Frequently Asked Questions for Preparing for Postsecondary Success Through the Wider Learning Ecosystem
Where can I find the slides and the recording from RFP webinar?
You can access the webinar slides and the recording here.
How do I register for office hours?
You can register for office hours with the Barr Education Team here.
What is the timeline for funding decisions for the planning grants and expected timeframe for the planning phase?
The timeline can be found on our RFP webpage here
Will you be posting a list of those who logged into the webinar so that we can see who else may be interested in partnering in our area?
We do not have permission to share the list of webinar participants. We are recommending to all interested community partners to begin by reaching out to your proximal schools/districts, some of which may not be aware of this opportunity yet.
What is the website referenced during the webinar that has information about the full range of competencies required for students to connect to success?
The MyWays framework by the national organization Educause is a resource referenced during the webinar that we have found particularly helpful. MyWays includes four key areas of college and career readiness: content knowledge, habits of success, creative know-how, and wayfinding abilities.
Do you have resources that could inform how we might approach a planning phase?
The national organization Springpoint published a school design guide that may be a helpful resource. The guide covers three phases of planning for a new school model — understand, design, build — and includes guiding questions, sample activities, and practical tools.
Would a college or university be qualified to apply as a lead applicant?
Yes, a college or university could apply as a lead applicant. Please note that even with a higher education partner, priority will be given to applicants who will engage a national or regional expert with a track record of supporting this type of work during the planning phase. The application should clearly explain how the proposed partnership(s) advances the overall vision for high school design and student high school experiences aligned with expectations for college and career readiness.
Can the lead applicant be the national or regional expert during the planning phase?
Yes, the lead applicant may be the national or regional expert during the planning phase. Please note that preference will be given to proposals with lead applicants that are nonprofit organizations.
Our nonprofit coordinates a network of out-of-school-time providers. Could we apply as a lead agency (in partnership with an LEA), or does the lead nonprofit need to be a service provider?
Yes, the nonprofit applicant could be an organization that coordinates a network.
Can funds be used to support technical assistance to a school as opposed to full school redesign?
This RFP was created to support existing schools in the development of high-quality plans for redesigning their high school model to embrace the wider learning ecosystem. Planning year funds must be used for activities and approaches that are part of a comprehensive school redesign process.
Is it necessary for the entire district to ultimately adopt this approach? Is it sufficient for the participating school(s) to develop during the planning phase a model that is potentially replicable in other schools within the district and/or in other districts?
For the purposes of this RFP, scale refers to the specific school(s) included in the proposal.
How do you define a successful outcome for this RFP?
This RFP was created to support existing schools in the development of high-quality plans for redesigning their high school model to embrace the wider learning ecosystem. Our goal is that this design phase will lead to the implementation of exemplary schools across the region that can powerfully demonstrate the impact of student-centered approaches that intentionally address the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary to sufficiently prepare students for postsecondary success.
We already have a similar initiative in place for one high school and partner pair. Could we use this RFP to scale up to more high schools and program offerings based on our current project?
Yes, this opportunity can be used to build on current efforts and improve and scale, in order to reach all students as an integral component of the school’s mission, design, and program of study.
Would it be an option for a postsecondary school to offer a co-curricular or dual enrollment high school program?
Yes, dual enrollment options are a possible focus of the design and planning phase. Please keep in mind that this opportunity is not focused on the development of programs, rather it is focused on supporting the redesign of the overall school model to embrace community assets. We encourage applicants to keep in mind the design principles that are outlined on page 9-10 of the RFP, regardless of the proposed school model.
Is the expectation that the educational experience developed is universal to all students in the school, or could it be somewhat unique based on students' different learning needs?
There is not an expectation that all students will engage in the wider learning ecosystem opportunities in the same way. We encourage applicants to be creative and consider ways that the wider learning ecosystem can be leveraged in multiple ways in order to align with students’ interests, needs, and goals. Regardless of which wider learning opportunities students engage in, however, all students should be held to high expectations and be prepared for a range of postsecondary options.
Has Barr identified how grantee progress will be evaluated when you will consider which programs will receive implementation support?
By the end of the 1-2 year planning phase, we expect that all planning awardees will have created an implementation action plan that includes information such as a description of the rollout strategy (e.g., activities, partners), identification of resources to demonstrate sustainability, a description of what quality implementation will look like, and a definition of student success and how it will be measured. Barr will review the quality of the design developed and viability of the implementation strategy on a rolling basis, and may select a group of planning awardees to apply for a two-year implementation grant.
Should the high school have one option for students to gain new experiences, or can there be a menu and as long as this menu offers enough "seats" for the entire school? For example, one high school with four different partners that offer unique learning experiences.
There is not an expectation that all students will engage in the same wider learning ecosystem opportunities. We encourage applicants to be creative and consider ways that the wider learning ecosystem can be leveraged in multiple ways in order to align with students’ interests, needs, and goals. All wider learning ecosystem opportunities should be of equal quality and high expectations of students should be maintained across all experiences.
Does Barr have any guidance for applicants who had also applied to the previous RFP, *A Vision for New England Schools and Programs for Students Off Track to Graduate?*
While both RFPs are part of our overall education program strategy focused on a new vision for high school in New England, each RFP has distinct purpose and emphasis. This wider learning ecosystem RFP is intended to support the redesign of a school model for an entire high school to leverage community assets. The prior RFP honed in on models specifically for students off track for high school graduation. This wider learning ecosystem RFP should be treated as an entirely separate application process. However, it is possible that a community may have similar or overlapping ideas, such as potential school model components, that could be proposed in both RFPs.
Can we apply for this funding to support a planning year with technical support from another organization?
Yes, the purpose of this RFP is to support a planning phase in partnership with local community assets and a regional or national technical assistance expert.
Can I create a program in my school?
No, this opportunity is not focused on the development of programs, rather it is focused on supporting the redesign of the overall school model to embrace community assets.
Are there examples of some current schools in New England that embody the model(s) you are imagining through the RFP?
We are not promoting one specific school model through this RFP; we are supporting grant recipients in engaging in a deep and rigorous planning process to get to the appropriate school model that addresses students’ needs and interests and leverages community assets.
In the proposed school model, are we supposed to propose a menu of options for our students in the wider learning ecosystem?
The proposed school model will result from the planning and design phase of work funded through this RFP. The planning and design phase should explore opportunities for students to engage in the wider learning ecosystem as defined by the RFP.
For this RFP, does Barr prefer projects that include multiple schools, or projects that focus on a single school?
There is no advantage to applying as a single school partnership or a multiple school partnership. Please keep in mind that this opportunity is not focused on the development of programs or projects, rather it is focused on supporting the redesign of the overall school model to embrace community assets. We encourage applicants to keep in mind the design principles that are outlined on pages 9-10 of the RFP, regardless of the proposed school model.
The RFP states that “priority will be given to applicants who engage a national or regional expert with a track record of support this type of work.” Does this mean that the national or regional expert should engage other experts in the education and school design field?
A national or regional expert organization with a track record supporting school design aligned with the tenets of this RFP may apply as the lead applicant or partner on a proposal in collaboration with a school, schools, and community partners. Engagement of other (additional) regional or national experts is not required.
Can an organization (e.g., LEA, higher education institution, intermediary, community based organization) be a partner on more than one planning phase proposal?
Yes, an LEA or nonprofit organization can be a partner on more than one proposals. There are no restrictions on participation in multiple proposals.
As a nonprofit, do we need to have our high school partner(s) confirmed and be part of the application submission or will that vetting and identification phase be allowed in the design?
The target high school(s) for the planning and design phase must be identified as part of the proposal.
Would Barr be able to facilitate partnering opportunities with national or regional technical assistance experts?
During the competitive RFP application process, we do not facilitate partnership opportunities or endorse organizations for applicants to partner with. However, we strongly encourage robust exploration and vetting of potential partner organizations with a strong track record of supporting a high school design process or designing wider learning ecosystem options. The exploration and vetting process for partners could include conversations to ensure alignment of goals, visits to schools that they have previously supported, and review of student outcomes achieved through the partnership.
Do we need to have partner(s) confirmed for the application submission, or will the vetting of partners be allowed during the planning and design phase?
The partner(s) should be identified and established before the application is submitted and named in the the application. Please note that priority will also be given to applicants who will engage a national or regional expert with a track record of supporting this type of work during the planning phase. Your application should clearly explain how the proposed partnership(s) advances your overall vision.
What are some of the different roles you envision higher education institutions playing with these high schools?
Depending on the goals of the target high school(s), institutions of higher education may be part of the team to plan for a redesigned high school experience.
Is there an advantage or disadvantage in engaging in partnerships with higher education institutions that offer professional, discipline specific degrees?
This RFP is intended to help existing schools redesign their school model to leverage the wider learning ecosystem. These learning experiences should count towards high school graduation requirements, and also help students identify and develop their interests and goals. Proposals that include partnership with institutions that offer specific professional degrees must demonstrate that high expectations are maintained for all students and that student participation in the higher education coursework does not constrain students’ options for a wide range of opportunities after high school. In other words, all students should be prepared and empowered to enter a range of options after high school, including four-year colleges.
What level of commitment do community partners need to express at the time of grant submittal?
All partners must be identified and committed to the proposed scope of work represented in the proposal. Strong proposals will include a full description of roles of each partner as part of the required workplan.
Is there a minimum number of enrolled students for an eligible high school?
To be competitive for this RFP opportunity, a high school should have a minimum of 100 enrolled students total in the school (across all grade levels). It's also important to note that this opportunity is intended to support the design of models that engage all students in the wider learning ecosystem at some point in their high school education; therefore, we ask that the design model reach the entire high school population at scale.
Are you willing to consider applicants that offer programs leading to diploma equivalents such as the GED or the HiSET?
This opportunity is designed to support whole school models that culminate in a public high school diploma. Programs that culminate in a GED, HiSET, or other credential are not eligible. All applicants must include partnership with an entity that can issue a public high school diploma.
Are charter schools eligible to apply?
Yes, all public school governance options, including charter schools, are eligible to apply for this RFP opportunity.
Are magnet schools eligible to apply?
To be eligible for this RFP opportunity, the proposed high school(s) must (1) serve a student population comprised of at least 50 percent high needs students and (2) be open access to enroll students (e.g., the school(s) does not have a screening or selection process based on prior academic performance, behavior, etc.). If a magnet school can meet these requirements, and all other eligibility criteria listed on page 11 of the RFP, then it is eligible to apply for this RFP opportunity.
If a magnet school has an admissions screening process that does not depend on grades and student behavior, but other facets of a student's interest and work ethic, would the school still qualify to apply?
Eligible schools must be open access to enroll students (e.g., the school(s) does not have a screening or selection process based on prior academic performance, behavior, including assessments of student work ethic). The intent of the RFP is to support schools open to all students.
We are one school with two campuses. Are we considered one high school or two?
Your proposal would be for one school, since both campuses are part of the same school.
Can you please clarify if this RFP is only intended for existing schools looking to go through a (re)design process? Could a new school that has a planned opening in Fall 2018 or Fall 2019 be eligible?
This RFP is specifically targeting existing high schools in New England that are already serving students. A school that is expected to open in the future is not eligible to apply.
Can an applicant that has submitted a proposal for the previous Barr RFP (off-track students) submit a different design proposal for this RFP?
There are no restrictions on submitting a proposal for more than one Barr RFP.
If a school meets all eligibility criteria, and is already engaging in one area of the wider learning ecosystem, but wants to build upon its successes, are they a viable candidate?
Yes, a proposal could focus on the planning and design for expansion and improvement of an existing school that is already engaged with the wider learning ecosystem.
Are individual schools allowed to apply?
A local education agency (LEA) may apply on behalf of one or more high schools. A school should not apply without the support of their LEA.
Is this RFP applicable to a 7-12 school? If yes, could it involve grades 7 and 8, or only grades 9-12?
A 7-12 school is eligible to apply for planning and design of the high school years. To be competitive for this RFP opportunity, grades 9-12 should have a minimum of 100 enrolled students. It's also important to note that this opportunity is intended to support the design of models that engage all students in the wider learning ecosystem at some point in their high school education; therefore, we ask that the design model reach the entire high school population at scale.
Is open enrollment required of the high school before the planning process begins?
Yes, a school must be able to demonstrate that it does not screen students based on academic performance or record of behavior in order to be eligible for this funding opportunity.
Can we apply to this RFP opportunity if we would like to build on our previous successes and scale current work at our high schools?
Yes, applicants seeking to scale their current high school work can apply to this RFP opportunity as long as the work is aligned to the tenets of the RFP. Please keep in mind that we are not promoting one specific school model through this RFP; we are supporting grant recipients in engaging in a deep and rigorous planning process to get to the appropriate school model that addresses students’ needs and interests and leverages community assets.
Is a nonprofit that currently works in middle schools eligible to apply and use the planning and design phase to adapt our program to high school? We do not have active partnerships with high schools.
A nonprofit could propose new work at the high school level. However, the specific high school(s) that will be redesigned must be identified as part of the proposal.
How does this opportunity approach students on IEPs and/or English Language Learners in a large high school, including students are on a non-diploma-bound track?
This RFP is intended to help existing schools redesign their school model to ensure that the learning needs of all of students, including students on IEPs and English Language Learners, are met and supported. Part of the planning year will be focused on understanding students individual needs and defining a range of high-quality approaches that leverage the wider learning ecosystem to address their needs.
The RFP states that the proposed high school(s) must serve a student population comprised of at least 50 percent high needs students. What is the definition of a high needs student?
The percentage of high needs students is based on the unduplicated count of students with disabilities, former and current English language learners, and students who are low-income or economically disadvantaged. A former ELL student is a student not currently an ELL, but had been at some point in the two previous academic years.
Students that are in multiple categories, such as an English language learner who is low-income, are counted once to determine the overall percentage of high needs students in the high school. Please use your state’s definitions of these categories to determine the high needs percentage. To calculate the percentage of high needs student at a high school, divide the number of high needs students by the enrollment.
If the school does not serve a population comprised of at least 50 percent high needs are we then ineligible?
Correct. For this particularly opportunity, we are looking for high schools that currently serve a population of at least 50 percent high needs students.
Can you clarify what the RFP means when it states that this opportunity is intended to support the design of schools that open "all post-secondary options to all students”?
This RFP is intended to help existing schools redesign their school model to leverage the wider learning ecosystem. These learning experiences should count towards high school graduation requirements, and also help students identify and develop their interests and goals. This RFP is not intended to support the design of school models that train or prepare students for a particular field or career path. In other words, all students should be prepared and empowered to enter a range of options after high school, including four year colleges.
Planning Phase Activities and Duration
Can the planning year include piloting approaches and activities?
Yes, an applicant could consider piloting of approaches as one activity in a comprehensive design phase. What’s being piloted should be part of a comprehensive planning process and reflect a deep understanding of the students and what they need as well as the assets of the local community (note that piloting is not a required planning year activity).
Must piloting must be an output of a planning activity?
Piloting is an acceptable activity that may take place during the planning and design phase. However, there is no requirement to pilot as an output of planning.
What is the benefit of submitting a one versus a two year planning proposal?
Recognizing that high schools across New England are in different starting places for this work, we intentionally left the duration of the planning phase open-ended to meet the needs of different applicants. Applicants should indicate on their application the proposed duration of the planning phase and a justification of the duration you have chosen.
Does an application need to be for one or two years, or will the Foundation consider 18-month planning grants?
The planning phase does not have to be exactly one or two years; a proposal may be submitted for a planning phase of 18 months.
What is the benefit or deficit of submitting a one year planning proposal as opposed to a two year planning proposal?
This opportunity was intentionally designed to allow for a flexible planning and design period, in order to be responsive to the variation in needs of prospective applicants. Competitive proposals will fully describe their rationale for the chosen planning period length.
Are indirect costs allowed? Is there a limit on organizational overhead (apart from the costs explicitly prohibited in the RFP)?
Yes, indirect costs are allowed and the limit is 15%.
Is the grant award $300,000 for each year of planning or is this the total amount that can be requested over two years?
$300,000 is the total for the planning and design phase for a single high school. Applicants are invited to submit proposals for up to $300,000 for up to two years of planning. Applicants may submit a proposal for more than one high school, and accordingly request a corresponding budget exceeding $300,000 for the planning phase. However, we expect a multiple high school proposal to reflect economies of scale (i.e., the total budget should be less than $300,000 per high school). For example, if the proposal is focused on planning work in three high schools, the total budget should be substantially less than $900,000.