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Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)

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Request for Grant Proposals: The Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program: Host Family and School Placement and Monitoring

Announcement Type: New Cooperative Agreement.

Funding Opportunity Number: ECA/PE/C/PY-12-06.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number: 19.415.

Application Deadline: December 22, 2011.

Executive Summary: The Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program seeks to promote mutual understanding between the United States and the countries of Eurasia by providing secondary school students from the region the opportunity to live in American society for an academic year. In turn, these students will expose U.S. citizens to the culture, traditions, and lifestyles of people in Eurasia. Public and private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3) are invited to submit proposals to identify host schools; vet, select, and monitor host families; and place and monitor a portion of the students participating in the FLEX program during the 2012-13 academic year. Pending the availability of funds, an FY 2012 cooperative agreement will provide the monies required to recruit and screen host families; secure school placements; conduct student and host family orientations; provide cultural and educational enrichment activities; handle all counseling and programmatic issues; and evaluate program implementation.

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 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.

Purpose: The FLEX Program seeks to provide approximately 1,000 high school students from Eurasia with an opportunity to live in the United States for the purpose of promoting mutual understanding between our countries. Participants will reside with American host families and attend high school during the 2012-13 academic year. Qualified organizations may submit proposals to administer this cooperative agreement. This solicitation refers only to FLEX high school students between the ages of 15 and 17 from the following Eurasian countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine.

Organizations will be responsible for identifying schools and screening families in addition to: (1) Providing English language enhancement activities for approximately 10% of their students who are specially identified; (2) orienting all students to local conditions, resources and opportunities; (3) orienting host families to program specifics; (4) providing support services for students; (5) arranging enhancement activities and skill-building opportunities; (6) monitoring student, family and coordinator performance and progress; (7) providing mid-year programming and re-entry training; and (8) evaluating project success. Preference will be given to those organizations that offer participants opportunities to develop leadership skills and raise their awareness of tolerance and civic responsibility through community activities and networks. The number of students who will participate is subject to the availability of funding in fiscal year 2012.

Goal: The goal of the program is to promote mutual understanding and foster relationships between the people of Eurasia and the United States by enabling students to:

  • Gain an understanding of American culture, diversity, and respect for others with differing views and beliefs;
  • Teach Americans about their home countries and cultures;
  • Interact with Americans and generate enduring ties;
  • Explore and acquire an understanding of the key elements of U.S. civil society, including concepts such as volunteerism, the idea that American citizens can and do act at the grassroots level to deal with societal problems, and an awareness of and respect for the Rule of Law; andStart Printed Page 66770
  • Share and apply experiences and knowledge in their home communities as FLEX alumni, initiating activities that focus on development and community service.

Objectives: The objectives of the FLEX placement and monitoring component are:

  • To place pre-selected high school students from 10 Eurasian countries in safe, qualified, well-suited host families;
  • To place students in accredited schools;
  • To expose program participants to American culture and enable them to obtain a broad view of U.S. society and history;
  • To provide appropriate venues for program participants to share their culture, lifestyles, and traditions with U.S. citizens;
  • To provide participants with development opportunities that foster leadership skills they can take back with them and use in their home countries; and
  • To provide activities that will increase and enhance students' leadership capacity, enabling them—as FLEX alumni—to initiate activities in their home countries that focus on development and community service.

Other Components

Organizational Component: One organization has been awarded a grant to administer the Organizational Component of the FLEX program, and performs the following functions: Recruitment and selection of Eurasian students; preparation of cross-cultural materials; pre-departure orientation; international travel from home to host community and return; facilitation of ongoing communication between the natural parents and the placement organization, as needed; maintenance of a student database; and ongoing follow-up with alumni after their return to Eurasia.

Disability Component: Another organization is currently responsible for supporting students with disabilities. This includes a pre-program orientation, a year-end reentry training, and support throughout the year to both students and placement organizations to help students with disabilities cope with challenges specific to their circumstances. Students with disabilities may need supplementary independence skills training early on in the program. Placement organizations will be in direct communication with both the organizational and disability component organizations.

Civic Education Component: An organization will be awarded the grant for the Civic Education Workshop in approximately February/March FY 2012. The Workshop will include a week of activities in Washington, DC. ECA will offer all FLEX students the opportunity to compete for participation in this event. Placement Organizations are expected to encourage students to apply to this competition, and should help facilitate their participation if selected.

Guidelines: Applicants are requested to submit a narrative outlining a comprehensive strategy for the administration and implementation of the placement component of the FLEX program that includes the responsibilities outlined in the Project Objectives, Goals and Implementation (POGI) document and in accordance with the J-visa regulations set forth in the 22 CFR part 62: http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/​cgi/​t/​text/​text-idx?​c=​ecfr&​sid=​c329fb110ea15b0bf4b16f4d88cb4d16&​rgn=​div5&​view=​text&​node=​22:1.0.1.7.37&​idno=​22#PartTop.

An organization must be able to dedicate key staff to this program who possess a thorough understanding of the secondary school student Exchange Visitor (J-visa) Program regulations.

Your application must include a plan to place and monitor a minimum of 30 students; there is no maximum number of students that may be placed by one organization. Placements may be in any region of the United States. Strong preference will be given to organizations that choose to place participants in clusters of at least three students (these students should be from different countries) in a particular Local Coordinator's area of responsibility. Please refer to the POGI for details on essential program elements, permissible costs, and criteria used to select and place students. We anticipate cooperative agreements beginning no later than April 2012, subject to the availability of funds.

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 addition, the Bureau reserves the right to adjust the participating countries should conditions change in a partner country or if other countries and/or regions are identified as Department priorities.

Participants will begin to arrive in their host communities in late July 2012 and remain for 10 or 11 months until their departure mid-May to late June 2013. Students with disabilities and students requiring supplementary English language instruction will be among the first to arrive.

Administration of the program must be in compliance with federal, state, and local tax reporting and withholding regulations as applicable. Recipient organizations must demonstrate regulation adherence in the proposal narrative and budget.

Applicants must submit the health and accident insurance plans they intend to use for students on this program. The Bureau offers the Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE) plan for students participating in the program. Placement Organizations wishing to use a different plan must demonstrate that such alternate plan a) provides comparable or more comprehensive coverage and b) costs less. Coverage must begin when students depart their home countries and not conclude until they return home. Please keep in mind that the students with disabilities who participate in the July post-arrival workshop must be covered by the Placement Organization's health insurance policy while they are participating in the workshop.

ECA Activities and Responsibilities: In a cooperative agreement, ECA is substantially involved in program activities above and beyond routine monitoring. ECA activities and responsibilities for the FLEX program include:

(1) Providing advice and assistance in the execution of all program components.

(2) Serving as liaison between the award recipients and personnel within the Department of State, including ECA, the regional bureaus, and overseas posts.

(3) Monitoring and evaluating the program and its participants through communication by email, phone, and site visits.

(4) Issuing DS-2019 forms for the participants. All participants will travel on a U.S. government designation for the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.

(5) Creating and updating SEVIS status; maintaining all SEVIS records.

(6) Hosting an annual meeting for all award recipients to provide program guidance.

(7) Approving program promotional materials and Web site information.

(8) Representing the U.S. Government as the program sponsor at exchange events, program events, and orientations.

(9) Publicizing program highlights and responding to Congressional and Department requests for information.

II. Award Information

Type of Award: New Cooperative Agreement. ECA's level of involvement Start Printed Page 66771in this program is listed under Section I above.

Fiscal Year Funds: FY 2012.

Approximate Total Funding: $8,500,000.

Approximate Number of Awards: 10-15 cooperative agreements.

Approximate Average Award: Funding level is dependent on the number of proposed students, monitoring, the quality of support, and volume of activities.

Anticipated Award Date: Pending availability of funds, April 2012.

Anticipated Project Completion Date: August 2013.

Additional Information: Pending successful implementation of this program and the availability of funds in subsequent fiscal years, it is ECA's intent to renew this cooperative agreement for two additional fiscal years, before openly competing it again.

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: Bureau grant guidelines require that organizations with less than four years experience in conducting international exchanges be limited to $60,000 in Bureau funding. Since an award to support program and administrative costs required to implement this exchange program for a minimum of 30 students will exceed $60,000, organizations with less than four years experience in conducting international exchanges are ineligible to apply under this competition. The Bureau encourages applicants to provide maximum levels of cost sharing and funding in support of its programs.

IV. Application and Submission Information

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, Floor 3, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20037, telephone (202) 632-6055, fax (202) 632-9355, or e-mail FLEX@state.gov to request a Solicitation Package. Please refer to Funding Opportunity Number ECA/PE/C/PY-12-06 (as listed 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 the Funding Opportunity Number (ECA/PE/C/PY-12-06) at the top of this announcement on all inquiries and correspondence.

IV.2. To Download a Solicitation Package via the 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. This 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, budget and budget narrative.

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. All federal award recipients and sub-recipients must maintain current registrations in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database and have a Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. Recipients and sub-recipients must maintain accurate and up-to-date information in the CCR until all program and financial activity and reporting have been completed. All entities must review and update the information at least annually after the initial registration and more frequently if required information changes or another award is granted.

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: 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. 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 be required to submit a one-page document, derived from their program reports, listing and describing their 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 cooperative agreement activities, will be transmitted by the State Department to OMB, along with other information required by the Federal Funding Accountability and Start Printed Page 66772Transparency 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 that 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. If you fail to include this documentation, your proposal will 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 part 62, which covers the administration of the Exchange Visitor Program (J-visa). Under the terms of 22 CFR part 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 part 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 part 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 J-visa programs as set forth in 22 CFR part 62. If your organization has experience as a designated J-visa program sponsor, you should discuss your record of compliance with 22 CFR part 62 et seq., including the oversight of their Responsible Officers and Alternate Responsible Officers, screening and selection of program participants, provision of pre-arrival information and orientation to participants, monitoring of participants, proper maintenance and security of forms, recordkeeping, reporting and other requirements. ECA will review the record of compliance with 22 CFR part 62 et seq. of applicant organizations designated as Exchange Visitor Program Sponsors by ECA's Office of Private Sector Exchange as one factor in evaluating the record/ability of organizations to carry out successful exchange programs.

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, Private Sector Programs Division, U.S. Department of State, ECA/EC/D/PS, SA-5, 5th Floor, 2200 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 20037.

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.

Funds provided through this award may not be used to promote participation in, or to purchase equipment or supplies intended for, activities related to religious worship or proselytization. Host families, school officials, and placement organizations shall not require program participants to attend religious services. However, as part of their exchange experience, participants may be offered the opportunity to take part voluntarily in this facet of their host culture, at their own discretion. Volunteer host families (who receive no financial benefit from cooperative agreement funds) are encouraged to enable participants living with them to attend services of the participant's religion, if the participant so desires and the services are available within a reasonable distance of the host family's residence.

IV.3d.3. Program Monitoring and Evaluation

Program Monitoring includes Participant Monitoring, which focuses specifically on ensuring students' safety and well-being throughout the year; see Review Criterion #5 for details and instructions. This section focuses on other aspects of Program Monitoring.

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 description 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 Start Printed Page 66773scope 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.

Evaluation: The Bureau's Office of Policy and Evaluation will conduct evaluations of the FLEX program through E-GOALS, its online system for surveying program participants and collecting data about program performance. These evaluations assist ECA and its program awardees in meeting the requirements of the Government Performance Results Act (GPRA) of 1993. This Act requires federal agencies to measure the results of their programs in meeting pre-determined performance goals and objectives. Please see specific responsibilities in the accompanying POGI document.

IV.3e. Please consider the following information when preparing your budget: Applicants must submit SF-424A—“Budget Information—Non-Construction Programs” along with a comprehensive budget for the entire program. The budget must reflect costs for a minimum of 30 participants. Please indicate clearly the number of students funded. 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. Proposals that demonstrate low costs per participant will be deemed more competitive.

Allowable costs for the program and additional budget guidance are outlined in detail in the POGI document.

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

IV.3f. Application Deadline and Methods of Submission: Application Deadline Date: December 22, 2011. Reference Number: ECA/PE/C/PY-12-06

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 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-IIP/EX/PM. The original and seven (7) copies of the application should be sent to: Program Management Division (ECA-IIP/EX/PM), Ref.: ECA/PE/C/PY-12-06 SA-5, Floor 4, Department of State, 2200 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 20037.

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 vary 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 Start Printed Page 66774application 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. In addition, ECA will review the record of compliance with 22 CFR part 62 et seq. of applicant organizations designated as Exchange Visitor Program Sponsors by ECA's Office of Private Sector Exchange. If it is determined that an applicant organization submitting a proposal has a record of not being in compliance, their proposal will be deemed technically ineligible and receive no further consideration in the review process. If in compliance, the applicant organization's record of compliance will be used as one factor in evaluating the record/ability of organizations to carry out successful exchange programs.

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 panels for advisory review. Proposals may also be reviewed by the Office of the Legal Adviser or by other Department elements. Final funding decisions are at the discretion of the Department of State's Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs. Final technical authority for assistance awards (cooperative agreements) resides with the Bureau's Grants Officer.

Review Criteria

Technically eligible applications will be competitively reviewed according to the criteria stated below and explained in detail in the POGI. These criteria are not rank ordered and all carry equal weight in the proposal evaluation:

1. Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Program Objectives

2. Support of Diversity

3. Organization's Record/Institutional Capacity

4. Multiplier Effect

5. Participant Monitoring

6. Project Evaluation

7. Cost-effectiveness/Cost Sharing

VI. Award Administration Information

VI.1. 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.

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, including the SF-PPR-E and SF-PPR-F.

(4) Electronic quarterly program and financial reports, which should include both quantitative and qualitative data.

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 Start Printed Page 66775be 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: Amy Schulz (SchulzAJ@state.gov, 202-632-6052) or Amy Simms (SimmsAA@state.gov, 202-632-6368), Office of Citizen Exchanges, ECA/PE/C/PY, SA-5, Floor 3, Department of State, Washington, DC 20037. All correspondence with the Bureau concerning this RFGP should reference the above title and number ECA/PE/C/PY-12-06.

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: October 20, 2011.

J. Adam Ereli,

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State.

End Signature End Preamble

[FR Doc. 2011-27731 Filed 10-26-11; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4710-05-P