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Request for Proposals: SMS Application for KIPP Through College Program

Project Background

The mission of KIPP Delta Public Schools is to create and support schools that empower students from underserved communities to develop the knowledge, skills, and character traits necessary to pursue a college education and a life of value, joy, and integrity.

Our region’s six schools are spread across 140 miles in the remote and rural Arkansas Delta; some students make 100-mile round trips to reach our school. Internet coverage is only available in 48% of counties, and many families and students have limited access to Internet, whether at home or through mobile devices. Only about 10% of adults in the communities where our students live hold college degrees.

KIPP offers a robust college preparation and support program that provides college advising starting in middle school and continuing until college graduation. Our students attend and persist in college at rates that far exceed their local peers, but do not always select the college/university with the most support, best financial aid, and greatest chance of college graduation. We hypothesize that our students’ college decisions are partially driven by a lack of family information and engagement in the college admissions and ongoing support process.

As a result, there is a need to keep parents of our KIPPsters informed and engaged, since they may have limited access to the college preparatory information, materials, and instruction that our students receive, and many have a limited ability to travel to our schools. We believe that better two-way communication between parents, advisors, and students can lead to better college outcomes for our students.

Project Objective and Summary

KIPP Delta Public Schools is soliciting proposals for the development, implementation, and documentation of a software application to facilitate better communication between KIPP Through College (KTC) advisors, parents, and students via SMS, which is the most commonly accessible digital technology for our community population.

The proposed software solution will enable KTC staff to schedule and send SMS messages to parents and students. These messages would be tailored to students or groups of students, and could be used to remind parents and students of upcoming deadlines, enable them to sign up for college visits, and offer a platform to get more information (and ask questions about) the college process. As detailed in the specifications, the solution should enable non-technical users to manage contacts and SMS messages, including templates, scheduling, mass messages, and automation. Thorough documentation and regular demos are core requirements of any proposal.

Ideally, this solution could be replicated to other KIPP regions at minimal cost. Although replication to other schools and KIPP regions is outside the scope of this immediate RFP, we strongly prefer proposals that include competitive estimates for replication.

In total, the scope of the project will include:

  • Design and development of software application;
  • Thorough documentation and training on software application;
  • Ongoing technical support;
  • Post-implementation evaluation.

All deliverables are subject to reasonable acceptance by KIPP Delta Public School. This RFP does not obligate us to enter into any contract with any party, nor does it obligate us to select the lowest-bidding party.

Detailed Software Specifications

KIPP Through College staff will be the primary users of the software interface. They are non-technical users. The proposed solution should enable KTC staff to:

Send and receive messages

  • Compose, edit, and send text messages to one or many people (e.g., parents, students, and teachers) from the software interface.
  • Read and reply to incoming messages from the software interface.
  • Schedule outgoing messages to send at selected dates and times (e.g. on December 29 at 10:00AM), or recurring dates and times (e.g. every Wednesday at 3:00PM). KTC Advisors should also be able to modify or cancel scheduled messages.
  • Identify SMS messages that are undeliverable, or that have failed to deliver.
  • Create, save, edit, and use pre-built message templates (e.g., “An upcoming college visit is scheduled for [Date].”)

Automatically process messages 

  • Automatically send messages in response to incoming SMS, based on customizable keywords in the incoming SMS. (e.g., KTC staff could use this pattern to create an SMS survey for parents and students, which would automatically advance to the next question after receiving an answer).
  • Parents and students should be able to subscribe to and leave groups and announcement lists with an SMS
  • Automatically send messages in response to rules based on incoming messages and internal data (e.g., a student could text in VISITS and receive a list of the upcoming college visits for the week.)

Contact and data management

  • Manually create and modify groups of contacts to send bulk messages to.
  • Automatically create and modify groups of contacts, such as in response to an incoming text message (e.g., when a student texts in ARKANSAS, it will add that student to a list of students attending an upcoming University of Arkansas college visit).
  • Manually add custom data attributes (e.g. name, GPA) to individual contacts
  • Automatically add or update data on a contact or contacts, such as in response to an incoming text message (e.g. a contact adding their name via SMS).
  • Automatically sort contacts into groups based on data attributes (e.g. all students with GPA over 3.0).
  • Link contacts in order to track (many-to-many) relationships (e.g., a parent/guardian and children).
  • Batch import (and update) contact data, and data attributes, into the system.
  • Export data into a CSV file or spreadsheet.

User management

  • Set permissions for different types of users (e.g., staff, managers) to read, write, send, and approve messages.


  • Software must be cloud-based, and accessible from any modern internet browser.
  • Consultant must provide thorough, bespoke documentation for system and technical features, covering the features listed above.
  • Consultant should provide cost estimates for replicating instances of this software in other school systems—although it is not within the scope of this project to implement scaling to other KIPP schools, that remains a possibility if the project is successful.

Special consideration will be given for a tool that:

  • Is open source;
  • Allows for custom API connections;
  • Allows for using multiple phone numbers on one account to send and receive messages
  • Allows for syncing data with outside sources (e.g., Salesforce)
  • Can generate aggregate reports from contact data.
  • Can forward certain messages to a web-based feed (e.g. so that parents and students to review old announcements).

Other Requirements

  • Regular design consultations and check-ins with KIPP Delta stakeholders, including weekly or bi-weekly demos of features in development.
  • Documentation for all system features, with examples tailored to KIPP-specific workflows.
  • Ongoing support for at least one (1) calendar year should be included. 

Project Timeline

Design, development, documentation, and testing should be completed before June 1, 2016, including time for reasonable acceptance of deliverables by KIPP. A shorter timeline is preferred.

Our budget, including all development and support costs, including costs related to ongoing operation of the software tool, is $150,000. We believe this is more than sufficient to cover the costs of this project, and give strong preference to proposals that are under this budget. This does not obligate us to choose the lowest-price proposal.

Proposal Requirements

Proposals must be signed and submitted by 5 p.m. Central Time on February 2, 2016. Proposals must be submitted via email to with RFP Submission in the subject line. Please include:

  • Overview of submitting organization, including key and proposed project staff. Include description of design and development methodology (e.g. Agile) and project management approach;
  • Telephone and email details of primary contact person, who may be contacted to answer questions about proposal;
  • Introduction to existing tool, where applicable, including feature comparison to above specifications;
  • Detailed budget, including per-unit rates for development, documentation, and ongoing support (including any per-month or per-message software costs, where applicable); budget should constitute firm offer, good for at least sixty (60) days from proposal deadline date;
  • Support practices and methodology;
  • Proposed timeline for project, including design, feature development, check-ins and demos, training, and evaluation.
  • Sample of past work, such as sample SMS applications, documentation, and technical evaluations

Questions may be submitted via email to with RFP in the subject line of the email. Questions must be submitted by January 27, 2016. 

PDF icon KIPP RFP for SMS Application.pdf

If you are a journalist or a member of the media and have an inquiry, please contact:

Carissa Godwin
Chief of External Affairs