Request for Qualifications: Evidence Review Team

The Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service (Volunteer Mississippi) is seeking grant reviewers with expertise in assessing evidence-based proposals for grant-funded programs. The deadline to apply for the Evidence Review Team is Wednesday, November 21, 2018 (see Directions for Submission and Timeline at the bottom of this page).

Volunteer Mississippi (VM) seeks three individuals with experience in comprehending, assessing, and/or applying academic research or evaluation reports in a community setting to serve as a review committee for evidence supporting program proposals.

Reviewers are required to attend two in-person sessions in Jackson, MS on November 27 and December 4, 2018, from 10 am – 2 pm. These dates are required for grant application distribution, training on evaluation criteria, and final scoring discussion, and are non-negotiable. Mileage to and from the meeting will be reimbursed at the federal rate of $.54/mile for participants. Reviewers will also be required to read anywhere from four to 10 grant applications, assess the level and quality of evidence provided by the applicant, and provide written feedback to applicants to strengthen their evidence base, within the week between November 27 and December 4. After December 4, all feedback will be compiled and provided to applicants to improve their applications, while keeping reviewers’ identities anonymous to applicants. Reviewers will also be required serve on the formula round review team in Spring 2019, to review and provide feedback on the second round of grant funding, and in an advisory role, providing feedback on the review process and helping to develop better evidence assessment tools and guidance to potential applicants and grantees in at least two additional virtual meetings, potentially through June 30, 2019.

Desired Qualifications

Reviewers should understand basic research study design elements, such as randomized control trial and quasi-experimental design, have a basic grasp on interpreting statistical strength measures, and be able to interpret evaluation research findings and anticipate implications for program design. Ideal reviewers will be very familiar with social science research methods, having studied methods at an advanced undergraduate or graduate level, and have some experience participating in community work, such as volunteer or staff experience with a nonprofit, faith-based, or community organization. 

Budget Available for Project

This project includes an estimated 40 hours of activity for each Reviewer, with compensation not to exceed $750/day (based on an 8-hour work day). The Reviewers will be required to travel to and from Jackson on November 27 and December 4, 2018, and will be reimbursed at the rate of $.54/mile. The maximum funding available to compensate reviewers, based on 40 hours of work, for their services is $3,403, and $346 for travel. To be eligible for compensation, Reviewers must submit relevant feedback to VM by the required deadline of December 4, attend both in-person meetings on November 27 and December 4, and participate in the formula review and subsequent advisory sessions.  All stipulations must be fulfilled.

Description of Volunteer Mississippi

The mission of Volunteer Mississippi (VM) is to engage and support Mississippians of all ages and backgrounds in service to their communities. Our philosophy is that direct and demonstrable results are achieved by fostering civic responsibility, strengthening the ties that bind us together as Mississippians, and providing educational opportunities for those who make a substantial commitment to service. As the state's office of volunteerism, VM invests in Mississippi communities by building public/private coalitions; linking communities, organizations, and individuals to local and national resources and technical assistance providers; coordinating state resources for volunteers; initiating volunteer programs to address unmet needs; administering collaborative State Service Plan Goals and training among the Mississippi Office of the Corporation for National and Community Service (MCNCS) and VM; and promoting and recruiting citizen participation for volunteer service initiatives.

Description of AmeriCorps State in Mississippi

Volunteer Mississippi awards AmeriCorps State grants to organizations throughout the state addressing Mississippi’s greatest needs. AmeriCorps programs offer individuals a unique opportunity to improve communities through service. State-administered AmeriCorps programs offer skills training, continuing education and other benefits that enable members to better serve local needs while gaining valuable work experience. In the 2018 – 2019 program year, VM is managing 11 AmeriCorps programs, with over 500 members serving in communities across the state. AmeriCorps members devote a year of their lives to make a difference: they’re serving in schools and after-school programs as tutors and mentors, providing resources and nutritional education to address food security issues and healthy living lifestyles, cultivating school gardens, and completing wildlife habitat restoration projects, while gaining professional experience and earning an education award.

Training and Technical Assistance Plan Objectives

The Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency, provides funding to State Commissions to deliver technical assistance to current and potential grantees in order to improve program operations and performance, as well as build capacity for data collection and evaluation.  As an identified priority area for technical assistance for grant applicants and grantees in 2018-2019, VM aims to increase the amount and quality of evidence presented in support of program proposals

Directions for Submission and Timeline

To apply, please submit a CV/resume to Caitlin Brooking, Deputy Director, at cbrooking@ihl.state.ms.us by Wednesday, November 21, 2018. Reviewers will be selected and notified by Thursday, November 22, 2018.