Request for Proposal: Principal Preparation Transformation Center

This RFP is now closed.



Guided by the belief that all lives have equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is committed to ensuring that all students in the United States have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education. Our K-12 program aims to increase the number of Black, Latino, and low-income students who earn a high school diploma, enroll in a postsecondary institution, and are on-track in their first year to attain a high-quality credential.

High-poverty, low-achieving school districts, which arguably need the best principals, have difficulty attracting high-quality applicants.1 Across America, high-poverty rural and urban school districts struggle to recruit and retain effective principals. There is currently a severe shortage of quality principals, particularly for high-need, “turnaround” schools.2

We believe that when principal preparation programs sustainably implement quality programming at scale, new principals will be better prepared to positively impact outcomes for Black, Latino, and low-income students. To that end, we work with educators, policymakers, parents, and communities to support and scale successful programs and identify innovative new solutions that can help improve the recruitment and preparation of diverse, effective new principals.

We are interested in identifying and supporting “Principal Preparation Transformation Centers” (Centers) with the credibility and capacity to support a network of principal preparation programs (Programs) that are committed to working together to strengthen all aspects of their model in the service of increasing the number of diverse, effective new school principals.

These Centers will provide technical assistance and networking support to enable and accelerate improvement of member Programs and the dissemination of effective practices with the broader field. With the goal of increasing the number of high-quality preparation programs that prepare candidates for roles as school leaders, the Foundation has reviewed existing research and engaged stakeholders in the field to develop a set of Principal Preparation Preparation Outcomes & Indicators to guide our investments. We know that there are multiple pathways that candidates take on their school leadership journey. Examples include university-based programs, district-run programs, and non-profit based programs. Our hope is to support, through these Centers, a diverse portfolio of of principal preparation programs that share a common goal of ensuring principals graduate ready for school leadership, and along the way, be willing to examine and continuously improve program offerings as they gain better understanding of what works. The most effective networks will be learning organizations that hold themselves accountable to the outcomes of their member programs and implement processes to continually improve their own effectiveness aligned to a set of Technical Assistance Outcomes & Indicators.

We are requesting information from transformation centers outlining their experience and ideas for supporting principal preparation program improvement. We are also interested in the transformation center’s commitment to equity, as reflected in their work, their leadership, and the communities they serve. Based on the responses to the RFP, the Gates Foundation will follow up with selected organizations to determine how best to support their work.


Principal preparation transformation centers are “intermediary” organizations that will provide technical assistance and network support to member principal preparation programs who commit to transforming practices in ways that align to Principal Preparation Program Outcomes & Indicators. The Center work may include assessing program strengths/areas for growth, creating individualized learning plans, coordinating learning opportunities, providing resources and training, and implementing systems/processes that support programs in using data for continuous improvement.

With the ultimate goal of ensuring more principals are trained in high-quality programs, the Centers will create opportunities for collective problem-solving, shared learning, and development of new, evidence-based practices to support the field of principal preparation.

Principal Preparation Transformation Centers commit to:

  • Robust and transparent implementation of the Technical Assistance Outcomes & Indicators.
  • Participate in a community of practice with other Centers for the purpose of shared learning, collaborative problem-solving, and knowledge dissemination.

Member Preparation Programs commit to:

Budget Guidelines

Through this RFP, we anticipate approximately 3-6 awards.

The following guidelines should be used to develop your proposed budget:

  • The funding periods are as follows (and should be used for planning budget and activities):
    • Period 1:  July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020
    • Period 2:  July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021
    • Period 3:  July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022
  • Maximum funding available for each funding period is $2M. Award size will vary based on the depth of work proposed, the number of principal candidates collectively prepared by member programs, and evidence of likely success. Use the guidance below to develop the budget:
    • Centers supporting programs that collectively prepare 500 new principal program completers per year:
      • Maximum of $2m per year x 3 years
    • Centers supporting programs that collectively prepare 250 new principal program completers per year
      • Maximum of $1m per year x 3 years
    • Centers supporting programs that collectively prepare 125 new principal program completers per year
      • Maximum of $500K per year x 3 years
  • Up to half of the funds per funding period can be used as operating budget for the Center (e.g., personnel, travel, capital equipment).
  • Up to half can be used as sub-awards to member principal preparation programs. If you are offering sub-awards, you will provide details (how you determined amount, any requirements for how sub-awards are used, etc) in your budget narrative.  No sub-award to a single principal preparation program shall exceed $250,000 per funding period.
  • The budget should align with planned activities and timelines within each budget period of the grant. For example, if some staff will not be hired until the end of budget period, the budget should reflect this.  

Anticipated Outcomes


Final proposals to the Gates Foundation will need to present a comprehensive three-year plan that:

  • Details the support the Center will provide (activities, timeline, responsible parties) as described in the Technical Assistance Outcomes & Indicators
  • Includes a network of Leader Preparation Programs who are committed to training candidates and placing program completers in schools that serve Black, Latino, and low-income students


  • Preference will be given to centers that impact providers in the following locations: California, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas


The application process includes three phases. Applicants must be selected to move to phases two and three.






Request for Proposal Phase 1

Applicants will be asked to submit a proposal outlining key details of proposed center. Leading applicants with the most compelling (i.e., strategic, bold, concrete, and achievable) concept papers will be invited to submit a full proposal.


RFP Phase 1 opens

August 27

Applications due

November 15

Finalist interviews

January 8-9, 2019

Finalists and declines notified

*Applicants who are not selected to proceed to Phase 2 of the process will receive email notification by the end of January 2019. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide individual applicants with feedback on their submissions.

Applicants who are selected to proceed to Phase 2 will be notified by the end of December 2018. More information about Phase 2 (full proposal submission) will be shared with these applicants at that time.

January 11*

Request for Proposal Phase 2

Based on the evaluation of Phase 1 proposals, a limited number of selected applicants will be invited to submit a comprehensive three-year plan that addresses, in depth, each of the priority outcomes. Each preparation program in the Center will be required to complete an RFP Provider Application Narrative.

  • This Application will be made available during the RFP Phase 2 only.
  • Providers will be required to provide an overview of their program, candidate demographics, a rationale for membership, an articulation of their current state aligned to the Principal Preparation Outcomes & Indicators, an articulation of their desired future state aligned to the Outcomes & Indicators, the level/kind of support they desire, their current capacity, an articulation of their commitment to data transparency, and information regarding the challenges/risks they face by engaging in this work. They will be required to provide evidence of support for this effort.

During this phase, applicants may be invited for phone and/or in-person interviews with Gates Foundation review team members (to include lead applicant and possibly member programs).  


RFP Phase 2 opens to selected applicants from Phase 1

January 11

Informational call with program officers

January 15*

Applications due

March 15

Finalists notified

April 18*

Request for Proposal Phase 3

Selected applicants will be asked to submit supporting documentation


Final proposal shaping

April 19-May 7*

Finalists notified

June 2, 2019*

Target funding date

July 1, 2019*

*subject to change

Request for Proposal Phase 1 Application Link

Click here to access


Because we have a focus on achieving charitable outcomes, we view information obtained through our grantmaking as public good. Our internal grantmaking and other systems support sharing of proposal documents, including with external reviewers. Unless otherwise specifically agreed in writing, you should not assume that information will be kept confidential and should not include any information in the proposal, budget or supplemental materials that you consider proprietary.


Please submit any questions HERE.  Our goal is to respond within 72 hours either via email or by posting a response to your question (with your name/organization removed) to the FAQ.


Click here to access FAQs related to this RFP

1 (Branch, Hanushek, & Rivkin, 2012; Miller, 2013)

2 (Education Week, 2014)