UPDATE: Request for Proposals Due Date Changed to April 16, 2020

Request For Proposals Scholarship Program Evaluator deadline extended to April 16th

About the Golden LEAF Foundation

In 1999, the North Carolina General Assembly established The Golden (Long-term Economic Advancement Foundation), Inc. (“Golden LEAF”) to administer funds received by the state under the Master Settlement Agreement with tobacco manufacturers.  Golden LEAF is governed by Articles of Incorporation that were approved by the General Assembly.  For twenty years, Golden LEAF has used its funds to build economic opportunity across North Carolina through leadership in grantmaking, collaboration, innovation, and stewardship as an independent and perpetual foundation.

Golden LEAF focuses on funding projects that address critical issues facing rural, tobacco-dependent, and economically distressed communities in North Carolina, including educating students and training workers to meet the demands of today’s employers; constructing critical infrastructure necessary to create jobs and expand industry; and, addressing needs of the agriculture community and developing new markets and opportunities for North Carolina farmers.

About the Golden LEAF Four-Year Scholarship Program

Since its inception, Golden LEAF has awarded scholarships to North Carolina students to attend four-year colleges and universities in North Carolina.  (Golden LEAF also supports scholarships for students to attend community college, but that program is not part of this evaluation project.) Golden LEAF began funding the four-year scholarship program in its current format for the 2011-2012 school year.  Goals of the scholarship program include:

  • helping students from rural North Carolina counties who otherwise would face financial hardship attend and graduate from a four-year college or university;
  • supporting students who have strong connections to rural communities with the hope that they are more likely to return to rural communities after graduation; and,
  • providing students leadership development opportunities and work experience in a rural community that will allow them to develop professional connections and career opportunities in those communities after graduation.

To be eligible, students must demonstrate financial need and reside in a rural North Carolina county that is either tobacco dependent (using criteria established by Golden LEAF) or economically distressed. Criteria for selection also include the length of time the student and the student’s family have lived in the county, the student’s interest in a career that is consistent with interest in living in a rural community, and the student’s expressed interest in returning to a rural North Carolina county to live after graduation from college. Criteria have varied somewhat during the program’s life.

The program consists of two major components:

  • Using Golden LEAF grant funding, the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) implements the core scholarship program. The grant supports scholarship awards to 215 new students annually and renewed scholarships for returning students. Scholars are eligible to receive $3,000/year for up to four years, a total of $12,000 for each student. NCSEAA publicizes the program with guidance counselors and others, creates and maintains an online application process which is housed at the College Foundation of North Carolina website, selects the scholarship recipients using criteria established by Golden LEAF, verifies enrollment of the scholars at their chosen schools, manages distribution of scholarship funds to the schools, and reports to Golden LEAF regarding outcomes of the program, including the number of scholarships awarded, the number of scholarships renewed each year, and the number of scholars that graduate each year. Information about the scholarship application process is available here:  https://www.cfnc.org/Gateway?command=GetBasedProgramDetail&note=no&type=7&vocType=-1&vocational=no&id=145.
  • Using Golden LEAF grant funding, the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) provides a leadership development program in which recipients of the Golden LEAF Scholarship may choose to participate. Approximately 110 freshmen choose to participate in the program each year, and the program continues throughout the scholars’ undergraduate college careers.  The CCL program also began in the 2011-2012 school year.  Currently, scholars who participate in the CCL program attend two leadership development conferences each year, receive support from a coach during the school year, and have a paid summer internship in a rural county.  Golden LEAF’s grant pays for all program costs.  More information about the CCL program is available here: http://www.goldenleafleaders.com/.

Request for Proposals

The Golden LEAF Board of Directors is seeking proposals from qualified evaluators to help Golden LEAF assess the outcomes of the scholarship program. Questions to address include:

  • importance of the scholarship in allowing students to attend and complete college;
  • educational attainment of scholars;
  • whether scholars return to a rural North Carolina community after college;
  • scholars’ awareness of and connection with Golden LEAF and its mission;
  • comparison between scholars that participate in the CCL leadership program and those that do not;
  • effectiveness and cost of administration;
  • comparisons between the outcomes of the Golden LEAF scholars and comparison groups.

Download the pdf version of the RFP by clicking here.

Program Data Available

Golden LEAF has the contact information (name, e-mail, phone, address) of all Golden LEAF scholars and information about schools each attended, their course of study, and whether they participate in the CCL leadership program. NCSEAA also has records regarding Golden LEAF scholarship recipients and applicants, including additional personally identifiable information such as date of birth; information from the review process of Golden LEAF scholarship applications, e.g. the scores NCSEAA awarded to the applications; and, information about the academic performance of the students in high school and whether the students are making satisfactory academic progress in college. Golden LEAF anticipates that the evaluator selected will have access to this information from NCSEAA upon negotiation with NCSEAA of an agreement regarding confidentiality of the data. Contact information may not be current, especially for students no longer enrolled in school.

Golden LEAF also has results of CCL evaluators’ annual evaluations of the CCL program.  These evaluations assess measures such as the students’ growth as leaders, their perceptions of career opportunities in rural North Carolina, information about the students’ careers, and some information about program alumni. Recent evaluations compare responses from current CCL participants and from current Golden LEAF scholars that are not participating in the CCL program. For questions of alumni, the evaluations also compare responses of students who completed the CCL program, those that partially completed the CCL program, and those that did not participate in the CCL program. This evaluation has not elicited significant response rates for alumni, especially alumni that did not participate in the CCL program.

Scope of Work

While Golden LEAF seeks the evaluator’s recommendations to develop a robust evaluation model, Golden LEAF expects the evaluation to include:

  • work session(s) with Golden LEAF to shape the evaluation model and goals;
  • evaluation methods that include direct contact with students regarding the scholarship program’s outcomes, e.g. surveys, phone contacts;
  • where possible, data gathered from the National Student Clearinghouse or other databases;
  • comparisons of outcomes among Golden LEAF scholars and other relevant groups and among scholars with differing engagement with the Golden LEAF scholarship programs, e.g. those that did and did not participate in the CCL program;
  • preparation of an evaluation report that describes the evaluation process and the findings of the evaluation;
  • design of an effective data collection and management system for ongoing formative and summative program evaluation;
  • assistance determining how best to define and measure outcomes in future scholarship programming;
  • additional or different evaluation elements recommended by the evaluator and agreed to by Golden LEAF.


Golden LEAF seeks an evaluator with demonstrated experience designing and executing evaluation of educational programs, preferably scholarship programs.

The evaluator should also possess the following qualifications:

  • Experience developing strategies to encourage adequate response rates from survey subjects
  • Familiarity with sources of data that may be helpful in carrying out the proposed evaluation, e.g. the National Student Clearinghouse


Proposals must include the following:

  • Workplan: Provide a detailed description of the activities to be conducted by the evaluator in order to complete the requested scope of work, including:
    • Specific activities to be conducted
    • A timeline for the activities at each stage
    • Milestones and deliverables tied to those activities
  • Evaluator qualifications and roles: Describe the evaluator’s qualifications to conduct the RFP scope-of-work activities, including expertise, knowledge, and experience conducting similar or related work.
  • Previous work product: Include at least two examples of written work similar to the evaluation requested by this RFP.
  • References: Include three references of individuals or organizations who can address comparable evaluation done by the evaluator.
  • Personnel: Provide information about the key personnel, whether employees of the evaluator or contractors, that the evaluator expects to be directly involved in the evaluation and descriptions of their roles and qualifications.
  • Budget/cost proposal: Include a detailed budget for the entire project and each major component of the project.

Updated Timeline*

(Please see changes to the timeline below. We will update the information on our website when more information is available.)

  • February 27, 2020—RFP issued
  • April 8, 2020—Deadline for inquiries (see below for details)
  • April 16, 2020—Deadline for submission (see below for details)
  • TBD—Finalists selected
  • TBD—Remote interviews with finalists
  • TBD—Selection of evaluator complete and contract start date
  • Approx. Nov./Dec. 2020—Evaluation complete

Proposal Evaluation

Golden LEAF will select the proposal that it feels will deliver the highest quality deliverables at the best value.  The decision will be made through a competitive process that includes factors such as:

  • qualifications of evaluator;
  • demonstrated understanding of the objectives of this evaluation;
  • a workplan that details project activities, milestones, and deliverables;
  • budget that includes detail regarding costs anticipated for each stage of the workplan;
  • relevant experience in evaluation;
  • quality of writing and prior evaluation reports provided as samples;
  • demonstrated ability to use technology to conduct surveys, and creative strategies to achieve a satisfactory response rate;
  • cost effectiveness of proposal.


Complete proposals are due by NOON Eastern time on April 16, 2020.

Proposals must be submitted by e-mail in .pdf format to Ted Lord at tlord@goldenleaf.org. Submission by mail, fax, or any method other than e-mail to the address above will not be accepted.

It is the responsibility of the respondent to ensure that Golden LEAF received the submission.

*Inquiries (Updated)

Inquiries concerning this RFP should be submitted to Ted Lord, Senior Vice President/Staff Attorney, by Wednesday, April 8, 2020, at tlord@goldenleaf.org.

Additional Information

  • All costs incurred in responding to this RFP are the responsibility of the respondent and will not be reimbursed by Golden LEAF.
  • Golden LEAF will negotiate a written contract with the candidate selected to conduct this evaluation.
  • Golden LEAF is subject to the North Carolina General Statutes regarding public records. North Carolina’s public records laws open to public inspection most of the records, including e-mails and other electronic communications, in Golden LEAF’s possession.  Information regarding certain exceptions to required disclosure of public records applicable to Golden LEAF is available here: https://www.goldenleaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/public_records.pdf.


Posted 2/27/2020
*Updated 3/18/2020

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