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RFP: Program Impact & Evaluation Services, Career Pathways

Request for Proposals (RFP): Program Impact & Evaluation Services
Program: Career Pathways

Introduction

This request for proposals (RFP) is for evaluation and impact services in support of Parks California’s Career Pathways Grant Program.

Parks California launched in 2019 as the official statutory non-profit partner to California State Parks. We work statewide to help make State Parks and public lands more welcoming, inclusive, and climate-resilient spaces where all people throughout California truly feel at home.

Project Background

In partnership with California State Parks, Parks California launched the Career Pathways Grant Program as a pilot in 2021 to expand natural resource career pathways to California State Parks jobs for underrepresented communities. This program supports workforce development partnerships between State Parks and local organizations that meaningfully address key access barriers and prepare participants for park careers. The program aims to not only prepare the next generation workforce with necessary skills but also expand awareness about the diversity of careers in parks and public lands, connect participants to mentors and professional networks, and help participants navigate state hiring processes. Additional information about the program can be found at parkscalifornia.org/pathways.

The Career Pathways program is now expanding beyond its initial pilot phase, made possible through a public private partnership, supported by private fundraising by Parks California, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation’s Waterway Connections Initiative. The Career Pathways program focus is now broadening beyond natural resource careers, and will support career development programs focused on Facilities and Maintenance, Interpretation and Education, Natural Resource and Cultural Resource job skills.

The goals for the Career Pathways Grant Program are to:

  • Broaden and expand career pathways to jobs in California State Parks and public lands
  • Address key access barriers faced by underrepresented communities
  • Add on-the-ground capacity to California State Park high priority projects
  • Build and strengthen partnerships between communities, organizations, and California State Parks

The Career Pathways Grant Program is expected to provide approximately $5M in awards through two open cycles, anticipated for 2024 and 2026. The program includes two funding tracks, including a Planning and Development grant track (9-month duration) and an Implementation grant track (2-year duration). There will be two invite-only cycles in 2025 and 2027 for Planning and Development projects to apply for Implementation funding.

Parks California is requesting proposals from evaluation vendors to provide program evaluation services for the expanded Career Pathways Grant Program. The 2024 Grant Cycle opened in December 2024 and final selections and awards will be made in May 2024.

Existing Evaluation Tools:

We have developed initial evaluation tools from the pilot program, including a final reporting template as well as an optional participant survey form to measure changes in interest and confidence in pursuing natural resource careers. We also have summary reports for the pilot phase of the project for 2021 and 2022.

Request for Proposals

The selected contractor, in partnership with Parks California, will refine an existing evaluation approach and refine/develop instruments that will be used to collect and analyze data across multiple grant cycles. We estimate that we will have 15-25 total grantees distributed across the state of California in the program between 2024 -2027.

The goals for this grant program are to:

  1. Broaden and expand career pathways to jobs in California State Parks and public lands
  2. Address key access barriers faced by underrepresented communities
  3. Add on-the-ground capacity to California State Park high priority projects
  4. Build and strengthen partnerships between communities, organizations, and California State Parks

The intended outcomes from the grant program are to build:

  1. Increased awareness, interest, and sense of belonging in parks and public lands jobs among program participants from underrepresented communities
  2. Increased understanding of how to apply for park jobs among program participants
  3. Increased skills, knowledge, and confidence to support eligibility for park careers among program participants
  4. Increased professional connections between park employees and program participants
  5. Increased number of workforce partnerships between California State Parks and Priority Communities

We are looking for a contractor to capture the impact of career pathway partnerships in parks by supporting the following:

  • Review and refine data instruments to collect information from grantees. The instruments should be designed to minimize the data collection burden on grantees while ensuring accurate data capture to evaluate program goals and outcomes.
  • Data should capture changes related to the intended outcomes listed above. These can be collected through:
    • Surveys done both on paper and electronically, on an iPad or similar.
    • Focus groups conducted by the contractor.
    • Other innovative tools.
  • Develop grantee report templates for a mid-cycle report and review and refine end of grant cycle report template.
  • Review existing 2024 cycle grant application to inform application revisions for the 2026 cycle.
  • Synthesize and summarize data and results and provide overall report for the Planning and Development track (2024-2025) and a mid-cycle (2025) and overall report (2027) for the Implementation track. Identify trends and recommendations based on data.
  • Preference will be given to a California-based evaluator.

Deliverables

  • Data instruments for grantees (i.e., survey templates, applications, grant reports, etc.)– draft, finalize, adapt as needed.
  • Data collection, synthesizing, analyzing and reporting including:
    • Final Report for Planning and Development Track (2025)
    • Mid-cycle (2025) and Final Report (2027) for Implementation Track

Timeline

This project will begin no later than March 2024 and be completed by December 2027.

Budget: For the contract, Parks California anticipates allocating a budget of approximately $30,000 to $50,000.

Evaluation Services RFP Schedule

Week of January 8, 2024Parks California publishes RFP
January 19, 2024Vendors confirm intent to bid
January 22, 2024Application questions due from Vendors by 3pm
January 26, 2024Parks California responds to Vendors
February 7, 2024Proposal from Vendors due
Week of February 12, 2024Selection of finalist(s)
Week of February 19, 2024Finalist(s) presentation + Reference Checks
By March 4, 2024Signed contract
Week of March 11, 2024Go Live! On-boarding and project kickoff

Vendors should send confirmation to bid and any questions to grants@parkscalifornia.org. Submit proposals through our Application Portal.

Submittal Requirements

Interested evaluation vendors must submit a proposal that includes the following information. Note: There is no page limit but the review panel will expect the Project Understanding section to be less than 5 pages. 

  1. Project Understanding and Scope of Work: Describe the team’s understanding of the project and provide scope of work including detailed breakdown of tasks.
  2. Fee: Including detailed breakdown of tasks, including any tasks identified as optional or on an as-needed basis.
  3. Qualifications and Experience: Describe the qualification of the individual(s) that will be assigned to this project. Indicate if you have any diversity expertise in understanding the barriers faced by the target populations. Describe your experience in evaluating workforce/career development grant programs/grants/projects. Include when, who, where, and organization.
  4. Organizational Capacity: Describe your capacity to provide these services including years in operation, main office location, and two references who can verify your experience. Indicate if and where you are registered and licensed to conduct business in the state of California or in other states.

PARKS CALIFORNIA INDIRECT COST POLICY

Parks California recognizes that every project has a unique purpose and structure and that costs vary depending on many factors. As a result, we intend for organizations to take the lead in determining how best to allocate dollars to direct and indirect costs for grants and contracts. We do not define what should be considered a direct or indirect cost. By taking this approach, we hope proposals reflect your actual direct and indirect costs. Below, we provide guidance for specific type of organizations:

Colleges, Universities, Local Governments, and other Public Entities and Government Agencies:

  • For maximum efficiency of limited resources, it is Parks California’s policy to fund indirect or overhead costs up to 15% of the approved project amount. If an indirect costs estimate exceeds 15% in ways that can be reasonably and transparently attributed to costs fairly associated with the program or project in question, please provide a detailed explanation in the proposal. project amount.

Nonprofit organizations:

  • Parks California does not employ a fixed minimum or maximum rate for indirect costs. We encourage you to submit an indirect cost request that is a fair and reasonable estimate of indirect costs related to the total project funds requested. Project budgets are evaluated within the totality of the application.