Mobility, Access and Transportation Insecurity FAQ

Questions raised about the Mobility, Access, and Transportation Insecurity program (MATI) RFP process will be collected and shared here as they arise. 

Questions have been collected through program webinars (Nov. 13, 2023, Feb. 1 & 8, 2024), office hours, or direct inquiry and are reproduced here as they were originally asked.

NOTE: The MATI team is unable to give feedback or guidance on specific project ideas. The goal of the RFP is to solicit a wide range of potentially transformative ideas to address transportation insecurity. Proposing teams should use their proposals to make the case for their idea, while also considering the evaluation criteria. 

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Can we see the original FTA NOFO and learn the CFDA number?

You can view the original Notice of Funding Opportunity for this program on the FTA website. The CFDA number is 20530.

How long (how many pages) is the full proposal anticipated to be?

Full proposals should not exceed 12 pages, not including any requested appendices or supporting documents. Documents must be in 12 pt, Times New Roman font, single-spaced, with margins of no less than one inch. 

Do we need any letters of support? 

Proposing teams only need a letter of support in the following instances:

  • Proposing teams have a transit authority that is not receiving any of the budget. The agency should submit a letter of support acknowledging partnership.
  • Proposing teams are receiving in-kind or cash match from an organization. The partner providing the match should submit a letter that confirms match amount.

Otherwise, proposing teams do not need to provide letters of support for the proposal. 

If a proposing team or members have previously collaborated with the University of Minnesota, does that impact our application negatively?

No. Previous work with UMN will not be taken into account. Every proposal will be evaluated based on a consistent review process.

Can an eligible team member participate on more than one MATI grant application?

Yes, there is no limit to the number of teams that an eligible entity can join. 

How much of a presence does public transit need to play in the proposal? Does the inclusion of public transit in the solution strengthen the application?

There is no requirement that a proposing team specifically include a public transit agency aside from the eligibility requirement of being located within a 5307 transit agency’s jurisdiction. In general, proposing teams that include a public partner (local jurisdiction or transit agency) will receive greater consideration in review. 

Will participating teams be required to adhere to federal funding reporting requirements, such as quarterly reports?

Because FTA’s cooperative agreement is with the University of Minnesota, UMN will be responsible for fulfilling FTA’s reporting requirements.  MATI team members may reach out to participating teams to gather information for these reports, but UMN will submit them to FTA. MATI participants will adhere to the same rules and requirements of the overall cooperative agreement and any additional requirements required to subcontract with the University of Minnesota.

If our proposing team is selected, who will be working with from Toole or CNT? If we have a Toole office in our area, will we work with representatives in that local office? 

The MATI program team will determine a plan for support of participating teams based on project type, geography, and other factors. There is no guarantee that a selected participant will work with a particular part of the MATI program team. 

What is the benefit of participating in the program for Phase One communities that are not selected to move on to Phase Two? It is a significant investment of time and resources to participate in Phase One without a guarantee of moving on to the demonstration project in Phase Two.

The MATI program team hopes that the planning document created in Phase One will be a useful document for participating teams, even if they are not funded as a part of Phase Two. Phase One teams will not be restricted from using the pieces of their Phase One efforts in other funding opportunities. We also anticipate that the process of participating in Phase Ome will bring benefits to participating teams by building local coalitions and identifying key areas for collaboration. 

Expression of Interest Forms

Is the expression of interest required?

Yes. It is due March 15, 2024.

When will the EOI Google form be published to denote interest by March 15?

The form is currently available and can be filled out immediately.

Is the EOI evaluated or just checked for eligibility?

The EOI is just to register an intent to apply and for the MATI team to confirm eligibility. It will not be considered during the review period. 

Will we receive feedback on the EOI beyond the yes/no confirmation that we might be able to leverage to better shape the full proposal?

No. Responses will only include whether or not a proposing submitter is eligible. 

Will EOIs be ranked or given preference when expanded to the full proposals? Or will the full proposals be evaluated independently of the EOIs?

No. EOIs are only used for the purpose of understanding interest in the program and to check for eligibility. The responses will not be used in conjunction with the full proposals or as a part of evaluation.

Evaluation of Proposals / Selection of Finalists

Can you talk about evaluation metrics for the proposal? 

The evaluation will be made using a holistic review of the criteria and categories listed in the proposal evaluation section of the RFP. Proposals will be evaluated across each category and selected based on cumulative scores from those individual elements. 

What is your thinking on how the selected sites would be spatially distributed across the nation? Are you looking to select only one proposal from each state/region?

There is no predetermined geographic distribution of potential sites. The MATI program team will review all proposals and make decisions on Phase I participants based solely on the review criteria. 

Timelines / Contracting

When will award notifications be made? What should we plan in terms of award start dates? 

The MATI program team will announce Phase One funding decisions by June 15 at the latest. We plan to move into the contracting phase immediately, in hopes of having Phase One contracts in place as quickly as possible. We suggest using July 1, 2024 as a contract start date. Those contracts would last around 9-12 months, with the Phase One plan to be submitted in February or March of 2025. Similar to 2024, Phase Two funding decisions will be made in May 2025, with a target of having Phase Two contracts in place by July 2025. 

Service Area / Demonstration Sites

Where do you look up for the 50,000 census designated urban area?

There is a spreadsheet on the MATI RFP website that provides this information. 

Can the service area be a cluster of different counties or other jurisdictions?

Yes, as long as the cluster of jurisdictions are centered around an eligible census designated urban area and the proposed demonstration takes place inside that eligible urban area. A proposal may not compile multiple less than 50,000 person places into one that passes that threshold. For example, a county with an eligible 50,000 plus community cannot apply for MATI to serve a smaller, ineligible community within its boundaries. 

What was the thought behind this only being for Urbanized Area?

The RFP is shaped in response to the initial FTA funding call which focused on urban areas. 

Does the project have to be 100% in the urban area or could it be partly in that area and partly out of it?

All proposals should focus on providing services or addressing transportation insecurity within a census designated urban area of more than 50,000 people. Partners or populations served may reside outside of such an area, but the project itself must propose to provide a service oriented toward services or needs in the census designated area.

If the focus is bringing rural people into urban areas for services can you have more than one urban area?

Yes, as long as the urban areas are all eligible based on the 50,000 person threshold. 

Eligibility / Team Members

Can you define "public transit agency"? Does it include transportation entities like carsharing?

For our purposes, a proposing team’s area must be served by a 5307 public transit agency. We consider other private transportation providers as separate from public transit agencies, but they can be included in your proposals well. 

To clarify: a 5311 or other public transit allocated agency would not count for this program?

Correct; the public transit agency must be a 5307. 5311 agencies can contribute to a team, but they would not satisfy the eligibility requirement.

Are current staff members eligible to serve as project manager or would this role need to be hired?

Yes, current staff members can serve as project managers. There is no requirement to hire new staff to take on this role. 

How do you define a 'community based organization'? For example, if the primary lead on the project is a county, would an outlying township count in that role?

A township would be considered a local unit of government. The MATI program defines CBOs as nonprofit, non-governmental, or charitable entities that are driven by community residents and serve a particular community geography. This can be shown by the majority of the governing body and staff residing in the community served, the location of operating offices within the community, having a process for residents to identify the primary issues the organization works on, longevity and consistency of services to the community, and developing program design that brings residents directly into the process and into leadership. 

Can a community group who has a fiscal sponsor be considered a community group?

Yes, a CBO that is hosted by a non-profit fiscal sponsor would be eligible to be on a MATI team. 

Can you provide an example of a CBO that’s not a non-profit? And vice versa? 

A neighborhood association would count as a community-based organization, but might not be registered as an official non-profit.  Likewise, there might be a 501(c)3 non-profit that doesn’t serve a single community. 

Some CBOs don’t have the infrastructure to administer a federal grant. Can they still participate? 

While either a CBO or non-profit must receive at least 40% of the budget for Phase One, there is no requirement that they serve as the lead. Whoever serves as the lead organization will administer the grant money and proposing teams should ensure that the lead entity has the capacity to administer the MATI program.

Budget / Finance

Is the $700,000 received by the four applicants in Phase 2 shared? Also, would there be scope for funding to sustain the demonstration ideas beyond 24 months?

Each of the four cohorts who move to Phase 2 will receive up to $700,000; they do not need to share that money between them. Funding for the MATI program ends on June 30, 2027, and we will not be able to provide funding for the demonstration sites past that point. 

To clarify, does this funding need to pass through the local transit agency, and if so, does the transit agency need to agree to do so and be a part of the project as the fiscal pass through agency?

There is no pass-through funding requirement. Whichever eligible entity applies to lead a proposal should be prepared to enter into a subcontract agreement with the University of Minnesota. Public transit agencies are eligible team members and can receive funding, but there is no required amount or pass-through structure. 

How is this federal pass-through funding categorized? Asking this to understand potential impact on the the $750,000 threshold for single audit. 

Will the recipients of funds be considered a sub-recipient? If so, these funds would be considered part of the $750,000 threshold which requires a single audit.

Yes, recipients would be considered a sub-recipient of federal award funding under the MATI program and count towards the $750,000 single audit threshold. The threshold is reached when the cumulative federal award funding totals more than $750,000 during the sub-recipient's fiscal year. More information on the single audit threshold and other requirements can be found here

What guidance or parameters can you provide on indirect costs (IDC) for organizations / facilities and administration (F&A) rates for university partners?  

Partners with federally negotiated F&A rates for their institution should use those rates. If the entity does not have a negotiated F&A rate, a de minimus rate of 10 percent of modified total direct costs (MTDC) must be used instead, or the UMN PI may request that UMN negotiate a different F&A rate with the subrecipient (this request may not be granted).

Phase Two Research and Evaluation

Can you discuss more about the research and evaluation component of the plan? Will the project team be responsible for developing the research/evaluation plan (or would that fall under the purview of the UMN)? 

The research and evaluation plan is a part of the overall Phase One deliverable. Phase One participants will work with the MATI program team and Co-PI Yingling Fan to develop a research plan that is consistent with the overall MATI research and evaluation plan and that is shaped to the unique characteristics of a proposed project. The timeline for the research and evaluation plan is likely to be a smaller part of the overall Phase One. It is not expected that effort on that element will not be consistent across the 12 months. Phase One participants are responsible for ensuring that UMN-led, community informed research plan is appropriately incorporated into the overall demonstration plan deliverable.

Will these research/evaluation processes be carried out only if the team Phase Two is awarded?

Yes. Research and evaluation plans will only be executed during the Phase Two demonstrations.

How will applicant team members be able to participate in the research and evaluation stage? 

Any team members can contribute to the creation of the research and evaluation plan. However, for purposes of overall program comparability and analysis, the final structure of the collective and individual research plans will be the responsibility of the MATI program team and Co-PI Yingling Fan. Participating teams will be asked to support the research plan execution during Phase Two through local data collection and other required tasks, which can be budgeted for during Phase Two. Team members that participate in the shaping and execution of a research and evaluation plan will not be able to publish the results drawn from that research until after the conclusion of the MATI program and publication of all MATI program evaluation and research findings. 

Presentations related to the work will be discussed with the MATI program team and considered on a case-by-case basis, with the intent of only sharing results after the completion of the program. Similarly, MATI program resources and demonstrations cannot be used to collect additional data or information outside of the final research and evaluation plan. Each Phase Two site will work with the MATI team to submit and have approved an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application via the University of Minnesota. This protocol will establish all the pertinent and allowable forms of data collection across the program. The MATI program team will work in close concert with all the participating sites to share insights and knowledge gained through the individual and overall research and evaluation plans. 

Who will own the data collected via the MATI program?

Each Phase Two site will work with the MATI team to submit and have approved an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application via the University of MInnesota. This protocol will establish all the pertinent and allowable forms of data collection across the program. As well as layout the protocols for the storage and future use of data by MATI program team, other researchers or the public. The intent of the MATI program team is to make as much of the data as possible collected by the program available to both researchers and the public. The data itself will be stored within the secure systems of the University of Minnesota. Access to the data will ultimately be shaped by the individual IRB protocols and impacted by any potential data sensitivities such as personally identifiable information. 

Role of University Researchers in a Proposed Project

Can university recipients lead an application? 

Yes, Universities may be the lead of a proposing team. 

What is the role of researchers from non-UMN/MATI program team institutions? Can they be involved and still produce research/publish? 

Team members that participate in the shaping and execution of a research and evaluation plan will not be able to publish the results drawn from that research until after the conclusion of the MATI program and publication of all MATI program evaluation and research findings. Similarly, MATI program resources and demonstrations cannot be used to collect additional data or information outside of the final research and evaluation plan. Each Phase Two site will work with the MATI team to submit and have approved an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application via the University of Minnesota. This protocol will establish all the pertinent and allowable forms of data collection across the program, as well as set expectations for the future use of the data collected by all parties.