The overall score for this Request for Proposals is 48 percent, which makes this RFP a moderate risk for applicants.
This request for proposals (“RFP”) is for the implementation of education and workforce development services through the NYC Unity Works Program. Unity Works is designed to support 90 runaway and homeless youth and youth at risk for homeless who are “16 to 24 years of age, LGBTQI+, and not working or underemployed, not in school, or in need of literacy skills or additional employment to secure entry-level employment on a career pathway.” Contractors will provide two years of direct services and one year of post-exit follow-up services.
The goals of this program are to provide participants with “literacy instruction, foundational occupational credentials, workforce development opportunities, referrals to needed services outside the contractor’s domain, supports that help them secure a job with career possibilities, placement in postsecondary education or advanced training (in the short term), and paths to economic self-sufficiency and a successful career (in the long term).”
The New York City Department of Youth & Community Development (“DYCD”) is the contracting agency, and the anticipated contract start date is July 1, 2020. DYCD has worked in collaboration with the NYC Unity Project and the NYC Center for Youth Employment to develop this program.
We appreciate the need to test new programs before scaling them and believe DYCD has taken many steps to improve the funding and approach of this new program, especially with the ample funding of approximately $30,000 per participant to achieve the goals of this RFP. By providing significant funding to begin this program, DYCD has decreased the risk of this RFP.
Inadequate Time to Respond
The RFP was released on January 24th with a proposal submission deadline of February 28th. Given the requirement of the contractor establishing one community partnership for nine services, it would be difficult for smaller organizations that do not provide most of these services to be able to achieve this within the five-week timeline. Strategic and successful partnerships with reputable community groups takes time to establish, especially considering the population that is being served through this RFP. We encourage DYCD to adopt a more reasonable RFP timelines to allow for stronger applications and better programs.
Although this model has adequate funding, this is an ambitious program with only one contract, which reduces the competition in the procurement process as only a few organizations would have the capacity to fulfill the program requirements. Also, only 45 youth per cohort are served through this program, so it would be challenging to determine the success or failure of Unity Works as outcomes can swing wildly depending on the progress of a few participants.
Unclear Enrollment Expectations
The RFP states that “The program would only be able to replace a participant who drops out in exceptional circumstances, where convincing justification is presented and DYCD gives approval.” Although it is commendable that DYCD expects contractors to focus on retaining and re–engaging participants throughout the program, it is unclear what the standards are and at what point are contractors done re–engaging participants. Considering the program population of LGBTQI+ runaway, homeless youth, and youth at risk for homeless, it would be difficult for providers to focus on re–engagement if participants withdraw, move away or refuse contact. The providers would have to leave the seat open while bearing in mind the operating costs and other potential participants.
Although contractors can enroll youth with disabilities through this RFP, there is no further information about what this means and how providers can support this population, especially considering the additional funding and resources that are needed to assist youth with disabilities.
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 0 percent risk equal to a score of 60 and the maximum risk score or 100 percent 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.