. (J) a partnership between an employer and an entity described in any of (A) through (I)

Funding Type:

State Fund Code 661 and Federal (CFDA: 84.002) Fund Code 671


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.

DESE anticipates that approximately $1,000,000 will be available statewide to fund adult education programs with state and federal appropriation.

ACLS grants base awards for the provision of services during the academic year (i.e., September to June2) based on a cost per student enrollment of between $2,800 and $3,500. Awards are calculated based on the approved cost per student enrolled multiplied by the average monthly student enrollment (e.g., 50 ABE students + 150 ESOL students = 200 enrollments at $3,000 per student = base award of $600,000).

The preference will be given to agencies that propose a program design that supports a minimum of 50 monthly student enrollments (a minimum grant size of $140,000 – $175,000).

Funds will be competed statewide. This RFP is for new programs that are not currently receiving DESE funds for CALC services.

Note: Proposed expenditures must be allowable and reasonable to achieve the goals of the proposal, and adhere to the budget requirements outlined in the FY19-FY23 Massachusetts Policies for Effective Adult Education in Community Adult Learning Centers and Correctional Institutions.

Fund Use:

Funds must be used in accordance with the FY19-FY23 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, and

  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.

Grant awards will be determined by an applicant's demonstrated capacity to deliver services. CALC funding will be based on an approved set of services in a program.

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.

Note: Programs with administration cost above 5% (not to exceed 25%) will need to submit an Administrative Cost Justification Form. Once selected, recipients will be contacted with further instructions on the process.

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, 2022 (State-funded — Fund Code: 661);
Upon approval to August 31, 2022 (Federally-funded — Fund Code 671).

Grants may be conditionally renewable for an additional year (FY2023) subject to satisfactory performance and the adult education appropriation of state and federal funds.

Program Unit:

Adult and Community Learning Services


Inquiries may be submitted for posting to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) mailbox through Tuesday, August 24, 2021 at and all answers will be posted to the Adult and Community Services webpage.

Telephone inquiries for assistance utilizing the FAQ mailbox may be directed to the ACLS receptionist at (781) 338-3850.

Bidders' Virtual Conference:

Prospective applicants are invited to a Virtual Bidders' Conference to be held on:

Tuesday, August 10, 2021 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Meeting ID: 828 5231 2588
One tap mobile
+16465588656,,82852312588# US (New York)

Date Due:

Friday September 10, 2021

Proposals must be received at the Department by 3:00 p.m. on the date due.

Required Forms:

Required Appendices:

  • Program Eligibility and Past Effectiveness (Appendix A)

  • Memorandum of Agreement for subcontracted services if applicable (Appendix B)

  • Partnership Overview (Appendix C)

  • Organizational Chart (Appendix D — applicant provides) — include all positions funded on the grant

  • Key Staff Job Descriptions and Resumes (Appendix E — applicant provides)

  • Sample Completed Classroom Observation Form (Appendix F — applicant provides)

  • Fiscal Overview of Adult Education Support chart (Appendix G)

  • Audit Report3 — community based organizations applying for this grant and not currently receiving adult education funds must attach a copy of the applying agency's latest completed audit report, issued by an independent certified public accountant. (Appendix H)

Additional Information:

Submission Instructions:

Proposals must be submitted electronically by 3pm on September 10, 2021 via the online portal.

Applicants will create an account and be able to enter the portal for the RFP. Once you have created a user account and entered the portal, you will be asked to:

  • Enter basic information

  • Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required. You will not be able to submit your grant unless you include data or uploads in all required fields.

    Please note that you are presented with two choices at the bottom of the submission webpage: <Save Draft> and <Submit>. Once you choose Submit, you are no longer able to make edits or change the files you wish to upload. Save Draft should be used routinely until you have completed the entire process and are certain you are ready to send your materials submission to us.

    Also, please note that the Part II-Budget is an Excel for PC document. Please do not work on this document in Excel for Mac, as it will not render properly, even if you subsequently save the document in a PC environment.

    If problems occur while using the portal anytime, or if you encounter technical difficulties with the Class Plan/Budget workbook after August 24th, 2021 contact Paula Jurigian.

Submit a response to all narrative prompts as applicable. (Note: The narrative response may not exceed 20 pages.)

Applicants are required to provide page numbers on every page of the narrative response. All narrative responses must be in a font no smaller than Arial 10 font, with 1" margins on all sides.

Pages that exceed the above page limits will not be reviewed and scored. Required forms, appendices, and the class plan/budget workbook are not included in these page limits.

Awarded Recipients: Upon award, recipients will be required to enter the approved budget and Part I in EdGrants. Programs with administration cost above 5% (not to exceed 25%) will also need to submit an Administrative Cost Justification Form. Once selected, recipients will be contacted with further instructions on the process.

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

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 Programs that propose a schedule not aligned with the traditional September to June academic calendar must provide a rationale for the proposed schedule.

3 (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 27, 2021

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.