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JOB TRAINING PARTNERSHIP ACT: Microenterprise Grants Program

Billing Code: 4510-30

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Employment and Training Administration

JOB TRAINING PARTNERSHIP ACT: Microenterprise Grants Program

AGENCY: Employment and Training Administration, Labor

ACTION: Notice of Availability of Funds and Solicitation for Grant Application (SGA).

SUMMARY: ALL THE INFORMATION NEEDED TO SUBMIT A PROPOSAL BY ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS IS INCLUDED IN THIS ANNOUNCEMENT. The U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (DOL/ETA), announces the availability of funds to implement and enhance community based microenterprise activities. Microenterprise activities are authorized under Title IV, Part I of the Job Training Partnership Act. This program will be funded by the Job Training Partnership Act. Section 324 of the Job Training Partnership Act authorizes the use of funds reserved under Title III, Part B, for demonstration programs of up to three years in length, including programs dealing with self-employment opportunity. The grants will provide training, technical assistance and support to microenterprise owners or potential owners. It is anticipated that approximately $1.4 Million will be disbursed. Up to six (6) awards will be made in the range of $225,000 to $300,000 per grant. Applications that exceed $300,000 will not be considered. Awards will be made on a competitive basis. The duration of the Grants will be for fifteen (l5) months with a one (l) year option. A l00 percent match is required for this program. In addition, no funds under this program shall be used for investment in revolving loan activities. This notice includes the detailed Government requirement and the process that eligible applicants must use to apply for these funds.

DATES: The closing date for receipt of applications shall be

May 12,1997, at 2:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) at the address below.

ADDRESSES: Applications shall be mailed to the Division of Acquisition and Assistance, Attention: Denise Roach, Reference:

SGA/DAA 97-012, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Room S-4203, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 202l0.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Denise Roach at (202) 2l9-8694. (This is not a toll free number). This solicitation will also be announced on the Internet at "http//www.doleta.gov".

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration is soliciting proposals on a competitive basis for the conduct of projects to implement and enhance community based microenterprise activities. The intent of these grants will be to develop the capacity to provide effective business-related training to persons developing a microenterprise, and provide technical assistance and support to owners or potential owners of a microenterprise. This announcement consists of three parts. Part I discusses the procedures for eligible applicants who wish to apply for these funds. Part II provides the detailed Government's Requirement/Statement of Work/Reporting Requirements. Part III describes the selection process/criteria for award.

PART I. APPLICATION PROCESS

A. ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS. Awards under this Solicitation will be made to States. For the purpose of this Solicitation, the term "State" includes, in addition to those entities contained in the definition in Section 4(22) of JTPA:

--grantees designated under subsection (c) or (d) of subsection 40l to provide services to Indian Reservations or Alaska Native Villages, or a consortium of such grantees and the State; and

--grantees designated under section 402 (c) to provide services to migrant seasonal farmworkers, or a consortium of such grantees and the State.

An application shall be submitted by the Governor or, in the instance of a grantee designated under section 40l and 402, by the grantee. In the instance of a consortium between the State and section 401 and 402 grantees, the application shall be accompanied by a letter from the Governor ratifying such an arrangement and specifying the agency primarily responsible for the conduct of the project.

When the Governor submits an application on behalf of the State, he or she shall designate the agency that shall be responsible for conducting the project. No more than two applications may be submitted per eligible applicant. A state may specify a political subdivision (county, city, town, township, parish village, etc.) or economic division such as a Service Delivery Area, an Enterprise Community or an Empowerment Zone as the focus of training activity in its proposal.

States currently administering a grant under the previous competition held under this authority will be eligible to apply for an award under this Solicitation; provided, a completely new approach to microenterprise activities is taken from that being conducted under their current grant. Proposals submitted by those current grantees will be subject to pre-screening to assure that they propose an approach that is clearly innovative and different from the activity that was implemented under the previous award. Current grantees shall include as apart of their application, a one (1) page description of how proposed project differs from current project.

Entities described in Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code who engage in lobbying activities are not eligible to receive funds under this SGA. The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, Public Law No. 104-65, 109 Stat. 691, which became effective January l, l996, prohibits the award of federal funds to these entities if they engage in lobbying activities. Applicants shall include their IRS Status on Standard Form 424.

B. SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS. An original and three (3) copies of the proposal shall be submitted. The proposal shall consist of two (2) separate and distinct parts.

Part I shall contain the Standard Form (SF) 424,"Application for Federal Assistance" (Appendix No. l) and "Budget Information Sheet" (Appendix No. 2). Also, the budget shall include on a separate Page(s) a detailed enumeration of how the matching requirement will be fulfilled. The individual signing the SF 424 on behalf of the State shall represent the responsible financial and administrative entity for the grant should that application result in an award.

Part II shall contain a technical proposal that demonstrates the offeror's capabilities in accordance with the Statement of Work contain in this announcement. The technical proposal should be limited to 25 pages in length of single spaced text. Appendices shall not exceed ten (10) pages. Current grantees shall include as a part of their technical proposal, a One (1) Page description of the current and proposed projects and how the proposed activities and/or approach differs from those currently being provided. No cost data or reference to price shall be included in the technical proposal. In order to assist offerors in the preparation of their proposals and to facilitate the expeditious evaluation by the review panel, proposals should be organized and presented in the same sequential order as the Rating Criteria in Part III of this announcement.

C. HAND DELIVERED PROPOSALS. Proposals must be mailed at least five (5) days prior to the closing date. However, if proposals are hand delivered, they must be received at the designated place by 2:00 p.m., Eastern Time by May 12, 1997. All overnight mail will be considered to be hand delivered and must be received at the designated place by the specified closing date. Telegraphed and/or faxed proposals will not be honored. Failure to adhere to the above instructions will be a basis for a determination of nonresponsiveness.

D. LATE PROPOSALS. Proposals received at the Office designated in the Solicitation after the exact time specified for receipt will not be considered unless it is received before award is made and it--

(l) Was sent by registered or certified mail not later than the fifth calendar day before the date specified for receipt of applications (e.g. an offer submitted in response to a solicitation requiring receipt of applications by the 20th of the month must be mailed by the l5th);

(2) Was sent by U.S. Postal Service Express Mail Next Day Service, Post Office to addressee, not later than 5 p.m. at the place of mailing two working days prior to the date specified for receipt of proposals. The term "working days" excludes weekends and U.S. Federal holidays.

The term "post marked" means a printed, stamped, or otherwise placed impression (exclusive of a postage meter machine impression) that is readily identifiable without further action as having been supplied or affixed on the date of mailing by employees of the U.S. Postal Service.

E. WITHDRAWAL OF PROPOSALS. Proposals may be withdrawn by written notice or telegram (including mailgram) received at any time before award. Proposals may be withdrawn in person by an applicant or an authorized representative thereof, if the representative's identity is made known and the representative signs a receipt for the proposal before award.

F. PERIOD OF PERFORMANCE. The Period of Performance will be fifteen (15) months from the date of execution.

G. OPTION TO EXTEND. Based on the availability of funds, effective program operation and the needs of the Department, the grant(s) may be extended for one (l) additional year.

H. DEFINITIONS.

(1) Microenterprise means a commercial enterprise with five (5) or fewer employees, one (l) or more of whom owns the enterprise; and each of the owners of the enterprise is economically disadvantaged, as defined in Section 4(8) of JTPA.

(2) States for the purposes of this solicitation also includes those grantees described under Part I.A. "Eligible Applicant."

(3) For the purpose of this solicitation, eligible participants shall be economically disadvantaged persons who are dislocated workers as defined by Section 301 (a) of JTPA. This can include long-term unemployed who "have limited opportunities for employment or reemployment in the same or similar occupations" and the self-employed who are "unemployed as a result of general economic conditions in the community in which they reside or because of national disasters". Applicants may refer to the JTPA regulation at 20 CFR 631.3(e) for further guidance on self-employed in the process of going out of business. The applicant shall describe the process by which it will identify individuals eligible for assistance under this program.

I. MATCHING REQUIREMENT. No State shall receive an award under this solicitation unless the State agrees to provide non-Federal contributions in an amount equal to l00 percent of Federal funds provided to carry out the microenterprise program.

PART II - GOVERNMENT'S REQUIREMENT/STATEMENT OF WORK/REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

Section 499 of JTPA requires that the Secretary of Labor make grants to States to implement and enhance community-based microenterprise activities for the benefit of economically disadvantaged persons.

A. ETA intends to allocate approximately $l.4 million of JTPA Title III funds to States to implement and enhance community-based microenterprise activities. These funds shall be used to:

(1) train program staff in such entrepreneurial activities as business plan development, business management, resource inventory design, and marketing approaches, and other activities necessary to provide effective training to persons developing a microenterprise;

(2) provide to owners or potential owners of a microenterprise such technical assistance (including technical assistance with respect to business planning, securing funding, marketing, and production of marketing materials) and other assistance as may be necessary to develop microenterprise activities; and

(3) provide other microenterprise support (such as peer support program and counseling).

In accordance with the restriction at Section 141(q), these funds shall not be used to invest in revolving loan funds; capitalization of business; investment in contract bidding resource centers and similar activities; or for foreign travel.

B. While it is not the intent of this Solicitation to prescribe particular proportions or emphasis that a proposal should contain between the three activities listed immediately above, several guiding principles should be noted:

(1) The primary goal of this initiative is to implement and enhance community-based microenterprise activities, i.e., assist disadvantaged people who are dislocated workers--as defined by Section 301(a) of JTPA and described in Section H of this solicitation--in establishing and maintaining commercial enterprises employing five or fewer people.

(2) The staff development provided should create new capacity in the States to focus on the entrepreneurial training needs of disadvantaged people. The Department is aware that most States already possess some organizational capacity to assist generally in the formation and development of small business activity, most notably through the Small Business Development Centers described in the next segment. Proposals should not attempt simply to add to that existing capacity. It must be clearly demonstrated in the proposal how such staff training is necessary and how it will assist in achieving the primary goal stated in the preceding paragraph.

(3) The proposal should present a clear discussion of what activities related to microenterprise and economic development are already functioning within the State and how this new initiative will link those activities and add a new dimension to them. Examples of such activities include:

(a) Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities as authorized by Title XIII of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of l993. Their mission is to provide favorable Federal income tax treatment and other incentives to encourage the conduct of trades or businesses and general economic development within designated areas.

(b). Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) as authorized by the Small Business Act of l953 as amended. Their stated mission is to provide management assistance to prospective and small business owners through one-on- one counseling and specialized training efforts.

(c). Economic Development Districts (EDD) as authorized by the Public Works and Economic Development Act of l965, as amended. EDDs serve as the structural entities for formulating and implementing economic development plans and activities within boundaries.

These examples represent some of the types of existing activities and resources that should be considered in developing a proposal under this solicitation. Applicants are strongly encouraged to be exhaustive in examining available related resources and ongoing activities in order to maximize the potential impact of a microenterprise. The proposal should also indicate what linkages there will be to the JTPA system.

The resources that the State will provide to meet the l00 percent matching requirement should be discussed in some detail providing a clear understanding of what is to be provided and what the relevance/linkage of these resources is to the activities proposed and to successfully meeting the primary goal of the project.

C. Examples of key services and techniques that might be included in a proposal are:

(l) Recruitment and screening. This is an important element both in identifying program staff to be trained as trainers and in identifying and selecting individuals who show potential for owning an microenterprise.

(2) Case management. This would involve assigning an individual who provides guidance in all aspects of program participation and other services to microenterprise owners.

(3) Follow-up. Enrollment in and successful completion of a microenterprise training program may well be only the initial challenges facing the entrepreneur. A structured follow-up program involving such counseling and supportive services as deemed appropriate is a critical aspect of the program.

(4) Mentoring. This could involve assigning a volunteer businessperson from the community to serve in a one-on-one relationship with the new entrepreneur. Such volunteer service may not be considered for meeting the l00 percent matching requirement.

D. REPORTING REQUIREMENTS. The Grantee is required to provide reports and documents listed below:

(l) Quarterly Financial Reports. The grantee shall submit to the Grant Officer's Technical Representative (GOT) within 30 days following the end of each quarter, three (3) copies of a quarterly Financial Status Report (SF 269) until such time as all funds have been expended or the period of availability has expired.

(2) Quarterly Progress Reports. The grantee shall submit to the GOT within 30 days following the end of each quarter, three (3) copies of a quarterly progress report which provides a detailed account of services provided during each quarter of grant performance. Reports shall include the following in brief narrative form:

(a) A description of overall progress of work activities accomplished during the reported period.

(b) An indication of current problems, if any, which may delay performance and any proposed corrective action.

(c) Program status and financial data/information relative to expenditure rate versus budget, anticipated staff changes, etc.

(3) Annual/Final Report. Each State that is a grant recipient shall, for each program year for which funds are received, submit a report that includes at a minimum a description of:

(a) The programs that have been established and developed with such funds, including a description of the persons participating and the microenterprise developed;

(b) The quantitative and qualitative benefits of such programs;

(c) The contributions of such programs to economic self-sufficiency and economic development;

(d) The types of services provided and an assessment of how well they worked in assisting participants to establish their own microenterprises;

(e) The characteristics of the individual participants served;

(f) Measures of pre- and post-program income (e.g., wage rates, business income, total income, etc.); and,

(g) The key lessons learned, including significant impediments, barriers or other problems experienced, and the measures used to address and/or overcome them.

These reports shall be due in draft no later than 45 days prior to the conclusion of the grant period for which it is being submitted.

Three (3) copies of the final report shall be due no later than the conclusion of the grant period.

PART III. RATING CRITERIA FOR AWARD/SELECTION PROCESS

Prospective offerors are advised that the selection of grantees for award is to be made after careful evaluation of proposals by a panel of specialists within DOL. The panelists will evaluate the proposals for acceptability, with emphasis on factors enumerated below. The panel results are advisory in nature and not binding on the Grant Officer.

A. Evidence of ability to conduct and monitor the microenterprise activities: (45 points)

(l) The application must describe in specific terms the service delivery strategy that the applicant would utilize to implement its ideas. (30 points)

(2) The application should also contain a clear statement of the need for such a project, including the degree to which the service delivery strategy will assist in meeting that need. (l5 points)

This overall discussion will be the measure for determining the ability to conduct and monitor such activities.

B. Evidence of State commitment as shown through existing or proposed related programs and support: (25 points)

This section should include a detailed discussion of the coordination and linkages between programs and community organizations, as well as a discussion of the organizational capacity that the State intends to devote to this project. The emphasis under this criterion will be on programmatic resources which might enhance the training aspects of a project.

As noted earlier, it is recognized that most States have some form of economic development capacity already in place. The applicant must clearly state, particularly when discussing staff training for implementation of proposed microenterprise activities, how this activity will create a new capacity for the State to conduct such training. The proposal must provide assurances that resources under this grant will not be used to substitute for an ongoing State commitment to maintain an economic development capacity.

C. Evidence of Linkage(s) to private, community-based credit and technical assistance providers: (l5 points)

Discussion of what financial resources are available to provide new entrepreneurs with start-up capital, such as a consortium of banks that has pledged to assist in this process. The primary emphasis under this criterion will be on linkages to financial resources.

D. Cost, to include a statement about the size and nature of the non-Federal match: (l5 points)

The cost effectiveness of the project as indicated by cost per participant and cost per activity in relation to services provided and outcomes anticipated. This section MUST contain a detailed discussion of the size, nature, and quality of the non-Federal match. Proposals not presenting a detailed discussion of the non-Federal match or not meeting the requirement of a l00 percent match will be considered nonresponsive.

Offerors are advised that discussions may be necessary in order to clarify any inconsistencies in their applications. The reviewers evaluations are only advisory to the Grant Officer. The final decisions for grant award will be made by the ETA Grant Officer, after considering the panelists scoring decisions. The Grant Officer's decisions will be based on what he or she determines is most advantageous to the Federal Government in terms of technical quality and other factors.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF AWARDS: winners of this competition will be announced via the Internet at http://www/doleta.gov/.

Signed at Washington, D. C., this 4th day of April, 1997.

__________________________________________

JANICE E. PERRY, Grant Officer

Employment and Training Administration

Appendices

A. SF 424, Application for Federal

Assistance

B. Budget Information Sheet