YOUNG ADULT SERVICES RFP – AWARD ANNOUNCEMENTS

WorkForce Central extends our sincere appreciation to all the organizations that submitted proposals in response to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Young Adult Services Request for Proposals. We are currently assessing recommendations from our Evaluation Committee and anticipate an announcement of funding awards by Friday, April 23, 2021.

WorkForce Central is pleased to announce a Request for Proposals (RFP) for Young Adult services.

***We are no longer accepting submissions for this RFP.***

We are seeking entities to provide Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Young Adult Services in Pierce County. These services prepare young adults ages 16-24 for employment, including career pathway exploration, job coaching, training, work experience, and additional supports with the ultimate goal of ensuring young adults gain and retain paid employment at a living wage.

We welcome proposals from organizations of all types and sizes, with priority emphasis on partnership, use of innovative strategies and technology, and focused outreach and services to young adult populations that are furthest from opportunity and experience systemic barriers to employment.

KEY DATES
  • RFP Release: February 1, 2021
  • Bidders’ Conference: February 10, 2021, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm PST
  • Notification of Intent to Bid Due: February 19, 2021, 5:00 pm PST
  • Proposal Package Due: March 3, 2021, 5:00 pm PST
  • Award Announcement: On or near April 8, 2021
  • Subaward Period: July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022
                                              (Potential annual extension through June 30, 2025)

Questions & Answers

Please email your questions regarding this RFP to procurement@workforce-central.org and include the RFP number in the subject line. Questions and answers will be posted to this webpage as they become available. The deadline for written questions is February 18, 2021, 5:00 pm PST.

Questions Via Email

Please see Section III.F. in the RFP, specifically: “Bidders should expect to maintain a visible and reliable presence at the WorkSource Pierce One-Stop Center, located at 2121 South State Street, Tacoma, WA 98402. Rent and space use costs for co-location of staff will be negotiated during contract development. Subrecipient(s) selected from this RFP must have technological capacity for executing responsibilities and providing services virtually if WorkSource Pierce One-Stop Center closures are required due to the COVID-19 pandemic or other reasons. Services may also be provided virtually, at WorkSource Pierce’s partner affiliate sites and connection sites, and at any other location that meets young adults who are furthest from opportunity.”

You might also find Sections III.A. and III.B. helpful as you develop the program design for your proposal.

WorkForce Central has not established a file size limitation.  WorkForce Central will confirm receipt of all proposal packages via email.  Bidders who believe their proposal package file may be too large to be received are encouraged to submit their proposals early to ensure adequate time to resolve the issue.

The budget narrative is a part of the proposal narrative and will count toward the maximum page limit. The Budget Worksheet attachment will not count toward the maximum page limit.

Bidders may use a shorter version of proposal questions before their responses, as long as the core meaning of the question is discernible. Please use the same size font.

A smaller, legible font size may be used in tables, charts, graphs, and graphics.

If a single bidder is selected as the subrecipient provider of Young Adult Services, they will need to maintain services to young adults enrolled with our current subrecipient provider.  If more than one bidder is selected, determination of which subrecipient provider(s) serves currently enrolled young adults will occur during contract negotiations.

Subaward funding for Young Adult Services will be cost reimbursement, with payment based on monthly submitted invoices that include incurred expenses and performance outcomes.  In cost reimbursement contracts, the Subrecipient is entitled only to reimbursement for expenses incurred during the contract period for work accomplished.  WorkForce Central practice prohibits payment in advance or in anticipation of services or supplies to be provided.

We will not be posting a recording of the Bidders’ Conference, but all questions asked and the responses provided are posted on WorkForce Central’s website, at REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS: Young Adult Services – WorkForce Central (workforce-central.org).

The required Notification of Intent to Bid must be submitted as an email to procurement@workforce-central.org.  The email must include the organization’s name, contact person name, contact information, and statement of intention to submit a proposal.  Please include the RFP number in the email subject line.

We require our Young Adult Services providers to be at the One-Stop Center as the home base for services.  The idea behind the One-Stop Center prior to the pandemic, and still true now, is that it’s one door into different but collective workforce development services.  We must ensure a constant presence at the One-Stop Center because customers flow through there.

We recognize the One-Stop Center is not in every community that needs access to these services and we are open to creative strategies to engage young adults in additional, different locations or through other methods.  Providers are not required to have a specified number of staff at the One-Stop Center, but if you are proposing to be the entire provider of services we would expect you to have at least one full-time staff present.  The rate and extent of provider staffing at the One-Stop Center is negotiable and will depend on the service model and the number of FTE you propose.  For example, you may propose to dedicate eight staff to this work and your design strategy might be two staff at the One-Stop Center and everybody else out in the community.  Whatever your model, the One-Stop Center should be a home base for services.

Bidders’ Conference Questions

Yes, you can propose strategies for serving in school and out of school young adults in the same proposal.

There is a 25% / 75% split between in school youth (25%) and out of school youth (75%). In the past, we have used a 20% / 80% split to give ourselves a small buffer, so that can be negotiated a little based on conversations and need. We are limited at 25% maximum for in school youth, so our board has used the language up to 25%. This hopefully allows a little flexibility in proposals.

It’s really case by case; there are ways we can co-enroll.  It may depend on what kind of training and the length of the training, for example, or other discussion that’s needed to make the determination.

For those who may be unfamiliar, ETO is Efforts to Outcomes, the state data tracking system, and ISS is the Individual Service Strategy completed for each young adult served.  WorkForce Central will provide technical assistance, including training on ETO.  You’ll also have a contract orientation where we go through each expectation with you and answer questions.  We are committed to being in partnership with the selected bidder or bidders at every step moving forward.  We will design what this partnership looks like together.  Including these training components will be a priority for us.

We typically procure technology processes separately from service delivery and have put out RFP’s and RFQQ’s in the past around the technology component. Certainly, technology will be a part of this service delivery in a way that we hadn’t considered it in the past. We will determine the answer to this question and post it in the Questions and Answers section of the Young Adult Services RFP page on the WorkForce Central website.

Answer provided post-Bidders’ Conference: Bidders should not submit a proposal solely to provide technology services because this RFP is focused on the full array of services designed to help young adults reach their employment and education goals. WorkForce Central may offer a future bidding opportunity for technology services that enhance workforce development services provided by multiple Pierce County organizations.

Yes.  We may identify other organizations that can serve in school youth; that’s where the 25% maximum funding for in school youth comes in.

We are mandated to ensure information is entered in ETO, the Efforts to Outcomes state database.  ETO is essentially a case management database that tracks service delivery, such as engagement in training and job placements.  But there could be other requirements.  For example, we submit quarterly reports to the state for initiatives in which you could be involved in as part of the partnership.  Technical assistance provided by WorkForce Central continues throughout the  contract period, so if ETO should change or have updates, we would notify you and provide training as needed.  Providers can reach out to us at any time.  We also monitor ETO data entry by our providers, so if it isn’t correct or complete we’ll work together to resolve the issue.  Finally, we may occasionally ask you for information beyond ETO or for our quarterly reports, such as when the Pierce County Workforce Development Council or our Executive Board request it, but we will try to give you plenty of notice.

We own and recommend that WorkForce Central is in a continuous improvement process, including if there are ways that we can better support your data entry and tracking.  We want to be clear that the way we work together isn’t cemented in contract negotiations and then cemented forever.  We are open to continuously improve our partnerships as we move forward.

We don’t have a specific answer for this question because we are looking for your innovation around this process.  We don’t want to tell you, or even indicate, how you should write your proposals.  We want this to be your creativity; your ideas as subject matter experts.  There are likely training and orientation sessions you may decide to do in groups, but there may also be other ways that you think about group activities that we’re not thinking about.  That’s what we want to hear about.

If you have a different way of doing internships and WEXs, we would love to hear about it.  While we have federal and state compliance standards we must adhere to, we can reach out to these organizations and ask for flexibility to try something new.  So, please tell us in your proposal what you’re thinking about for new ways to facilitate paid work experiences.

Those of you who are familiar with the kind of the guardrails that exist in our work know there is some irony in using WIOA and innovation in the same sentence, yet we are looking for innovative ways to think differently.  We have on-the-job training, individual training accounts, and cohort training models.  We received CARES Act funding, which allowed some different modeling for job placements influenced more by employers’ and community need; we’re not even calling these placements WEXs.  There could be some tenets we take away from this, and the model is out there publicly.  We look forward to hearing your creativity and outside the box thinking.

This could be very different depending on which organization or organizations receive a subaward and how we negotiate that process.  The 20% minimum expenditure for paid work experiences is geared overall towards participant wages and staff time.  We will provide a detailed list of eligible expenditures for the 20% requirement in the Questions and Answers section of the Young Adult Services RFP page on the WorkForce Central website.

LIST OF ELIGIBLE EXPENDITURES FOR PAID WORK EXPERIENCES

As noted in 20 CFR 681.590(b), The percentage of funds spent on work experience is calculated based on the total local area youth funds expended for work experience rather than calculated separately for ISY and OSY.  Local area administrative costs are not subject to the 20% minimum work experience expenditure requirement.  Per TEGL 21-16, allowable work experience expenditures include the following:

  • Wages/stipends paid for participation in a work experience;
  • Staff time working to identify and develop a work experience opportunity, including staff time spent working with employers to identify and develop the work experience;
  • Staff time working with employers to ensure a successful work experience, including staff time spent managing the work experience;
  • Staff time spent evaluating the work experience;
  • Participant work experience orientation sessions;
  • Employer work experience orientation sessions;
  • Classroom training or the required academic education component directly related to the work experience;
  • Incentive payments directly tied to the completion of work experience; and
  • Employability skills/job readiness training to prepare youth for a work experience.

Providers are required to enter data at the individual level in the state’s Efforts to Outcomes system.  Additional, aggregate level data would be welcomed.  In addition, we will ask providers to collect data on service to individuals living in about six geographic areas of focus in Pierce County.  We have identified these as areas of focus because they are resource dry or because we have identified variables, such as lack of healthcare, that seem to be aggravated in these particular areas.  There could be more geographic areas of focus; we’re always assessing and trying to improve.

If you have innovative tools that you don’t see as part of our thought process in this RFP, please include these in your proposal response.  That innovation is part of what we’re looking for; your new ways of connecting, new ways of delivering virtual services, new tools, and how you integrate them into service delivery to young adults.  We have had past and current providers who use their own technology tools.  We’ve also had moments where we’ve recognized we need a technology  tool, and we’ve put out a request for quotes and qualification to identify options.  In these cases, all of our providers or partners would be able to use the technology tool that’s acquired.

We have used funds for stipends in the past.  These are a definite possibility, particularly if they serve the purpose you’ve described to maintain retention, making sure folks can complete services.  We prefer to know about the need for stipends ahead of time because it can take some extra work and time to secure approval for stipends for WIOA compliance reasons.

We want you to tell us how many young adults you have the capacity to serve and what that looks like for you.  While we want and need some volume in services, we are more concerned with quality.  We want to know about your target audiences; the subset of young adults with whom you have expertise, or if you will instead globally serve all high priority populations.  We hope to see innovation in how bidders propose to balance quantity and quality with their requested budget.  If you’re interested in how many young people we served in the last program year, that’s certainly a number we’d be willing to share.  But please know that number is not necessarily a measuring stick for what we’re looking at moving forward.

This answer is imprecise due to our recognition that service goals can seem to be prioritized around achieving the lowest cost per youth served possible.  We have seen that this can compromise quality.  We own our need to start thinking outside the box and pushing back on the idea that there’s a dollar amount associated with each individual.  We can’t change that language within the entire workforce development system, but it’s certainly something we can improve locally.  We were purposely vague in the RFP about service numbers because we don’t want bidders worried about backing up into a number that becomes a tick mark moment.  We want to stay focused on what your service delivery and innovation really look like.  One reason we have reserved the right to select more than one provider is to permit and foster creative approaches which we can hopefully support.

Something that could happen is that one or more bidders has a brilliant proposal and we all decide to move forward.  When we pitch the plan and the number of youth we will serve to the state, the state may respond that we will need to serve 40 more young adults than we have proposed.  We can push back and go to bat for the model we believe in.  If we must increase our numbers, we will come back to you and say, this is unfortunate, but how can we make adjustments and what could that look like?  Are there resources we could tap elsewhere?  We would work through that together.  There is some different thinking about this in workforce development right now, and we are eager to take advantage of this and excited to see what bidders propose.

We require our Young Adult Services providers to be at the One-Stop Center, as the home base of our work, but the rate and extent is negotiable.  We do recognize the One-Stop Center is not in every community that needs access to these services and we’re asking for different ways of engaging in those communities.  The idea behind the One-Stop Center prior to the pandemic, and still true now, is that it’s one door into different but collective workforce development services.  We also recognize there are other organizations in the community providing similar services; REACH is a great example.  Our current service provider has some space at REACH to make sure youth in that location can connect to our services and are connected with other young adult services.  While a home base at the One-Stop Center is critical to the partnership, we’re also open to some different ways of what place-based work looks like.

We can’t give you a specific answer as to what this looks like in your budget because it depends on your proposed FTE split and decisions around how your staff will participate in meetings.  There are leadership and subcommittee meeting opportunities that awardees would likely participate in because they provide good, mutually beneficial information, often based on shared processing and planning.  For example, we might be discussing our intake process for the 2-1-1 Common Referral System.  We have a continuous improvement team at the One-Stop Center who meets monthly for about an hour and a half to ensure our shared processes are flowing properly.  The team is made up of partners from multiple organizations who are housed there.  We also have a One-Stop Center leadership team comprised of supervisors from each provider organization that meets every month for an hour.  Our Pierce County Community Engagement Task Force meets every month for two hours.  So, the total meeting time could be 8-10 hours a month depending on how many of your staff attend the meetings.  There are certainly some meeting spaces that we hope our providers’ staff will be in; others that you and your team will decide if you’ll participate in.

We expect that the selected provider or providers will manage the process from A to Z.  There will likely be co-enrollment opportunities when it’s in the best interest of the customer as a resource opportunity.  We have tested and tried different models over the past many years, and we’ve learned from them and iterated on them.  If there is something that you have partnered with us on in the past on that maybe didn’t work as well, or there are opportunities for us all to be thinking differently about, we’re certainly open.  We want to see your thinking on what your capacity would look like to manage those different components of the process.

Yes, this is not prohibited.  We want organizations to be thoughtful about where they’re going to meet their customers, if there are other spaces where they feel like that can happen more robustly.  We just need to have the WorkSource Pierce One-Stop Center be one of those spaces where there is staff.  In our previous contracts, we’ve had co-locations in other areas because we recognize the flow of customers that could benefit from the resources means it makes sense to be there on a regular basis.  If you are asking if your broader organization were to be co-located in a different way or certified as a WorkSource Pierce affiliate site, could young adult services be provided there, the answer is yes.  Let’s figure out what that looks like.

We are requiring that provider staff be at the WorkSource Pierce One-Stop Center at 2121 S. State Street, Suite #300, in Tacoma (not at our office location on Cedar Street).  However, we are not prohibiting you from thinking about additional places you want to provide services.  You are not required to have a specified number of staff at the One-Stop Center.  For example, let’s say you have eight staff that will be dedicated to this work.  Your design strategy might be that only two staff will be at the One-Stop Center and everybody else will be out in the community.

If you are proposing to be the entire provider of services, the answer is yes, we would expect you to have at least one full-time person at the One-Stop Center.  We must ensure a constant presence at the One-Stop Center because customers flow through there, but please propose what this looks like for you.  For example, we may receive a proposal for $50,000 to provide a very niche service that won’t require even one FTE, or some other design we haven’t thought of.  Your model may for some innovative reason have 20 quarter time staff, and there may be a compelling case for that.  It will really depend on your model, and also the number of FTE you’re proposing.  Whatever your model, the One-Stop Center should be a home base for services.

Additional Info Provided (not in response to a question)

The cost of space at the One-Stop Center is something that will need to fit in your budget, and we will finalize that amount during contract negotiations. We asked our accounting department to provide a high level estimate of what the space cost currently looks like for our Young Adult Services provider; it is approximately $65,000 for six seats in that space. While that may seem high, it includes a One-Stop Center Operator position who manages the Center, building security, technology, printers, use of the Resource Room and classrooms, etc. We have a formula for allocating cost for space used, and your cost will vary depending on your proposed staffing design and approach.

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