Requests for Qualifications

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Following are some general questions we have been asked about our Request for Qualification (RFQ) process, along with our answers. Please email Long Phan (long.phan@seattle.gov) if you have any further questions.

If you have questions about an active RFQ, please send them to the designated contact person for that RFQ. Answers to those questions will be posted to the main page for the RFQ to which they apply.

Our Frequently Asked Questions are divided into the following major subject areas:

1.     Eligibility / Applying for RFQ Approval
2.     Data / Tracking to Results
3.     Previous Experience
4.     College and Career Readiness RFQ
5.     Schools:  Eligibility, Funding, Contracts, etc.
6.     General / Miscellaneous

Frequently Asked Questions about RFQs
1. ELIGIBILITY / APPLYING for RFQ APPROVAL
Q1: Can weekend programs be approved for Levy funds?
Yes.
Q2: Can for-profit companies complete the RFQ process?
Yes.
Q3: Must an organization have experience serving SPS students in order to apply?
No. You can be approved based on previous work with students who have risk factors similar to those listed for Levy focus students.
Q4: Even though we have not yet opened our offices in Seattle and have not begun serving students in the district, may our organization apply in this cycle?
Yes. You can apply even though you have not started work in Seattle.
Q5: Are organizations that only provide summer programs eligible to participate in the RFQ process?
Yes. There is a separate Levy fund for summer programming that will be awarded through a Summer Learning RFI (see Funding Opportunities page). CBOs, schools, and other entities or partnerships may apply for funds directly through that RFI.
Q6: We found a "best practice" model we want to use with SPS students. Will we be approved through the RFQ process?
The Levy is not intended for capacity building, so you must have a proven track record of success to be approved through the RFQ process. If you have used a "best practice" model and implemented it successfully with Levy focus students or a group of similar students, you will likely have a very strong RFQ application.
Q7: Do previously approved organizations need to reapply in this RFQ process?
If you have been approved through a Levy RFQ process after November 2011 you do not need to submit another RFQ unless:
  1. You want to receive funding in another RFQ category (ex. You were previously approved to administer College and Career Readiness and Planning programming and want to be eligible to administer Expanded Learning Opportunities interventions); or
  2. We requested that you reapply because of significant changes to the programming you offer or ongoing failures to meet contractual performance targets.
Q8: If an organization fits under both the Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Family Support, and College and Career Readiness and Planning areas, do they submit two separate applications?
Yes.
Q9: Can applications be emailed?
You must submit electronic AND hard copies of RFQs. Look for details in the Response Submission section of each RFQ.
Q10: The RFQ states that "Vendors selling educational products (e.g. textbooks, curricula, intervention software applications) do NOT need to complete the RFQ process." How do suppliers of materials access Levy funds?
Schools awarded Levy funds may use those funds to purchase educational products to implement their RFI plans. These purchases must comply with Seattle Public Schools district procurement policies and will be reviewed by OFE staff as part of the annual budget review process
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2. DATA/TRACKING TO RESULTS
Q1: Should we include studies or evaluations of our program in our data sample?
We encourage you to include relevant excerpts from studies or evaluations that detail your success improving outcomes for students in Sections C and D of the RFQ, but please do not append lengthy program studies or evaluations. Your sample should demonstrate how you use data to guide your work and/or measure progress towards goals.
Q2: What if my organization does not track test results or other academic results?
You must track data related to academic behavior and/or test results at least once per week in order for your RFQ to be approved. This can include, but is not limited to measures of student attendance, behavior and discipline.
Q3: My program is new, so I do not have the data OFE is requesting. Will this disqualify us?
Not if you can demonstrate at least one semester of previous experience tracking data related to student academic behavior and/or test results at least once per week.
Q4: Our summer program only looks at data at the beginning and the end of summer. Would we be approved?
No. You must monitor student progress and use that information at least weekly to improve student outcomes. You do not need a sophisticated data management system and there are many ways to review data including:
  • monitoring students' summer school attendance
  • convening teachers to discuss academic and behavioral observations of students
  • using brief in-class reading assessment to determine students' reading levels
  • evaluating daily exit tickets
  • using other brief classroom assessments to determine if students have mastered standards
Q5: If we are working with young women of color, can we use state-wide graduation rates for young women of color as a comparison group in order to show success?
We strongly encourage you to use a more-closely-aligned comparison group. For example, if you are working with young women of color at Franklin High School, then compare the performance of your served population to the performance of all young women of color at Franklin High School.
Q6: How can organizations access school/SPS data?
Please consult SPS' instructions for CBO access to student data available on their Community Partnerships webpage. (http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?sessionid=46c727c44f0775198680fbd6b2963867&pageid=286364
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3. PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE
Q1: How much experience does an organization need in order to be approved?
One semester or more of data.
Q2: What kind of track record must an organization demonstrate to be approved?
Generally, you should have experience:
  • identifying focus students
  • recruiting them into your programs
  • assessing their student progress
  • achieving positive results similar to those outlined in the RFQs' Outcomes and Indicators sections.
For more details, please consult the RFQ Evaluation Criteria sheet included in the RFQ.
Q3: May we discuss our success in other districts or must we discuss only experience in SPS?
It is perfectly acceptable to discuss your work with at-risk students in other districts or states. Our concern is that your experience includes serving populations similar to our Levy focus students (see each RFQ for a definition of "focus" student).
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4. COLLEGE and CAREER READINESS RFQ
Q1: If we are providing college and career planning, must we demonstrate student improvement in math and reading?
No. You may provide evidence of improving the percentage of students taking rigorous courses, fulfilling required courses for graduation, improving on pre-college tests (e.g., ACT, SAT), as well as on-time graduation rates. However, if your efforts have produced improved math and reading scores, please include that information.
Q2: Does the Levy focus on the measure "percent of students earning a GED"?
No. Since Washington State does not recognize earning a GED as graduating from high school, we do not include GED attainment as an acceptable outcome. Most of our college and career readiness investments focus on first-time 9th graders promoting to 10th grade on time, or toward all grade levels with the expectation that ALL students graduate high school college-and-career-ready.
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5. SCHOOLS: ELIGIBILITY, FUNDING, CONTRACTS, ETC.
Q1: How do schools become eligible to submit RFIs? Does the list of eligible schools change every year?
Elementary schools must be either a Title I school and/or a Level 1 or 2 school on the absolute results measure of the SPS segmentation report (released every November). For middle and high schools, eligibility is based on a combination of the school segmentation report and SPS' risk factor reports. All middle schools are eligible for some level of Levy funding.
Q2: What is the difference between Innovation and Linkage schools?
See our Innovation & Linkage Schools page.
Q3: I work with a school that has many student needs. Why isn't it eligible to receive Levy funds?
Despite the increase in funding for this Levy, the needs still significantly outweigh available funding. Given finite resources, the eligibility requirements were created to try to meet the greatest needs city-wide.
Q4: What if a school receiving Levy funds shows success but no longer meets the original eligibility criteria?
We reserve the right to modify schools' awards based on changes in enrollment patterns, eligibility criteria, and/or overall school performance due to continued improvement meeting outcome and indicator targets (e.g., improvement of SPS Segmentation ranking).
Q5: How much money are schools eligible to receive in school year 2013-14?
Approximate amounts are as follows:
  • Elementary School - Innovation: $315,000 per school
  • Middle School - Innovation: $480,000 - $555,000 per school
  • Middle School - Linkage: $50,000 - $240,000 per school
  • High School - Innovation: $375,000 per school
Q6: How are schools spending their Levy dollars?
Schools primarily use Levy funds to hire additional teaching staff, pay for additional teacher time, purchase instructional materials and supplies, and contract with RFQ-approved organizations.
Q7: Do schools have to apply for funding every year?
  No. A school will generally continue to receive funding for the duration of the Levy as long as it continues to meet the outcome and indicator targets in its contract, which are revised annually. They do have to submit an updated implementation plan and sign a revised contract with OFE annually; however, this annual reauthorization process is not the same as the initial competitive process to receive Levy funding.
 Q8: Do schools receive specific Levy funding for each category of RFQ (College and Career Readiness; Expanded Learning Opportunities; and Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Family Support)?
  No. Schools submit one general budget and proposal that includes the key components of each of the categories. (College and Career Readiness applies to middle and high schools only.)
 Q9:   May schools restructure their Levy budgets during the year?  
  This is a qualified yes. Schools primarily determine their budgets for the upcoming school year in March-May. We work closely with schools to ensure their spending aligns with student needs and finalize the budgets and submit them to SPS in August before the start of school. Schools may amend their budgets during the school year; however, these modifications must be approved by our program manager.
Q10 When do schools receive their performance payments?    
Schools may receive performance pay in March, July, and/or October, depending on the measures they selected.
Q11: How discretionary is performance pay?
We base 25 percent of a school's annual Levy payment on performance. It is our intent that these dollars be reinvested in programming and materials to further support Levy focus students. We ask the schools to report these expenditures to us, though they do have discretion in terms of allocating these performance pay dollars.
Q12: Do schools need to submit a plan for how they will spend performance pay?
No. Performance pay dollars must be reinvested in school programming and expenditures must conform to Seattle Public Schools' and the City of Seattle's spending guidelines.
Q13: Do organizations approved through the RFQ process sign a contract with each individual school, or do they have one general contract with SPS for multiple schools?
For Levy Innovation or Linkage contracts, organizations sign individual personal service contracts with each school, then we combine them as addenda into one formal contract with SPS. This enables schools and organizations to have customized scopes of work, budgets, and performance measures but maintains a streamlined invoicing and payment process.
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6. GENERAL / MISCELLANEOUS
Q1: Is there a minimum length for program-school partnerships (e.g., two weeks, one semester, etc.)? 
No. The length of the partnership depends on the needs of the school. It may make sense for you to provide services to a school for only a few days, for a semester, or for the entire school year.
Q2: Can you give an example of a specific program evaluation tool that CBOs use?
Some local organizations have used the Youth Program Quality Assessment tool: http://cypq.org/products_and_services/training/YPQA.
Q3: Can I see RFQ applications from previous years?
Yes. Approved RFQ applications can be found on our Community Partners Community-Based Organizations page.
Q4: Do organizations need to specify which school they want to work with in the RFQ application?
No.
Q5: It seems like the Levy is interested in funding only academic programs, not enrichment programs such as music or dance. Is that correct?
No. The Levy focuses on academic results and tracks indicators such as academic targets and attendance, but it does not specify programs or approaches. Enrichment programs can qualify for funding if they address the stated goals of the Levy and link to at least one of the identified outcomes and indicators listed in all the RFQ and RFI documents. Attendance, behavior, discipline support, as well as transition support, are essential to supporting academic success and improving the outcomes and indicators outlined in the Levy.
Q6: If an organization is currently sub-contracting with other organizations approved through last year's RFQ process, can the sub-contracting organization apply independently—through an RFI—for funding? If approved, can the organization continue to sub-contract with other organizations or does it have to work directly with schools?
All entities (sub-contracted or otherwise) who wish to receive more than $5,000 a year in cumulative Levy funding must be approved through our RFQ process. An organization that sub-contracted (and received $5,000 or less of Levy funds) last year could: 1) continue to sub-contract if it does not receive more than $5,000 in Levy funds this year, or 2) apply independently for approval and, if approved, have no $5,000 limitation.
Q7: Does the Levy have a target number of students it is trying to serve?
The Levy is intended to improve academic outcomes for focus students generally but there is no specific number of students that must be served. The Levy Implementation Plan outlines overall goals and targets.
Q8: Do approved CBOs report their results back to OFE and, if so, when?
Since most Levy funding for CBOs goes through the schools, we report results by school and not by organization. Schools should be tracking the results of the organizations they are working with to ensure that outcomes and indicators will be met.
Q9:  How long do school RFI grants last?
Once a school is selected to receive Levy funds, it will generally continue to receive them for the duration of the Levy (through SY 2018-19), barring failure to meet performance measures or a significant change to the school's composition.
 Q10: Is there one area of academic achievement that is especially emphasized within the on-time promotion outcome?
No. We do not "prefer" one outcome or indicator over another. Schools may choose their outcomes and indicators from the list of available options.
 Q11: Native American students are spread throughout SPS without large concentrations in particular schools. Principals may not want to focus on this population because they only have 2 or 3 Native American students. How is the Levy addressing this problem?
We are aware of this challenge and have created a separate RFI specifically to fund Community-Based Family Support for Immigrant, Refugee, and Native American Students. Its funds will flow through schools, but be directed to CBOs in order to serve larger concentrations of immigrant, refugee, and Native American students.
 Q12: If our RFQ is approved in the fall, how soon may we contract with Levy-funded schools for contracts exceeding $5,000?
As soon as you are approved.
 Q13: How can an after-school drama program prove a direct relationship with your Outcomes and Indicators?
All organizations applying for approval to receive Levy funds from schools should demonstrate experience tracking the status of individual Levy focus students (or similar students) on at least one of the academic Outcomes or Indicators. "Academic behavior" data elements related to student attendance-behavior, discipline, and transition support-may also be acceptable, as they are essential to supporting academic success. For example, you might track student attendance in school on a weekly basis and determine whether attendance patterns improve over time as the student participates in your program.
Q14: If we are approved through the RFQ process, are we required to provide services to all students, or may we focus on particular subpopulations.
You may focus on a smaller group of students. Organizations should work closely with schools to identify target populations to receive services.
Q15: How do organizations approach schools to forge partnerships?
Several options are available:
  1. They can complete our one-page program overview forms and we will distribute them to schools and post them on our website.
  2. We may sponsor a "meet and greet" opportunity during the Request for Investment process.
  3. Organizations may contact schools directly.
  4. Organizations may connect with CBO coalitions (e.g., Southeast Seattle Education Coalition or Youth Development Executives of King County) to foster relationships with interested schools.
  5. Organizations may connect with our three consultants (one each for elementary, middle, and high schools) to better understand schools' needs and possible partnership opportunities.
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