Info Webinar: Building Capacity for High-Quality Instruction through EdTech Webinar, Fund Code 124
All right, Welcome, everyone, and good morning. Thank you so much for joining us today, especially at this time of year, regardless of your position and where you are at in life. I know the beginning of the school year holds a special place of joy and chaos for everyone, and So I'm sending lots of advice your way, and hope for a smooth start to the year. I'm Jackie Gantzer. I'm the Director of Educational Technology and School Support at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and I'm joined here today by my colleague, AJ Cote. AJ, Do you
want to say Hi and introduce yourself. Hi everybody. I'm AJ Cote the Assistant Director in the Office of EdTech. Thanks for being here. So, we're really excited about this grant, as members of the Office of Educational Technology at the Department. We've been hearing a lot from our technology leaders across the state, over particularly this past year. Um, that there is real energy around wanting to continue to build off of all of the investments in technology that has been made over the last couple of years, and to really build off of the skills that were developed during the pandemic and beyond, and to make this a sustainable effort moving forward and not sort of slide backwards that a lot of us are a little concerned about. And so thinking
about how we can be supportive and continuing to build that capacity within your schools and districts and systems. And so we're really excited to be able to offer this funding opportunity to you. I'm going to jump in and give folks a quick agenda for this meeting. So, uh, very first thing is that the any questions or answers um are going to be provided at the very end of the presentation. So you'll see that in
our chat you'll be able to send messages to both Jackie and myself and the chat, and we can um collect those and give you all those responses at the end of the presentation. We're going to go through, "What is this, Grant?" Jackie's going to spend some time going through the grant focus areas and the eligibility and competitive priority for the grant. I'll go through some of the information about fund use and the required forms, and then we'll spend some time going through some Q. And A. So feel free to send those questions in the chat, and we are going to provide um links to anything towards the end of the presentation for you. So "what is this, Grant?" We're excited to
be here to even be able to offer this. So, as Jackie mentioned, we're looking to help people build capacity for their district or system so either adopting or expanding capacity-building programs or activities and we're looking to build the collective experience of educators in using technology to deliver high quality instruction. So the grant itself has five priority areas, and Jackie is going to go into a little bit more depth of these. But the grant itself, and the programming that you all propose in this competitive grant will be aligned to effective instruction, High-quality Pd. Or professional learning, the effective use of tech to support instruction, equity and digital equity, and then the sustainability of the program. So the competitive priority, we're going to go over this in a little bit. But as you can see on this slide um LEAs or
districts or system, serving traditionally underserved or underrepresented populations will have that competitive priority built in um to their proposals, and then just up front the total availability of funding is five hundred thousand dollars, and there's the possibility of continuation of funding in FY24, so we'll talk a little bit more about that when we get into some of the required forms just a little bit. Great, so with these focused areas as AJ mentioned we intentionally sort of loosely defined capacity-building programming, because we know that this can take lots of different shapes depending on your context, and we are really eager to also learn through this grant what those different types of capacity building programs can look like, and what kind of success they are in the hopes that we can share that information as well. And so we're not being prescriptive about what that programming looks like. There may be some instances where you contract externally with a professional development provider, or you know, engage in some sort of formal programming. Or it could be that you have developed something in house with
the folks that are within your system already, and you'd like to be able to expand the impact of that. Um so we're keeping that pretty general. Um but we do want to balance that with some guiding priorities in those areas, and so regardless of sort of the shape that the programming takes, we are looking to make sure that it is aligned with these priorities and that it is designed with these things in mind. And so, the first being effective instruction, we really are looking for programming and professional learning opportunities that go well beyond how to just use technology period. We want to make sure that it is in service of creating better opportunities and experiences for students in the classroom. And so we would ask that, you know, you can
describe how this programming is really grounded in high quality instruction. So second is high quality, professional learning. Whoever will be engaging in this programming, we want to make sure that it sticks, and that it's effective, and it's not you know, a one and done PD day, but it's something that really builds on the skills and knowledge, and it's grounded in adult learning. The next is really just effective use of technology. We want to learn a little bit more about what the technology, principles and skills are that will be embedded within this programming. Equity and digital equity. It is an ongoing
top priority for the Department to make sure that everything we are doing is centered around how we are actively serving our students. And so all of the descriptions here are included in a little bit more detail on the RFP. These are just snapshots here, but really want to hear from you how you are designing this program to target those students who traditionally have the least access to technologies and to meaningful learning experiences using technology.
Um and the last is the sustainability of these efforts, as always, we would like to see that Grant funds are used in service of a broader strategic planning effort by the school or by the district, and that it's not likely this grant funding will go on forever. And so, when it is concluded that it is housed within something that shows that these efforts will continue. So if you have a technology plan currently, you know information about how this fits within the um strategic planning that your office is currently undertaking. Or is it something that you will need to build into longer-term efforts. We just want to give a sense of how this fits in with what it is that you're trying to accomplish over the long term. OK Eligibility. Competitive priority. AJ teased this a little bit in the grant snapshot. So who can apply for these funds? We have a pretty
concrete list here, so traditional school districts, charter schools, career, vocational technical education, schools, collaborative and approved special education schools are all eligible to apply for direct funding. Again, so long as you're meeting the criteria, and the priority is within the application form. Additionally, we do know that there is some times efficiencies of scale and other ways outside of being directly in-house, that you might want to develop and provide capacity, building support for your folks. And so we have also opened this up, so that if you would like to join forces with maybe multiple districts, or a charter school within a district boundaries or you know a collaborative working with all school districts. We are allowing for districts to come together to propose a shared plan and application. And would do this through a schedule A, which we'll talk about in the required forms.
Um. Additionally, if there is an external provider um, who your school or district is either currently working with, or would like to work with Uh whether this is a nonprofit that focuses on the use of educational technology or like a regional service center that's kind of similar to a collaborative, but not technically a collaborative. We have opened it up that these types of organizations can be the lead applicant and apply on behalf of the eligible um applicants on the top. Um the caveat to this is that these organizations do need to have an MOU and a signed understanding of the district that they would be serving and working with for this. And so this is not an opportunity for a separate organization
to apply for funds to support their general, or even if it is really aligned to this, but is more targeted, so that it would be on behalf of very specific schools or districts, um, in Massachusetts. Um. And so we might get some clarifying questions around that one. But hopefully, that gave you a little bit of an overview about who could apply for funds for this um and ultimately what we're really looking for is to serve as directly as possible the students within Massachusetts. And so we are looking to be pretty explicit about who will be getting direct impact from those funds. Competitive priority as A.J. mentioned, we do anticipate a world in which more money is requested than we do have available. In
that event we will be prioritizing schools and districts in chronically under underperforming status, those identified as requiring assistance in the State's accountability system, as well as those that are serving traditionally under served and underrepresented populations, such as those that are listed here. And so what that looks like will really depend on the number of applications we receive and the amount of requested funds, but do want to be upfront, and note that there will be a priority slated, for these applicants. I'm going to move us into how we can use the funds, so you will be able to request the amount of funds for the project or programming aligned to the five priority areas. So requested funds are going to be used to adopt or expand any capacity building project, programs, activities that are going to build that collective expertise of your educators to deliver high quality instruction with technology. Again, you're going to need to support how the funds are being used, and in your um required paperwork, which I'm going to talk about in just a moment.
And so you're going to tell us how the fund use will align to those five focus areas, and then we are looking for appropriate and reasonable requests of funding for the scope of the proposed program. So how do the funds impact the total number of staff and students that you're requesting, So there'll be X amount of funds requested for number of students and staff. So we're looking for that to be appropriate and reasonable for the proposal. Funds can be spent through August 31, 2023. And I just want to point out the little yellow,
sticky note in the corner, because this is about capacity building. We are um restricting funds for the purposes of the capacity - building program projects and activities, but not for equipment. So the funds cannot be used to purchase equipment. Um, again, used to support programming costs. But there are some guardrails, so no more
than 10% of the funds can be used for materials and supplies, and no more than 20% for program coordination. So, whatever your total request, it is no more than 10% for materials and supplies, no more than 20% for the program coordination. Let's talk a little bit about the required forms. Um - when - we're going to drop some links in the chat for you directly to the RFP. So that you can see all of the details again. We're going to provide this recording
via link after the presentation. But when it's time to apply, you will be applying with the ago-old Part I signature page that you're familiar with for grants. This is going to be the total requested funds that you list on - this will be your total requested funds for FY23. So that's what's going to be on the Signature Page. Um, Then you're going
to have a Part II budget. that is an excel workbook. In that budget you are actually going to be asked for FY23 and FY24 in the event that there is additional funding available, and a continuation of this grant into FY24. So again Part I. Just put the total amount requested for FY23, and then in part two. When you're giving us the budget, we'd like to see the budget for FY23 and FY24. And then Part III, for the Program Information is where you can provide some more of the narrative, so we can hear what your proposal is. So how are you aligned to the focus areas? Tell us in a - I'm going to say in a limited
amount of verbiage, because we're looking - most places will give you a word limit for the narrative. This is just for us to get an idea, an understanding of what the planning is for the use of the funds. We're not looking for a thirty page grant proposal. We are looking to get um the big picture and some of the details in that program information form.
Um, please add the narrative directly to this word document rather than linking out to Google Docs and things like that. We do, we are asking for the wording right in the - you'll see there are little areas for you to fill in the information. And so those are the basic part one, part two, part three. If applicable, as Jackie was just mentioning on the other side about eligibility, if this is multiple districts coming together. Ah, you're going to need to file a schedule A, as you've done for some
other grants in the past, probably through the Department. And then, if this is a non-LEA, you're going to want to include that MOU or contract that you have or other formal agreement with whatever districts you are applying on behalf of. So those forms are all going to be sent to the email address at the bottom of the screen, which is k email@example.com. All forms. We'd like the um full application to come in at
once. Um. We'll be collecting all of the applicants and proposals at that time, and what we will do is if, in fact, your proposal has been chosen, you'll get more information about entering some of this information into the EdGrants system, but the application itself is going to go through this part one, part, two, part three, and if applicable, schedule A and MOU or contract to that email address. So it's all going through the email address on the screen. And I do see that we are getting um a few questions. So I'm going to pause here for just a second to just ask folks if you can um enter your questions in the chat. Um, Jackie and I will take some time to go through those questions - um, and feel free if you come up with questions after this, because we all know you're going to walk away from closing this meeting and say, "Now I have a question." Um. So what you can do is email questions to that firstname.lastname@example.org email address, but we do have - I see in the
chat some questions as well. So, um, Jackie, do you want to? Sure, really, quickly. Can you go back to the previous slide? Absolutely. I do want to emphasize too - with my air angels with our auto lights turn off - um the part two budget details as AJ mentioned. We are asking for FY 23 and 24, so that we can get a sense of - we know - one of the things that we've heard a lot is that one-year grants are often really tough to have an impact, and so it would be more impactful if we could make this a multi-year, and so there is a very real possibility that we could extend this to a two-year Grant, but it would be really helpful for us to get a sense of what kind of funding would be necessary to extend it into year two, and so that FY24 budget is really just an estimate. You will not be held to it or tied to it by any means. If
you have no need for a FY 24 budget you don't need to put anything in there. It really is just an informal way for us to get a sense of what that demand and need is for year two. um! And then, if and when, year two funds become available, we would open up a similar um RFP process, where you would be able to apply for continuation funds, and then you would submit your actual requested budget. So lots of ability to update it as you learn this year. So don't want to put a ton of pressure on that. It is just really helpful for us in thinking ahead to next year.
And then the other thing I realized we didn't put on here is the deadline. All of these materials are due no later than 5 PM on September 22, 2022. Um! If you saw this um RFP in the first twenty-four hours you may have noticed a different deadline of September 16th. Um, but it took a little bit longer to get posted than we would have liked, so we extended it by one week. So just wanted to make sure that it's very
clear. The deadline is 5 PM September 22nd for all of these materials to be submitted. And I think as AJ mentioned too, we will be monitoring those applications and submissions. And so, if we notice that you are missing something or something isn't complete or not, quite how we need it for a full application. There will be an opportunity. We'll reach
out and let you know in that and ask that you submit the correct information. Um. But please make sure all of those materials are there, ah no later than that date, and if we can be helpful in answering questions prior to that date, all the better for making sure that it's in correctly, on time. Which also helps us expedite the review and awarding process which I know is much more important and exciting for you all. Okay, Thank you., AJ. We can skip to the get ahead to the question now. Yes, I have the fun question. Question one, Jackie, "How many awards are you going to be funding?" Great question, we don't know, is the best answer I have for you. So it really
depends on the number of applications that we receive, the amount of requested funds. What I can say, and I kind of alluded to in the beginning is that we really are hoping to get a diverse representation, of what capacity-building efforts look like across the State. And so we are really hoping to award you know a number of different schools and districts and types of LEAs doing different types of programming, because we know what something in a really large urban district might look like - could be very different than in one of our many smaller rural districts. And so it's really just going to depend on the number of applications we receive the extent of funding, and the extent to which we think that they are aligned with those priorities that we laid out. I will say too, if if we do receive more than the funds that we have, there is a chance that we would award partial funding to an applicant as well.
And so you know there's a lot of different ways that the funds could be issued, you could be awarded to the full degree, could not meet the requirements, and not be funded, or to receive a partial amount to support your efforts. Um with the priority again going to ah the the schools and district that we identified on the competitive priorities slide. And so the how many awards will we fund? And then there's kind of a a sister question to that. That is "What's the anticipated average fund range?"
Also a great question we really struggled with, whether or not to include this on the RFP itself; and unfortunately, we don't have a good sense of what the what the average, or even what a reasonable range is going to be, especially because again, we could have a collaborative that is serving, you know, 50 students applying for some funds to support their safety building efforts. We could have a number of larger districts go in together in, you know, want to do something collaborative. And so there's really no, I think clear average, that that we can anticipate. Ah and are really just this is going to depend on what kind of applications come in, but would like to remind you, AJ had a great point on the slide, that in the application in the part three document we are going to ask you to the extent possible to hone in on the number of educators and other staff members that are going to be directly served by this programming. So essentially, how many participants are going to engage in the programming, and again, to the extent possible. How many students
do those educators and participants serve directly. And so we do want to get a sense of what the ROI is for the requested funding amount. And so we are asking that you do a little thinking on the front end to consider the appropriateness and reasonableness, of the requested funds, considering you know the ultimate impact and the scope of the impact um in terms of the number of folks that will be served by it. We also wanted to clarify, Jackie - when we - and I'm going to go back to the slides, so folks can see it - when we said at the beginning here that the total available fiscal year funding is five hundred thousand. That's for , that's in total. So could it be five,
one hundred thousand dollars grant applications, or could it be? Um, twenty, five smaller ones? So we have as a department five hundred thousand dollars to allocate to these proposals. So, just as a clarification it's - I would love to tell you that each district could apply for five hundred thousand dollars - but that is not the case. Um, we have a total of five hundred thousand. Um to allocate. Good questions. Jackie, we have a couple um, you already um kind of address. Is there a maximum we can apply for? So it's going to be for what's appropriate. But we do have a couple of questions
about um MOUs. For a non-LEA can an MOU have language that's only binding if the grant is accepted? So go ahead, no you go ahead. So did you have our response for this? Because if you did, I'd love to hear yours first. Sure, sure put me on the spot. So I think that the MOU can actually have that language in there, or it could be a maybe not an MOU, but a contract of sorts that says, upon grant acceptance, or upon a word from the Department XYZ. I think you can build it into the contract language. Ya, on the same page there. I think absolutely, and would actually encourage it. We certainly don't want to put anybody in the position where you are locked into something that you aren't able to pay for, and that was really contingent upon getting these grant funds, so it would encourage that kind of thinking. And the um MOU/contract. I think we left this
pretty open, too, for you to consider the level of formality that you are comfortable with, particularly as um the receiving schools and districts here. Um, we really, our focus is on making sure that the services that are being provided and the programming that's being provided through this grant is really intentional for your specific needs and context. And so that's why we included it in here, because we really wanted to make sure there was an extra level of confidence and comfort for schools and district that that this is what you would like funds to be spent on. But open the door that you would like perhaps somebody to do the operational part of it for you. Another MOU related question - In the event multiple districts ask for assistance from a non-LEA, so from a maybe a non-profit, so-to-speak.
Could that non-LEA apply multiple times? Oh, I know. Good one. We might have to think about this one a little bit. I think I would- again, my initial reaction is to defer to the comfort level of the schools and districts that are interested in this and the extent to which they want to be grouped together as a single application, and it makes sense for the programming for it to be grouped together by one. You know if the type of support is consistent enough across all of them. I would want everybody to be comfortable signing
off on the number of organizations that are on that list, and would just encourage a high level of transparency in those conversations, so that everybody sort of knows what they're getting into, and then can use that as a way to decide what makes the most sense for the grant award. I think on our end we would want to make it as clear of a proposal as possible in order to think, through the funding amount and the alignment with all of those priorities. And so, and then especially going through the EdGrants process on the back end, having that budget be really clear about where the money is going in for what will be really important. Um! And as clean as we can make that the better. so.Probably more complicated with an answer than you are hoping for. I think the short answer to that is there's nothing that precludes you or a non-LEA from applying multiple times. But we would want
to look at the most appropriate way to do that and also probably the more efficient. Um. So thinking through that way. Um, there is another question um regarding an MOU, and then we're going to switch to another line of questioning about fund use. But with the
MOU does the MOU need to be fully signed by um like collaborative districts like let's say five or six districts are coming under um a non-profit, or non-LEA, does that have to be a fully signed MOU or could it be a draft with a letter of support from the districts? I think what we need to see in order to consider it , is a completely certain level of commitment from those districts that if the funds are awarded, that that is what they would like to participate in and engage in. What we can't have happen is for us to award a certain amount of funds to go towards these districts for these specific activities, and then to have that not be the case. So to have one, say I, we don't really want to do this anymore, or this doesn't really fit with what we were going to do. We changed our mind. um, and so we really can't have that happen as we are figuring out the best way to assign and to award funds, and so the more explicit commitment that you can demonstrate the better, the chances are of receiving awards, and it could be the case where, if you have strong commitment from four but the 5th is you know, the letter of support isn't quite as committed that that could impact the amount of funds that we assign. I'm going to actually bring us to our fund
use slide because we have some questions. One is "Could funding from this grant be used to cover the cost for digital curriculum or tools?" Great question. So my quick reaction is probably not. Um. Again, we are looking for this to build the skill set and the knowledge base, so the capacity, of folks within your system in using technology not necessarily to invest in additional technology. And so, you know, if it's to buy new computers or new technology hardware,
we also see that requiring an additional level of training and on boarding to leverage. And so this is really to add on to all of the investments that were placed into technology over the last couple of years, and to think about how to build the skill set around that. um. And so this isn't that geared towards new hardware or new software and programming, but much more around building the capacity. So, Jackie, what if equipment is part of our
materials and supplies? And it would be really helpful to hear your rationale for how that is critical for the capacity building. Um I know it feels a little... maybe confusing to see materials and supplies, but no equipment We had the same question trying to play devil's advocate for ourselves. But I think maybe a helpful guiding principle here is to think about the capacity building, programming first. What skills and knowledge are you going to build or expand the programming around, and what materials are essential for those skills to be developed. um. So we had a hard time coming up with. Ah, you know, why new computers or why brand new software might be necessary - we're not completely closing the door on it. But it
is on you to make that justification and just knowing that we are coming in with a pretty strong um, not using the funds for new technology. So you're welcome to make that case in the budget. We will be reviewing it. Um! And we're open to having those cases be made. But I think it's just important that we make it very clear that our top priority is to go towards those professional learning experiences. Next, we can go back to the focus areas as well. We have a question about all providing an example of number three.The effective use
tech to support instruction. Yeah. So this is hard doing without giving explicit examples that I don't necessarily want to endorse or not. But if we think about some of the more off the shelf professional learning and professional development that our schools and districts have more so contracted out to receive, a lot of them are based on framework for what effective use of educational technologies looks like. So there are some models, there are organizations with standards, or what effective skill sets and knowledge bases around technology mean, and what that looks like.
And so this is really balancing with the effective instruction. We just want to know - What does effective instruction mean to you? - And how is this programming aligned to effective instruction. What are you basing that on? And additionally, what does effective use of technology mean to you? What is this programming designed around? What are those more technology-specific skill sets um and mindsets and knowledge bases that you'll be developing I would suggest also on that one, Jackie, if it's if it's something specific to number three - effective use to of tech to support instruction, I would encourage folks to reach out to tech directors, instructional tech specialists, potentially your library media specialists , who may be able to give you some really succinct examples of of ways that something may fit into that number three focus area. There's probably going to be some overlap between one and three. That's fine The best
frameworks seamlessly incorporate both of them. So I think it's fine. If you're struggling with the overlap there. Hopefully again, that just clarifies that we want to see evidence that this is based on some sort of a concrete educational technology, skill and knowledge base, and that it is explicitly aligned with high-quality instruction. I am going to give folks a minute, if there are any more questions...I think AJ I got a couple a directly. um. "Are there just specific, approved Pd.
Providers that DESE wants us to use for this grant?" This is a really great question. We are not endorsing any in particular for this grant specifically. However, as you go through your partnering conversations based on your local procurement or decision making processes if our State Contract List and approved Pd. Providers can be helpful, you know, you're certainly open to using them. And you know, I believe, that there are a number that fit into this category. But we are not prioritizing, preferring, or requiring off of any specific
list um at this point. There is - I'm going to drop the registry link in the chat - Um, DESE does have a PD Registry for registered pd for providers if people are looking for a place to start. And we also have our preferred provider list AJ. I think that falls into a similar category housed by our Systems for Student Success office. We can probably post with um the recording.
We're gathering That's a good point to say this, too. We're also gathering these questions um to include them in an FAQ that we can post after as well if you miss any of the responses. Jackie, did you have another question? I know you said you had a couple that came in direct. One was very similar to the equipment. Hardware software Conversation I think it falls into the same category. Okay? And then I am going to bring us back to the question about "What if more funds are requested than there are available?" I think we answered this one already. Again, we'll review them all. We'll use our priorities
and our focused areas to make decisions about how to allocate those ones. I think the one thing to add to that is, if, in fact, we are looking to award more than we have there is the possibility that we can have conversations with applicants to adjust budgets. Before we leave again, because we don't have a very strong sense of what the need and demand is in this area I would love to get a quick response from you all - very non-committal, But just where you are at in this process, and if applying for the grant is something that you are definitely planning to do, something that you are still considering or not at this time. SO AJ's going to launch a quick poll, and we'd love to get your take on it before we close out for the day.
Are folks seeing the poll? Not yet. Okay, Let's do this. In the meantime, too, I did find the preferred provider list, so I will type that in the chat. polls coming in. Thank you. People see that? Yes. Ok, we'll stick on for a little bit longer - next fifteen minutes or so, if anybody does have any more specific questions, but otherwise thank you again for being here, and we look forward to seeing your applications and learning from you all in the process.
Hope you have a good day. Thank you.