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Notice

Applications for New Awards; Strengthening Institutions Program

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Office of Postsecondary Education, Department of Education.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

The Department of Education (Department) is issuing a notice inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year (FY) 2019 for the Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP), Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 84.031A. This notice relates to the approved information collection under OMB control number 1840-0114.

DATES:

Applications Available: June 19, 2019.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: July 19, 2019.

ADDRESSES:

For the addresses for obtaining and submitting an application, please refer to our Common Instructions for Applicants to Department of Education Discretionary Grant Programs, published in the Federal Register on February 13, 2019 (84 FR 3768), and available at www.govinfo.gov/​content/​pkg/​FR-2019-02-13/​pdf/​2019-02206.pdf.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Nalini Lamba-Nieves, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 250-34, Washington, DC 20202-4260. Telephone: (202) 453-7953. Email: Nalini.Lamba.Nieves@ed.gov.

If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Full Text of Announcement

I. Funding Opportunity Description

Purpose of Program: The Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) provides grants to eligible institutions of higher education (IHEs) to help them become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the institution's academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability.

Priorities: This notice contains two competitive preference priorities and one invitational priority. The competitive preference priorities are from the Secretary's Final Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grant Programs (83 FR 9096) (Supplemental Priorities), which were published in the Federal Register on March 2, 2018.

Competitive Preference Priorities: For FY 2019 and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this competition, these priorities are competitive preference priorities. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i), we award up to an additional six points to an application that meets these priorities.

These priorities are:

Competitive Preference Priority 1—Fostering Flexible and Affordable Paths to Obtaining Knowledge and Skills (4 points).

Projects that are designed to address providing work-based learning experiences (such as internships, apprenticeships, and fellowships) that align with in-demand industry sectors or occupations (as defined in section 3(23) of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014).

Competitive Preference Priority 2—Fostering Knowledge and Promoting the Development of Skills that Prepare Students to be Informed, Thoughtful, and Productive Individuals and Citizens (2 points).

Projects that are designed to address supporting instruction in personal financial literacy, knowledge of markets and economics, knowledge of higher education financing and repayment (e.g., college savings and student loans), or other skills aimed at building personal financial understanding and responsibility.

Invitational Priority: For FY 2019 and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this competition, this priority is an invitational priority. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(1) we do not give an application that meets this Start Printed Page 28530invitational priority a competitive or absolute preference over other applications.

This priority is:

Invitational Priority—Spurring Investment in Opportunity Zones.

Under this priority, an applicant may address one or both of the following priority areas:

(1) Propose to serve children or students who reside, or attend elementary or secondary schools or institutions of higher education, in a qualified opportunity zone as designated by the Secretary of the Treasury under section 1400Z-1 of the Internal Revenue Code, as amended by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Pub. L. 115-97). In addressing this priority, an applicant must provide the census tract number of the qualified opportunity zone for which it proposes to serve children or students. A list of qualified opportunity zones, with census tract numbers, is available at www.cdfifund.gov/​Pages/​Opportunity-Zones.aspx.

(2) Provide evidence in its application that it has received or will receive financial assistance from a qualified opportunity fund under section 1400Z-2 of the Internal Revenue Code, as amended by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, for a purpose directly related to its proposed project. In addressing this priority, an applicant must identify the qualified opportunity fund from which it has received or will receive financial assistance.

Definitions: These definitions apply to the priorities and the selection criteria for this competition and are from section 3(23) of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 and from 34 CFR 77.1.

Demonstrates a rationale means a key project component included in the project's logic model is informed by research or evaluation findings that suggest the project component is likely to improve relevant outcomes.

In-demand industry sector or occupation means—

(a) In General.— (i) An industry sector that has a substantial current or potential impact (including through jobs that lead to economic self-sufficiency and opportunities for advancement) on the State, regional, or local economy, as appropriate, and that contributes to the growth or stability of other supporting businesses, or the growth of other industry sectors; or

(ii) An occupation that currently has or is projected to have a number of positions (including positions that lead to economic self-sufficiency and opportunities for advancement) in an industry sector so as to have a significant impact on the State, regional, or local economy, as appropriate.

(B) Determination. The determination of whether an industry sector or occupation is in-demand under this paragraph shall be made by the State board or local board, as appropriate, using State and regional business and labor market projections, including the use of labor market information.

Logic model (also referred to as theory of action) means a framework that identifies key project components of the proposed project (i.e., the active “ingredients” that are hypothesized to be critical to achieving the relevant outcomes) and describes the theoretical and operational relationships among the key project components and relevant outcomes.

Note: In developing logic models, applicants may want to use resources such as the Regional Educational Laboratory Program's (REL Pacific) Education Logic Model Application, available at https://ies.ed.gov/​ncee/​edlabs/​regions/​pacific/​elm.asp, to help design their logic models. Other sources include: https://ies.ed.gov/​ncee/​edlabs/​regions/​pacific/​pdf/​REL_​2014025.pdf, https://ies.ed.gov/​ncee/​edlabs/​regions/​pacific/​pdf/​REL_​2014007.pdf, and https://ies.ed.gov/​ncee/​edlabs/​regions/​northeast/​pdf/​REL_​2015057.pdf.

Project component means an activity, strategy, intervention, process, product, practice, or policy included in a project. Evidence may pertain to an individual project component or to a combination of project components (e.g., training teachers on instructional practices for English learners and follow-on coaching for these teachers).

Relevant outcome means the student outcome(s) or other outcome(s) the key project component is designed to improve, consistent with the specific goals of the program.

Start Authority

Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1057-1059d (title III, part A, of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA)).

End Authority

Note: In 2008, the HEA was amended by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA), Public Law 110-315. The HEOA made a number of technical and substantive revisions to SIP. Please note that the regulations for SIP in 34 CFR part 607 have not been updated to reflect these statutory changes.

Applicable Regulations: (a) The Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR parts 75, 77, 79, 82, 84, 86, 97, 98, and 99. (b) The Office of Management and Budget Guidelines to Agencies on Governmentwide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) in 2 CFR part 180, as adopted and amended as regulations of the Department in 2 CFR part 3485. (c) The Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards in 2 CFR part 200, as adopted and amended as regulations of the Department in 2 CFR part 3474. (d) The regulations for this program in 34 CFR part 607. (e) The Supplemental Priorities.

II. Award Information

Type of Award: Discretionary grants. Five-year Individual Development Grants and Cooperative Arrangement Development Grants will be awarded in FY 2019.

Estimated Available Funds: Approximately $26,300,000 is available for new awards in the program competition.

Contingent upon the availability of funds and the quality of applications, we may make additional awards in subsequent years from the list of unfunded applications from this competition.

Individual Development Grants:

Estimated Range of Awards: $400,000-$450,000 per year.

Estimated Average Size of Awards: $425,000 per year.

Maximum Award: We will not make an award exceeding $450,000 for a single budget period of 12 months.

Estimated Number of Awards: 31.

Cooperative Arrangement Development Grants:

Estimated Range of Awards: $500,000-$550,000 per year.

Estimated Average Size of Awards: $525,000 per year.

Maximum Award: We will not make an award exceeding $550,000 for a single budget period of 12 months.

Estimated Number of Awards: 25.

Note: The Department is not bound by any estimates in this notice.

Project Period: Up to 60 months.

III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants: This program is authorized by title III, part A, of the HEA. To qualify as an eligible institution under any title III, part A program, an institution must—

(a) Be accredited or preaccredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association that the Secretary has determined to be a reliable authority as to the quality of education or training offered;

(b) Be legally authorized by the State in which it is located to be a junior or community college or to provide an educational program for which it awards a bachelor's degree;Start Printed Page 28531

(c) Be designated as an “eligible institution” by demonstrating that it: (1) Has an enrollment of needy students as described in 34 CFR 607.3; and (2) has low average educational and general expenditures per full-time equivalent (FTE) undergraduate student as described in 34 CFR 607.4.

Note: The notice announcing the FY 2019 process for designation of eligible institutions, and inviting applications for waiver of eligibility requirements, was published in the Federal Register on January 29, 2019 (84 FR 451). Only institutions that the Department determines are eligible, or are granted a waiver under the process described in that notice, may apply for a grant in this program.

Relationship Between the Title III, Part A Programs and the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Program

A grantee under the HSI program, which is authorized under title V of the HEA, may not receive a grant under any HEA, title III, part A program. The title III, part A programs are: SIP; the Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities program; the Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions program; the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions program; and the Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions program. Furthermore, a current HSI program grantee may not give up its HSI grant to receive a grant under SIP or any title III, Part A program as described in 34 CFR 607.2(g)(1).

An eligible HSI that is not a current grantee under the HSI program may apply for a FY 2019 grant under all title III, part A programs for which it is eligible, as well as receive consideration for a grant under the HSI program. However, a successful applicant may receive only one grant as described in 34 CFR 607.2(g)(1).

2. a. Cost Sharing or Matching: This program does not require cost sharing or matching unless the grantee uses a portion of its grant for establishing or improving an endowment fund. If a grantee uses a portion of its grant for endowment fund purposes, it must match those grant funds with non-Federal funds (20 U.S.C. 1057(d)-(2)).

b. Supplement-Not-Supplant: This program involves supplement-not-supplant funding requirements. Grant funds must be used so that they supplement and, to the extent practical, increase the funds that would otherwise be available for the activities to be carried out under the grant and in no case supplant those funds (34 CFR 607.30(b)).

IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Application Submission Instructions: Applicants are required to follow the Common Instructions for Applicants to Department of Education Discretionary Grant Programs, published in the Federal Register on February 13, 2019 (84 FR 3768), and available at www.govinfo.gov/​content/​pkg/​FR-2019-02-13/​pdf/​2019-02206.pdf, which contain requirements and information on how to submit an application.

2. Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. However, under 34 CFR 79.8(a), we waive intergovernmental review in order to make awards by the end of FY 2019.

3. Funding Restrictions: We specify unallowable costs in 34 CFR 607.10(c). We reference additional regulations outlining funding restrictions in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.

4. Recommended Page Limit: The application narrative (Part III of the application) is where you, the applicant, address the selection criteria that reviewers use to evaluate your application. We recommend that you limit the application narrative to no more than 50 pages for Individual Development Grants and no more than 65 pages for Cooperative Arrangement Development Grants. If you are addressing the invitational priority and/or either or both competitive preference priorities, you will have an additional seven pages total to respond to all three priorities. To address the invitational priority, you will have an additional two pages; for competitive preference priority one, you will have three additional pages; and for competitive preference priority two, you will have two additional pages. If you address all three priorities, you should limit the application narrative (Part III) to no more than 57 pages for the Individual Development Grant application and 72 pages for the Cooperative Arrangement Development Grant application. Please include a separate heading when responding to the invitational priority and one or both competitive preference priorities. You may only use the additional seven pages to address the invitational or the competitive preference priorities. The additional seven pages are not for an extended response to the selection criteria. If you are not addressing the invitational priority or the competitive preference priorities, you should limit your application narrative to no more than 50 pages for the Individual Development Grant or 65 pages for the Cooperative Arrangement Development Grant. We also recommend that you use the following standards:

  • A “page” is 8.5″ x 11″, on one side only, with 1″ margins at the top, bottom, and both sides.
  • Double space (no more than three lines per vertical inch) all text in the application narrative, excluding titles, headings, footnotes, quotations, references, and captions, as well as all text in charts, tables, figures, and graphs.
  • Use a font that is either 12 point or larger, and no smaller than 10 pitch (characters per inch).
  • Use one of the following fonts: Times New Roman, Courier, Courier New, or Arial.

The recommended page limit does not apply to Part I, the cover sheet; Part II, the budget section, including the narrative budget justification; Part IV, the assurances and certifications; or the one-page abstract and the bibliography. However, the recommended page limit does apply to all of the application narrative.

Note: The Budget Information-Non-Construction Programs Form (ED 524) Sections A-C are not the same as the narrative response to the Budget section of the selection criteria.

V. Application Review Information

1. Selection Criteria: The selection criteria for this program are from 34 CFR 607.22(a) through (g), and from 34 CFR 75.210. Applicants should address each of the following selection criteria separately for each proposed activity. The selection criteria are worth a total of 100 points; the maximum score for each criterion is noted in parentheses.

(a) Quality of the Applicant's Comprehensive Development Plan. (Maximum 20 Points) The extent to which—

(1) The strengths, weaknesses, and significant problems of the institution's academic programs, institutional management, and fiscal stability are clearly and comprehensively analyzed and result from a process that involved major constituencies of the institution;

(2) The goals for the institution's academic programs, institutional management, and fiscal stability are realistic and based on comprehensive analysis;

(3) The objectives stated in the plan are measurable, related to institutional goals, and, if achieved, will contribute to the growth and self-sufficiency of the institution; andStart Printed Page 28532

(4) The plan clearly and comprehensively describes the methods and resources the institution will use to institutionalize practice and improvements developed under the proposed project, including, in particular, how operational costs for personnel, maintenance, and upgrades of equipment will be paid with institutional resources.

(b) Quality of the Project Design. (Maximum 10 Points) The Secretary considers the quality of the design of the proposed project. In determining the quality of the design of the proposed project, the Secretary considers the extent to which the proposed project demonstrates a rationale (as defined in this notice).

(c) Quality of Activity Objectives. (Maximum 15 Points) The extent to which the objectives for each activity are—

(1) Realistic and defined in terms of measurable results; and

(2) Directly related to the problems to be solved and to the goals of the comprehensive development plan.

(d) Quality of Implementation Strategy. (Maximum 15 Points) The extent to which—

(1) The implementation strategy for each activity is comprehensive;

(2) The rationale for the implementation strategy for each activity is clearly described and is supported by the results of relevant studies or projects; and

(3) The timetable for each activity is realistic and likely to be attained.

(e) Quality of Key Personnel. (Maximum 8 Points) The extent to which—

(1) The past experience and training of key professional personnel are directly related to the stated activity objectives; and

(2) The time commitment of key personnel is realistic.

(f) Quality of Project Management Plan. (Maximum 10 Points) The extent to which—

(1) Procedures for managing the project are likely to ensure efficient and effective project implementation; and

(2) The project coordinator and activity directors have sufficient authority to conduct the project effectively, including access to the president or chief executive officer.

(g) Quality of Evaluation Plan. (Maximum 15 Points) The extent to which—

(1) The data elements and the data collection procedures are clearly described and appropriate to measure the attainment of activity objectives and to measure the success of the project in achieving the goals of the comprehensive development plan; and

(2) The data analysis procedures are clearly described and are likely to produce formative and summative results on attaining activity objectives and measuring the success of the project on achieving the goals of the comprehensive development plan.

(h) Budget. (Maximum 7 Points) The extent to which the proposed costs are necessary and reasonable in relation to the project's objectives and scope.

2. Review and Selection Process: We remind potential applicants that in reviewing applications in any discretionary grant competition, the Secretary may consider, under 34 CFR 75.217(d)(3), the past performance of the applicant in carrying out a previous award, such as the applicant's use of funds, achievement of project objectives, and compliance with grant conditions. The Secretary may also consider whether the applicant failed to submit a timely performance report or submitted a report of unacceptable quality.

In addition, in making a competitive grant award, the Secretary requires various assurances including those applicable to Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department (34 CFR 100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23).

A panel of three non-Federal reviewers will review and score each application in accordance with the selection criteria listed in this notice from 34 CFR 607.22(a) through (g) and 34 CFR 75.210. A rank order funding slate will be made from this review. Awards will be made in rank order according to the average score received from the peer review and from the two competitive preference priorities.

Tie-breaker for Development Grants. In tie-breaking situations for development grants, in accordance with 20 U.S.C. 1057(b), we award one additional point to an application from an IHE that has an endowment fund of which the current market value, per FTE enrolled student, is less than the average current market value of the endowment funds, per FTE enrolled student, at comparable type institutions that offer similar instruction. We award one additional point to an application from an IHE that has expenditures for library materials per FTE enrolled student that are less than the average expenditure for library materials per FTE enrolled student at similar type institutions. We also add one additional point to an application from an IHE that proposes to carry out one or more of the following activities—

(1) Faculty development;

(2) Funds and administrative management;

(3) Development and improvement of academic programs;

(4) Acquisition of equipment for use in strengthening management and academic programs;

(5) Joint use of facilities such as libraries and laboratories; and

(6) Student services, including services that will assist in the education of special populations.

For the purpose of these funding considerations, we use 2017-2018 data.

If a tie remains after applying the tie-breaker mechanism above, priority will be given to applicants that have the lowest endowment values per FTE enrolled student.

3. Risk Assessment and Specific Conditions: Consistent with 2 CFR 200.205, before awarding grants under this program the Department conducts a review of the risks posed by applicants. Under 2 CFR 3474.10, the Secretary may impose specific conditions and, in appropriate circumstances, high-risk conditions on a grant if the applicant or grantee is not financially stable; has a history of unsatisfactory performance; has a financial or other management system that does not meet the standards in 2 CFR part 200, subpart D; has not fulfilled the conditions of a prior grant; or is otherwise not responsible.

4. Integrity and Performance System: If you are selected under this competition to receive an award that over the course of the project period may exceed the simplified acquisition threshold (currently $250,000), under 2 CFR 200.205(a)(2) we must make a judgment about your integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards—that is, the risk posed by you as an applicant—before we make an award. In doing so, we must consider any information about you that is in the integrity and performance system (currently referred to as the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS)), accessible through the System for Award Management. You may review and comment on any information about yourself that a Federal agency previously entered and that is currently in FAPIIS.

Please note that, if the total value of your currently active grants, cooperative agreements, and procurement contracts from the Federal Government exceeds $10,000,000, the reporting requirements in 2 CFR part 200, Appendix XII, require you to report certain integrity information to FAPIIS semiannually. Please review the requirements in 2 CFR part 200, Appendix XII, if this grant Start Printed Page 28533plus all the other Federal funds you receive exceed $10,000,000.

VI. Award Administration Information

1. Award Notices: If your application is successful, we notify your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators and send you a Grant Award Notification (GAN); or we may send you an email containing a link to access an electronic version of your GAN. We may notify you informally, also.

If your application is not evaluated or not selected for funding, we notify you.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements: We identify administrative and national policy requirements in the application package and reference these and other requirements in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.

We reference the regulations outlining the terms and conditions of an award in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice and include these and other specific conditions in the GAN. The GAN also incorporates your approved application as part of your binding commitments under the grant.

3. Open Licensing Requirements: Unless an exception applies, if you are awarded a grant under this competition, you will be required to openly license to the public grant deliverables created in whole, or in part, with Department grant funds. When the deliverable consists of modifications to pre-existing works, the license extends only to those modifications that can be separately identified and only to the extent that open licensing is permitted under the terms of any licenses or other legal restrictions on the use of pre-existing works. Additionally, a grantee or subgrantee that is awarded competitive grant funds must have a plan to disseminate these public grant deliverables. This dissemination plan can be developed and submitted after your application has been reviewed and selected for funding. For additional information on the open licensing requirements please refer to 2 CFR 3474.20.

4. Reporting: (a) If you apply for a grant under this competition, you must ensure that you have in place the necessary processes and systems to comply with the reporting requirements in 2 CFR part 170 should you receive funding under the competition. This does not apply if you have an exception under 2 CFR 170.110(b).

(b) At the end of your project period, you must submit a final performance report, including financial information, as directed by the Secretary. If you receive a multiyear award, you must submit an annual performance report that provides the most current performance and financial expenditure information as directed by the Secretary under 34 CFR 75.118. The Secretary may also require more frequent performance reports under 34 CFR 75.720(c). For specific requirements on reporting, please go to www.ed.gov/​fund/​grant/​apply/​appforms/​appforms.html.

5. Performance Measures: The Secretary has established the following key performance measures for assessing the effectiveness of SIP:

(a) The percentage change, over the five-year period, of the number of full-time degree-seeking undergraduates enrolled at SIP institutions. Note that this is a long-term measure that will be used to periodically gauge performance.

(b) The percentage of first-time, full-time degree-seeking undergraduate students at four-year SIP institutions who were in their first year of postsecondary enrollment in the previous year and are enrolled in the current year at the same SIP institution.

(c) The percentage of first-time, full-time degree-seeking undergraduate students at two-year SIP institutions who were in their first year of postsecondary enrollment in the previous year and are enrolled in the current year at the same SIP institution.

(d) The percentage of first-time, full-time degree-seeking undergraduate students enrolled at four-year SIP institutions graduating within six years of enrollment.

(e) The percentage of first-time, full-time degree-seeking undergraduate students enrolled at two-year SIP institutions graduating within three years of enrollment.

6. Continuation Awards: In making a continuation award under 34 CFR 75.253, the Secretary considers, among other things: Whether a grantee has made substantial progress in achieving the goals and objectives of the project; whether the grantee has expended funds in a manner that is consistent with its approved application and budget; and, if the Secretary has established performance measurement requirements, the performance targets in the grantee's approved application.

In making a continuation award, the Secretary also considers whether the grantee is operating in compliance with the assurances in its approved application, including those applicable to Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department (34 CFR 100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23).

VII. Other Information

Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document and a copy of the application package in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to one of the persons listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. You may access the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations via the Federal Digital System at www.govinfo.gov. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site.

You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at: www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.

Start Signature

Dated: June 14, 2019.

Diane Auer Jones,

Principal Deputy Under Secretary, Delegated to Perform the Duties of Under Secretary and Assistant Secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education.

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[FR Doc. 2019-13010 Filed 6-18-19; 8:45 am]

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