U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR
OPEN GRANTS PROGRAM
Funding Opportunity Title: DRL Program Statement for Democracy and Human Rights Programs in Cuba
Federal Agency Contact: Global Programs Office: Western Hemisphere Affairs
I. Funding Opportunity Description
The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announces the potential availability of funding for programs that support democracy and human rights in Cuba. DRL invites organizations interested in potential funding to submit statements of interest (SOI) outlining program concepts and capacity to manage projects that will foster democracy and human rights in Cuba.
This solicitation is the first step in a two-part process. A SOI is a document of no more than three (3) pages that includes the criteria outlined in this solicitation, particularly section IV, entitled “Application Requirements, Submission, and Deadline.” After reviewing SOIs, selected organizations will be invited to expand their ideas into full proposals at a later date. The intention of requesting SOIs first is to provide organizations with additional time to focus on submitting creative and new ideas to support democracy and human rights in Cuba.
PLEASE NOTE: DRL strongly urges applicants to register with www.grantsolutions.gov well in advance of submitting a SOI. For more information on registering, please see the “Application Requirements, Submission, and Deadline” section below.
Applicants may submit a maximum of two SOIs. Each SOI should address one or more of the following potential program themes. Statements of interest that combine multiple themes are encouraged, but should clearly demonstrate how each individual theme will be addressed within the proposal concept, and how a multi-thematic approach will best achieve democracy and human rights goals in Cuba.
• Advocating for Rule of Law and Human Rights should emphasize creating opportunities for professional capacity building and engagement, such as targeted training sessions, internships, short-term fellowships, or participation in international events or professional organizations. Areas for professional training/engagement may include, but need not be limited to: human rights monitoring; rule of law; frameworks and mechanisms for addressing human rights abuse; governmental transparency and accountability; provision of direct, non-profit legal or social services; civic education; political monitoring and reporting; consensus-building processes; elections and political processes; civil society sector development and sustainability; or public policy analysis as it pertains to and rule of law and human rights, advocacy, or reform.
• Facilitating Free Expression should emphasize support for Cuban citizens and groups who seek to initiate independent civic activities outside of officially-sanctioned channels or frameworks. Activities could include, but need not be limited to, public awareness campaigns; initiatives designed to increase Cuban citizens’ on-island engagement with social and political themes; or support for the development of activities outside official governmental channels on the island, including civic and cultural events or programs.
• Facilitating Free Flow of Information should emphasize support for free flow of information to, from, and within the island. Activities could include, but need not be limited to, training in established mass communication protocols and technologies; independent media; development of rapid cross-border information dissemination systems; or strategies to counter Cuban government propaganda and disinformation campaigns.
Activities that are typically given serious consideration for funding include, but are by no means limited to:
• Concrete initiatives that reflect ongoing dialogue with Cuban civil society and demonstrate the capacity to operate effectively on the island;
• Where appropriate, initiatives that emphasize capacity strengthening for Cuban civil society in developing effective outreach and engagement strategies for domestic and international audiences in both the short and medium term. Those opportunities may include increased participation in domestic, regional, and international networks; and improved capacity to implement conduct community engagement and advocacy;
• Under initiatives that include external activities for Cubans, opportunities that prioritize South-South exchange and/or reflect the linguistic needs and capabilities of target beneficiaries;
• Under initiatives that incorporate capacity-building, concrete plans that monitor the impact of increased capacity among Cuban civil society;
• Organizational assistance to Cuban civil society to improve management and development, strategic planning, and sustainability;
• Technical assistance that assists Cubans in accessing digital tools, including software, that is freely available in other countries with high speed and/or uncensored internet;
• For purposes of facilitating implementation and improving monitoring and evaluation, baseline surveys or analyses amongst target beneficiaries and/or key stakeholders;
• Comprehensive solutions to democracy development and human rights challenges on the island, which include partnerships with Cuban and international civil society and which reflect an innovative, multi-dimensional response to conditions and current needs on the island.
Activities that are not typically funded include, but are not limited to:
• The provision of large amounts of humanitarian assistance;
• English language instruction;
• Development of high-tech computer or communications software and/or hardware specific to Cuba;
• Purely academic exchanges or fellowships;
• Exchanges or fellowships lasting longer than six months;
• Theoretical explorations of human rights or democracy issues in Cuba, including programs aimed primarily at research and evaluation;
• Micro-loans or similar small business development initiatives;
• Activities that go beyond an organization’s demonstrated competence, or fail to provide clear evidence of the ability of the applicant to achieve the stated impact;
• Initiatives directed towards the Cuban diaspora rather than current residents of Cuba.
Background Information on general DRL funding:
DRL supports programs that uphold democratic principles, support and strengthen democratic institutions, promote human rights, and build civil society around the world. Subject to availability, funds will support projects that have the potential to have an immediate impact leading to long-term sustainable reforms. Projects should have potential for continued funding beyond DRL resources. Projects must not duplicate or simply add to efforts by other entities.
DRL will not consider statements 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. Organizations that are invited to submit proposals and are subsequently approved for an award may be required to submit additional information on the organization and key individuals for vetting. In such cases, issuance of an award is contingent on the timely receipt of the information requested and the successful completion of the vetting process.
II. Award Information
Funding Instrument Type: Grant or Cooperative Agreement
Estimated Total Program Funding: $5,000,000
Estimated Floor of Individual Award Amounts: $500,000
Estimated Ceiling of Individual Award Amounts: $1,500,000
DRL anticipates that approximately $5 million in funds will be available for use in this solicitation, subject to the availability of funds. DRL reserves the right to award less or more than the funds described, including estimated individual award floor and ceiling amounts, under such circumstances as it deems necessary and appropriate.
Project and Budget Periods:
DRL grants generally must be completed in one to three years. DRL may consider applications for continuation for current grants beyond the initial project period on a noncompetitive basis. Any such decision will be subject to availability of funds, satisfactory progress of the applicants, and a determination that continued funding would be in the best interest of the Department of State.
III. Eligibility Information:
Organizations submitting SOIs must meet the following criteria:
• Be a non-profit organization/non-government organization, including a U.S.-based NGO, PIO, or foreign NGO; or
• Be a non-profit university or research institution; or
• Be a for-profit organization or business, although there are restrictions on payment of fees and/or profits to the prime recipient under grants and cooperative agreements; and
• Have demonstrated experience administering successful projects, preferably in Cuba, and/or in similarly challenging program environments. DRL reserves the right to request additional background information on organizations that do not have previous experience administering federal grant awards. These applicants may be subject to limited funding on a pilot basis;
• Have existing active partnerships with organization(s) in target countries and/or regions, or, where applicable, the capacity to develop such partnerships.
Organizations are invited to form consortia and submit a combined SOI. One organization should be designated as the lead applicant. DRL highly encourages applicants to demonstrate specific expertise both in Cuba programming and in any thematic areas addressed in the SOI.
IV. Application Requirements, Submission and Deadline
An organization may submit no more than two (2) SOIs, of no more than three (3) pages each. SOIs that do not meet the requirements of the announcement may not be considered.
For all application documents, please ensure that:
• All pages are numbered,
• All documents are formatted to 8 ½ x 11 paper, and
• All documents are single-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, with a minimum of 1-inch margins.
• Documents are submitted in either Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF formats.
• Standard form 424 is completed in the online application.
SOIs must include:
1) A brief description of the organization(s), including mission statements and any previous work in Cuba programming and/or relevant thematic areas, particularly in highly challenging programming environments. Due to page limitations, a general organizational history is not recommended. Descriptions should clearly demonstrate an institution’s record and capacity and may include previous grant management experience, whether funded through private or United States Government resources.
2) Description of how the project furthers the establishment of democracy and fundamental rights in Cuba, reflects the current desires and/or needs of Cubans on the island, and will achieve positive and lasting impact.
3) Project description, including estimated project duration and objectives.
4) Brief statement on the methodology to be used in the project evaluation.
5) Measurable outputs and outcomes that could be used in a full monitoring and evaluation plan.
Outputs and outcomes should clearly link to project objectives and include target benchmarks.
6) An estimated total budget figure. The budget should include: Primarily Headquarters-Based Costs, Primarily Field-Based Costs, Indirect Costs, and Cost-Share. For more information on DRL budget standards, please see DRL’s Proposal Submission Instructions “Budget Guidelines” section (http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/nov_2012/index.htm). Please note that while a detailed budget is not requested at this time, organizations invited to submit full proposals must not exceed the estimated SOI budget figure unless advised otherwise.
Please use the following guidelines for completing the SF-424:
1. Type of Submission: Application
2. Type of Application: New
5b. Federal Award Identifier: Please enter zeros or leave blank
8a. Please enter name of organization
8b. Please enter the organization’s EIN or TIN number for U.S.-based organizations or enter 44-4444444 for non-U.S. based organizations
8c. Please enter the organization’s DUNS number (without dashes) or leave blank if you do not have a DUNS number yet. A DUNS number will be required when submitting a full proposal.
8d. Please enter the organization’s address
8f. Please enter the name, telephone number, and e-mail address of the primary contact person for this SOI
9. Please select type of applicant from pull down list
11. The CFDA number is 19.345
12. Please enter the Funding Opportunity Number (similar to DRLA-DRLAQM-14-090) and Title (similar to DRL Program Statement for Democracy and Human Rights Programs in Cuba).
15. Please enter descriptive title of project
16a. Please enter congressional district of applicant organization or enter “90” for non-U.S. based organizations
16b. Please enter N/A or zeros
17. Please enter the approximate start and end dates of the proposed activities
18. Please enter the amount requested from the USG under “Federal,” any cost-share under “Applicant,” fill in the total, and otherwise use zeros.
19. Please enter “c”
20. Complete as indicated
21. Complete as indicated
Please fill in the following fields of the SF-424B:
Page 2 - Complete applicant organization and title of authorized official sections.
Submission deadline: January 8, 2014
Submission review will include SOIs submitted as of 11:30 pm on the above date.
Applicants must submit SOIs using either www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov. DRL will not accept proposals submitted via Fax, the U.S. postal system, FedEx, UPS and similar delivery companies, or courier.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit applications via www.grantsolutions.gov. Organizations using GrantSolutions for the first time should register on the www.grantsolutions.gov site to create a new Applicant account as soon as possible; as this process must be completed before an application can be submitted. To register with GrantSolutions, follow the “First Time Applicants” link and complete the “GrantSolutions New Applicant Sign Up” application form. Organizations that have previously used GrantSolutions do not need to register again. If an organization that has previously used www.grantsolutions.gov is not able to access the system, please contact Customer Support for help in gaining access.
Organizations that currently do not have a DUNS number or active CCR registration can still register on grantsolutions by:
1. On the grantsolutions homepage, click on “Login to GrantSolutions” on the upper right of the screen
2. On the login page, click “Register” under “First Time Users”
3. On the next page, click on “Continue the GrantSolutions registration process without a DUNS number.”
Organizations that are invited to submit a full proposal for Federal grants will need to obtain a DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number and register with the Central Contractor Registry (CCR) at http://www.sam.gov/. Click “create user account” and sign up for an “individual account.” For help with www.sam.gov, please call the Federal Service Desk at 866-606-8220. DRL strongly urges applicants to begin this process well in advance of the submission deadline.
V. Review and Selection Process
DRL will review all SOIs for eligibility. Eligible proposals will be subject to compliance with Federal and Bureau regulations and guidelines and may also be reviewed by the Office of the Legal Adviser or by other Department offices. Final technical authority for assistance awards resides with offices such as the Department’s Office of Acquisition Management.
DRL will solicit for full proposals based on an evaluation of how the SOI meets the solicitation review criteria, U.S. foreign policy objectives, and the priority needs of DRL. The State Department will host a U.S. government interagency review panel to evaluate proposals submitted under this request, and will apply the standard criteria below:
1) Quality of Program Idea: SOIs should be responsive to the solicitation and exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the Bureau’s mission of promoting human rights and democracy in Cuba. The bureau prioritizes innovative, stand-alone programs. In countries where similar activities are already taking place, an explanation should be provided as to how new activities will not duplicate or merely add to existing activities
2) Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives: A strong SOI will include a clear
articulation of how the proposed program activities would contribute to the overall program objectives. Objectives should be ambitious, yet fully achievable and measurable. SOIs should also demonstrate an institutional record of successful programs in Cuba or other repressive environments and demonstrate the potential of new applicants. and demonstrate substantive undertakings and logistical capacity of the organization. SOI applicants are not expected to provide a monthly timeline of project activities, but organizations selected to submit a full proposal will need to do so at that time.
3) Multiplier Effect/Sustainability: SOIs should address how the expected results will contribute to improving democracy and human rights goals in Cuba and how the impact of the program will extend beyond primary beneficiaries. SOIs should address how activities will be sustainable after the project ends, and how results achieved within the proposed grant period will contribute to long-term impact.
Unless directed otherwise by the applicant, DRL may refer SOIs for possible consideration in other U.S. government-related funding opportunities. DRL will not disseminate SOIs outside of the State Department or USAID.
VI. Additional Information
The information contained in this solicitation is final and may not be modified by any DRL representative. Explanatory information provided by DRL that may alter or contradict this information has no effect on the information and requirements of this solicitation. Issuance of the solicitation does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government. DRL reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the program evaluation requirements and the availability of funding.
GrantSolutions.gov Help Desk: For assistance with www.grantsolutions.gov accounts and technical issues related to using the system, please contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-866-577-0771 (toll charges for international callers) or 1-202-401-5282. Customer Support is available 8 AM – 6 PM EST, Monday – Friday, except federal holidays.
Grants.gov Helpdesk: For assistance with Grants.gov accounts and technical issues related to using the system, please call the Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or email email@example.com. The Contact Center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except federal holidays.
See http://www.opm.gov/Operating_Status_Schedules/fedhol/2012.asp for a list of federal holidays.
For programmatic questions related to SOI submissions please contact DRLProgramInfo@state.gov.
After SOIs have been submitted, U.S. Government officials – including those in the Bureau, the
Department, and at embassies/missions overseas – are not permitted to give advice on individual submissions directly related to this funding competition.