Video The TIP Office's Fiscal Year 2018 Annual Grants Process Tutorial: Stage One - Request for Statements of Interest

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
October 20, 2017


Welcome to the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office) Fiscal Year 2018 Annual Grants Process Tutorial: Stage One - Request for Statements of Interest.

This is a step-by-step tutorial to the TIP Office’s programming cycle and grants process.

Through this exercise, we hope to make the process more accessible and easier to understand for organizations worldwide.

Full transcripts of this video are available by contacting JTIPGrants@state.gov.

Before we discuss funding opportunities, our grants process, and our programming priorities, we are going to take a brief look at the scope of the problem and how the TIP Office works to address human trafficking.

“Trafficking in persons,” “human trafficking,” and “modern slavery” are used interchangeably as umbrella terms to refer to both sex trafficking and compelled labor.

Human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. This includes the use and recruitment of child soldiers.

Where a person younger than 18 is induced to perform a commercial sex act, it is a crime regardless of whether there is any force, fraud, or coercion.

The Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report, or TIP Report, examines what governments are doing on three fronts: prosecution, protection and prevention.

The Report assesses 187 countries and territories–including the United States.

The Department of State places each country onto one of four tiers based on the extent of the government’s efforts to meet the “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” as required by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000:

Tier 1,

Tier 2;

Tier 2 Watch List,

and Tier 3.

The TIP Report is the U.S. Government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking and the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-trafficking efforts, and reflects the U.S. Government’s commitment to global leadership on this key human rights and law enforcement issue.

It represents an updated, global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons and the broad range of government actions to confront and eliminate it.

The TIP Office consists of four sections: The Reports and Political Affairs team engages with foreign governments on human trafficking and also prepares the annual TIP Report.

 

The recommendations in this report inform the TIP Office’s diplomatic engagement and drive its programming objectives for the following year.

The Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs team works with Congress, federal agencies, multilateral organizations, the media, NGOs, corporations, academia, and civil society to raise awareness about modern slavery and to build partnerships to help strengthen our efforts to fight it.

The Resource Management and Planning team provides management support to the TIP Office, including strategic planning, grants management, performance management, evaluation and oversight, and budget formulation.

And the International Programs team manages the Office’s foreign assistance process and anti-trafficking projects, which we’ll examine a bit in this video.

TIP Office programming supports our global engagement with foreign governments in the fight against human trafficking and builds partnerships with civil society and international organizations to combat modern slavery.

The way we do this is through the “3-P” paradigm: prosecuting traffickers, protecting trafficking victims, and preventing trafficking in persons.

A fourth “P,” partnership, is also a critical element in the majority of our programs. Along with funding NGOs that offer services to trafficking victims, much of our anti-trafficking assistance goes to organizations that help partner governments build their own capacity to fight human trafficking.

Last fiscal year, more than $64 million dollars of U.S. government foreign assistance was appropriated for international anti-trafficking programming. The TIP Office received approximately half of this foreign assistance to implement anti-trafficking programs in the form of grants and cooperative agreements. Additionally, another $25 million was appropriated to reduce the prevalence of modern slavery.

Some of these funds are directed by Congress to be used for specific purposes, while others can be used to fund projects in priority countries and regions identified by the TIP Office.

As of 2017, the TIP Office currently manages more than $68 million dollars in foreign assistance to support more than 81 anti-trafficking projects worldwide.

These projects are awarded in every region of the world, and the amount of funding within each region changes annually as new programming priorities emerge.

The TIP Office has five main programming activities: The annual competition for grants is the primary means through which the Office allocates foreign assistance funds.

Grants and cooperative agreements awarded through this funding mechanism may be bilateral, regional, or global.

In addition to the annual competition for grants, funding is also available for short-term Training and Technical Assistance.

These awards are intended to address specific knowledge gaps in host-country stakeholders, as identified by U.S. embassies, and are not competitively solicited.

There are also the Emergency Victim Assistance Fund and Research and Innovation Fund, which, respectively, provide immediate assistance to vulnerable populations in emergency situations and collect data on trafficking trends.

The Child Protection Compact Partnership is a program that aims to reduce child trafficking through a structured, multi-year plan developed jointly by the United States and a partner government. The first Child Protection Compact Partnership began in 2015 with the Government of Ghana. In 2016, the TIP Office also began Child Protection Compact Partnerships with the Government of the Philippines and the Government of Peru.

Finally, the TIP Office awarded a new $25 million Program to End Modern Slavery, which aims to advance transformational programs and projects to achieve a measurable and substantial reduction of the prevalence of modern slavery in specific countries and regions.

Now that you know more about how the TIP Office works, let’s move onto the annual competition for grants process.

While the TIP Office has several funding opportunities available each year, this is the primary process by which our office provides anti-trafficking foreign assistance.

But first, let’s go over definitions:

A solicitation or notice of funding opportunity is an invitation to organizations to submit proposals for a specific purpose or mission.

A statement of interest (SOI) is a concept note submitted by a group seeking funding that describes planned activities for a specific outcome.

The first stage of the annual competitive grants process begins with our intra- and interagency Strategy Review Panels, which occurred in early September of this year.

During this time, the TIP Office works closely with our Department of State, USAID, and Department of Labor colleagues to determine regional strategies for future programming.

But how does the TIP Office formulate its programming priorities and objectives?

 

All programmatic decisions are guided by the recommendations in the most recent TIP Report, as well as by input provided by U.S. embassies around the world and other U.S. government agencies.

 

Program objectives are also based on selected “priority” countries ranked Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List, and Tier 3.

Now, there are exceptions and these are often determined by a host governments’ political willingness to respond to the issue of human trafficking.

As a general rule, we don’t typically fund high income countries – as determined by the World Bank, using the measurement of gross national income per capita (also known as the Atlas method). The current threshold for high income countries is a gross national income per capita of $12,236 or more.

The scope of human trafficking varies widely around the world, and program objectives must address the specific challenges in each of the identified priority region or countries.

Not all objectives apply to each location, and this is taken into consideration when drafting the strategies mentioned earlier.

Once the programming priorities and objectives for each region and country are determined, we then post the annual solicitation requesting statements of interest.

This year, the annual solicitation was posted on October 13, 2017.

The TIP Office posts its call for proposals on GrantSolutions.gov , Grants.gov, and on the TIP Office’s website.

The solicitation outlines the Office’s specific programming priorities for the year.

It also provides detailed instructions on how to submit statements of interest that meet ALL of the solicitation’s technical requirements, including the necessary documentation.

It’s important to note that statements of interest must be submitted through GrantSolutions.gov. This year while the funding opportunity will be posted to both GrantSolutions.gov and Grants.gov, we will only be accepting statements of interest through GrantSolutions.gov.

The TIP Office cannot, and will not, accept statements of interest submitted via email, mail, fax, or any other means.

The solicitation will be posted for 30 days and all applicants must submit their statements of interest before the deadline of Monday, November 13th at 5:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time.

If you encounter any technical issues, the Help Desk is available.

The annual competition for grants process is fair, transparent, and open to ALL organizations and institutions of higher education.

Any U.S. or foreign-based nongovernmental organization, public international organization, college or university, or for-profit organization can apply for a grant from our office.

Once all statements of interest are received, each statement of interest goes through a two-stage review.

The first stage is the technical review – a brief, but thorough check to ensure all basic requirements, as detailed in the funding opportunity, have been met.

The technical requirements are listed in the solicitation. You should follow these carefully to avoid simple mistakes that will disqualify your statement of interest.

In its technical review, the TIP Office confirms whether:

The statement of interest is written in English?

The applicant requests an amount in U.S. dollars?

The statement of interest addresses AT LEAST ONE programming priority, as identified in the solicitation?

Each statement of interest that passes the technical review is then reviewed by the TIP Office and other Department colleagues, including Regional Bureau officials and U.S. embassy staff.

During this rigorous assessment, the Office looks for:

A brief description of the organization’s capacity and partner(s), including previous and current work in the country or region, if any; as well as prior and current work to combat human trafficking.

A description of how the project meets at least one of the TIP Office’s programming objectives as described in the funding announcement is also required.

Keep in mind, statements of interest received for projects in countries or regions not identified in this solicitation or that do not address at least one project objective will be rejected automatically and will not be considered for funding.

In addition, statements of interest that address more than one priority country or region in a single statement of interest will be rejected.

A single statement of interest may address multiple project objectives, but cannot address more than one priority country or region.

Your organization may submit separate statements of interest for any number of priority countries or regions.

Your project description also needs to identify all intended beneficiaries, and include thoughtful and clearly-linked goals and objectives, the project’s intended duration, and a sustainability plan.

Goals and objectives mentioned in the website instructions are important to include, along with performance indicators, including outputs and outcomes.

All these should demonstrate how your program would measure project objectives.

Finally, be sure to include a brief overview of current and prospective funding for related projects in your statement of interest’s intended priority country or region.

If cost sharing is proposed, include the cost share amount in U.S. dollars and explain the source of the proposed cost-share.

No other budget figures are requested or required at this stage.

Once again, all funding requests must be in U.S. dollars.

There are a few additional points that can make your statement of interest stand out among the rest.

Your statement of interest should be easy to read and understand.

It should clearly link proposed activities to programming priorities and desired outputs and outcomes, while also demonstrating an understanding of the difference between an output and an outcome.

Organizations must also demonstrate strong partnerships, whether by proposing to work with sub-grantees, partnering with other organizations in the area, or building local or national government buy-in.

In addition, be sure to set realistic project targets and create a plan for monitoring and evaluating the project.

Be creative and innovative when designing activities

and ensure your statement of interest discusses how activities will not duplicate existing efforts.

Hundreds of organizations apply for funding from the TIP Office, so make sure your proposal stands out with experience and passion to combat trafficking.

Consider and explain your organization’s comparative advantage over other organizations working in the country or region.

Be careful not to make simple mistakes that will disqualify your statement of interest.

For example, submitting your statement of interest late, or submitting an incomplete statement of interest, such as a statement that is missing required Standard Forms 424, 424A and 424B.

Or not submitting your statement of interest in English.

And, just quickly, here are screenshots of the SF424, SF424A, and SF424B so you know what they look like.

Remember, these three forms must be submitted to GrantSolutions.gov along with your three-page statement of interest.

Please do not forget to include them.

Thank you for taking time to learn more about the TIP Office’s Fiscal Year 2018 Annual Grants Process Tutorial: Stage One - Request for Statements of Interest.

We hope it was informative, and we look forward to receiving your innovative anti-trafficking program ideas.