Urban Tree Connection issues strategic plan RFP

Urban Tree Connection has released a Request for Proposals to help it prepare its next 5-Year Organizational Strategic Plan. The RFP is below.

Request for Proposal: 5 Year Organizational Strategic Plan

1. Purpose: The purpose of this Request for Proposal is to solicit proposals from consultants to work with Urban Tree Connection’s (UTC) strategic planning committee of Board, Staff, and community leaders in the creation of a 5-year strategic plan.

2. Who Should Apply: UTC is seeking a consultant who has demonstrated experience in successfully developing participatory/consensus-building strategic plans, has strong facilitation skills, has proven experience with non-profit strategic planning, and a strong understanding of the structure and purpose of building an anti-oppression multi-racial working class organizational and membership base.

3. Organization Background:

Mission & History: Urban Tree Connection’s mission is to build a neighborhood rooted food and land system through community leadership development and land-based strategies in West Philadelphia. Founded in 1989, UTC works primarily with residents of West Philadelphia's Haddington neighborhood to develop community-driven greening and gardening projects on vacant land. Over the past two decades, UTC has partnered with residents to redevelop 29 vacant lots, totaling more than 86,000 square feet of land. Together, we have repurposed these spaces for communal growing and gathering, sustainable food production and affordable food distribution, and multi-generational community health and wellness education. We aim to cultivate community leadership, improve community health, and develop a local sustainable equitable food system.

Over the last four years, UTC has experienced some significant shifts and advancements. The founder and Executive Director of the organization, Skip Wiener, retired in 2016 after nearly 30 years of leadership. Noelle Warford stepped into Executive Director (ED) role after serving as Programs

Director for two growing seasons. Since 2016, we have centered the following priorities:

  • Stabilized the organization during a difficult transition and restored its’ fiscal health
  • Developed an 18-month operational plan (2018 – June 2020)
  • Developed a new identity for the organization based on current neighborhood/local conditions: place-based, new mission statement, organizational values, vision, ideological frameworks
  • Navigated shifts in our staff, board, and community leadership to be more reflective of the Haddington community, increased its racial/ethnic and socio-economic diversity, and political alignment with mission, vision, and frameworks
  • Developed HR policies and practices that align with mission and values; developed staff and board’s onboarding and training processes, performance evaluations and internal feedback loops
  • Developed fundraising strategies to diversify funding, increase unrestricted funding sources, and grow grassroots events and donor base

4. Scope of Work & Deliverables: UTC is seeking candidates with a social justice framework and participatory process to provide us with the following services:

  • Design and execution of a strategic visioning and comprehensive participatory planning process that includes a range of stakeholders from Board and Staff to Community leaders.
  • Conduct a key stakeholder analysis with a focus on mission and vision alignment advancement, and community impact
  • Lead processes and facilitate discussions on each of the issue areas noted below
  • Project management
  • Lead in the development of a work plan and timeline (including roles, tasks, deliverables deadlines, meetings, and decision-making and approval processes)
  • Develop an actionable strategic plan, including a projected budget for implementation
  • Coordinate the writing and editing of drafts and the final strategic plan document, including a separate, shorter document for external dissemination if necessary
  • Develop recommendations regarding the plan’s implementation and support structure
  • Assist to create a system of monitoring, reviewing and adjusting the strategic plan as needed

Key Issue Areas to Address
Specific areas that need to be addressed by participating stakeholders in this process include, but may not be limited to:

➢ Evaluation, Communications, Branding/Marketing
o Identify benchmarks, measurement tools to assess and evaluate impact
o Develop strong messaging for articulating organizational impact
o Develop a communications strategy that includes website redesign, marketing materials, social media, databases/collection

➢ Financial Health & Development
o Create short / long term goals and plans in support of financial stability & health.
o Identify funding to match 2-year projection goals to raise salaries to living wages, fully fund programs, and address debt-management

➢ Land Tenure and Stewardship
o Long term plans for each garden/park/open green space site
o Secure land tenure for each site in portfolio (short and long term)

➢ Future Visioning & Succession Planning
o Map out benchmarks for advancing towards reaching mission
o Document key processes, lessons, and strategies of the organization
o Identify processes for developing the next stage of leadership to provide organizational governance, direction, and staffing; alongside growth of community leadership

5. Experience & Requirements: To accomplish the scope requested, the consultant will need to
possess the following qualifications:
• Experience at successfully developing participatory strategic planning processes
• Strong facilitation skills and ability to constructively challenge key stakeholders
• Experience in guiding the group towards making grounded assessments
• Experience inspiring the group to think innovatively
• Experience in gathering and utilizing data to inform strategic planning process
• Knowledge of fiscal management and resource development
• Knowledge of marketing, communications and branding
• Applicants must have a critical analysis of race, class, power, as it relates to justice, Nonprofit Industrial Complex, and the work of UTC.
• Applicants must be flexible and capable in facilitating a process with a team of diverse stakeholders. Our strategic planning committee will consist of board members, staff, and community members. Candidates must be able to meaningfully engage all stakeholders.

6. Timeline: UTC will be soliciting proposals from consultants through June 30th. Access to all RFP materials can be found here. UTC will hold an online info session for all for interested applicants on May 11th from 5:30-6:30pm.

To attend the info session:
1. RSVP to Noelle Warford.
2. Join the online zoom meeting

Interviews will follow shortly thereafter through August, with the aim of having secured resources to begin the strategic planning process by November 2020.

  • May 11, 2020 Info Session for all interested consultants
  • June 30th, 2020 Applications due (see details below)
  • July – August, 2020 Candidate interviews
  • November, 2020 Commence Strategic Planning Process

7. To Apply: UTC is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. Black and People of Color, and gender oppressed consultants are strongly encouraged to apply.

For consideration, submit the following via email to Noelle@urbantreeconnection.org and indiablunt226@gmail.com no later than Tuesday, June 30, 2020, and with the subject line: “UTC Strategic Plan Proposal”
1. Resumes of key or primary Consultants
2. Letter of Interest
3. A description of the applicant’s general approach to strategic planning consultation, including methodology, perspective, or philosophy that guides your work with organizations in this undertaking
4. A detailed timeline and projected budget of total strategic planning process
5. Example(s) of a finished strategic plan created by your company
6. A minimum of one reference of an individual who can speak to their experience with the consultant in conducting projects of similar scope. Information regarding each reference should include the individual’s name, address, telephone number and email address.