Publication CoLab Community of Practice RFP and FAQs
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Updated March 29, 2021

Request for Proposals

The CTE CoLab is excited to announce a new opportunity for up to 15 public community and technical colleges to join a College Community of Practice to advance their work scaling or enhancing equity-centered approaches to online teaching and learning through a focus on a selected credit-bearing CTE program. Selected college programs will receive funding, coaching, and research-informed technical assistance to support participation in a two-year engagement. This Request for Proposals (RFP) invites applicants to submit full proposals to participate in the cohort.

The CTE CoLab aims to reduce equity gaps for students of color—especially students who are Black, Latinx, or Indigenous—enrolled in credit-bearing online postsecondary CTE programs. Funded by ECMC Foundation, the CTE CoLab is a collaboration led by the Urban Institute in partnership with five national organizations: World Education, Inc., the National Council for Workforce Education, the Office of Community College Research and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Instructional Technology Council, and the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers. This coalition supports the College Community of Practice—a group of community and technical colleges—to build knowledge, center equity in program goals and delivery, and develop and share resources to improve education and career outcomes in online CTE programming.

The full RFP and a list of FAQs can be accessed below. Responses to the RFP are due by 8:00 pm EDT on April 2, 2021. Selected colleges will be notified of their selection by April 30, 2021.

Submit an application


Who can apply for this opportunity?

Applicants must be public community colleges and technical colleges. Colleges must designate a lead contact and at least two other participants who will make up the college team that engages in this effort.

Which programs are eligible?

Programs that can be delivered fully online or through a hybrid or blended approach that includes substantial online, virtual, or remote components. For the purposes of this RFP, we consider a program to be a series of credit-bearing courses that culminate in a college certificate or two-year degree with currency in the labor market. Programs should be connected to good jobs and career pathways with opportunities for advancement.

Are non-credit programs considered eligible?

No. The program must be credit-bearing to be eligible for this opportunity.

What is the definition of “recognized postsecondary credential”?

Any degree, diploma, or certificate a student earned while in the program of study or within one year of graduating – this can be from the focus program or any other program.

Can multiple programs from the same college apply?

No. Colleges should select one focus CTE program when applying for this opportunity. Please ensure that you coordinate with other programs in your college to select only one program and college team to submit for consideration.

If the same program is offered at two colleges in a district, could both colleges apply?

Yes. Both colleges are eligible to apply, but each college must submit a separate application.

Can a college system apply on behalf of multiple colleges?

No. Individual colleges should apply separately and will require unique applications. Within a college, CTE program staff should coordinate to identify one program to submit for this opportunity.

Should the proposed program currently be offered online? Or are programs that colleges are planning to transfer online during the project period eligible?

Eligible programs are ones that are currently offered partially or fully online and will remain online during the project implementation period (June 2021 to April 2023), with at least 50% of the program hybrid or fully online.

Are colleges who have moved their programs remote during the pandemic and plan on staying online considered eligible?

Yes. Programs that have been transitioned online due to the pandemic are eligible, though the program must be continued to be offered online during the implementation period (June 2021 to April 2023).

Is it acceptable to choose a program that is offered both face-to-face and online?

Yes. We ask that if possible, please focus on the online cohort in the response to the questions in the solicitation. The proposed college team members should also involve staff that work with students in the online version of the program.

Are you only interested in applications focused on addressing equity gaps for students who are Black, Latinx, and Indigenous?

No. Although the CTE CoLab Coalition is interested in efforts to expand equity for students who are Black, Latinx, and Indigenous because of significantly worse outcomes for these groups, we welcome applications from colleges based on the racial and ethnic equity gaps that are most pressing for that college and program. For example, a program could focus on improving outcomes for underrepresented students from a particular country of origin or meeting the needs of refugees in the community where the college is located.

Is this grant focused exclusively on post-secondary students, or are secondary school partners and high school students included?

This initiative is focused on post-secondary for-credit CTE programs and the students in those programs.

Technical Assistance and Financial Support

What financial and technical support will be offered to members of the cohort?

Participating colleges will receive $30,000 in grant funding over two years to support participation in community of practice activities. In addition, colleges will receive support in developing an equity action plan focused on improving CTE programs that are delivered online; peer learning opportunities to learn from and collaborate with other participating colleges; individualized coaching and technical assistance; equity and inclusion training and supports; and access to a toolbox of evidence-informed resources to support their work.

What are permitted uses of grant funding?

The grant funding is meant to offset the costs to college staff and faculty for participating in this engagement and the activities outlined in the RFP. Please see the budget narrative information in Section H of the RFP and the general terms and conditions in the appendices for more information.

Is the grant funding of $30,000 per year of the engagement or for the two years?

The funding is for two years total or $15,000 per year.

How long is the funding period?

The period of performance is June 2021 to April 2023.

Are student participants expected to complete a degree or certification by the end of the grant period?

No. Students should be working towards a degree or certificate but are not required to have completed one in that time period.

Application Requirements

Is a letter of commitment from the college president expected with submission of the RFP?

Yes. In your submission, please include a letter of commitment from your college president affirming commitment to the project and its continuity for the period of performance.

Will someone critique a draft of our RFP before we submit it?

No. We will not be able to review applications in advance of submission.

Who should fill out the RFP?

The RFP should be completed by college staff who will participate on the college team if selected for this engagement.

Can a college submit multiple applications?

No. Each college should only submit one application for one program.

Does Urban need to gain access to any student data from the college?

Colleges should be willing to share de-identified, individual-level data on their student characteristics, program experiences, and outcomes (see requested data elements in the RFP). We will follow our federally-registered Institutional Review Board guidelines to protect shared data and will adhere to any data sharing requirements or agreements that may be put in place. Data sharing agreements will be negotiated at the request of the college.

Is a college that has limited ability to collect post-secondary job placement data and only has access to limited self-reported employment data eligible to participate?

Yes. Colleges that have limited access to post-secondary job placement data are welcome to apply.

If a college does not have access to all data elements requested, can they still apply?

We will work with colleges on data requests that align with their capacity. If a college does not have the data requested in the solicitation, please leave it out of the application when submitting the online form. (You will get an error message but will be able to proceed to complete the remainder of the application.) You may email [email protected] if you would like to provide application reviewers with a description of the challenges you had with providing the information requested in the application process.

Can you clarify the postsecondary placement rate formula?

Numerator: # of [CTE concentrators/participants] enrolled in the focus program in the 2018-19 academic year who either a) remain enrolled in postsecondary education or b) left the program for any reason and are in advanced training, military service, a national service program, or have wages earned

Denominator: # of [CTE concentrators/participants] enrolled in the focus program in the 2018-19 academic year.

Can you clarify the earned recognized postsecondary credential formula?

Numerator: # of [CTE concentrators/participants] in the focus program who earned a recognized postsecondary credential and left secondary education in the 2019-20 academic year.

Denominator: # of [CTE concentrators/participants] who left secondary education in the 2019-20 academic year (for any reason – graduation or unenrolling for another reason).

Number of students enrolled in for-credit programs in the fall 2019 semester, what constitutes whether or not a student is “enrolled”?

Please report the number of students who are officially enrolled (not necessarily limited to those taking a class in that term).

Should we use 2019-20 data reported in 2020-21 or 2018-19 data that was reported in 2019-20? Should our data include the summer semester?

Data for the 2019-20 reporting year are for students enrolled in the 2018-19 academic year, including all semesters.

Are there selection criteria to identify which instructors should be on the core team of the project?

It is up to the colleges to decide which instructors should be on the core team, but we recommend that applicants may want to select an instructor who is considered a leader in the program. Instructors participating in this initiative should expect to join periodic meetings and participate in the technical assistance and coaching. See sections C and D of the RFP for more information on expected activities and time commitments.

Selection Criteria

How will the RFP be evaluated?

Awardees will be selected based on their commitment to improving equity in online CTE programs and the quality of their answers to the RFP questions. In addition, we seek to build a cohort whose members vary geographically and have student bodies of different sizes and characteristics.

Will the number of minority students served by the college affect whether the proposal is competitive?

No. We seek to build a cohort whose members vary geographically and have student bodies of different sizes and characteristics. Student characteristics are one dimension of the cohort among many others we will consider in the application review process. Awardees will be selected based on their commitment to improving equity in online CTE programs.


What is the deadline to submit the RFP?

The application is due via Qualtrics by 8:00 pm ET on April 2, 2021. We strongly suggest you complete and submit your proposal 2-3 hours prior to the deadline to avoid any last-minute issues. Staff may not be able to assist applicants with all system-related issues less than 24 hours before the deadline. We encourage you to submit your proposal in advance of the deadline to avoid any technical difficulties.

Will the CTE CoLab consider extending the deadline for submissions?

At this time, we are not able to accommodate any extensions to the deadline. Submissions are due on Friday, April 2, 2021 at 8:00pm ET.

How many colleges will be selected?

Up to 15 public community and technical colleges that meet application requirements will be selected for the cohort.

Application Submission

Qualtrics isn’t working. What do I do?

Please email [email protected] for any technical issues with Qualtrics.

Can I start the application and return to where I left off at a later time?

No, the application must be completed and submitted in one sitting. We recommend that you draft responses outside of Qualtrics and make sure they are saved, then cut and paste them into the Qualtrics form. The questions and character limits for each response are listed in the full RFP.

How do I submit the budget documents and letter of commitment?

The Qualtrics platform and RFP both link to a page where you can upload the budget documents and letter of commitment. It is also linked here for your convenience.

I still have more questions. Who do I contact?

Please email [email protected] with any additional questions not answered by this FAQ. An FAQs webinar will be held on March 18th from 1:00-2:00 pm ET. We will accept questions through Friday, March 26th and will post an updated list of frequently asked questions on this page following the webinar.

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