Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC)
Digital Literacy Training Program
January 2011 Request for Proposal – 01/28/2011
Note: This document contains references and resources as hyperlinks. Click the underlined text to connect to web pages.
Problem and Solution
With the changing economy comes a growing need for adults to obtain a basic level of digital literacy. Greater access to broadband infrastructure and wide-spread digital literacy creates new opportunities for technology-based businesses, employment, education and access to public services.
The Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) Project is a broadband adoption project
funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce through the Blandin Foundation to increase
broadband adoption and digital literacy throughout greater Minnesota. The funding for this project is through the federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA).
The goal of the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities project is to create technologically and economically vital rural communities, competing and thriving in the broadband economy, with sustainable broadband adoption, digital literacy, job growth and wealth creation.
To accomplish this, Blandin has partnered with many teams across Minnesota. Several of these teams will focus on training and include: Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) for development and delivery of a college level Knowledge Worker online course, Minnesota Renewable Energy Marketplace (MnREM) for training and technical assistance in the renewable energy sector, the University of Minnesota Extension Services for education, training and technical assistance to small businesses, and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for workforce development-related digital literacy training.
For this grant opportunity, DEED’s training will be deployed across the state through a
collaborative, sustainable program that brings together the Minnesota Department of Education - Adult Basic Education (ABE), the Minnesota WorkForce Center System, non-profits and community-based organizations (CBOs.)
DEED is developing and supporting the WorkForce Center-focused digital literacy training which will be openly accessible online.
The goal is to build sustainable services for this on-going digital literacy training in greater Minnesota communities – particularly in the 11 Blandin MIRC demonstration communities. (See Reference Document A for more information on these communities.)
Digital Literacy Grant Activity
The purpose of this grant is to support collaborative efforts to provide sustainable workforce development-related digital literacy instruction in 30 sites across greater Minnesota which may include the 11 Blandin Demonstration Communities. Grants will support programs that combine these specific strategies:
a. A community-partner supported, ABE-delivered training consisting of an 8-hour digital
literacy course, offered at least once a month for nine months at up to 30 locations
across greater Minnesota, with a planned start date in early 2011;
b. Support of a local facility in greater Minnesota that can provide at least 10 Internet-
connected computers for dedicated student use during the course delivery and for
additional student practice time;
c. A defined program partnership between the Minnesota WorkForce Center system and
d. A partnership with a MIRC community, if possible (high priority, but not required);
e. Other suggested partners include libraries, community-based organizations and non-
f. Non-federal in-kind or cash matching funds to support the program ($6000 minimum,
see page 7).
g. Community-initiated marketing and advertising efforts to promote the training
h. At least three contact names for this initiative for: 1) project management, 2) digital
literacy training activities management, and 3) fiscal management (must be the WSA.)
i. Coordinated recruitment, reporting and training for digital literacy instruction.
j. Expanded local access to digital literacy training including up to 8 hours of availability
outside of the classroom through local community facilities and computers for learner
Individual grant awards will range from $12,000 - $21,000 per WorkForce Center or other approved project site. A sample cost breakdown might include:
; ABE teacher training review
; ABE prep time per month
; ABE teaching time per month
; Classroom material costs – handouts (per 8 hr. class)
; Partner meetings, planning and support
; Administrative Costs (up to 10%)
January 28, 2011 2
The following dates are deadlines for the Blandin MIRC RFP.
; January 28, 2011 – Issue Blandin MIRC Digital Literacy RFP
; February 28, 2011 – Blandin MIRC Digital Literacy proposal due by 4:30 p.m. to Laura
; April 4, 2011 – Awards announced
; Week of April 11, 2011 – Notice of Grant Action (NGA) issued
; Week of April 11, 2011 – Teacher Training
; April, 2011 – Blandin MIRC Digital literacy training classes begin.
; January 31, 2012 – End of award period – work must be completed, reports finalized
and invoices processed.
Questions regarding the RFP should be directed to Laura Nedved, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Blandin MIRC Digital Literacy Training – Core Components
The MIRC digital literacy training is being created, delivered online and supported by DEED eliminating the need for local sites to create their own training. The following are core components for the MIRC Digital Literacy Training Work Plan: Sustainability, Collaborative Partnerships, Client Outreach & Marketing, Strategies for Success, Adults Served, Evidence of Community-Supported Non-Federal Matching Funds and Accountability. Each section is specifically referenced on the Work and Sustainability Plan. When writing the Work and Sustainability Plan, include your partnership’s specific plan to address each core component.
Adult Basic Education
The Blandin MIRC digital literacy training is designed for adults, sixteen (16) years old or older, who are not enrolled in secondary school and who lack basic digital literacy skills as defined by the North Star Digital Literacy Task Force through the St. Paul Community Literacy Consortium.
; Lack sufficient mastery of core basic digital literacy skills (Basic Computer Use,
Internet, Windows Operating System, Email and Word Processing) to utilize online
state and federal tools.
; Lack sufficient mastery of basic digital literacy skills to conduct an online job search
using state or federal resources.
; Lack basic digital literacy skills to function in an entry-level position in the workplace
January 28, 2011 3
Training courses will embed the Blandin MIRC contextualized digital literacy training into the 8-hour digital literacy course. In addition to the classroom training, facilities and opportunities must be made available through community partnerships for learners to individually practice digital literacy skills for up to 8 additional hours per month outside of the classroom.
Using a combination of video, animation, narration, photos, text and interactivity, this contextualized Blandin MIRC digital literacy training is designed to work for ABE learners and to teach computer skills within the context of using WorkForce Center tools and state education resources. The modules in the MIRC digital literacy training will teach the following skills within this context:
; Using a computer, mouse, touchpad and keyboard,
; Search and apply for jobs online,
; Prepare for employment (develop career goals, assess interests and abilities, explore
possible jobs, etc.),
; Develop a resume,
; Perform basic computer tasks on the job,
; Complete a basic form,
; Understand and be able to conduct a basic online search,
; Understand basic Internet safety,
; Evaluate sources and resources,
; Access and use websites (including navigation and basic error messages),
; Communicate electronically (receive and send email, set up email accounts, create and
use pins/passwords, etc.)
3 Sample pages from MIRC Digital Literacy Training:
1) Photos and introductory information narrated and based on “Olivia’s Story.”
January 28, 2011 4
2) Step-by-step animation introducing WorkForce Centers, tools and concepts.
3) Interactive exercises to provide practice and an introduction to WorkForce Center tools.
This contextualized training can be combined with current workforce development-related digital literacy training, if it exists locally and is pre-approved by the DEED Digital Literacy Director.
Documentation on local process and locally developed materials must be contributed to the Minnesota Repository of Coursework (MnROC) before the end of the grant period. We
encourage you to submit locally-developed materials in MnROC as early as possible to benefit other digital literacy efforts across Minnesota.
Minnesota Repository of Coursework (MnROC)
As part of the final report, if vendors use their own training materials in conjunction with MIRC digital literacy training, they will be required to share information on their programming in the MnROC online inventory.
MnROC is an online organization and dissemination tool for adult education materials used in ABE, workforce development, bridge and integrated programming, and more. MnROC provides
January 28, 2011 5
Sample Partners and Roles Agreement
Role Potential Provider:
WorkForce Center Curriculum DEED
Development and Project Management,
Curriculum Support and Technical
Marketing/Advertising/Recruiting Combination of: ABE, workforce development,
Students CBOs, non-profits, Minnesota State Colleges &
Universities (MnSCU,) Libraries, Employers
Training Approved Minnesota Department of
Education – Adult Basic Education Programs ; Recruiting/retaining participants (ABE) ; foundational skill building in
contextualized computer skills
; data-tracking – MABE
Training Facility/Logistics Combination of: ABE, Workforce
development, CBOs, MnSCU, Libraries, ; use of facilities (space and/or Employers computers)
; use of support equipment (copiers,
etc.) for classroom materials, if
Matching Funds Support (non-federal, in-Combination of: ABE, Workforce
kind or cash) development, CBOs, MnSCU, Libraries,
All ABE providers will be required to use the Minnesota Adult Basic Education (MABE) database
system to collect key information about program participants. Additional information may be
required through online surveys, spreadsheets or other means, as required for federal
reporting or program feedback.
Opportunity to provide feedback to DEED on the Blandin MIRC digital literacy training will be
available through the duration of this program.
January 28, 2011 7
Program and Participant Outcomes
; Basic digital literacy skills acquisition.
; Retention in program – Mid-range retention of adults in programming, including
information on attrition, identification of program challenges, etc.
; Participant satisfaction.
; The planning process must involve ABE, workforce development, and other partner
organizations providing employment services and support services to ensure the success
of the program.
; Implementation of the digital literacy training will begin in early 2011.
; ABE teachers are required to attend an online teacher training event in April (dates TBD)
prior to using the MIRC digital literacy coursework.
; Administrators and instructors from ABE and WFC work together to deliver a program of
instruction in local communities using the MIRC digital literacy training.
Planning activities must include, but are not limited to:
; Partnership building
; Development of a partner agreement, such as, a Memorandum of Understanding
; Procurement of facilities and/or computers
; Contracting an ABE instructors to teach the course
Each ABE instructor who is a vendor for the Blandin MIRC digital literacy training will participate in planning and professional development activities to become familiar with the Blandin MIRC digital literacy training. These activities may include local meetings and/or conferences calls.
Proposals should include a project budget line item to cover meeting costs. Partner teams including ABE, workforce development, and other partners will agree to the following:
; attend at least one training event before using the digital literacy training with students;
; communicate monthly with partners and DEED throughout the planning and initial
; participate in webinars sponsored by DEED
; Report back to DEED on MIRC digital literacy technical issues within a timely manner
(within 1 week after an issue is discovered).
Only greater Minnesota Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIBs) and/or Workforce Services
Areas (WSAs) may submit the final proposal for the partnering organizations and only WSAs may act as fiscal agents for the program.
January 28, 2011 8
Eligible Service Providers
To create sustainability, local WIBs and/or WSAs are required to partner and contract with ABE. An explanation of the roles and responsibilities of these partners is required in the proposal work plan.
How Funds Can Be Used
For purposes of this grant, partners are defined by the coordinated digital literacy services provided at the local level through agreements, arrangements and activities between:
; Adult Basic Education (ABE) providers,
; the Workforce Development System Partners,
; Minnesota regional libraries,
; Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), and/or
; Administration may not exceed 10% of total award.
; Awards will be announced by April 4, 2011.
; Matching non-federal funds are required for this award in the amount of $6000 per site
which can be in the form of cash or in-kind contributions (see Budget and Eligible
Expenses on p. 9 for more details).
; Cost containment and a program’s ability to leverage current and new funding to lower
costs will be strongly considered. An ability to uniquely use existing funding, leverage
new funding through innovation, and braid funding streams to create programs that
complement service delivery are all encouraged.
; Sustainability of the work beyond the first 9 months of funding is required.
; Reporting requirements include updates in MABE database and a final report to DEED
staff which includes data on: age, gender, race/ethnicity, services used, employment
status, whether or not the learner has a home Internet connection or uses broadband at
home (at the start of the course).
; Required monthly Financial Status Reports (FSR) to DEED.
; Since this is a federally-funded project, additional information or reports may be
requested during the project.
Monitoring and Evaluation Requirements
DEED involvement will include the following (and may also involve ABE):
1. Review and accept proposals.
January 28, 2011 9
2. Review and approve modifications made to the work plan during the budget/project
period. Organize periodic consultations, meeting, briefings, teleconferences, and other
forums, as necessary, with vendors to review current and planned activities, share
information, and promote statewide coordination.
3. Provide opportunities for collaboration with the vendors and to the extent necessary,
other contractors or vendors funded by the Blandin MIRC Digital Literacy BTOP grant.
Budget and Eligible Expenses
Proposed projects must provide MIRC digital literacy training, and related activities that prepare individuals to use computers and technology tools. Direct training and/or education costs include, but are not limited to, the following types of costs: ABE instructors, including salaries and fringe benefits; in-house training staff; support staff such as lab or teaching assistants; classroom space; and books, materials, and supplies used in the training course and reasonable marketing costs.
Applicants are required to utilize non-federal matching funds to support costs to maximize the use of their grant funds. Matching funds are those that are expressed as a dollar figure for cash or in-kind contributions, acquired or utilized during the project period that supports the project. In-kind matching might include: donated computer equipment or fair value for donated classroom facilities, donated marketing and advertising, donation of promotional materials and donated time by local professionals for planning, execution or support of this program.
Administrative costs cannot exceed 10%. These costs include administrative salaries, rent,
supplies, etc., and are not specific to programming.
Programs under consideration for funding may be asked to modify budget lines at the request of the review committee as a condition of funding. It is recognized that the budgets submitted in the proposals are subject to change. However, Awardees must get approval from DEED for any significant changes (over 10% in any budget line item category) during the award period. Send budget modification requests to Laura Nedved, email@example.com.
Applicants must submit the full Blandin MIRC Digital Literacy Program Work and Sustainability Plan and supporting documents that include four sections in addition to the One Stop Partners Agreement.
I. Cover Page – requires both the WSA Director’s contact information and signature and
information for the Primary Contact Person overseeing this project.
II. Digital Literacy Program Work and Sustainability Plan (80 points)
January 28, 2011 10