Frequently Asked Questions
FL&S Pilot and Renewal RFPs for 2009-2010
Question: What is the deadline for applications for Florida Learn & Serve funding? Where do I send my application?
Answer: Applications are due by May 15, 2009 and must be sent to:
Office of Grants Management
Florida Department of Education
325 W. Gaines Street, Room 325
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0400
Question: Can funds support more than one kind/set of service-learning activities at a single school?
Answer: Yes, but the school should submit a single, consolidated proposal as opposed to two separate proposals. Only one award will be issued per school, and it cannot exceed the amounts listed in the RFP.
Question: What percentage of proposals are usually funded?
Answer: In 2008-09, over 85% of both Pilot and Renewal proposals received at least partial funding. The percent for 2009-10 will depend on the number and quality of the proposals, but it is a strong chance that at least 50% of proposals will get some funding.
Question: My school received funding last year, which makes us a renewal project. However, this year, we are applying to continue the same project but will add new activities, headed by a different teacher. Are we still considered a renewal applicant?
Answer: Yes. All projects funded in 2008-09 must apply as renewals.
Question: If we don’t currently have a Florida Learn & Serve award, but our school did 2, 3, or more years ago, can it be eligible to apply for the larger Renewal Project award?
Answer: Yes. Please note, however, that renewal proposals must detail activities and impacts of previous Florida Learn & Serve projects.
Question: My school had a grant several years ago, and we are applying as a renewal project. How much match must we provide?
Answer: Since you are considered a renewal, the match % depends on whether you are applying for a second award (if so 50%) or for a 3rd, 4th, 5th award (then 100%). If your project was from several years ago and you choose to apply as a new applicant, then the match requirement is only 33%.
Question: When will we be notified if we will receive a grant?
Answer: Once proposals are received by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) Grants Managemenmt Office, they are logged in, sent to the Florida Learn & Serve office, sent out for review, returned, discussed by staff, revised and prepared for processing, and then sent to the FDOE for (1) pre-approval and (2) final approval. It will likely be late July before recommended projects are pre-approved. At that point, we will send notices to all applicants stating whether or not they were recommended for funding. Recommended projects will receive their awards after federal funds are received at the FDOE and after pre-approval--likely in late August or in September.
Question: Does the limit on attachments include all the required Florida Department of Education forms?
Answer: No, those forms are not counted in the page limitations for either the narrative or the attachments.
Question: Is there an earlier deadline to submit proposals to my district?
Answer: Many districts require that applicants send draft and/or finished proposals and budgets to the district in advance of the May 15 state deadline. Check with your grants office at your earliest convenience to find out.
Question: If a school has teachers doing more than one project, can we combine them?
Answer: As noted in the RFP, a school award can support more than one activity/initiative, but the total cannot exceed the $7,500 limit for Pilot Projects and $10,000 for Renewal Projects.
Question: When does the grant need to be finished?
Answer: July 31, 2010.
Question: Who will mail the grant?
Answer: Check with your district grants office (if you have one), as in many districts all the school proposals are bundled together to send to Tallahassee.
Question: Where can I get examples of ways to link service-learning activities with the Florida Sunshine State Standards?
Answer: There is a trove of information and examples on linking service learning and Florida's education standards on the project web site at www.fsu.edu/~flserve - you may want to look over our compendium of projects with specific links to the Florida Sunshine State Standards - http://www.fsu.edu/~flserve/sl/standards.html.
Question: If I was involved with a Florida Learn & Serve project in the past, but am now at another school, can I apply for a Renewal Project award?
Answer: Yes. Please note, however, that you will need to detail past activities and impacts of previous Florida Learn & Serve activities. It may make more sense to apply for a Pilot project.
Question: Will the recommended proposals from a district be bundled into a single award to the district?
Answer: No. Each recommended proposal will receive its own separate award with a unique award number. The award will be issued through the school district, however; schools do not receive funds directly from the Florida Department of Education.
Question: I am a teacher at a school. If my project is funded, how do I get the money?
Answer: The above answer applies. Awards for recommended projects will be issued by electronic wire transfer to the school district finance office, with a copy of the approved proposal and budget and the name of the school to receive the funds.
Question: Is a superintendent signature required for every proposal?
Answer: Yes—the signature of the superintendent or a designee on the original copy. If signed by a designee, there must be an accompanying letter from the superintendent stating the designee has authority to sign on the superintendent's behalf.
Question: What if my district cannot get school board approval by the deadline? Can I still apply?
Answer: It depends on the policy of your specific district. In some districts, the superintendent will not sign proposals until school board approval is given. In others, the superintendent will sign proposals if the proposals are on the school board agenda. In others, the superintendent will sign proposals in advance of the proposal being on the school board agenda. Check your district office to determine its policy.
Question: Can an applicant request more than the maximum?
Answer: This approach is not recommended, although the RFP does not specifically disallow it. No matter how much is requested, awards will not exceed the maximum allowed.
Question: Should we ask for the maximum?
Answer: Do so only if you (1) truly need that amount to meet your project goals, and (2) you provide good detail, justification, and explanation of budget requests. A program goal is to fund as many worthy proposals as possible, so reviewers and staff look for smaller projects to fund. Smaller requests often face better prospects.
Question: The Performance Accountability questions and tables look like a lot of work, and also like a repetition of what is requested in the narrative under Evaluation. What is the difference between them, and what should I do/write?
Answer: The Performance Accountability section is supposed to help state-level policymakers and funders see impacts of state-funded projects. You need to fill out the sections required for your RFP. They are different for the Pilot Projects (Student Performance measures only) and Renewal Projects (Student Performance; Training, Technical Assistance, and Dissemination; and Service Delivery). However, they are asking for the exact same information requested in the main narrative. Simply paste the same text from the narrative into the Performance Accountability tables.
Question: I am very familiar (or experienced) with service learning, but just have not had a Florida Learn & Serve grant before. Can I apply for the Renewal Project award?
Answer: No. Renewals are for just for sites or staff with prior Florida Learn & Serve awards of experience.
Question: Is bus driver salary/benefits counted as salary in the 50% salary/benefits
Answer: No. It is considered a transportation expense.
Question: RFP language suggests that after-school activities cannot be funded, but that is the best time for us to do activities. How are we supposed to schedule activities?
Answer: Activities can occur whenever program staff thinks it is best for them to occur, including after school or on weekends. The RFP states, however, that students serving must be doing so as part of a class—e.g., not merely as an extracurricular activity—regardless of when they occur. All projects must tie activities to curricula.
Question: Are applicants required to submit a notice of intent to apply?
Question: Is the May 15 proposal due date a postmark deadline?
Answer: No. Proposals must be received by the close of business on May 15, 2009. The deadline refers to receipt at the Florida Department of Education and is not a postmark deadline.
Question: Can my budget include costs associated with attending the required grantee meeting?
Answer: Yes. All grantees should include up to $750 for expenses to attend a required sub-grantee meeting to be held November 2009 in Orlando. Expenses include such items as per diem, hotel, tolls, mileage, substitutes, etc.
Question: My students have disabilities and need specialized equipment to complete the project. Are equipment requests justified in this case?
Answer: Maybe. Each proposal is judged individually. The guidelines in the RFP for purchasing equipment or other expensive items must be followed regardless of the situation. Such items must be shown to be 1) critical to meeting project goals and objectives--i.e., the project cannot succeed without it, 2) unavailable from other sources--there is no other way to pay for, obtain or use the item, and 3) permanently dedicated for service-learning use/application.
Question: We used to be able to use grant funds for t-shirts and hats that students wore while they did their service-learning activities. Why can’t we do that anymore?
Answer: The interpretation of state law forbids such purchases, even though they may be very helpful for identification purposes or recognizing student accomplishments.
Question: We used to be able to use grant funds to purchase recognition items like ribbons and certificates for students. Why can’t we do that anymore?
Answer: We have been informed that this is not allowed under state rules and statute, even though recognition is an important element in service-learning projects.
Question: Can Florida Learn & Serve funds be used to support after-school programs, either those that are part of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers or other after-school activity?
Answer: It depends. Florida Learn & Serve funds can support service-learning activities that occur at whatever time(s) are most convenient for them to occur. However, those students’ activities must be tied to curricula, courses, and grades, and not just be co-curricular. If, for example, as part of their language arts class, middle school students tutor younger students in reading in an after school program, Florida Learn & Serve funds may be used. However, if middle schoolers are helping younger students with reading after school, and the reading is not tied to the middle schoolers’ language art class/grade/assignments, FL&S funds may not be used.
Question: Are non-profit organizations, faith-based organizations, or institutions of higher education eligible to apply for funds under this program if they will work with K-12 youth?
Answer: Non-profits and faith-based organizations are not eligible to apply. Institutions of higher education can apply if they do so through a laboratory K-12 school on their campus that is classified by the Florida Department of Education as a public school district. The language from the Pilot RFP states the following: “Eligible Applicants: Individual or multiple public schools (including lab and charter schools) applying through their school districts or school district consortia (Heartland, NEFEC, PAEC).” The language from the Renewal RFP states the following: “Eligible Applicants: Individual or multiple public schools (including lab and charter schools) and school districts that currently have or have previously received funds from Florida Learn & Serve (including planning grants), applying through their school districts or school district consortia.” Applicants are required to have community partnerships, and so it may be possible to partner with an eligible applicant on a proposal to Florida Learn & Serve.
Question: Are local education foundations eligible to apply for the Pilot and Renewal Learn & Serve funding, as I noticed in the RFP that educational consortia can apply?
Answer. As noted in the RFPs and in the answer above, eligible applicants are individual or multiple public schools, school districts, or school district consortia. School district consortia must apply through one of the local school districts with which they work, therefore, a school district would be the fiscal agent.
Question: What are some examples of acceptable and unacceptable cash and/or in-kind match?
Answer: Examples of acceptable match:
· Cash donations from community or school partners
· Portion of already-paid-for time and benefits of coordinator dedicated to the project
· Portion of already-paid-for time and benefits of others in the school or non-profit organization dedicated to direct project support (budget, training, clerical, evaluation, etc.)
· District standard indirect costs or other administrative costs related to the project
· Travel, postage, and substitute costs
· Funds from other local, or state, or federal (except other CNCS initiatives) sources, awards, or grants, but only if they are directly applied/dedicated to the project
Examples of acceptable in-kind:
· Professional time/skills donated toward the project
· Raw materials donated for use in project activities
· Expendable materials donated for use in project activities
· Food consumed or donated for project activities
· Donated admissions or discounts to sites where service-learning preparation, action, reflection, or recognition will take place
· Estimated value of use of existing equipment prorated during the project period (compared to having to rent such items)
· Estimated value of use of facilities for project trainings (compared to rental fee)
· Estimated remaining value of existing equipment or materials that will hence be permanently and solely dedicated to service-learning activities
· Other activities that directly support the project or FL&S, such as materials developed and disseminated, trainings, or workshops
Examples of UNACCEPTABLE match and/or in-kind:
· Labor and expenses for writing and submitting the Florida Learn & Serve proposal
· Student labor or service
· New-cost value of existing equipment that will be used for service learning only during the project (i.e., do not claim $2,500 in-kind for a computer to be used for a three-month project--a more reasonable claim would be $300; do not claim in-kind on use of the school intercom or closed-circuit TV system to make announcements or show project-related videos)
· Value of land or facilities where activities will take place (i.e., do not claim $800,000 in-kind for the gymnasium where a service fair will be held