Request for Proposal (RFP)

Applications are no longer being accepted for our Request for Proposal.


For more than 90 years, Berkshire United Way has been building a stronger community right here in Berkshire County. We support children and families wherever they are in their lives. We provide early education opportunities, so children enter school ready to learn; give young people the tools they need to make healthy decisions; and help working families become financially stable. As part of a worldwide effort to create lasting change, we mobilize people and organizations to develop long-term solutions to current and emerging needs throughout the county. Our vision is for Berkshire County to become a dynamic, engaged community with opportunities for all.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the events following George Floyd’s death changed our world overnight. The needs of our community expanded and shifted.  These unprecedented times require our organization to be nimbler and more creative in our work.  Funding priority will be given to organizations serving communities disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 and racial injustice.

Families are the foundation of our community.  When families are safe, healthy, and financially secure, they are more likely to reach the goals they have for themselves and their children. Our main intention with this RFP is to support family well-being and to address gaps in services in our community. This will require programs to generate a whole-family, integrated approach that focuses on educational advancement and economic mobility.

Funding Announcement

BUW announces the availability of funding for the one-year period of July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022. Specific details of the RFP are noted below. The total amount available will be determined by the revenue raised during FY21 Campaign. Successful applicants will receive awards based on the following: 

  • Grant awards will be based on the results of a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) process. Applicants are required to develop a narrative proposal addressing one or more of BUW’s three priority areas of Early Childhood Development, Positive Youth Development, and Economic Prosperity. Integrated strategies of Resource Coordination or Professional Development must align with one of our priority areas and may include age groups from more than one area.
  • Maximum grant award per program allowed will be $50,000. Any one agency cannot exceed more than 10% of total funding available through this RFP, with a limit of 3 programs per agency.
  • BUW investment into a program cannot be more than 50% of the total program expenditures. Funds are intended to supplement (build upon or add to) current programming vs. supplanting (replace or take the place of). Existing funds for a project and its activities may not be reallocated for other organizational expenses.
  • Funding priority will have a greater focus on benefiting populations most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19:
    • People living in poverty/low income <$50,000
    • Communities of color and immigrant families
    • Unemployed/Underemployed
    • People living with mental illness/substance addiction
    • Victims of domestic violence/sexual abuse

Nonprofit organizations must be:

  • Located in and primarily serving residents of central and southern Berkshire County.

  • Operating as a not-for-profit organization with a 501(c)(3) status or has an established fiscal sponsorship with a 501(c)(3) non-for-profit organization.

  • Incorporated or chartered under appropriate local, state or federal statutes.

  • Abide by federal and state laws regarding non-discrimination and anti-terrorism.

  • Have an active, locally based, volunteer board or elected body that meets regularly, makes policy decisions and holds election of officers.

  • Have an administrative structure with defined lines of responsibility, a mission statement and bylaws.

  • Financially stable, perform a regular budgeting process and  able to submit audited financial statements and/or IRS Form 990 (with internal control deficiency letters if applicable).

  • Have current license, certification and permits, if applicable.

  • Providing services/activities that address Integrated/Collaborative Approaches, Early Childhood Development, Positive Youth Development, or Economic Mobility/Prosperity.

  • Demonstrate effectiveness of programs/services or activities through measurable outcomes, reporting on a biannual basis. See Appendix A.

Please note that BUW grant funds are meant to be flexible and support the needs of your program as you determine. Funds cannot be used for:

  • Political or partisan purposes

  • Religious programs

  • Capital improvements

  • Annual fund or campaign appeals

  • Endowments

  • For-profit organizations

BUW funding request must not exceed 50% of the total budgeted expenditures. Program expenditures may include costs associated with staffing, trainings related to evidence-based curricula/best practices for children/youth, required program materials, transportation and/or supports needed for participants to attend programming, use of data collection/evaluation tools, and any licensing fees, if applicable.

BUW supports the use of various data collection/evaluation methods, including formative assessments, pre/post surveys, observations, case notes, interviews, etc. Each program should use the tool(s) that best aligns with your work and allows you to measure impact (i.e., the number of children/youth progressing). Sample evaluation tools can be found here:

Budgets will be evaluated by BUW trained volunteers. BUW determines a unit rate based on total program budget and numbers served. Berkshire United Way reserves the right to manage any training process and funding directly if multiple agencies are interested in adopting the same program or curriculum.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility: Programs must be able to develop and maintain community connections for vulnerable populations; incorporate diverse cultures, philosophies, and experiences across their organization/programming. Funding priority will have a greater focus on benefiting populations most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19:

      1. People living in poverty/low income <$50,000
      2. Communities of color and immigrant families
      3. Unemployed/Underemployed
      4. People living with mental illness/substance addiction
      5. Victims of domestic violence/sexual abuse

Community Need/Opportunity: Programs must foster trust-based relationships and demonstrate a collaborative nature in addressing a viable community need and collectively work to improve community conditions or address gaps in services. Examples of gaps include: early childhood education programs working together to fill open slots, sharing mental health clinicians between programs or cross sector alignment between programs to help individuals obtain and retain jobs.

Organizational/Program Feasibility:  Programs must clearly demonstrate a strong program design with established outcomes for individuals served, validation of program sustainability and must have the ability to secure other sources of financial and in-kind support.

Two Generation/Collaborative Approaches:  Programs must be focused on building stronger family - child relationships and enhanced home environments to promote positive outcomes for children and youth.

Integrated Strategies

Programs may have a greater impact on improving family well-being through integrated services for both the child or youth and the parent/caregiver. BUW seeks to support programs within agencies that offer professional development, resource coordination and case management models with a primary connection to health and mental health supports.  For example, Mobility Mentoring is a model that builds off participants’ real-life challenges in five domains: family stability, well-being, financial management, education and training, and employment and career management. 

Priority Focus Areas

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been extremely challenging for our families with young children. Families are balancing economic and food insecurity, childcare, and remote learning with schools. BUW seeks to fund programs within agencies that are committed to ensuring that all children and families have the opportunity to build protective factors.  

The Center for the Study of Social Policy states “Protective factors are characteristics that have been shown to make positive outcomes more likely for young children and their families, and to reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.”  Programs must be able to demonstrate the ability to address one or more of the following protective factors:  1) Nurturing and attachment; 2) Knowledge of parenting and child development; 3) Parental resilience; 4) Social connections; 5) Concrete supports for parents; 6) Social and emotional competence of children.

Greatest emphasis will be put on quality early learning environments that are rooted in early childhood development, providing intensive parenting support, building social/emotional and literacy skills, and assisting with early grade reading. 

Programs must be able to demonstrate the following program outcomes:

  • Numbers Served – children and adults
  • Demographics of people served
  • Children progressing or maintaining in their social/emotional development
  • Children progressing or maintaining in their language development

Our Berkshire County youth are experiencing higher levels of anxiety and depression due to the isolating effects of COVID-19. BUW seeks to support programs within agencies that foster healthy youth development for middle-school and high school youth. A greater emphasis will be placed on mental health supports, work-based learning experiences, mentoring, and activities that build career readiness skills.

Internships provide youth with experiential learning/internship opportunities they need to succeed in the world of work. Work based learning with high schools and career and technical education provide students the ability to learn employability skills such as problem solving, communication, and teamwork.

Mentoring can significantly shape the path to a successful adulthood. Research shows that mentoring programs are most effective when youth and adults develop a supportive and trusting relationship.

The MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) frames career readiness activities in three parts: “Career Awareness” or becoming ‘aware’ of potential careers; “Career Exploration” or ‘exploring’ career interest areas & career readiness; and “Career Immersion” or learning the specifics skills & knowledge within a career pathway area.

Programs must be able to demonstrate the following program outcomes:

  • Numbers served – youth and adults
  • Demographics of people served
  • Youth demonstrating improved soft skill/professional skills development (i.e. critical thinking/problem solving, communication, teamwork, leadership)

Many Berkshire County households experienced great financial stress in 2020.  One of the biggest challenges remains not having enough adequate income to meet their basic needs. BUW seeks to support programs that will help families build their path to obtaining sustainable incomes. This effort also supports local businesses’ workforce development needs, helping to build mobility for all. 

One effective framework is Courses 2 Employment, which integrates industry partners, educational institutions, and social/community support strategies. In this model, education and support organizations are responsive to business needs and are flexible in offering training programs that provide appropriate technical skills training and basic skill development. Support organizations provide intensive case management for young adult learners including motivational support and coordinating referrals/follow through with social services, as needed.

Programs must be able to demonstrate the following program outcomes:

  • Individuals served
  • Demographics of people served
  • Individuals receiving job-relevant licenses, certificates, and/or credentials
  • Individuals who gain employment or increase wages

As part of the RFP application, you will need to upload a Word document that provides ALL performance measures within ONE of the following areas: Resource Coordination OR Professional Development, Early Childhood Development, Positive Youth Development, Economic Mobility/Prosperity

Integrated Strategies

Resource Coordination

Number of families served

Number of families connected to services in the community

Number of families reporting they are receiving services from other organizations resulting in improved outcomes

Professional Development

Number of adults trained

Number of youth trained

Number of individuals completing survey

Number of individuals reporting improved soft skills and/or workplace skills (i.e. critical thinking/problem solving skills, communication, teamwork and collaboration)

Early Childhood Development

Number of children enrolled in programming

Number of children progressing or maintaining age appropriate in social/emotional

Number of children progressing or maintaining age appropriate in language development

Number of adults served that are provided with information, resources, tools, trainings, and/or teaching skills (i.e. parents/caregivers, mentors, coaches, teachers, etc.)

Number of adults engaging with child/youth at least 3 times per week (i.e. reading, telling stories, singing songs, sharing ideas, and/or talking about things that matter to child)

Positive Youth Development

Number of youth enrolled in programming

Number of youth who develop soft skills (i.e. critical thinking/problem solving, communication, and teamwork and collaboration)

Number of adults served that are provided with information, resources, tools, trainings, and/or teaching skills (i.e. parents/caregivers, mentors, coaches, teachers, etc.)

Number of adults engaging with youth at least 3 times per week (i.e. attending sporting events, helping with homework, family game night, eating dinner together)

Economic Mobility/Prosperity

Number of individuals who receive job skills training

Number of individuals who earn job-relevant licenses, certificates, and/or credentials

Number of individuals who gain employment or advance in employment

Number of individuals who increase their wages

NOTE: This section is not part of the application process. You will be required to include demographics in your reporting throughout the year and you may use this section as reference.





Unknown Gender



Age Group

Under 5

5 through 9

10 through 14

15 through 19

20 through 24

25 through 59

60 through 64


Unknown Age



Racial Background

American Indian or Alaska Native


Black or African American

Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

Latino or Hispanic



Other Background

Unknown Background

Total by Background

Marital Status of Household


Single/Never Married



Co-habitating/Living with Partner

Other status

Unknown Status



Educational Attainment

(Highest level of education completed in the home)

Less than 9th grade

9th through 12th grade

High school graduate or equivalent

Some college (no degree)

Associate Degree

Bachelor's Degree

Post Graduate Degree

Unknown Education

Total by Education


Household Income

Less than $10,000






$75,000 and over

Unknown Income

Total by Income


North Berkshire County





North Adams




Central Berkshire County








New Ashford









South Berkshire County



Great Barrington


Mount Washington



Great Barrington


Mount Washington

New Marlborough






West Stockbridge



Outside Berkshire County or Unknown


Grand Total

Best Practices: techniques supported by research and experience that have been proven to reliably lead to desired results

Collaborative Approaches:  A mutually beneficial and well-defined relationship entered into by two or more organizations to achieve common goals. The relationship includes a commitment to: 1) a shared vision and mutual goals 2) a jointly developed structure, shared responsibility, and agreed-upon methods of communication 3) mutual authority and accountability for success and 4) sharing of resources and rewards.[1] Collaboration requires commitment to participate in shared decision making, allocation of resources, and shared accountability. Collaboration is beyond making referrals to each other. Source:

[1] Payne, Ruby K., DeVol, Philip E, and Smith, terie Dreussi. Bridges out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities. Revised 2009.

Courses 2 Employment: The C2E model is based on a strategy composed of three common elements: a high-quality education or training program, a range of academic and non-academic supports to help participants achieve educational and employment goals related to a specific industry sector and an industry strategy that focuses on meeting business needs.

Evidence-based programs: most effective community-based solutions that provide a platform for expansion and replication based on a rigorous experimental or quasi-experimental study design to identify positive community impacts on a variety of social issues.  In order to qualify as evidence based, a program must show: that the expected positive results are attributed to the program itself, be peer-reviewed by experts in the field, and be endorsed by a federal agency.

Fidelity: Staying true to the formalized implementation according to structure and original program design.

Indicator: A measure that helps quantify the achievement of a result.

Intentional Engagement: Programming has specific goals or outcomes in mind. [2]

[2] See 5 Strategies to Intentionally Engage Students, Adam Cebulski, Office of Research and Strategic Initiatives, Lean Forward. Website:

Intentional Engagement graphic
Follow link to view larger image:…


Result: A condition of well-being for children, adults, families or communities. The outcome of a particular strategy, activity, or series of strategies and activities on recipients (child(ren), youth, adults, family, community).

Results-Based Accountability (RBA): A disciplined way of taking action that a community can use to improve the lives of children, youth, and adults. RBA can also be used by agencies and organizations to improve the performance of its programs.

  • Population Accountability: For communities, cities, districts, counties - about the well-being of whole populations; Consists of cross community partnerships to make progress on quality of life for any population.
  • Population Accountability Questions
    • What are the quality of life conditions we want for the children, adults, and  families in our community?
    • What would these conditions look like if we could see them?
    • How can we measure these conditions?
    • How are we doing on the most important of these measures?
    • Who are the partners that have a role to play in doing better?
    • What works to do better, including no-cost and low-cost ideas?
    • What do we propose to do?
  • Population Results: The focus of Results Based Accountability, a condition of well-being for children, adults, seniors, families and communities, stated in plain language. For example, the number of children entering school ready to learn based on third grade reading scores. Our work is focused on changing community conditions for entire populations rather than just the recipients of services funded by United Way. Example: reading scores, graduation rate in Berkshire County
  • Performance Accountability: For clients of programs, agencies, teams and service systems; Performance measures make sure programs and services are working as well as possible.
  • Performance Accountability Questions
    • Who are our customers?
    • How can we measure if our customers are better off?
    • How can we measure if we are delivering services/care well?
    • How are we doing on the most important of these measures?
    • Who are the partners that have a role to play in doing better?
    • What works to do better, including no-cost and low-cost ideas?
    • What do we propose to do?
  • Performance Measures: Measures of how well a strategy, program, agency or service system is working. The most important performance measure tells us whether program customers are better off. We refer to these as client results to distinguish them from population results. Results Based Accountability uses three types of performance measures:
    • How much did we do? i.e. # clients served, # of activities
    • How well did we do it? i.e. staff turnover rate, staff/client morale
    • Is anyone better off? i.e. % skills/knowledge, % attitude/opinion, % behavior, % circumstance 

Scorecard: Clear Impact Scorecard is a web-based software for measuring and reporting performance at both the population and program levels. The software consists of interactive scorecards, strategy map visualizations, and Gantt Chart project management tools.

Social Capital: A set of social resources that are accessed and exchanged in relationships between people and institutions.

Social Capital graphic


Strengthening Families Framework: The Strengthening Families framework is a research-informed approach to increase family strengths, enhance child development, and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. We work to engage families, programs, and communities in building the five protective factors.

Sustainable Income: Income which is required by any family/individuals to meet all basic expenses in the present and future. Basic expenses include: food, child care, medical, housing, transportation, other, annual taxes. ©2017 Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Two-Generation Approach: Programs that provide intensive services to children, adolescents, or caregivers but also offer opportunities and meet the needs of all generation(s) through education, connection to economic supports, and/or the development of social capital. Source:

Watch our February 12 RFP Info Session


What is the grant cycle?

The grant is a one-year cycle from July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022.


Do applicants need to be a 501©3?

Applicants must be a nonprofit organization, which includes social service agencies, schools, libraries, museums, etc. 501©3 status is not required.


When are applications due?

Applications are due via the web platform by MIDNIGHT March 21th. Late applications will NOT be accepted. Early applications are always welcome.


In terms of this grant application, what are the total awards BUW is giving out? 

The total amount invested is dependent upon overall campaign, which will be finalized in May. BUW anticipates this will be a competitive process as a result of funding available and an anticipated increase in applications. All applications will be looked at together, (i.e. that there are not separate “pools” of money for each priority area). We do not have set targets for percentages for each priority area.

Maximum grant award per program allowed will be $50,000. Any one agency cannot exceed more than 10% of total funding available through this RFP, with a limit of 3 programs per agency. BUW investment into a program cannot be more than 50% of the total program expenditures.  Funds are intended to supplement (build upon or add to) current programming vs. supplanting (replace or take the place of).  Existing funds for a project and its activities may not be reallocated for other organizational expenses.


Regarding reporting program effectiveness, does Berkshire United Way provide grantees who receive an award access to Clear Impact Scorecard? If not, are other methods of measuring outcomes accepted?

Yes, BUW will provide a user license to Scorecard per organization awarded funding. Approved applicants will be expected to report outcomes via Scorecard on semi-annual basis. Programs may use their own internal system to collect the data.


What is the review process?

A minimum of 4-5 community volunteers review and evaluate each proposal. Volunteers are trained and screened to ensure they are free of conflicts or perceived conflicts of interest. Volunteers base their recommendation for funding on the overall assessment score, the clarity and thoroughness of proposals, the ability to track results, and the evidence or likelihood that the program will be successful at addressing the priority community issue through the use of best practices/evidence-based programs. 

The final numerical scores from each volunteer are used to derive an average score among all reviewers of the same proposal.  This allows proposals to be ranked before the multiple discussions phase of the review process.  Community Investment volunteers will make recommendations to the Berkshire United Way Board of Directors who will make final funding decisions.  All decisions are final; there is no appeal process.


Do review committees have access to previous progress reports/site visit evaluations?

We share just the current application with reviewers. Staff, board and community members may bring background knowledge about programs to the team meetings. Ultimately, BUW board of directors make final decisions.

Does the RFP have to be completed in all one sitting or can you save and go back to it?

We added a Save Draft button on the webpage. If you use the 'Save Draft' button below to save the above form when it's partially complete, please do not clear your browser cache before you return to the form, otherwise you will not be able to access your saved form. If you have your browser set to automatically clear the cache, deselect that feature.


Can you work in multiple applications simultaneously saving drafts? Is there a place we can see the full application in one place?

Unfortunately, only one application can be saved at a time. However, the RFP questions are available for download on our website. It may be helpful to complete in a Word document and then copy and paste into the web application. Reminder: organizations must submit a separate application per program to which they are applying.


For performance measures, do we need to provide projections?

Please submit target values for full year FY22. Note: Appendix B: Demographics is for reference only. Demographics will be part of reporting requirements for programs awarded funding.


Are there any restrictions on the funding amount requested?

Maximum grant award per program allowed will be $50,000. Any one agency cannot exceed more than 10% of total funding available through this RFP, with a limit of 3 programs per agency. BUW investment into a program cannot be more than 50% of the total program expenditures


Are there budget templates?

The required budget template to be used for both the organization and program budget can be downloaded from the BUW RFP website.


If applying for more than one program, do you want us to upload the 990 and audit with each application?

Yes, please upload financial documentation with each application if applying for multiple programs.

If you have questions, please contact Julie Singley, Community Impact program manager, at