Preparing for Post-Secondary Success Through the Wider Learning Ecosystem

New RFP calls for high school models that provide learning opportunities outside of traditional classrooms.

This Request for Proposals (RFP) is the next stage of Barr's regional Education strategy to support a new vision for high schools, and to catalyze innovation across the region. It responds to what we heard from our recent survey of practitioners across New England: a strong interest in and need for offering high school students individualized, student-centered, flexible pathways to post-secondary success.

The RFP is intended to support the planning and design of whole school models that blend the lines between high school, college, career, and the community—not discrete programs or stand-alone interventions.

This RFP is closed

RFP Overview

We seek proposals focused on existing public high schools across New England that are interested in a planning and design phase to leverage the wider learning ecosystem and offer one or more of the following:

  • Anytime-anywhere learning opportunities that enable students to participate in experiential learning and build social capital in the community; and augment the school’s capacity to provide comprehensive, holistic programs of study.

  • Career development experiences that promote student awareness of their interests and options, and deepen student engagement in school through connecting the relevance of their coursework to their future plans.

  • Early college experiences that expose students to the environment of post-secondary education, and enable students to earn college credits while completing the requirements for their high school diploma.

We anticipate supporting 10 grantees at up to $300,000 each for a planning and design phase lasting one to two years. At the conclusion of this phase, grant recipients will have developed a feasible, actionable design for their whole-school model and may be invited to apply for an implementation grant.

Review the full RFP

We are no longer accepting proposals.

Download RFP


Please note the following estimated timeline for the RFP:

Wider Learning Ecosystem RFP


The proposed high school(s) that is the focus for the planning phase must currently:

  • Serve a student population comprised of at least 50 percent high needs students (i.e. low income/economically disadvantaged, English language learners, and students with disabilities)
  • Be open access; that is, the school(s) does not have a screening or selection process (based on prior academic performance, behavior, etc.) in order to enroll as a student
  • Be located and serve students in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and/or Vermont
  • Be able to issue a public high school diploma

The following entities are eligible to apply:

  • Nonprofits, including national support partners and community-based organizations (CBOs), in active partnership with at least one Local Education Agency (district or charter organization) focused on one or more high schools
  • LEAs—on behalf of a single high school or network of high schools—in partnership with an institution of higher education, CBOs, or local employers

Priority will be given to lead applicants who are nonprofit entities such as intermediary, charter, or community-based organizations. However, we encourage all applicants to submit proposals in the interest of generating a variety of innovative proposals. Further, we understand that designing a high school model that transcends the school walls through participation in the wider learning ecosystems is challenging and requires a complex planning process. Therefore, 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.

This RFP is not intended to identify or fund discrete, stand-alone interventions or initiatives—including efforts that take place within or in partnership with traditional high schools. Further, the RFP is not intended to support the design of school models that train or prepare students for a particular field or career path. Instead, the intent is to support existing high schools in designing a comprehensive model that provides all students with credit-bearing wider learning opportunities to help prepare and empower graduates for a range of post-secondary options, including enrollment in four year colleges.


Watch the recording of our April 25th webinar for prospective applicants


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