Project Objectives, Goals, and Implementation (POGI)

SECONDARY SCHOOL INITIATIVE

ACADEMIC YEAR PLACEMENT E/P-00-06

The POGI apply guidelines specifically to the Federal Register Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the Youth Programs Division of the Office of Citizen Exchanges, for the 2000-2001 FREEDOM Support Act Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program. Proposals must conform to the guidelines stated in this document and other components of the Application Package. Applications not adhering to the conditions set forth herein may be deemed technically ineligible. These guidelines are specific to the program mentioned above and are IN ADDITION TO the Standard Guidelines outlined in the Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI).If there is a perceived disparity between program specific Guidelines and the program information supplied in the accompanying Federal Register, the RFP is to be the dominant reference.
 

I. STATEMENT OF WORK

The program is to provide secondary school students from the NIS the opportunity to live with an American family and attend an American school where they will experience life in a U.S. host community. Grant funding is also intended to sponsor local activities that will enhance the students' understanding of a democratic and civil society.

Responsibilities of the grantee placement organizations for this program include:

1. Recruit and screen potential host families and make host school placements. Important: Recruitment and selection practices and procedures must meet the requirements of J-visa regulations for secondary school exchange visitor sponsors. Host family and school placements should be secured prior to arrival of NIS students in the U.S. This means that students who have been identified for pre-academic-year English training must be given priority since they will arrive four weeks earlier than the other students.

a) Recruit, interview, screen and select families who are well-motivated and will provide a welcoming and nurturing home environment for the FLEX students.

b) Conduct orientation programs for host families prior to the students' arrival. Such orientations should inform the hosts of the rules governing the exchange and provide NIS-specific information on cultural differences.

c) Secure prior written acceptance for the enrollment of participants in public or private secondary schools. No more than two students of the same nationality should be placed in the same school. The number of students placed by the organization in each school should be determined in consultation with school administrators.

d) Work with host schools to secure their cooperation in providing an academic program appropriate to the needs and abilities of the students, and in utilizing them as resources in the classroom and the community. Discuss options for extra-curricular activities that correlate with program goals (e.g., Student Council, Junior Achievement).

2. Conduct orientations, cultural enhancements, and closure/re-entry training.

a) Conduct post-arrival orientation programming as appropriate to the needs of the students and in conformance with the organization's common practice; prepare materials specifically for use by NIS students, as appropriate.

b) Provide program enhancements to students in order to increase the participants' understanding of the principles of a democratic and civil society. Such enhancements may include, but are not limited to: briefings on local/state government and the judicial system; programs on community issues and concerns (e.g., environmental protection, substance abuse prevention); activities that expose participants to and increase their understanding of the diversity that exists in American society; and community service projects. (See budget guidelines for limits on Bureau funding for these activities). These should be in addition to any social gatherings routinely organized for students.

c) Prepare students for (1) bringing closure to their U.S. exchange experience and (2) re-entry to their home countries. Ensure that students receive relevant information concerning FLEX Alumni organizations in their respective countries.

3. Program monitoring and evaluation

a) Provide supervision, support and counseling for participants as needed. Maintain contact with appropriate staff at the American Councils of International Education (ACTR/ACCELS) responsible for recruitment, pre-departure orientation, and liaison with natural parents, for purposes of ongoing communication with the students' natural parents and also for guidance on handling cross-cultural issues and problems.

b) Monitor students' progress in academics and social adjustment; report periodically to the Bureau on status of students.

c) Inform the Bureau of any publicity that the students or the program attracts in their regions.

d) Develop and implement mechanism(s) for monitoring and reporting on program success and impact. (Organizations should indicate their willingness to cooperate with the Bureau in evaluating their programs through questionnaires, interviews, or other methods that will meet the requirements of the Results Act {GPRA} of 1993. This Act requires that federal agencies measure the results of their programs in meeting pre-determined performance goals).

4. Program, staff, and fiscal management

a) Conduct specialized training of all local staff and volunteers designed to give them the tools necessary for supervising and counseling NIS students and their host families and schools.

b) Forward participant welcome packets to ACTR, the organization conducting pre-departure orientation, for the students' preparation prior to departure for the U.S.

c) Outline the procedure of student allowance disbursement (see budget guidelines for specifics).

d) Administer the Bureau's insurance policy for exchanges or provide alternative health and accident insurance coverage. (See section II)

e) Participate in one annual meeting in Washington, D.C. (two days duration) of all organizations involved in administration of the FLEX program.

II. PROGRAM SPECIFIC GUIDELINES

The minimum number of students on which an organization may bid is 20. There is no maximum number. Students should be placed where they will be most warmly welcomed and accommodated and where they may contribute to the broadest possible understanding of their cultures. For this reason, the Bureau seeks placements in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in a wide diversity of rural, urban, suburban and small town settings. Organizations may choose either to cluster or disperse students. Clustering has the benefit of facilitating their supervision and enhancement activities, and it enables organizations to focus training on a finite number of local coordinators. Organizations choosing the dispersal option should describe in the proposal narrative how they will ensure that local staff and volunteers are trained to deal with the specific needs and concerns of this population of exchange students.

The age of participants is in the range of 15-17, with a predominance of students 15 and 16 years old. Students are required to return to their home countries following the conclusion of their program in the U.S. Placement organizations are expected to assist the Agency in reinforcing this policy.

Students are selected on the basis of merit by a committee of trained volunteers. The criteria for selection are based on achievement, social skills, and personality factors. In addition to a series of exams, students are interviewed in person to further evaluate their ability to adjust to a new culture as well as their English skills. Applicants for placement grants may assume that students have good English comprehension, speaking and writing skills. A small number of students (approximately 4%) will receive English enrichment training prior to arriving in their host communities. Finalists undergo rigorous medical screening.

The Bureau seeks to include in the program students of diverse national and ethnic backgrounds from the former Soviet Union and students with disabilities. Finalists are assigned to the placement organizations by Youth For Understanding (YFU) as part of its responsibilities under its administrative grant. The average group of students assigned to each organization will typically involve students of several nationalities and will likely include physically-challenged students.

International travel arrangements are made by YFU, and the costs of travel are covered by a separate grant to that organization. Students travel on J-1 visas using IAP 66 forms issued by the Bureau using the Government program designation assigned to this program. Responsibility for the student resides in the placement organization from the time the student arrives in his/her host community until the time of departure for home.

A predeparture orientation program for all students will be planned and conducted in the countries of origin by ACTR under a separate grant. The program is designed to provide cross-cultural training and a general introduction to the program, with a special emphasis on engendering realistic expectations and providing some tools to deal with those issues that have proven most problematic in past years. This program is not intended to replace regional orientation programming that exchange organizations typically offer students after they have arrived in their host communities.

As described in section one, item number 2 (b) of this document, Bureau-funded enhancement activities should be educational and focus on program goals such as civic education and economic reform. Activities that are designed to provide students the opportunity for community and public service are especially valuable, as they promote an understanding of the role of the volunteer in America and enable students to give something back to their host communities. Placement organizations may on their own plan and carry out other enhancement activities not funded by the Bureau.

Health/accident insurance: A brochure on the Bureau Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE) is included in the Application Package. Applicant organizations are required to use this plan for students participating in this program. Applicants who choose not to use the Bureau plan must demonstrate that an alternate plan (A) provides comparable or more comprehensive coverage and (B) costs less. Coverage should begin when the students depart their countries and conclude when they arrive home.

The Bureau is now working to ensure that all its computer-based information systems function properly in the year 2000 ("Y2K"). The Agency is concerned that your systems also be Y2K compliant. Please tell us what you have already done or plan to do to ensure the Y2K compliance of your systems, including workstation operating systems and BIOS, network servers and mainframe operating systems, as well as any application software running on those systems.

III PROPOSAL CONTENTS

Applicants should submit a complete and thorough proposal describing the program in a convincing and comprehensive manner. Since there is no opportunity for applicants to meet with reviewing officials, the proposal is the principal document on which the merits of the organization and its program will be judged. Applicants should address all criteria set forth in the RFP and all responsibilities outlined in Section I.

Proposals should address succinctly, but completely, the elements described below and must follow all format requirements.

TAB A - Application for Federal Assistance Cover Sheet (see PSI)

TAB B - Executive Summary

In one double-spaced page, provide the following information:

1. Name of the organization
2. Beginning and ending dates of the program
3. Scope of the project

a. The number of students to be placed

b. The geographic distribution of students

c. Which option ? clustering or dispersal ? is proposed

TAB C - Narrative

Within 20 double-spaced, single-sided pages, address the areas listed below, making sure to refer to the responsibilities outlined in the "Statement of Work" and all matters covered under the "Program Specific Guidelines." Applicants may find it useful to divide the narrative into sub-headings for each of the following points:

1. Describe briefly (one page) your objectives and how they relate to those stated in the RFP.

2. Describe your organization's plan for placing students, using either the clustering or dispersal method. Discuss your placement philosophy (e.g., what constitutes a host "family," your expectations for them), and elaborate on how host families are recruited, screened, and selected. Provide a detailed description of how host families will be oriented, particularly regarding culturally-related issues.

3. Describe your organization's approach to school placements. Elaborate on how you will work with schools to ensure a rich academic experience for the students, opportunities for student to serve as resources in the classroom, and inclusion of students in extra-curricular activities that promote program goals. Provide assurance that you will secure prior acceptance of students in writing.

4. Describe your organization's approach to orientation and provide specifics on the timing for post-arrival and ongoing orientation programming.

5. Describe program enhancement activities planned for students and how they will relate to FLEX program goals.

6. Describe your organization's headquarter's staff that will manage this program and how headquarters staff will coordinate with field staff and the Bureau's FLEX office. Provide details on your plan for back-up and coverage at the headquarters office when key staff person(s) is absent. Include contact name and phone number. The Bureau must be notified each time the back-up plan is implemented.

7. Describe your regional, state, and local paid staff and volunteer structure as it relates to your plan for implementing the program, including monitoring the students, trouble-shooting and counseling. Explain how often and in what ways your organization maintains regular contact with the students. Elaborate on community support services that you use (e.g., networking with other organizations, a chapter system, etc.) The function of any staff member for whom compensation is requested in the budget should be described here.

8. Describe the training plan for ensuring that your organization's local representatives have the knowledge and skills required to deal with issues and problems specific to students from the former Soviet Union, as well as vital information on how this program differs from your private exchanges. (This is particularly important when students are disbursed and a local coordinator may be responsible for a small number or even a single FLEX student.) A knowledge of the critical issues that have special relevance to the adjustment of FSA students is vital. These issues are:
 

A. Religion in the host family and community.

B. Behavior is perceived as culturally offensive or inappropriate to Americans such as lack of appreciation, pessimism, exaggerated emotions, pestering/badgering, and cultural arrogance, and how to deal with such behavior.

C. Personal hygiene.

D. Breaking rules and laws, especially shoplifting.

E. Roles of men and women in American society, as contrasted with the roles of men and women in the Slavic countries, Central Asia and the Caucasus.
 

9. Describe your organization's plan to prepare students to leave their host communities at the end of the program and reenter their home countries, keeping in mind that closure and re-entry are two important, but different, activities.

10. Describe your approach and the tools that will be employed to evaluate: the progress of students (academic, social); their success in promoting Americans' understanding of their countries; and the success of the program in fulfilling other stated objectives. After the grants are approved, the Bureau may distribute some material to assist grantees in providing data to the Bureau that is based on uniform criteria and standards.

11. For organizations that have previously participated in the FLEX program, provide a brief update on the current year program, with special reference to any successes and failures and how your organization plans to incorporate what it has learned by these experiences into next year's program. Organizations that have not participated recently in the program may choose to include similar information on other exchange programs they have administered.

12. Diversity ? Either in the context of the items listed above or in a separate section, discuss how your organization will address diversity goals. (Be sure at a minimum to mention host family placement and enhancement programming).


Additional Material to be Submitted

-A monthly plan of action or timetable that demonstrates how the responsibilities will be organized and carried out.

-A copy of the organization's health and accident insurance policy, if you are proposing to use this.

TAB D - Budget Submission

Budgets should be prepared using the six-column budget format as spelled out in the PSI. Please note that the actual cost items for your budget will be different from those in the sample budget.

The budget items will be specific to your program. However, the budget should not exceed $4,850 in calculating per-student costs. This amount is based on a figure that has been reasonable and allowable in previous years, an inflation factor, and a $100 increase in the incidentals allowance. The following items must be included in your budget submission as part of your per-capita costs:

* Monthly allowance $100 maximum for 11 months.

* Incidentals allowance $400. $300 to be spent by the host family for school start-up costs and other school-related expenses ( e.g., yearbook, locker fees, gym shorts) for which receipts must be presented to the placement organization; and $100 to be retained by the organization for small emergency expenses (e.g.,eyeglasses, minor dental problems).

* Enhancement activities fund - $300 maximum for the year.

Budgets typically include but are not necessarily limited to the following items: * Staff travel - Include one trip for one person to Washington, DC

* Coordinator training

* Orientation for students and host families

* Reentry training

* Costs associated with finding, screening and selecting host families and for securing school placements

* Costs associated with monitoring students, trouble-shooting, counseling, and resettling students, as necessary

* Student activities-include civic education activities

* Allowances

* Program materials

* Administrative costs, including compensation for non-salaried staff and volunteers

TAB E - Resumes

Resumes of all program staff should be included in the submission. Include resume(s) of any staff who will be providing back-up coverage. No one resume should exceed two pages.

TAB F

Additional Information Form

Copy of IRS notification of current tax-exempt status

Four required certification forms

Certification of Compliance with Federal Forms

Other attachments?It is preferable to limit these to only those documents that are essential in understanding your organization and approaches to programming. Orientation manuals and other voluminous materials should not be included.

IV REVIEW PROCESS

Proposals are reviewed for adherence to legal and budgetary requirements by the Bureau offices responsible for these functions. For program content, cost-effectiveness and other criteria spelled out in the RFP, the review is conducted by an advisory review panel composed of Bureau officers. Additional Bureau officers, including geographic area experts, also review proposals for feasibility as well as potential for short- and long-term impact. The Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs approves, conferring the final award to an applicant. Final technical authority for assistance awards resides with an Agency Grants Officer.

The review criteria are listed and described in the RFP.

APPLICATION SUBMISSION

The complete application, including the original and 6 copies, should arrive at the Bureau NO LATER than 5:00 p.m. EST on October 25, 1999. There are NO EXCEPTIONS to this deadline. Send the material to:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Ref: E/P-00-06
Office of Program Management, ECA/EX/PM, Room 336
301 Fourth Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20547

For further information on the proposal for the program, or questions regarding the guidelines, call Anna Mussman at (202) 619-5904, NIS Secondary School Initiative, facsimile: (202) 619-5311; Internet address: <amussman@usia.gov>.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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