Renewing Communities RFP

The Opportunity Institute, on behalf of the Renewing Communities Initiative, is accepting applications for higher education programs targeting currently and formerly incarcerated students in California. Renewing Communities is funded by a number of philanthropic foundations and groups; this Request for Proposals (RFP) will fund prison-based, jail-based, and community-based college programs for criminal justice-involved students. Over three years, a total of more than $5 million will be available. Funds in the amount of $1,750,000 are currently available for one year of funding, but additional funds may be confirmed before applicants are selected for award. It is anticipated that at least six to ten sites will be funded; budgets for the sites may vary widely. The grant period will be one year. Renewed contracts with equal or greater funding in years two and three are expected but not guaranteed.

This funding initiative aims to expand and improve college pathways for criminal justice-involved students. It adheres to the recommendations outlined in the report, Degrees of Freedom: Expanding College Opportunities for Currently and Formerly Incarcerated Californians, published in February 2015 by the Stanford Criminal Justice Center at Stanford Law School and the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at UC Berkeley School of Law. This report should be consulted in the process of planning and preparing an application.

To accomplish the goal of expanding and improving college pathways for criminal justice-involved students, successful applicants will:

·       Ensure high-quality academic programming and/or support structures that are responsive to the needs of criminal justice-involved students;

·       Enable student success by prioritizing academic and non-academic support services, usually including college readiness courses, academic placement and counseling, financial and career counseling, soft skills development including persistence and resilience, connections to reentry services, and career counseling or guidance specific to those with criminal records;

·       Build links from corrections to higher education, and foster collaboration among educational institutions, correctional agencies, and/or reentry organizations;

·       Demonstrate long-term sustainability and capacity for scalability and bring matching public resources; and

·       Commit to engaging in program evaluation and a learning community with other grantees.  


Applications will be accepted from:

1.     California Institutions of Higher Education accredited by the Western Association of School and Colleges, including public California community colleges or districts, public four-year colleges and universities, and private colleges and universities with 501(c)(3) status; and

2.     Community-Based Organizations with 501(c)(3) status that are primarily dedicated to providing post-secondary education.

Applicants can propose to build a new program or expand and enhance an existing program.

Deadline: Applications will be accepted until February 1, 2016 at 5:00 pm. A non-binding Notice of Intent to Apply should be filed by January 11, 2016 at 5:00 pm.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): FAQs related to this RFP can be found here.

Webinar: An introductory webinar was presented on December 11, 2015. The full presentation can be viewed here.

Contact Information: Please direct all questions pertaining to this RFP to