Notice of Funding Opportunity

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

Program Office:                               Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy, Bishkek

Funding Opportunity Title:             Media Small Grants Program

Announcement Type:                     Grant or Cooperative Agreement

Funding Opportunity Number:       STATE-BISHKEK-PAS-20-0005

Deadline for Applications:             May 6, 2020 (11:59 p.m. Bishkek Time)

The Selection Committee:              The Selection Committee anticipates meeting during May 2020.

CFDA:                                               19.900 – Assistance to Eastern Europe and Central Asia

CONTACT INFORMATION

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

B. For assistance with the requirements of this solicitation, contact Media Team at the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek by email at BishkekProjectProposals@state.gov

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION 2
  2. FEDERAL AWARD INFORMATION 4
  3. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION 4
  4. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION 5
  5. REVIEW AND SELECTION PROCESS 7
  6. FEDERAL AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION 8
  7. FEDERAL AWARDING AGENCY CONTACTS 9
  8. OTHER INFORMATION 9

A. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

 

The U.S. Embassy Bishkek Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce funding is available as specified below through the Embassy’s Media Small Grants Program.  This program supports the development of the Kyrgyz Republic’s media by competitively awarding small grants to Kyrgyz nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and associations working in the media sector and to independent media organizations. Awards will be made pending the availability of funds.

Background:

The Embassy’s Media Small Grants Program serves to support local civil innovative strategies that contribute to the following goals:

  • Strengthen regional security and stability and transnational threats;
  • Strengthen entrepreneurship and small business development initiatives;
  • Support a more inclusive and accountable democracy.

The U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section (PAS) in Bishkek is soliciting proposals for grants/cooperative agreements from Kyrgyz non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and associations working in the media sector and Kyrgyz independent media organizations.

PAS Priority Themes:

  1. Problem Statement: The rapid expansion of online information resources radically increased the reach of new media over the last decade. There is a critical need to promote strong norms of professional journalism, support investigative journalism and fact-checking, and improve digital literacy among the general public.
  1. Goal of this solicitation is to promote free flow of information and freedom of expression through support for independent and responsible journalism. Programs should aim at strengthening capacity and sustainability of media organizations to report with transparency and objectivity, maintain independence, build sustainability; and reduce self-censorship, particularly on sensitive topics such as religious tolerance, minorities, conflict, and governance.

Targeted independent media entities must be those that promote human rights, gender equality, rule of law, democratic processes, and government accountability, and that empower women, minorities, and other disadvantaged groups. Proposed programs should be innovative and clearly demonstrate how they will complement ongoing programs and avoid duplicating past efforts. They may include activities that improve upon or expand existing successful projects.

  1. Priority Target audiences: Media entities, media managers and professionals, social media influencers.
  2. Examples of project activities include but are not limited to:
  • Programs that encourage creation of original high-quality and locally relevant content through educating journalists on storytelling, new skills, new technologies, digital tools and digital security, and trends in reporting;
  • Training programs to develop skills of regional language journalists in critical analysis, investigative journalism and fact-checking and research in order to mitigate the spread of disinformation and misinformation;
  • Projects to develop skills of journalists and media influencers in reporting on specialized themes and developing positive messaging to address sensitive issues such as violent extremism, conflicts, minorities, government oversight;
  • Educational projects that would increase capacity of government press services, media organizations, journalists, and media influencers on crisis communication and reporting in crisis situations;
  • Projects on building partnership with civil society, business community, and governmental agencies and increasing capacity of stakeholders to develop common and coordinated strategies to effectively address burning issues;
  • Programs to develop and maintain online open-source platforms and applications to increase public awareness, effectiveness of citizen oversight of government, regulations, budget processes, and activities, and/or expand such programs to rural and remote areas;
  • Programs providing security/safety training for reporters on working in a difficult environment – particularly best practices adapted from lessons learned;
  • Educational programs to increase critical thinking and to improve digital and media literacy among general public ensuring access to credible information to help especially vulnerable groups make informed decisions.
  1. Activities that are NOT typically funded include, but are not limited to:
    • Profit-generating projects;
    • Scholarships to support educational opportunities or study for individuals;
    • Projects that duplicate existing projects or paying to complete activities begun with other funds;
    • Financial support for fundraising or fund development projects;
    • Projects that are inherently political in nature or that contain the appearance of partisanship/support to an individual or single party in electoral campaigns;
    • Political party and lobbying activities;
    • Projects that support specific religious activities;
    • Construction projects or infrastructure projects;
    • Medical or scientific research;
    • Charitable activity or humanitarian aid, and;
    • Microloans/microfinance projects, distribution of seed money for enterprises, and legal/land rights-focused programs.

Applicants should pay close attention to the Public Affairs Section’s goals, priority program areas, target audiences, and geographic locations when developing their proposals.

This program will be funded under the Foreign Assistance Act authorization.  All programming is subject to the statutory limitations of the funding determined.

B. FEDERAL AWARD INFORMATION

 

Funding Instrument Type:  Cooperative Agreement or Grant

Anticipated period of performance: up to 12 months

Floor of Award Amounts:  $15,000

Ceiling of Award Amounts:  $50,000

Number of Anticipated Awards: 2 – 6

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 Public Affairs Section administers the Media Small Grants Program.  This program supports the development of Country’s media institutions by competitively awarding small grants to:

  • Kyrgyz Republic-registered non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and associations working in media-related area;
  • Kyrgyz Republic-registered independent media organizations.

State bodies are encouraged to work with eligible NGOs and independent media organizations to submit applications.  American or other donor country organizations or individuals are not eligible for grants under this program.

The maximum grant award is $50,000, an average award would be around $30,000.

Previous grant experience should be documented in the organization’s proposal.

Cost Sharing or Matching

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

D. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

 

 Application Deadline: All applications must be received by May 6, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. Bishkek Time. This deadline is firm and is not a rolling deadline. If an applicant fails to meet the deadline noted above their application will be considered ineligible and will not be considered for funding.

Applications must be in English and in either Russian or Kyrgyz, and final grant agreements will be concluded in English. Budgets shall be submitted in U.S. dollars and final grant agreements will be conducted in U.S. dollars.

Application Submission Process:

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

Applicants may submit their application using submission methods below:

  1. Submitting all application materials directly to the following email address: BishkekProjectProposal@state.gov. The Funding Opportunity Title and Funding Opportunity Number must be included in the subject line of the email.

Applicants 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.

  1. Submitting all application materials directly to 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.

Applicants will receive an acknowledgement of receipt and a tracking number from Grants.gov with the successful transmission of their application. When PAS successfully retrieves the application from Grants.gov and acknowledges the download of submissions, Grants.gov will provide an electronic acknowledgement of receipt to the email address of the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR).

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
  • All documents are formatted to 8 ½ x 11 paper, and
  • All Microsoft Word documents are double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, with a minimum of 1-inch margins.

The following documents are required

  1. Proposal: Proposals should use the attached Bishkek AEECA Media Funds Application Form (Attachment 1);
  2. Bishkek AEECA Media Funds Theory of Change (ToC) (Attachment 2). All project proposals should demonstrate through the Theory of Change (ToC) template how they contribute to one of the above stated goals. The ToC is a specific type of 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;
  3. Bishkek AEECA Media Funds Budget Narrative (Attachment 3). Applicants must submit a detailed budget and budget narrative justification utilizing the template provided. 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.
  4. Attachments:
    1. a copy of applicant’s certificate of registration from the appropriate government organization;
    2. 1-page CV or resume of key personnel who are proposed for the project;
    3. 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;
    4. If your organization has a NICRA and includes NICRA charges in the budget, your latest NICRA should be included as a PDF file;
    5. Official permission letters, if required for project activities.

Please note:

  1. Other items NOT required/requested for submission, but which may be requested if your application is approved for funding include:
    1. Copies of an organization or program audit within the last two (2) years
    2. Copies of relevant human resources, financial, or procurement policies
    3. 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.
  2. The Embassy reserves the right to request any additional programmatic and/or financial information related to the proposal.

 Applications are due no later than May 6, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Bishkek Time. 

E. REVIEW AND SELECTION PROCESS

 

The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek will form a Selection Committee consisting of representatives from U.S. government agencies and community members to review submitted proposals. Once the application process is over, it may take up to four months to complete the review and approval process.  The Selection Committee reserves the right to reject applications for any reason.

Evaluation 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.

If a proposal is selected for funding, the Department of State has no obligation to provide any additional future funding. Renewal of an award to increase funding or extend the period of performance is at the 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 which will 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/m/a/ope/index.htm

Reporting

Recipients are required to quarterly 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.

G. FEDERAL AWARDING AGENCY CONTACTS

 

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

 

Guidelines for Budget Justification

Personnel and Fringe Benefits: Describe the wages, salaries, and benefits of temporary or permanent staff who will be working directly for the applicant on the project, and the percentage of their time that will be spent on the project.

Travel: Estimate the costs of travel and per diem for this project, for both program staff, consultants or speakers, and participants/beneficiaries. If the project involves international travel, include a brief statement of justification for that travel.

Equipment: Describe any machinery, furniture, or other personal property that is required for the project, which has a useful life of more than one year (or a life longer than the duration of the project), and costs at least $5,000 per unit.

Supplies: List and describe all the items and materials, including any computer devices, that are needed for the project. If an item costs more than $5,000 per unit, then put it in the budget under Equipment.

Contractual: Describe goods and services that the applicant plans to acquire through a contract with a vendor.  Also describe any sub-awards to non-profit partners that will help carry out the project activities.

Other Direct Costs: Describe other costs directly associated with the project, which do not fit in the other categories. For example, shipping costs for materials and equipment or applicable taxes. All “Other” or “Miscellaneous” expenses must be itemized and explained.

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. 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.