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Notice

Applications for New Awards; High School Equivalency Program

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Education.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

The Department of Education (Department) is issuing a notice inviting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2020 for the High School Equivalency Program (HEP), Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 84.141A. This notice relates to the approved information collection under OMB control number 1894-0006.

DATES:

Applications Available: December 2, 2019.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: January 28, 2020.

Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: March 30, 2020.

Pre-Application Webinar Information: The Department will hold a pre-application workshop via webinar for prospective applicants on December 11, 2019, 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

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:

Steven Carr, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 3E321, Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (202) 260-2067. Email: steven.carr@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 HEP is designed to assist migratory or seasonal farmworkers (or immediate family members of such workers) to obtain the equivalent of a secondary school diploma and subsequently to gain improved employment, enter into military service, or be placed in an institution of higher education (IHE) or other postsecondary education or training.

Priorities: This competition includes two competitive preference priorities and one invitational priority. Competitive Preference Priority 1 is from the Secretary's Final Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grant Programs (Supplemental Priorities) published in the Federal Register on March 2, 2018 (83 FR 9096). In accordance with 34 CFR 75.105(b)(2)(iv), Competitive Preference Priority 2 is from section 418A(e) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) (20 U.S.C. 1070d-2(e)). The purpose of the program aligns with priority 9(c) of the Supplemental Priorities, which promotes projects aimed at creating or supporting alternative paths to a regular high school diploma (as defined in section 8101(43) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended) or recognized postsecondary credentials (as defined in section 3(52) of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) for students whose environments outside of school, disengagement with a traditional curriculum, homelessness, or other challenges make it more difficult for them to complete an educational program.

Competitive Preference Priorities: For FY 2020 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 5 points to an application for Competitive Preference Priority 1 and up to an additional 15 points to an Start Printed Page 65792application for Competitive Preference Priority 2, depending on how well the application meets these priorities.

These priorities are:

Competitive Preference Priority 1—Fostering Flexible and Affordable Paths to Obtaining Knowledge and Skills. (Up to 5 points)

Projects that are designed to address improving collaboration between education providers and employers to ensure student learning objectives are aligned with the skills or knowledge required for employment in in-demand industry sectors or occupations (as defined in section 3(23) of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014).[1]

Note: Competitive Preference Priority 1 must be addressed under selection criterion (b) “Quality of the project design.”

Competitive Preference Priority 2—Consideration of Prior Experience. (Up to 15 points)

Projects that are expiring (current HEP grantees in their final budget period) will be considered for additional points under Competitive Preference Priority 2. In accordance with section 418A(e) of the HEA, the Department will award up to 15 points for this priority. The Secretary will consider the applicant's prior experience in implementing its expiring HEP project, based on performance information to include, but not limited to, the percentage of HEP participants exiting the program having received a High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma and the percentage of HSE diploma recipients who enter postsecondary education or training programs, upgraded employment, or the military.

Note: Competitive Preference Priority 2 applies to expiring projects (current HEP grantees in their final budget period) that received their current HEP award in FY 2015.

Invitational Priority: For FY 2020 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 invitational priority a competitive or absolute preference over other applications.

This priority is:

Projects proposed by “novice applicants.” For the purposes of this priority, a novice applicant is any applicant that has never received a grant or subgrant under HEP.

Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1070d-2.

Applicable Regulations: (a) The Education Department General Administrative Regulations in 34 CFR parts 75, 77, 79, 81, 82, 84, 86, 97, 98, and 99. (b) The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 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 206. (e) The Migrant Education Program (MEP) definitions in 34 CFR 200.81. (f) The National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP) definitions in 20 CFR 685.110 and eligibility regulations in 20 CFR 685.320. (g) The Supplemental Priorities.

Note: The regulations in 34 CFR part 86 apply to IHEs only.

Note: The MEP definitions and NFJP definitions and eligibility regulations apply to individuals seeking to qualify for HEP based on past participation in the MEP or NFJP.

II. Award Information

Type of Award: Discretionary grants.

Estimated Available Funds: $5,700,000.

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.

Estimated Range of Awards: $180,000-$475,000.

Estimated Average Size of Awards: $475,000.

Maximum Award: We will not make an award exceeding $475,000 for a single budget period of 12 months. Under 34 CFR 75.104(b) the Secretary may reject without consideration or evaluation any application that proposes a project funding level that exceeds the stated maximum award amount.

Minimum Award: The Department will not make an award for less than the amount of $180,000 for a single budget period of 12 months. Under section 418A of the HEA, the Secretary is prohibited from making an award for less than the stated award amount. Therefore, we will reject any application that proposes a HEP award that is less than the stated minimum award amount.

Estimated Number of Awards: 12.

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

Project Period: Up to 60 months (five 12-month budget periods). Except under extraordinary circumstances, the Secretary shall award grants for a five-year period. Applicants under this competition are required to provide detailed budget information for each year of the proposed project and for the total grant, and we may reject any application that does not do so as reflected on the applicant's ED 524 form, Section A, submitted as a part of the application.

III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants: An IHE or a private nonprofit organization may apply for a grant to operate a HEP project. If a private nonprofit organization other than an IHE applies for a HEP grant, that agency must plan the project in cooperation with an IHE and must propose to operate some aspects of the project with the facilities of that IHE.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching: This competition does not require cost sharing or matching. However, consistent with 34 CFR 75.700, which requires an applicant to comply with its approved application, an applicant that proposes non-Federal matching funds and is awarded a grant must provide those funds for each year that the funds are proposed.

3. Subgrantees: Under 34 CFR 75.708(b) and (c) a grantee under this competition may award subgrants—to directly carry out project activities described in its application—to the following types of entities: IHEs and nonprofit organizations. The grantee may award subgrants to entities it has identified in an approved application or that it selects through a competition under procedures established by the grantee.

4. Other: Projects funded under this competition must budget for a three-day Office of Migrant Education annual meeting for HEP Directors in the Washington, DC area during each year Start Printed Page 65793of the project period. Such expenses are allowable uses of grant funds and may be included in the proposed project budget.

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. Submission of Proprietary Information: Given the types of projects that may be proposed in applications for HEP, your application may include business information that you consider proprietary. In 34 CFR 5.11 we define “business information” and describe the process we use in determining whether any of that information is proprietary and, thus, protected from disclosure under Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552, as amended).

Because we plan to make successful applications available to the public, you may wish to request confidentiality of business information.

Consistent with Executive Order 12600, please designate in your application any information that you believe is exempt from disclosure under Exemption 4. In the appropriate Appendix section of your application, under “Other Attachments Form,” please list the page number or numbers on which we can find this information. For additional information please see 34 CFR 5.11(c).

3. Intergovernmental Review: This competition is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. Information about Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs under Executive Order 12372 is in the application package for this competition.

4. Funding Restrictions: We reference regulations outlining funding restrictions in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.

5. Recommended Page Limit: The application narrative is where you, the applicant, address the selection criteria that reviewers use to evaluate your application. We recommend that you (1) limit the application narrative to no more than 25 pages and (2) 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, including 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 or 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 the cover sheet; the budget section, including the narrative budget justification; the assurances and certifications; or the one-page abstract, the resumes, the bibliography, or the letters of support. However, the recommended page limit does apply to all of the application narrative.

V. Application Review Information

1. Selection Criteria: The selection criteria for this competition are from 34 CFR 75.210 and are as follows:

(a) Need for project (Up to 10 points).

(1) The Secretary considers the need for the proposed project.

(2) In determining the need for the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(i) The magnitude of the need for the services to be provided or the activities to be carried out by the proposed project. (Up to 5 points)

(ii) The extent to which the proposed project will focus on serving or otherwise addressing the needs of disadvantaged individuals. (Up to 5 points)

(b) Quality of the project design (Up to 28 points).

(1) The Secretary considers the quality of the design of the proposed project.

(2) In determining the quality of the design of the proposed project, the Secretary considers one or more of the following factors:

(i) The extent to which the goals, objectives, and outcomes to be achieved by the proposed project are clearly specified and measurable. (Up to 7 points)

(ii) The extent to which the design of the proposed project is appropriate to, and will successfully address, the needs of the target population or other identified needs. (Up to 7 points)

(iii) The extent to which the proposed project will establish linkages with other appropriate agencies and organizations providing services to the target population. (Up to 7 points)

(iv) The extent to which the proposed project demonstrates a rationale (as defined in 34 CFR 77.1(c)). (Up to 7 points)

(c) Quality of project services (Up to 20 points).

(1) The Secretary considers the quality of the services to be provided by the proposed project.

(2) In determining the quality of the services to be provided by the proposed project, the Secretary considers the quality and sufficiency of strategies for ensuring equal access and treatment for eligible project participants who are members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability. (Up to 3 points)

(3) In addition, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(i) The extent to which the services to be provided by the proposed project are appropriate to the needs of the intended recipients or beneficiaries of those services. (Up to 6 points)

(ii) The extent to which the services to be provided by the proposed project involve the collaboration of appropriate partners for maximizing the effectiveness of project services. (Up to 5 points)

(iii) The likely impact of the services to be provided by the proposed project on the intended recipients of those services. (Up to 6 points)

(d) Quality of project personnel (Up to 10 points).

(1) The Secretary considers the quality of the personnel who will carry out the proposed project.

(2) In determining the quality of project personnel, the Secretary considers the extent to which the applicant encourages applications for employment from persons who are members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability. (Up to 2 points)

(3) In addition, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(i) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience, of the project director or principal investigator. (Up to 5 points)

(ii) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience, of key project personnel. (Up to 3 points)

(e) Adequacy of resources (Up to 12 points).

(1) The Secretary considers the adequacy of resources for the proposed project.

(2) In determining the adequacy of resources for the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:Start Printed Page 65794

(i) The adequacy of support, including facilities, equipment, supplies, and other resources, from the applicant organization or the lead applicant organization. (Up to 4 points)

(ii) The relevance and demonstrated commitment of each partner in the proposed project to the implementation and success of the project. (Up to 4 points)

(iii) The extent to which the costs are reasonable in relation to the objectives, design, and potential significance of the proposed project. (Up to 4 points)

(f) Quality of the project evaluation (Up to 20 points).

(1) The Secretary considers the quality of the evaluation to be conducted of the proposed project.

(2) In determining the quality of the evaluation, the Secretary considers the following factors:

(i) The extent to which the methods of evaluation are thorough, feasible, and appropriate to the goals, objectives, and outcomes of the proposed project. (Up to 10 points)

(ii) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will provide performance feedback and permit periodic assessment of progress toward achieving intended outcomes. (Up to 5 points)

(iii) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will, if well implemented, produce promising evidence (as defined in 34 CFR 77.1(c)) about the project's effectiveness. (Up to 5 points)

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)(ii), 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).

Additional factors we consider in selecting an application for an award are in section 418A of the HEA. In accordance with section 418A, the Secretary makes HEP awards based on the number, quality, and promise of the applications. Additionally, the Secretary will consider the need to provide an equitable geographic distribution of HEP awards.

3. Risk Assessment and Specific Conditions: Consistent with 2 CFR 200.205, before awarding grants under this competition 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 plus 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: Under the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA), the Department developed the following performance measures to evaluate the overall effectiveness of HEP: (1) The percentage of HEP participants exiting the program Start Printed Page 65795having received a HSE diploma (GPRA 1), and (2) the percentage of HSE diploma recipients who enter postsecondary education or training programs, upgraded employment, or the military (GPRA 2).

Applicants must propose annual targets for these measures in their applications. The national target for GPRA 1 for FY 2020 is that 69 percent of HEP participants exit the program having received an HSE credential. The national target for GPRA 2 for FY 2020 is that 80 percent of HEP HSE diploma recipients will enter postsecondary education or training programs, upgraded employment, or the military. The national targets for subsequent years may be adjusted based on additional baseline data. The peer reviewers will score related selection criteria on the basis of how well an applicant addresses these GPRA measures. Therefore, applicants will want to consider how to demonstrate a sound capacity to provide reliable data on the GPRA measures, including the project's annual performance targets for addressing the GPRA performance measures, as is required by the OMB-approved annual performance report that is included in the application package. All grantees will be required to submit, as part of their annual performance report, information with respect to these GPRA performance measures.

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 the program contact person 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 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 search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.

Start Signature

Dated: November 25, 2019.

Frank T. Brogan,

Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

Footnotes

1.  Section 3(23) of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) defines the term “in-demand industry sector or occupation” as (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. Under section 3(23) of WIOA, the State board, or local board, as appropriate, determine whether an industry sector or occupation is in-demand using State and regional business and labor market projects, including the use of labor market information.

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[FR Doc. 2019-25893 Filed 11-27-19; 8:45 am]

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