Bridge Strategy / Program Design Consultant - Request for Proposals

Posted on March 23, 2023

March 2023

CenterState CEO is seeking a consultant to help develop a strategy and program which creates a “bridge” into high-tech and construction careers for central New York residents, particularly un/underemployed women and people of color. With the Work Train team, curriculum designers and community partners the consultant will: 

  1. Lead a research and design process to produce a written program design for the three areas of the bridge strategy/program (career exploration; barrier mitigation; and skill development) including 1) curriculum and 2) roles/responsibilities of partner organizations. 

  2. Create a public facing process/evaluation document outlining the essential elements (including curriculum) of the program for use in replicating the program at various organizations.

  3. With CenterState CEO and partners, coordinate hiring of staff at partner organizations and manage partner relationships through the implementation process. 


CenterState CEO is Central New York's premier business leadership and economic development organization, committed to creating a region where business thrives, and all people prosper. Its vision is to be recognized as a visionary leader, effective advocate, exceptional employer and a force for positive outcomes for our community. 

Work Train is an initiative of CenterState CEO focused on building effective, innovative workforce development programs that lead to career opportunities in high-wage occupations, particularly in advanced manufacturing, software and construction.  We foster shared prosperity by creating career opportunities for individuals who are unemployed and underemployed, while helping companies build strong workforces. We serve as a workforce intermediary and strategist, convening partnerships that drive solutions to persistent workforce problems. Our flexible and responsive approach allows us to develop and invest in innovative — and often non-traditional—strategies. As an Affiliate of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, Work Train is part of a national network of workforce initiatives implementing best practices and pursuing systems change in their communities. 


The bridge strategy/program will prepare underrepresented individuals to enter careers in advanced manufacturing, coding, smart systems and semiconductor industries. Our goal is to create a replicable model of an “experience” for working adults that enables them to do three things:  

  1. Understand career opportunities in high-tech industries and construction and connect with their own aptitudes and experience that would enable them to succeed in these careers; 

  2. Address challenges to employment in their own lives that are getting in the way of stable employment (child care, transportation, housing) and 

  3. Identify and address areas of skill or educational gaps.

Learning outcomes include:    

  • Industry Awareness, Social Capital & Networking:  high-tech career exploration experiences; individuals identifying their own skills/aptitudes; speaker series with women and people of color working in semiconductor industry; mentoring and networking to build confidence and belonging. 

  • Barrier Mitigation: help identify stable housing and childcare; address legal barriers to employment, transportation, access to banking and debt/credit issues. Leverages CenterState CEO’s Work Readiness Network where community-based partners work together to support individuals with these challenges.

  • Basic Skills, English, HSE/GED:  identify skill gaps and provide specialized, contextualized training directly connected to career and educational goals. Learners are brought to a competency level necessary to bridge into a certificate, pre-apprenticeship, or degree program and includes:

    • Basic skills: culturally responsive, intensive skills training in math and language skills; classroom and/or tutoring

    • ESL including contextualized content related to semiconductor careers

    • HSE/GED: coordinate, accelerate and contextualize the process of securing a high school degree or pass the GED.

While the bridge strategy/program will incorporate a variety of high-tech occupations, our initial research has revealed challenges attracting people into the manufacturing sector. We interviewed training/education partners, industry partners and Work Train manufacturing training program participants and learned that jobseekers have negative/neutral perceptions about career options in the manufacturing sector, particularly applied engineering, technologies and production careers. As a result, potential candidates are not signing up for training at the volume needed to fill open jobs. We also know that barriers to employment are abundant among marginalized communities and prevent people from accessing careers where they could be highly successful. These barriers include access to child care and transportation; having the time to finish a high school diploma, GED and/or learn English as a second language; and brushing up on math, writing or computer skills


We are looking for a consultant to develop the bridge strategy/program in collaboration with the Work Train team. The consultant will lead the following areas of work:

Research and Design

  • Research and educate our team and partners about existing models from around the country that provide basic skills, GED/HSE and ESL, leading to and/or complementing skills training at a community college.  We are looking for innovative models that are highly contextualized to careers, culturally responsive, flexible for working adults and community-led; these may include online, in-person and/or hybrid experiences.

  • Work with our team to co-lead a design process with a small group of partners. These partners will involve their members/clients/leaders in the process, with the goal that the resulting program is owned and managed by the community.

  • This project will include a team of curriculum designers, convened by CenterState CEO, to put together the jobseeker experience. This consultant will collaborate with the curriculum design team to create a ready-made bridge curriculum that can be replicated by other organizations.

  • Utilize our Work Train Framework to identify target jobs/skill requirements; create candidate profiles; and list existing training programs needed to prepare for those target jobs.

  • Work closely with the Work Train team to understand Tech & Culture strategies already being implemented, so they can be effectively integrated into the bridge strategy/program.

  • Meet with our educational partners to document eligibility/entrance and skill requirements for all local community colleges and adult training programs connected to target jobs in high-tech careers or construction.

  • Survey supportive services frontline staff (child care, housing, food, transportation) to understand the barriers and best practices.

  • Incorporate the experience and point of view of both the jobseeker and the service provider in the program design; include measurable outputs and outcomes.

  • Produce a documented program design for the three areas of the bridge strategy/program: career exploration; barrier mitigation; and skill development. 

  • Produce a public-facing process/evaluation document outlining the essential elements of the program (including curriculum) for use in replication at other organizations.

Program Implementation

  • The consultant will work with our team to coordinate hiring of staff at partner organizations and manage partnership relationships through implementation to address challenges and troubleshoot. 


The consultant would begin the design process in April and continue through July, with program implementation starting in August. 


Proposals will be accepted until April 7, 2023. We will entertain proposals from individuals or teams. Please submit your proposal electronically to using the subject Bridge Strategy/Program RFP Response. Please submit your proposal, including a description of your approach to this process, your relevant experience and project cost


  • Demonstrates experience working directly with low-income people in an empowerment/leadership or community organizing environment. This includes the ability to create a culturally responsive and welcoming space and process; work with live language translators; and facilitate a diverse group from ideation to action.

  • Demonstrates expertise at developing cross-sector partnerships including identifying partner readiness; characteristics of healthy partnerships; troubleshooting and problem-solving; and supporting partners to launch new projects.

  • Understanding of innovations and models in the following areas, focused on working adults:  basic skills instruction (math/English); achievement of GED or high school diploma; contextualized English as a second language. 

  • Understanding of supportive services systems (child care, public benefits, etc) and New York state higher educational system is a plus.

  • Project Approach and Implementation – What is your approach to this project and process for partnering with us? 

  • Clear understanding of the challenges faced and needs of the program.

  • Value/Pricing – Price is commensurate with the value offered.

  • Timing – Work to begin immediately.

  • Commitment to and valuation of diversity, equity and inclusion.

  • Subcontracting – Will any portion of the work be subcontracted? Are you willing to subcontract with MWBEs?

CenterState CEO

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