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Innovative Employment and Training Opportunities for People with Disabilities (SGA/DAA 97-014)

Billing Code: 4510-30

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Employment and Training Administration

Job Training Partnership Act: Innovative Employment and Training Opportunities for People with Disabilities

AGENCY: Employment and Training Administration, Labor.

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

SUMMARY: All information required to submit a grant application by eligible applicants is contained in this announcement. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Employment and Training Administration (ETA), announces the availability of funds for locally administered demonstration projects with innovative employment and training opportunities for people with disabilities that suffered long-term unemployment or who have been dislocated from recent employment. The program will be jointly funded by Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) Title IV, Research and Demonstration and Title III, National Reserve funds. This notice describes the process that eligible entities must use to apply for demonstration funds, how grantees are to be selected, and the responsibilities of grantees. The Department anticipates awarding three (3) to five (5) grants, not to exceed $500,000 per grant, or a total of $1.5 million. Applications that exceed $500,000 will not be considered. Awards will be made on a competitive basis. The duration of grants will be for eighteen(18) months.

DATES: The closing date for receipt of proposals is May 12, 1997, at 2:00 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time).

ADDRESSES: Applications shall be mailed to: Division of Acquisition and Assistance, Attention: Reda Harrison, Reference: SGA/DAA 97-014, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Room S-4203, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20210.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Reda Harrison, Division of Acquisition and Assistance, Telephone: (202) 219-8694 (This is not a toll-free number). This solicitation will also be published 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 to conduct local demonstration projects utilizing advanced technological systems and/or other innovative approaches to provide employment opportunities for individuals with severe disabilities. This announcement consists of three parts. Part I describes the procedures for eligible applicants who wish to apply for grant funds. Part II provides the Government's Requirement/Statement of Work. Part III describes the selection process/criteria for award.

PART I. APPLICATION PROCESS

A. ELIGIBILITY

1. Eligible Applicants. Entities eligible to apply for grants under this announcement are nonprofit organizations who are currently administering local programs using advanced technological systems and/or other innovative approaches in providing services to the disabled; and can document the following:

(1) extensive knowledge and experience regarding issues of concern to individuals with disabilities;

(2) expertise in working with individuals with disabilities;

(3) the ability to conduct training, provide services, and conduct follow-up;

(4) inclusion and advancement of people with disabilities within the organization; and

(5) management structure necessary to ensure the integrity of funds requested (by meeting the standard for financial management and participant data systems as outline in 20 CFR 627.425.

Only one (1) proposal per applicant/organization is permitted.

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 on January l, l996, prohibits the award of federal funds to these entities if they engage in lobbying activities. Applicants shall indicate their IRS status on the Standard Form 424.

2. Eligible Participants. Participants in these projects must be individuals aged 18 to 64 who have a disability as defined in the implementing regulations for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at 29 CFR, Part 1630.2 and meet the eligibility criteria for dislocated workers at Section 301(a) of the JTPA.

B. PERIOD OF PERFORMANCE. The Period of Performance will be eighteen (18) months from date of execution.

C. OPTION TO EXTEND. Based on the availability of funds and project performance and the needs of the Department, grants may be extended for an additional one or two year(s) of operation.

D. PAGE LIMITATION. Applicants' technical proposal shall be limited to 25 double-spaced, single-side pages with 1-inch margins. Appendices shall not exceed ten (10) pages (except for 10 pages of assessment tools described in Part II.B(3)(c). Text type shall be at least 10 point or larger. Applications that do not meet these requirements will not be considered.

E. SUBMISSION OF PROPOSAL. A proposal shall consist of two (2) separate and distinct parts: Part I, the Financial Proposal and Part II, the Technical Proposal.

Part I, the Financial Proposal, shall contain the SF-424, "Application for Federal Assistance" (Appendix A) and "Budget Information Sheet" (Appendix B). Applicant shall indicate on the SF-424 the organization's IRS status. The Federal Domestic Assistance Catalog number is 17.246.

The budget shall include on separate pages detailed breakouts of each proposed budget line item, including detailed administrative costs, and analysis of cost. Grant funds cannot be used to provide training that would be provide in the absence of the requested grant. Grant funds cannot be used to provide salaries for program participants. Grant funds cannot be used for acquisition of production equipment.

Part II shall contain a Technical Proposal that demonstrates the grant applicant's capabilities in accordance with the Statement of Work in Part II of this solicitation. No costs data or reference to costs shall be included in the Technical Proposal.

F. HAND DELIVERED PROPOSALS. Proposals may be mailed or delivered by hand. A mailed proposal should be mailed no later than five (5) calendar days prior to the closing date for the receipt of applications. Hand-delivered grant applications must be received at the designated place by 2:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) by May 12, l997. All overnight mail shall be considered to be hand-delivered and must be received at the designated place by the specified time on the closing date. Grant applications transmitted by electronic mail, telegraph, or fax will not be considered.

G. LATE PROPOSALS. A proposal 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--

(1) 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 15th);

(2) Was sent by U.S. Postal Service Express Mail Next Day Service, Post Office to Addressee, not later than 5:00 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-mark" 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 n the original receipt from the U.S. Postal Service. Both postmarks must show a legible date, or the application shall be processed as though it had been mailed late. "Post=mark" 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 and affixed by an employee of the U.S. Postal Service on the date of mailing. Therefore, applicants should request the postal clerk to place a legible hand cancellation "bull's eye" postmark on both the receipt and the envelope or wrapper.

The only acceptable evidence to establish the date of mailing of a late application sent by U.S. Postal Service Express Mail Next-Day Service--Post Office to Addressee is the date entered by the post office receiving clerk on the Express Mail Next Day Service--Post Office to Addressee label and the postmarks on both the envelope or wrapper and the original receipt from the U.S. Postal Service. ("Postmark" has the same meaning given in the prior paragraph.) Therefore, a grant applicant should request the postal clerk to place a legible hand cancellation "bull's eye" postmark on both the receipt and the envelope or wrapper.

H. WITHDRAWAL OF PROPOSALS. A grant application may be withdrawn by written notice or telegram (including mailgram) received at any time before the awarding of a grant based on that application. An application may be withdrawn in person by the grant applicant, or by an authorized representative of the grant applicant if the representative's identity is made known and the representative signs a receipt for the proposal.

PART II. GOVERNMENT REQUIREMENT/STATEMENT OF WORK

A. PURPOSE. The purpose of this solicitation is to explore and demonstrate how advanced technological systems and/or other innovative approaches may provide employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

The proposal may demonstrate approaches for addressing the multi-disciplinary needs of individuals with severe disabilities, novel approaches to assure retention and career advancement of individuals with disabilities. The proposal may also demonstrate employment related abilities within the context of "disability," workplace technology development, rehabilitative engineering, or systemic employment redesign that enhances training, employment, retention and promotional opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

B. PROJECT SUMMARY. Each grant application shall follow the format outlined below:

1. Target Population. Project proposals must be directed to individuals with disabilities, including physical, emotional, mental or other severe functional impairments in accordance with the definition of disability under the ADA who also meet definition for dislocated under JTPA. Projects should also target subgroups of those with disabilities such as those suffering recent dislocation, requiring retraining, and recipients of Supplemental Security Insurance or Social Security Disability Insurance . A full description of how target population will be recruited, assurance of disability for those served, and design of the project relative to specific disabilities.

2. Available Jobs. Describe the jobs that will be available to project participants upon completion of training and placement services, probable salary levels, the potential for advancement, career path or field, and the information on which such descriptions are based. If specific jobs are not identifiable, provide the labor market information that ensures the availability of suitable jobs for participants, wage levels, career potential and opportunities for advancement. Include information about the number and type of jobs and the insufficiency of qualified workers to fill those positions in the absence of the proposed project. Identify sources of information.

3. Project Design. Project design should identify innovative approaches to enhancing the employability of people with disabilities, describe the specific purpose(s) of the proposed project, and how the project will address the needs of a specific disability. Of particular interest will be projects that explore advanced technologies in the employment of people with disabilities, methods for improving employability and retention of individuals, interventions relative to employment, workplace reengineering and technological redesign, and entrepreneurial approaches to employment of people with disabilities.

Describe the major project components listed below, where applicable:

(a) Outreach and recruitment. Describe how people with disabilities will be identified and recruited for participation in the project. Recruitment efforts may address public service communications and announcements, use of media, coordination with the JTPA Service Delivery Area, Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, Independent Living Centers, community based organizations and other service groups. Describe the applicant's experience in reaching the target population.

(b) Eligibility and selection criteria. Describe the criteria and process to be used in determining eligibility and selecting those individuals to be served by the project from among the total number of eligible persons recruited for the project. Explain how the selection criteria relate to the specific purpose of the proposed project.

(c) Services to be provided. Describe any services to be provided from the time of selection of participants through placement. Describe process for post-placement services and follow-up of participants for six months following job placement. The descriptions shall provide a clear understanding of the services and support that will be necessary for participants to be placed successfully in jobs and to retain those jobs, including services not funded under the grant, and ways to address participants' financial needs during periods of training. Identify necessary support areas and interagency coordination efforts that may be required in terms of transportation to work or housing, if applicable. Grant-funded activities may include any activities listed at Sections 314(c), (d) and (e) of JTPA and should, at a minimum, include assessment, retraining, job placement, and supportive services.

Identify any assessment tools proposed to be used before or after services are provided, and include samples of tools designed for use in the proposed project (samples shall be limited to 10 Pages in addition to the page limitation of the technical proposal and appendices). Assessment should be designed to facilitate evaluation of the project in terms of specific planned outcomes.

Describe how training will be customized to account for transferable skills, previous education, and particular circumstances of the target population. This description should include any participant groupings and training methods based on particular characteristics of the target group. Include information to demonstrate that any proposed training provider is qualified to deliver training that meets appropriate employment standards and any applicable certification or licensing requirement. Past performance, qualifications of instructors, accreditation of curricula, and similar matters should be addressed if appropriate. Address the costs of proposed training and other services relative to the costs of similar training and services through other providers.

Describe the limitations and eligibility criteria for needs-related payments and relocation assistance, if applicable.

(d) Relationship to prior experience. Demonstrate the applicant's prior experience in working with people with disabilities, and how that experience affects or influences the design of the proposed project. Provide details on experience in employment, training, vocational rehabilitation, job placement, and evaluation techniques. Demonstrate how people with disabilities have been integral to, or consulted with, in the project design, administration, and evaluation.

4. Planned Outcomes. Provide the following planned performance information for the project:

(a) planned number of participants;

(b) planned number of program completions;

(c) planned number of placements in unsubsidized employment (number of participants placed in jobs related to the training or services funded by the grant within 60 days after completion of pre- placement services);

(e) planned average wage at placement;

(f) planned number of individuals placed and average wage of individuals still employed at six month follow-up;

(g) planned participant services satisfaction rate

(number of participants who, 60 days and six months after completion of program services, rate program services as "very helpful" or "extremely helpful" when other allowable ratings are "not at all helpful" and "somewhat helpful," divided by the number of participants).

5. Evaluation. Describe how an evaluation will be conducted to determine successful and unsuccessful methods and strategies tested by the project. Describe the use of the planned outcome and program performance data to evaluate the impacts of the project. Address how this evaluation may be used for replication of successful outcomes. The project evaluation will be a final deliverable for the project.

6. Coordination. Describe the nature and extent of coordination between the applicant and other entities in the design and implementation of the proposed project. Include services to be provided through resources other than grant funds under this demonstration. Of particular interest to ETA is the coordination efforts in recruitment and placement to achieve a more holistic approach to the individual requirements of the participant with a disability. Coordination efforts may include strategies for addressing transportation needs, housing, job coaching, or natural supports that leverage services provided through Vocational Rehabilitation or other support systems. DOL encourages the establishment of advisory groups to provide guidance and to support coordination.

With reference to the sources and amounts of project funds and in-kind contributions identified in the financial proposal as being other than those requested under the grant applied for, describe the basis for valuation of those funds and contributions. Provide evidence that ensures the coordination described.

Documentation of consultation and commitment for the project concept from applicable labor organizations must be submitted when 20 percent or more of the targeted worker population is represented by one or more labor organizations, or where the training is for jobs where a labor organization represents a substantial number of workers engaged in similar work.

7. Innovation. Describe any innovation in the proposed project, including but not limited to innovations in concept to be tested, services, delivery of services, training methods, job development, or job retention strategies. Explain how the proposed project adopts or fosters a holistic approach to circumstances faced by the disabled. Explain how the proposed project is similar to the applicant's prior and current activities.

8. Project Management

(a) Structure. Describe the management structure for the project, including a staffing plan that describes each position and the percentage of its time to be assigned to this project. Provide an organizational chart showing the relationship among project management and operational components, including those at multiple sites of the project.

(b) Program Integrity. Describe the mechanisms to ensure financial accountability for grant funds and performance accountability relative to job placements. Explain the basis for the applicant's administrative authority over the management and operational components. Describe how information will be collected to:

(1) determine the achievement of project outcomes as indicated in section 4 of this part; and

(2) report on participants, outcomes, and expenditures.

(c) Monitoring.

(1) Establishment of project implementation and progress benchmarks. Describe how the project will keep records of its activities as required at 29 CFR Parts 95 and 20 CFR 631.63, as appropriate, including benchmarks to indicate the planned implementation of the project that will provide:

a. a quarterly implementation schedule of participant activity and quarterly cumulative expenditure projections; and

b. start-up implementation events for each month that are necessary to achieve a fully operational project status (assume accomplishments by the end of the month specified).

(2) Describe how a participant's continuing participation in the project will be monitored.

(3) Identify the information on project performance that will be collected on a short-term basis (weekly, monthly, etc.) by program managers for internal project management to determine whether the project is accomplishing its objectives as planned and whether project adjustments are necessary.

Describe the process and procedures to be used to obtain feedback from participants, employers, and any other appropriate parties on the responsiveness and effectiveness of the services provided throughout the project. The description shall identify the types of information to be obtained, the methods and frequency of data collection, and ways in which information will be used in implementing and managing the project. Grantees may employ focus groups and surveys, in addition to other methods, to collect feedback information. Technical assistance in the design and implementation of customer satisfaction data collection and analysis may be provided by DOL.

(d) Grievance procedures. Briefly describe the grievance procedures to be used consistent with the requirements of the JTPA Regulations at 20 CFR 631.64.

(e) Previous project management experience. Provide

an objective demonstration of the grant applicant's ability to manage the project based on the applicant's past experience in the management of grant-funded projects similar to that being proposed including financial management.

C. REPORTING REQUIREMENTS. Awardee will be required to submit quarterly and final financial and program reports. Detailed requirements for submitting these reports will be included in the grant award document.

Part III. Selection/Evaluation Criteria

Selection of grantees for award is to be made after careful evaluation of grant applications by a panel selected for that purpose by DOL. Panel results shall be advisory in nature and not binding on the Grant Officer. Panelists shall evaluate applications for acceptability based upon overall responsiveness to the Statement of Work, with emphasis on the factors enumerated below.

1. Target population (15 points). The description of the characteristics of the target group is clear and meaningful, and sufficiently detailed to determine the potential participants' service needs. Documentation is provided showing that a significant number of dislocated workers who possess these characteristics is available for participation in the project area. Sufficient information is provided to explain how the number of dislocated workers to be enrolled in the project was determined. The recruitment plan supports the number of planned enrollments. The target population is appropriate for the specific purpose of the proposed project. The target population's characteristics and circumstances are likely to appear nationally.

2. Service plan (20 points). The scope of services to be provided is consistent with the specific purpose of the proposed project. The scope of services to be provided is adequate to meet the needs of the target population given: (1) their characteristics and circumstances, (2) the jobs in which they are to be placed, and (3) the length of program participation planned prior to placement. The proposal demonstrates the applicant's ability to effectively assess participants' needs, using a holistic approach, and to effect the delivery of services to meet those needs.

3. Management plan (20 points). The applicant has successfully managed grants in the past. The applicant has experience working with individuals with disabilities. The project workplan demonstrates the applicant's ability to effectively track project progress with respect to planned performance and expenditures. Sufficient procedures are in place to use the information obtained by the project operator(s) to take corrective action if indicated. The proposal provides for a satisfactory grievance process.

Review by appropriate labor organizations, where applicable, is documented. The proposal includes a method of assessing customer satisfaction and taking into account the results of such assessment in the operation of the project.

4. Cost (10 points). Proposed costs are reasonable in relation to the characteristics and circumstances of the target group, the services to be provided, the management plan, and coordination with other entities. The impact of innovation on costs is explained clearly in the proposal and is reasonable.

5. Coordination (15 points). The proposal includes coordination with other programs and entities for project design or provision of services. Such coordination contributes to a holistic approach to identifying and addressing the needs of individuals in the target population. Evidence is presented that ensures cooperation of coordinating entities, as applicable, for the life of the proposed project. The project includes a reasonable method of assessing and reporting on the impact of such coordination, relative to the demonstration purpose and goals and the specific purpose of the proposed project.

6. Innovation (20 points). The proposal demonstrates innovation in the concept(s) to be tested, the project's design, and/or the services to be provided. The project includes a reasonable method of assessing and reporting on the impact of such innovation, relative to the demonstration purpose and goals and the specific purpose of the proposed project.

Applicants are advised that discussions may be necessary in order to clarify any inconsistencies in their applications. The final decision on awards will be based on what is most advantageous to the Federal Government as determined by the ETA Grant Officer. The Government may elect to award grant(s) without discussion with the applicant(s). Such award would be based on the applicant's proposal without alteration. The

applicant's signature on the SF-424 constitutes a binding offer.

Award Announcements: Winners under this competition will be be published on the Internet at "http://www.doleta.gov".

Signed at Washington, DC, this 4th day April, 1997.

Janice E. Perry, Grant Officer

Employment and Training Administration

Appendices

1. Appendix A--"Application for Federal Assistance" (Standard Form 424)

2. Appendix B--"Budget Information Sheet"