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Engage New England: Doing High School Differently

Grants to USA Nonprofits and LEAs in New England
States for Innovative High School Programs

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Barr Foundation

Deadline Date:

02/01/19 4:00 PM EST


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Grants and technical support to Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont local education and nonprofit organizations for innovative public high school programs in the New England region. Strong proposals will demonstrate how the program will support students off track to graduate by providing intentionally flexible and responsive environments. Priority will be given to programs which are organized to leverage assets in the surrounding community, and networked to access critical resources for students.

Barr invites applications from entities interested in:
a) Opening new schools or programs.
b) Improving existing schools or programs.
c) Growing schools or programs.

Please note that based on the lessons learned from Cohort 1 and 2, priority will be given to applicants that are interested in designing a new school or program – either as an additional option for the community, or as a replacement for an existing option.

Barr Foundation’s goal is to support the development of exemplary schools and programs across the region that can powerfully demonstrate the impact of a student-centered, targeted, and supportive approaches that intentionally address both academic and developmental needs of students who are off track toward graduation. Aligned with a Positive Youth Development approach, this RFP is focused on schools and programs that are options of choice, allowing students to freely make informed decisions on whether the education option is the best fit for their interests, needs, and goals.

For the purposes of this RFP, in addition to “schools,” Barr uses the term “programs” to refer to entities that may be situated within a district, but that function like a school in all aspects – i.e., they have dedicated leadership, budget, and staff; they offer students integrated, full-time academic and social supports in holistic, integrated learning environments, which are tailored specifically to address students’ comprehensive needs toward achieving college and career success. Even if such entities are part of a larger system that designates them as a “program,” with a governance structure that is distinct from that of an individual school (with dedicated leadership, budget, and staff), Barr still encourages them to apply. Please note that this RFP is not intended to identify or fund stand-alone interventions or initiatives that target only a single, or small group of issues or elements of student life (e.g. attendance, socio-emotional learning, tutoring) – including those that take place within or in partnership with traditional high schools.

For the purposes of this RFP, students who are off track to graduate are defined as high school- aged/eligible students who are:
-Enrolled in high school but off track to graduation requirements (defined as 1.5 years or more behind expected progress towards graduation);
-Rising grade nine students who are entering high school 1.5 years or more behind expected progress; and/or
-Disconnected or not enrolled in high school and have not yet earned a high school diploma.

Successful applicants will propose a vision for a public school or program model that embrace a Positive Youth Development approach and intentionally and explicitly include the following essential elements:
-Teaching and learning systems that enable personalized learning
-Prioritization of student agency and engagement
-Strategic partnerships that increase student access to supports and expand opportunities for anytime-anywhere learning in ways that are aligned to student competency development
-Strong student linkages to post-secondary institutions and career opportunities

In addition, Barr has the following set of beliefs that reflect the values it is anticipated successful applicants to this RFP will share:
-All students off track to graduate can and must achieve at high levels in order to fully realize their individual potential.
-Students off track to graduate have the right to connect to secondary and post- secondary success.
-It is a collective responsibility to invest in the design and development of new learning models that are diploma- granting, flexible, and responsive to the needs of students.
-New models can be trajectory-changing for students off track to graduate and set them on a path to success by ensuring achievement of a high school diploma.
-New models are necessary in order to fully prepare students for the skills and connections necessary for the successful transition to meaningful post-secondary options.
-Students thrive in schools and programs that embrace a student-centered youth development approach to both design and implementation.

Funding to support the development of innovative schools and programs in support of students off track to graduate will roll-out in two phases. The first phase, which this RFP addresses, is the planning phase. Applicants are invited to submit proposals for up to $150,000 for one year of planning to support development of their school or program model. Barr has engaged Springpoint, a national nonprofit organization that supports the design, launch, and iteration of innovative public high school models, to be a partner in this initiative.

Applicants who are awarded planning grants will receive supports from Springpoint during the planning year and become part of a learning community. Supports include model design, strategic planning, capacity building, creation of mastery-based systems, and customized tool/resource development. Please refer to Springpoint’s scope and sequence for the design and planning year to better understand the model design process and the time commitment anticipated to participate in the support activities and in the broader learning community. Awardees will have opportunities and be expected to participate in initiative convenings, multi-day school learning tours, design coaching sessions, model audits, data analysis and sharing, and other customized technical assistance. Springpoint’s approach to innovative model design and implementation is both student-centered and grounded in youth development theory.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 182457

Number of Grants:

Barr Foundation anticipates supporting a cohort of up to eight grantees.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Applicants are invited to submit proposals for up to $150,000 for planning.

Barr will invite a select group of planning awardees to apply for an implementation grant of up to $750,000.

Term of Contract:

Applicants are invited to submit proposals for one year of planning. Subsequently, Barr will invite a select group of planning awardees to apply for a three-year implementation grant.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

This opportunity is open to entities proposing to serve students in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Vermont.

Eligible programs are entities within a district that offer students integrated, full-time academic and social supports in holistic, integrated learning environments, which are tailored specifically to address their comprehensive needs toward achieving college and career success. These programs should function in all aspects like schools, with dedicated leadership, budget, and staff.

This RFP is not intended to identify or fund discrete, stand-alone interventions or initiatives – including if such efforts take place within or in partnership with traditional high schools.

The following entities are eligible to apply:
-Local Education Agencies (LEAs), including districts and charter organizations
-Nonprofits, including community-based organizations (CBOs), in active partnership with a LEA or as an entity that can or will be able to support a school or program, as described above

Successful applicants will be focused on a school or program that:
-Leads to a public high school diploma,
-Is an option of choice for the participating students,
-Intentionally enrolls high school students off track to graduate, and
-Serves at least 100 students at scale.

Pre-proposal Conference:

Prospective applicants are encouraged to engage in the following established opportunities for proposal support:

The Foundation will host optional office hours for prospective applicants to discuss proposal content or eligibility.

Office Hours for Prospective Applicants: November 30, 2018, December 13, 2018, December 17, 2018, January 11, 2019, and January 14, 2019.

Please select your preferred date and time range for a 15-minute office hour call.
Friday, January 11, 10 am to 1 pm
Tuesday, January 15, 10 am - 12pm

Please sign up for office hours using this form.
Engage New England RFP Office Hours Sign-Up:

After you sign-up, a staff member from the Barr Foundation will contact you directly to confirm an appointment time and conference line number.

Webinar for Prospective Applicants: November 29, 2018
Tune in to learn more about the goals and plans for the initiative, hear from Engage New England grantees, and share your questions.
See the powerpoint of the webinar in Supporting Documents below, or view it on the RFP page in Pre-Application Information below.

Pre-Application Information:

Planning Phase Proposals Due By 4 p.m. EST on Friday, February 1, 2019
Applicants should submit as soon as they are ready.

Timeline for Cohort 3
November 8, 2018: RFP released
November 29, 2018 at 1:00 pm EST: Webinar for prospective applicants. Register here.
November 30, 2018 at noon: Office hours via conference call.
December 13 & 17, 2018: Office hours via conference call
January 11 & 14, 2019: Office hours via conference call
February 1, 2019: Planning phase proposals due. All completed proposals and attachments should be submitted.
March 29, 2019: Finalist interview day (by invitation)
July 2019: Planning phase awards announced
January 2020: Implementation award invitations released
July 2020: 3-year long implementation awards announced
Fall 2020: Launch of new, redesigned, or expanded models

RFP Page:

RFP Process:


Learn more about Springpoint on their website (

Proposal Development Resources:
Curated resources are available on a dedicated resources webpage:
These resources, including research on serving students off track to graduate, profiles of successful alternative models, school design materials, and guides to understanding youth development theory, can aid in the development of applicants’ proposal and vision.

Should you have any questions about the RFP, or are experiencing any technical difficulties with this form, please contact the Foundation by email or call Cindy Lung, program associate at Barr Foundation.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Completed proposals and attachments should be submitted here:

Cindy Lung,
Program Associate

Barr Foundation
Two Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA 02110
P: 617.854.3500 | F: 617.854.3501

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Connecticut;   Maine;   Massachusetts;   New Hampshire;   Rhode Island;   Vermont