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Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs

FY2024: Adult Education in Correctional Institutions Program Services

Fund Codes: 285/563


The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will administer Adult Education in Correctional Institutions (AECI) grants, fund codes 285/563, consistent with Public Law 113-128, Section 225 to:

  1. Carry out corrections education and education for other institutionalized individuals using funds provided under section 222 of the Act for the cost of educational programs for criminal offenders in correctional institutions1 and those living in the community while under parole or probation supervision, including academic programs for:
    1. Adult education, literacy activities, and English for Speakers of Other Languages;
    2. Special education, as determined by the eligible agency;
    3. Secondary school credit;
    4. Integrated education and training2 (MassSTEP — ABE);
    5. Career pathways;
    6. Concurrent enrollment;
    7. Peer tutoring; and
    8. Transition to re-entry initiatives and other post-release-services with the goal of reducing recidivism and facilitate:
      1. Reentry 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.
      5. Reduce disparity in education by providing, in collaboration with WIOA partners and others, high quality AE programming that provides an inclusive and welcoming environment, rigorous curriculum and instruction, and related services responsive to and supportive of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
  2. Support innovation in the development of AE services to effectively serve eligible individuals most in need of education services through in-person and remote instruction and in coordination and collaboration with WIOA partner services.
  3. Improve and accelerate participant outcomes, especially educational functioning level completion, high school equivalency (HSE) credential or high school diploma (ADP) attainment, and enrollment in post-secondary education or training.
  1. In awarding grants or contracts for adult education and literacy activities to eligible providers, DESE must consider the 13 WIOA Considerations (Sec 231).
  2. Eligible providers awarded AECI grants must:
    1. Design, implement, and evaluate adult education services guided by the priorities established in the:
      1. 13 WIOA Considerations
      2. Massachusetts Policies for Effective Adult Education in Community Adult Learning Centers and Correctional Institutions
      3. Massachusetts Indicators of Program Quality
      4. WIOA Massachusetts Combined State Plan
    2. Give priority to individuals who are likely to leave the correctional institution within five years of participation in the program.
    3. Maintain the negotiated average monthly enrollment during the program year.

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

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

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

Note: As required by WIOA the applicant must demonstrate past effectiveness by submitting past performance data in serving eligible participants.

Applications that do not provide demonstrated effectiveness data in Appendix A will not be reviewed and scored.

Funding Type:

Fund Code 285: Federal CFDA 84.002

Fund Code 563: State Line Item 7035-0002


Approximately $2,500,000 in state and federal funds are available for Adult Education in Correctional Institutions.

This RFP is the governing document for these grant funds.

Funding is contingent upon availability and is subject to state and federal appropriation. As such, the stated availability is primarily designed as estimates for planning purposes and are not binding.

DESE will award funding to meritorious proposals based primarily upon the quality of the responses to these Requests for Proposals and the score and rank of proposals as determined by proposal review teams. Though award amounts will vary, in general, proposals with higher scores will receive larger proportions of their requests for funding than proposals with lower scores. Exceptions, however, may exist.

Federal law requires competition for grant funding among programs within all local workforce areas. Federal law also requires the distribution of adult education programming that meets students' needs both geographically and programmatically. To accomplish this, DESE reserves the right, prior to finalizing funding awards, to make adjustments that will support fair and equitable access to ABE and ESOL services.

If DESE closes a program or a program declines their award, DESE reserves the right to reallocate that funding to an existing DESE AECI program(s).

Important: DESE adult education awards include average monthly enrollment targets and a cost per participant. The cost per participant is the base award (i.e., excluding MassSTEP) divided by the monthly enrollment target. Grantees are expected to maintain or exceed, on average, their enrollment target(s) from September through May. See the FY24-FY28 Massachusetts Policies for Effective Adult Education in Community Adult Learning Centers and Correctional Institutions for additional information. Grantees must maintain the negotiated average monthly enrollment during the program year.

Note: Historically, the funding requested by successful grantees has exceeded the combined state and federal allocation. DESE can seldom, if ever, provide 100% of the funding requested even by the program that submits the highest scoring proposal statewide. As described above, DESE will base funding decisions on the scores and ranks of proposals, as well as considerations that promote fair and equitable access to ABE and ESOL services.

DESE encourages applicants to propose realistic budgets that consider the estimated allocation and the agency's organizational capacity. Proposed expenditures must be allowable as stated in federal and state regulations, reasonable to achieve the goals of the proposal, and adhere to the budget requirements outlined in FY24-FY28 Massachusetts Policies for Effective Adult Education in Community Adult Learning Centers and Correctional Institutions.

Fund Use:

Funds must be used in accordance with FY24-FY28 Massachusetts Policies for Effective Adult Education in Community Adult Learning Centers and Correctional Institutions to provide adult education to eligible students; eligible students are:

  • are at least 16 years of age;
  • are 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 achieved an equivalent level of education; or are basic skills deficient; or are English language learners.

Students under 18 must provide a letter of withdrawal from the local school district in order to enroll in the program. Students who are home schooled must provide a letter from the local school district stating that they are not enrolled.

As defined by the Code of Federal Regulations, 34 CFR §463.25 and §463.26, not less than 95 percent of funds must be spent on adult education direct services and literacy activities. If awarded, programs may negotiate on an individual basis with DESE to determine an adequate level of funds for non-instructional purposes by submitting a written request and rationale annually with their continuation applications. Administrative costs must be reasonable, necessary, and allocable.

Adult Education and Family Literacy Services is a restricted rate program that is subject to a statutory "supplement not supplant" restriction. For this competition, applicants may include restricted indirect cost rates to recover certain business-related expenses necessary to support the proposed services.

  • Local Education Agencies (LEA) may apply their FY23 district rate .
  • A non-LEA that has a current federally negotiated restricted indirect cost rate may use that rate.
  • A non-LEA that has an FY22 approved restricted indirect cost rate may use that rate. However, if awarded a grant, the agency must reapply to DESE for FY24 and annually through the grant cycle (2 CFR 200.332).
  • A non-LEA that does not have either a Federal or DESE approved indirect cost rate may budget up to 8% percent of the agency's proposed budget to recover certain business-related expenses. However, if awarded a grant, the agency must apply to DESE for FY24 and that there is no guarantee that the rate will be approved (2 CFR 200.332).

Important: A non-federal entity may never use an indirect cost rate that does not comply with 34 CFR 76.564 through 76.569 on a restricted program, regardless of whether the indirect cost rate is less than 8%.

Project Duration:

Upon approval through June 30, 2024 (State-funded — Fund Code: 285); conditionally renewable for up to additional four years.

Upon approval through August 31, 2024 (Federally-funded — Fund Code: 563); conditionally renewable for up to additional four years.

Renewals are subject to satisfactory performance, the appropriation of state and federal funds, and the continuance of federal authorizing legislation. Total grant award duration will not exceed five years (initial year plus renewals).

Letter of Intent:

Submit an optional Letter of Intent in the letter of intent portal by Friday, September 30, 2022. Letter of Intent is for planning purposes only, but strongly encouraged.

Program Unit:

Adult and Community Learning Services

Contact & Inquiries:

All inquiries must be submitted in writing to question portal. Q&A with answers to inquiries will be posted to ACLS Funding Opportunities on the ACLS website. Requests for assistance with submitting inquiries or locating the Q&A may be directed to the ACLS receptionist at (781) 338-3850.

The deadline for applicant submission of questions is Friday, October 7, 2022.

It is the responsibility of applicants to remain up to date with the posted questions and answers. Any RFP updates or revisions contained in the Q&A will supersede previous versions of the same.

Phone Number:

(781) 338-3850

Date Due:

Proposals are due on Monday, October 24, 2022, by 5:00 p.m.

Bidder's Virtual Conference:

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

Thursday, September 8, 2022, 1:00 PM–3:00 PM.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 829 4910 6766

Friday, September 9, 2022, 10:00 AM–12:00 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 826 7821 1126

Required Forms:
Additional Information:

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

Submission Instructions:

Proposals must be submitted electronically via the AECI RFP submission 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 Workbook 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 Part II — Budget Workbook after October 10, 2022, contact Paula Jurigian .

Submit a response to all narrative prompts as applicable. Note: The Part V narrative response application may not exceed 25 pages. Pages that exceed the above page limits will not be reviewed and scored.

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.

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.

Once selected, recipients will be contacted with further instructions on the process.

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

Proposals must be submitted electronically via the RFP submission portal.

1 Any prison; jail; reformatory; work farm; detention center; halfway house; community-based rehabilitation center; or any other similar institution designed for the confinement or rehabilitation of criminal offenders.

2 DESE will post a separate MassSTEP RFP.

Last Updated: October 25, 2023

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

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


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