GRPS Issues RFP for Strategic Planning Services





The Grand Rapids Public School District (GRPS) is seeking proposals from qualified consulting firms to facilitate the development and execution of a five to eight year strategic plan. 


District Background: 

GRPS is Michigan’s eighth largest public school district and the third largest employer in the City of Grand Rapids, serving nearly 15,000 students with 1,800+ employees, including more than 1,000 dedicated teachers. The student population, comprised of 39% Latinx, 32% African American, 21% Caucasian, 7% Two or More, 1% Asian, and 1% Native American, represents more than 74+ countries with 79+ different languages spoken, creating a value-added educational experience. 

For more than 150 years, GRPS has served the students and families of Grand Rapids. Over the last decade, GRPS has gained state and national attention due to the success of the GRPS Transformation Plan for increases in graduation rates, college readiness, advanced placement, attendance, and our unique partnerships in curriculum. GRPS is proud to offer the largest selection of school choices in the region including twenty-four neighborhood schools, thirteen theme schools, four Centers of Innovation, two alternative education Success Centers, and one charter school. For more information on our district, visit

Our mission is to ensure all students are educated, self-directed, and productive members of society. Our belief is that all children can achieve their academic potential through effort, high expectations, and quality teaching. Our vision is to become a world-class performing district with a diverse portfolio of the highest quality schools, with the top educational talent, to meet the differing academic, social, emotional, and physical needs of every student with unrelenting focus on high achievement, high expectations, and preparation for the 21stCentury economy. 

The Grand Rapids Board of Education recently adopted the following equity statement: The Grand Rapids Board of Education recognizes and celebrates the diversity of our student population, and thus we commit to ensuring all students receive an equitable educational experience. The board of education will remove barriers for students by providing access, opportunities, and resources. Furthermore, the board will create and monitor the implementation of policies that will ensure equitable outcomes in the following areas, including but not limited to, budget, curriculum, human resources, professional learning, and extra-curricular activities. 

The City of Grand Rapids: 

Grand Rapids is a vibrant, innovative, award-winning city that is gaining national attention. Located in West Michigan, roughly 30 miles east of Lake Michigan, Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan, and is consistently ranked among the “top ten” cities to live, work, and play. Grand Rapids boasts a diverse community that is home to the world’s leading office furniture companies, award winning breweries, colleges and universities, minor league athletic teams, health care facilities, and arts and cultural attractions including the world-famous ArtPrize competition. For more information on our city, visit Grand Rapids features one of the top city-school partnerships in the United States. City and school leaders work closely together on many initiatives, including the City-School Liaison Committee, a quarterly joint-publication for news and events, and most recently the Green Schoolyards initiative which increases equitable access to parkland, green space, and schoolyards for all students and residents of Grand Rapids


The Grand Rapids Board of Education and the Grand Rapids Public School District are seeking to develop a five to eight year strategic plan that builds on the successes of the 2012 GRPS Transformation Plan, while charting a new course based on the context of the current academic, social, public health, and economic environment. Equity must be at the center of all decisions, in every aspect of the strategic plan. 

Through the development of the new GRPS Strategic Plan, our objective is to narrow our organization focus on a series of deliverable goals that strengthen our core beliefs, advance an efficient and sustainable system to maximize resources, and ensure that all our students graduate high school ready to enter college and career with the skills they need to succeed. 

Scope of Work: 

The scope of the work includes facilitating the development of a five to eight year strategic plan that will result in the design of a school district that reflects an innovative and sustainable model of public education. The selected firm must use a methodology that prioritizes an authentic, inclusive, transparent, and comprehensive process for internal and external engagement, with emphasis on a diverse set of stakeholders reflective of the district and city demographics. This means that the firm will coordinate, host, facilitate, and summarize activities utilizing multiple platforms that gather substantial and broad-based internal and external community support. 

The plan will focus on current and future opportunities and challenges with core examinations including, but not limited to:

  • Equity and Inclusion
  • Curriculum
  • Instruction
  • College-Career Readiness
  • Third Grade Reading
  • Special Education Services
  • English Learner Services
  • Professional Development
  • Talent Recruitment and Retention
  • Student Recruitment and Retention 
  • Customer Service
  • Facilities and Operations
  • Finances
  • Technology
  • Organizational Structure
  • Parent, Family, and Community Engagement
  • Climate, Culture, and Safety
  • Athletics & Extracurricular Activities
  • Public-Private Partnerships
  • Affordable Housing

The scope of work will include research on exemplar models and best practices of public education, with emphasis on mid-sized to larger urban public schools; development of a five to eight year strategic plan that outlines the future direction of the district; and a proposal for more efficient, effective, and sustainable use of resources, facilities/schoolyards, and district assets as a whole. 

The scope of work should incorporate review and analysis of the GRPS Transformation Plan, the Equity Enrollment Audit, the Plante Moran CRESA Pupil Enrollment Projection Study, Plante Moran CRESA Facilities Assessment and Utilization, District Response Plan for Significant Disproportionality, and the GRPS Academic, Curriculum, and Technology Plans.

The Grand Rapids Board of Education shall be actively involved and engaged throughout the entire process. 



Contents for Proposals: 

For proposals to be considered, said proposal must be clear, concise, complete, well organized, and demonstrate both respondent’s qualifications and its ability to follow instructions. The quality of answers, not length of responses or visual exhibits is important. 

The proposals shall be organized in the format listed below and shall be limited to thirty pages (excluding attachments and appendices) on 8.5” x 11” paper with all responses bound with tabs separating each section. Respondents shall read each item carefully and answer accurately to ensure compliance with GRPS requirements. Failure to provide all requested information or deviation from the required format may result in disqualification. 

  • Submittal Letter: Include the RFP’s title and submittal due date, the name, address, and telephone for responding firm. Include a contact person and corresponding e-mail address. The letter shall state that the proposal shall be valid for a 60-day period and that the staff proposed is available immediately to work on this project. The person authorized by the firm to negotiate a contract with GRPS shall sign the cover letter. 
  • Description of Firm:This section should provide information regarding the size, location, nature of work performed, years in business and the approach that will be used in meeting the needs of GRPS. 
  • Organizational Structure:Describe your firm’s organizational structure. Provide the names of the professionals who will be responsible for this project including the lead consultant and team members. Please provide brief resumes for these individuals. 
  • References and Description of Experience:This section should provide examples of the firm’s experience with strategic planning for public school districts, with emphasis on services for mid-sized to larger urban public school districts. This section should identify similar projects that the firm has completed as outlined in the RFP. Use this section to indicate the areas of expertise of your firm and how that expertise will benefit GRPS. Include at least three (3) school districts with similar demographics and student performance, along with the names of individuals familiar with your work that can be contacted by GRPS staff. 
  • Project Overview:This section should clearly convey the firm’s understanding of the scope of the work related to strategic planning and the general approach that will be used to implement a strategic plan. This section should include, but not be limited to, a discussion of the organization of the project, how timelines will be aligned to meet GRPS needs, and a summary of the proposed approach, with emphasis on proposed processes for internal/external stakeholder engagement. Proposals are encouraged to consider partnership or joint venture with local firms with experience, knowledge, and understanding of the greater Grand Rapids area and expectations of authentic, inclusive engagement. 
  • Cost: This section must provide a full description of the expected expenditures for the work described in this RFP. Cost proposed must include all consultant fees, preparation of deliverables, travel expenses per trip to Grand Rapids (if applicable), printing, etc.



  • Needs assessment
  • Methodology/Dissemination
  • Comprehensive internal/external stakeholder engagement
  • Analysis and assessment of internal and external stakeholder input
  • Preliminary report and recommendations
  • Final report and five to eight year vision, strategic plan, and progress monitoring schedule


Project Schedule*:

February 1, 2021     Ad Hoc Committee Review and Finalize RFP

February 8, 2021     Board Work Session Review and Finalize RFP

February 9, 2021     Issue RFP for Services

March 5, 2021          Deadline for Proposals by Noon EST

March 8, 2021          Board Work Session; Select Firms for Interviews

March 15, 2021        Special Board Work Session; Interviews of Firms; Vote on Firm Selection at Regularly Scheduled Board Meeting

April 16, 2021           Board Retreat; Visioning Session with Strategic Planning Firm 

April 2021                  Recommendation and coordination of strategic planning process

May 2021                  Implementation of Process / Stakeholder Engagement

June 2021                 Continuation of Process / Stakeholder Engagement

July 2021                   Continuation of Process / Stakeholder Engagement

August 2021             Continuation of Process / Stakeholder Engagement

September 2021      Continuation of Process / Stakeholder Engagement                 

October 2021            Presentation of Draft Strategic Plan / Stakeholder Engagement

November 2021       Presentation of Revised Strategic Plan / Stakeholder Engagement

December 2021       Adoption of Strategic Plan by Grand Rapids Board of Education

Timeline is subject to change based on input from the strategic planning consultant firm selected to oversee this process.

Selection Criteria:

  • Demonstrated understanding and responsiveness to the Request for Proposals
  • Proposals and experience of the firm and personnel named in proposal, with emphasis on experience with mid-sized urban districts focused on equitable outcomes and evidence of successful implementation
  • Understanding and proven experience with authentic, inclusive, intentional, comprehensive and robust listening/stakeholder engagement process
  • Project understanding and approach including an understanding of the District, City, and community
  • Completeness and quality of the proposal
  • Satisfaction of previous clients.
  • Cost


Process for Selection Firm:

The Grand Rapids Board of Education will evaluate and select those firms deemed to be most highly qualified to perform the required services. 

The Grand Rapids Board of Education may choose to interview any, all, or none of the respondents. If interviews are held, selected firms will be notified of the place, time, date, and purpose of the interview. 

The names of all firms submitting proposals and the names, if any, selected for interview shall be public information. At the conclusion of the RFP process, the contents of all proposals become public information. Firms that have not be selected will be notified in writing after the conclusion of the process. 

General Instructions:

Interested firms are invited to submit one original signed proposal and one separate digital copy in write protected PDF format. 

A complete proposal shall be submitted with any additional materials enclosed in a sealed envelope addressed and delivered no later than Noon on March 5, 2021 to the following address:

Grand Rapids Public Schools

Superintendent’s Office

1331 Franklin St. SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49506

The sealed envelope shall be marked on the outside lower left corner with the words “RFP for Strategic Planning Facilitation”. It is the firm’s sole responsibility to ensure that their response is received prior to the scheduled closing time for receipt of statements of qualifications. No corrected or resubmitted statements will be accepted after the deadline. Faxed responses are not appropriate for submission and will not be accepted or considered. 

All requirements must be addressed in your proposal. Non-responsive proposals will not be considered. All responses, whether selected or rejected, shall become the property of GRPS. Firms are responsible for checking the website periodically at for any updates or revisions to the RFP. 

Requests for Information:

Firms interested in making a submittal are directed not to make personal contact with the Superintendent or members of the Grand Rapids Board of Education. Any contact will constitute grounds for disqualification of consideration. Questions about the RFP, its content, proposal format, or any other questions deemed necessary to submit a qualified proposal must be submitted in writing by Wednesday, March 3, 2021 to:

John Helmholdt, Executive Director of Communications & External Affairs

RFP for Strategic Planning

Grand Rapids Public Schools

1331 Franklin St. SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Responses to all questions received will be posted on the District website at