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Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Request for Grant Proposals: Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program-International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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SUMMARY:

The Office of Global Educational Programs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces an open competition for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. Public and private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in IRS regulation 26 CFR 1.501(c) may submit proposals for the purpose of carrying out a scholarship program for academic study outside of the United States.

Program Information

This program establishes grants for U.S. citizen or national undergraduate students of limited financial means from the United States to enable such students to pursue academic studies abroad. Such foreign study is intended to better prepare U.S. students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy.

Overview

This program provides an assistance award not to exceed $1,500,000 for the purpose of issuing grants of up to $5,000 to individuals who meet the eligibility requirements listed below, toward the cost of up to one academic year of undergraduate study abroad. Subject to the availability of funding and to satisfactory performance of the awardee, this assistance award may be renewable for two subsequent fiscal years.

The Presidential Memorandum on International Education of April 19, 2000 directs the Department of State to support the efforts of schools and colleges to improve access to high-quality international educational experiences by increasing the number of diversity of students who study and intern abroad. In support of this Memorandum and pursuant to the authorizing legislation for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, this program is intended to broaden the student population that participates in study outside the U.S. by focusing on those students who might not otherwise study abroad due to financial constraints.

The Presidential Memorandum also directs the Department to encourage students and institutions to choose nontraditional study-abroad locations and to help underrepresented U.S. institutions offer and promote study-abroad opportunities for their students. These secondary objectives should also be addressed in grant proposals.

Guidelines

The administering organization should be prepared to solicit applications immediately upon receipt of grant notification and to award scholarships to allow study programs to begin in the 2001/2002 academic year.

Student Eligibility: To apply for a scholarship, an applicant must;

(1) Be a student in good standing at an institution of higher education in the United States (as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965);

(2) Have been accepted for up to one academic year of study on a program of study abroad approved for credit by the student's home institution;

(3) Be receiving any need-based student assistance under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965; and

(4) Be a citizen or national of the United States.

Application and Selection: (1) Scholarship application and selection shall be carried out through accredited institutions of higher education in the United States or a combination of such institutions.

(2) In considering applications for scholarships:

(A) consideration of financial need shall include the increased costs of study abroad; and

(B) priority consideration shall be given to applicants who are receiving Federal Pell Grants under title of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

(C) in ranking eligible applicants, consideration should also be given to academic excellence, and diversity of the applicant pool, fields of study, destinations, and type and location of home institutions of higher education.

Reporting: The grantee organization will submit quarterly reports on the number of applicants, the number of selectees, the names of the institutions of higher education in the United States that applicants and selectees attended at the time of application, name of institutions sponsoring the study program abroad, the names and locations of the institutions of higher education outside the United States which participants attended during Start Printed Page 4049their study abroad, the fields of study of participants, and attrition rates. Additionally, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs may request other periodic and ad hoc reports.

Budget Guidelines

Grants awarded to eligible organizations with less than four years of experience in conducting international exchange programs are limited by Bureau policy to $60,000. The bureau intends to make one award not to exceed $1,500,000. Accordingly, institutions with less than five years experience are not encouraged to apply. The Bureau encourages applicants to provide maximum levels of cost-sharing and funding from private sources in support of its programs.

Applicants must submit a comprehensive budget for the entire program. Of the total grant, a maximum of 10% (up to $150,000) may be spent on administrative and overhead costs. There must be a summary budget as well as breakdowns reflecting both administrative and program budgets. Applicants may provide separate sub-budgets for each program component, phase, location, or activity to provide clarification.

Allowable costs for the program include the following:

(1) Administrative: Salaries and benefits and other direct administrative expenses such as postage, phone, printing and office supplies.

(2) Program: Participant expenses, which may include institutional fees, travel expenses, tuition; expenses related to review panels, including travel and perdiem.

Please refer to the Solicitation Package for complete budget guidelines and formatting instructions.

Announcement Title and Number

All correspondence with the Bureau concerning this RFGP should reference the above title and number ECA/A/S/A-01-14.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT:

The Office of Global Educational Programs, Educational Information and Resources Branch (ECA/A/S/A), Room 349, U.S. Department of State, 301 4th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20547; telephone 202-619-5434; fax 202-401-1433; e-mail advise@pd.state.gov to request a Solicitation Package. The Solicitation Package contains detailed award criteria, required application forms, specific budget instructions, and standard guidelines for proposal preparation. Please specify Bureau Program Officer Amy Forest on all other inquiries and correspondence.

Please read the complete Federal Register announcement before sending inquiries or submitting proposals. Once the RFGP deadline has passed, Bureau staff may not discuss this competition with applicants until the proposal review process has been completed.

To Download a Solicitation Package Via Internet

The entire Solicitation Package may be downloaded from the Bureau's website at http://exchanges.state.gov/​education/​RFGPs. Please read all information before downloading.

Deadline for Proposals

All proposal copies must be received at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs by 5 p.m. Washington, DC time on Friday, February 23, 2001. Faxed documents will not be accepted at any time. Documents postmarked on the due date but received on a later date will not be accepted. Each applicant must ensure that the proposals are received by the above deadline.

Applicants must follow all instructions in the Solicitation Package. The original and 15 copies of the application should be sent to: U.S. Department of State, SA-44, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Ref.: ECA/A/S/A-01-14, Program Management, ECA/EX/PM, Room 534, 301 4th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20547.

Applicants must also submit the “Executive Summary” and “Proposal Narrative” sections of the proposal on 3.5″ diskette, formatted for DOS. These documents must be provided in ASCII text (DOS) format with a maximum line length of 65 characters.

Diversity, Freedom and Democracy Guidelines

Pursuant to the Bureau's authorizing legislation, programs must maintain a non-political character and should be balanced and representative of the diversity of American political, social, and cultural life. “Diversity” should be interpreted in the broadest sense and encompass differences including, but not limited to ethnicity, race, gender, religion, geographic location, socio-economic status, and physical challenges. Applicants are strongly encouraged to adhere to the advancement of this principle both in program administration and in program content. Please refer to the review criteria under the ‘Support for Diversity’ section for specific suggestions on incorporating diversity into the total proposal. Public Law 104-319 provides that “in carrying out programs of educational and cultural exchange in countries whose people do not fully enjoy freedom and democracy,” the Bureau “Shall take appropriate steps to provide opportunities for participation in such programs to human rights and democracy leaders of such countries.” Public Law 106-113 requires that the governments of the countries described above do not have inappropriate influence in the selection process. Proposals should reflect advancement of these goals in their program contents, to the full extent deemed feasible.

Review Process

The Bureau will acknowledge receipt of all proposals and will review them for technical eligibility. Proposals will be deemed ineligible if they do not fully adhere to the guidelines stated herein and in the Solicitation Package. All eligible proposals will be reviewed by the program office, as well as the Public Diplomacy section overseas, where appropriate. Eligible proposals will be subject to compliance with Federal and Bureau regulations and guidelines and forwarded to Bureau grant panels for advisory review. Proposals may also be reviewed by the Office of the Legal Adviser or by other Department elements. Final funding decisions are at the discretion of the Department of State's Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs. Final technical authority for assistance awards (grants or cooperative agreements) resides with the Bureau's Grants Officer.

Review Criteria

Technically eligible applications will be competitively reviewed according to the criteria stated below. These criteria are not rank ordered and all carry equal weight in the proposal evaluation:

1. Quality of the Program Idea: Proposals should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the Bureau's mission.

2. Program Planning: Detailed agenda and relevant work plan should demonstrate substantive undertakings and logistical capacity. Agenda and plan should adhere to the program overview and guidelines described above. The work plan should specify target dates for objectives such as application deadlines, notifications, and provision of funds to participants.

3. Ability to Achieve Program Objectives: Objectives should be reasonable, feasible, and flexible. Proposals should clearly demonstrate how the institution will meet the program's objectives and plan.

4. Multiplier Effect/Impact: Proposed programs should strengthen long-term mutual understanding, including Start Printed Page 4050maximum sharing of information and establishment of long-term institutional and individual linkages.

5. Support of Diversity: Proposals should demonstrate substantive support of the Bureau's policy on diversity. Achievable and relevant features should be cited in both program administration and program content. Proposals should demonstrate the recipient's commitment to promoting the awareness and understanding of diversity, including but not limited to diversity in applicant pool, type and location of home institution, study destinations, and fields of study.

6. Institutional Capacity: Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the program or project's goals. Applicants should demonstrate prior experience or the capacity to negotiate with academic institutions to achieve significant cost sharing. Electronic databases should be compatible with the Bureau's systems.

7. Institution's Record/Ability: Proposals should demonstrate an institutional record of successful exchange programs, including responsible fiscal management and full compliance with all reporting requirements for past Bureau grants as determined by Bureau Grant Staff. The Bureau will consider the past performance of prior recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants.

8. Follow-on Activities: Proposals should provide a plan for continued follow-on activity such as alumni tracking and programming.

9. Project Evaluation: Proposals should include a plan to evaluate the activity's success, both as the activities unfold and at the end of the program. A draft survey questionnaire or other technique plus description of a methodology to use to link outcomes to original project objectives is recommended. Successful applicants will be expected to submit intermediate reports after each project component is concluded or quarterly, whichever is less frequent.

10. Cost-effectiveness: The overhead and administrative components of the proposal, including salaries and honoraria, should be kept as low as possible. All other items should be necessary and appropriate.

11. Cost-Sharing: Proposals should maximize cost-sharing through other private sector support as well as institutional direct funding contributions.

Authority

Overall grant making authority for this program is contained in the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, Public Law 87-256, as amended, also known as the Fulbright-Hays Act. The purpose of the Act is “to enable the Government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries . . . ; to strengthen the ties which unite us with other nations by demonstrating the educational and cultural interests, developments, and achievements of the people of the United States and other nations . . . and thus to assist in the development of friendly, sympathetic and peaceful relations between the United States and the other countries of the world.” The funding authority for the program above is provided through the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000.

Notice

The terms and conditions published in this RFGP are binding and may not be modified by any Bureau representative. Explanatory information provided by the Bureau that contradicts published language will not be binding. Issuance of the RFGP does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government. The Bureau reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the program and the availability of funds. Awards made will be subject to periodic reporting and evaluation requirements.

Notification

Final awards cannot be made until funds have been appropriated by Congress, allocated and committed through internal Bureau procedures.

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Dated: January 9, 2001.

William B. Bader,

Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State.

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[FR Doc. 01-1363 Filed 1-16-01; 8:45 am]

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