SF Environment was seeking proposals for community engagement activities till Tuesday, March 26, 2024.

RFQ details

This Request for Qualifications (hereinafter “RFQ” or “Solicitation”) is being issued by San Francisco Environment Department (hereinafter, “SF Environment” or “City”). SF Environment, on behalf of all City Departments, is seeking qualified suppliers (“Proposers”) to provide proposals (“Proposal”) for community engagement activities related to SF Environment’s programs and policies.  

The City shall evaluate Proposals to create a Prequalified Pool of Proposers (“Prequalified Pool”). Proposers prequalified under this RFQ are not guaranteed a contract. The City may use the Prequalified Pool, at its sole and absolute discretion, on an as-needed basis.  

Multiple Service Areas: The Prequalified Pool will consist of entities with experience in the following 6 Service Areas. Proposers are not required to have experience with all service areas but MUST have experience in at least one: 

  1. Events: Providing hands-on support for community events;  
  2. Education and awareness: Sharing information and engaging in program, policy, and other outreach and community education efforts;  
  3. Culturally appropriate marketing: Reaching audiences with the culturally appropriate messaging;  
  4. Reporting: Hands-on reporting and progress tracking;  
  5. Technical assistance: Providing community members with hands-on assistance in a variety of technical capacities;  
  6. Other engagement strategies: Other deep community engagement activities that focus on recruiting participants, convening advisory committees, conducting surveys, etc. 

RFQ and relevant attachments are located at the bottom of the page. Please make sure to check this page and the links below for updates. Questions received will be answered below.

Who can apply: For-Profit and/or Non-Profit entities  
Geographic focus: City and County of San Francisco
Watch: Recording of the bidders’ conference held on Feb 15 to walk potential proposers through the RFQ requirements.

Tentative dates
Request for Qualifications issue date: January 26, 2023 
Pre-proposal conference:  February 15, 2024, 1pm - 2:30pm PST (See conference recording here)
Final day for questions:  March 5, 2024, 5pm  PST 
Qualifications due:  March 26, 2024, 5pm PDT 
Notice of intent to establish pool:  April 10, 2024 (Due to the high volume of applications, the timeline for review has been extended. We will reach out to all applicants once we have an updated timeline.)

Proposers meeting the Minimum Qualifications and scoring a minimum of 70 points shall be added to the Prequalified Pool and eligible for potential contract negotiations (“Resulting Contract”) with the City, on an as-needed basis. A Prequalified Pool list is valid for 2 years, but may be extended for up to 2 additional years if re-opened by City in accordance with Section 21.4 of the San Francisco Administrative Code. 

Important documents

Anya Deepak 
Phone: 415-781-9342 
Email: Anya.Deepak@sfgov.org 

Questions received and their answers have been posted here. The deadline for submitting questions has passed, but please scan below for commonly asked questions.

Can we provide 1 single submission that addresses multiple services areas? Or is a separate submission required for each of the 6 service areas that we qualify for? 
Only one submission is needed. You can merge 2 or more service areas and submit or submit only on a single service area based on the work you do. 

I'm happy to apply, but since we already have a contract, not sure we need to be re-qualified? Thanks for letting me know. 
This RFQ (#9151) is to create a pool of qualified vendors for community engagement. The upcoming RFPs for the projects the Department identifies will be sent to the smaller pool of vendors that have been selected through this RFQ process. So even if you are a contractor, you will not see those opportunities come up. If you want to participate in the RFPs, you have to qualify through this RFQ process. 

My question is: What defines "community engagement?" I would like to know what type of  work would be required by RFPs for community engagements.
For the purposes of this RFQ, the Department defines community engagement as the following: 

  1. Events: Providing hands-on support for community events;   
  2. Education and awareness: Sharing information and engaging in program, policy, and other outreach and community education efforts; 
  3. Culturally appropriate marketing: Reaching audiences with the culturally appropriate messaging;
  4. Reporting: Hands-on reporting and progress tracking;
  5. Technical assistance: Providing community members with hands-on assistance in a variety of technical capacities;
  6. Other engagement strategies: Other deep community engagement activities that focus on recruiting participants, convening advisory committees, conducting surveys, etc. 

More details on what could comprise of each is in the RFQ document (Page 4) 

What page/website will the questions be posted on and what email should we send questions to? 
Answers will be posted here: Request for Qualifications 9151: Community engagement | San Francisco Environment Department (SFE) (sfenvironment.org) 

Can we use Dept of the Environment projects to highlight our experience? Can the references be from SFE? 
Yes, you can. 

We would like to apply for all services. Do the two projects need to cover our experience in all service areas? Or do we need to submit 2 projects for each service area? 
The submission does not need to cover all service areas. You could merge 2 or more service areas and submit or submit only on a single service area based on the work you do.  

Would you like us to bid with translators, designers, videographers, or will you have them? How would we put them in? There does not seem to be a place in the proposal to include subcontractors. 
You do not need to include subcontractors at this point. But you could mention examples of work you have done with subcontractors if that feels pertinent to the submission. You can include this in past projects section of the written proposal

I work for an NPO (the Gardens of Golden Gate Park) which is a public private partnership with RPD. Does this make us ineligible to apply through this process?
Recreation and Parks’s counsel has advised that Gardens of Golden Gate Park is the name of three gardens it manages through a lease with the City. If San Francisco Botanical Garden Society, the nonprofit that operates Gardens of Golden Gate Park, submits the proposal, then it should be straightforward. However, if Rec and Parks would have an active role in the project, or if the proposer is Gardens of Golden Gate Park, the Department would need to consult the contracts team to determine whether that is feasible. It would be unusual for a City department to be awarded a professional services contract from a different City department. 

So, if San Francisco Botanical Garden Society submits a proposal, that should be fine. But if Gardens of Golden Gate Park submits, we would need to know the degree of involvement, if any, that Rec and Parks would work in the proposed project or the contract that would ultimately be executed. 

Question 4 of the Written Proposal asks the proposer to provide two (2) projects managed by the Proposer showing experience specific to any of the service areas described in the Solicitation. I’d like to clarify if this means two projects total, or two projects per service area? 
Please provide details for a total of two projects. You can merge 2 or more service areas and submit or submit only on a single service area based on the work you do. 

Should we complete the event details form, i.e., provide a bid? If yes, what are the parameters for completing the form? 

Please see below for step-by-step instructions: 

  1. When you log into https://sfcitypartner.sfgov.org/pages/index.aspx, please go to View Opportunities  

  2. Search for Event ID 9151 

  3. Click on the Event to bid on 

  4. Click Accept Invitation 

  5. Click on Event 9151 again

  6. Click Place Bid and Yes

Bid question






  1. Enter in bid price, upload any attachments at the line level – This would be attachment 1 and 2 

  2. Click Submit Bid upon completion.  

A bid confirmation should indicate that the Supplier has successfully submitted their bid submission.  

I do not remember my bidder ID/username. How can I access the bidder portal?

Please reach out to the following if you have issues with the bidder portal:

Email: DTIS.helpDesk@sfgov.org
Phone: 628-652-5000
Web: http://sfgov.org/DT

While you do not need a bidder/supplier ID for this process, you can see all the other opportunities and find partners if you do use the bidder's portal.

Under references, should the organizations be similar to our size or similar to the City of San Francisco?
We're looking for work that you have done with organizations that are similar size to us.
We are a small to medium city department with a lot of programs.

What is the minimum versus maximum amount of money that we are able to receive?
Since this is the RFQ (request for qualifications) process and not really the RFP (request for proposals), there is no amount specified. The Department will use this process to get a pool of qualified vendors. When the Department runs the RFP process, there will be a budget specified. 

If it is similar to funding coming from the federal government, and if there is a need to partner with a community organization or a an organization that is steeped in community doing community engagement, then that could be a lot more money than a project that the Department is working on internally where the budget might be lower.

Does the business address have to also be in the primary geographic area, or would an entity with ties to assets but is based in East Bay also be eligible?
You do not have to be based in San Francisco, but the work will be done in San Francisco.

Do the projects for the past project examples have to have been held in San Francisco or can they have been held in other cities?
Your project examples do not have to be from San Francisco. If you have done similar work in other cities, please share those.

Is it required to be a nonprofit in order to be considered?
No, this RFQ is open to for profit entities and non-profit entities.

Can we apply as a partnership between multiple organizations?
The city regularly has contracts with multiple subcontractors, so if that's something that made sense for your organization, if you had a team that you typically work with that would have increased capacity in the service areas, you can consider that route. If you are submitting as a partnership, you would need to have a lead agency.

When you go to the bidders portal, there is a place to search for partners that might be interested in going in on the RFQ together.

Will the RFQ's be for work that is specific to the Environment Department or will these RFQ support programming of the organizations themselves?
Our Department releases grant announcements from time to time and those maybe more in line with what is being asked about where you are being funding for your programming as it relates to sustainability efforts that the Department is responsible for. 

This RFQ will likely result in contracts with the organizations to do work they are already doing but boost the Department’s programming needs.

An example of this would be if an organization has seniors congregating every Tuesday for lunch and bingo and there is space for extra programming, the Department could partner with the organization to bring relevant resources to the community at those times.

For the written response, if the two chosen examples don't fully cover all of the service categories we wish to apply for, can we include another brief sentence indicating which other categories we have experience in and would like to be considered for?
If you want to focus on your two top examples and then also make mention in a sentence or two that you do have other experience across the service areas, that would be fine. Please note the paragraph limits in the application.

Does the department have an incumbent you have previously contracted with for similar community engagement work?
The Department does not have an incumbent. This is something new that the department is doing. The Department has partnered with a number of organizations in the past on various initiatives, but this is the first time we are creating a pool of qualified vendors that could support our community engagement efforts over the next few years.

What is the overall goal of the opportunity? Are you looking for potential new vendors?
The goal of this opportunity is to find trusted community partners for the kind of work that we want to do. The Department might not always reach audiences that might be most affected by climate change and the way to reach those audiences might not be the way that we have been doing in the past. So by bringing people and organizations that might not even think of themselves as community engagement specialists, but are deeply involved in community to the pool, we want to bridge that gap between government and community.

How recent should pass projects be last year past five years, and similarly for organization references?
The projects must have been started in the past 5 years.

What are the typical budget ranges you have seen in the past with contract budgets?
This is the first time the Department is trying this out at such a scale, but also the kind of projects that we are trying to work on.
We have never worked on community engagement across all our program areas. We have never had Inflation Reduction Act funding happen at this scale, so it could be a large amount.

It would really vary depending on what the project is. For example, we've had campaign campaigns that were, you know, up to $400,000 and then we've had smaller projects with it where it's like just one focus group as a deliverable.

This process is just to qualify to be a part of the pool and to have access to those opportunities in the future because then when we release this next RFP, if you are in the qualified pool, you would be able to bid on any of those jobs, large or small, as they come up and as we release the RFPs.

We are envisioning that there'll be multiple RFPs because every program area is going to want to do deep community engagement work. Knowing we have all these potential partners will also help us go in for more funding. A lot of the federal agencies are asking for community partnerships and community engagement in their applications as well, so this is a great time to be getting in the pool.

Could the project details be for a current project?
The projects that you are describing could be current projects as long as you have done substantial work on them. For instance, if a project is almost done and only evaluation is left to be done, then you can include it.

That asks is there a limit to the number of organizations that will be approved on to the pool?
There is no limit to the number of vendors that will be added to the pool. All applicants who score above the required threshold (70 points) would be included on the list.

Once selected, how long will the qualification be valid for?
The pool will be active for two years and there is a possibility to extend it.

The form asks for references and says we might be notified to get letters of reference. How will this notification happen?
Upon request, successful proposer(s) may also be required to submit a letter of reference from each reference listed within five (5) days of notification. If this is needed, the Department will send a request to the email address on the application. 

Where can we see a list of previously funded projects or organizations?
Anyone could look at any professional service that we've contracted for or any grant that we've put out in the past. The City and County of San Francisco has an overall database where you can look up every purchase order that any department has made.

On the controller site, you can download the data sets for the Environment Department and see all financial transactions we have made. The Department also presents to the Commission on contracts given out. So if you were to go to the Commission meetings on our website, you would be able to see details about grants and contracts that we're entering into as well. That might be an easier way to get that information.
The Commission page has each meeting’s agenda and all of the supporting documents, so you would be able to extract those documents there.

By the time the full RFP comes out, do you need to be a city supplier?
For getting into the pool, the Department has worked hard to reduce any barriers to entry for organizations. But becoming a city approved supplier is a prerequisite to getting a contract with the city. With the fast turnaround of the mini RFP, you might want to get that process started. The process to become a supplier has become much simpler in the past few years.

Should we approach budgeting for a two year term?
Since this is just an RFQ, there is no need for a budget. With the mini RFPs or the RFPs, with a scope of work, there will be specific budgets we would work on. The contract might not be just for 2 years and would depend on the project.

If an organization does not apply to this RFQ, will they still be able to apply to the RFPs?
No. The reason we are creating this pool is so that we can have the vendors apply to the RFP and this is to make sure that we are able to it within a quick timeline. The Department is pre-qualifying vendors, so it is easy to estimate if we will have vendors available for specific projects. So the RFP is only going to be to for the people that are already in this pool.

If an organization applies for this RFQ and is not selected for the pool, will there be future opportunities to join the pool?
The pool will be closed after this RFQ process is done. There could be a different RFQ process we initiate, but it might not have the same service areas or the same pool.

Are elementary school assemblies appropriate for this RFP?
If the examples of your projects include youth education or your organization has done assemblies in the past and you want to use those as an example of the type of engagement you have done, that's absolutely acceptable. The Department has an environmental education team that also does assemblies and other activities.

So, we would love to coordinate with you if that is the type of work that your organization does.

When should I submit the application?
Do not wait until the last minute to submit your application. We really do not have the flexibility to accept anything that comes in after the deadline of March 26th at 5pm and so you need to make sure that you don't have a computer meltdown that prevents you from hitting send in time to get your email to us or your submission into the system.

So just get your materials in a little bit early if at all possible.

I looked for a partner. We are looking for a Prime. Can you see if Intergraphics LLC is looking for a partner area in the portal? I think our company would be perfect as a sub. Are we in there? Please let me know.
If you are looking for partners, please click here and log in to the City partner website. You might also see partner requests that have already been posted here

Could you tell me what I can do to still be considered in this hiring process, please?
Proposers must submit with their proposal documents in support of each of the following Minimum Qualification (MQ): 

Would you like to see visual work samples? If so, how would you like us to provide them? 
Please do not include visual work samples. A link to a visual sample is acceptable, however, reviewers will not be required to review these links. Please note the 2 paragraph limit for each project, and do your best to describe your work in the space provided. 

Is there a LSB requirement for consideration for the pool? 
The LSB requirement if any would be part of the RFP or mini RFP process, not for this pool. 

Will you provide a sign in sheet of those in attendance for the pre-proposal call to identify potential teaming partners?  I attended via phone that day but was not able to ask questions?
Here is the list of attendees that attended the call. If someone joined as a guest or on a phone, their information was not captured. 

How can we identify other small, minority owned firms based in San Francisco on the City supplier portal?
Please use these links to look for businesses: 

During the pre-proposal video meeting, someone from the Environment team shared that proposers should only include a few paragraphs to describe past performance. Should we include examples of bilingual creative, education materials and media coverage in the addendum to elaborate on our past performance? Is there a limit to what we can include in an addendum or appendix.
There is no need to include examples. A description of the same is enough. If you do want to include the work samples, you can add links to past projects in Question 4. Please note the 2 paragraph limit for each project. 

During the call I also heard mention of the ability to compensate or provide stipends to community partners or community members participating in programs under the Dept of Environment is that correct? In a previous project we led for an agency with the State of CA were not allowed to compensate community partners from our award -contract.
The City has very strict rules about stipends to community members. If stipends are part of the scope of work, it will be included in the request for proposals that will be posted after this RFQ process is complete. Stipends will be covered in the amount of the contract.  

If we are selected to serve on the pool, would we be expected to cover the cost for printing, and advertising to include social media or will the City of San Francisco utilize a separate budget to cover these expenses?
If media is part of the scope of work, it will be included in the request for proposals that will be posted after this RFQ process is complete. That request for proposals will have scopes of work that include media. The media amount will be covered in the amount of the contract. 

Will there be a designated member of the Dept of Environment to serve as our point of contact for all approvals during the terms of this contract?
Yes. There will be a point of contact who will be assigned during contract development. 

Will the proposals be ranked, starting with the proposals receiving the highest score and continued continuing with the proposal receiving the second highest score, and so on.
This will be an unranked pool. The Contracts Monitoring Division might sometimes need to intervene if it needs to be ranked, but we don't see that happening for this. We also did not put any LBE requirements here. For the RFP, there might be LBE requirements depending on what the funding source is.

The City has guidelines for how you can appropriately contract with someone on your qualified RFQ list. So the method that we are using is to do mini RFPs after we have this pool. But the City could choose to have additional options available for us. It may be that under a certain dollar threshold based under certain circumstances that we can select somebody off the RFQ list. It may be that above us obtain dollar threshold, we trigger all of the requirements that any typical RFP that is open to the entire community would trigger.

There might be multiple processes that allow us to utilize the RFQ list, but ultimately you do need to be pre-qualified in order to be considered in any sort of follow on process that utilizes the list.

You can apply regardless of whether you are a bidder or supplier. 

That being said, if you know that you cannot qualify to be a city vendor because you've already determined that you have a practice that is like in conflict with city law, there is no reason for you to go through this process because getting on the RFQ list won't assist you.

Beyond Attachments 1 and 2, are there any other required components for this RFQ proposal?

There are no other requirements.

If a proposer prefers to submit a full proposal (i.e., more than just completing Attachments 1 and 2), may we do so?

You may, however, reviewers will not be required to review anything other than the 2 attachments. 

Is there a page limit for the proposal?

There is no set page limit for the last question on the written proposal, however, please note the 2 paragraph limit for each project, and do your best to describe your work in the space provided.

For each question in Attachment 2, how are responses being scored? For example, why would one response receive 10 points while another response receives 70 points? 

The reviewers will give more weight to past projects executed in any or more of the six service areas than the other questions, hence the different weights.

Can you please share an example contract for a potential project/task order, and can we have additional time to review it and submit questions/edits?

We usually provide this with the RFPs (request for proposals). The examples of the service areas are explained in greater detail in the RFQ document and that should give you an idea of the kinds of potential projects. This process is just to get a qualified pool in one or more of the service areas. Apologies that we cannot extend the deadline for questions.

Since we do have a Federal Tax ID, do we still need to register our business? / Do we need to have a business license to apply?

This site has some good resources on doing business in the City. While we cannot require that you be licensed for the RFQ, you will need to be a supplier by the time you apply to the subsequent Request for Proposals (RFPs).