The Office of Global Educational Programs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces an open competition to administer the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. 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 for the purpose of administering a scholarship program for academic study by Americans outside of the United States.
This Request for Grant Proposals contains language in the “Shipment and Deadline for Proposals” section that is significantly different from that used in the past. Please pay special attention to procedural changes as outlined.
This program provides grants to enable U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies abroad. Such foreign study is intended to expand understanding of other countries and cultures among U.S. students, expose citizens of other countries to Americans from diverse backgrounds, and better prepare U.S. students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy.
It is anticipated that, pending appropriation of funds, this grant will provide an assistance award of approximately $1,600,000 for the purpose of recruiting, selecting, and 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 organization selected, this assistance award may be renewable for two subsequent fiscal years.
The intent of the authorizing legislation for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program is to broaden the U.S. student population that participates in study abroad by focusing on those students who might not otherwise study outside the U.S. due to financial constraints.
The Bureau also seeks to encourage participating students and their Start Printed Page 70578institutions to choose non-traditional study-abroad locations and to help under-represented U.S. institutions offer and promote study-abroad opportunities for their students. These objectives should also be addressed in grant proposals.
The administering organization should be prepared to announce the program and solicit applications as soon as possible upon receipt of grant notification and to award scholarships to U.S. students to enable them to begin overseas study in the fall semester of 2004.
Student Eligibility: To apply for a scholarship, an applicant must:
- Be a citizen of the United States. Permanent residents of the United States are not eligible.
- Be an undergraduate student in good standing at an institution of higher education in the United States (including both two-year and four-year institutions).
- Be a recipient of federal Pell Grant funding during the academic term of his/her application.
- Be applying to, or accepted for a program of study abroad eligible for credit from the student's home institution. Proof of program acceptance is required for final award disbursement.
- Not study in a country currently under a Travel Warning issued by the United States Department of State. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid a certain country. To find a list of these countries, please see http://travel.state.gov/warnings_list.html.
Recruitment, Application and Selection:
(1) Outreach will be made by the grantee organization to accredited institutions of higher education in the United States for the purpose of publicizing the scholarship competition. This can be achieved through direct contacts with these institutions and through participation in major education conferences and events. Emphasis will be on reaching out to a diverse pool of institutions and programs within those institutions.
(2) The selection process shall be carried out through a committee which includes representatives of accredited institutions of higher education in the United States.
(3) In ranking eligible applicants for scholarships, consideration should be given to academic excellence, financial need, diversity of the applicant pool, fields of study, proposed destination, and type and location of home institution. Preference should be given to applicants with no previous study abroad experience.
The grantee organization will submit quarterly reports on the number of applicants, the number of participants selected, the names of the institutions of higher education in the United States that applicants and awardees were attending at the time of application, the names of institutions sponsoring the study programs abroad, the names and locations of the institutions of higher education outside the United States that participants attended during their study program abroad, the fields of study of participants, and attrition rates. Because diversity is an important program goal, the grantee should attempt to collect age, ethnic, gender, and disability data from applicants and from those selected for awards, in keeping with Federal guidelines on the solicitation of such information. Additionally, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs may request other periodic and ad hoc reports.
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 $1,600,000. Accordingly, institutions with less than four 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. Applicants should budget the maximum possible amount for scholarships and keep administrative and overhead costs to a minimum. 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 per-diem.
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-04-14.Start Further Info
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 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 Branch Chief Phillip Ives 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.
New OMB Requirement
An OMB policy directive published in the Federal Register on Friday, June 27, 2003, requires that all organizations applying for Federal grants or cooperative agreements must provide a Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number when applying for all Federal grants or cooperative agreements on or after October 1, 2003. The complete OMB policy directive can be referenced at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg/062703_grant_identifier.pdf. Please also visit the ECA Web site at http://exchanges.state.gov/education/rfgps/menu.htm for additional information on how to comply with this new directive.
Shipment and Deadline for Proposals
The deadline for this competition is Friday, February 6, 2004. In light of recent events and heightened security measures, proposal submissions must be sent via a nationally recognized overnight delivery service (i.e., DHL, Federal Express, UPS, Airborne Express, or U.S. Postal Service Start Printed Page 70579Express Overnight Mail, etc.) and be shipped no later than the above deadline. The delivery services used by applicants must have in-place, centralized shipping identification and tracking systems that may be accessed via the Internet and delivery people who are identifiable by commonly recognized competition. Proposals shipped after the established deadlines are ineligible for consideration under this competition. It is each applicant's responsibility to ensure that each package is marked with a legible tracking number and to monitor/confirm delivery to ECA via the Internet. Delivery of proposal packages may not be made via local courier service or in person for this competition. Faxed documents will not be accepted at any time. Only proposals submitted as stated above will be considered.
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-04-14, 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.
Adherence to All Regulations Governing the J Visa
The following is being communicated for informational purposes only and does not directly apply to this solicitation or program. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is placing renewed emphasis on the secure and proper administration of Exchange Visitor (J visa) Programs and adherence by grantees and sponsors to all regulations governing the J visa. Therefore, proposals should demonstrate the applicant's capacity to meet all requirements governing the administration of Exchange Visitor Programs as set forth in 22 CFR 6Z, including the oversight of 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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. 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 Start Printed Page 70580reports 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.
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.
Funding for this program is subject to final Congressional action and the appropriation of FY-2004 funds. The actual level of funding for the Gilman Program was $1.5 million in FY-2002 and $1,575,000 in FY-2003. Awards made will be subject to periodic reporting and evaluation requirements. 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.
Final awards cannot be made until funds have been appropriated by Congress, allocated and committed through internal Bureau procedures.Start Signature
Dated: December 10, 2003.
C. Miller Crouch,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Department of State.
[FR Doc. 03-31230 Filed 12-17-03; 8:45 am]
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