The overall score for this Request for Proposals is 64 percent, which makes this RFP a moderate to substantial risk for applicants.
This request for proposals (“RFP”) is for the operation of the Community-Based Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) for youth age 14-21 throughout New York City. The Community-Based SYEP serves three different youth populations: younger youth (age 14-15); older youth (age 16-21); and Ladders for Leaders (age 16-21). The goal of the Community-Based SYEP is to “provide youth with paid summer experiences that 1) introduce them to the world of work and expose participants to career pathways and opportunities; 2) help build essential work-readiness skills; and 3) orient participants to educational pathways that support career and life goals.”
The Community-Based SYEP is complimentary to the Special Initiatives SYEP and the School-Based SYEP RFPs. The New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (“DYCD”) is the contracting agency, and the anticipated contract start date for younger youth and older youth will be March 1, 2019 and for Ladders for Leaders will be November 1, 2019.
Note that HSC also rated the Special Initiatives SYEP and School-Based SYEP RFPs and the ratings are substantially similar to the Community-Based SYEP.
Community-Based SYEP funding is based on a price per participant allotment and on its face this RFP reflects an increase in funding relative to previous RFPs. However, it is still not feasible to deliver a high quality program with the rates provided. Given the increased requirements for this program, notably the critical changes for younger youth from a work-based to project-based experience, a funding increase is essential.
Inadequate Time to Respond
This RFP was released on November 2, questions about the RFP are due on December 3 and the submission deadline is December 10. If questions about the RFP are due on December 3 and there is no date from DYCD on how soon the answers to these questions will be released, it is not feasible for providers to incorporate this information into their proposals by December 10.
Similarly, since three SYEP RFPs were released, proposals are required for multiple sites, and with the Thanksgiving holiday, five weeks is not enough time to submit adequate proposals. Given the RFP requirements, this timeline was unrealistic and not conducive to high-quality proposals. Each site operates with different geographic, demographic, and infrastructure challenges and advantages. Thus, providers cannot simply copy and paste their responses into multiple applications. RFPs should allow at least six weeks for providers to respond. For more complex RFPs, such as this one, that period should be even longer. We encourage all City agencies to adopt more reasonable RFP timelines to allow for stronger applications and better programs.
The Community-Based SYEP requires the provider to “collect information on the hours completed in project/work sessions attended by each participant” with paper forms. Although there is a possibility that a provider may not have access to a computer, paper timesheets waste administrative resources and time that could be allocated to programs. It is necessary that there be one digitized system to capture timekeeping and payroll, which eliminates the paper process.
Project-Based v. Work-Based
The RFP states that younger youth (age 14-15) will participate in project-based learning experiences. The risk in this model is the inadequate funding to support the increased requirements. Younger youth are given a $700 stipend for participating in six weeks of project-based learning experiences, which is a small amount compared to minimum wage.
Additionally, the stipend system may deter younger youth from applying for the SYEP since many participants depend on this income to support their families. According to the Youth Employment Task Force, 77% of SYEP youth are eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and 69% of SYEP youth are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Similarly, providers may struggle in retaining younger youth participants for six weeks, especially if they find a summer job that pays minimum wage. DYCD would still require providers to fill the spot if younger youth drop out and the new participants would be weeks behind in the program. These new participants will not be able to receive the full $700 stipend since they have not completed the 6 week program.
Community-Based v. School-Based
The RFP states that there will be “…a gradual shifting of slots from the Community-Based model to the School-Based model, and therefore DYCD reserves the right to reduce the service levels of programs in Service Option 1 – Younger Youth and Service Option 2 – Older Youth. However, DYCD will ensure that programs maintain viable service levels.” There is no direction from DYCD as to how this will affect current Community-Based SYEP contractors in terms of funding and service levels. This is a significant risk because providers hire staff and lease space based on an expectation of participants, which DYCD may reduce at any time.
The HSC RFP Rater assesses the feasibility, opportunities, and risk in City and State human services procurements. Rater scores are based on the RFP and related documents available to the public via New York City’s HHS Accelerator or New York State’s Grants Gateway. The rater consists of 60 questions developed and tested by a team of procurement professionals. The questions are based on information that is necessary to help prospective proposers assess risk.
Each answer is weighted based on the degree of risk inherent in the subject of the question. Answers that imply low to moderate risk are allotted points on a lower scale range compared to higher risk questions. For compound questions, the answer to both parts must be “yes” or “not applicable” to be considered low risk. Scores are calculated by adding all the question scores together. The higher the score, the greater the risk. The scoring range is from 60 to 230, with zero percent risk equal to a score of 60 and the maximum risk score or 100% equal to 230 points. Users can view the answer to each question by clicking the down arrow next to each section to expand the section.
The HSC RFP Rater is not a substitute for the due diligence necessary to inform individual organization decisions.