Request for Grant Proposals.
The Youth Programs Division of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces an open competition for the placement component of the FREEDOM Support Act/Future Leaders Exchange (FSA/FLEX) program. Public and private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in IRS regulation 26 CFR 1.501(c) may submit proposals to recruit and select host families and schools for high school students between the ages of 15 and 17 from the New Independent States (NIS) of the former Soviet Union. In addition to identifying schools and screening, selecting, and orienting families, organizations will be responsible for: orienting students at the local level; providing support services for students; arranging enhancement activities that Start Printed Page 50704reinforce program goals; monitoring students during their stay in the U.S.; providing re-entry training; and assessing student performance and progress. The award of grants and the number of students who will participate is subject to the availability of funding in fiscal year 2002.
Background: Academic year 2002/2003 will be the tenth year of the FSA/FLEX program, which now includes over 10,000 alumni. This inbound, academic year component of the NIS Secondary School Initiative was originally authorized under the FREEDOM Support Act of 1992 and is funded by annual allocations from the Foreign Operations and State Department appropriations. The goals of the program are to promote mutual understanding and foster a relationship between the people of the NIS and the U.S.; to assist the successor generation of the NIS in developing the qualities it will need to lead in the transformation of those countries in the 21st century; and to promote democratic values and civic responsibility by giving NIS youth the opportunity to live in American society and participate in focused activities for an academic year.
- To place approximately 1,200 pre-selected high school students from the NIS in qualified, well-motivated host families.
- To place students in schools that have been accredited by the respective state departments of education.
- To expose program participants to American culture and democracy through homestay experiences and enhancement activities that will enable them to attain a broad view of the society and culture of the U.S.
- To encourage FSA/FLEX program participants to share their culture, lifestyle and traditions with U.S. citizens.
Through participation in the FLEX program, students should:
1. Acquire an understanding of important elements of a civil society. This includes concepts such as volunteerism, the idea that American citizens can and do act at the grassroots level to deal with societal problems, and an awareness of and respect for the rule of law.
2. Acquire an understanding of a free market economy and private enterprise. This includes awareness of privatization and an appreciation of the role of the entrepreneur in economic growth.
3. Develop an appreciation for American culture and an understanding of the diversity of American society.
4. Interact with Americans and generate enduring ties.
5. Teach Americans about the cultures of their home countries.
6. Gain leadership capacity that will enable them to initiate and support activities in their home countries that focus on development and community service in their role as FLEX alumni.
Other Components: Two organizations operating as a consortium have been awarded grants to perform the following functions: recruitment and selection of students; targeting recruitment for students with disabilities; assistance in documentation and preparation of IAP-66 forms; preparation of cross-cultural materials; pre-departure orientation; international travel from home to host community and return; facilitation of ongoing communication between the natural parents and placement organization, as needed; maintenance of a student database and provision of data to the U.S. Department of State; and ongoing follow-up with alumni after their return to the NIS. Additionally, a separate grant will be awarded to conduct a one-week mid-year civic education program in Washington, D.C., for a select number of students who successfully compete for the Washington program. Most of the students with disabilities, as well as a select number of additional students who are identified as needing English language enhancement before entering their host communities, will attend a Language and Cultural Enhancement (LCE) program in July 2002, which will be conducted under a grant awarded exclusively for that purpose. The announcements of the competitions for these grants will be published separately.
Organizations chosen under this competition are responsible for the following:
(1) Recruitment, screening, selection, and NIS/FLEX-specific orientation of host families;
(2) Enrollment in an accredited school;
(3) Local orientation for participants;
(4) Placement of a small number of students with disabilities;
(5) Ensuring that all students identified for the pre-academic-year LCE program have their permanent year-long placement by the time they arrive at the LCE program in July;
(6) Specialized training of local staff and volunteers to work with FLEX students from the NIS;
(7) Preparation and dissemination of materials to students pertaining to the respective placement organization;
(8) Dispersal of program-specific information, such as alumni activity reports and School Administrator handbooks, to respective persons involved with the program (e.g., host families, school administrators, local coordinators);
(9) Program-related enhancement activities;
(11) Communication with the organizations conducting other program components, when appropriate;
(12) Evaluation of the students' performance;
(13) Quarterly evaluation of the organization's success in achieving program goals;
(14) NIS-specific re-entry training to prepare students for readjustment to their home environments.
Applicants may request a grant for the placement of at least 40 students. There is no ceiling on the number of students who may be placed by one organization. It is anticipated that approximately 10-15 grants will be awarded for this component of the FLEX program. Placements may be in any region in the U.S. Strong preference will be given to organizations that choose to place participants in clusters of at least three students. An option for clustering may include clustering a minimum of 60% of an organization's FLEX students and dispersing the remainder. Justification for choosing this option must be provided. Applicants must demonstrate that training of local staff ensures their competence in providing NIS-specific orientation programs, appropriate enhancement activities, and quality supervision and counseling of students from the NIS. Please refer to the Solicitation Package, available on request from the address listed below, for details on essential program elements, permissible costs, and criteria used to select students.
Grants should begin at the point that the complete applications on selected finalists are delivered to the placement organizations, no later than March 2002.
Most participants arrive in their host communities during the month of August and remain for 10 or 11 months until their departure during the period mid-May to late June 2003.
Administration of the program must be in compliance with reporting and withholding regulations for federal, state, and local taxes as applicable. Recipient organizations should demonstrate tax regulation adherence in the proposal narrative and budget. Start Printed Page 50705
Applicants should submit the health and accident insurance plans they intend to use for students on this program. If use of a private plan is proposed, the State Department will compare that plan with the Bureau plan and make a determination of which will be applicable.
Participants will travel on J-1 visas issued by the State Department using a government program number. Organizations must comply with J-1 visa regulations in carrying out their responsibilities under the FLEX program.
Please refer to Solicitation Package for further information.
Grants awarded to eligible organizations with less than four years of experience in conducting international exchange programs will be limited to $60,000.
Applicants must submit a comprehensive budget for the entire program. Per capita costs should not exceed $5,300. 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) A monthly stipend and a one-time incidentals allowance for participants, as established by the Department of State;
(2) Costs associated with student enhancement activities and orientations;
(3) Health and accident insurance.
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/PE/C/PY-02-04.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT:
The Office of Youth Programs, ECA/PE/C/PY, Room 568, U.S. Department of State, 301 4th Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20547, tel. (202) 619-6299, and fax (202) 619-5311, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org 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 of Education and Cultural Affairs Program Officer Anna Mussman 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 Monday, November 19, 2001. Faxed documents will not be accepted at any time. Documents postmarked the due date but received on a later date will not be accepted. It is the responsibility of each applicant to ensure that the proposals are received by the above deadline. Applicants must follow all instructions in the Solicitation Package. The original and 8 copies of the application should be sent to: U.S. Department of State, SA-44, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Ref.: ECA/PE/C/PY-02-30, Program Management, ECA/EX/PM, Room 534, 301 4th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20547.
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.
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 State Department's Coordinator's Office and Public Diplomacy section at the U.S. embassy overseas, where appropriate. Eligible proposals will be forwarded to panels of Bureau officers 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.
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.
3. Ability to achieve program objectives: Objectives should be reasonable, feasible, and flexible. Proposals should clearly demonstrate how the organization will meet the program's objectives and plan.
4. Multiplier effect/impact: Proposed programs should strengthen long-term mutual understanding, including maximum 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 (selection of participants, host families, schools, program venue and program evaluation) and program content (orientation and wrap-up sessions, program meetings, resource materials and follow-up activities). Start Printed Page 50706
6. Institutional Capacity: Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the program or project's goals.
7. Organizations's Record/Ability: Proposals should demonstrate an institutional record of successful exchange programs, including responsible fiscal management and full compliance with all reporting and J-1 Visa 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. 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. Submission of a sample FLEX-specific draft survey questionnaire or other technique plus description of a methodology to use to link outcomes to original project objectives are highly recommended. Successful applicants will be expected to submit quarterly reports, which should be included as an inherent component of the work plan.
9. Cost-effectiveness/cost sharing: 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. Proposals should maximize cost-sharing through other private sector support as well as institutional direct funding contributions.
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 legislation pertaining to the Department of State and FREEDOM Support Act appropriations.
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.
Final awards cannot be made until funds have been appropriated by Congress, allocated and committed through internal Bureau procedures.Start Signature
Dated: September 26, 2001.
Helena Kane Finn,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs, Department of State.
[FR Doc. 01-24746 Filed 10-3-01; 8:45 am]
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