Small Business Outreach Partners Program
To help make it easier for small businesses to learn about L&I requirements and resources, L&I contracts with business-connected organizations around Washington State. These outreach partners act as trusted messengers, providing information and education to Washington’s many, diverse small businesses.
Small Business Outreach Partners Program
L&I oversees many programs that affect businesses and nonprofit organizations, including worker safety and health, workers’ compensation insurance, wage and hour requirements, construction-related licensing and registration, and other worker and consumer protection laws. Despite regular employer trainings, outreach events, and other efforts to educate Washington employers about workplace requirements, many are not aware of their L&I-related responsibilities.
L&I extends its outreach efforts through contracts with employer-trusted business and community organizations. These organizations become outreach partners, educating Washington’s many diverse small businesses about L&I requirements and resources. Through their efforts, many more businesses learn what they need to do and receive helpful support, and more Washington workers receive the legal protections they are entitled to.
By partnering with our contractors, L&I seeks to:
- Reach small businesses and nonprofits that are not easily reached due to language or cultural barriers, geography, lack of connection to business and industry associations, or other reasons, to improve awareness of L&I requirements and services.
- Develop partner organizations that can serve as ongoing resources to provide L&I information and compliance assistance.
- Foster increased collaboration and trust between L&I, employer-supporting groups, and business and nonprofit communities.
- Increase employer use of L&I’s many tools, resources, and services available to help them comply with requirements, reduce costs, improve worker safety, and more.
What Outreach Partners do
With a focus on businesses and nonprofits with 50 or fewer employees, outreach partners connect with their constituency or audience to provide information about L&I requirements and resources. They choose to do that in many different ways, including through newsletters, social media posts, and other communications. Many incorporate L&I-related topics in one-on-one advising, offer presentations, trainings, and include L&I content in conferences and outreach events. Some partners have developed industry-specific guides, computer applications, videos, podcasts, and other customized products.
How to Participate
L&I’s outreach partners program follows standard state contracting processes, initiated with a Request for Proposals (RFP). Prospective partners submit their proposed outreach plans as described in the RFP. An evaluation committee reviews and selects proposals to fund, based on criteria outlined in the RFP and contracts are awarded. Because of the nature of the funding, all contracts must be completed by the end of each state biennial budget period (June 30 of each odd-numbered year).
For more detail about the funding process, go to FUNDING CYCLE/RFPS tab.
Contract-eligible organizations include those that have trusted relationships with Washington small businesses and nonprofits, or have effective channels to reach them. For the purposes of this program, “small” means 50 or fewer employees.
Contracting organizations must be formally organized with state and federal identification numbers, and must be current on all regulatory and tax responsibilities.
Eligible organizations include:
- Minority and cultural organizations with small business participation
- Business and industry associations
- Nonprofit associations
- Chambers of commerce
- Business assistance providers
- For-profit businesses
- Other employer-trusted groups that have positive relationships with a subset of Washington employers
L&I’s Small Business Outreach Partner budget is about $1,800,000 per biennium, with contracts typically ranging from $20,000 to $100,000, based on partners’ program reach and impact. It is anticipated about 15-30 contracts will be awarded each biennium. To learn more, visit our FUNDING CYCLE/RFPs tab.
Requests for proposals
L&I’s Small Business Office issues a Request for Proposals (RFP) at the beginning of the state’s biennium budget cycle, in odd-numbered years. For example, an issuance occurred the summer of 2023. The RFP will provide guidance on what L&I wants to see in a proposed program, the funding priorities, and details on required proposal content, timelines, and submission instructions.
Preparing your proposal
Specific requirements will be provided by L&I’s Small Business Office in the Request for Proposals (RFP) document issued for each funding round (see FUNDING CYCLE/RFPs tab).
You will be able to develop a program of your choice, as long as it aligns with L&I’s goals (see OVERVIEW tab).
How you deliver your program to your target audience is up to you, and can include one-on-one meetings, presentations, trainings, mailings, mobile phone apps, social media, or other innovative, non-conventional methods. Programs can include entirely independent delivery, or collaborative delivery with L&I staff and/or resources.
L&I is particularly committed to programs that include outreach to culturally diverse small business communities, and to employers of workers who are more vulnerable due to industry hazards, limited English proficiency, or other reasons.
L&I is interested in programs that includes all of the topics below, but will consider programs with a narrower focus.
- Worker safety and health requirements and Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) consultation services and resources;
- Workers’ compensation insurance payment requirements, injury claims basics, and return-to-work programs;
- Wage and hour laws, including minimum wage, overtime, equal pay, paid sick leave and other leave laws, youth* and agriculture*-related employment;
- Basic requirements for construction contractors.*
*if applicable to the target audience
L&I reference materials that may be helpful in developing your program:
- Employer’s Guide to Workers’ Compensation Insurance* (F101-002-000)
- Return to Work Toolkit – An Employer’s Guide to Return to Work* (F243-282-000)
- Independent Contractor Guide* (F101-063-000)
- Wage and Hour Questions Employers Often Ask* (F700-150-000)
- Paid Sick Leave* (F700-197-000)
- Employee Rights to Equal Pay and Opportunities* (F700-201-909)
- Teens at Work: Facts for Employers, Parents and Teens* (F700-406-000)
- If Family Members Work for You* (F101-077-909)
- Guide to Workplace Safety and Health* (F416-132-000)
- A Safe & Healthy Workplace Begins with You* (F417-210-000)
- Consultation Services* (F417-209-000)
- Construction Contractors: Steps for Success (F625-115-000)
*Available in Spanish (and some in other languages as well)
Items typically required in proposals include:
- Information about your organization.
- A narrative about your proposed project, including:
- Information about the specific audience you intend to target, the relationship between your organization and the audience, and details about how you intend to successfully engage the audience;
- The proposed contract term (most contracts run through the end of the biennium (June 30 of odd-numbered years);
- Performance data you plan to track; and
- How you will evaluate success.
- The amount of funds you are requesting.
What to expect if you are awarded a contract
Your proposal becomes your contract’s Statement of Work (SOW). You will be asked to break your SOW elements and budget into a quarterly plan called a Milestone Budget Schedule (staff in L&I’s Small Business Office will be happy to assist you).
Other requirements will include:
- Training on L&I employer requirements and resources. At least five hours and potentially more training will be required, based on the contractor’s experience, knowledge, and proposed program.
- Preapproval by L&I of any materials and/or products created for use or distribution to your audience. This includes printed literature, form letters or bulk emails, web content, social media, PowerPoint or other presentations, scripts, videos, podcasts, and other items.
- Participation in regular check-in meetings (virtual) with L&I Small Business Office contract staff.
- Submission of quarterly reports during the contract period.
Past and current Small Business Outreach Partners
Dozens of organizations statewide have participated in providing L&I-related outreach and education to small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Each organization selected its target audience, designed its approach, established its budget, and was awarded a contract from L&I to put their proposal into action.
We are grateful to these employer-trusted organizations. They have great expanded employer understanding of L&I requirements and the many tools and resources available from L&I to help them succeed.
|RFP 1 -K4220 (4/1/202-6/30/2021)||$ 941,878|
|Centro de Servicios Comunitarios||$ 100,000|
|GSBA - WA's LGBTQ & Allied Chamber||$ 100,000|
|StartZone - Highline College||$ 30,965|
|Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber||$ 85,000|
|Business Impact NW (Seattle Economic Development Fund dba Business Impact NW)||$ 58,665|
|Thurston County Chamber of Commerce||$ 45,155|
|Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce||$ 79,850|
|Nonprofit Association of Washington||$ 99,900|
|Washington State Farm Bureau Federation||$ 100,000|
|Washington Small Business Development Center - WSU||$ 100,000|
|Thurston Economic Development Council Center for Business Innovation||$ 42,343|
|RFP 2 - K4714 - COVID-Focused (12/1/2020-6/30/2021)||$ 442,965|
|Building Industry Association of Clark County||$ 32,035|
|EHS-International, Inc.||$ 25,840|
|Bzzcrps Co. dba Ivy Worldwide||$ 21,000|
|Greater Pasco Area Chamber of Commerce||$ 65,000|
|T.D. Wang Advertising Group, LLC dba TDWando + Co||$ 75,000|
|Thurston County Chamber of Commerce||$ 74,128|
|Washington State Farm Bureau Federation||$ 75,000|
|Washington Retail Association||$ 74,962|
|RFP 3 - K4843 (12/1/2021-6/30/2023)||$ 1,477,864|
|Cambodian American Community Council of Washington||$ 90,130|
|Edmonds Chamber of Commerce||$ 30,500|
|Friends of Little Saigon||$ 78,085|
|The Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce||$ 136,410|
|StartZone - Highline College||$ 42,025|
|Nancy Bacon Consulting, LLC||$ 85,624|
|PIM Savvy, Inc.||$ 100,000|
|Seattle Economic Development Fund dba Business Impact NW||$ 100,000|
|Seattle Latino Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce||$ 99,992|
|Thurston County Chamber of Commerce||$ 220,750|
|Nonprofit Association of Washington||$ 100,000|
|Washington Retail Association||$ 99,220|
|Washington State Farm Bureau Federation||$ 114,948|
|Washington State Microenterprise Association||$ 80,000|
|*Direct Buy Contracts (6-9/2022-6/30/2023)||$ 349,000|
|Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship||$ 30,000|
|Economic Development Council - Island County||$ 30,000|
|Indian American Community Services||$ 30,000|
|Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce||$ 30,000|
|Economic Alliance - Okanogan Co. dba Alliance 2005||$ 30,000|
|Washington State Tree Fruit Association||$ 30,000|
|Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce||$ 30,000|
|Washington Brewers Guild||$ 25,000|
|Washington Wine Institute||$ 30,000|
|Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County||$ 30,000|
|Washington Hospitality Association||$ 24,000|
|Cambodian American Community Council of Washington||$ 30,000|
*Direct Buy Contracts – L&I used funds unspent through the competitive RFP process to purchase services directly from these nonprofit organizations. State contracting rules allow this practice for amounts up to $30,000 on a nonrecurring basis.
Next funding cycle
L&I’s Small Business Office released a Request for Proposals (RFP) in mid August 2023, with proposals due in mid September. It is anticipated that 15 – 30 contracts totaling approximately $1.8 million will be awarded for the period January 2024 through June 2025.
Requests for Proposal (RFP) and affiliated documents
To ensure that prospective Outreach Partners receive all RFP-affiliated documents, L&I uses the WEBS system exclusively for distribution of documents and notifications (see below).
WEBS (Washington’s Electronic Business Solution) System
L&I uses WEBS, an internet-based portal, for RFP-related information and correspondence.
Register in WEBS (no cost).
Through WEBS you can:
- Receive word that an RFP has been released, if you have selected one of the following Commodity Codes for notification:
|Commodity code title||Code|
|Business Consulting, Small||918-20|
|Community Development Consulting||918-27|
|Consulting Services (Not Otherwise Classified)||918-32|
|Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE) and Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Consulting Including Technical Assistance||918-35|
|Education and Training Consulting||918-38|
|Professional Services (Not Otherwise Classified)||962-58|
- Receive and download the RFP
- Receive updates to the RFP and timeline
- Receive and download RFP-related materials, such as Q&As, Bidder’s Conference presentation slides, sample contracts, and so forth
- Submit your proposal and affiliated documents to L&I (submitting through WEBS is required)
WEBS and state contracting assistance is available!
- WEBS Customer Service support: