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Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Request for Proposals: Democracy and Human Rights in Cuba


June 13, 2013

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Note: The deadline for this Request for Proposals has passed.


Department of State

Public Notice

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Request for Proposals: Democracy and Human Rights in Cuba.

SUMMARY

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Proposals for projects that promote democracy and human rights in Cuba.

PLEASE NOTE: DRL strongly urges applicants to access www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov as soon as possible in order to obtain a username and password to submit your application. For more information, please see DRL’s Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), updated in November 2012, available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.

REQUESTED PROPOSAL PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

DRL invites organizations to submit proposals targeting the following issues in Cuba:

Independent Journalism (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $1,500,000):

DRL seeks proposals to improve the professional capacity of independent journalists in Cuba as well as their domestic and international exposure. The program should also mitigate the effects of the psychological concerns and security needs of Cuban independent journalists operating in a hostile environment as a result of government oppression. If appropriate and feasible, the project may facilitate external travel by Cubans and/or include a small grants component.

Illustrative project activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Conducting in-depth, continuous capacity building on issues related to fact-based reporting, journalistic standards, ethics, and best practices, and investigative journalism techniques appropriate to the Cuban context;
  • Providing material and financial assistance, and professional guidance, to independent journalists;
  • Assisting efforts of independent journalists in Cuba to attain international accreditation and exposure.
  • Implementing practical workshops designed to enable journalists to:
    • employ best practices regarding threat assessment, digital security, physical security, and risk response;
    • utilize safety and stress awareness techniques;
    • employ best practices for content distribution.

Labor Rights (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $750,000):

DRL seeks proposals to assist Cuban citizens in promoting understanding of, respect for, and compliance with, international labor standards, especially in the context of economic sectors such as tourism and others. The project should help Cubans in Cuba to bring attention, both nationally and internationally, to the violation of labor standards on the island through targeted training, analysis, outreach, and activism. If appropriate and feasible, the project may facilitate external travel by Cubans and/or include a small grants component.

Illustrative project activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Production and dissemination of fact-based, analytical reports by Cubans in Cuba regarding labor issues affecting Cuban citizens. All analysis should include Cuban-generated proposals for change. Dissemination of reports should primarily target Cuba.
  • Implementation of grassroots community outreach activities in Cuba to increase the Cuban public’s understanding of labor standards and labor rights in the workplace.
  • Assist Cuban workers and labor activists in Cuba to expand domestic and international advocacy regarding labor conditions on the island internationally.

Digital Tools for Safe and Effective Civil Society Initiatives (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $850,000):

DRL seeks proposals to increase the capacity of Cuban civil society to effectively employ digital tools and resources for information dissemination and event coordination. The project should provide Cuban activists with ongoing capacity building and assistance to increase their level of technological proficiency and their ability to utilize new and existing technologies in a secure manner. If appropriate and feasible, the project may facilitate external travel by Cubans and/or include a small grants component.

Illustrative project activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Providing tools and resources to Cuban civil society that assist them in implementing grassroots initiatives securely;
  • Targeted capacity building for Cuban civil society on the integration of new hardware and software into their activities. Capacity building should be ongoing and geared towards ensuring long-term improvement in technological understanding.

Afro-Cuban Equality and Advocacy (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $500,000):

DRL seeks proposals to raise awareness in Cuba of issues affecting Afro-Cubans and assist in the development of independent Afro-Cuban networks in Cuba. The project should support independent Afro-Cuban groups in advocating for equal treatment and access to services and opportunities, by facilitating outreach and advocacy efforts. If appropriate and feasible, the project may facilitate external travel by Cubans and/or include a small grants component. Geographically, the program could engage groups throughout the island, but should retain a focus on eastern provinces.

Illustrative project activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Capacity building for independent Afro-Cuban organizations on issues including, but not limited to, effective leadership, organizational vision and goals, and communications and outreach;
  • Organization of events that draw attention to discrimination by generating discussion and assisting advocacy efforts among independent Afro-Cuban groups pressing for equality;
  • Production and dissemination of Cuban-generated analyses reporting on issues facing the Afro-Cuban community. Dissemination of reports should primarily target Cuba.

Social Analysis and Advocacy (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $750,000):

DRL seeks proposals to support the capacity of nascent, independent Cuban think tanks to produce and disseminate analyses of issues concerning Cubans on the island. The project should support efforts by those think tanks and their partners to engage a wide swath of Cuban society in driving community discussion and prompting advocacy-related activities. Analysis produced under the project should be objective, data-driven, and include proposals for Cuban-led alternatives for change. If appropriate and feasible, the project may facilitate external travel by Cubans and/or include a small grants component.

Illustrative project activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Production of Cuban-led research and analysis that considers societal issues that affect the general population, such as the Cuban educational, medical, housing, and prison systems, among others;
  • Increasing spaces for discussion that engage a wide swath of Cuban society and present them with objective analysis and Cuban-led proposals for change;
  • Dissemination in Cuba of information via print, SMS, in-person discussions, or other means that illustrates the findings of Cuban-led analytical reports and suggested changes;
  • Capacity building for independent nascent think thanks on issues including, but not limited to, effective leadership, organizational vision and goals, and communications and outreach.

DEADLINE AND TECHNICAL ELIGIBILITY

Please refer directly to DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), updated in November 2012, available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm. Faxed, couriered, or emailed documents will not be accepted at any time. Applicants must follow all formatting instructions in this document and the Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI).

To ensure all applications receive a balanced evaluation, the DRL Review Committee will review the first page of the requested section up to the page limit and no further. DRL encourages organizations to use the given space effectively.

An organization may submit no more than two [2] proposals.

Technically eligible submissions are those which: 1) arrive electronically via www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov by Monday, July 15, 2013 before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST); 2) heed all instructions contained in the solicitation document and Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), including length and completeness of submission; and 3) do not violate any of the guidelines stated in the solicitation and this document.

It is the responsibility of all applicants to ensure that proposals have been received by www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov in their entirety. DRL bears no responsibility for data errors resulting from transmission or conversion processes.

Once the Request for Proposals deadline has passed, U.S. Department of State staff in Washington and overseas may not discuss competing proposals with applicants until the review process has been completed.

NOTE: In order to process final awards, approved applicants will need to register with www.grantsolutions.gov.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Programs that leverage resources from funds internal to the organization or other sources, such as public-private partnerships, will be highly considered. DRL strongly discourages health, technology, or science- related projects unless they have an explicit component related to the requested program objectives listed above. Cost sharing is strongly encouraged but not required for the purposes of this solicitation. Cost sharing contributions should be detailed appropriately in the proposal budget and budget narrative.

Proposals that include the production of content should prioritize Cuban authorship and generation of that content.

Pursuant to governing regulations, DRL requires prior approval of all foreign travel and/or subawards undertaken. For the purposes of this solicitation, “foreign travel” includes any travel outside Canada, Mexico, the United States, and any United States territory or possession. However, the term “foreign travel” for non-profit organization located in a foreign country means travel outside that country. For travel to Cuba, DRL encourages applicants to list the region of origin. For travel from Cuba, DRL encourages applicants to list the region of destination. For travel not including Cuba, DRL strongly encourages applicants to specify country of origin and destination. DRL also strongly encourages applicants to provide specific travel costs associated with foreign travel. Travel costs are defined as expenses for transportation, lodging, subsistence, and any other costs budged for the implementation of travel.

As detailed in DRL’s November 2012 Proposal Submission Instructions, DRL strongly encourages applicants to provide a detailed account of any proposed subawards within an application. “Subaward” means an award of financial assistance in the form of money, or property in lieu of money, made under an award by a recipient to an eligible subrecipient or by a subrecipient to a lower tier subrecipient. The term includes financial assistance when provided by any legal agreement, even if the agreement is called a contract, but does not include: 1) procurement of goods; 2) technical assistance, which provides services instead of money; 3) other assistance in the form of loans, loan guarantees, interest subsidies, or insurance; 4) direct payments of any kind to individuals; and 5) contracts which are required to be entered into and administered under procurement laws and regulations. Applicants are encouraged to provide the following information in relation to subawards:

  • For subawards to organizations:
    • The name of the sub-awardee, and (a) in the case of a for-profit commercial organization, the place of incorporation; or (b) in the case of a partnership, the place where legally organized; or (c) in the case of a non-profit organization, the place where legally organized.
    • The program description, statement of work, or terms of reference, period of performance, and country of performance.
    • The total estimated cost, including a detailed line-item budget and budget narrative that also includes proposed cost share, if applicable, and a copy of any current indirect cost rate agreement between the U.S. Government and the sub-awardee.

  • For subawards to individuals:
    • The program description, statement of work, or terms of reference, period of performance, and country of performance.
    • The total estimated cost, including a breakdown of any expenses (such as travel, proposed daily rate, salary, stipend, or honorarium (whichever applies), etc.) and proposed cost share. The recipient must also provide a description of the experience level and professional background if any fee is to be received by the subawardee or if any fee is provided as cost share under the agreement.
    • Although the recipient is not required to provide the name of the individual, it must ensure that all appropriate vetting is conducted to ensure that subawards are not entered into with those who are debarred, suspended or otherwise excluded from or ineligible for participation in Federal assistance programs or activities.

  • For all subawards, applicants are encouraged to provide information related to foreign travel, purchase of equipment, and further subawards or subcontracts, including subcontracts with program consultants.

Successful applicants are required to obtain and maintain the applicable Department of Commerce and/or Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) licenses. More information on these licenses can be found at:

a. U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control: http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/;

b. U.S. Department of Commerce: http://www.bis.doc.gov/licensing/index.htm

Special thought and consideration should be given to the selection of consultants and other personnel who may be required to travel to the island. To the extent possible, travel by American citizens should be limited. It is preferable for these personnel to speak Spanish fluently, possess solid understanding of the Cuban cultural context, and have prior experience on the island, in order to maximize their effectiveness in this unique operating environment.

DRL will not consider proposals that reflect any type of support for any member, affiliate, or representative of the Cuban government. DRL will also not consider proposals that reflect any type of support for any member, affiliate, or representative of a designated terrorist organization, whether or not elected members of government.

The information in this solicitation is binding and may not be modified by any Bureau representative. Explanatory information that contradicts this language in this solicitation will not be binding. Issuance of the solicitation 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 evaluation requirements.

This request for proposals will appear on www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov and DRL’s website, www.state.gov/j/drl.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

Should you have any questions regarding the solicitation, please feel free to contact Alex Covington at CovingtonAP@state.gov and Kathleen Duffy at DuffyKK@state.gov. Once the deadline has passed, State Department officials and staff - both in the Bureau and at embassies overseas - may not discuss this competition with applicants until the entire proposal review process is completed.



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