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Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Request for Grant Proposals: FREEDOM Support Act Undergraduate Program

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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 Academic Exchange Programs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces an open competition for the FREEDOM Support Act Undergraduate Program. Public and private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in IRS regulations 26 CFR 1.501(c)(2)-1 through 1.501(c)(21)-2 may submit proposals to administer the placement, monitoring, evaluation, follow-on, and alumni activities for the FY 2002 FREEDOM Support Act Undergraduate Program. Proposals should include provisions for the recruitment and selection of FY 2003 participants. Organizations with less than four years of experience in conducting international exchange programs are not eligible for this competition.

Program Information

The FREEDOM Support Act Undergraduate Program (herein referred to as the FSAU Program) provides scholarships for one-year, non-degree study at U.S. institutes of higher education to outstanding students of the New Independent States (NIS). Scholarships are available in the fields of agriculture, American studies, business, computer science, economics, education, environmental management, international relations, journalism and mass communication, political science, and sociology. Scholarships are granted to students who have completed at least one year of study at an accredited university in their home countries. Students must be citizens of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, or Uzbekistan. FSAU participants will be enrolled in one-year, non-degree programs at both four-year colleges and universities, and community colleges. Students will enhance their academic education with participation in community service and an internship. Interested organizations should read the entire Federal Register announcement for all information prior to preparing a proposal. Programs must comply with J-1 Visa regulations. Please refer to the Solicitation Package for further information. Awards will begin on or about May 30, 2002. Start Printed Page 52957

Budget Guidelines

Applicants must submit a comprehensive budget for the entire program. The level of funding for FY 2002 is uncertain, but is anticipated to be approximately $8,500,000. Based on this figure, applicant organizations should submit a budget which will fund no fewer than 335 participants. ECA anticipates awarding one or more grants under this competition. Applicant organizations are encouraged, through cost sharing and other methods, to provide for as many scholarships as possible based on approximated funding. 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. Please refer to the Solicitation Package for complete budget guidelines and formatting instructions. ECA grant guidelines state that organizations with less than four years experience in conducting international exchange programs are limited to $60,000 in Bureau funding. It is anticipated that the grant or grants awarded under this competition will well exceed $60,000. Therefore, organizations with less than four years experience per above, are not eligible under this competition.

Announcement Title and Number: All correspondence with the Bureau concerning this RFGP should reference the above title and number ECA/A/E/EUR-02-03.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

The Office of Academic Exchange Programs, ECA/A/E/EUR, Room 246, U.S. Department of State, SA-44, 301 4th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20547, Phone: 202-205-0525; Fax: 202-260-7985, sgovatsk@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 Manager Sondra Govatski 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 Web site 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, December 21, 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. 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 eight (8) copies of the application should be sent to: U.S. Department of State, SA-44, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Ref.: ECA/A/E/EUR-02-03, 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 a 3.5″ diskette, formatted for DOS. These documents must be provided in ASCII text (DOS) format with a maximum line length of 65 characters. The Bureau will transmit these files electronically to Public Affairs Sections at US Embassies for review, with the goal of reducing the time it takes to get embassies' comments for the Bureau's grants review process.

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 Affairs Sections 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 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. Program Development and Management

Proposals should exhibit originality, substance, precision, innovation, and relevance to Bureau mission. Objectives should be reasonable, feasible, and flexible. Proposals should clearly demonstrate how the organization will meet the program's objectives. A 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.

2. 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. Proposals should also include creative ways to involve students in their U.S. communities.

3. Support of Diversity

Proposals should demonstrate the recipient's commitment to promoting the awareness and understanding of diversity, and should include a strategy Start Printed Page 52958for achieving diverse applicant pools for both students and host institutions.

4. 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. Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the program or project's goals.

5. Alumni Tracking and Follow-On

Proposals should provide a plan for effective tracking of participants after the completion of the program. Proposals should include a plan for continued follow-on activity which insures that ECA supported programs are not isolated events.

6. Project Evaluation

Proposals should include a plan to evaluate the program's success, both during and after the program. ECA recommends that the proposal include a draft survey questionnaire or other technique, plus a description of methodologies that can be used to link outcomes to original project objectives. Award-receiving organizations will be expected to submit intermediate reports after each project component is concluded or quarterly, whichever is less frequent.

7. Cost-Effectiveness and 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.

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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 FREEDOM Support Act legislation.

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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: October 11, 2001.

Patricia S. Harrison,

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

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[FR Doc. 01-26121 Filed 10-17-01; 8:45 am]

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