U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE U.S. EMBASSY, Yerevan Notice of Funding Opportunity
Funding Opportunity Title: Democracy Commission Small Grants Program Competition Funding Opportunity Number: DemCom-FY18-03
Deadline for Applications: August 1, 2018 CFDA
Number: 19.900 Total
Amount Available: Up to $300,000 pending the availability of funds
The U.S. Embassy, Yerevan of the U.S. Department of State announces an open competition for proposals that aim to develop democracy, promote respect for human rights, and support civic education in Armenia. Please carefully follow all instructions below.
The United States Embassy is pleased to announce the third round of the 2018 Democracy Commission Small Grants Program competition. The program supports initiatives that develop democracy, promote respect for human rights, and support civic education in Armenia.
Special consideration will be given to proposals that focus on one or more of the following:
• Support transparency and accountability in governance and fight against corruption;
• Inform and engage the public on the elections process to improve voter awareness and promote transparent, free, and fair elections;
• Develop independent, diverse, and pluralistic media in Armenia, including investigative journalism.
All projects should explain how the proposed activities impact Armenia’s democratic development and further the long-term goals of the organization. Project proposals should describe specific objectives and expected outcomes. Proposals focused primarily on training or capacity building will not be considered unless the training will lead to concrete, measurable outcomes. Collaborative projects between partnering NGOs are strongly encouraged.
Participants and Audiences: Please be specific when mentioning the target audience(s) of your proposed project, including demographic information and the approximate number of beneficiaries to be directly and indirectly impacted by project activities.
FEDERAL AWARD INFORMATION
Length of performance period: 3 to 12 months Number of awards anticipated: up to 10 awards, depending on budget request Award amounts: awards may range from a minimum of $5,000 to a maximum of $50,000 Total expected funding available: $300,000 (pending the availability of funds) Type of Funding: FY17/18 Assistance Europe Eurasia Central Asia under the Foreign Assistance Act Anticipated program start date: October 1, 2018
This notice is subject to the availability of funds.
Funding Instrument Type: Grant, Fixed Amount Award, or Cooperative agreement. Cooperative agreements are different from grants in that bureau/embassy staff are more actively involved in the grant implementation.
Program Performance Period: Proposed programs should be complete by October 1, 2019. The Department of State will entertain applications for continuation grants funded under these awards beyond the initial budget period on a non-competitive basis subject to the 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.
1. Eligible Applicants:
The following organizations are eligible to apply:
• Armenian not-for-profit organizations, including think tanks and civil society/non-governmental organizations;
• Independent media outlets registered in Armenia.
2. Cost Sharing or Matching:
Cost share or Matching is not required.
3. 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. Please see Section D.3 for information on how to obtain these registrations.
APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION
1. All applications must be written in English and submitted by August 1, 2018, 18:00 local time, using the application portal available at the following link: https://www.usa.am/forms/site/view?id=9680566097e57b46287c5afe0508511d
Only applications submitted before the deadline will be considered for funding. After submitting the application electronically, the portal will notify the applicants about their successful submission.
• 1-page CV or resume of key personnel who are proposed for the program;
• Letters of support from program partners describing the roles and responsibilities of each partner;
• If your organization has a NICRA and includes NICRA charges in the budget, your latest NICRA should be included as a PDF file;
• Official registration documents.
3. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM.gov)
Required Registrations: Any applicant listed on the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS) in the System for Award Management (SAM) is not eligible to apply for an assistance award in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2
CFR 180 that implement Executive Orders 12549 (3 CFR, 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 CFR, 1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension.” Additionally, no entity listed on the EPLS can participate in any activities under an award. All applicants are strongly encouraged to review the EPLS in SAM to ensure that no ineligible entity is included.
All organizations applying for grants must obtain these registrations. All are free of charge:
• Unique entity identifier from Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS number)
• NCAGE/CAGE code
• www.SAM.gov registration
Step 1: Apply for a DUNS number and an NCAGE number (these can be completed simultaneously)
DUNS application: Organizations must have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number from Dun & Bradstreet. If your organization does not have one already, you may obtain one by calling 1-866-705-5711 or visiting http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform.
NCAGE application: Application page here: https://eportal.nspa.nato.int/AC135Public/scage/CageList.aspx Instructions for the NCAGE application process: https://eportal.nspa.nato.int/AC135Public/Docs/US%20Instructions%20for%20NSPA%20NCAGE.pdf
For NCAGE help from within the U.S., call 1-888-227-2423 For NCAGE help from outside the U.S., call 1-269-961-7766 Email NCAGE@dlis.dla.mil for any problems in getting an NCAGE code.
Step 2: After receiving the NCAGE Code, proceed to register in SAM.gov by logging onto: https://www.sam.gov. SAM registration must be renewed annually.
4. Submission Dates and Times
Applications are due no later than August 1, 2018.
5. Funding Restrictions
The funds requested under this program CANNOT fund: partisan political activity; humanitarian aid and charities or charitable activities; scientific research; fundraising campaigns; commercial projects; trade activities; conferences and individual trips abroad; projects aimed primarily at the institutional development of the organization. Please note that award funds cannot be used to purchase alcoholic beverages.
6. Other Submission Requirements
Applications and application materials must be submitted using the application portal set up for this round of competition. Please see Section D.1 for the link.
Please visit the U.S. Embassy Yerevan website for more specific information about the grant NOFO: https://www.usa.am/announce/demcomnofo.pdf .
APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION
Each application will be evaluated and rated on the basis of the evaluation criteria outlined below.
Proposals will be evaluated according to the project’s relevance to the Democracy Commission Small Grants Program goals; the extent to which the project has clearly formulated objectives, target groups, and expected outcomes; and the ability of the applying organization to carry out the project aims.
Quality and Feasibility of the Program Idea – 25 points: The program idea is well developed, with detail about how program activities will be carried out. The proposal includes a reasonable implementation timeline.
Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives – 30 points: Goals and objectives are clearly stated and program approach is likely to provide maximum impact in achieving the proposed results.
Budget – 10 points: The budget justification is 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.
Expected Results and Project’s Sustainability – 20 points: Program activities will continue to have positive impact after the end of the program. Applicant demonstrates it is able to measure program success against key indicators and provides milestones to indicate progress toward goals outlined in the proposal. The program includes output and outcome indicators, and shows how and when those will be measured.
Organizational Capacity and Record on Previous Grants – 15 points: The organization has expertise in its stated field and has the internal controls in place to manage federal funds. This includes a financial management system and a bank account.
2. Review and Selection Process
A committee will evaluate all eligible applications. Final approvals from responsible offices at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC, are obtained before the grants are signed.
3. Anticipated Announcement and Federal Award Dates
September 15, 2018
FEDERAL AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION
1. 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 program 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.
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.
Payments will be made in general in two segments. An initial segment will be authorized to initiate the project. The applicant must provide an interim report about the use of the first segment of funds before the second segment is released.
1. 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.statebuy.state.gov/fa/pages/home.aspx Note the U.S Flag branding and marking requirements in the Standard Terms and Conditions.
Reporting Requirements: Recipients will be required to submit financial reports and program reports. The award document will specify how often these reports must be submitted. All recipients must submit a formal report to the Grants Officer upon completion of the project. The report should discuss what was done, whether the project was successful from the applicant's perspective and how it might be improved in the future. Copies of video materials, CDs and other video and audio aids generated during the implementation of the project attesting to the success of the grant activities are welcome, and sometimes required indeed. An accounting of the use of the grant funds must also be included. The information from this report will enable the Democracy Commission to better evaluate future proposals.
G. FEDERAL AWARDING AGENCY CONTACTS If you have any questions about the grant application process, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 program, and the percentage of their time that will be spent on the program.
Travel: Estimate the costs of travel and per diem for this program, for program staff, consultants or speakers, and participants/beneficiaries. If the program 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 program, which has a useful life of more than one year (or a life longer than the duration of the program), 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 program. 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 program activities.
Other Direct Costs: Describe other costs directly associated with the program, 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.
Indirect Costs: These are costs that cannot be linked directly to the program activities, such as overhead costs needed to help keep the organization operating. If your organization has a Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate (NICRA) and includes NICRA charges in the budget, attach a copy of your latest NICRA. Organizations that have never had a NICRA may request indirect costs of 10% of the modified total direct costs as defined in 2 CFR 200.68.
“Cost Sharing” refers to contributions from the organization or other entities other than the U.S. Embassy. It also includes in-kind contributions such as volunteers’ time and donated venues.
Embassy of the United States of America
DEMOCRACY COMMISSION SMALL GRANTS PROGRAM
The purpose of the program is to award small sums of money for specific projects and initiatives that support the development of democratic institutions in Armenia. Grants will be awarded to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local independent media outlets. To be eligible for consideration, every applicant must submit a project proposal aimed at furthering the development of democratic institutions in Armenia. Projects must incorporate a concrete plan of activities aimed at and leading to positive changes in the democratic environment and citizens’ civic involvement in Armenia. In order for a project proposal to be successful, the application must be focused on one or more aspects of democratic building, must contain a clear action plan of what is suggested to be done to bring about improvements in the given sphere and provide a convincing explanation on how the suggested activities will result in the anticipated improvements. Project results shall be measurable by their long- term impact on the strengthening of democratic institutions in Armenia.
➢ The maximum amount of the grant is U.S. $50,000.
➢ U.S. and third-country organizations and individuals are not eligible for grants under this program.
➢ The Program CANNOT fund: partisan political activity; humanitarian aid and charities or charitable activities; scientific research; fund-raising campaigns; commercial projects; trade activities; conferences and individual trips abroad; projects aiming only at primary institutional development of the organization.
➢ Grants are made on a one-time basis. A successful applicant may apply for a second grant following completion of the first grant, but the second proposal must be for a distinctly different project from the first project funded by the Democracy Commission.
Proposals will be evaluated according to the following criteria: relevance of the proposed project to the Democracy Commission Small Grants program goals; topic of the project; presence of clearly formulated objectives and target groups; project sustainability and the ability of the applying organization to carry out the project. Grants are appropriated locally after the responsible offices in the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. approve the project.
Applicants must complete the online formal application in English providing substantial information about the applicant organization and its activities including a detailed description of the proposed project. The names of the organization's officers and a short biography of each person to be involved in the project should be attached to the application. Please note that successful organizations will have to obtain DUNS number and register in SAM. If applicants do not have DUNS number at the time of application, they can write the following numbers in answer to the question #8c “123456787”.
The application must also include a statement describing the proposed project and explaining how it will meet one or more of the Democracy Commission's goals. The proposal should contain sufficient information that anyone not familiar with it would understand exactly what the applicant wants to do and why. Please be specific and focused on the subject.
The application must contain a convincing justification of the need of the project suggested. “What is the importance of the project?”, “Why should it be funded?”, ”Who will be affected by the project?”, “What difference will it make to Armenia?” are some of the questions that the application must address. The Democracy Commission will support only those projects that will make an important contribution to the development of democracy in Armenia.
Letters of endorsement, attesting to the seriousness of the proposal, may be attached.
For joint proposals, the relationship between cooperating partners must be described; the division of responsibilities and authority between them, as well as letters of commitment from all partnering organizations must be submitted.
The expected long-term effects of the project should be described. It is presumed that the project or its effects will be carried over into the future after the funding from the Democracy Commission ends. Therefore, the proposal must also contain a very thorough explanation on how the organization will fund the activity in the future. Likewise, the institutional sustainability of the applicant organization following the implementation of the project should be demonstrated convincingly.
Budget guidelines In order to be sure that the Commission understands why there is a need for funding, the applicant should prepare a line-by-line, detailed list of expenses that will be generated by this project. Budgets should be submitted in U.S. dollars. The budget should be prepared in a logical manner and offer enough detail that a reviewer will be able to understand exactly what the figures mean and how that figure was determined. Please remember that the budget in essence is a program description in financial terms and therefore its coherence and cost-efficiency is vital for the success of your application.
ALL PROJECT EXPENSES SHOULD BE CALCULATED IN ADVANCE AND BE REALISTIC. IF THE PROPOSAL SEEKS FUNDING TO PURCHASE EQUIPMENT WITH ANY SINGLE ITEM EXCEEDING $1000 IN COST, THE APPLICATION MUST INCLUDE THREE PRO-FORMA ESTIMATES FROM DIFFERENT EQUIPMENT VENDORS STIPULATING THE MARKET PRICE OF THE DESIRED ITEM. The proposal should also include a statement that explains very precisely the proposed budget so that members of the Democracy Commission will understand exactly how the money would be spent. The budget narrative should follow the actual budget presentation itself and describe in some detail the costs presented in the budget. In other words, the narrative explains, line by line, what the numbers mean and how they were determined.
Program expenses should cover costs for the project activities. They may include preparation or acquisition of literature or educational materials; honoraria to specialists or associates; travel, contracts, expenses for seminars or conferences (speaker’s fee, preparation of materials and room rental), etc.
Equipment means computer, copying machine, printer or other technical devices necessary for the fulfillment of the project (for example, the purchase of a computer for organizing a conference is not a justified expense). Remember that renting equipment for the short-term project activities is often preferable to the Commission than outright purchase.
Salaries should be paid only to the people who will have a direct and specific involvement in the project which is not otherwise within the regular scope of their duties and who will spend a majority of their time on the project. Salaries should not be requested for the on-going, operational job remuneration of the organization staff. The salary should be calculated on the total number of hours worked for the duration of the project (the percentage of the person’s monthly involvement with the project is the preferable calculation formula). Salary levels should be reasonable and no higher than other local salaries. Please bear in mind that the total amount of salaries to be funded should not exceed 20% of the total budget. Copies of job contracts must be included in the reporting to be furnished to US Embassy Yerevan Public Affairs Office if project is funded.
Administrative expenses include communication expenses (phone, fax, e-mail, postage); copying and print services; office materials and supplies (paper, toner, envelopes, etc.). Please bear in mind that this category of expenses will be funded only in exceptional cases when linked directly to the project activities and vital to the project success. Applicants should not request funding for administrative expenses to cover the on-going institutional needs of their organization. As in the case of the salaries, applicants are expected to be able to cover part of the expenses associated with the implementation of the project.
The use of “miscellaneous expenses” as a budget item is unacceptable.
Meals not integral to a program event are not acceptable grant expenses. An effort should be made to secure funding from other sources for food costs. When these costs cannot be supported otherwise they should be clearly justified and limited to a maximum of 10% of the total award amount. This includes expenses associated with individual per diems for grant-related activities.
Entertainment costs not integral to a program event (amusement, diversion, social activities, ceremonies, alcoholic beverages, cocktail parties) are not allowable expenses.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE BUDGET ITEMS CANNOT BE CHANGED DURING THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROJECT WITHOUT WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE GRANTS OFFICER.
Grants for publication of materials should describe the intended audience, content, and how materials will be distributed. Grants for seminars/workshops should describe the expected audience, content, and timeframe. If a seminar or a training workshop is proposed in the application, it should also contain the attachments of the training materials that will be used for the training.
Notification of Applicants/Length of Grant Process
All applicants will be notified in writing regarding the decision of the Democracy Commission once the application has been reviewed.
In the case of successful proposals, the complete grant process (from the date of the deadline for submission of the applications to the time the funds are available for use) usually takes up to 10 weeks. Please note that for the current round of the program, grant funds will be disbursed upon receipt of the official communication from the Department of State, Washington, DC on the availability of funds for this fiscal year.
Grant Awards and Report Requirements
Awards will be made in two or more segments. An initial segment will be authorized to initiate the project. The applicant must provide an interim report about the use of the first segment of funds before additional funds will be released. If no interim report is provided or if the report is unsatisfactory, no additional funds will be released.
All grant recipients must submit a formal report to the Grants Officer upon completion of the project. The report should discuss what was done, whether the project was successful from the applicant's perspective and how it might be improved in the future. Copies of video materials, CDs and other video and audio aids generated during the implementation of the project attesting to the success of the grant activities are welcome, and sometimes required indeed. An accounting of the use of the grant funds and all relevant receipts must also be included. The information from this report will enable the Democracy Commission to better evaluate future proposals.
Please do not send the application before you:
* Read once again the Democracy Commission Guidelines that describe the Small Grants Program. Make sure you understand those guidelines and that your proposal fits the purposes it discusses.
* Carefully review the application to make sure it is complete and free of errors.
* Ask someone who does not know anything about your project to read your proposal to determine if it is understandable. Remember that the members of the Democracy Commission will not know anything about your proposal until they read it. If they cannot understand it simply by reading what you have written, it will not be approved.
* Ask someone with experience applying for grants to look at the application and provide advice on improving it.
* Make sure the application is neatly typed and easy to read in English. Perfect English is not required but the proposal must be understandable to an English speaker.