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Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Request for Grant Proposals: Educational Partnerships Program With Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro

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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 Educational Partnerships Program with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. 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 to support the program goals of encouraging mutual understanding, educational reform, and civil society through cooperation in higher education in the eligible countries.

Program Overview

To encourage mutual understanding, educational reform and civil society in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro, the Educational Partnerships Program will support the cooperation of U.S. colleges and universities and non-profit organizations with designated universities in these locations to pursue objectives through exchange visits of faculty, administrators, professional experts, advanced foreign students and advanced U.S. graduate students. Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss project ideas during the proposal development process with the relevant Bureau Program Officer for guidance. (Please see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION section for contact details.) Funding for this competition is being provided from a FY-2003 Support for Eastern European Democracy (SEED) Act transfer as carried over into FY 2004 for obligation.

Country Eligibility

Applicant organizations may submit a proposal to administer one, two, or all three of the projects listed below:

Bosnia-Herzegovina

(1) Comparative religious studies at the University of Sarajevo. This project will enable the University to establish a program of teaching about various religions, promoting inter-faith dialogue. Amount available: $200,000.

(2) American Studies in the English Department of the University of Sarajevo. This project should help increase understanding of the U.S. society, its values, and culture through the development of a program in American Studies at the University of Sarajevo. Amount available: $200,000.

Montenegro

(1) University Administration. This project will enable the University of Montenegro to explore and adapt new approaches to organizing its programs of instruction and their administration. Amount available: $150,000.

Project Design

The project should be designed to focus on specific institutional objectives that will support the Program's goals of encouraging mutual understanding, educational reform, and civil society. The design should include a series of exchange visits that will lead to the achievement of the project's objectives within a three-year period and should describe a process for evaluating the results of project implementation. The design should also provide for the effective administration of the project.

A. Statement of Need

Proposals should demonstrate an understanding of the need of the foreign university partners for the project. Proposals should explain how each participating department and institution will utilize the project to address the partner institutions' needs as well as larger needs in its country and society. If the proposed partnership would occur within the context of a previous or ongoing project, the proposal should outline distinct objectives and outcomes for the new project and should explain how Bureau funding would build upon the previously funded activities. Proposals should describe the amounts and sources of support for the earlier projects as well as the results to date.

B. Project Objectives

Proposals should explain in detail how the project will enable the participating institutions to achieve specific institutional or departmental changes that will support the goals of the Educational Partnerships Program. Proposals should outline a series of activities for meeting specific objectives for each participating institution and society. The benefits of the project to each of the participating institutions may differ significantly in nature and scope based on their respective needs Start Printed Page 12890and resource bases. Proposals may outline the parameters and possible content of new courses; new teaching specializations or methodologies; new or revised curricula; and new programs for outreach to educators, professional groups, or the general public. Proposals may also describe strategies to promote administrative reform through faculty or staff development.

C. Exchange Activities and Project Implementation

Proposals should demonstrate that a project's objectives are feasible to achieve within a three-year period through a series of exchange activities that take into account prevailing conditions in the participating countries. For example, projects focusing on curricular reform should describe the existing curriculum and the courses targeted for revision, and should explain how exchange activities will result in the restructuring of the current content to incorporate the new academic themes. The proposal should describe the topics and content of any new courses or educational materials that will be developed and introduced, and should identify those persons who will be responsible for developing the new courses and for teaching them. If the project proposes to develop a new degree or certificate program, the proposal should outline the steps being taken to secure approval for the new program from the institution itself and from all relevant educational authorities. If the strategy to achieve project objectives requires intensive English language training for the proposed participants, the proposal should indicate how such training will be required and how it will be provided. The proposal should also describe the composition and size of the student population and any other group that will benefit from the innovations to be introduced through the project. Participants in the exchange visits may include teachers, researchers, advanced foreign students, advanced U.S. graduate students, and administrators from the participating institution(s). Independent consultants and other professional experts may also participate if they have the appropriate expertise. Advanced U.S. graduate students are eligible to participate only as visiting instructors at a foreign partner institution. Advanced foreign students are eligible to participate in exchange visits if they have teaching or research responsibilities or are preparing for such responsibilities. Applicants planning to submit proposals with advanced foreign students or advanced U.S. graduate students as exchange participants are encouraged to contact the program office to discuss the rationale for their participation.

Foreign participants must be both qualified to receive U.S. J-1 visas and willing to travel to the U.S. under the provisions of a J-1 visa during the exchange visits funded by this Program. Participants representing the foreign partner institutions may not be U.S. citizens.

D. Material and Technical Support for Exchange Activities

To increase the feasibility and impact of the project's exchange activities, a proposal may include a request for funding for educational materials (including books and periodical subscriptions) and technical components (including the establishment or maintenance of Internet and/or electronic mail facilities and of interactive technology-based distance-learning programs). The funding requested for educational and technical materials should supplement the project's exchange activities by reinforcing their impact on project objectives.

Proposals with distance learning components should describe pertinent course delivery methods, audiences, and technical requirements. Proposals that include the introduction of Internet, electronic mail, and other interactive technologies for long-term use in countries where these technologies are not easily maintained or financed should discuss how the foreign partner institution will cover their costs after the project ends.

Applicants may propose other project components not specifically mentioned in this solicitation document if the activities will increase the impact on project objectives.

E. Project Duration

Pending availability of funds, grants should begin on or about September 1, 2004 for a three-year period. Grant activities are expected to be completed within the three-year timeframe.

F. Project Evaluation

Proposals should describe and budget for a methodology for project evaluation. Institutions that are awarded partnership grants must formally submit periodic reports to the Bureau on the project's activities in relation to its objectives. The formal evaluation reports should include an assessment of the current status of each participating department's and institution's needs at the time of program inception with specific reference to project objectives; formative evaluation to allow for mid-course revisions in the implementation strategy; and, at the conclusion of the project, summative evaluation of the degree to which the project's objectives has been achieved. The proposal should discuss how the issues raised throughout the formative evaluation process will be assessed and addressed. The summative evaluation should describe the project's influence on the participating institutions and their surrounding communities or societies. The summative evaluation should also include recommendations about how to build upon project achievements.

Evaluative observations by external consultants with appropriate subject, cultural, and regional expertise are especially encouraged. Copies of evaluation reports must be provided to the Department of State. In addition to the formally scheduled reports, the evaluation strategy should include a mechanism for promptly providing the Bureau with information that will equip the Department of State to summarize and illustrate project activities and achievements as they occur.

G. Project Administration

Proposals should explain how project activities will be administered both in the U.S. and overseas in ways that will ensure that the project maintains a focus on its objectives while adjusting to changing conditions, assessments, and opportunities.

Institutional Commitment

The U.S. applicant organization must submit the proposal and must serve as the grant recipient with responsibility for project coordination. Proposals must include letters of commitment from all institutional partners including the institution submitting the proposal. An official who is authorized to commit institutional resources to the project must sign the letter of support. The letters of support as well as the proposal as a whole should demonstrate that the participating institutions understand one another and are committed to mutual support and cooperation in project implementation.

Eligible Institutions

The lead institution and grant recipient in the project must be an accredited U.S. college or university or other organization meeting the provisions described in IRS regulation 26 CFR 1.501(c). Applications from community colleges, institutions serving significant minority populations, undergraduate liberal arts colleges, comprehensive universities, research universities, U.S. non-profit Start Printed Page 12891organizations, and combinations of these institutions are eligible. The lead U.S. organization in a consortium or other combination of cooperating institutions is responsible for submitting the application. Each application must document the lead organization's authority to represent all U.S. cooperating partners.

Budget Guidance and Cost-Sharing

The commitment of all partner institutions to the proposed project should be reflected in the cost-sharing and contributions which they offer in the context of their respective institutional capacities. Although the contributions offered by institutions with relatively few resources may be less than those offered by applicants with greater resources, all participating U.S. institutions should identify appropriate cost-share. These costs may include estimated in-kind contributions. U.S. institutions are encouraged to contribute to the international travel expenses of U.S. participants as part of their institutional cost-share. Proposed cost-sharing will be considered an important indicator of the applicant institution's commitment to the project.

The Bureau's support may be used to assist with the costs of the exchange visits as well as the costs of the administration of the project by the U.S. grantee institution, as explained in additional detail in the associated document entitled “Project Objectives, Goals, and Implementation” (POGI). U.S. administrative costs that may be covered by the Bureau, with certain limitations, include administrative salaries and stipends for persons employed by the U.S. grantee organization, other direct administrative costs, and indirect costs. The cost of administering the project at the foreign partner organization(s) is also eligible for the Bureau's support. Although each grant will be awarded to a single U.S. institutional partner, the proposal should make adequate provision for the administrative costs of all partner institutions, including the foreign partner(s). See the POGI for additional information on the restrictions that apply to certain budget categories. Budgets and budget notes should carefully justify the amounts requested.

The Bureau anticipates awarding up to three grants for the three projects in (an) amount(s) reflecting the amounts available for them ($200,000 for each of the two projects with Bosnia and Herzegovina and $150,000 for Montenegro). Specifically, proposals for all three projects may be for an amount not to exceed $550,000. Proposals for both projects in Bosnia-Herzegovina may be for an amount not to exceed $400,000. Proposals for one project in Bosnia-Herzegovina and for the project in Montenegro may be for an amount not to exceed $350,000. Proposals for one project only may be for an amount not to exceed the amount available for it ($200,000 for a project with Bosnia-Herzegovina, $150,000 for the project with Montenegro). Bureau guidelines require that organizations with less than four years experience in conducting international exchanges be limited to $60,000 in Bureau funding. Therefore, organizations that cannot demonstrate at least four years of experience in conducting international exchanges are ineligible to apply under this competition.

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

Announcement and Title Number

All correspondence with the Bureau concerning this RFGP should reference the above title and number ECA/A/S/U-04-13.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

The Humphrey Fellowships and Institutional Linkages Branch; Office of Global Educational Programs; Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs; ECA/A/S/U, Room 349; U.S. Department of State, SA-44, 301 4th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20547; telephone: (202) 260-6797; fax (202) 401-1433 and Internet address urbinama1@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 Maria A. Urbina 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

Important Note:

The deadline for this competition is Friday, May 28, 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 Express 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 uniforms and delivery vehicles. Proposals shipped on or before the above deadline but received at ECA more than seven days after the deadline will be ineligible for further consideration under this 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 seven 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/U-04-13, Program Management, ECA/EX/PM, Room 534, 301 4th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20547.

Submission of Electronic Copies

Applicants must also submit the “Executive Summary” and “Proposal Narrative” sections of the proposal in Microsoft word or as text (.txt) format as e-mail attachments to the following address: urbinaMA1@state.gov. The Bureau will provide these files electronically to the Public Affairs Section at the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo and the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Montenegro for its review.Start Printed Page 12892

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 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 part 62, 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.

The Grantee 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.

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. The program office, as well as the Public Affairs Sections of the U.S. Embassies in Sarajevo and Belgrade, will review all eligible proposals, as 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) Broad and Enduring Significance of Institutional Objectives: Program objectives should have significant and ongoing results for the participating institutions and for their surrounding societies or communities by providing a deepened understanding of critical issues in one or more of the eligible fields. Program objectives should relate clearly to institutional and societal needs, including the transition of Bosnia Herzegovina and/or Montenegro to democratic political life and civil society.

(2) Creativity and Feasibility of Strategy to Achieve Objectives: Strategies to achieve program objectives should be feasible and realistic within the budget and timeframe. These strategies should utilize and reinforce exchange activities creatively to ensure an efficient use of program resources.

(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 by explaining how issues of diversity are included in objectives for all institutional partners. Issues resulting from differences of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, geography, socio-economic status, or physical challenge should be addressed during program implementation. In addition, program participants and administrators should reflect the diversity within the societies which they represent (see the section of this document on “Diversity, Freedom, and Democracy Guidelines”). Proposals should also discuss how the various institutional partners approach diversity issues in their respective communities or societies.

(5) Institution's Capacity and Record/Ability: Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the program or project's goals. Proposals should demonstrate an institutional record of successful exchange programs, including area expertise, 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.

(6) Evaluation: Proposals should outline a methodology for determining the degree to which the project meets its objectives, both while it is underway and at its conclusion. The final program evaluation should include an external component and should provide observations about the program's influence within the participating institutions as well as their surrounding communities or societies.

(7) Cost-effectiveness: Administrative and program costs should be reasonable and appropriate with cost-sharing provided by all participating institutions within the context of their respective capacities. Cost-sharing is viewed as a reflection of institutional commitment to the program.

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 Start Printed Page 12893educational 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. The funding authority for the program cited above is provided through the Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act.

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: March 8, 2004.

Patricia S. Harrison,

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

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[FR Doc. 04-6120 Filed 3-17-04; 8:45 am]

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