Outreach and Engagement Services to Support Statewide Plans
The Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) is requesting services and qualifications from community-based organizations to plan and facilitate activities that support a human-centered engagement process for Digital Equity Act (DEA) and Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) statewide planning efforts, as well as future implementation activities under these programs. We will be accepting applications and awarding funds on a rolling basis (refer to the procurement page for a more detailed timeline).
The purpose of the Request For Qualifications (RFQ) is to pre-qualify entities that have established community trust to support MBI in gathering information about the lived experiences of impacted communities enduring the digital divide. Specifically, MBI seeks to engage with the following “Target” populations:
|Aging individuals||LGBTQI+ persons|
|Incarcerated individuals||Persons with disabilities|
|Veterans||People with language barriers|
|Persons of color||Racial and ethnic minorities|
|Indigenous and Native American persons||Rural inhabitants|
|Members of religious minorities||Persons adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality|
Creating a direct line of communication to these impacted community members is a crucial component of developing comprehensive strategies to bridge the digital divide in Massachusetts. We want to hear from as many residents as possible, and we are providing resources to those who will help us reach underserved populations.
Any community-based organization that works directly with any one or more of the Target populations listed above may submit an online application. Individual respondents may apply for up to $15,000 and respondents that propose to sub-award to other entities may apply for up to $40,000. Applicants may apply to provide services defined under Category 1 and/or to be pre-qualified for Category 2 (described in detail below).
Category of Services 1
Digital Equity Outreach and Engagement
To be completed no later than November 30, 2023.
Respondents may apply to conduct one or a series of activities/events ranging in size and demographics to reach different ages and groups with unique circumstances. Activities may be combined where appropriate (Ex. Conducting surveys at or after a focus group or event).
MBI seeks organizations to encourage members of the Target populations to participate in SDEP Regional Listening Sessions. Specific activities may include tailored e-mails, phone calls, facilitated discussions in public meetings, direct mailing, social media engagement, translation/interpretation, or other activities to raise awareness and drive participation amongst the Target populations in listening sessions that will take place July – December of 2023.
MBI seeks organizations to plan and execute small scale events or focus groups with members of one or more of the Target populations for the purpose of gathering key information, input, and lived experiences from those populations. Specific activities may include event planning, outreach and promotion, edits to MBI-provided materials that reflect community context, translation/interpretation, meeting facilitation, and other activities directed at capturing the lived experiences of the Target populations as related to the digital divide and informing elements of the DEA and BEAD Plan and Proposals.
MBI seeks organizations to support the distribution of and response to MBI’s Statewide Digital Equity Survey. Specific activities under this scope of services could include hosting a in person or online group survey session, translation/interpretation as needed, phone banking, live surveying at events, or other activities that would increase the response rate among Target populations to MBI’s survey.
Funds be applied to eligible outreach and material expenses, including but not limited to:
- Staff time to engage in activities to increase participation in the planning efforts by Target populations.
- Staff time to execute planned activities (i.e. events, focus groups, surveying).
- Direct costs related to outreach and engagement.
- Direct costs related to event facilitation.
- Staff time or hiring of sub-contractors to provide translation and interpretation services.
- Material incentives such as gift cards, raffle items, etc.
- Indirect costs (not to exceed 10% of the proposed budget or federally approved rate).
- Sub-award of funds to partner organizations.
Refer to the full RFQ for more details on eligible uses of funding.
MBI will request the following upon completion of proposed activities:
- Final agenda, attendance lists, and number of attendees for each event or session
- Description of outreach activities and number of people reached through activities
- Documentation of executed surveys
- Written feedback on DEA and BEAD Program plans and documents
- Report of activities executed and lessons learned
Category of Services 2
Anticipated Follow-on Community Engagement
MBI seeks to prequalify eligible organizations to engage with members of the Target populations to provide feedback through ongoing community engagement related to the DEA and BEAD programs throughout the planning and implementation stage. MBI seeks to ensure that the final recommendations of the DEA and BEAD materials reflect the needs and perspectives of individuals the programs intend to serve. MBI also seeks to engage with community members at strategic points in the DEA and BEAD processes to ensure success and impact. Specific activities under this category could include hosting group information/feedback sessions, facilitating 1:1 interviews, materials review and collaboration, translation/interpretation, and other activities that would yield community driven input on MBI’s ongoing activities.
Examples of strategic points include but are not limited to:
- Public comment period for the DEA plan (Approximately Nov ’23 – Feb ’24)
- Public comment period for the BEAD materials (Approximately Nov ’23 – Dec ’23)
- Program launch for DEA & BEAD implementation (Approximately March ’24 – June ’24)
- Mid-program evaluation (Approximately June ’24 – June ’25)
- End of program evaluation (Approximately June ’25 – June ’26)
About MBI’s Statewide Planning Efforts
The Digital Equity Act (DEA) and Broadband Equity, Affordability, and Deployment (BEAD) programs, funded by The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), aim to ensure that all people and communities have access to high-speed internet, as well as the technology, education, and skills needed to fully engage in our increasingly digital society. The DEA and BEAD programs require all states to develop a unified Statewide Digital Equity Plan (SDEP), and a BEAD Five-Year Action Plan and related proposals (BEAD Plan and Proposals). The objective of these plans and proposals is to move toward the achievement of digital equity for all by identifying specific measures to address barriers and build capacity for efforts relating to internet availability and digital inclusion.
DEA and BEAD planning documents will outline a clear path forward, a critical first step toward closing the digital divide in Massachusetts. These planning activities must be significantly informed by community stakeholders, particularly those identified as “Target” populations (see list above). A human-centered approach, beginning with our engagement, will help us design thoughtful and comprehensive statewide plans that not only acknowledge the absence of internet service or device access, but also addresses the factors beyond affordability and available technology that prevent digital engagement for any individual.
Respondents should answer all portions of all questions relevant to which category of services they are applying to provide.