Professional Resource

Opt-In Text Messaging Service Development Request for Proposal

Download Files May 31, 2016

The National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning (NCECDTL) at ZERO TO THREE (ZTT) is accepting proposals to develop and maintain an opt-in text messaging service for both Android and iPhones called TEXT4TEACHERS™.

Introduction & Background

The National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning (NC ECDTL) at ZERO TO THREE (ZTT) is accepting proposals to develop and maintain an opt- in automatic to peer (A2P) text messaging service (TEXT4TEACHERS™ or T4T) for both Android and iPhones. The goal of this project is to connect users to written and/or multi-media resources located on the Head Start (HS) Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) website through a free text messaging service, increasing participant knowledge and use of research-based practices with children and families.

The purpose of this Request for Proposal (RFP) is to solicit proposals from experienced candidate organizations that will provide the best overall value, conduct a fair and extensive evaluation based on the criteria listed herein, and select the candidate who best represents the direction and wishes of NCECDTL and its funding agency.

The NC ECDTL identifies, develops, and promotes the implementation of evidence- based practices that lead to positive child outcomes across birth to five early childhood programs and to support strong professional development systems. The NC ECDTL is operating under a five-year grant funded through the Office of Head Start (OHS) and the Office of Child Care (OCC), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). NCECDTL headquarters is located in Washington, D. C. and provides resources and professional development for Head Start, Early Head Start, and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start in all 50 states as well as the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico aimed at impacting the training and technical assistance needs of Head Start and child care programs and systems.

The NC ECDTL approach is carried out by a consortia comprised of seven partner organizations – ZERO TO THREE; University of North Carolina; University of Washington; University of Denver; WestEd; Child Care Aware of America; and Applied Engineering Management Corporation. As the prime partner, ZERO TO THREE, is responsible for setting the overall direction for the center and providing leadership as we work towards addressing the goals of the center.

ZERO TO THREE works to ensure that babies and toddlers benefit from the early connections that are critical to their well-being and development. The mission is to ensure that all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life. At ZERO TO THREE we envision a society that has the knowledge and will to support all infants and toddlers in reaching their full potential. Founded in 1977 by leading researchers and clinicians in diverse disciplines focused on child development, the global non-profit organization now reaches millions of parents, professionals and policymakers each year.

ZERO TO THREE has advanced the proven power of nurturing relationships by transforming the science of early childhood into helpful resources, practical tools and responsive policies for millions of parents, professionals and policymakers. We take a unique approach to child development by connecting those who can truly make a difference in the life of a child with the research, resources and tools they need. We lead a number of private and public initiatives while frequently partnering with other leaders in the child development field. The ZERO TO THREE Policy Center is an independent, non-partisan research-based voice that educates the public and political leaders about the unique developmental needs of babies and toddlers. We advance policy solutions designed to support and strengthen families, raise awareness and promote action on behalf of babies and toddlers.

Proposal Guidelines

This Request for Proposal represents the requirements for an open and competitive process.

  1. First and foremost, only qualified individuals or firms with prior experience on projects such as this should submit proposals in response to this RFP.

  2. Proposals will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. EDT on August 12, 2016. Any proposal received after this date and time will not be reviewed or considered. All proposals must be accompanied by a cover letter on official letterhead signed by an agent or representative who is authorized to enter contractual relationships on behalf of the bidding company. Proposals must remain valid for a period of 30 days.

  3. Bidders must list at least three (3) projects that are substantially similar to this project as part of their response, including references for each. Please include at least one example with a government SMS (short message service) if available. Examples of work should be provided as well.

  4. Bidders must provide a technical proposal that is not more than 15 pages. This technical proposal must provide an overview of the proposed solution. In addition, the technical proposal should provide a proposed schedule and milestones, as applicable.

  5. Bidders must provide a price proposal that is not more than 3 pages that includes a cost analysis of each proposed milestone or deliverable. This price proposal should indicate the overall fixed price for the project as well as hourly rates and an estimated total number of hours.

  6. The successful bidder must be able to comply with all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements and program guidelines, including but not limited to 45 CFR 75 Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for HHS Awards, Appendix II, HHS Grants Policy Statement, administrative and national policy requirements, as well as other terms and conditions of the contract.

  7. The successful bidder should have a registered nine-digit DUNS number, which can be obtained for free from Dun & Bradstreet at Bidders that are debarred or suspended or excluded from receiving federal funding will be disqualified from consideration.

  8. NCECDTL may select the top two bidders for more in-depth discussions in order to select the winning entity.

Project Description

The purpose of this project is as follows:

NCECDTL will use text messaging to share links to the latest research, web-based materials, and resources posted on the ECLKC website related to early child development as well as research-based teaching and learning practices related to the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (HSELOF).

The description of the project is a follows:

NCECDTL is seeking a provider to develop and maintain an opt-in text messaging service (T4T) for both Android and iPhones. The goal of the project is to provide a secure A2P text messaging service that includes a brief statement of content and a link to written and/or multi-media content located on OHS ECLKC website. Resources included in the SMS are intended to provide support to the teachers, teacher assistants, and family child care providers who provide direct care to the children. Users will interact with this service at no cost through text messaging. Users opt-in/subscribe to the service and can be segmented by a variety of criteria such as but not limited to occupation, zip code, and preferred language. Subscribed recipients will receive text messages twice a month. These text messages will include a short message and a hyperlink. The hyperlink will lead users to an existing resource on the ECLKC website.

To begin, six months of content will be identified by the NCECDTL T4T workgroup from retained resources and an additional 18 months of content will be identified and included in the messaging system through participant survey feedback and newly developed or revised resources. Survey/feedback will be facilitated via text messages. NCECDTL must be able to access the analytic software included with the service as well as receive survey/feedback reports on a predetermined schedule.

Project Scope

The scope of this project includes all design, development, and maintenance of the text messaging service including the subscription of users, the survey/analytic system, and the message content. All text and links will be provided to the selected bidder for inclusion in the design of the text messaging system.

The following criteria set forth below must be met to achieve successful completion of the project:

  1. Develop and maintain a free-to-users text messaging service for both Android and iPhones with a variety of wireless carriers. The text messaging service will include up to 24 months (48 messages) of resources, both documents and multi-media, hyperlinked to locations on the OHS ECLKC website.
  2. Create and maintain and host the subscriber database that registers users with information that enables messages to be personalized to specific segments of users following all federal requirements and SMS industry standards including documenting and saving program opt-ins and permissions for at least four (4) years from the date in which it was given.
  3. Maintain and disseminate the SMS and identified resource link(s) provided by the T4T workgroup.
  4. Develop and maintain a system of usage analytics as identified by the T4T workgroup, and provide regularly scheduled reports and T4T workgroup access as required.
  5. Work collaboratively with the project coordinator and T4T workgroup.
  6. Plan and perform a complete testing process to ensure functionality prior to launching the service. Provide a plan for ongoing maintenance and testing of all functionality for the contracted period.
  7. Provide a plan for and be prepared to transition of all necessary information, functionality, database, and SMS and resource links at the end of the contract year.

RFP & Project Timelines

Request for Proposal Timeline
Request for Proposal Issuance Monday, July 11, 2016
Question & Answer Period - Questions about this RFP may be sent to Donna Britt at dbritt@zerotothree. A comprehensive list of responses to all questions will be posted to ZERO TO THREE’s website by Friday, July 29, 2016 Monday, July 18, through Monday, July 25 no later than 5:00 p.m EDT
Request for Proposal Closing Friday, August 12, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. EDT
Contract Award/Notification to Unsuccessful Bidders Monday, August 29, 2016

The need-date for the initial pilot project demonstration is September 27, 2016, with the capacity to extend over multiple years. Bidders may propose a date earlier but no later, and will be evaluated accordingly.


All proposals must include a price proposal to complete the tasks described in the project scope. This price proposal should indicate the overall fixed price for the project as well as hourly rates and an estimated total number of hours. Costs should be stated in one-time or non-recurring costs (NRC) and monthly recurring costs (MRC). Pricing should be listed for each of the following items in accordance with the format below:

  1. Free-to-user text messaging service initiation and planning
  2. User opt-in database and SMS and resource link development, maintenance, and back-up
  3. Analytic system development, maintenance, and back-up
  4. Additional costs as described

Bidder Qualifications

Bidders should provide the following items as part of their proposal for consideration:

  1. Description of experience in developing and maintaining a text messaging system including system capacity
  2. Examples of three (3) or more text messaging systems that were designed and implemented by your organization including at least one government system, if available
  3. Testimonials from past clients related to text messaging systems
  4. Anticipated resources you will assign to the project (total number, role, title, experience, and résumé)
  5. A full-time testing and maintenance plan
  6. Timeframe for completion of the project
  7. Project management methodology

Proposal Evaluation Criteria

NCECDTL at ZTT will evaluate all proposals based on the following criteria. To ensure consideration for this RFP, your proposal should be complete and address the following criteria:

  1. Overall proposal suitability: proposed solution must meet the scope and needs included herein and be presented in a clear and organized manner.
  2. Experience and Capacity (30%): Bidders will be evaluated on their experience and capacity as it pertains to the scope of this project, on examples of their work pertaining to developing, managing, and maintaining text messaging services as well as client testimonials and references.
  3. Staffing (20%): Bidders will be evaluated on staffing and resources assigned to the project.
  4. Project Management (30%): Bidders will be evaluated on the description of management methodology and the technical proposal that contains an overview of the proposed solution with schedule and milestones to provide full-time testing, maintenance, reporting and back-up plan for project completion.
  5. Value and Cost (20%): Bidders will be evaluated on the cost of their solution(s) based on the work to be performed in accordance with the scope of this project.

NCECDTL at ZTT reserves the right to award to the bidder that presents the best value to NCECDTL at ZTT as determined solely by NCECDTL at ZTT in its absolute discretion.

Terms and Conditions

Liabilities of ZTT

This RFP is only an invitation for proposals and no contractual obligation on behalf of ZTT whatsoever shall arise from the RFP process unless and until a formal contract is executed. This RFP does not commit ZTT to pay any cost incurred in the preparation or submission of any proposal or to procure or contract for any services.

Proposal Process Management

ZTT reserves the right to accept or reject any and all proposals and will, at its discretion, award the contract to the responsible vendor submitting the best proposal that complies with the RFP.

ZTT encourages proposals from qualified small business concerns, women- and minority-owned entities, and faith-based organizations.

Confidentiality and RFP Owner

This RFP is both confidential and proprietary to ZTT, and we reserve the right to recall the RFP in its entirety or in part. Vendors cannot and agree that they will not duplicate, distribute, or otherwise disseminate or make available this document or the information contained in it without written consent of ZTT. Vendors shall not include or reference this RFP in any publicity without prior written approval from ZTT. Vendors must accept all of the foregoing terms and conditions without exception. All responses to the RFP will become the property of ZTT and will not be returned.

How to Apply

Each bidder must submit five (5) copies of their proposal to the address below by Friday, August 12, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. EDT.


1255 23rd Street NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20037
Attention: Donna R. Britt (