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Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Request for Grant Proposals (RFGPs): Tibet Development, Professional, Educational and Cultural Exchange Projects

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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SUMMARY:

The Office of Citizen Exchanges of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces an open competition for the Tibet Development, Professional, Educational and Cultural Exchange Projects. U.S.-based public and private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue code section 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3) may submit proposals that promote understanding between the people of the United States and the people of the Tibetan ethnic group living in China, through professional, educational and cultural projects.

To be eligible for consideration under this competition, proposals must provide a minimum of 30 percent cost sharing of the amount of grant funds sought from ECA, although proposals with higher cost sharing levels are welcome.

Interested applicants should read the complete Federal Register announcement before addressing inquiries to the Office of Citizen Exchanges or submitting their proposals. Once the RFGP deadline has passed, the Office of Citizen Exchanges may not discuss this competition in any way with applicants until after the Bureau program and project review process has been completed.

Announcement Name and Number: All correspondence with the Bureau concerning this RFGP should reference the “Open Competition for Tibet Development, Professional, Educational and Cultural Exchange Projects” and reference number: ECA/PE/C/WHAEAP-03-48. Please refer to title and number in all correspondence or telephone calls to the Office of Citizen Exchanges.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Interested organizations/institutions mmay contact the Office of Citizen Exchanges, room 216, SA-44, U.S. Department of State, 301 4th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20547, telephone number 202/260-5491, fax number 202/260-0440, or rharvey@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, Raymond H. Harvey, on all other inquiries and correspondence.

To Download a Solicitation Package Via Internet: The entire Solicitation Package also may be downloaded from the Bureau's Web site at http://exchanges.state.gov/​education/​RFGPs. Please read all information before downloading.

Program Information

Overview: The Office of Citizen Exchanges welcomes proposals that directly respond to the thematic areas listed below. Projects for other themes will not be eligible for consideration under the FY-2003 Tibet Development, Professional, Educational and Cultural Exchange Project announcement.

Approximately $1.7 million is expected to be available to support projects under this competition. Approximately $500,000 is being provided from the Bureau's FY-2003 Appropriation for a project or projects focusing on the themes of Vocational Education and Cultural Preservation. It is anticipated that the balance of funding will be provided to the Bureau via an Economic Support Fund (ESF) transfer to support a project or projects focusing on Public Health Management, Sustainable Development and Eco-Tourism and Entrepreneurship Development. Please note: The award of ESF funded grants is subject to transfer of valid funding authority to the Bureau.

Public Health Management

Projects submitted in response to this theme would be aimed at engaging public health leaders to combat the debilitating health problems ethnic Tibetans face in China, from malnutrition to fatal pneumonia, tuberculosis and diarrhea. The program would focus on developing and implementing appropriate public health policies, through seminars, training programs (especially in the areas of inoculations, child nutrition, midwifery, cataract surgery, or cleft palate repair) and outreach to public and private health planners and practitioners, to ensure the optimal welfare and economic viability of ethnic Tibetan communities. (Formal medical education and dispensing of medications are outside the purview of this theme and will not be accepted activities for funding based on exchange guidelines.)

Sustainable Development and Eco-tourism

Exchanges and development activities funded under this theme would help American and ethnic Tibetan conservationists, tourism planners, and Start Printed Page 20218economic development officials share their experience in managing tourism resources and development projects, particularly in ecologically fragile areas, and would contribute to better understanding of conservation and concepts essential to responsible economic development. Local community development projects are invited in such areas as renewable energy, eco-tourism, micro-credit, or poverty alleviation projects, including farm technology, animal husbandry, or agricultural marketing. Americans are in a good position to convey to their Tibetan counterparts the importance of sustainable forestry practices and sustainable harvesting of plant resources to short-term and long-term economic prospects.

Vocational Education

Proposals are sought which emphasize vocational training or administration and development of vocational schools targeted towards the practical needs of ethnic Tibetan communities. Successful projects would help influence thinking among those responsible for economic planning in rural and urban areas where Tibetans live. Discussion of how to integrate education planning with economic development initiatives, how to diversify revenue sources, and how to recruit, train and retain strong faculty would all contribute towards dialogue on vocational education, an issue important to both ethnic Tibetans and Americans in a modern and changing economy.

Vocational education may include practical training of entrepreneurs; development of Tibetan-language educational materials (such as Tibetan-English teaching guides or Tibetan-language public health education materials; or development of distance-learning technology solutions for remote rural schools. English-language training projects should focus on in situ training. (Projects seeking funding to support the travel of ethnic Tibetans to the U.S. for English language instruction are outside the purview of this theme and will not be accepted activities for funding under this competition.)

Developing Enterpreneurship

Projects under this theme may focus on the skills ethnic Tibetans, many of whom come from rural backgrounds with rudimentary economies, need to function effectively in a modern economy (e.g. finance, accounting, and language skills). Projects that explore ways that both the government and the private sector can help promote entrepreneurship in sustainable ways, including access to credit, ecologically conscious tourism policies and investment, or English language training for trade or tourism purposes will be favored. Programs that train budding entrepreneurs and develop micro finance programs for them are welcome.

Cultural Presevation

Projects under this theme are aimed to assist ethnic Tibetans in preserving their cultural heritage through programs designed to reduce the threat of pillage of irreplaceable cultural heritage, and to create opportunities to develop long-term strategies for preserving cultural property through training and conservation, museum development, and public education.

Projects might include supporting the preservation of cultural sites; objects in a site, museum or similar institution; or forms of traditional cultural expression. The proposals may encompass topics such as museum needs, historic buildings, collections, archaeological sites, rare manuscripts, traditional music and language.

Guidelines

The Office seeks proposals that provide professional experience and exposure to American life and culture through internships, workshops and other learning-sharing experiences hosted by local institutions. The experiences also will provide Americans the opportunity to learn about Tibetan culture and the social and economic challenges Tibetans face today. While a portion of this funding will be available for travel under these grants to support two-way exchanges, the key aim is to train and assist ethnic Tibetans living in China. Proposals only seeking funding for one-way travel, either Tibetans to travel to the United States or U.S. project personnel to travel to China must provide a clear explanation detailing the rationale for a one-way exchange. Projects in the U.S. should not simply be academic in nature; they should be designed to provide practical, hands-on experience in U.S. public/private sector settings that may be adapted to an individual's institution upon return home. Proposals may combine elements of professional enrichment, job shadowing and internships appropriate to the language ability and interests of the participants.

General Program Guidelines

Applicants must identify the local organizations and individuals in the counterpart country with whom they are proposing to collaborate and describe in detail previous cooperative programming and/or contacts. Specific information about the counterpart organizations' activities and accomplishments is required and must be included in the section on Institutional Capacity. All proposals must contain letters of support tailored to the project being proposed from all foreign-country partner organizations.

Exchanges and training programs supported by institutional grants from the Bureau should operate at two levels: they should enhance institutional partnerships, and they should offer practical information and experience to individuals and groups to assist them with their professional responsibilities. Strong proposals usually have the following characteristics:

  • A proven track record of working in the proposed issue area;
  • An experienced staff with language facility and a commitment by the staff to monitor projects locally to improve accountability;
  • A clear, convincing plan showing how permanent results will be accomplished as a result of the activity funded by the grant; and
  • A follow-on plan beyond the scope of the Bureau grant.

Proposal narratives must demonstrate an organization's willingness to consult closely with the Public Affairs Section and other officers at the U.S. Embassy and at the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu. Proposal narratives must confirm that all materials developed for the project will acknowledge USG funding for the program as well as a commitment to invite representatives of the Embassy and/or Consulate to participate in various program sessions/site visits. Please note that this will be a formal requirement in all final grant awards.

Suggested Program Designs

Bureau-supported exchanges may include internships; study tours; short-term, non-technical experiential learning, extended and intensive workshops and seminars taking place in the United States or overseas. Examples of possible program activities include:

1. A U.S.-based program that includes: orientation to program purposes and to U.S. society; study tour/site visits; professional internships/placements; interaction and dialogue; hands-on training; professional development; and action plan development.

2. Capacity-building/training-of-trainer (TOT) workshops to help participants to identify priorities, create work plans, strengthen professional and volunteer skills, share their experience to committed people within each country, and become active in a practical and valuable way. Start Printed Page 20219

3. Seed/small grants to indigenous non-profit organizations to support community-based educational projects that build upon exchange activities and that address issues of local concern. Proposals may include a component for a Seed/Small Grants Competition (often referred to as “sub-grants” or “secondary grants”). This requires a detailed plan for recruitment and advertising; description of the proposal review and award mechanism; a plan for how the grantee would monitor and evaluate small grant activity; and a proposed amount for an average grant. The small grants should be directly linked to exchange activities. Small/seed grants may not be used for micro-credit or re-loaning purposes. Small/seed grants may not exceed 10% of the total value of the grant funds sought from ECA.

4. Site visits by U.S. facilitators/experts to monitor projects in the region and to provide additional training and consultations as needed.

5. Content-based Internet training/ cyber-training to encourage citizen participation in workshops, fora, chats, and/or discussions via the Internet that will stimulate communication and information sharing among key opinion leaders on priority topics as a form of cost sharing. Proposals that include Internet utilization must reflect knowledge of the opportunities and obstacles that exist for use of information technologies in the target country or countries, and, if needed, provide hardware, software and servers, preferably as a form of cost sharing. Federal standards are under review and their adoption may impact on the implementation of these programs.

Selection of Participants

All grant proposals should clearly describe the type of persons who will participate in the program as well as the process by which participants will be selected. It is recommended that for programs including U.S. internships, grant applicants submit letters tentatively committing host institutions to support the internships. In the selection of Tibetan participants, the Department, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu retain the right to review all participant nominations and to accept or refuse participants recommended by grantee institutions. The grantee institution will also provide the names of American participants and brief (two pages) biographical data on each American participant to the Office of Citizen Exchanges for information purposes. Priority in two-way exchange proposals will be given to foreign participants who have not previously traveled to the United States.

Adherence to All Regulations Governing the J Visa

The Office of Citizen Exchanges of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is the official program sponsor of the exchange program covered by this RFGP, and an employee of the Bureau will be the “Responsible Officer” for the program under the terms of 22 CFR part 62, which covers the administration of the Exchange Visitor Program (J visa program). Under the terms of 22 CFR part 62, organizations receiving grants under this RFGP will be third parties “cooperating with or assisting the sponsor in the conduct of the sponsor's program.” The actions of grantee program organizations shall be “imputed to the sponsor in evaluating the sponsor's compliance with” 22 CFR part 62. Therefore, the Bureau expects that any organization receiving a grant under this competition will render all assistance necessary to enable the Bureau to fully comply with 22 CFR part 62 et seq.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs places great emphasis on the secure and proper administration of Exchange Visitor (J visa) Programs and adherence by grantee program organizations and program participants to all regulations governing the J visa program status. Therefore, proposals should explicitly state in writing that the applicant is prepared to assist the Bureau in meeting all requirements governing the administration of Exchange Visitor Programs as set forth in 22 CFR part 62. If your organization has experience as a designated Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor, the applicant should discuss their record of compliance with 22 CFR part 62 et seq., including the oversight of their Responsible Officers and Alternate Responsible Officers, screening and selection of program participants, provision of pre-arrival information and orientation to participants, monitoring of participants, proper maintenance and security of forms, record-keeping, reporting and other requirements.

The Office of Citizen Exchanges of ECA will be responsible for issuing DS-2019 forms to participants in this program.

A copy of the complete regulations governing the administration of Exchange Visitor (J) programs is available at http://exchanges.state.gov or from: United States Department of State, Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation, ECA/EC/ECD—SA-44, Room 734, 301 4th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20547, Telephone: (202) 401-9810, FAX: (202) 401-9809.

Program Data Requirements

Organizations awarded grants will be required to maintain specific data on program participants and activities in an electronically accessible database format that can be shared with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as required. As a minimum, the data must include the following: Name, address, contact information and biographic sketch of all persons who travel internationally on funds provided by the grant or who benefit from the grant funding but do not travel.

Budget Guidelines

Grants awarded to eligible organizations with less than four years experience in conducting international exchange programs will be limited to $60,000. Applicants must submit a comprehensive budget for the entire program. It is anticipated that grant awards will range from $175,000 to $250,0000. 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. Pending the availability and the transfer of funds to the Bureau, it is anticipated that approximately $1.7 million will be available to support projects under this competition. Approximately $500,000 is being provided from the Bureau's FY-2003 Appropriation. It is anticipated that the balance of funding will be provided to the Bureau via an Economic Support Fund (ESF) transfer. Please note: The Bureau cannot guarantee funding for ESF supported projects. These grants are subject to the transfer of valid funding authority to the Bureau.

Since Bureau grant assistance constitutes only a portion of total project funding, proposals should list and provide evidence of other anticipated sources of financial and in-kind support. To be eligible for consideration under this competition, proposals must provide a minimum of 30 percent cost sharing of the amount of grant funds sought from ECA, although proposals with higher cost-sharing levels are welcome.

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Example:

A proposal requests $125,000 in grant funds from ECA, for a project with a total budget of $500,000. The required minimum allowable cost sharing offered must amount to at least $37,500. In this case, the cost sharing far exceeds the minimum, since actual cost sharing is $375,000.

When cost sharing is offered, it is understood and agreed that the applicant must provide the minimum Start Printed Page 20220amount of cost sharing as stipulated in this RFGP and later included in an approved grant agreement. Cost sharing may be in the form of allowable direct or indirect costs. For accountability, you must maintain written records to support all allowable costs, which are claimed as being your contribution to cost participation, as well as costs to be paid by the Federal government. Such records are subject to audit. The basis for determining the value of cash and in-kind contributions must be in accordance with OMB Circular A-110, (Revised), Subpart C.23—Cost Sharing and Matching. In the event you do not provide the minimum amount of cost sharing as stipulated in the approved budget, ECA's contribution will be reduced proportionately to the contribution.

The following project costs are eligible for consideration for funding:

1. Travel costs. International and domestic airfares; visas; transit costs; ground transportation costs. Please note that all air travel must be in compliance with the Fly America Act. There is no charge for J1 visas for participants in Bureau sponsored programs. Please note that Tibetan participants may not travel to the U.S. primarily for English language instruction.

2. Per diem. For the U.S. program, organizations have the option of using a flat $160/day for program participants or the published U.S. Federal per diem rates for individual American cities. For activities outside the U.S., the published Federal per diem rates must be used. NOTE: U.S. escorting staff must use the published Federal per diem rates, not the flat rate. Per diem rates may be accessed at http://www.policyworks.

gov/.

3. Interpreters. If needed, interpreters for the U.S. program are available through the U.S. Department of State Language Services Division. Typically, a pair of simultaneous interpreters is provided for every four visitors who need interpretation. Bureau grants do not pay for foreign interpreters to accompany delegations from their home country. Grant proposal budgets should contain a flat $160/day per diem for each Department of State interpreter, as well as home-program-home air transportation of $400 per interpreter plus any U.S. travel expenses during the program. Salary expenses are covered centrally and should not be part of an applicant's proposed budget. Locally arranged interpreters with adequate skills and experience may be used by the grantee in lieu of State Department interpreters, with the same 1:4 interpreter to participant ratio. Costs associated with using their services may not exceed rates for U.S. Department of State interpreters.

4. Book and cultural allowance. Foreign participants are entitled to and escorts are reimbursed a one-time cultural allowance of $150 per person, plus a participant book allowance of $50. U.S. program staff members are not eligible to receive these benefits.

5. Consultants. Consultants may be used to provide specialized expertise, design or manage development projects or to make presentations. Honoraria generally do not exceed $250 per day. Subcontracting organizations may also be used, in which case the written agreement between the prospective grantee and subcontractor should be included in the proposal. Subcontracts should be itemized in the budget.

6. Room rental. Room rental may not exceed $250 per day.

7. Materials development. Proposals may contain costs to purchase, develop, and translate materials for participants.

8. Equipment. Proposals may contain limited costs to purchase equipment crucial to the success of the program, such as computers, fax machines and copy machines. However, equipment costs must be kept to a minimum, and costs for furniture are not allowed.

9. Working meal. The grant budget may provide for only one working meal during the program. Per capita costs may not exceed $5-8 for a lunch and $14-20 for a dinner, excluding room rental. The number of invited guests may not exceed participants by more than a factor of two-to-one. Interpreters must be included as participants.

10. Return travel allowance. A return travel allowance of $70 for each foreign participant may be included in the budget. This may be used for incidental expenses incurred during international travel.

11. Health insurance. Foreign participants will be covered under the terms of a U.S. Department of State-sponsored health insurance policy. The premium is paid by the U.S. Department of State directly to the insurance company. Applicants are permitted to included costs for travel insurance for U.S. participants in the budget.

12. Administrative costs. Costs necessary for the effective administration of the program may include salaries for grant organization employees, benefits, and other direct or indirect costs per detailed instructions in the Solicitation Package.

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

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, May 30, 2003. 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 12 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/WHAEAP-03-48, 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 the Public Affairs section at the U.S. Embassy for its review, with the goal of reducing the time it takes to get embassy 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 Start Printed Page 20221above 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

Proposals will be deemed ineligible if they do not fully adhere to the guidelines stated herein and in the Solicitation Package. The program office, the Public Diplomacy section and other elements at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, and officials at the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, will review all eligible proposals. 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 grants 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 planning to achieve program objectives: Proposals should clearly demonstrate how the institution plans to achieve the program's objectives. Objectives should be reasonable, feasible, and flexible. The proposal should contain a detailed agenda and relevant work plan that demonstrates substantive undertakings and logistical capacity. Agenda and plan should adhere to the program overview and guidelines described above.

2. Institutional Capacity/Record/Ability: Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the program or project's goals. For technical projects, foreign experts and their local partners will be required to have the necessary education, training and experience for the work to be undertaken, in addition to language skills where applicable. Proposals should demonstrate an institutional record of successful development or 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. Applicants should have a multiyear track record of successful work in Tibetan regions of China or other remote parts of Asia.

3. 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.

4. 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, program venue and program evaluation) and program content (orientation and wrap-up sessions, program meetings, resource materials and follow-up activities).

5. Follow-on Activities: Proposals should provide a plan for continued follow-on activity (without Bureau support) ensuring that Bureau supported programs are not isolated events.

6. Monitoring and Project Evaluation Plan: Proposals should provide a detailed plan for monitoring and evaluating the program. The evaluation plan should identify anticipated outcomes and performance requirements clearly related to program objectives and activities and include procedures for ongoing monitoring and corrective action when necessary. The identification of best practices relating to project administration is also encouraged, as is the discussion of unforeseen difficulties.

7. 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 must provide 30% cost sharing (of the amount of grant funds requested from ECA) 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.”

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: April 16, 2003.

Patricia S. Harrison,

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

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[FR Doc. 03-10175 Filed 4-23-03; 8:45 am]

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