SVCN Letter Regarding the FIRST 5 Funding process

February 1, 2006
FIRST 5 Commission
4000 Moorpark Ave Suite 200
San Jose, CA 95117
Dear Commissioners
The Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits is the voice for over 185 nonprofit agencies in our
community. Over the last couple of months we have become keenly aware of agency concerns
regarding the FIRST 5 RFQ application and process.
SVCN believes that it is important that the Commission understands some of the underlying
problems and concerns that led to our meetings with FIRST 5 staff. Over 30 nonprofits have
contacted SVCN either through lengthy emails, phone calls or meetings to discuss problems
they are encountering in the FIRST 5 funding process. The issues have been emotionally
charged and filled with frustration by agencies trying to figure out, interpret and meet the
requirements of the RFQ to serve the targeted population of children and their families.
SVCN has met with Jolene and key management staff to discuss our concerns and to seek
quick resolution to some of the overriding nonprofit issues. FIRST 5 staff have listened,
responded and worked with us, thoughtfully as we have tried to clarify, simplify, working through
this RFQ processes.
What we are hearing is that this has been a very complicated process and emotions are running
high. There was a significant disconnect between the FIRST 5 expectations and the ability of
the service providers to meet the funding plan for services of FIRST 5 for children 0-6.
The collaborative meetings have become very time consuming. We estimate it has taken at
least 60 hours per agency in each collaborative, with an average of 400-600 hours in
collaborative planning alone. There may be up to 15 collaboratives in the works. Additionally,
many agencies were not able to become part of a collaborative for a variety of reasons. We
appreciate FIRST 5 clarifying how an agency can apply to become part of the single qualified
service provider.
FIRST 5 staff has clarified their position on leverage in their recent memo to consider
demonstrated effort and we are pleased with that accommodation. Agencies are really
stretching to make the leveraging work but costs are too low to deliver the services they want.
However, the Commission should be aware that the leverage may not be attainable as outlined
in the RFQ.
We appreciate FIRST 5 stipulating that these costs or the target number of children are
negotiable. There is great concern over the outlined cost structure for the targeted number of

children. The ability for lead agencies and their partner agencies to cover costs may not be
We are pleased FIRST 5 has explained that they will enter into discussion with the Partnership's
Lead Agencies regarding how to provide "missing or unavailable" core services. This issue has
created much consternation within the nonprofit community. We strongly believe that since
collaboratives have spent hundreds of planning hours, these collaboratives should work with
FIRST 5 to determine how best to address any identified gaps including how to fund the
There are additional issues that the target geography, that it may be too narrow and
disportationately impact services in West and North Santa Clara County. There are also
concerns over the discontinuation of previously funded FIRST 5 services that also need to be
Overall, on behalf of our agencies we want to state this RFQ plan was overly expansive,
confusing and the turnaround time was too quick for agency's to digest, respond and develop
appropriate responses. There was insufficient training or clarity on how to put the RFQ
together, how to organize collaboratives, or develop good strategies. Universally, from
experienced large agencies to small grassroots nonprofits, all had difficulty in responding to this
We request the Commission:
In the interest of continuous improvement FIRST 5 should conduct a full and extensive
evaluation of the RFQ process to learn how to improve their RFP-RFQ system for the
Continue to work in stronger partnership with nonprofit agencies to improve FIRST 5
systems for implementing services.
Review their targeted implementation plan and make adjustments as needed to reflect
nonprofit service provider input while addressing FIRST 5 priority consumer service
Review the need to extend the RFQ deadline again to allow for agencies to adequately
SVCN is ever mindful that this is a partnership between FIRST 5, service providers, the
community, and clients. The goals are laudable and we are committed to working toward
achieving a better community for children under 6 and their families. We appreciate FIRST 5
staff responsiveness to many of our issues, which have been clarified. FIRST 5 staff has
agreed to meet with SVCN on February 13, to discuss the RFQ Panel Review process and
again prior to releasing the forthcoming RFQ for Community Engagement services. FIRST 5
demonstrated a willingness to work more closely with SVCN, to review their processes and to
work toward developing a better method for the future.

Patricia Gardner
Executive Director
Cc: SVCN members, First 5 staff, interested partners

SVCN Letter express concerns regarding the FIRST 5 RFQ process.


James T. Beall, Jr.

Content Type

Business Letters

Resource Type





District 4


Patricia Gardner, Executive Director, Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits




No Copyright: