A Call for Partners: Intermediaries for Scale – Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Posted by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on February 5, 2019

As a foundation, we believe we can make an impact by supporting networks of schools, colleges and universities, and local and community organizations so they can share what works with each other in order to get better, faster.

For nearly a decade, we and our partners have been working closely with a diverse set of colleges and universities seeking to transform themselves to dramatically improve outcomes for today’s students – especially low-income and first-generation students, students of color, and working adults.

Initiatives such as Completion by Design and the Frontier Set have taught us a lot about what transformation means, that it can happen, and how it happens. One of the most important lessons is the need for partners that can connect campuses with each other and with experts and resources, and can help guide institutions through adopting and adapting, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining changes in policy and practice.

A growing number of colleges and universities are recognizing the need to transform themselves to become more student-centered, and they need partners that can provide connections and guidance as they tackle this challenge. That is why we are launching a search for intermediaries for scale – organizations (or networks of organizations) that can support diverse institutions through the process of comprehensive change.


We are looking for organizations that have a mission focused on increasing student success in education after high school and a track record of working across multiple colleges and universities serving a significant number of low-income students and students of color. Additionally, these organizations must demonstrate commitment and experience in:

  • Reducing college success disparities by race and income;
  • Promoting continuous learning and improvement through the use of data; and
  • Identifying, implementing, and evaluating significant campus-level changes in policy and practice.

Process and Timeline

Any organization meeting these criteria is eligible to be an intermediary. Intermediaries will be selected through a multi-stage process:

Stage 1: Letter of InterestDeadline: March 20, 2019 Organizations/networks meeting the eligibility criteria are welcome to submit a brief statement outlining their mission, capabilities, and experience in working with diverse types of colleges and universities. Information about letters of interest and instructions for submitting materials is available here.
Stage 2: Request for InformationDeadline: May 10, 2019


A subset of organizations/networks submitting letters of interest will be asked to provide additional information about their operations, approach to innovation, and experience and impact in collaborative efforts.
Stage 3: Request for ConceptDeadline: June 28, 2019


A subset of organizations/networks responding to the request for information will be asked to prepare and submit a concept paper outlining their proposed approach to supporting colleges and universities in their transformation efforts and sharing learning across networks.
Stage 4: Request for ProposalDeadline: August/September 2019
(specific date TBD)
A final subset of organizations/networks (up to 10) will work with the foundation to develop formal proposals for funding, including: a) a multi-year scope of work; b) progress milestones and metrics; and c) a detailed budget and workplan.

Intermediaries will receive grants to build their capacity across four key areas:

  1. Increasing awareness of successful and promising transformation strategies among campus leaders and communities.
  2. Informing key campus-level decisions about change options and strategies and supporting decision-makers.
  3. Supporting transformation by providing guidance and resources for adopting, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining changes in policy and practice.
  4. Building connections across colleges and universities and other supporting organizations to accelerate and streamline learning and sharing of promising practices.

Learn More

We will offer a series of webinars and in-person learning events to provide information and answer questions about this opportunity and the selection process, and to promote networking and collaboration.

  • Webinar #1: February 13, 2019 (Register here)
  • Learning Event #1: March 5-7, 2019 (Register here by January 30)
  • Webinar #2: March 12, 2019
  • Learning Event #2: May 1-2, 2019
  • Learning Event #3: June 6-7, 2019

For more information about the intermediaries and the selection process, please consult our fact sheet and frequently asked questionsRFP glossary, and application. Contact us at IntermediariesForScaleRFP@gatesfoundation.org with any questions.


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