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Navigate St. Louis Schools School Comparison Tool Request for Proposal




$100,000 to $350,000

/ Project-based


Nov 2, 2022

Navigate St. Louis Schools

School Comparison Tool

Request for Proposal


Navigate St. Louis Schools (NSS) is accepting proposals for a full rebuild of its main website and school selection tool,

The site serves as a resource for St. Louis families, who are faced with the daunting task of choosing the right school for their students from amongst more than 125 schools, and provides good information about how to compare them against one another. The heart of the site is an interactive school finder application that helps families compare the schools side-by-side, based on nearly 40 data points per school.

In addition to families searching for schools, the site also serves two other key stakeholder groups: school administrators and teachers sharing information about their schools, and NSS staff who upload school data, add events, and run reports. Historically, the user experience of NSS staff has been ignored.

This rebuild represents a major project for Navigate STL Schools. The site is currently almost unusable by staff, but the new site will be current, easily updated, and intuitive.

Navigate STL Schools seeks a long-term partnership with a firm that will build a powerful tool to replace our existing broken site, work to empower our staff to maintain the website on our own as much as possible, and also be present to offer support when necessary. 

Organizational Background

Navigate STL Schools’ primary focus is to help parents and caregivers find the best school for their children and work to meet the family’s specific needs. Based on this, our organization has built a data-based website available to parents/caregivers with transparent and unbiased information. This platform seeks to give families all the tools they need to make an informed choice and find the best fit school for their child. We believe that every child has its own specific needs and they should be enrolled in a school that will help them thrive and reach their full potential. 


Everyone wants a great education for their child. Finding the school that will help each child succeed is a daunting task. St. Louis families must gather and sift through various bits of information, weighing the value and reliability of one piece against another. Families are challenged with limited time and resources. This often results in families being in an unfair and under informed situation when conducting a school search. 

In 2014, local parents galvanized to design, develop, and implement an online school guide called STLCitySchools. The goal was for the parents to work collaboratively, to give all parents fair access to school finding information, resources, and support.  However, racial and ethnic disparities existed in STLCitySchools due to the long history of racial segregation and opportunity hoarding. From our findings, the most common concern for low income families of color is a lack of information, access to quality schools and the admissions process. While other higher income groups reported no such challenges. We believe that systemic racial factors contribute to these disparities and we want that to change. 

Advancing the goal to become more inclusive, comprehensive, and effective in 2019, the Navigate STL Schools non-profit organization was formed. Working with parents, educators, and community organizations, Navigate STL Schools designed and launched the first-ever mobile-friendly school finder with a focus on increasing equity of access to information. The school finder is part of a larger effort to ensure all St. Louis families can find and access a school that enables each child to thrive. 

In our first few years, we have had over 60k website hits, secured high level partnerships with local education institutions, built strong community-based relationships, and served over 500 families. As we transition from start-up mode into an operational, growth, and fundraising phase, we are excited to grow our board to meet the expanding needs of the organization

Existing Tech Stack

The existing site was built before the organization itself was founded, and it is difficult for Navigate STL staff to navigate and maintain without major expense. The infrastructure is very fragile. The site consists of multiple pieces of technology that have become brittle since it was built. These are detailed below. 

WordPress website

The existing website consists of pages and posts which use the classic editor and a few custom fields. 

Nova, backed by Laravel for admin

The Laravel site handles:

  • The front end of the site 
  • The existing contact form
  • The school profiles
  • The school search
  • Modules
  • Events
  • Users, presumably to allow “favoriting” functionality
  • Data and admin:
  • Cities (2) Note: This is the Navigate St. Louis Schools site, but there are 2 cities in the data because the organization plans to expand beyond St. Louis in the future, and because the presence of 2 cities allows the system to filter data based on a custom sort by state or city standards
  • Cities have a name and are attached to a State. They have Districts attached to them. They have Learning, Safety & Climate, and Teacher statistics, each with its own set of sub categories and data points. These data posts can be meta fields. Most are number fields which are editable from the admin. These are separated by year.
  • Districts (multiple)
  • Districts have a name and are attached to a City.
  • School activities (multiple)
  • Activities have a name, a group (category) and a toggle to set them as filterable or not. They are edited one at a time, which is a major limitation of the current system.
  • School Education Focuses (multiple)
  • School Education Focuses have a name, a group (numerical), and a toggle to set them as filterable or not.
  • Schools (multiple) Note: the administration screen is currently broken
  • Schools have a name and a lot of metadata attach to them. They are attached to a City, District, and State. They can also have multiple Activities and School Education Focuses attached to them. They have Learning, Safety & Climate, and Teacher statistics. each with its own set of sub categories and data points.
  • States (1)
  • States have a name. They display the Districts. They have learning, Safety & Climate, and Teacher statistics, each with its own set of sub categories and data points. 

It has a bridge to display the WordPress content using Laravel logic/structure. 

Algolia search is used to power the address and school search that the site is known for. It sends data to a third party server, then contacts that server to retrieve the indexed data. Algolia search is not currently meeting NSS’s needs: staff has to manually run the database update each time they add data, which is a major problem because new data is added multiple times each day. The updated website must include a search engine that does note require a full database rebuild each time new data is added.


3 instances of site hosting here:

  • Files and database for the WordPress site 
  • Files and database for Laravel
  • Staging site


Gitlab code repository for code management.

Digital Ocean hosting

NSS also has a Digital Ocean hosting account, but it is unclear what it is used for.

School Data

Data comes from three places: straight from the State of Missouri, directly from teachers and administrators at individual schools, and manually via edits by NSS staff.

  1. Directly from the State of Missouri in specifically formatted CSV files. NSS staff sends this data to a statistician who manually figures standard deviation and mean. NSS staff then uploads that CSV data and the system automatically sets comparison icons on each school profile. The future site must accept this data as-is, without additional manual effort from NSS staff, automatically calculate the standard deviation and mean without outside intervention, and automatically add comparison icons based on these calculations.
  2. Note: these comparison icons can be seen on the left of this page:[name]=academy, and at the top of this school profile, for example:
  3. From schools, via a Google form that saves submissions to a Google Doc. Currently, this data is received and then retyped manually by NSS staff into the Nova/Laravel backend. The updated system must include an improved process where school staff submit their data and profile updates to a form, then the system should offer those draft changes to NSS staff for review, edit, and publishing without further copy and paste.
  4. Occasionally, via other methods like phone call and email, and then manual edits by NSS staff, for items like school facts, about us, and address. The updated system must allow batch or bulk uploading of data for many schools at once.

Calendar Data

Events are currently added to the site manually by NSS staff, and applied to each school individually. So, for example, if there’s a science fair, NSS staff must add that science fair to each and every middle and high school individually. The future site will allow for bulk upload of events and for bulk attachment of events to schools.

Required Services

Navigate STL Schools seeks a firm that can, at a minimum:

  • Confirm and modify functional requirements (see below) in consultation with NSS team
  • Provide a comprehensive design process to include wireframes, mockups, and revisions in consultation with the NSS team, design screens for:
  • Public facing content, including school profiles and school comparisons
  • Registration and registered account content, including account management, parent profile and dashboard
  • Data upload screens to be used by NSS staff
  • Complete both front-end and back-end development, including rebuilding entire school comparison functionality, calendar functionality, data upload, and validation functionality
  • Deliver mobile-first functionality that works just as well on mobile screens as desktop screens
  • Work in an agile development environment, working through the development feature by feature as described in the Functional Requirements below, and testing each element as development progresses
  • Document all development so that the site is portable and can be maintained by other firms
  • Fully test the entire site, end-to-end, prior to deployment.
  • Train NSS to upload data without developer intervention
  • Provide a first time walk-through video of how to use the site
  • Migrate existing content to new website
  • Ongoing support and maintenance, including patching and updating of technology as it evolves (i.e., PHP, security updates, etc.)

RFP Timeline

Release Date: 11/1/2022

Deadline for Vendors to Submit Questions: 12/2/2022

Deadline for Navigate STL Schools to Respond to Vendor Questions: 12/15/2022

Proposal Due Date: 1/6/2023 ( Reviewed on a rolling basis)

Finalists Notified: 1/24/2023

Presentations by Finalists: 2/1/2023

Selection Announcement: 2/15/2023

Project Begins by: 3/1/2023

New site target launch: 8/1/2023


$100k -$350k

Proposal Requirements

In addition to responding to the functional requirements detailed above, please be sure to include the following in your proposal:

  • Describe your experience working with nonprofit organizations.
  • Describe your experience and provide examples of web applications you have built.
  • Describe your project management methodology.
  • Describe your testing process.
  • Describe your approach to support and maintenance, including what maintenance you expect NSS staff to provide versus the maintenance your team will provide.
  • Provide at least 3 examples of recent work, and 3 references to whom we can speak at those organizations.
  • A proposed maintenance and support plan, including pricing
  • External fees, including licensing, hosting, and support that we should plan to pay outside of the site build project
  1. Selection Criteria

The winning vendor will:

  • Showcase strong in-house UX and multi-device design capability;
  • Present strong evidence of front-end and back-end development experience for utility websites and data-rich applications;
  • Demonstrate a solid understanding of the common challenges in the parent school search process within the proposal;
  • Propose a cost-effective solution based on an education or non-profit pricing model; 
  • Build a thoughtful work plan that enables a successful launch of the school finder website; and
  • Be willing and able to travel to St. Louis for meetings and reviews.

General Conditions of the RFP

  • This RFP is confidential in nature. Navigate STL Schools is the owner of the RFP and its contents.
  • No information from this RFP, or from the process that it initiates, can be transmitted beyond the recipient’s organization without permission from the Navigate STL Schools.
  • This RFP is not an order, and Navigate STL Schools is not liable for any expenses incurred by respondents in preparing their proposals.
  • Navigate STL Schools will treat vendor proposals as confidential and retains the right to reproduce proposals as necessary for its internal use.
  • Navigate STL Schools reserves the right to modify the RFP at any time and will communicate such changes to all responding vendors.

Primary Contact

Primary Contact:

Anna-Stacia Allen, Executive Director


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Listing Type


Job Function

Web Development

Job Location

-Remote, Illinois, Missouri

Job Industry


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