RFI Parameters and Guidance
Is the proposal due on January 14, 2019 at noon or midnight?
The proposal and all materials are due to firstname.lastname@example.org by NOON Eastern Standard Time on January 14, 2019.
For demographic info, should we include full- and part-time staff and students?
When possible, please include both full- and part-time staff and students.
Are efforts in Prior Learning Assessment acceptable for the RFI?
Yes, and strategies that validate learning from other sources without requiring the learner to demonstrate knowledge and abilities that have already been validated elsewhere are most interesting to Lumina. As such, portfolio development programs or testing regimes are less attractive than efforts to describe learning as competencies and apply those competencies toward a quality credential.
Is employer-sponsored learning and training eligible for inclusion for this RFI?
Yes. Employers spend $177 billion annually on formal education and training. This learning has value everywhere yet is often unconnected to further education. Providers’ efforts to apply learning earned in employer programs toward a high-quality credential are of specific interest.
Do workshops count as postsecondary education when they are not part of certificates or academic programs?
That depends on what is meant by “workshops.” This initiative is designed to innovate and scale the recognition of college-level learning toward credentials. If a workshop is substantive and enables a learner to gain postsecondary-level competencies, which can be assessed and validated, then yes, workshops may count. However, efforts that are not aligned with college-level learning outcomes and competencies, or able to be recognized toward credentials would not count.
What is the age range of adults for the purposes of this RFI?
While our age range for adult learners is 25-64, the spirit of this RFI is to account for the many different types of post-high school learning that adults bring with them to educational experiences. We hope respondents will submit ideas for recognition of learning that account for learning on the job, in community contexts, and from military service—all of which can be part of a younger learner’s experience but also accumulate to significant levels as learners get older.
Should proposals consider sustainability of the efforts after the grant expires?
Yes. Proposed work should build capacity to permanently improve how providers leverage all their learners’ competencies to improve progress toward credential attainment. Provider-wide and system-level policy and practice change are excellent avenues for sustaining this work.
Can you give suggestions or parameters about community partners?
We encourage you to think about community partners that have significant reach and impact across the
city or region you’re working in, as well as those with expertise in working with adult learners—especially those that identify as African-American, Latino, and American Indian.
Can an organization compete for an implementation grant without responding to the RFI?
No. Responding to the RFI is required for consideration of subsequent funding.
The RFI indicates we should “limit responses to four pages.” Is that four pages per question or four pages total?
Your response to all six questions in the RFI should total four pages or less.
What aspects of integration do you most want to see in RFI responses?
We want to use this RFI opportunity to not only gather insights from the field but connect learning providers with new partners and initiatives that can accelerate their own progress in serving learners. The examples we have noted—work with incarcerated populations, awarding credit for previously noncredit work, instituting competency-based education, and reforming business models to better meet adult learner needs—represent efforts underway that we think are especially aligned with the intent of the initiative. If you do not have interest in or capacity to begin work in one of these areas, there is no penalty for leaving that item blank.
Does this project have a state, region, or city-level focus?
No. This project is open to providers of all types, including colleges and universities, employers, workforce training providers, state systems, and consortia. The focus of the work may be within a single organization, or across a state system.
In order to respond to the RFI, must I be enacting new learning recognition strategies or can they be in the planning stage?
Our primary interest is in work already underway, ready for scaling and expansion. We hope to learn about initiatives you have begun and partnerships you have established that can reach more learners more efficiently with Lumina support.
Is there a limitation on the number of submissions from a single organization? For example, can a university system submit from several campuses?
We will accept responses from multiple entities within a system. While we do anticipate that campuses across systems may have multiple excellent approaches to making all learning count, RFI responses demonstrating coordination across providers and their systems will be better positioned to reach scale and be better candidates for funding as a result. Groups, partnerships, and consortia of postsecondary learning providers are strongly encouraged to respond to this RFI in cooperation across their memberships.
Respondents should avoid multiple submissions if entities are implicated more than once. For example, if a state higher education system office responds to the RFI on behalf of all its institutions and one of those institutions submits independently, the lack of coordination would not reflect favorably on either.
How are industry-recognized certifications included in attainment rates?
Industry-recognized certifications are currently not included in postsecondary attainment rates because they may not reach Lumina’s quality threshold. In our definition, high-quality credentials must have transparent learning outcomes, and must lead to further education and employment. However, we do know that many industry-recognized certifications include college-level learning. Connecting certifications to further credentials would be an appropriate approach within this initiative.
Do you have a preference for scale of these efforts?
This effort is intended to reach and connect many providers. We will weigh the quality and impact of the work proposed along with the number of learners whose experiences will be improved because of the work. As such, proposed work should focus on reaching as many as possible, and on working as deeply and widely across the provider (or group of providers) as possible. Proposals for pilot projects or those that work with very limited numbers of students are unlikely to be competitive.
Are diverse providers more competitive?
This effort is intended to reach many providers and students. Because Lumina has also prioritized improving attainment for African-American, Latino, and American Indian learners, providers with very few students of color may not be as competitive as those with larger and more diverse student populations. We do hope that all the work proposed will have as great a reach as possible across the entire learner community.
What will the review process look like? Will you use internal and/or external reviewers?
Lumina Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors will review all proposals, along with a review
team comprising internal and external expert reviewers. The team will use a scoring rubric developed in partnership with experts on the recognition of learning.
Planning Awards and Implementation Grants
What are the timelines for the planning awards and implementation grants?
We intend to announce planning awards on or about February 25, 2019, for distribution in early March. The planning period will end around June 21, when proposals for implementation grants are due. Implementation grants will be announced on or about July 30.
Are there restrictions on how to spend planning or implementation funds?
Funds may not be used to support any lobbying or political activity, and may not be used to support
scholarships. We will limit the indirect charge associated with this grant to up to 10 percent of the total.
Beyond that, the funds may be used to support a wide variety of expenses, including programmatic costs, sub-grants/contracts, personnel and materials.
Outcomes and Evaluation
How does the foundation conceptualize "attainment?" If this is a two-year grant, what outcomes are reasonable to expect in that time?
All of Lumina’s work focuses on improving postsecondary attainment, which is the proportion of residents holding a high-quality postsecondary credential relative to the whole adult population. Attainment is a result of two measures: enrollment in a postsecondary program and completion of a credential. We do not expect grantees to see significant increases in attainment due to the efforts of the grant in just two years. However, we do hope to see significant improvements in leading indicators, such as student retention, credit accumulation, and credits awarded via recognition of non-institutional learning.
Do you have an evaluation program in place for this work?
Lumina may support an evaluation effort for this work, but will make that decision once grantees are
selected and work is determined. More broadly, Lumina and RPA will work with grantees to highlight their learning and work in multiple venues, including convenings and media. We believe it is very important to share lessons and outcomes of this work with as many providers as possible.