Learn and Earn prepares Massachusetts high school students for clean energy careers and clean energy/STEM majors in higher education.


The Learn and Earn program is open to all Massachusetts higher education institutions offering 2 and 4 year degrees, Massachusetts secondary and vocational-technical high schools, community-based and non-profit organizations, with 501(c)(3) status, located in Massachusetts, community-based organizations providing youth services, workforce investment boards and labor unions. Applicants are required to partner with at least one clean energy employer and higher education institution, if this institution is not the lead applicant.

Applications for the next session of Learn and Earn will be available in early 2020.

Learn more and apply here.

Q: Will you provide an example of a model RFP that was awarded that will enable us to follow and put together a successful plan?

A: We will not be providing potential applicants with sample RFPs. You can contact a previous grantee as mentioned above with any questions.

Q: Is a chief purpose of the grant to fund the design and planning of STEM/Clean energy related pathways, curriculum, and paid internships?

A: Yes, this is a chief purpose of this grant.

Q: How many kids should be enrolled in this program?

A: Successful programs in the past have enrolled between 25-30 students in their respective programs.

Q: Is the program for current 9th graders, or must students have completed 9th grade before they can participate?

A: In general, yes, this program is for those who have completed 9th grade. Otherwise, individuals will have to be recruited into this program before the fall semester begins, with recruitment of rising 9th graders difficult.

Q: Do students have to pass their first year, or is it satisfactory for them to just complete their first year?

A: As long as they are still in your high school they would still be eligible. Individuals who have dropped out of your school are not eligible to participate in this program.

Q: Are students subjected to any other eligibility guidelines in order to participate?

A: Students must be currently enrolled at the host school and have completed 9th grade. There are no other student eligibility requirements.

Q: Is this program only for gateway cities?

A: This program is not only for gateway cities, although there is a preference for those communities. This program is available across the state to any eligible entity.

Q: If we're applying as a vocational school, do we still need to have a higher education partner?

A: Yes, you will still need to have a higher education partner as part of your team.

Q: Can universities be the lead institution?

A: Yes. High/Vocational Schools, Universities, or Employers can all serve as the lead on this grant, however, you must have a full project team comprised of at least these three entity types in order to be considered eligible.

Q: Can you give some examples on the role of Higher Education Institutions in this grant?

A: Higher education providers can partner with schools to provide dual enrollment opportunities for students, guest speakers, and field trip opportunities. These are only a few examples and should not serve to limit the role of a higher education provider.

Q: Our municipality is the largest property owner in the community, and several municipal departments have their own facility managers. Would a program that pairs high school students with these facility managers be an appropriate program design? Would our municipality qualify as a "clean energy employer" for purposes of having its facility managers mentor high school students?

A: Municipalities are not appropriate substitutes for private clean energy employers. Facility managers would be able to mentor the students, but the majority of the focus and work should be spent at a non-municipal clean energy employer from the private sector. We are looking for partnerships with non-public clean energy entities.

Q: Would pairing with a union be an appropriate employer partner?

A: The employer partner must be a private business.

Q: Is there a list of Clean Energy Employers for us to partner with?

A: MassCEC has created a map of previously participating clean energy employers through our internship program. Please use this as a resource to reach out to any clean energy employers you think would be a good fit for partnering with you on your program. You are also able to partner with clean energy employers that are not included on this map.

Q: Would an internship working with facilities managers utilizing Building Automation Systems for the purpose of energy optimization be considered?

A: Energy efficiency measures would be eligible. Other offerings would also be considered but determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Q: Would you consider a program structured around a green construction course and internships?

A: Yes, we would consider green construction. The work experience should focus on hands-on training. 80% of the time spent should include time spent at the high school and 20% should take place outside of the high school.

Q: Could you share some strengths of the previous participants?

A: Previous participants have achieved success by leveraging additional MassCEC resources, as well as integrating their proposed grant into existing programmatic framework. Those with previous experience with similar programs have shown to be the strongest performers under this grant. The more time that can be spent on planning for the project and those incorporating sufficient hands-on experience are the ones that are most successful

Q: Are we allowed to reach out to past recipients of this grant?

A: Yes, you may reach out to past recipients. 

Q: Can you talk a little more about projects that have worked with students who are not necessarily bound for a four year college?

A: We have worked with high schools and technical high schools where their students are not necessarily bound for a four year college, particularly Greater Lawrence Technical High School. For these, emphasis was placed on transferrable skills and workforce training at their school and in their community. They did partner with a higher education provider to provide this opportunity to a subset of their students; other students were steered towards obtaining a job at the conclusion of the program. Please contact our prior grantees if you would like to learn more about their program offerings under this grant.

Q: You mentioned that academic time must be paid; however under ‘Paid Work Experience’ it says that compensation is optional during the academic year. Is the vision that students will be paid for the work they perform in the summer and the time participated in the ‘in-school’ portion of this program?

A: The academic year portion of this grant does not have to be paid, but can be if funding allows. The summer work component will have to be paid.

Q: What is the duration of the grant?

A: The grant is expected to last one full year. Awardees will commence planning operations over the summer, implement curriculum over the academic year, and provide the paid work experience the following summer after which the grant will conclude.

Q: The program we currently coordinate follows the student for 3 years. Would this funding be available for a 3 year period? We would not request more than the allowable amount, but we would need yearly funding to follow the cohort from grade 10 - 12.

A: No, this funding will not be available beyond one year (please see question below for summer exception). You should plan on utilizing all necessary funds within the timeframe indicated in the RFP.

Q: Are we allowed to run two summers if funding allows?

A: Yes, if you have appropriate funding left over then running the work component during two summers would be allowable. However, please note that the only time periods that would be eligible in this case would be summer 2019 and summer 2020. The summer work component is not allowed during summer 2019.

Q: Is the allowed overhead 10% or 15%?

A: Allowable overhead for this grant is 10%.

Q: Could you expand on the matching funds portion of the grant?

A: Financial match with a minimum threshold of fifteen (15%) percent of the total amount requested from MassCEC is required through in-kind contributions by the awardee. The applicant is strongly encouraged to leverage existing STEM programs that are aligned with the Learn and Earn program or staff time as its match. MassCEC will not provide funding for pre-existing curriculum, but will consider such curriculum to be in-kind contributions by the applicant. Greater leverage will be considered favorably in evaluating the competitiveness of applications.

Q: What can grant funds be used for? Curriculum materials? Internships to pay kids for the summer work? Pay for instruction/teacher training?

A: Grant funds are to be used to cover the cost of curriculum, cost of paying students for hands-on work, and all other costs that would apply to running a successful program. Additionally, there is a specific carve out for equipment, if needed. Overhead may also be included in your proposal, however, please read the RFP carefully regarding budget requirements and constraints.

Q: Have schools dedicated a program administrator position to manage this program and was it full time or part-time? Can this position be considered part of overhead or can it be budgeted as direct cost?

A: Previously, some schools have dedicated program administrators to manage this program and it can either be full or part time. This position cannot be considered overhead and should be considered as direct cost it if the individual’s time will not be used as contributing to the minimum match requirement. Preference will be given towards those applicants that will be using existing staff to coordinate this program.

Q: How much money should we allocate for the preparation and delivery of the signal success curriculum?

A: This curriculum is provided to awardees at no cost. You will not have to allocate any funds in your budget.

Q: Is there a minimum number of hours from the Career success program that must be incorporated in our program?

A: The Signal Success program is comprised of 180 hours, but most programs use a smaller subset which is somewhere in the range of 50-75 hours. There is no minimum requirement stated in the RFP but it is recommended that applicants plan on implementing no less than 50 hours into their curriculum. Incorporating additional hours of this curriculum will be viewed favorably.

Q: Do you provide a teacher in order to deliver all 50-75 hours in every school? Does the school teach the curriculum component itself?

A: Commonwealth Corporation is available to provide guidance on the Signal Success curriculum

but it will be taught by school staff.

Q: Can Signal Success be a hybrid model?

A: No, Signal Success must be taught directly to the student in a classroom.

Q: Once awarded, is MassCEC available for consultation during the process? How?

A: Yes. MassCEC partners with Commonwealth Corporation to provide technical assistance. We are always available through phone, email, and for occasional site visits. We monitor your submitted progress reports to help track your progress and provide assistance where necessary.

Learn and Earn was launched as a pilot program in the summer of 2014. Over 200 high school students have since participated in the program and have received employment during the summer as well as academic year training with curriculum focused on clean energy. Selected applicants will design and deliver a training program to high school students that provides (i) career exploration, (ii) work readiness training, (iii) paid work-based learning that focuses on clean energy and (iv) dual enrollment that provides credit from a high education institution