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Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs

FY2023: MassSTEP ABE and ESOL

Fund Codes: 661/671/359


MassSTEP ABE provides adult education (AE) concurrently and contextually with workforce preparation activities and workforce training to accelerate learning outcomes, including student attainment of a high school credential and one or more relevant industry-recognized credentials (IRCs). MassSTEP ESOL provides ESOL instruction concurrently and contextually with civics education in addition to workforce preparation activities and workforce training to accelerate learning outcomes, including student attainment of one or more relevant IRCs occupations.

These competitive grants are designed for partnerships among education providers, training providers, employers, and workforce partners to implement an instructional program for adult learners in high wage/high demand career pathways. Grants must be developed consistent with Public Law 113-128, Sections 201 through 243 .

MassSTEP models are intended to accelerate entry into employment, and therefore only models of 16 weeks or less will be considered.

Programs may submit multiple proposals. For example, an applicant could submit a proposal for a MassSTEP ESOL advanced manufacturing program and another for a MassSTEP ABE welding program. (Note: Each proposal will be reviewed and scored separately and each must include all required documents.)


The following priorities have been established for MassSTEP ABE and MassSTEP ESOL program proposals that are informed by evidence-based practices.

Priorities are to support applicants that demonstrate:

  • a need for MassSTEP ABE and/or MassSTEP ESOL services
  • Career pathway development in priority occupations as shown in the WIOA local plan
  • A program design 16 weeks or less (requirement)
  • Partnership with one or more local area employers in the occupation that includes but is not limited to assistance with job placement/employment (requirement)
  • Student attainment of one or more IRCs (requirement) and a high school credential (MassSTEP ABE).
  • Collaborations with local MassHire Workforce Boards, MassHire Career Centers, and/or Career/Vocational Technical Education programs.
  • Commitment to delivering a program that adheres to the FY 2022 – FY 2024 Guidelines for Effective MassSTEP Programs in Community Adult Learning Centers and Correctional Institutions and MassSTEP Brand Standards and Implementation Guide

Eligible applicants are:

  1. a for profit entity;
  2. a local educational agency;
  3. public entities that are able to demonstrate effectiveness in operating adult education and/or career and training programs in correctional institutions;
  4. a community-based organization or faith-based organization;
  5. a volunteer literacy organization;
  6. a public or private nonprofit agency;
  7. Community Colleges or other higher education institutions;
  8. Vocational education institutions;
  9. Nonprofit education, training, or other service providers;
  10. a library;
  11. a public housing authority;
  12. a nonprofit institution not described in any of subparagraphs which has the ability to provide services to eligible students;
  13. a consortium or coalition of the agencies, organizations, institutions, libraries, or authorities described in (A) through (K);
  14. a partnership between a for-profit entity and an entity described in (B) through (K).
Funding Type:

Fund Code 671 and 359: Federal CFDA 84.002

Fund Code 661: State


Applicants may request up to $150,000 to deliver MassSTEP ABE or ESOL services. Approximately up to $1,000,000 is set aside for implementation grants.

Funding is contingent upon availability. All dollar amounts listed are estimated/approximate and are subject to change.

Fund Use:

Funds must be used in accordance with the FY 2022 – FY 2024 Guidelines for Effective MassSTEP Programs in Community Adult Learning Centers and Correctional Institutions to provide services to eligible students; eligible students are:

  • at least 16 years of age; and
  • not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school under state law, and
  • 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.

Funding must be used to:

  • Deliver, manage, and evaluate a multi-year MassSTEP ABE and/or MassSTEP ESOL program
  • Develop and document contextualized curriculum
  • Implement NRS-required assessments
  • Collect and input student data into the statewide data management system.

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.

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.

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.

Project Duration:

Fund Code 661: Upon Approval (no earlier than 9/1/2022) – 6/30/2023

Fund Codes 671 and 359: Upon Approval (no earlier than 9/1/2022) – 8/31/2023

Program Unit:

Adult and Community Learning Services


Derek Kalchbrenner

All inquiries must be submitted in writing by Friday, July 29, 2022. All inquiries must be submitted in writing to by Friday, July 29, 2022. All answers will be posted to the ACLS website. Please note no answers to questions will be posted until after the second Bidders' Conference in July.

Bidders' Conference:

Bidders' Conferences will be held via Zoom on Thursday, July 7, 2022, from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM and Tuesday, July 12, 2022 from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Phone Number:

(781) 338-3812

Date Due:

Proposals must be received at the Department by 3:00 PM on Friday, August 5, 2022.

Required Forms:
Additional Information:

Additional resources can be found on the ACLS MassSTEP webpage.

Submission Instructions:

Proposals must be submitted electronically by 3:00 PM on August 5, 2022, 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 contact Paula Jurigian .

Submit a response to all narrative prompts as applicable.

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

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

It is the responsibility of the applicant to return to this RFP and the Q&A page for updates and amendments. All updates and amendments supersede previous versions.

Awarded Recipients: Upon award, recipients will be required to enter all required forms in EdGrants in addition to the following based on applicant type:


State Agencies with ISAs: Waiver filed with ANF to reduce the amount of indirect charged to these grant funds in MMARS. It is the responsibility of the applying entity that is a state agency to file an indirect waiver request with ANF and send a copy of the approved request to CTR. DESE cannot request indirect waivers on behalf of state agencies. (See Fund Use section for more info; See Additional Information for Colleges/State Agencies section for the ANF Waiver Request Form)

Additional Information for Colleges / State Agencies

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

  1. ISA process timeline

  2. MA Expenditure Classification Handbook

  3. MA Comptroller's Office Fringe Information

  4. ISA and EdGrants Amendment Requirements

  5. Process for waiving indirect costs (state agencies only)

  6. Indirect Waiver Request form (state agencies only)

  7. Section 5D: Indirect and fringe benefit costs expended from the General Fund: recovery by the comptroller (state agencies only)

  8. Federal Grants Cost Allocation

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 material not subject to the page limits. Any response that exceeds the page limit will not be reviewed and considered in scoring. (Note: Required forms and budget pages are not included in these page limits.)

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

Narrative responses may not exceed 12 pages.

Last Updated: June 30, 2022

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