Request For Proposal

Request for Proposal

Helios Education Foundation is accepting proposals for the Research and Evaluation of Tempe Preschool Resource Expansion (Tempe PRE). Interested applicants must contact Erika Morse, Grants Management Director, at to verify eligibility and gain access to the specific RFP web portal. The information contained on this webpage informs applicants of the pertinent project information. 

Introduction and Goals of RFP:

The purpose of Helios Education Foundation’s Request for Proposal (RFP) is to generate research around the combination of teacher quality instructional tools and curricula creating an educational experience supporting children’s cognitive and social emotional gains and sustain such gains from Pre-K through grade three.  The Foundation’s grant will support a comprehensive research and evaluation of the Tempe PRE program.  Helios anticipates making a grant award of up to $1.3M over four years contingent on the program’s depth and scope of service delivery. 

We expect a competitive proposal to address our primary goals:

Goal 1:  Examine the extent to which the components of Tempe PRE are well aligned and being implemented with fidelity.

Goal 2:  Evaluate the extent to which Pre-K and K-1 instructional strategies are being aligned to reduce the impact of student fade-out.

Goal 3:  To understand to what extent the Tempe PRE initiative influences children’s kindergarten readiness. 

Goal 4:  To what extent does the Tempe PRE intervention have an impact on 3rd grade literacy and mathematic skills (as measured by AzMERIT)?  

This is an open RFP process, meaning all parties who are eligible may submit a proposal.

Key Dates:

May 22, 2018: 9:30AM (MST): Clarification webinar

June 1, 2018: Full proposals due

June 18, 2018: Successful applicants notified of grant award


The City of Tempe is the first municipality in Arizona to fund free, high quality, year-round preschool to low-income three- and four-year old children.  While there is national research documented on the positive outcomes for low-income children participating in high-quality preschool programs, little research has focused on its effects in Arizona.  There is national research on the so-called “fade-out” effects of preschool gains for children by Grade 3, of which those findings are not conclusive.  This research and evaluation study aims to determine the factors that prevent fade-out for Tempe PRE children.  It is our aim to understand not only if the initiative has positive outcomes by the beginning of kindergarten, but also examine if they continue through third grade.  

This type of investment is not new for Tempe.  The City has a rich history of investing in early literacy interventions to improve school readiness outcomes.  Most recently, the City decided to explore ways to reduce the number of children needing these interventions.  To do this, Tempe commissioned a feasibility study to determine the need for and possible funding of a preschool program that would serve all three- and four-year-olds residing in the City of Tempe.  The study found a tremendous lack of high-quality preschool and even greater lack of access, especially for Tempe's most vulnerable families. 

For instance, only about one-third of Tempe’s 3,075 three- and four-year-olds are enrolled in preschool.  Of the few publicly funded preschool opportunities, a very small number serve children from families whose income is 200 percent of the federal poverty level or less, suggesting that hundreds of young children in Tempe could benefit from high-quality preschool but do not have the opportunity to attend. Similar to other cities in Arizona, Tempe has a high level of poverty.  Seventy-five percent of children in the Tempe Elementary School District and 41 percent of the children in the Kyrene School District qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch.  For many of the families of these children, preschool had not been an affordable option. 

As a result, many students in Tempe struggle academically.  Currently, according to DIBELS Next, 64 percent of Tempe children are not reaching reading benchmarks upon entry to kindergarten and 58 percent are not meeting the benchmark on the third grade AZ MERIT Reading/Language Arts Assessment. 

The Origin of Tempe PRE:

In March 2017, to improve the academic skills of Tempe’s earliest learners, the City of Tempe approved $6 million in funding for a two-year pilot of a free, high quality, year-round preschool for low-income three- and four-year-old children.  The Tempe PRE program began in August 2017 with 15 classrooms and 270 students, and expanded in January 2018 to 20 classrooms and 360 students.  

The key elements of the program include:

  • Certified teachers in every classroom (minimum of a bachelor's degree in education with either a certificate or endorsement in early childhood)
  • Use of a high-quality, evidence-based curriculum (High-Scope)
  • Professional development, mentoring, and coaching provided to support Pre-K teachers in implementing all aspects of the program
  • Professional development for kindergarten and first grade teachers and establishment of a transition process for each grade (developed incrementally with transition from Pre-K in Year 1, K to 1 in Year 2, and so on up to Grade 3)
  • Parenting classes and parent engagement

To support this work, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust awarded Tempe PRE $510,000 over the two-year pilot to support curriculum, professional development, and assessment orientation.  Other Tempe PRE partners include the Tempe Elementary and Kyrene school districts (where Tempe PRE classrooms reside); Kid Zone (a City of Tempe Community Services program that provides before and after care services at some of the Tempe PRE sites); First Things First; and the Arizona Department of Education.

Partners Collaboration on Tempe PRE:

While Helios Education Foundation is providing funding for this evaluation, this endeavor is a joint initiative across the following seven partners: 

City of Tempe

After a study found that nearly two‐thirds of the city of Tempe’s children were performing below the widely held expectations for reading and language in kindergarten, the City of Tempe Human Services department proposed a plan to the Tempe City Council to expand access to high quality preschool for children from low‐income households.  In 2017, the Tempe City Council awarded $3 million dollars in annual funding for two years to pilot the Tempe PRE program.

First Things First

In November 2006, Arizona voters passed Proposition 203, a citizen's initiative that funds quality early childhood development and health strategic initiatives through the allocation of a proportion of the state’s tobacco tax revenue.  Proposition 203 created a new state‐level board known as the Arizona Early Childhood Development and Health Board, subsequently named First Things First, to exemplify the importance of early childhood, specifically the period from birth through age five.

Arizona Department of Education

The mission of the Arizona Department of Education is to serve Arizona’s education community, ensuring every child has access to an excellent education.  The Arizona Department of Education supports 15 county‐level education agencies, more than 200 public school districts, over 400 charter holders, and 13 Joint Technological Education Districts. Although the Arizona Department of Education supports the implementation of many programs across the state of Arizona, two are relevant for the current Request for Proposals.  First, to support the early education workforce across the state, the Arizona Department of Education offers widely accessible professional development opportunities for the early education workforce (e.g., on the Arizona Early Learning Standards and Teaching Strategies Gold). Additionally, the Arizona Department of Education is working with participating school districts around the state to implement the Kindergarten Developmental Inventory, an assessment that kindergarten teachers use to obtain an in‐depth understanding of the developmental strengths and needs of every child. It is intended to be used as a formative assessment - as a tool used throughout the entire school year to help teachers identify the depths of each child’s knowledge and abilities in all areas of development: (1) Social and Emotional, (2) Language and Communication, (3) Approaches to Learning, (4) Cognitive, and (5) Physical.

Virginia G Piper Charitable Trust

Virginia G Piper Charitable Trust has generously awarded Tempe PRE $510,400 over 2 years to support Tempe PRE curriculum, professional development, assessment, and quality.  These funds are being utilized to provide access to High Scope curriculum materials and associated professional development, access to the My Teaching Strategies platform and student portfolios, professional development on the formative assessment tool, and purchasing the Quality First full participation buy-in model for all 20 Tempe PRE classrooms.

Tempe Elementary School District

Tempe Elementary School District houses and provides supervision of 18 elementary schools. Tempe PRE is in 11 of those 18 schools with 18 total classrooms. 

Kyrene School District

Kyrene School District houses and provides supervision of two Tempe PRE classrooms located at two of nineteen the elementary school sites.

Helios Education Foundation

Helios Education Foundation is dedicated to creating opportunities for individuals in Arizona and Florida to succeed in postsecondary education.  Helios focusses on investing in initiatives across the education continuum, with the goal of ensuring all students graduate from high school ready for college and career, eventually going on to complete a high-quality postsecondary degree or certificate. 

Tempe PRE Components: 

The Tempe PRE program is comprised of the following five components: 

  1. Teacher Credentials:  Each Tempe PRE classroom is required to have a certified lead teacher and a minimum of one assistant teacher in each classroom.
  2. Teacher/Student Ratios:  Each Tempe PRE classroom is to attain a teacher/student ratio of 1:9.
  3. Curriculum and Assessment:  All Tempe PRE classrooms utilize the High Scope Curriculum and assess student learning and development using My Teaching Strategies (e.g., Teaching Strategies GOLD).
  4. Professional Development:  Teachers in the Tempe PRE program receive professional development on the High Scope Curriculum and My Teaching Strategies prior to the opening of the preschool classrooms and receive ongoing professional development and coaching (in addition to Quality First coaching) throughout the year.  Additionally, teachers in the Tempe PRE program receive ongoing technical assistance from the Tempe PRE program coordinators on relevant topics (e.g., curriculum implementation).
  5. Quality First Participation:  Tempe PRE classrooms are participating in Quality First. Through participation in Quality First, teachers have access to four hours of coaching per month, mental health consultation, star rating assessments, and access to professional development opportunities and scholarships through the Arizona Early Childhood Workforce Registry.  In order to attain high‐quality, all Tempe PRE sites work to achieve a Quality First rating of four or five stars. Quality assessments are the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale (ECERS) and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS).
  6. Parenting Support Programs:  Parents of children enrolled in the Tempe PRE program have the opportunity to access Triple P –Positive Parenting Program Level 2 seminars on The Power of Positive Parenting; Raising Confident, Competent Children; and Raising Resilient Children and discussion groups on Dealing with Disobedience, Developing Good Bedtime Routines, Managing Fighting and Aggression, and Hassle‐Free Shopping with Children. Since beginning the workshops in January 2018, 36 families have participated. 

Study Sample and Random Selection of Students:

To be eligible for the Tempe PRE Program, families had to be at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level and residing in Tempe.  Eligible students for the program also had to be three- or four-years-old at the start of the program.

Unfortunately, demand for the program exceeded the number of spots available.  As a result, the City of Tempe decided to select students randomly through a lottery (see Table 1 below).  By August 2017 a total of 450 applications were submitted for 270 slots.  These students were part of the initial cohort of 15 classrooms (cohort 1a).  

Five additional classrooms were added in January 2018.  The City of Tempe again opened up the application process.  Fifty-two additional families applied and were then added to the list of 180 families that were not selected from the August 2017 lottery.  From that group, the City of Tempe randomly selected an additional 90 students (cohort 1b) for the additional five classrooms. 

In April 2018, 177 of the 360 students (cohorts 1a&b) continued enrollment in the program.  For its second cohort of students, the City of Tempe received a total of 246 new applications for 183 new slots (cohort 2).     

Overview of Scope of Work, Study Goals, and Related Research Questions:  

A primary goal of this research is examine the impacts of Tempe PRE through a randomized control design (RCT).  While research partners can propose quasi-experimental designs, those that propose RCTs will be at a competitive advantage.  This study includes four primary goals:

Goal 1:  Examine the extent to which the components of Tempe PRE are well aligned and being implemented with fidelity.

Goal 2:  Evaluate the extent to which Pre-K and K-1 instructional strategies are being aligned to reduce the impact of student fade-out.

Goal 3:  To understand to what extent the Tempe PRE initiative influences children’s kindergarten readiness. 

Goal 4:  To what extent does the Tempe PRE intervention have an impact on 3rd grade literacy and mathematic skills (as measured by AzMERIT)?   

The research goals and questions are not exhaustive.  A great research proposal will address all of the associated goals and questions and will identify additional questions needing addressed.  

A prospective contactor shall outline how they propose to successfully complete the scope of work and associated research questions all within and not to exceed the $1.3 million budget.  

Scope of Services:

Upon selection for services, the research team will be responsible for the following services and tasks:

  1. Refine Research Questions under Goals
  2. Data Collection and Analysis Plan
  3. Analyze Data
  4. Draft Year 1-4 Reports
  5. Collaborate with Helios Research Team to create Helios Education Briefs (3)
  6. Present Yearly Findings
  7. Identify a communications plan in concert with Helios staff (including expected research writing plan)
  8. Data Security and Management
  9. Data sharing agreements with all parties

Investment Guidelines:

Helios Education Foundation does not support capital campaigns, nor will it provide support to schools for general operating funds, teacher recruitment, professional development or classroom materials unless related to a specific program or initiative to be funded. Helios Education Foundation will provide funding for administrative expenses limited to 10% of the overall proposal (indirect costs), but will not support expenses that expand the organization's mission in an attempt to secure funds, replace public funds or support ongoing operations.

All organizations receiving funding must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a qualified 501(c)(3) organization that has been in existence for at least 2 years or a public entity;
  • Provide services or programs within Arizona and/or Florida;
  • Have and be in compliance with an Equal Opportunity Employer policy;
  • Be in compliance with local, state and federal Anti-discrimination laws; and
  • Certify that you do not knowingly support, employ or do business with, directly or indirectly, individuals, entities, or groups that are subject to the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctions or those known to support terrorism or to have violated OFAC sanctions.

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