“Cultivating a New Generation of Diverse Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) Workers” Request for Proposal: Online Platform/Website Design & Development
This RFP is for design and development services for a new online career exploration and engagement platform (website) for an Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) project.
RFP Sent: 3/1/2023
Responses Due: 3/15/2023
We aim to select a developer by 3/30/2023 and would like the project to kick-off as soon as possible with a vendor prepared to start work 4/1/2023. The new site is due to be fully functional for pilot launch in 3 states by October 2023.
Send proposals and any questions on the RFP to:
Pagan Poggione, Program Director, [email protected]
Budget: $80,000 – $100,000 (some flexibility is possible if needed) over the three year project period. To include launch, pilot, and iterations prior to national launch. Additional funding is anticipated to support development over the project period but the current budget is fixed.
For over four decades, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) has focused on making clean energy possible for millions of Americans, by identifying and removing regulatory, workforce, and economic barriers. Today, our work continues in response to the urgent need to transition to clean energy nationally—to mitigate climate change, improve the resiliency of our communities, and ensure all people benefit from the clean energy future. IREC is a nonprofit that seeks to make clean energy available to more consumers, businesses, and communities, while building a skilled workforce to support a clean energy economy.
IREC’s organizational mission is to build the foundation for rapid adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency to benefit people, the economy and our planet. This mission is more urgent than ever. Our vision is a 100% clean energy future that is reliable, resilient and equitable. We believe distributed energy resources (DERs) will be an important component of a 100% clean energy future, and our work focuses on this piece of the 100% clean energy puzzle.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) reduces energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes, while ensuring their health and safety. The Program provides energy efficiency services to an average of 35,000 homes annually; it is implemented in partnership with state and local-level agencies. The Department awards grants to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, five U.S. territories and Native American tribes, which then usually contract with local agencies. Over 700 local organizations deliver Weatherization services to eligible residents in every county in the nation.
This project is focused on recruiting a new generation of WAP workers, including women, opportunity youth, minorities, and other underrepresented groups through the development of an online career exploration platform. The platform will be an engaging experience, wherein potential employees can learn more about WAP careers and access messaging depending on their intentions or interest. The engagement platform provides an “end-to-end” digital architecture to deliver engaging content to: help recruit and nurture new and diverse participants, and crosswalk existing participant interests, knowledge, skills, and abilities with WAP on-ramps.
The platform will:
- provide job seekers and those assisting them with interactive career exploration resources;
- host educational resources for community-based organizations, training providers, and employers;
- connect contractors to WAP opportunities and contractor-specific resources;
- facilitate a direct connection to WAP training and job opportunities; and
- enable the measurement outcomes of outreach efforts.
For this project, we are specifically targeting worker populations currently eligible for WAP services including minorities, women, veterans, individuals with disabilities, opportunity youth, returning citizens, and individuals who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. The platform will distribute culturally-responsive messaging and resources and engage community-based organizations and training providers working to remove barriers to entry and reach potential workers. The platform will integrate existing IREC and partner content (i.e., IREC Green Buildings Career Map, NASCSP Wage Survey and Living Wage Calculator) and newly created resources, including messaging and content developed for and with the target audiences.
Features of the platform will include:
- a mobile-friendly experience, with short “Tik-Tok” style videos (~60-90 seconds in length) that explain the industry and specific roles;
- interactive mapping of user interests, knowledge, and skills to industry opportunities, activities, and competencies;
- and the ability to capture a rich data set that allows for program improvement & assessment by linking data across phases of participant engagement.
The goal is to optimize the user experience, for both the first-time user and the returning visitor, through effective, consistent branding and delivery of outstanding customer service during their website visit. IREC is looking for a design that is clean and visually appealing, utilizing responsive web design to provide an optimal viewing experience (easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling) across a wide range of devices. The website must be user focused, using intuitive navigation controls that will make it easy for visitors to locate the information they are seeking. A mobile-first approach is the preference.
The WAP career exploration and workforce engagement platform will contain information that pertains to a variety of different audiences. As such, the navigational architecture of the website should take those audiences into consideration, making structure, organization, and ease-of-navigation and connection to audience-specific information among the top priorities in the website development process.
Currently identified audiences served by this project include:
- Job seekers
- WAP Contractors (companies that are hired by WAP agencies to implement weatherization work in their region)
- Local WAP agencies/hiring organizations
- Each local WAP organization (692 nationally) will eventually require its own profile/listing page and a way for registered users to connect with them. The initial site launch in October 2023 will include profiles for 10-20 local WAP organizations in three states prior, with the additional profiles to be added by the time of the national rollout in mid-late 2024.
- Other organizations
Other relevant stakeholders include community-based organizations (CBOs) that provide support to jobseekers; educational institutions, such as community colleges and training providers; and local workforce recruitment partners, among others. For this audience, we aim to provide informational content to assist them in understanding the WAP and the career opportunities available through it.
Each audience requires targeted information presented in an easy-to-navigate way. It is our objective that interactive content will provide clear user pathways through the site that ultimately lead them to create an account and connect with a local WAP hiring organization. This connection will require a warm digital “hand off,” ideally with closed loop reporting from the local hiring organization about each candidate (nice-to-have not required). Content collected during account creation (for example, current level of training) will allow WAP hiring organizations to vet candidate fit for a WAP career opportunity.
IREC is seeking proposals from web design companies/digital platform providers to build and deploy an interactive, engaging, online platform designed to connect target audiences to local WAP career resources that meet their needs.
The selected company must be able to provide all site planning, graphic design support, navigational system, content structure, data integration (TBD), and production. The project team is working with multiple partners and stakeholders to collect resources and will create and provide site copy, logos, video, and photography.
The prospective company is to create a flexible, interactive, informative website which is easy to maintain, user-friendly, and able to deliver dynamic content and changing information to stakeholders. The platform is to integrate with existing IREC-maintained sites, particularly https://irecusa.org/ and https://greenbuildingscareermap.org/. The new site should be designed so that ongoing maintenance can be managed by our in-house staff. The site design must encourage and drive users to information and resources targeted to their individual needs and provide a warm hand off to local organizations in their area to provide follow up. For example, the hand off could result in an automated email connecting a job seeker to the local WAP hiring organization.
Please include the following in your proposal response:
- Overview of your company
- Overview of how you will meet our objectives
- Explanation of your proposed platform/CMS
- Outline of your website design & development strategy
- Proposed website timeline from kickoff to launch
- Details about your team
- Recent design & development examples, aligned with requested site functionality and demonstrating user interactivity
- A minimum of three client references
- Any key differentiators about your company
- Proposed high-level budget
The resulting career exploration website must meet the following criteria and incorporate best practices in workforce development web design (see Guiding Principles):
- Content Management System (CMS): Supports multiple user accounts, different user permission sets (add/edit/publish permissions), and a rich text editor that requires no HTML knowledge for average users to edit content. Respondents should indicate which CMS they support. WordPress is preferred.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Pages should be structured by indexing by modern methods, with capability to designate certain pages to remain un-indexed.
- Quick Load Time: Three seconds or less.
- Registration/Account creation: Site must be designed to allow for account creation and dissemination of contact information and tracking to local hiring organizations (requirements TBD).
- User Experience Tracking & Analytics: Google Analytics and dashboards, reports, and tools to monitor the portal utilization and interpret its effectiveness.
- Fully Responsive Design: Optimized for multiple devices/platforms with a mobile-first preference.
- Style Sheets: Easy-to-use style sheets for consistency of design across all pages/sections that fits IREC/project branding yet allows for adjustments when needed.
- User-Friendly for All Audiences: Reader friendly, following the latest version of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines at time of project launch (WCAG 2.2 Level AA).
- Security Certificate: All webpages to be encrypted with HTTPS and should not appear as “non-secure” in any web browser.
- Software: Vendor should list any other software that will be used to create the site, including graphics software, and indicate any software licenses or maintenance IREC will need to purchase (including plugins), as well as cost, if applicable.
- Hosting/DNS registration: IREC.
- Training: Basic site training for project team.
- Ownership: IREC will retain ownership and copyright of the entire website.
- Contact/other forms: The site must include a sign-up/account creation form that directly integrates with IREC’s CRM. (We currently use Pardot/Salesforce but are expecting to transition to another mainstream platform in the coming months.)
- Notifications: A scrolling or other visually highlighted area on the homepage for announcements.
- Site search: Full site search capability.
- Visually Appealing: The site must have an attractive mix of text, images, video, and graphics in a clean and uncluttered look.
- Design Consistency: Fonts and styles should be consistent throughout the entire site and meet IREC/project brand guidelines.
- Content Review: Vendor to provide consultation on best practices for content development to the project team, who will be developing content and resources for the site in parallel with platform development.
Specific Requested Features
- Questionnaires, quizzes, forms, guided interactions that direct users along a clearly defined journey that drives them to content based on their responses to demographic/experience/interest questions.
- For example, a user-friendly map with the ability for job seekers to click and locate local employment data. Allows user to see images/content particular to their local area. See NASCSP Wage Survey page (project partner).
- We are open to suggestions for user experience design and interactivity.
- Ability to schedule updates (automatic publishing/unpublishing of posts and pages, and edits to them).
- Ability to integrate/embed multiple content types
- Video – directly uploaded or through third-party links
- RISE courses/e-learning content
- This Electric Vehicle Charging Safety resource is an example of a RISE course added to an existing IREC web property.
- Documents/resources (PDF, images)
- Calendar of Events: Attractive presentation with register button for local events (these will be external links). Area to add event image and descriptive content. Should be searchable by date and/or event. Page content should have functionality to set time-outs, allowing content to automatically “expire” and no longer appear after the date.
- Online account process: This project will likely require an option for users to create an account; this process must provide a simple, seamless experience for users. Include a Connect Now button with options to link directly to targeted content for site audiences and provide a warm hand off to a local WAP hiring organization (TBD).
- Forms: Ability for users to submit forms that generate emails to designated local organizations. Automated direction of form content to local contact preferred. We would like to explore closed loop reporting from local organizations back to IREC.
- IREC will also require access to data collected through form submissions, quizzes, questionnaires etc.
- Language: Ability to choose language/translation for site.
The report An Analysis of Workforce Websites and Their Ability to Deliver Value to Workers contains recommendations and key guiding principles for workforce development website development. Our goal is to meet the standards under Exemplary in the rubric provided on pages 13–17 of the report, as they pertain to our specific site goals.
We do not wish to recreate a job board, career video database, or static informational site that already exists. What does not exist are resources to educate potential workers about local WAP careers, the employers, and their workplace cultures. There is also no mechanism to research local in-demand jobs and make immediate connections to training and career options in the WAP. This is to be (for now) a WAP-specific career exploration and connection site targeting specific jobs (4 technical positions with some additional administrative positions TBD) and not a website that simply aggregates data that is not representative of the culture or community of the job seekers and professionals that are members of WAP communities.
There is a lot of power in telling a local story where narratives about the culture and the benefits to your community and your participation in its growth are clear and present. Many websites don’t allow for direct connection of individuals to local resources in their area while capitalizing on the benefits of a national program. We also believe that, if local organizations are given a shared platform where the WAP story and the opportunities WAP careers offer, they can take advantage of national awareness of local successes and resources developed by national partners can be better shared and accessed. We want to highlight local opportunities and local WAP stories while building national awareness of the family-sustaining jobs and long-term career opportunities available through multiple WAP on-ramps.
We see this pilot program as building upon the deep career mapping and workforce development experience of IREC and believe there is a natural progression to incorporate career resources for other clean energy technologies and programs over time.
We hope to relay career information that encourages people to apply for new opportunities, as well as transition to, or reenter, the workforce because they are better equipped with information about local opportunities in an industry with immediate needs to employees. We also believe that if we do a better job telling the story of the WAP community and the jobs available, we can recruit new workers to WAP careers and increase labor force participation from targeted populations across the country. Our intent is to make this type of information more accessible to the community by creating a platform that engages the job seekers and the WAP community.
The following websites exemplify some of what we are looking to do with this initiative:
WAP Job Overview Information
This is an example of the type of information that we may want to include for each job role.
Quick Facts: A snapshot of important job facts
Overview: duties and responsibilities
History: the origins and history of the job
The Job: primary and secondary goals and duties 4 technical job task analyses (JTAs) – Retrofit Installer Technician, Crew Leader, Energy Auditor, and Quality Control Inspector, and may include other WAP roles as well.
Earnings: salary ranges and typical fringe benefits, highlight local data where available, national data when no local data is available (WAP specific – NASCSP data referenced previously).
Work Environment: typical work conditions and surroundings associated with each WAP job
Exploring: suggestions on how to gain experience and knowledge about—or even test drive—a career before making a commitment; potential to add a short course or link to training content
Education and Training Requirements: required high school and post-secondary education and training for each WAP role highlighting free, on-the-job training
Certification, Licensing and Special Requirements: recommended and required certifications or prerequisites for the job
Experience, Skills and Personality Traits: the personal traits and skills and professional experience needed to get started and succeed
Employer Prospects: an overview of typical places of employment and the best ways to land a job, connects users to their local WAP employer (this may be where users create an account to take an intro course or connect with a local WAP hiring organization – TBD, recommendations appreciated)
Advancement Prospects: an expected career path and how to travel it; links to, or integrates with, IREC Green Buildings Career Map.
Outlook: the job’s potential growth or decline in terms of the general economy and industry projections
Professional Groups/Associations: essential and helpful professional groups
Tips for Entry: additional tips for preparing for a career and getting a foot in the door
For More Information: organizations that provide career information, networking and professional development (this may be where users create an account to take a course or connect with a local WAP hiring organization – TBD, recommendations appreciated)
Sidebars/Callouts: short features showcasing statistics, trivia, and insights about a job (e.g. a “day in the life”)
|Required||Nice-to-Have or Future Objective|
|Tablet and mobile accessible||X|
|Easy to navigate login/authorization process||X|
|Collect basic information on demographics, interests, skill level (e.g. entry, mid, or advanced) and direct users to relevant content based on information during account setup (and provide warm hand off to local organization)||X|
|Access exploration resources without login||X|
|Means to collect basic demographic info from those without login. Data collected based on pathway chosen – e.g. I’m a high school student looking for opportunities in Florida (chose high school student and location of Florida) vs. I am a job seeker in Wisconsin (chose job seeker and Wisconsin) vs. I’m a WAP employer/CBO.||X|
|Ability to offer navigation options based on stakeholder type (job seeker, employer, training provider, CBO, others?) OR Interests/Goals|
I am a…..I want to….
|Host a variety of file formats, including short video and mini courses (e.g. embedded videos and/or RISE courses)||X|
|Ability to add functionality to post and view job openings and resumes||X|
|Ability to add search tools for job postings using multiple tags (level, location, technology, etc.)||X|
|Link to external resources, including local resources/contacts||X|
|Supports interactivity via ‘quizzes’ or forms that solicit information and provide feedback based on response.||X||X|
|Explore careers based on experience/skills||X|
|Google or other integrated analytics (resources downloaded, pages visited, location …)||X|
|Means to incorporate career map content/career mapping tool (e.g. https://greenbuildingscareermap.org/)||X||X|
|Engaging and graphically pleasing user experience with clear user journeys that connect to local opportunities||X|
|Provide local hiring organizations (subgrantees) with access to marketing communications collateral for them to use in their local area||X|