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SEEF Competitive Grant FY20 (Cohort 3)

Request for Applications (RFA) Release Date: Friday, Dec. 13, 2019
Application Submission Deadline: Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020 by 3 p.m.


The following entities were awarded an FY20 SEEF Competitive Grant:

  • American University
  • DC Special Education Cooperative
  • Relay Graduate School of Education


The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is soliciting grant applications for the Special Education Enhancement Fund (SEEF) Competitive Grant, pursuant to OSSE’s authority to issue grants for programs that increase the capacity of a local education agency (LEA) to provide special education services (DC Code § 38-2602(b)(18)) and the Special Education Quality Improvement Amendment Act of 2014, effective March 10, 2015 (D.C. Law 20-196; D.C. Code § 38-2613). The purpose of this funding is to:

  • Address systemic barriers to academic achievement for students with disabilities (SWD) identified based on the landscape analysis research conducted by OSSE;
  • Accelerate student achievement for SWD by using research-based interventions; and
  • Share and scale promising practices citywide.


OSSE will make these grants available through a competitive process. Eligible lead applicants include third-party non-profit organizations and institutions of higher education. All applicants must partner with targeted school(s) at one or more LEAs. Applicants must secure partnerships with the partner school(s) and/or parent LEA(s) with which they intend to work and will be required to verify these partnerships by uploading, as part of the grant application, a signed Partnership Agreement that details the parameters of the partnership and demonstrates each partner’s role in the planning and implementation of programs and services.

Eligible applicants are required to partner with DC public schools and/or DC public charter schools as follows:

  1. Only serve DC public schools and/or DC public charter schools enrolling students with disabilities.

The complete list of DC public schools and DC public charter schools, including their enrollment of students with disabilities in the 2018-19 school year, can be found on the OSSE enrollment audit website.

  1. Prioritize high-need schools with low growth and achievement for SWD: When calculating the total number of SWD enrolled across an applicant’s list of partner schools, at least 50 percent of all SWD in the applicant’s entire partnership must be enrolled in schools on the target high-need schools list. The targeted list of high-need schools is based on their SWDs’ low performance and growth on measures in the DC state accountability system. These target schools have a 2018-19 school year DC STAR accountability subgroup score for either the SWD or At-Risk SWD subgroup of 40 percent or lower, in at least one grade span or alternative school framework. Applicants may serve other DC public schools and/or public charter schools as well. The list of target high-need schools and the enrollment for each will be made available by the RFA on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. For more information on the STAR accountability system, please visit OSSE's website.
  1. Limit past SEEF competitive grantee schools: Across all of an applicant’s partner schools, no more than 20 percent of their SWD may be enrolled in LEAs that have already received a SEEF competitive grant in Cohort 1 or Cohort 2, as either a lead applicant or partner LEA. The list of existing SEEF competitive grantees is as follows:

SEEF Competitive Grant Cohort 1 grantees and partner schools:

  • Capital City Public Charter School (PCS)
  • DC Public Charter School Cooperative, in partnership with:
  • Bridges PCS
  • City Arts and Prep PCS
  • Inspired Teaching Demonstration PCS
  • Lee Montessori PCS, and
  • DC Bilingual PCS
  • Perry Street Prep PCS
  • Two Rivers PCS
  • Washington Global PCS

SEEF Competitive Grant Cohort 2 grantees and partner schools:

  • Bridges PCS, in partnership with:
  • Briya PCS
  • DC Prep PCS
  • Eagle Academy PCS
  • E.L. Haynes PCS
  • Meridian PCS
  • Monument PCS

Grant applicants will be required to choose strategies that address one or more of the systemic barriers that OSSE identified in its landscape analysis and that additional research corroborates. These strategies include:

  • Building Special Education Staff Capacity: Special education teachers, especially novice and/or out-of-field teachers, need supports, such as access to targeted professional development, mentorship, and coaching in order to build their capacity to effectively implement evidence-based case management and instructional practices.  
  • Building General Education Teacher Capacity and Commitment: Since the majority of students with disabilities spend more than 80 percent of their time in general education settings, all teachers should be equipped with the time, resources, and structured supports to effectively address the academic and social-emotional needs of students with disabilities.
  • Building School and LEA Leadership Capacity and Commitment: In order for all teachers to take ownership for all students and their outcomes, leaders must put in place school-wide structures, such as educator evaluation practices and scheduling models that reflect the expectation that all teachers are responsible for serving all students. To set these high expectations and effectively drive toward them, school and LEA leaders need access to supports such as professional development, communities of practice, and tools to enable data-driven decision-making.
  • Expanding Access to High Quality Instructional Resources: General and special education teachers alike require access to high-quality instructional resources that allow them to differentiate instruction to meet individual students’ needs while maintaining all students’ access to rigorous, standards-aligned instruction.
  • Addressing Inadequate Identification Practices: To ground the identification of students with disabilities in sound evidence and minimize the disproportionate representation of certain student groups, school leadership and staff must be empowered to implement school-wide, data-driven identification protocols and systems such as Response-to-Intervention (RTI) and Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS).
  • Supporting Effective Transitions: To ensure that students transitioning from IDEA Part C (early intervention services) to Part B (pre-K or K) and from high school to adulthood (secondary transition) are set up for success in a new environment, special educators, service providers, and counselors would benefit from additional training and supports, such as professional development, engagement in data-driven transition planning teams, and structured evaluation of needs.  

Grant applicants will also be required to target at least one of the following sub-populations of students with disabilities that OSSE’s landscape analysis found to have especially significant achievement gaps with their peers who do not have disabilities:

  • At-risk students with disabilities;
  • Black or African American students with disabilities;
  • Students with disabilities involved in the juvenile justice and/or child welfare system(s);
  • Students with emotional disturbance; and/or
  • Students with specific learning disabilities.

Length of the Award

Grantees may obligate funds beginning Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, or the date of the grant award notice, whichever date is later. The grant period will end on Sept. 30, 2021.

Available Funding

The total funding available for the grant award period is up to $2,000,000. Awards are limited to one per applicant. OSSE will provide up to $1,000,000 per award, subject to the number of students being served as well as the intensity and expected impact of the intervention, availability of continued funding and satisfactory completion of grant obligations. OSSE expects to make 1-4 awards, depending on the quality of applications and availability of funds. 

Determinations regarding the number of competitive grant awards will be based on the quality and number of applications received and available funding. Successful applicants may be awarded amounts less than requested. Successful applicants must budget their award over the entire award period, which crosses two local fiscal years.

Pre-Application Period

Intent to Apply

Potential applicants must submit an Intent to Apply by Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, at 5 p.m. to [email protected]. Submitting an Intent to Apply does not obligate completing an application.

Partnership Facilitation Meeting

OSSE will host an optional in-person meeting with potential applicants that submit an Intent to Apply. Representatives of eligible High-Need partner schools will also be invited. This meeting will not be required, but may be a helpful opportunity to form an eligible application partnership. The meeting will be held Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, 1-3 p.m. at OSSE, 1050 First St. NE.

Application Process

The grants described here will be awarded competitively. A panel of at least three external reviewers will be convened to review, score, and rank each application. The review panel will be composed of neutral, qualified, professional individuals selected for their expertise, knowledge, or related experiences. In addition, a parallel panel of neutral, qualified, professional OSSE staff members with similar qualifications will be selected and conduct a separate scoring process. All internal and external reviewers must sign a Conflict of Interest statement. The application will be scored against a rubric. The complete rubric will be available on the application release date in the Enterprise Grants Management System (EGMS) and in the full RFA. The panels shall make recommendations for awards based on the scoring rubric. The State Superintendent of Education, or her designee, will make all final award decisions. Winning applicants may be required to make amendments to the Budget or other application sections to meet grant requirements.

Contact Information

For more infromation on this grant, please contact Brianna Griffin, program analyst, at [email protected].

Key Documents