Update: School-Based CareerReady SYEP RFP Reissue
HSC and its members appreciate DYCD’s continued commitment to youth workforce programs and expanding SYEP. HSC released a rating outlining major risk areas for this RFP that we hoped would be addressed in the reissue. Unfortunately, as stated at the pre-proposal conference by DYCD, there has not been any changes to the RFP in comparison to the one released in the summer. Therefore, there are still lingering risks that providers should consider before proposing for these solicitations:
- General Timeline: Proposals are due on November 21, 2019 and contracts are to begin on March 11, 2020. However, there is a concern as to when successful bidders will be notified of the awards, especially because they need time to launch the programs and work with the schools.
- Burdensome Paperwork: Since these RFPs have not been improved from the last iteration of RFPs, providers still struggle with the huge amount of paperwork that they must collect and prepare for enrollment. Also, there is no electronic record or timekeeping system to streamline data and paperwork, which create additional administrative burdens on the provider as they work with several different schools with different modes of operations.
- Project-based v. Work-based: Although providers have found that younger youth project-based programs led to many benefits including improved communication, demeanor, and public speaking skills, there is still the issue of younger youth being paid a stipend that is less than the minimum wage. This is especially important because of the additional costs that younger youth incur such as transportation and food, which may hinder them from participating or completing the program.
- Transparency: We are grateful for DYCD in expanding SYEP to other schools; however, there needs to be greater transparency as to how schools were chosen to participate. Many schools that are not a part of SYEP are interested in participating and providers have partnerships with these schools; yet, these other schools were never engaged with directly about providing SYEP. The schools stated that there is a need for work readiness programs, but providers do not have a platform to be able to share how DYCD determines which schools are to be selected. It would be helpful if DYCD bridged the gap in understanding for providers and schools in determining how schools are chosen for SYEP.
The overall score for this Request for Proposals is 60% percent, which makes this RFP a moderate to substantial risk for applicants.
This request for proposals (“RFP”) is for the operation of the School-Based Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) for youth aged 14-21 throughout New York City. The School-Based SYEP serves three different youth populations: younger youth (age 14-15); CareerCLUE (age 14-15); and older youth (age 16-21). The goal of the School-Based SYEP is for New York City public high schools and SYEP contractor to work collaboratively in helping “…youth build foundational employability skills, such as 1) applied knowledge, 2) interpersonal skills, and 3) work place skills.”
The School-Based SYEP is complimentary to the Community-Based SYEP and the Special Initiatives SYEP RFPs. The New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (“DYCD”) is the contracting agency, and the anticipated contract start date is March 1, 2019.
Note that HSC also rated the Special Initiatives SYEP and Community-Based SYEP RFPs and the ratings are substantially similar to the School-Based SYEP.
School-Based SYEP funding is based on a price per participant allotment; however, it is not feasible to deliver a high quality program with the rates provided. Given the increased requirements for this program, notably securing space and staff to support the project-based experience, a funding increase is essential.
The School-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 six week program.
School-Based v. Community-Based
The RFP states that there will be “…gradual shifting of slots from the Community-Based model to the School-Based model, and therefore DYCD reserves the right to increase slots on the School-Based SYEP portfolio of programs.” There is no direction from DYCD as to how this will affect current School-Based SYEP contractors in terms of ramping up 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 increase at any time.
Moreover, although the partnership between schools and providers allow youth to be engaged academically and explore careers, there is a limited list of participating schools. If the goal of SYEP is to expand the School-Based SYEP, providers that have connections to any New York City public high school should be able to apply for this RFP to reach more participants. Also, more than one provider should be able to work with a school. For instance, two different providers can work with the younger youth and the older youth populations depending on their capacity and expertise with these different groups.
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.