REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS:

ASSESSING THE STATE OF INCLUSION IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND

The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities works with schools, businesses, and communities to achieve success by addressing prejudices, in all forms, in order to improve academic achievement, increase workplace productivity, and enhance local trust. Through workshops, retreats, and customized programs that raise knowledge, motivation, and skills, VCIC develops leaders who work together to achieve success throughout the Commonwealth.

Our organization traces its roots back to 1935 in Virginia. With a lengthy and rich history, we have been destined to change with the times, even as we work to change the times in which we live. Originally founded as the Virginia Region of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities has concluded our association with NCCJ and has joined with many of our fellow offices across the country to form the National Federation for Just Communities, a new movement fighting prejudice in all its forms.

The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities is headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, with chapters in Lynchburg, the Virginia Peninsula, Richmond, and Tidewater/South Hampton Roads.  VCIC is incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

VCIC invites proposals for a research project to assess the “State of Inclusion” in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  The proposed project will include:

  • The creation of a customized survey instrument;
  • Collection of data; and
  • Data analysis and the development of a final report.

VCIC seeks to conduct this project across Virginia.  However, budgetary considerations may limit the scope of the research to specific geographic areas, including but not limited to Central Virginia, Hampton Roads, and the metropolitan Richmond area (aligned with VCIC’s current chapter locations).

DEFINITION OF INCLUSION

The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities’ programs define inclusion as “the accepting, respecting, and valuing of diversity.”  Aligned with our organizational vision, VCIC believes that an inclusive Virginia is one in which all people can live, work, and play in an environment that accepts them as equals without hostility or discrimination.

PROJECT GOALS

Through this project, VCIC seeks to assess:

  • The extent to which Virginia residents feel included in schools, workplaces, and communities;
  • The extent to which Virginia residents support inclusive policies and practices in schools, workplaces, and communities; and
  • If and how Virginia residents take action when they encounter exclusion.

TIMELINE

The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities seeks to complete this project in full by August 31, 2020.  Specific benchmarks should be included in the proposal and will be subject to agreement from VCIC.

REQUIRED PROPOSAL CONTENTS

The following information must be included and addressed in the proposal:

  • Partner contact information, including name of primary representative(s) for the project
  • Example(s) of relevant background and experience
  • Recommendation for how to best meet the identified project priorities (Note that VCIC is open to updating the scope of the project based on recommendations.)
  • Budget
  • Timeline
  • Three references

EVALUATION AND SELECTION

The following criteria will be utilized in the evaluation of qualifications for development of the short list of those partners to be considered for negotiations.  Individual criteria may be assigned varying weights at VCIC’s discretion to reflect relative importance.

  • Demonstrated qualifications and capacity of the partner
    • Years of experience
    • Service capabilities
    • Verification of positive references with other clients
  • Proposed fee/costs rates associated with the product/services

The evaluation process consists of two phases: analysis and selection.  During the analysis phase, proposals are reviewed to ascertain which proposals address all the requirements of the RFP.  Proposals which are determined to be substantively lacking are eliminated at this point.  The selection phase involves the rating of each remaining proposal on various selection criteria.  Interviews with finalist candidates may be considered.  The selection will not be based solely on the criterion of the lowest proposed cost, but will be based both on price and the partner’s ability to provide the requested services.

SPECIAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS

  • Availability of Funds: It is understood and agreed between the parties herein that VCIC shall be bound hereunder only to the extent of the funds available or which may hereafter become available for the purpose of this agreement.
  • Proposal Acceptance Period: This proposal shall be binding for 90 calendar days following the proposal opening date. Any proposal in which the partner shortens the acceptance period may be rejected.
  • Insurance Coverage and Limits Required: The partner agrees to be responsible for, indemnify, defend, and hold harmless Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, its agents, and employees from the payment of all sums of money by reason of any claim against them arising out of any and all occurrences resulting in bodily or mental injury or property damage that may happen to occur in connection with and during the performance of the contract, including but not limited to claims under the Worker’s Compensation Act. The partner agrees that it will, at all times, after the completion of the work, be responsible for, indemnify, defend, and hold harmless Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, its agents, and employees from all liabilities resulting from bodily or mental injury or property damage directly or indirectly arising out of the performance or nonperformance of the contract.
  • Indemnification: Partner agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, its agents, and employees from any claims, damages, and actions of any kind or nature, whether at law or in equity, arising from or caused by the use of any materials, goods, or equipment of any kind or nature furnished by the partner, provided that such a liability is not attributable to the sole negligence of the using agency or to failure of the using agency to use materials, goods, or equipment in the manner described by the partner on the materials, goods or equipment delivered.
  • Ownership of Material: Ownership of all data, material and documentation originated and prepared for Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities pursuant to the RFP shall belong exclusively to Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities and be subject to public inspection in accordance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Trade secrets or proprietary information submitted by any partner shall not be subject to public disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act; however, the partner must invoke the protection of this section prior to or upon submission of the data or other materials, and must identify the data or other materials to be protected and state the reasons why protection is necessary.
  • Obligation of Partner: By submitting a proposal, the partner agrees that it is satisfied, from its own investigation of the conditions to be met, that it fully understands the obligations and that it will not make any claim for, or have a right to cancellation or relief from the contract because of any misunderstanding or lack of information.
  • Service Obligations: The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities reserves the right to use some or all of the services offered by the partner.

TO APPLY

Submit the requested proposal content by September 30, 2019 to:

Jonathan Zur
President & CEO
Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities
5511 Staples Mill Road, Suite 202
Richmond, VA 23228
Fax: (804) 515-7177
Email: contact@inclusiveVA.org

No phone calls or visits, please.

STATE OF INCLUSION RFP QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

(1) What are the VCIC’s expectations of the deliverables at the completion of the project on August 31st, 2020?

VCIC expects to receive a final written report with data collected and analysis of the responses.

(2) What are the benchmarks and expected deliverables throughout the duration of the project that are necessary for its success?

Specific benchmarks and timelines will be determined in partnership with the selected vendor.  The components of the project are (1) the creation of a customized survey instrument; (2) collection of data; and (3) data analysis and the development of a final report.

(3) Is the VCIC seeking regional breakdowns of Virginia and/or the commonwealth as a whole in the final assessment?

Does the VCIC want the data to be actionable/generalizable at the locality (e.g., city/county) level versus just the regional or statewide level?

In order to provide accurate costs, we will need to understand which markets you’d like to include. We’re thinking about employing a state-wide approach, but with concentrations in the Central VA, Metro RVA and Hampton areas, so that the majority of our respondents would come from those areas, but we’d also include a sample from other regions in the state. Does that approach work for you, or would you prefer that we isolate exclusively to specific markets?

It is VCIC’s preference to include both a statewide report as well as regional breakdowns.  Priority regions are Central Virginia, Hampton Roads, and metropolitan Richmond area.  Cost will be considered when determining the full scope of the project and whether or not to include regional analysis and comparison.

(4) Is there a group the VCIC would like to ensure is in the sample of Virginians or would like to over-sample?

VCIC would like the sample to reflect the diversity of the Commonwealth and/or the specific area of Virginia being considered.  We have not identified specific groups that we seek to over-sample but welcome recommendations from applicants.

(5) What are the VCIC’s plans for the data beyond achieving the three project goals? What is the overall purpose? An inclusive climate survey of Virginians and/or is there another purpose?

Generally, how does the VCIC plan to use the data? 

It is VCIC’s hope to utilize the data to inform Virginians about areas of success and need as it relates to fostering inclusive schools, workplaces, and communities.  Internally, VCIC expects to utilize the results to make future financial and staffing decisions.  We also anticipate repeating this project every five years in order to measure progress.

(6) The first project goals relates to the extent people feel included – which can be different from the extent to which they actually are included. Which is the VCIC specifically seeking to capture? Are there specific questions/feelings that the project should explicitly capture?

VCIC welcomes recommendations from applicants on how best to capture the extent to which Virginians feel included.

(7) Feeling are subjective – How does the VCIC foresee the impact of this subjectivity on project goals and overall deliverables at the project’s completion?

VCIC acknowledges and is comfortable with subjectivity in participant responses.

(8) Are there any specific “inclusive policies in and practices in schools, workplaces, and communities” that the VCIC have in mind and/or any historically excluded groups on which the VCIC would like particular focus on?

Are there specific groups/subgroups that the VCIC would prefer (or require) are included as target populations of interest?  (e.g., race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, etc.).

Are you open to additional subgroups being included?

In terms of inclusion, are there specific areas of inclusion that are of key interest? In other words, should we be thinking about emphasizing participation or survey design with particular segments, groups, or topics in mind?

As we’re thinking about analysis, we’ll want to make sure that we’re including enough sample to allow you to segment and analyze as you hope. Are there particular segments that you are sure you want to be able to isolate and compare? (said another way, how do you want to cut the data in the end? by region, certainly, and we’d imagine gender and age would fall out naturally with enough sample to analyze differences, but are there others?)

In terms of areas of diversity, VCIC expects to focus most on race, gender, and geography, with age and religion being next in terms of priority.  We welcome recommendations regarding other groups to consider.

VCIC has not identified specific policies or practices for this project.  We welcome recommendations from applicants on how best to measure inclusive policies and practices in schools, workplaces and communities.

(9) Is there any rationale behind having the work completed by August 31st, 2020?

VCIC selected the August 31 deadline for two reasons: (1) to be able to use the remainder of 2020 to plan events for early 2021 to release the results; and (2) to try to minimize the influence of the 2020 Presidential election on participant responses.

(10) What, if any, current events or incidents prompted this survey at this time?

This project was in VCIC’s most recent Strategic Plan.  It is not motivated by any specific events or incidents.

(11) You don’t mention a budget in the RFP – given the number of variables in conducting market research, have you discussed a reasonable budget range/resources that you can commit to this effort?

Could you provide a general budget range of funds available for this project?  The scope is very broad and a target budget would help us focus our energies and available resources.

Rough budget scale.  We plan to offer several options with different costs, but it would be nice to know approximate upper limit.

As a new project, VCIC does not have a specific benchmark.  We anticipate that this project could cost around $75,000 but are open to proposals of all amounts.  It will be helpful to understand how much different components of the project will cost.  Final selection will not be based solely on the criterion of the lowest proposed cost, but will be based both on price and the partner’s ability to provide the requested services.

(12) Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities is a statewide organization but where is most of your activity concentrated? Any markets in particular?

The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities conducts most of our work in Central Virginia (the greater Lynchburg area), Hampton Roads, and the metropolitan Richmond area.

(13) How should the proposal be submitted or is there a preferred method?  Hard copy via mail or as an email attachment?

Email to contact@inclusiveVA.org is preferred but hard copy submissions will be accepted if received by the deadline.

(14) Is there a preferred format or maximum length for the proposal?

VCIC’s prefers that proposals be no longer than 15 pages.  Shorter proposals are encouraged.

(15) Are indirect costs (IDC/overhead) allowed?  Are there any budget restrictions (budget items that are not allowable)?

University indirect rate (facilities and administrative overhead). Typically we are required to charge the federally negotiated rate, which for [our institution] is currently about 57%.  However, if a non-federal organization has a policy limiting the rate to a lower percentage we can use that rate.  Does VCIC have such a policy?

As a nonprofit organization, VCIC is not in a position to spend a significant amount on indirect costs for this project.  However, we recognize that some institutions require indirect costs to be included in the budget.  As a result, we will cap indirect costs at 10%.  We do not have other restrictions at this time.

(16) Are there more specific aspects of community life (e.g., retail, housing, schools, employment) VCIC would like to target?

VCIC welcomes recommendations from applicants on which aspects of community life to target.  We do not have specific aspects identified at this time.

(17) How representative or generalizable would VCIC like the survey results to be?  Would you prefer a random sample method over a convenience sample?  Would you consider convenience samples in addition to a random approach?

When thinking about recruiting/sample, do we want to include oversample of specific target members (ie, those who might represent sometimes-excluded populations?) Or, shall we plan to recruit based on geography alone?

Are there any other recruiting specs or quotas that we should be considering?

We’re giving careful consideration to collection, and want to be sure that our recruiting methodology makes sense for your audience. We’d like to start with a base online approach, partnering with our preferred platform for survey hosting and some recruiting (Qualtrics). However, we are also discussing whether or not we need to consider augmenting that approach with an in person, mail, or other approach, particularly if you have specific populations or segments in mind that may be difficult to reach. With that in mind, are you able to provide any additional recruiting specs?

VCIC would like the responses to closely reflect demographics of the area being studied.  We are open to convenience samples if that is the recommendation of the selected partner.

(18) Does the VCIC want data that is actionable or only informative?

VCIC seeks data that is both actionable and informative.

(19) How does the VCIC define Central VA?  What localities would be included?

VCIC defines Central Virginia as the greater Lynchburg area.  Localities include Amherst County, Appomattox County, Bedford County, Campbell County, and the City of Lynchburg.

(20) Is the VCIC open to additional data collection beyond just survey data (e.g., focus group data)?

VCIC welcomes recommendations from applicants on the need for and benefit of data collection beyond survey data.

(21) Does the VCIC have examples of previous surveys that are reflective of  VCIC’s objectives for this work?

VCIC is not aware of an existing survey that reflects our objectives.  This project is inspired by but different from “Taking America’s Pulse,” a survey on inter-group relations convened by the National Conference for Community and Justice (our predecessor organization).

(22) I am assuming you are interested in a broad definition of inclusion (e.g., religion, race, gender, place of birth, class, sexual orientation)  Correct?

That is correct.  VCIC defines inclusion broadly.

(23) Timeline.  I know the proposal is due by September 30th 2019 and needs to be completed by August 31, 2020.  For creating our timeline do you have an estimated start date, i.e., when you think a decision will be made and contracting can be completed?

VCIC hopes to make a decision by November 15, 2019, with contracting to follow and the project commencing in December 2019 or January 2020.

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