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Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) Request for Grant Proposals: Youth Ambassadors Program With North America, Central America, and the Caribbean

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Announcement Type: New Grant.

Funding Opportunity Number: ECA/PE/C/PY-10-29.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number: 19.415.

Application Deadline: April 22, 2010.

Executive Summary: The Office of Citizen Exchanges, Youth Programs Division, of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) announces an open competition for the Youth Ambassadors Program with North America, Central America and the Caribbean. 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 recruit and select youth and adult participants, to provide them with three-week exchanges focused on civic education, community service, and leadership, and to support follow-on projects in their home communities. It is anticipated that exchange delegations will travel from select countries to the United States, and that U.S. exchange delegations will travel to select countries.

I. Funding Opportunity Description

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 Start Printed Page 8778and peaceful relations between the United States and the other countries of the world.” The funding authority for the program above is provided through legislation.

Overview

The Youth Ambassadors Program is a three-week exchange for high school youth (ages 15-18) and adult educators focused on civic education, community service, and leadership. Subthemes through which to explore those overarching themes may be added, such as the environment or business and entrepreneurship. Participants engage in a variety of activities, such as workshops on leadership and service, community site visits related to the program themes, interactive training, presentations, visits to high schools, local cultural activities, civic education programming, and other activities designed to achieve the program's stated goals. Multiple opportunities for participants to interact with peers while they are in the host country must be included. Follow-on activities with the participants are an integral part of the program, as the students apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired by planning service projects in their home communities.

The FY 2010 Youth Ambassadors Program will focus on countries in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, and may include: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States. It is anticipated that the majority of participants will be foreign students traveling from these countries to the United States, and that a smaller number of American participants will travel to select countries. ECA reserves the right to adjust the participating countries should conditions change in the host country or if other countries are identified as Department priorities.

The goals of the program are to:

(1) Promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of the Americas;

(2) Prepare youth leaders to become responsible citizens and contributing members of their communities;

(3) Influence the attitudes of the leaders of a new generation; and

(4) Foster relationships among youth from different ethnic, religious, and national groups and create hemispheric networks of youth leaders, both within the participating countries and internationally.

For each project, applicant organizations must focus on the primary themes of civic education (grassroots democracy and rule of law), community service, and leadership development. Secondary themes, such as the environment or business and entrepreneurship, will be used as a tool to illustrate the more abstract concepts of the primary themes. For example, the secondary theme of the environment can be used to examine the interactions between federal, state, and local governments. Using these goals and themes, applicant organizations should identify their own specific objectives and measurable outcomes based on these program goals and the project specifications provided in this solicitation.

ECA plans to award multiple grants for the management of the Youth Ambassadors Program with North America, Central America and the Caribbean. The Bureau reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal project configurations, budgets, and participant numbers in accordance with the needs of the program and the availability of funds. In one proposal, organizations may apply for one, two, three, or all four of the options outlined below, but must submit only one proposal under this competition. These options will allow applicants the flexibility to propose working with the countries in which they have the best infrastructure. The Bureau strongly urges organizations to limit their applications to the option(s) where they have the strongest institutional capacity in each country; this capacity must be thoroughly described in the proposal. Please note the approximate funding for each option.

Option 1: North America (Approximately $500,000)

A trilateral program for 75-90 participants from Canada, Mexico, and the United States, that promotes the concept of North American integration. An equal number of American high school students will participate in a U.S.-based program alongside their Canadian and Mexican peers. The program will include a reciprocal component, where a small delegation of American participants will travel to Mexico.

Option 2: Central America (Approximately $1,500,000)

A regional program for 120-150 participants from Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Applicants should include participants from all countries in the U.S. program. In addition to the Central American participants, 35-50 American teenagers will travel to at least three of the participating countries; applicants should propose the countries where they can provide the most comprehensive programming for the Americans. Please note that this project will be conducted in Spanish; participants will not need to have English skills to participate. The American participants should have Spanish skills.

Option 3: Caribbean (Approximately $650,000)

A regional program for 75-100 participants from the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago. Applicants are strongly encouraged to include participants from the majority of these countries in the U.S. program. Applicants may also include participants from Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (where diplomatic representation is handled from the U.S. Embassy in Barbados). In addition to the Caribbean participants, 25-30 American teenagers will travel to at least two of the participating countries; applicants should propose the countries where they can provide the most comprehensive programming for the Americans. All participants will have good English skills.

Option 4: Haiti (Approximately $350,000)

A single-country program for 35-50 participants from Haiti. Please note that this project will be conducted in French; participants will not need to have English skills to participate. Given the current situation in Haiti, please see sections below for additional Haiti-specific guidance.

Participants

The youth participants must be competitively selected high school students, 15 to 18 years old, who have demonstrated leadership aptitude and a commitment to their communities. Participants should be recruited from underserved or disadvantaged populations of youth in these countries, including public high schools in order to reach beyond the elite. Geographic, socio-economic, and ethnic diversity is important, including outreach to indigenous, Afro-descendents, and rural populations. The exchange participants will also include adults who are teachers, school administrators, and/or Start Printed Page 8779community leaders who work with youth; they will have the dual role of both exchange participant and chaperone. The ratio of youth to adults should be between 5:1 and 10:1, depending on the size of the exchange delegation.

For the North American and the Caribbean projects that will be conducted in English, the participants must have sufficient English language proficiency to participate fully in interactions with their host families and their peers and in educational activities. The Central America projects will be conducted in Spanish and the Haiti project in French; therefore English will not be a requirement for those participants. The grantee organization will provide interpretation for the program and place participants with suitable host families. Spanish language ability is required for the American participants traveling to Spanish-speaking countries.

Organizational Capacity

Applicant organizations must demonstrate their capacity for doing projects of this nature, focusing on three areas of competency: (1) Provision of programs that address the goals and themes outlined in this document; (2) age-appropriate programming for youth; and (3) previous experience working on programs in the region. Organizations must convincingly demonstrate their capacity to manage a complex, multi-phase program with several separate exchange projects.

Applicants must have the organizational capacity in the relevant countries necessary to implement the in-country activities, or they must partner with an organization or institution with the requisite capacity to recruit and select participants for the program, to provide follow-on activities, and to organize a program for the U.S. participants, if specified. The importance of a viable, experienced in-country partner cannot be over-emphasized. For the Caribbean regional project only, a partner could manage the program in multiple countries, provided they have the ability to work effectively in each country from which participants will be drawn. Applicants should consult with their partners in the preparation of the proposal. For suggested partner organizations, applicants may consult with the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassies. For Haiti only, applicants should not consult with the U.S. Embassy and are not expected to have a firm commitment from their in-country partner. To the extent feasible, proposals should demonstrate organizational capacity and present a plan to implement the in-country activities.

U.S. Embassy Involvement

Before submitting a proposal, applicants may consult with the Public Affairs Section at the U.S. Embassy in the relevant countries. Please e-mail ECA Program Officer Jennifer Phillips (PhillipsJA@state.gov) for contact information. It is important that the proposal narrative clearly state the applicant's commitment to consult closely with the U.S. Embassy in the relevant countries, once a grant is awarded, on a regular basis to develop plans for project implementation, including recruitment, selection and orientation of participants, publicity events, and follow-on activities. For Haiti only, applicants should route all communication through ECA and should not communicate with the U.S. Embassy directly until further notice.

Guidelines

The grant will begin on or about July 1, 2010. The grant period will span two or more years, and will cover all aspects of the programming in Latin America and the United States—the recruitment, selection, and orientation of the participants, the three weeks of exchange activities, and support of follow-on activities. Planning and preparation will start in 2010, and the exchanges will take place at various points throughout 2011 and 2012. Applicants should propose the period of the exchange(s) in their proposals, but the exact timing of the project may be altered through the mutual agreement of the Department of State and the grant recipient.

Each project should include participants from all countries in their program, but in the case of Central America and the Caribbean, they need not travel to the United States at the same time. It is suitable to break them down into smaller sub-regional groups. Each project will have at least two delegations of exchange participants to the United States over those two years that range between 20-30 participants each. In cases where sub-regional projects are proposed, there will likely be more delegations each year. Applicants must propose a plan to break a large delegation into smaller cohorts for most of the exchange activities. Exchange delegations of American participants should be smaller, ranging from 7-15 participants, and may alternate between specified countries each year. For example, the Central America reciprocal component may send Americans to Guatemala and El Salvador the first year, and Panama and the Dominican Republic the following year. Applicants are encouraged to be creative and flexible in their arrangements that will help meet our program goals.

The grant recipient will be responsible for the following:

Recruitment and Selection: Manage the recruitment and merit-based selection of youth and adult participants in cooperation with the Public Affairs Sections of the U.S. Embassies in the participating countries. Once a grant is awarded, the recipient must consult with the Public Affairs Section at the U.S. Embassy to review a participant recruitment and selection plan and to determine the degree of Embassy involvement in the process. Organizers must strive for regional, socio-economic, and ethnic diversity, as well as gender balance. For those implementing projects that involve sending American participants to a partner country, the grant recipients must also manage the recruitment and open, merit-based selection of those U.S. participants. The Department of State and/or its overseas representatives will have final approval of all selected delegations.

Orientations: Provide orientations for exchange participants and for those participating from the host communities, including host families.

Logistics: Manage all logistical arrangements, including passport and visa applications, international and domestic travel, accommodations, group meals, and disbursement of stipends. For the Central America and Haiti component, this includes provision of effective interpretation and translation.

Exchange Program: High school students and educators will spend three weeks on an intensive program that is designed to develop the participants' knowledge and skill base in civic education, community service, and youth leadership development. The exchange will take place in one or two geographic locations, and include activities in the capital city (Washington, DC or that of the host country). The exchanges will focus primarily on interactive activities, practical experiences, and other hands-on opportunities that provide a substantive project on the specified program themes. Some activities should be school and/or community-based, and the projects will involve as much sustained interaction with peers of the host country as possible (for both the youth and adult participants). Cultural, social, and recreational activities will balance the schedule.

Accommodations: In the United States, participants will live with host families in home stays with properly Start Printed Page 8780screened and briefed American families for the majority of the exchange period. In the partner countries, home stays are strongly desired whenever feasible.

Monitoring: Develop and implement a plan to monitor the participants' safety and well-being while on the exchange and to resolve any issues promptly.

Follow-on Activities and In-Country Programming: Plan and implement activities in the participants' home countries that will reinforce the ideas, values and skills imparted during the exchange. Exchange participants should go home from the exchange prepared to conduct projects that serve a need in their schools or communities. Alumni will be encouraged to make presentations to share their experience with their peers.

Evaluation: Design and implement an evaluation plan that assesses the impact of the program.

Other Notes

Grant recipients will retain the name “Youth Ambassadors Program” to identify their program. Materials produced for grant activities need to acknowledge the U.S. Department of State as the sponsor and reflect the State Department's goals for the program. The organization must also inform the ECA program officer of their progress at each stage of the project's implementation in a timely fashion. All materials and correspondence related to the program will acknowledge this as a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State. The Bureau will retain copyright use of and be allowed to distribute materials related to this program as it sees fit.

Proposals must demonstrate how the stated objectives will be met. The proposal narrative should provide detailed information on the major program activities, and applicants should explain and justify their programmatic choices. Programs must comply with J-1 visa regulations for the International Visitor category. Please be sure to refer to the complete Solicitation Package—this RFGP, the Project Objectives, Goals, and Implementation (POGI), and the Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI)—for further information.

II. Award Information

Type of Award: Grant Agreement.

Fiscal Year Funds: 2010.

Approximate Total Funding: 3,000,000.

Approximate Number of Awards: Three or four.

Approximate Average Award: 1,000,000.

Floor of Award Range: 300,000.

Ceiling of Award Range: 3,000,000.

Anticipated Award Date: July 1, 2010.

Anticipated Project Completion Date: 24-34 months after start date, to be specified by applicant based on project plan.

III. Eligibility Information

III.1. Eligible applicants: Applications may be submitted by public and private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c)(3).

III.2. Cost Sharing or Matching Funds: There is no minimum or maximum percentage required for this competition. However, the Bureau encourages applicants to provide maximum levels of cost sharing and funding in support of its programs.

When cost sharing is offered, it is understood and agreed that the applicant must provide the amount of cost sharing as stipulated in its proposal and later included in an approved agreement. Cost sharing may be in the form of allowable direct or indirect costs. For accountability, you must maintain written records to support all costs which are claimed as your contribution, 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 in like proportion.

III.3. Other Eligibility Requirements:

(a) Bureau grant guidelines require that organizations with less than four years experience in conducting international exchanges be limited to $60,000 in Bureau funding. ECA anticipates making one award, in an amount exceeding $60,000 to support program and administrative costs required to implement this exchange program. Therefore, organizations with less than four years experience in conducting international exchanges are ineligible to apply under this competition.

(b) Proposed sub-award recipients are also limited to grant funding of $60,000 or less if they do not have four years of experience in conducting international exchanges.

(c) The Bureau encourages applicants to provide maximum levels of cost sharing and funding in support of its programs.

(d) Organizations may submit only one proposal (total) under this competition. If multiple proposals are received from the same applicant, all submissions will be declared technically ineligible and will be given no further consideration in the review process.

IV. Application and Submission Information

Note:

Please read the complete 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.

IV.1. Contact Information to Request an Application Package:

Please contact the Youth Programs Division, ECA/PE/C/PY, SA-5, 3rd Floor, U.S. Department of State, 2200 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 20522-0503, by telephone: 202-632-6079, fax: 202-632-9355, or e-mail: YLP@state.gov to request a Solicitation Package. Please refer to the Funding Opportunity Number ECA/PE/C/PY-10-29 located at the top of this announcement when making your request.

Alternatively, an electronic application package may be obtained from grants.gov. Please see section IV.3f for further information.

The Solicitation Package contains the Proposal Submission Instruction (PSI) document which consists of required application forms, and standard guidelines for proposal preparation. It also contains the Project Objectives, Goals and Implementation (POGI) document, which provides specific information, award criteria and budget instructions tailored to this competition.

Please specify Bureau Program Officer Jennifer Phillips and refer to the Funding Opportunity Number ECA/PE/C/PY-10-29 located at the top of this announcement on all other inquiries and correspondence.

IV.2. 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/​grants/​open2.html, or from the Grants.gov Web site at http://www.grants.gov.

Please read all information before downloading.

IV.3. Content and Form of Submission: Applicants must follow all instructions in the Solicitation Package. The application should be submitted per the instructions under IV.3f. “Application Deadline and Methods of Submission” section below.

IV.3a. You are required to have a Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number to apply for a grant or cooperative agreement from the U.S. Government. Start Printed Page 8781This number is a nine-digit identification number, which uniquely identifies business entities. Obtaining a DUNS number is easy and there is no charge. To obtain a DUNS number, access http://www.dunandbradstreet.com or call 1-866-705-5711. Please ensure that your DUNS number is included in the appropriate box of the SF-424 which is part of the formal application package.

IV.3b. All proposals must contain an executive summary, proposal narrative and budget.

Please Refer to the Solicitation Package. It contains the mandatory Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) document and the Project Objectives, Goals and Implementation (POGI) document for additional formatting and technical requirements.

IV.3c. You must have nonprofit status with the IRS at the time of application. Please note: Effective January 7, 2009, all applicants for ECA federal assistance awards must include in their application the names of directors and/or senior executives (current officers, trustees, and key employees, regardless of amount of compensation). In fulfilling this requirement, applicants must submit information in one of the following ways:

(1) Those who file Internal Revenue Service Form 990, “Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax,” must include a copy of relevant portions of this form.

(2) Those who do not file IRS Form 990 must submit information above in the format of their choice.

In addition to final program reporting requirements, award recipients will also be required to submit a one-page document, derived from their program reports, listing and describing their grant activities. For award recipients, the names of directors and/or senior executives (current officers, trustees, and key employees), as well as the one- page description of grant activities, will be transmitted by the State Department to OMB, along with other information required by the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA), and will be made available to the public by the Office of Management and Budget on its USASpending.gov Web site as part of ECA's FFATA reporting requirements.

If your organization is a private nonprofit which has not received a grant or cooperative agreement from ECA in the past three years, or if your organization received nonprofit status from the IRS within the past four years, you must submit the necessary documentation to verify nonprofit status as directed in the PSI document. Failure to do so will cause your proposal to be declared technically ineligible.

IV.3d. Please take into consideration the following information when preparing your proposal narrative:

IV.3d.1. 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 62, which covers the administration of the Exchange Visitor Program (J visa program). Under the terms of 22 CFR 62, organizations receiving awards (either a grant or cooperative agreement) under this RFGP will be third parties “cooperating with or assisting the sponsor in the conduct of the sponsor's program.” The actions of recipient organizations shall be “imputed to the sponsor in evaluating the sponsor's compliance with” 22 CFR 62. Therefore, the Bureau expects that any organization receiving an award under this competition will render all assistance necessary to enable the Bureau to fully comply with 22 CFR 62 et seq.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs places critically important emphases on the secure and proper administration of Exchange Visitor (J visa) Programs and adherence by recipient 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 62. If your organization has experience as a designated Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor, the applicant should discuss their record of compliance with 22 CFR 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, recordkeeping, 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: Office of Designation, ECA/EC/D, SA-5, Floor C2, Department of State, Washington, DC 20522-0582.

IV.3d.2. 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 disabilities. 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 your 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.

IV.3d.3. Program Monitoring and Evaluation

Proposals must include a plan to monitor and evaluate the project's success, both as the activities unfold and at the end of the program. The Bureau recommends that your proposal include a draft survey questionnaire or other technique plus a description of a methodology to use to link outcomes to original project objectives. The Bureau expects that the recipient organization will track participants or partners and be able to respond to key evaluation questions, including satisfaction with the program, learning as a result of the program, changes in behavior as a result of the program, and effects of the program on institutions (institutions in which participants work or partner institutions). The evaluation plan should include indicators that measure gains in mutual understanding as well as substantive knowledge.

Successful monitoring and evaluation depend heavily on setting clear goals and outcomes at the outset of a program. Your evaluation plan should include a Start Printed Page 8782description of your project's objectives, your anticipated project outcomes, and how and when you intend to measure these outcomes (performance indicators). The more that outcomes are “smart” (specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and placed in a reasonable time frame), the easier it will be to conduct the evaluation. You should also show how your project objectives link to the goals of the program described in this RFGP.

Your monitoring and evaluation plan should clearly distinguish between program outputs and outcomes. Outputs are products and services delivered, often stated as an amount. Output information is important to show the scope or size of project activities, but it cannot substitute for information about progress towards outcomes or the results achieved. Examples of outputs include the number of people trained or the number of seminars conducted. Outcomes, in contrast, represent specific results a project is intended to achieve and is usually measured as an extent of change. Findings on outputs and outcomes should both be reported, but the focus should be on outcomes.

We encourage you to assess the following four levels of outcomes, as they relate to the program goals set out in the RFGP (listed here in increasing order of importance):

1. Participant satisfaction with the program and exchange experience.

2. Participant learning, such as increased knowledge, aptitude, skills, and changed understanding and attitude. Learning includes both substantive (subject-specific) learning and mutual understanding.

3. Participant behavior, concrete actions to apply knowledge in work or community; greater participation and responsibility in civic organizations; interpretation and explanation of experiences and new knowledge gained; continued contacts between participants, community members, and others.

4. Institutional changes, such as increased collaboration and partnerships, policy reforms, new programming, and organizational improvements.

Please note:

Consideration should be given to the appropriate timing of data collection for each level of outcome. For example, satisfaction is usually captured as a short-term outcome, whereas behavior and institutional changes are normally considered longer-term outcomes.

Overall, the quality of your monitoring and evaluation plan will be judged on how well it (1) Specifies intended outcomes; (2) gives clear descriptions of how each outcome will be measured; (3) identifies when particular outcomes will be measured; and (4) provides a clear description of the data collection strategies for each outcome (i.e., surveys, interviews, or focus groups). (Please note that evaluation plans that deal only with the first level of outcomes [satisfaction] will be deemed less competitive under the present evaluation criteria.)

Recipient organizations will be required to provide reports analyzing their evaluation findings to the Bureau in their regular program reports. All data collected, including survey responses and contact information, must be maintained for a minimum of three years and provided to the Bureau upon request.

IV.3e. Please take the following information into consideration when preparing your budget:

Applicants must submit SF-424A—“Budget Information—Non-Construction Programs” along with a comprehensive budget for the entire program. There must be a summary budget as well as breakdowns reflecting both adminis- trative and program budgets. Applicants may provide separate sub-budgets for each program component, phase, location, or activity to provide clarification. Please refer to the POGI and PSI for complete budget guidelines and formatting instructions.

IV.3f. Application Deadline and Methods of Submission

Application Deadline Date: April 22, 2010.

Reference Number: ECA/PE/C/PY-10-29.

Methods of Submission:

Applications may be submitted in one of two ways:

(1) In hard-copy, via a nationally recognized overnight delivery service (i.e., Federal Express, UPS, Airborne Express, or U.S. Postal Service Express Overnight Mail, etc.), or

(2) Electronically through http://www.grants.gov.

Along with the Project Title, all applicants must enter the above Reference Number in Box 11 on the SF-424 contained in the mandatory Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) of the solicitation document.

IV.3f.1. Submitting Printed Applications

Applications must be shipped no later than the above deadline. 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. ECA will not notify you upon receipt of application. 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.

Important note:

When preparing your submission please make sure to include one extra copy of the completed SF-424 form and place it in an envelope addressed to “ECA/EX/PM”.

The original and six (6) copies of the application should be sent to: Program Management Division, ECA-IIP/EX/PM, Ref.: ECA/PE/C/PY-10-29, SA-5, Floor 4, Department of State, 2200 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 20522-0504.

Applicants submitting hard-copy applications must also submit the Executive Summary, Proposal Narrative, Budget sections of the proposal, as well as any attachments essential to understanding the program, in Microsoft Word and/or Excel format on CD-ROM. As appropriate, the Bureau will provide these files electronically to Public Affairs Section(s) at the U.S. embassies for their review.

IV.3f.2. Submitting Electronic Applications

Applicants have the option of submitting proposals electronically through Grants.gov (http://www.grants.gov). Complete solicitation packages are available at Grants.gov in the “Find” portion of the system.

Please Note: ECA bears no responsibility for applicant timeliness of submission or data errors resulting from transmission or conversion processes for proposals submitted via Grants.gov.

Please follow the instructions available in the `Get Started' portion of the site (http://www.grants.gov/​GetStarted).

Several of the steps in the Grants.gov registration process could take several weeks. Therefore, applicants should check with appropriate staff within their organizations immediately after reviewing this RFGP to confirm or determine their registration status with Grants.gov.

Once registered, the amount of time it can take to upload an application will Start Printed Page 8783vary depending on a variety of factors including the size of the application and the speed of your internet connection. In addition, validation of an electronic submission via Grants.gov can take up to two business days.

Therefore, we strongly recommend that you not wait until the application deadline to begin the submission process through Grants.gov.

The Grants.gov Web site includes extensive information on all phases/aspects of the Grants.gov process, including an extensive section on frequently asked questions, located under the “For Applicants” section of the Web site. ECA strongly recommends that all potential applicants review thoroughly the Grants.gov Web site, well in advance of submitting a proposal through the Grants.gov system. ECA bears no responsibility for data errors resulting from transmission or conversion processes.

Direct all questions regarding Grants.gov registration and submission to: Grants.gov Customer Support, Contact Center Phone: 800-518-4726, Business Hours: Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Eastern Time, E-mail: support@grants.gov.

Applicants have until midnight (12 a.m.), Washington, DC time of the closing date to ensure that their entire application has been uploaded to the Grants.gov site. There are no exceptions to the above deadline. Applications uploaded to the site after midnight of the application deadline date will be automatically rejected by the grants.gov system, and will be technically ineligible.

Please refer to the Grants.gov Web site, for definitions of various “application statuses” and the difference between a submission receipt and a submission validation. Applicants will receive a validation e-mail from grants.gov upon the successful submission of an application. Again, validation of an electronic submission via Grants.gov can take up to two business days. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you not wait until the application deadline to begin the submission process through Grants.gov._ECA will not notify you upon receipt of electronic applications.

It is the responsibility of all applicants submitting proposals via the Grants.gov Web portal to ensure that proposals have been received by Grants.gov in their entirety, and ECA bears no responsibility for data errors resulting from transmission or conversion processes.

IV.3g. Intergovernmental Review of Applications: Executive Order 12372 does not apply to this program.

V. Application Review Information

V.1. Review Process

The Bureau will review all proposals 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) 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:

Technically eligible applications will be competitively reviewed according to the criteria stated below.

1. Quality of the program idea: Objectives should be reasonable, feasible, and flexible. The proposal should clearly demonstrate how the institution will meet the program's objectives and plan. The proposed program should be creative, age-appropriate, respond to the design outlined in the solicitation, and demonstrate originality. It should be clearly and accurately written, substantive, and with sufficient detail. Proposals should also include a plan to support participants' community activities upon their return home.

2. Program planning: A detailed agenda and work plan should clearly demonstrate how project objectives would be achieved. The agenda and plan should adhere to the program overview and guidelines described above. The substance of workshops, seminars, presentations, school-based activities, and/or site visits should be described in detail.

3. Support of diversity: The proposal should demonstrate the recipient's commitment to promoting the awareness and understanding of diversity in participant recruitment and selection and in program content. Applicants should demonstrate readiness to accommodate participants with physical disabilities.

4. Institutional capacity and track record: Proposed personnel and institutional resources in both the United States and in the partner countries should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the program goals. The proposal should demonstrate an institutional record of successful exchange programs, including responsible fiscal management and full compliance with all reporting requirements for past Bureau awards as determined by Bureau Grants Staff. The Bureau will consider the past performance of prior recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants.

5. Program evaluation: The proposal should include a plan to evaluate the program's success in meeting its goals, both as the activities unfold and after they have been completed. The proposal should include a draft survey questionnaire or other technique, plus a description of a methodology to link outcomes to original project objectives. The grant recipient will be expected to submit intermediate reports after each project component is concluded.

6. Cost-effectiveness and cost sharing: The applicant should demonstrate efficient use of Bureau funds. 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. The proposal should maximize cost-sharing through other private sector support as well as institutional direct funding contributions, which demonstrates institutional and community commitment.

VI. Award Administration Information

VI.1a. Award Notices

Final awards cannot be made until funds have been appropriated by Congress, allocated and committed through internal Bureau procedures. Successful applicants will receive a Federal Assistance Award (FAA) from the Bureau's Grants Office. The FAA and the original proposal with subsequent modifications (if applicable) shall be the only binding authorizing document between the recipient and the U.S. Government. The FAA will be signed by an authorized Grants Officer, and mailed to the recipient's responsible officer identified in the application.

Unsuccessful applicants will receive notification of the results of the application review from the ECA program office coordinating this competition.Start Printed Page 8784

VI.2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

Terms and Conditions for the Administration of ECA agreements include the following:

Office of Management and Budget Circular A-122, “Cost Principles for Nonprofit Organizations.”

Office of Management and Budget Circular A-21, “Cost Principles for Educational Institutions.”

OMB Circular A-87, “Cost Principles for State, Local and Indian Governments”.

OMB Circular No. A-110 (Revised), Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and other Nonprofit Organizations.

OMB Circular No. A-102, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants-in-Aid to State and Local Governments.

OMB Circular No. A-133, Audits of States, Local Government, and Non-profit Organizations.

Please reference the following Web sites for additional information:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/​omb/​grants.

http://fa.statebuy.state.gov.

VI.3. Reporting Requirements: You must provide ECA with a hard copy original plus one copy of the following reports:

(1) A final program and financial report no more than 90 days after the expiration of the award;

(2) A concise, one-page final program report summarizing program outcomes no more than 90 days after the expiration of the award. This one-page report will be transmitted to OMB, and be made available to the public via OMB's USAspending.gov Web site—as part of ECA's Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA) reporting requirements.

(3) A SF-PPR, “Performance Progress Report” Cover Sheet with all program reports.

(4) Interim reports, as required in the Bureau grant agreement.

Award recipients will be required to provide reports analyzing their evaluation findings to the Bureau in their regular program reports. (Please refer to IV. Application and Submission Instructions (IV.3.d.3) above for Program Monitoring and Evaluation information.

All data collected, including survey responses and contact information, must be maintained for a minimum of three years and provided to the Bureau upon request.

All reports must be sent to the ECA Grants Officer and ECA Program Officer listed in the final assistance award document.

VII. Agency Contacts

For questions about this announcement, contact: Jennifer Phillips, Youth Programs Division, ECA/PE/C/PY, SA-5, 3rd Floor, U.S. Department of State, 2200 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 20522-0503, by telephone 202-632-9352, fax 202-632-9355, or e-mail PhillipsJA@state.gov.

All correspondence with the Bureau concerning this RFGP should reference the above title and reference number ECA/PE/C/PY-10-29.

Please read the complete 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.

VIII. Other Information

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 per section VI.3 above.

Start Signature

Dated: February 17, 2010.

Maura M. Pally,

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

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[FR Doc. 2010-3894 Filed 2-24-10; 8:45 am]

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