C5+1 – Notice of Funding Opportunity

Department of State – Embassy of the United States, Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic
Notice of Funding Opportunity

Program Office: Public Affairs Section of U.S. Embassy – Bishkek
Funding Opportunity Title: C5+1 Youth Council
Announcement Type: Cooperative Agreement or Grant
Funding Opportunity Number: STATE-BISHKEK-PAS-20-0006
Deadlines for Applications: August 15, 2020, at 23:59 PM Bishkek time.
CFDA: 19.040 – Public Diplomacy Programs

CONTACT INFORMATION

For questions relating to Grants.gov, please call the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726.
For assistance with the requirements of this solicitation, contact: BishkekProjectProposals@america.gov

The Selection Committee: All applicants will be notified of their selection status within two weeks of the application deadline.

A. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

The Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy Bishkek is pleased to announce funding is available as specified below through the Embassy’s Public Diplomacy Grants program.  Applications must be submitted by the deadline of August 15, 2020.  Awards will be made pending the availability of funds.

SUMMARY: The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek is seeking proposals for one-year grant, with the option to extend for two additional years, to administer the C5+1 Youth Council, a dynamic platform designed to build leadership skills among English speaking university students from Central Asia and Afghanistan while introducing them to and helping them engage with U.S. foreign policy priorities in the region through a leadership academy and teambuilding event, a series of YC-organized events for university-level students from throughout Central Asia and Afghanistan simulating real world multilateral international forums helping students think critically and engage with U.S policy priorities in the region, and an alumni networking and small grants program to further advance regional connectivity and integration, while providing economic support for a new generation of youth leaders who are YC alumni advance goals through community-based projects throughout Central Asia and Afghanistan. END SUMMARY

INTRODUCTION: Since 2015, the U.S. Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic has sponsored the C5+1 Youth Council (YC). This dynamic platform is designed to build leadership skills among English speaking university students from Central Asia and Afghanistan and help them engage with the following priority issues for the region: (1) security, with a focus on terrorist threats; (2) economics, with a focus on improving regional trade flows and prospects for U.S. trade and investment; and (3) shared regional environmental challenges.

Essential components of the C5+1 Youth Council are:

  1. A leadership academy and teambuilding event designed to introduce YC members to each other and teach basic project development, budgeting, event organization, and event management skills.
  2. A series of YC-organized events for university-level students from throughout Central Asia and Afghanistan simulating real world multilateral international forums helping students think critically and engage with U.S policy priorities in the region.
  3. Alumni networking and small grants program designed to further advance regional connectivity and integration, while providing economic support for a new generation of youth leaders who are YC alumni advance goals through community-based projects across Central Asia and Afghanistan.

KEY PROPOSAL ELEMENTS AND METHODOLOGY:

The YC program should advance the following goals and be carried out using the following methods:

Goal: The goal of this program is to increase connectivity and foster leadership skills for young student leaders through engagement on issues relevant to Central Asia and Afghanistan.

Objective 1: Promote Regional Integration and Cooperation 

  1. Build a YC Alumni network through conducting a minimum of one quarterly virtual or in-person events developed in cooperation with the local embassy and consulates and YC Alumni and a YC Alumni Reunion in Kyrgyzstan.
  2. Promote regional cooperation and integration through the YC alumni small grants program, which will support community-based projects throughout Central Asia and Afghanistan led by YC alumni related to security, with a focus on terrorist threats; economics, with a focus on improving regional trade flows and prospects for U.S. trade and investment; and environmental challenges in Central Asian countries and Afghanistan. The YC Alumni small grants program is required to engage C5+1 YC alumni and support their developing relationships with key leaders from Government agencies, local experts, Civil Society partners, and private companies in Central Asia and Afghanistan.
  3. Develop and implement YC member-led events simulating real world multilateral international forums helping students think critically and engage with U.S policy priorities in the region with required involvement of regional experts, students of Universities and High Schools, key youth decision-makers from Government agencies from Central Asian countries and Afghanistan.

Objective 2: Promote Grassroots Organizing to Address Central Asian and Afghan Regional Issues

Oversee development and implementation of projects and programs to help students think critically and engage with U.S policy priorities in the region organized by C5+1 Youth Council members in collaboration with Kyrgyz universities outside the capital and involving local youth, experts from Central Asia and Afghanistan, and key young decision makers from Kyrgyz government addressing the following issues:

  1. Countering violent extremism (CVE) – promoting best practices for regional approaches to CVE, and addressing media literacy, radicalization, and counter-messaging.
  2. Central Asia Business Competitiveness – increasing awareness and improving expertise in the area of regional connectivity, economic cooperation, and Central Asia and Afghanistan economic integration.
  3. The C5+1 Transport Corridor Development component – increasing awareness about the transport and logistics sectors of Central Asia and Afghanistan.
  4. The C5+1 Power the Future project – increasing awareness about environmental issues in Central Asia and Afghanistan and promoting transition to, adoption, and scale-up of low emission and advanced energy solutions. Implementing environmental projects and initiatives.
  5. The C5+1 Supporting National and Regional Adaptation Planning – discussing national adaptation plans that identify environmental risks and prioritize actions in Central Asia and Afghanistan.

Objective 3: Develop Leadership Skills Among Central Asian and Afghan Youth

Possible Activities: This could include virtual sessions on the YC platform, utilizing the Leadership academy, and meeting with USG officials

Priority Areas: 

Projects should engage Public Affairs’ key audiences:

Key Audiences:

  1. English speaking students of local Universities in towns of Kyrgyzstan (except Bishkek)
  2. English speaking students of Universities of Central Asian countries and Afghanistan
  3. English speaking students of High Schools of Central Asian countries and Afghanistan
  4. C5+1 YC Alumni working and studying in Civil Society, Academic Institutions, Business and Government in Central Asian countries and Afghanistan.

Secondary audiences:

  1. Key young decision makers from Government agencies of Central Asian countries and Afghanistan (18-35 age)
  2. Experts in three sectors of common interest – security, with a focus on terrorist threats; economics, with a focus on improving regional trade flows and prospects for U.S. trade and investment; and environmental challenges.
  3. Civil Society partners in Central Asian countries and Afghanistan.
  4. Sponsors among local private companies in Central Asian countries and Afghanistan.

In addition to the specific requirements listed above by program area, all proposals must:

  1. Clearly indicate the primary activity area for consideration;
  2. Focus on the key audiences and specified goals;
  3. Contribute to the integration and cooperation of youth (14-35 age) (in Central Asia and Afghanistan;
  4. Establish interactions or linkages between universities and high schools of Central Asian countries and Afghanistan;
  5. Clearly delineate how elements of their program will have a multiplier effect and be sustainable beyond the life of the grant;
  6. Provide a traditional and/or social media plan for raising awareness of program activities and outcome;
  7. Identify the cities/districts in which activities will take place;
  8. Identify specific outcomes to be achieved by the end of the grant period; Identify any tools (surveys, beneficiary interviews, focus groups, etc.) that will be developed for Monitoring and Evaluation purposes.

All project proposals should demonstrate through the Theory of Change (ToC) template how they contribute to the above stated goals. The ToC is a specific methodology for planning, participation, and evaluation that provides a comprehensive description and illustration of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. To learn more about the ToC model please visit https://usaidlearninglab.org/lab-notes/what-thing-called-theory-change.

Applicants must also demonstrate competency to manage all financial aspects of the project, including participant costs and transparent arrangements of sub-grant relationships with partner organizations, if applicable.

B. FEDERAL AWARD INFORMATION

Funding Instrument Type:  Cooperative Agreement or Grant
Anticipated period of performance: 36 months
Number of awards anticipated: 1 (Pending availability of funds)
Floor of Individual Award Amounts:  $90,000 1 year program/ $270,000 3 year program
Ceiling of Individual Award Amounts:  $120,000 1 year program/$360,000 3 year program

The U.S. Embassy Bishkek Public Affairs Section reserves the right to award less or more than the funds described in the absence of worthy applications or under such other circumstances as it may deem to be in the best interest of the U.S. Government.

Project and Budget Periods:  The Public Affairs Section will entertain applications for continuation grants funded under these awards, beyond the initial budget period, on a noncompetitive basis, subject to availability of funds, satisfactory progress of the program, and a determination that continued funding would be in the best interest of the U.S. Department of State. Successful programs that are easily scaled up, replicated or extended for greater impact will be favorably considered for grant continuations or amendments.

C. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

The U.S. Embassy Bishkek Public Affairs Section will accept applications from:

  • Kyrgyz Republic-registered universities and educational institutions
  • Kyrgyz Republic-registered not-for-profit civil society organizations (CSOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and associations, think tanks, and academic institutions,
  • U.S non-governmental organizations (NGO), educational institutions, seeking funding to support cultural and/or educational programs in the Kyrgyz Republic and partnering with Kyrgyz Republic-registered organizations.

Successful proposals will address project priorities, essential elements, the U.S. Embassy’s goals, and key audiences and provide separate proposals and budgets for a one-year grant, as well as a three-year grant.

Due to the volume of applicants and inquiries, PAS does not accept letters of intent, concept papers, or requests for meetings prior to application.

Cost Sharing or Matching
Inclusion of cost share is not a requirement of this opportunity, nor will it affect the proposal’s competitiveness.

Other Eligibility Requirements
In order to be eligible to receive an award, all organizations must have a unique entity identifier (Data Universal Numbering System/DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet), as well as a valid registration on www.SAM.gov

D. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Application Deadline
Applications may be received on a rolling basis until August 15, 2020 at 12:59 PM Bishkek time. The Selection Committee anticipates meetings within two weeks from the deadline of August 15, 2020.

Please follow all instructions below carefully. Proposals that do not meet the requirements of this announcement will not be considered.

Application Submission Process: Applicants may submit their application using Submission Methods below:

Submission Method A: Submitting all application materials directly to the following email address: BishkekProjectProposals@america.gov.Applicants opting to submit applications via email to BishkekProjectProposals@america.gov  must include the Funding Opportunity Title and Funding Opportunity Number in the subject line of the email.

Submission Method B: Submitting all application materials through Grants.gov.  For those opting to apply through Grants.gov, thorough instructions on the application process are available at http://www.grants.gov. For questions relating to Grants.gov, please call the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or go to https://www.grants.gov/support.html. Please note that BishkekProjectProposals@america.gov is unable to assist with technical questions or problems applicants experience with Grants.gov.

Applicants utilizing Grants.gov must register with Grants.gov prior to submitting an application. Registering with Grants.gov is a one-time process; however, it could take as long as two weeks to have the registration validated and confirmed. Please begin the registration process immediately to ensure that the process is completed well in advance of the deadline for applications. Until that process is complete, you will not be issued a user password for Grants.gov, which is required for application submission.

Proof of Submission

Applicant can expect a confirmation of receipt from PAS within 10 workdays. If the applicant does not receive an email confirmation in that time, they should contact BishkekProjectProposals@state.gov to ensure the proposal was received.

Technical Requirements

Address to Request Application Package
This Notification of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) and any amendments can be found at www.grants.gov (search by Opportunity Number).

Please follow all instructions below carefully. Proposals that do not meet the requirements of this announcement or fail to comply with the stated requirements will be ineligible.

Content of Application

Please ensure:

  • The proposal clearly addresses the goals and objectives of this funding opportunity
  • All documents are in English
  • All budgets are in U.S. dollars
  • All pages are numbered

The following documents are required:

i. Mandatory application forms:  Standard Forms 424 are available, along with guidance for completing these forms, at: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/forms.html under the heading, “SF-424 Family.”

  1. SF-424 (Application for Federal Assistance – organizations); 
  2. SF424A (Budget Information for Non-Construction programs);
  3. SF424B;
  4. Application Narrative Form (Attachment 1);
  5. Theory of Change (Attachment 2);
  6. Budget Narrative (Attachment 3).

ii. Summary Page: Cover sheet stating the applicant name and organization, proposal date, project title, project period, proposed start and end date, and brief purpose of the project.

iii. Proposal: Proposals should use the attached application template (Attachment 1).

iv. Budget Justification Narrative: Applicants must submit a detailed budget and budget narrative justification utilizing the template provided (Attachment 2). Line item expenditures should be listed in the greatest possible detail. Personnel salaries should define the percentage of time each position will allocate to the project and the rate of pay. Budgets shall be submitted in U.S. dollars and final grant agreements will be conducted in U.S. dollars.

v. Attachments:

  • 1-page CV or resume of key personnel who are proposed for the project
  • Letters of support should be included for sub-awardees or other partners. The letters must identify the type of relationship to be entered into (formal or informal), the roles and responsibilities of each partner in relation to the proposed project activities, and the expected result of the partnership. The individual letters cannot exceed 1 page in length.
  • If your organization has a NICRA and includes NICRA charges in the budget, your latest NICRA should be included as a PDF file.
  • Official permission letters, if required for project activities

Please note:

Other items NOT required/requested for submission, but which may be requested if your application is approved for funding include:

  • Copies of an organization or program audit within the last two (2) years
  • Copies of relevant human resources, financial, or procurement policies
  • Copies of other relevant organizational policies or documentation that would help the Department determine your organization’s capacity to manage a federal grant award overseas.

The Embassy reserves the right to request any additional programmatic and/or financial information related to the proposal.

Applications are accepted in English only and final grant agreements will be concluded in English.

Funding Restrictions

Construction: This award does not allow for construction activities or costs.

Pre-award Costs: Pre-award costs will be considered on a case by case basis as an allowable expense for this funding opportunity.

Program Activities: Activities that are not typically funded include, but are not limited to:

  1. profit-generating projects;
  2. scholarships to support educational opportunities or study for individuals*;
  3. paying to complete activities begun with other funds;
  4. financial support for fundraising or fund development projects;
  5. projects that are inherently political in nature or that contain the appearance of partisanship/support to an individual or single party in electoral campaigns;
  6. political party and lobbying activities;
  7. projects that support specific religious activities; and,
  8. microloans/microfinance projects, distribution of seed money for enterprises, and legal/land rights-focused programs are not allowable.

Individuals interested in educational exchange or study opportunities in the United States should visit https://kg.usembassy.gov for more information on available programs.

E. REVIEW AND SELECTION PROCESS

Criteria

Each application will be evaluated and rated on the basis of the evaluation criteria outlined below.

Quality and Feasibility of the Program Idea – 20 points:  The program idea should be well developed, with sufficient detail about how project activities will be carried out. The proposals should demonstrate originality and outline clear, achievable objectives. The proposal includes a reasonable implementation timeline. The project scope is appropriate and clearly defined.

Organizational Capacity and Record on Previous Grants – 15 points:

  • The organization has expertise in the subject area and demonstrates the ability to perform the proposed activities.
  • The organization or individual demonstrates capacity for successful planning and responsible fiscal management. This includes a financial management system and a bank account.
  • Applicants who have received grant funds previously have been compliant with applicable rules and regulations.
  • Where partners are described, the applicant details each partner’s respective role and provides curriculum vitae (CVs) for persons responsible for the project and financial administration. Proposed personnel, institutional resources, and partners are adequate and appropriate

Project Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives – 25 points: The project plan is well developed, with sufficient detail about how activities will be carried out. The proposal specifies target audiences, participant recruitment, and geographic areas of implementation. The proposal outlines clear, achievable objectives. The proposal includes a reasonable implementation timeline. The project scope is appropriate and clearly defined.

Budget – 10 points: The budget and narrative justification are sufficiently detailed. Costs are reasonable in relation to the proposed activities and anticipated results. The budget is realistic, accounting for all necessary expenses to achieve proposed activities. The results and proposed outcomes justify the total cost of the project. Budget items are reasonable, allowable, and allocable.

Monitoring and Evaluation – 20 points: Applicant demonstrates ability to measure program success against key indicators and provides milestones to indicate progress toward goals outlined in the proposal.

Sustainability/Multiplier Effect – 10 points: Project activities will continue to have positive impact after the end of the project.

F. FEDERAL AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

Federal Award Notices

The grant award or cooperative agreement will be written, signed, awarded, and administered by the Grants Officer. The assistance award agreement is the authorizing document and it will be provided to the recipient for review and signature by email. The recipient may only start incurring project expenses beginning on the start date shown on the grant award document signed by the Grants Officer.

This NOFO is subject to funds availability. If a proposal is funded, the Department of State has no obligation to provide any additional future funding in connection with the award.  Renewal of an award to increase funding or extend the period of performance is at the total discretion of the Department of State.

The Federal government is not obligated to make any Federal award as a result of the announcement. Issuance of this NOFO does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the U.S. government, nor does it commit the U.S. government to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of proposals. Further, the U.S. government reserves the right to reject any or all proposals received. The U.S. government also reserves the right to make an award in excess of the award ceiling.

Administrative and National Policy Requirements

Terms and Conditions: Before submitting an application, applicants should review all the terms and conditions and required certifications that apply to this award, to ensure that they will be able to comply.  These include: 2 CFR 200, 2 CFR 600, Certifications and Assurances, and the Department of State Standard Terms and Conditions, all of which are available at:  https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/271865.pdf

Reporting

Recipients are required to submit quarterly reports to program progress and financial reports throughout the project period. Progress and financial reports are due 30 days after the reporting period. Final certified programmatic and financial reports are due 90 days after the close of the project period.

All reports are to be submitted electronically.

Awardees that are deemed to be high risk may be required to submit more extensive and frequent reports until their high-risk designation has been removed.

The Awardee must also provide the Embassy on an annual basis an inventory of all the U.S. government provided equipment using the SF428 form. For awards with a period of performance less than one year, the SF428 will be required at the end of the award.

G. FEDERAL AWARDING AGENCY CONTACTS

If you have any questions about the grant application process, please contact: BishkekProjectProposals@america.gov.

For questions relating to Grants.gov, please call the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726.

To inquire about the process for obtaining a Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA) contact Donald Hunter at HunterDS@state.gov.

H. OTHER INFORMATION

Monitoring and Evaluation:

The Monitoring and Evaluation component of the proposal will outline in detail how the proposal’s activities will advance the program’s goals and objectives (listed above). A strong proposal will include the following

  1. Any outputs and outcomes the grantee expects to occur because of their program. Outputs are direct actions or products that result from program activities, such as articles written, films shown, items produced, people trained, etc. Outcomes are program results such as: change in knowledge, awareness, and attitudes; improved quality of services; increased capacity at a school, group; etc.
  2. How the grantee will know those outputs and outcomes are occurring (surveys, interviews, observations, success stories, etc.). For example: If the program expects that a teacher-training program will improve the skills of a teacher, a proposal may explain the skills the teacher would gain and plan to perform a pre- and post-survey that would show a change in understanding as a result of the program. The proposal may also include a plan to collect teacher’s stories regarding how program participation affected them.
  3. A schedule of when grant activities will occur (such as participant selection, workshops, travel, lectures, trainings, etc.) and when the grantee will check the grant’s progress to know how it is performing. Results of those checks should be reported in the quarterly reports.
  4. A plan to include the grantee’s reflection of how their program, as a whole, contributed to the program’s goals and objectives. As applicable, a strong final report would be supported by qualitative information such as success stories, behaviors changed, lessons learned, and results obtained.

Branding Requirements: As a condition of receipt of a grant award, all materials produced pursuant to the award, including training materials, materials for recipients or materials to communicate or promote with foreign audiences a program, event, project, or some other activity under an agreement, including but not limited to invitations to events, press materials, and backdrops, podium signs, etc. must be marked appropriately with the standard, rectangular U.S. flag in a size and prominence equal to (or greater than) any other logo or identity, or the U.S. Embassy Bishkek logo, as determined on a case by case basis. Note: Exceptions to the branding requirement are allowable under certain conditions. If an applicant is notified that their award has been chosen for funding, the Grants Officer will determine, in consultation with the applicant, if an exception is applicable.

Copyrights and Proprietary Information
If any of the information contained in your application is proprietary, please note in the footer of the appropriate pages that the information is Confidential – Proprietary. Applicants should also note what parts of the application, program, concept, etc. are covered by copyright(s), trademark(s), or any other intellectual property rights and provide copies of the relevant documentation to support these copyrights.