Invitation to tender now open to become our ‘Space to Connect’ Learning and Evaluation partner

Monday 1 July 2019

Image credit: Warwick Sweeney

This invitation to tender is now closed.

We’re inviting organisations to tender for a contract that will help us learn how to maximise the use of community spaces to tackle loneliness and build connections.

Match-funded with government as part of our Space to Connect partnership, our contract will ask organisations to:

  • Draw together existing community development knowledge and learning and package it in accessible ways for dissemination to projects
  • Work closely with grant-holders to help them tell their stories, understand emerging learning and share across the fund to help shape work
  • Create iterative summaries of learning across the programme, drawing out key lessons from each phase which can be used to support, influence and inform projects and leave a resource for the future
  • Analyse evidence from the fund about the overall impact that maximising community spaces has on the fund’s ultimate goal of supporting social connections to reduce loneliness.

Up to £160,000, including VAT, is available. We aim for the contract to start in October 2019, and run to June 2021. Read more and find out how to submit your tender

The closing date for tender responses is midday on Friday 30 August 2019.

About Space to Connect

Space to Connect is our £1.6 million partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to maximise spaces where people can connect and co-operate.

It was launched as part of Co-op’s Endangered Spaces campaign with Locality to protect, support and improve 2,000 community spaces by 2022. Read more or get involved in the conversation at #SaveOurSpaces.

Key links

Clarification questions

Any clarification questions that come up during this tender process will be answered below. Please bookmark this page to keep up to date.

  1.  Information about the strands of the fund currently open can be found here.
  2. Successfully funded projects will be asked to report via an online survey against a number of core outcomes, some of which are identified in the application. Our monitoring captures a number of types of information about project engagement and progress. This includes how many people have been engaged in the project and progress against outcomes. Content is bespoke for each funding programme, but usually includes financial reporting, outcomes, achievements/challenges and learning.
  3. We expect the time between October 2020 and June 2021 to be a period of activity for the tenderer delivering against their project plan, and for learning and evaluation work. Indicative activities include data collection and analysis, creation of iterative learning summaries and support for grant holders.
  4. Projects that are successful in securing additional funding after the end of their ‘Explore’ projects will be monitored and supported as part of our grant management processes and will be included in evaluation and learning activity. This forms a third strand, slightly different from the other two in size and scope.
  5. All grants will be made in England, with further location details available once we have made grant offers in September. We anticipate making around 50 to 70 grants across two strands in September (this is dependent on the size of grants awarded). We then anticipate making around 25 further grants in March 2020.
  6. We would expect the tenderer to make provision for additional costs incurred by the grantee taking part in the evaluation, e.g. travel expenses to cohort events.
  7. If the tenderer plans to include staffing brought in specifically for this work we would expect tenderers to consider the impact of any external recruitment timescales on project plans.
  8. We anticipate that approximately 10 partners will be funded through Enhance with average grant sizes of £40,000 and approximately 64 through Explore with average grant sizes of £7,500. There is no expectation that the tenderer will focus mainly on Explore or Enhance – this will be for you to decide.
  9. We define community spaces as places everyone can access where a range of activities happen. This can include green/open spaces as well as community buildings.
  10. Co-op Foundation/DCMS does not plan to bring funded groups together – this may be something that the tenderer would consider as part of their activities. We would expect the tenderer to provide space for these activities.
  11. The tenderer should include costs of team travel and subsistence in your budget.
  12. Enhance projects will be expected to work with the Learning and Evaluation provider. We expect that some but not all of the Explore projects would work with the evaluation provider, however, this would not be mandatory.
  13. Grants will be distributed in September ready for a project start in October. Work must be finished by March 2020. There is no flexibility in the requirement to complete the spend of £80,000 by March 2020.
  14. If required, and if approved by grant recipients, we will share data such as monitoring reports with the Learning and Evaluation partner.
  15. Tenderers must remain within the set page limits.
  16. There is no dedicated theory of change for the programme.
  17. The draft terms and conditions for the contract will be published here by 20 August.
  18. While we’re open to the approach taken, there is an expectation that the successful tenderer would undertake some data collection with funded partners.
  19. Anything to be considered as part of the submission needs to be within the page limit for each section.
  20. Monitoring is likely to be collected every six months via online survey, and the final questions are still be to be confirmed. There will be an opportunity to finalise monitoring in collaboration with the successful tenderer.
  21. We don’t have a clear picture of the likely number of beneficiaries at this point, as this will depend on the types and sizes of organisations which are successful. There’s no specific expectation that organisations will have established measures in place.
  22. We’re anticipating contracting with one learning and evaluation partner.
  23. There are no current plans for further funding for Enhance grants after the end of their grants.
  24. We would hope to use emerging learning to inform each subsequent phase of the programme
  25. We will share any specific support or guidance information created for the grantholders with the successful tenderer. At present, there are no specific documents beyond the application guidance.
  26. The additional grants process for Explore will begin in March, and is likely to involve grantholders applying for continuation funding. This will be confirmed in coming months.
  27. In sharing learning to inform practice and delivery we are open to what bidders feel will be the most useful, engaging and effective.
  28. There are criteria for both Enhance and Explore strands. There are no geographic quotas. The guidance documents can be found here and here
  29. There is no overall page limit for the submission, but each section will need to be within the limits set out in the Invitation to Tender document.
  30. The application forms for Enhance and Explore can be found here and here
  31. We are open to the content and format of the iterative learning summaries and other learning reports. We aim for these products to enable learning throughout the lifetime of the fund and likely audiences might include Government, the Co-op Foundation, grant holders, other funders and the wider community sector.
  32. Tenderers can make a judgement about which estimated number of grantholders their pricing/costing is based on, when indicating the level of support they reasonably expect to provide to grantholders. If the support is going to vary considerably based on number of grant holders Tenderers may wish to briefly note how more or fewer grantholders might affect this in practice.
  33. Use of standard measures isn’t a requirement for grantholders, although we encourage use of the loneliness measure where appropriate.

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