U.S. INFORMATION AGENCY



BUREAU OF EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS

OFFICE OF CITIZEN EXCHANGES

EXCHANGES AND TRAINING PROGRAMS FOR THE NEW INDEPENDENT STATES: RUSSIA, BELARUS, MOLDOVA, UKRAINE, ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA, KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN AND UZBEKISTAN

SUMMARY

The United States Information Agency, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of Citizen Exchanges, Europe/Eurasia Division, announces an open competition for an assistance award. Public and private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in IRS regulation 26 CFR 1.501C may apply to develop exchanges and training programs. Grants are subject to the availability of funds.

Overall grant making authority for this program is contained in the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, Public Law 87-256, as amended, also known as the Fulbright-Hays Act. The purpose of the Act is "to enable the Government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries...; to strengthen the ties which unite us with other nations by demonstrating the educational and cultural interests, developments, and achievements of the people of the United States and other nations... and thus to assist in the development of friendly, sympathetic and peaceful relations between the United States and the other countries of the world." The funding authority for the program cited above is provided through the Fulbright-Hays Act and the FREEDOM Support Act.

On October 1, 1999, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Information Agency will become part of the U.S. Department of State. The integration will not affect the content of this announcement or the nature of the programs described. Programs and projects must conform with U.S. Department of State requirements and guidelines outlined in the Solicitation Package.

ANNOUNCEMENT TITLE AND NUMBER

All communications with the Bureau concerning this Request for Proposals (RFP) should refer to the announcement title and reference number E/PN-00-09.

DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS

All copies must be received at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, by 5 p.m. Washington, D.C. time on Wednesday, December 22, 1999. Faxed documents will not be accepted at any time. Absolutely no late submissions will be accepted. Documents postmarked by December 22, 1999, but received at a later date, will not be accepted.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT

The United States Information Agency, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (the Bureau) Office of Citizen Exchanges, attn: Thomas Driscoll, program coordinator, tel: 202-260-6230 and fax: 202-619-4350, or Internet address: tdriscol@usia.gov, to request Application Package which includes: the RFP and the Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI).

Please specify Program Coordinator Thomas Driscoll on all inquiries and correspondence. Interested applicants should read the complete Federal Register announcement before sending inquiries or submitting proposals.

TO DOWNLOAD AN APPLICATION PACKAGE VIA THE INTERNET

The entire Application Package may be downloaded from the Bureau's website at http://e.usia.gov/education/rfps/.

SUBMISSIONS

Applicants must follow all instructions given in the Application Package. The applicant's original proposal and ten (10) copies (unbound) should be sent to:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Ref.: E/PN-00-09
Program Management, ECA/EX/PM, Room 336
301 4th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20547

Once the RFP deadline has passed, Bureau staff may not discuss this competition in any way with applicants until the proposal review process has been completed.

DIVERSITY, FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY GUIDELINES

Pursuant to the Bureau's authorizing legislation, programs must maintain a non-political character and should be balanced and representative of the diversity of U.S. political, social, and cultural life. "Diversity" should be interpreted in the broadest sense and encompass differences including, but not limited to ethnicity, race, gender, religion, geographic location, socio-economic status, and physical challenges. Applicants are strongly encouraged to adhere to the advancement of this principle both in program administration and in program content. Please refer to the review criteria under the 'Support for Diversity' section for specific suggestions on incorporating diversity into the total proposal. Public Law 104-319 provides that "in carrying out programs of educational and cultural exchange in countries whose people do not fully enjoy freedom and democracy," The U.S. Department of State "shall take appropriate steps to provide opportunities for participation in such programs to human rights and democracy leaders of such countries." Proposals should account for advancement of this goal in their program contents, to the full extent deemed feasible.

YEAR 2000 COMPLIANCE REQUIREMENT (Y2K Requirement)

The Year 2000 (Y2K) issue is a broad operational and accounting problem that could potentially prohibit organizations from processing information in accordance with Federal management and program specific requirements including data exchange with USIA. The inability to process information in accordance with Federal requirements could result in grantees' being required to return funds that have not been accounted for properly.

USIA therefore requires that all organizations use Y2K compliant systems including hardware, software and firmware. Systems must accurately process data and dates (calculating, comparing and sequencing) both before and after the year 2000 and correctly adjust for leap years.

Additional information addressing the Y2K issue may be found at the General Service Administration's Office of Information Technology website at <http://www.itpolicy.gsa.gov>.

OVERVIEW

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (The Bureau) is interested in proposals that encourage the growth of democratic institutions in Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Exchanges and training programs supported by the institutional grants from the Bureau should operate at two levels: they should enhance institutional partnerships, and they should offer practical information to individuals and groups to assist them with their professional and volunteer responsibilities. Strong proposals usually have the following characteristics: a strong existing partnership between a U.S. organization and an in-country institution; a proven track record of conducting program activity; cost-sharing from U.S. and/or in-country sources, including donations of air fares, hotel and/or housing costs, ground transportation, interpreters, etc.; experienced staff with language facility; a clear, convincing plan showing how permanent results will be accomplished as a result of the activity funded by the grant; and a follow-on plan beyond the scope of the Bureau grant. The Bureau wants to see tangible forms of time and money contributed to the project by the prospective grantee institution, as well as funding from third party sources.

Unless otherwise specified below, program activity may include: internships; study tours; short-term training; consultations; and extended, intensive workshops. Programming may take place in the United States and/or in Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Proposals should reflect an understanding of the political, economic, and social environment in which the program activity will take place. The Bureau encourages applicants to design exchange programs for non-English speakers.

Applicants should identify the local organizations and individuals in the New Independent States (NIS) with whom they are proposing to collaborate and describe in detail previous cooperative programming and contacts. Specific information about the NIS organizations' activities and accomplishments is required and should be included in the section on Institutional Capacity.

The Bureau seeks exchange programs that address the following themes:

The Bureau is interested in proposals whose designs take into account the need for ongoing sharing of information and training. Examples include: a "train the trainers" model (a program that includes practice presentation sessions, followed by activities coordinated and implemented by the original NIS participants in their home countries); support for in-country training/resource centers; plans to create professional networks or professional associations; regularly published newsletters and ongoing Internet communication.

WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP TRAINING

Overview:

Over the past decade women and women's groups in many countries of the NIS have become a force for social change and democratic development. Women's groups have shown their willingness to cooperate and coordinate with organizations both in the NIS and the West. Women have begun to take their place in the political arena, in nongovernmental (NGO) development and in advocacy groups. The dedication and commitment of women's groups have contributed to democratic and civic values taking root in the NIS.

The Bureau recognizes that women's organizations throughout the NIS are at various stages of development. In some cases, women's groups are still being established and thus need basic organizational and leadership training. In some regions, however, women's organizations could benefit from more sophisticated programs.

The Bureau is looking for proposals that offer leadership training to women who are already active in their communities. In each country or region, the program should target women in outlying cities, towns and villages and not capital cities. Training should emphasize development of management skills in order to: identify priorities and needs, create organizational efficiency; develop networks and coalitions with other NGOs; and implement advocacy programs for specific issues pertinent to each local community and region. Proposals are not limited to a one-country focus and may include a plan for building regional associations and networks among women's organizations in specific regions.

Program activity may take place in the NIS countries and/or in the United States. These programs are intended to provide NIS women and women's groups opportunities to increase their visibility and effectiveness in the political, social and democratic spheres. There are various possibilities for acceptable training programs. The following guidelines may be useful in designing programs, but The Bureau welcomes other programming ideas that applicants may have.

Women's Leadership Programs for Russia, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine:

Women's Leadership Programs for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia:

Women's Leadership Programs for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan:

Women's Political Leadership Programs for Russia, Moldova, Ukraine and Kazakhstan:

PROFESSIONAL AND BUSINESS ASSOCIATIONS

Professional and Business Associations for Russia, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia

Business and Professional Associations have the potential to stimulate economic growth, policy development and advancement in various professional fields. Functioning democracies need mediating structures such as associations that allow for a free flow of information among peer groups and provide channels for citizens to work with government. Associations that are based on democratic principles can provide a forum in which professionals and businesspeople can explore opportunities and development within communities. The Bureau wishes to help establish and sustain associations that are committed to community advancement and professional growth in Russia, Moldova, Ukraine and the Caucasus region. Proposals should include plans to adapt a model that is sensitive to regional needs. The Bureau is interested in supporting programs that will establish or enhance professional and business associations (i.e. chambers of commerce; legal, environment, education or trade associations; women's business associations; and associations whose membership represents an organized minority group or that is devoted to minority issues). Applicants may award individual small grants to support work relevant to association-building. Funds for small grants should be no more than 30% of the total requested from the Bureau.

CONTENT-BASED INTERNET TRAINING

Content-Based Internet Training for the West NIS Region (Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine)

Content-Based Internet Training for the Caucasus Region (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia)

In the recent past, content-based Internet training has been a valuable tool to promote democracy and encourage cross-border cooperation throughout the NIS. The Bureau is seeking programs that will use the Internet to provide content-based training to a wide variety of audiences in the Caucasus region. The purpose of the training is not to instruct in Internet technology and use, but to encourage citizen participation in workshops, fora, chats, and/or discussions via the Internet that will stimulate communication and information sharing on relevant topics. (For example, a U.S.-based institution sponsors 12 Internet chats focused on civic education throughout the region and then provides follow-on mini-workshops to engaged audiences in the three target countries. Subsequently, the U.S. organization invites three individuals who participated in the in-country training to the U.S. to learn technical and facilitation skills. Upon return to their home countries, they jointly facilitate further programming.) Topics may include but are not limited to: civic education, community development; corruption, conflict resolution, curriculum development; tolerance and peace education; refugee issues; youth issues; human and legal rights; family health issues; volunteerism; voter education and outreach. U.S. institutions must demonstrate their ability to coordinate a complex program with U.S. Government-funded Internet Access Training Program (IATP) Centers, Internet centers sponsored by organizations such as Soros Internet Centers, and other locations with computer access operating simultaneously. Applicants must provide innovative plans to advertise, recruit and conduct outreach to diverse audiences in major cities and outlying regions in the Caucasus.

POST-ELECTION TRAINING FOR DUMA STAFFERS

Post-election Training for Duma Staffers for Russia

With Duma national elections scheduled for December 19, 1999, The Bureau is interested in programs that will enhance Duma staffers' management skills. Applicants must demonstrate expertise and knowledge of the Russian political landscape and how the Duma functions. Programs may include a combination of U.S.-based internships, in-country workshops, roundtables, panel discussions, case studies and specially tailored projects. Training topics may address accountability to and communication with constituencies; working with the press; negotiation skills; conflict resolution; consensus building; coalition building (particularly related to bloc or partisan communications); ethics in government; working with diverse populations; conducting issue-related casework; drafting legislation and implementing policy.

PREVENTION OF TRAFFICKING IN WOMEN AND GIRLS

Prevention of Trafficking in Women and Girls for Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine and Uzbekistan

Trafficking of women and girls from the NIS has grown at an alarming rate. The Bureau is seeking to assist NIS governments and NGOs in the region to address the problem by 1) educating young women, girls and their families about trafficking so that they will not fall victim to traffickers' tactics of coercion, fraud and deceit and 2) providing victim assistance.

Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals that show a strong knowledge of existing educational and assistance efforts and that demonstrate an ability to integrate existing materials and human resources. Proposals must outline a concrete plan for innovative programming and must reach populations in outlying regions. The Bureau is particularly interested in proposals that will build on local capacity to address trafficking. Applicants must have proven experience on the ground with this issue.

DISTANCE LEARNING IN THE FIELD OF BUSINESS MANAGEMENT

Distance Learning in the Field of Business Management for Ukraine

The Bureau is interested in proposals that establish or expand distance learning programs in business and management at Ukrainian universities or institutes throughout Ukraine. Specific programs should include the delivery of management and business content through low-end technologies such as e-mail, CD-Rom, video or Internet, so that the model may be replicated in other regions. The target audience for the end product should be students and/or businesspeople. A two-way exchange by the U.S. and Ukrainian development teams is essential. Proposals should include: 1) a statement of need for the proposed courses and training 2) content of courses that will be developed 3) technical requirements for course delivery 4) training requirements for instructors and faculty in distance learning technology 5) practical training in course presentation and 6) a plan for adapting courses and training into the target language(s). Proposals must include letters of support from Ukrainian institutional partners that demonstrate their commitment to the program. In addition, Ukrainian partners should provide cost-sharing of program expenses such as classroom space, security, salaries, and support for visiting Americans such as local housing and transportation. Given the complex nature of distance learning programming, the Bureau discourages short-term visits. Grantee institutions are expected to consult closely with the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv on the development of distance learning programs.

The Bureau will consider funding proposals in the $150,000 - $200,000 range for distance learning programs. See Project Funding section below for additional guidance on funding levels.

PUBLIC LIBRARY REFORM

Public Library Reform for Ukraine

The Bureau is seeking proposals that will provide program support to public libraries in Ukraine to modernize systems and reform library management. Applicants may propose activities in any region of the country in a minimum of three oblasts. Effective library management and training in technology-based information management are encouraged. Training may also include building effective library support networks (i.e. fundraising, acquisitions such as books and equipment, interlibrary cooperation); engaging the community (summer reading programs, children's activities, bookmobiles, exhibitions, presentations). The Bureau seeks sustainable U.S.-Ukraine library partnering through this program.

CAUCASUS REGIONAL COOPERATION

Joint programs for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia

The Bureau is particularly interested in programs that include all three Caucasus countries. In addition to the program themes previously mentioned, the Bureau encourages submissions addressing the theme of NGO Management for the countries of the Caucasus Region.

NGOs in the Caucasus region are eager for innovative strategies to increase their effectiveness and visibility on local, regional, and national levels, as well as throughout the Caucasus region. The Bureau is interested in programs that will bring NGO leaders from the three Caucasus countries together to share ideas regarding NGO management. Successful proposals will expose NGO leaders to democratic, team-centered approaches to organizational management appropriate to democratic societies. Training topics may include working with the media, advocacy, networking, coalition building, conducting research, fundraising and legal issues affecting NGOs. The Bureau welcomes proposals that include component(s) that will sustain cross-cultural cooperation among NGOs in the three target countries.

Please see Women's Leadership Programs for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, as stated above.

Please see Professional and Business Associations for Russia, Moldova, Ukraine and the Caucasus, as stated above.

Please see description for Caucasus regional programs under Content-Based Internet Training, as stated above.

SELECTION OF PARTICIPANTS

Successful applications should include a description of an open, merit-based selection process, including advertising, recruitment and selection. A sample application should be submitted with the proposal. Applicants should expect to carry out the selection process, but The Bureau and U.S. Embassies abroad retain the right to nominate participants and to approve or reject participants recommended by the grantee institution. Priority must be given to foreign participants who have not traveled to the United States.

VISA REGULATIONS

Foreign participants on programs sponsored by The Bureau are granted J-1 Exchange Visitor visas by the U.S. Embassy in the sending country. All programs must comply with J-1 visa regulations. Please refer to the Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) for further information.

PROJECT FUNDING

Although no set funding limit exists, applicants are encouraged to submit proposals not to exceed $130,000. Distance Learning programs may be funded up to $200,000. Organizations with less than four years of experience in managing international exchange programs are limited to $60,000. Applicants are invited to provide both an all-inclusive budget as well as separate sub-budgets for each program component, location or activity in order to facilitate The Bureau decisions on funding. While a comprehensive line item budget based on the model in the Application Package must be submitted, separate component budgets are optional.

Since The Bureau grant assistance constitutes only a portion of total project funding, proposals should list and provide evidence of other sources of financial and in-kind support. Proposals with substantial private sector support from foundations, corporations, and other institutions will be considered highly competitive.

The following program costs are eligible for funding consideration:

1. International and domestic air fares (per the Fly America Act); visas; transit costs; ground transportation costs.

2. Per Diem. For U.S.-based programming, organizations should use the published Federal per diem rates for individual U.S. cities. For activities in the NIS and Central Europe, The Bureau strongly encourages applicants to budget realistic costs that reflect the local economy. Per diem rates may be accessed at http://www.policyworks.gov/.

3. Interpreters. If needed, interpreters for the U.S. program are provided by the U.S. Department of State Language Services Division. Typically, one interpreter is provided for every four visitors who require interpreting. The Bureau grants do not pay for foreign interpreters to accompany delegations from their home country. Grant proposal budgets should contain a flat $160/day per diem for each U.S. Department of State interpreter, as well as home-program-home air transportation of $400 per interpreter plus any U.S. travel expenses during the program. Salary expenses are covered centrally and should not be part of an applicant's proposed budget. Locally-arranged interpreters with adequate skills and experience may be used by the grantee in lieu of State Department interpreters, with the same 1:4 interpreter/participant ratio. If the applicant chooses to use local interpreters, salary costs must be included in the budget. Costs associated with using their services may not exceed rates for U.S. Department of State interpreters.

4. Book and cultural allowance. Foreign participants are entitled to a one-time cultural allowance of $150 per person, plus a book allowance of $50. Interpreters should be reimbursed up to $150 for expenses when they escort participants to cultural events. U.S. program staff is not eligible to receive these benefits.

5. Consultants. Consultants may be used to provide specialized expertise or to make presentations. Daily honoraria cannot exceed $250 per day. Subcontracting organizations may also be used, in which case the written agreement between the prospective grantee and subcontractor should be included in the proposal. Subcontracts should be itemized in the budget.

6. Room rental. Room rental may not exceed $250 per day.

7. Materials development. Proposals may contain costs to purchase, develop and translate materials for participants.

8. Equipment. Proposals may contain costs to purchase equipment for NIS-based programming such as computers, fax machines and copy machines. Costs for furniture are not allowed. Equipment costs must be kept to a minimum.

9. Working meal. Only one working meal may be provided during the program. Per capita costs may not exceed $5-8 for a lunch and $14-20 for a dinner, excluding room rental. The number of invited guests may not exceed participants by more than a factor of two-to-one. Interpreters must be included as participants.

10. Return travel allowance. A return travel allowance of $70 for each foreign participant may be included in the budget. The allowance may be used for incidental expenses incurred during international travel.

11. Health Insurance. Foreign participants will be covered under the terms of a U.S. Department of State-sponsored health insurance policy. The premium is paid by the U.S. Department of State directly to the insurance company. Applicants are permitted to include costs for travel insurance for U.S. participants in the budget.

12. Administrative Costs. Costs necessary for the effective administration of the program may include salaries for grant organization employees, benefits, and other direct and indirect costs per detailed instructions in the Application Package. While this announcement does not proscribe a rigid ratio of administrative to program costs, priority will be given to proposals whose administrative costs are less than twenty-five (25) per cent of the total requested from The Bureau. Proposals should show cost-sharing contributions from the applicant, the NIS partner and other sources.

Please refer to the Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) for complete budget guidelines.

REVIEW PROCESS

The Bureau will acknowledge receipt of all proposals and will review them for technical eligibility. Proposals will be considered ineligible if they do not fully adhere to the guidelines stated herein and in the Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI). Eligible proposals will be forwarded to panels of U.S. Department of State officers for advisory review. Funding decisions are at the discretion of the Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs. Final technical authority for assistance awards (grants or cooperative agreements) resides with the U.S. Department of State grants officer.

REVIEW CRITERIA

Technically eligible applications will be competitively reviewed according to the criteria stated below. Proposals should adequately address each area of review. These criteria are not rank ordered.

1. Program Planning and Ability to Achieve Objectives: Program objectives should be stated clearly and precisely and should reflect the applicant's expertise in the subject area and the region. Objectives should respond to the priority topics in this announcement and should relate to the current conditions in the included countries. Objectives should be reasonable and attainable. A detailed work plan should explain step-by-step how objectives will be achieved and should include a timetable for completion of major tasks. The substance of workshops, internships, seminars, presentations and/or consulting should be described in detail. Sample training schedules should be outlined. Responsibilities of in-country partners should be clearly described.

2. Institutional Capacity: The proposal should include 1) the U.S. institution's mission and date of establishment 2) detailed information about the NIS partner institution's capacity and the history of the U.S. and NIS partnership 3) an outline of prior awards--U.S. government and private support received for the target theme/region 4) descriptions of experienced staff members who will implement the program. Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the program's goals. The narrative should demonstrate proven ability to handle logistics. The proposal should reflect the institution's expertise in the subject area and knowledge of the conditions in the target country/region(s).

3. Cost Effectiveness and Cost Sharing: Overhead and administrative costs for the proposal, including salaries, honoraria and subcontracts for services, should be kept to a minimum. Administrative costs should be less than twenty-five (25) per cent of the total funds requested from The Bureau. Applicants are encouraged to cost share a portion of overhead and administrative expenses. Cost-sharing, including contributions from the applicant, the NIS partner, and other sources should be included in the budget.

4. Program Evaluation: Proposals must include a plan and methodology to evaluate the program's successes, both as the activities unfold and at the program's conclusion. The Bureau recommends that the proposal include a draft survey questionnaire or other technique (such as a serious of question for a focus group) to link outcomes to original program objectives.

5. Multiplier Effect/Impact: Proposals should show how the program will strengthen long-term mutual understanding and institutionalization of program goals. Applicants should describe how responsibility and ownership of the program will be transferred to the NIS participants to ensure continued activity and impact. Programs that include convincing plans for sustainability will be given top priority.

6. Follow-on Activities: Proposals should provide a plan for continued follow-on activity (beyond the The Bureau grant period) ensuring that The Bureau-supported programs are not isolated events. Follow-on activities should be clearly outlined.

7. Support of Diversity: Proposals should demonstrate substantive support of the Bureau's policy on diversity. Program content (orientation, evaluation, program sessions, resource materials, follow-on activities) and program administration (selection process, orientation, evaluation) should address diversity in a comprehensive and innovative manner. Applicants should refer to The Bureau's Diversity, Freedom and Democracy Guidelines on page four of the Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI).

NOTICE

The terms and conditions published in this RFP are binding and may not be modified by any Bureau representative. Explanatory information provided by The Bureau or program officers that contradicts published language will not be binding. Issuance of the RFP does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government. The Bureau reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the program and the availability of funds. Awards made will be subject to periodic reporting and evaluation requirements. Organizations will be expected to cooperate with The Bureau in evaluating their programs under the principles of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, which requires federal agencies to measure and report on the results of their programs and activities.

NOTIFICATION

Final awards cannot be made until funds have been appropriated by Congress, allocated and committed through internal U.S. Department of State procedures.


On October 1, 1999, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will become part of the
U.S. Department of State. Bureau webpages are being updated accordingly. Thank you for your patience.