Request for Proposals Learning Designer and Facilitator

​​​​​​​​RFP release date: Thursday, May 26, 2022
Proposals due: Thursday, June 16, 2022 by 9am EDT
Note: This is an extended deadline from Tuesday, June 14, 2022 by 5pm EDT
Submit proposals: Via email to​

Contract term: July 15, 2022-June 15, 2023
Contract amount: Up to $500,000


The Wallace Foundation seeks an experienced learning designer and facilitator (“learning designer”) to design, build, and facilitate a vibrant, collaborative Learning Community among 18 arts organizations of color1.

The 18 organizations are grantees participating in a five-year initiative by The Wallace Foundation, collaborating with Wallace staff and research partners to explore and learn together about the relationship between community orientation, relevance and resilience. 

Peer learning is essential to the initiative. To help support grantee success in their projects, twice a year, Wallace hosts peer learning communities (“PLCs”). These are opportunities for grantees to gather to: deepen relationships, share ideas, strategies, perspectives and relevant experiences, and gain knowledge related to their organizational and community challenges and the initiative's guiding question. In addition, PLCs support the second of Wallace’s dual goals (benefiting grantees directly, and benefiting the broader field by developing useful knowledge) by helping to surface lessons and challenges.

Wallace seeks a learning designer who will collaborate with a steering committee of initiative partners (Wallace staff, researchers and consultants already working with the 18 grantees) to advise Wallace on PLC content that is shaped around the needs of both grantees and the research effort. The candidate (or team) will act as a learning architect to: create experiences and training to address knowledge and skill gaps; seek the best educational content by working with grantees and the Wallace steering committee to support organizational and research goals and to increase learning and improvement; and use best practices to organize and deliver current and relevant content. The learning designer will plan the agenda and facilitate the PLC, which will be held in November 20222 and in spring 2023, in a location to be determined. The contract may be extended for up to three-and-a-half years to cover subsequent PLCs, which are planned semiannually for the life of the initiative, through the spring of 2027. 


 About the Wallace Foundation

The Wallace Foundation is a nationwide philanthropy, based in New York City, whose mission is to foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people, and in the arts for everyone. We engage with the field, and the related evidence base, to identify pressing problems of practice in the key areas we fund, support grantees to develop and test promising approaches to addressing those problems, commission relevant studies to capture emerging insights and contribute to the knowledge base, and then broadly share what’s been learned to inform others in the field. More details about and results from this approach can be found at  ​

 Background on the Wallace arts initiative

This arts initiative is part of Wallace’s efforts to help foster equitable improvements in the arts, recognizing that leaders of arts organizations of color report their contributions are often overlooked and underfunded. As with every Wallace initiative, we have dual goals. In this case, we aim to support grantees in their work and, by learning with and documenting their efforts, develop insights that may be useful to other arts organizations of color and the broader field. Ultimately, we hope this initiative will build recognition and understanding of the distinctive contributions that arts organizations of color make to the nonprofit arts field. Through the implementation of long-term projects, these organizations and their partners will explore the guiding question:

Facing strategic challenges, how can and do arts organizations of color leverage their community-orientation to increase their resilience, while sustaining their relevance?

Research has identified community orientation as a pillar of organizational health, and answering this question could help strengthen arts organizations of color and the nonprofit arts sector as a whole.

The 18 arts organizations participating in this initiative
The initiative officially launched in April 2022 with 18 arts organizations of color with budget sizes ranging from $500,000 to $3 million3. The organizations are diverse in terms of geography, artistic genre, and communities served. All are at least 10 years old and have deep roots in and commitments to their communities. We believe this group of 18 organizations has the greatest potential to strengthen one another through peer learning and ideation; strengthen the sector of arts organizations of color; and develop lessons and evidence for arts organizations interested in community orientation.

While the specifics of each organizations’ proposed four-year projects are unique, there are some common elements that may create shared opportunities for learning and support.

These include:

  • Developing values-aligned operational, business, and/or financial models
  • Creating new platforms for documenting and telling their story, including archival work
  • Right-sizing staff and other investments in organizational infrastructure
  • Optimizing relationships and opportunities around creative place-making/place-keeping
  • Planning for sustainability, including diversifying revenue, real estate acquisition, etc.

Grants and other supports provided for the 18 organizations
Organizations received planning year grants (April 2022 - March 2023) that are 20 percent of annual operating expenses, to plan the projects they would implement in the following four years that are centered around the guiding question of this initiative and would contribute to the research effort.

In addition to the planning grants, Wallace is providing to grantees:

  • Individualized support in developing their project’s Theory of Action (ToA);
  • Financial management ​​​​​​coaching, and other coaching upon request;
  • An embedded qualitative researcher to document the organization’s history and culture;
  • Opportunities to co-create the research questions and approach; and
  • Semi-annual convenings as opportunities for peer learning (the focus of this RFP)​​​

After the planning year there would be a four-year implementation phase (2023-2027) with grants totaling 120% of the grantees’ annual expenses5​.

About the research projects, a core element of all Wallace-funded initiatives.
Grantee lessons related to the initiative’s guiding question will be documented through two research projects designed to capture and share insights to benefit the field at large.

  1. Qualitative ethnographic research with research fellows coordinated by Social Science Research Council (SSRC).

    Each grantee will be matched with a qualitative research fellow who will be embedded within the organization in order to document their history, culture and practices over the course of a year. The research will result in a report or other product (e.g., archival documentation, video, etc.), mutually determined between the organization and the researcher, and a scholarly report, including archival work if appropriate.

  2. Transformational action research study led by a partnership with researchers from Arizona State University’s Studio for Creativity, Place and Equitable Communities and University of Virginia’s Equity Center, collectively called COART (Community Orientation Action Research Team).

    This study will be designed to explore the guiding question of the initiative. COART will work with grantees to better define the terms: community orientation, relevance and resilience. COART is providing support to develop each grantee’s ToA . They will use the 18 ToAs, along with other inputs (e.g., analyze relevant public datasets, interviews with field leaders and experts and input from advisory groups) to propose a four-year research design to answer the refined research questions. COART will publish a public report on the emerging findings from the planning year, with suggestions for the design of ongoing research.

Developing a strong and supportive Learning Community is crucial for forging the relationships, conversations, and activities that will be critical to developing shared definitions, purpose, and cross-site understanding envisioned for this initiative. ​

 Peer Learning Communities (PLCs)

Wallace values the creation and active facilitation of peer learning communities in which all members of a project, from organizations’ executive directors and staff to researchers, coaches, and Wallace staff, can share perspectives and collaborate on problem-solving. By being in community with each other, our intention is to foster generative spaces to learn and self-reflect. In support of the initiative’s dual goals, we see PLCs as a space for learning and exploring topics related to the guiding question (see above) to advance grantees’ work on their projects and deepen the insights and learning that will be captured by the research.

The primary goals for all our PLCS are:

  • Establish and develop trust-based relationships across the diverse set of 18 organizations and initiative partners. This may include (but is not limited to) recognizing power imbalances, acknowledging philanthropy’s history of contributing to or exacerbating issues of systemic inequity; identifying and resolving conflict.  
  • Accelerate grantees’ work by sharing lessons and challenges. This could mean identifying and lifting the existing knowledge and expertise of our grantees; identifying common challenges across the organizations; when necessary, bringing in outside expertise and inspiration; and designing discussions to learn from each other or bring external coaching.
  • Knit together grantees’ work and lessons with the research design, building an overall learning trajectory focused on deepening exploration around the initiative’s guiding question. This involves deep collaboration with COART, Wallace staff and grantees (directly or indirectly through program officers and coaches).​

 Scope of Work

The purpose of this RFP is to identify an experienced learning designer (or team) to design and lead the learning trajectory for the PLCs for the benefit of both the grantees and the research effort (led by COART), by focusing on: building deep community and advancing learning conversations.

The Learning Designer’s responsibilities will be:

  • Design a collaborative process for developing and refining a 12-month learning trajectory (July 2022-June 2023) that supports the grantees’ programmatic work and fosters the exploration of topics that will enrich the program and research efforts.
  • Collaborate with a steering committee of approximately five people who are working closely with grantees, such as Wallace staff, researchers, and consultants.
  • Develop content and facilitate two convenings of all grantees (PLCs).
    • Identify and coordinate opportunities to highlight grantee knowledge, expertise, insights and questions to forge trust and relationships
    • With steering committee input, design the agendas (typically PLCs are for two days) to support community building and learning. The PLC may include sessions or activities led by grantees, researchers or other consultants in large-group or breakout session form.
    • Design in-person (preferred) or virtual (if necessary) convenings, responsive to changing health and safety risks.
    • Bring in outside artists or experts, as needed, and organize sites visits tied to learning objectives
    • Determine location, site visits, technical and materials needs, and other logistics to ensure smooth execution-- with input from Wallace.
    • Facilitate the convenings.
    • After each convening:
      • Document the convenings; mapping conversations and activities to the overarching learning trajectory and objectives
      • Produce short analytic memos summarizing key insights and questions that have emerged from the convening including but not limited to topics related to the initiative’s guiding question
  • Provide additional community-building activities as needed to foster learning conversations between convenings. Possibilities include opportunities for grantees to communicate on an ongoing basis via Slack, a resource library, optional topical webinars, etc. These efforts must be balanced with other initiative activities so as not to burden grantees.
  • Submit a report at the close of the contract term describing the PLC accomplishments, possibilities, tensions, and collective insights developed over the past year (including but not limited to topics related to the initiative's guiding questions) and recommend immediate (next 18 months) and longer-term (following 30 months) activities and goals for the Learning Communities.

First PLC in July 2022 (Designed prior to this contract term)
On July 27-28, 2022, grantees will come together for the initiative’s first PLC6. The purpose of this initial full-group convening is to carve out time and space together and level-set trust. The agenda includes sessions led by COART to co-define the major terms of the initiative ("community orientation”, “relevance” and “resilience") and establish community agreements.

The selected learning designer would be invited to attend this PLC if their availability allows. 

Second and third PLCs: November 2022 and Spring 2023 (included during this contract term)
The exact focus of the November and Spring 2023 PLCs are emergent, and will depend on collaborative conversations among the learning designer, steering committee and grantees.

In November 2022, we would convene executive directors, staff and/or partners from each of the 18 arts organizations for two days. The agenda might include sharing information from their first six months of planning and identifying needs or challenges as we start to shift into project implementation in the next six months. Participants also include research teams and Wallace staff for a total attendance in the range of 70-95 people.

Spring 2023’s convening is timed to the beginning of grantees’ four-year implementation phase. We anticipate that by the end of March, 2023 the grantees will have developed their four-year theories of action and project plans, the financial consultant will have provided a baseline of advice and planning guidance, and the COART research team will have co-developed a detailed four-year research plan, reflecting the interests and planned activities of the grantees and contextualized in the broader research literature about the field. These can all serve as resources for the Spring 2023 convening.

We invite proposers to suggest the kinds of conversations and activities they imagine would be useful at these stages, and why, to give a sense of how you envision a learning trajectory over the year.

At the end of the contract, the learning designer will review with Wallace the documentation produced, and mutually determine whether we extend the contract for the following PLCs.

Budget details
We have budgeted up to $500,000 for this contract term, encompassing:

  1. Designing and leading the November 2022 and Spring 2023 convenings, including:
    • Staff time for planning, facilitating, and documenting PLC activities
    • Materials and speakers’ fees
    • Staff time for production of any deliverables for grantees, Wallace, or the public
    • Staff time for logistical support around event production.
  1. Designing cohort learning activities in between convenings
  2. Leading planning meetings with Wallace and the steering committee
  3. The amount includes fees for event spaces, catering, event technology and accessibility support, guest speakers, travel and lodging (reimbursed with receipts). The “up to” amount reflects some flexibility to have some of these costs paid directly by Wallace. ​

 Preferred Experience of the Learning Designer

Wallace seeks consultants with deep cultural competence, experience working with nonprofits and researchers, and a trust- and asset-based approach, specifically consultant(s) who have:

  • Deep roots working in and with communities of color
  • Experience and insight working with arts and culture organizations on issues related to the purpose of this initiative
  • Experience designing a learning trajectory over a period of months to develop shared understanding and connective tissue with a comparable number of organizations (~18)
  • Experience working collaboratively to co-create inspiring, engaging, joyful, and cohesive activities that advance the learning trajectory while meeting diverse goals of multiple stakeholders
  • A track record of developing insightful and accessible reports or accounts of learning journeys.
  • Expertise designing and facilitating peer resource networks and fostering online and in-person communities;
  • Understanding group power dynamics, sensitive conversations, or fostering participation from those less likely to participate in group environments; and
  • Comfort facilitating conversations that engage intersectional lenses related to equity, racism, and accountability.​

 Required Components of Your Proposal

Please submit the following as part of your proposal, in eight pages or less:

  1. Consultant Description. Provide a bio or firm description, including geographic location, size of firm, values, efforts to advance equity, and contact person and contact information for this submission.
  2. Team Overview. Provide a list of proposed team members, including their relevant background and experience, information about current or past projects and products (links to publicly available information are permitted), and 1-2 references for each team member.
    1. Indicate what cultural competencies your team brings to the table.
    2. Indicate how their roles would be differentiated in this initiative.
  3. Draft Scope of Work. Provide a high-level description of a proposed process or approach for facilitating trust-building, peer networking, and an overall learning trajectory aligned with the guiding question, based on the information in this RFP, including:
    1. Indicate the sources of inspiration for convenings (e.g., cite models you may use)
    2. Indicate common challenges to participation you might expect in this specific cohort and how you would expect to address them.
    3. Indicate how much time you anticipate participating organizations will need to invest in your proposed process.
    4. Please include special considerations or unique characteristics of your approach and key questions for the Wallace team that would inform the refinement of your design.
    5. Please describe your prior experience navigating complex collaborations across multiple perspectives and organizations toward developing a shared learning agenda.
    6. What kinds of deliverables—in addition to the final report with recommendations for Wallace—might you anticipate producing for the grantees, for Wallace, and, if relevant, for the public?
  4. Draft Budget. Provide a budget range and estimated hours for your services associated with the proposed work scope, including participation in consultant team meetings and other initiative activities. Please note that Wallace understands that this is a draft budget that will be collaboratively refined. Please also confirm your capacity to deliver on the proposed timeline.

Learning Designer proposals may be from an individual, a firm, or a collective of individual consultants, and may propose engagement with other partners to bring in additional expertise as needed, such as event planning and logistics.

Responses are due by 5pm EDT on June 14, 2022 via email to:


Questions can be sent to up until June 6, 2022, which is the last day all questions and answers will be posted online in an “FAQ” section.

  1. May 26, 2022: RFP released.​​
  2. Up until June 6, 2022: Last day to update ongoing FAQs from potential proposers
  3. June 16, 2022 by 9am EDT: Responses due via email to:
  4. June 24: Finalists notified and scheduled for virtual interviews
  5. July 11-13: Finalist interviews
  6. July 15: Finalist notified
  7. By July 31: Contract begins

Thank you for your interest in submitting a proposal.​​​

 Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I'd like to express my great interest in the Learning Designer Facilitator opportunity with Wallace. Unfortunately, the timing of the submission deadline will not allow me to submit a competitive proposal. Even a two-day extension would allow our burgeoning team to craft a strong, competitive proposal for your consideration. We understand if that is not fair to other submitters or compromises your timeline.

    Thank you for your note. The latest we could offer an extension is Thursday morning, June 16, 2022 at 9am EDT. It is our hope that this change is responsive, especially for smaller firms and/or individuals.

  2. Will the facilitators also be responsible for providing logistical support to participants attending the two in-person convenings?

    If the team has capacity and/or can subcontract partners to provide logistical support, please include that in your proposal (e.g., expected hours and cost per hour). At the same time, if logistical support is not included in the proposal, that will be fine. While it would be helpful to know there is logistical support included, it will not be a priority in determining the best Learning Designer and fit with the initiative. 

  3. Will facilitators have fiduciary responsibility for reimbursement of allowable expenses, to individuals and/or organizations?

    Generally, no. Attendees (i.e. staff from grantee organizations and other partners) have a budgeted amount to cover the cost of travel and expenses related to the PLC, and typically Wallace will contract directly with the venue/hotel. Wallace can also contract directly with any outside speakers or additional vendors, but if it makes sense for the Learning Designer to subcontract part of the work, that would be fine. As a general operating principle, the Learning Designer would not be accounting for and reimbursing expenses other than for their own scope of work in the final contract.​

  4. The first PLC of the Wallace arts initiative for organizations of color will host approximately 100 participants in July 2022. Will the November 2022 PLC be limited to the same number of participants or should an increase of 25 to 50 percent in attendance be anticipated for subsequent gatherings?

    Please continue to budget for a similar number of participants – approximately 100 people.

  5. In subsequent convenings including Spring 2023, will the second cohort for organizations of color with budgets under $500,000 be invited? Will these convenings eventually open to the field?

    For the purposes of this RFP, these PLCs are for relationship building and peer learning for the 18 arts organizations of color (“cohort 1”). Therefore we do not anticipate opening up these convenings.

  6. In addition to developing research and documenting their individual work with COART, will the PLC be assigned reading and other research in preparation for a meetings and convenings? Will the learning designer(s) assist in developing readings or be primarily responsible for educational information?

    Depending on the content of the PLC, we would understand if the learning designer recommended some preparatory work by PLC attendees. And, we would want to balance competing demands for time and attention of grantee staff; designing cohort convening agendas to be impactful and productive; highlighting existing knowledge held by grantees and introducing other speakers or experts as helpful.

  7. It is unclear how Learning Designer(s) will interact with COART outside of PLC convenings. What is the expected time commitment for learning designer(s) to interact with COART, per month, leading to and following twice annual convenings?

    Please include in your proposal your recommendation for how to foster alignment with COART – including proposed frequency of meetings.

  8. What formats will the initiative research and data be available; and will analyzed and raw data be available prior to convenings?

    Initiative partners (program officers, COART, technical assistance partners) who are part of the steering committee will share observations from initiative activities as part of PLC planning to ensure the learning designer can plan for a responsive and productive convening. To protect the confidentiality of grantees, information collected by the research teams will be shared as a summary level, unless otherwise agreed to by individual grantees. 

  9. Will data from the 18 grantee partners be supplied twice annually, and will the PLC attendees assist in analyzing and interpreting data at or prior to convenings?

    Per our response to the previous question, themes and lessons from grantee activities will be shared, but not raw data from research activities. If the learning designer – with the steering committee – believes it to be beneficial for our 18 grantee partners to collectively interpret and make sense of our experiences, observations, and collected data during PLC sessions, the team that gathered the data would likely lead those sessions.

  10. What types of formats will convenings reports be anticipated in spread sheets, word docs, white papers, data briefs?

    There is no prescribed format for the reports. Please propose what you believe to be the best deliverables for grantees, Wallace and (if relevant) for the field and/or public.

  11. Who will help with the production and publication of reports? Please list WF personnel and COART that may be involved and their anticipated roles. For example, graphic artists, copy editor, social media managers?

    The contract learning designer would be responsible for editorial content, copyediting and proofreading, graphic design, and production of the reports. Wallace staff could provide assistance with editorial review, printing and dissemination. Depending on the needs of the project, Wallace staff might include a senior editor, social media manager, communications officer, and/or communications director.

  12. What type of facilities and media supports are anticipated for each convening? Will Learning designer(s) have media, audio, and other technical support throughout facilities, including breakout rooms and streaming capacity?

    Wallace typically contracts directly with the venue to ensure there is media, audio and technical support, and disability access.

  13. Is WF foundation anticipating a hybrid conference with in-person and online components? Will sessions be recorded, preserved, and archived for participants and other for later learning and use?

    We would be interested in the learning designer(s)’s proposal for how to support staff who may not be able to travel and/or how to document convenings for later learning and use.

  14. Will you describe what you envision during a typical day of a conference from start to finish? What meals and snack breaks be provided by WF or anticipated event expense (does this mean: what expenses should the learning designer anticipate?)?

    Typically, PLCs are scheduled for one to two full days, plus a final half-day to allow time for outbound travel (i.e. 1.5-2.5 total days). Wallace typically covers the cost of an evening welcome reception, meals and snacks as part of contracting with the hotel and event venue directly.

  15. How will WF support the development, production, and publication of documents and reports developed about and from PLC convenings and other PLC meetings, if any?

    Wallace first conducts a thorough editorial review to determine whether a potential publication satisfies three criteria: Is the information credible? Will it advance the field? Is it nonpartisan?

    If yes, then we may support developing a publication for external publication and dissemination. The level of production support depends on the content and intended audience. Based on those factors, we then work with our grantees to determine the format and dissemination channels (e.g., blog post, commissioned white paper, presentation, etc.). ​


Appendix A: Press release announcing the 18 grantees

Press release is available here​.​


Appendix B: Grantee activities during their planning year​



1. The Wallace Foundation uses the term “arts organizations of color” to describe organizations that have been founded by (in either artistic or administrative leadership) and for communities of color. Wallace recognizes that no one umbrella term can accurately represent the plurality and diversity of arts organizations that serve communities of color including Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latinx, Arab American, Asian American, and Pacific Islanders​.

2. The November dates will be either: November 1-2, 2022 or November 7-8, 2022.

3. A second, larger cohort for arts and community-based organizations with annual expenses below $500,000 will be developed in late 2022.

4. Appendix A is the initiative’s press release, which includes a list of the 18 participating organizations.

5. Typically, 30% of 2019 or 2020 annual operating expenses for each of the four years. Wallace would work with grantees to determine how best to allocate this amount over four years.

6. The current plan is to host the meeting in-person in New York City, and we remain responsive to changing COVID-19 health and safety risks.

7. The Wallace Foundation uses the term “arts organizations of color” to describe organizations that have been founded by (in either artistic or administrative leadership) and for communities of color. Wallace recognizes that no one umbrella term can accurately represent the plurality and diversity of arts organizations that serve communities of color including Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latinx, Arab American, Asian American, and Pacific Islanders.​