Notice of Funding Opportunity: Design and Implementation of a Blended Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Media Literacy

Department of State – Embassy of the United States, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan
Notice of Funding Opportunity

Program Office: Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy, Nur-Sultan

Funding Opportunity Title: Design and Implementation of a Blended Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Media Literacy

Announcement Type: Cooperative Agreement

Funding Opportunity Number: DOS-KAZ-NS-PAS-20-003,

Deadline for Applications: June 17, 2020 (11:59 p.m. Nur-Sultan time zone)

CFDA: 19.900- Assistance to Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Contact Information

  1. For questions relating to Grants.gov, please call the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726.

  2. For assistance with the requirements of this solicitation, contact RELO-Nur-Sultan@state.gov

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT TO ALL POTENTIAL APPLICANTS:  In light of the restrictive travel and public gathering environments we face globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, the U.S. Mission to Kazakhstan invites interested applicants to submit one or two proposals in response to the reference Notice of Funding Announcement (NOFO).

  • One proposal may be based on “business as usual” environments, where international travel, large public gatherings, and other programming parameters are unaffected by public health constraints.

  • A second proposal, which is optional, would describe your ideas on how to execute the desired project goals in a manner that accounts for restrictions on public gatherings and travel, as well as public health concerns.  We encourage creative ideas for remote/online content delivery, online/virtual promotional activities, and virtual participant/audience follow-up.

If you choose to submit two separate proposals, the associated budget submission may also reflect different costs you would project for these two operating environments. Applicants must also demonstrate competency to manage all financial aspects of the project, including participant costs and transparent arrangements of sub-grant relationships with partner organizations, if applicable.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION 2

  1. FEDERAL AWARD INFORMATION 4

  2. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION 5

  3. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION 5

  1. REVIEW AND SELECTION PROCESS 9

  1. FEDERAL AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION 10

  1. FEDERAL AWARDING AGENCY CONTACTS 11

  2. OTHER INFORMATION 11

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

The Regional English Language Office of the U.S. Embassy Nur-Sultan is pleased to announce the acceptance of applications for the design and implementation of a blended Massive Open Online Course on Media Literacy.

Applications may be submitted at any time for consideration before the closing date on June 17, 2020 (11:59 p.m. Nur-Sultan time zone). Applicants are encouraged to apply early.

Background

The Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA) Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) help pre-intermediate, intermediate, and advanced level learners improve their English skills in five major career fields. Each MOOC is self-paced and is five weeks long. The MOOC on Media Literacy will be the only program for this project. To complete the program, participants will take the course during their own time and meet with professional English language teachers twice weekly. Teachers will assist the participants with registering, completing and receiving a course certificate. It is expected that 100% of the participants complete the course.

Please see the link for further information on the ECA MOOCs. https://americanenglish.state.gov/american-english-moocs

The goal of the MOOC for Media Literacy program is to equip Kazakhstani citizens with the tools necessary to access all types of media in the 21st century. Participants will learn to discern real from fake news and how to be better consumers of traditional and social media.

The Successful Provider will be Responsible for the Following Tasks:

Selection and Training of MOOC Facilitators

MOOC facilitators will be selected by the provider and RELO office. The facilitators should all be trained and professional teachers with a degree in pedagogy. There will be one facilitator per city. The provider will arrange to gather the facilitators in either Almaty or Nur-Sultan September 2020 for a training session on MOOCs and Media Literacy. Trainer will be provided by the RELO.

Selection of Participants and MOOC Sessions

Facilitators will be responsible for the selection of a group of no more than 25 participants per city. Participants should be selected based on English level (pre-intermediate or higher) and ability to complete the course. Meetings should be held in the U.S. Embassy’s American Corners whenever possible. If there is not an American Corner in the facilitator’s city, other free venues such as NGOs, universities and community centers may also be used.

There will be four eight-week sections of the course, each with different participants. Week one will consist of participant registration to the course and an introduction to the concept of MOOCs. Weeks two to seven will cover the online MOOC topics and the final week will consist of project presentations and certificate ceremonies.

Section One: Approximately October to December 2020 (Six groups)

Section Two: Approximately January to February 2021 (Six groups)

Section Three: Approximately March to April 2021 (Six groups)

Section Four: Approximately May to June 2021 (Six groups)

Project implementation locations

The project implementation locations should include cities and towns throughout Kazakhstan. One project must take place in Nur-Sultan. (Applicants should take note of the Department of State’s Kazakhstan Travel Warning and programming should not take place in areas where grant monitoring is not possible due to security considerations).

Technical and infrastructure requirements

Following facilitator selection, the provider must specify the locations of the MOOC program and space that will be used for the classes and activities. The provider must either provide verification that the space belongs to the grantee or a written agreement with the holder of the space. The space must have sufficient seating for the participants, a blackboard/whiteboard, power source, projector, internet connectivity, computer and heating for the winter months.

Functional requirements

  1. The provider is responsible for creating a highly effective and innovative method for recruiting facilitators. This outreach would include, but not be limited to contacting local state education offices, private language schools and use of social media including the U.S. Embassy and RELO Facebook groups.

  2. Post highlights on activities on the shared Facebook group

  3. The provider is responsible for maintaining a database of alumni

  4. In consultation with the RELO, the provider is responsible for creating a curriculum for the program

  5. The provider must provide a comprehensive monitoring plan which includes virtual and face to face monitoring

  6. Funds must be provided to facilitators for stationary and other items to be used in the classrooms

Number of providers:

One provider only will be selected for this program.

Assumptions and agreements:

Submission information:

The proposals should be submitted to the Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy in Nur-Sultan electronically to RELO-Nur-Sultan@state.gov. Deadline for submission is June 17, 2020 (11:59 p.m. Nur-Sultan time zone)

Basis for award of the grant:

The grantee should be an established institution or a non-governmental organization (NGO) with at least 3 years of experience in administering educational programs and/or teaching English, preferably with similar projects. The grantee must have access to an established core of English instructors willing to commit their time to this project. The grantee must identify the location(s) and venue(s) that will be used for this program (verified with a document/preliminary agreement) and will be responsible for recruiting participants. Organizations with previous experience and a capacity of working with educational institutions on a national level will be given priority.

  1. FEDERAL AWARD INFORMATION

Funding Instrument Type: Cooperative Agreement

Anticipated period of performance: 9-12 months

Number of awards anticipated: 1

Floor of Individual Award Amounts: $55,000

Ceiling of Individual Award Amounts: $60,000

The U.S. Embassy Nur-Sultan Regional English Language Office reserves the right to award less or more than the funds described in the absence of worthy applications or under such other circumstances as it may deem to be in the best interest of the U.S. Government.

Project and Budget Periods: The Public Affairs Section will entertain applications for continuation grants funded under these awards, beyond the initial budget period, on a noncompetitive basis, subject to availability of funds, satisfactory progress of the program, and a determination that continued funding would be in the best interest of the U.S. Department of State.

  1. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

The Regional English Language Office at the U.S. Embassy Nur-Sultan encourages applications from U.S. and Kazakhstan registered not-for-profit, civil society/non-governmental organizations, and educational institutions with at least three years of programming experience in administering educational programs and/or teaching English, preferably with similar projects. The grantee must have access to an established core of English instructors willing to commit their time to this project. The grantee must identify the location(s) and venue(s) that will be used for this program (verified with a document/preliminary agreement) and will be responsible for recruiting participants. Organizations with previous experience and a capacity of working with educational institutions on a national level will be given priority.. This experience should be documented in the organization’s proposal. A copy of the organizations registration should be provided with the proposal application. U.S.-based organizations should submit a copy of their IRS determination letter. Kazakhstan-based organizations should submit a copy of their certificate of registration from the appropriate government organization.

Cost Sharing or Matching

Inclusion of cost share is not a requirement of this opportunity.

Other Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible to receive an award, all organizations must have a unique entity identifier (Data Universal Numbering System/DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet), as well as a valid registration on www.SAM.gov.

  1. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Application Deadline

Applications may be submitted at any time for consideration before the final closing date of this NOFO on June 17, 2020 (11:59 p.m. Nur-Sultan time zone) Please note that review may take up to 60 days.

Please follow all instructions below carefully. Proposals that do not meet the requirements of this announcement will not be considered.

Application Submission Process: There are two submissions methods available to applicants. Applicants may submit their application using Submission Method A or Submission Method B outlined below

  • Submission Method A:  Submitting all application materials directly to the following email address: RELO-Nur-Sultan@state.gov Applicants opting to submit applications via email to RELO-Nur-Sultan@state.gov must include the subject line: “MOOC Project proposal”.

  • Submission Method B: Submitting all application materials through Grants.gov.  For those opting to apply through Grants.gov, thorough instructions on the application process are available at http://www.grants.gov. For questions relating to Grants.gov, please call the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or go to https://www.grants.gov/support.html. Please note that RELO-Nur-Sultan@state.gov is unable to assist with technical questions or problems applicants experience with Grants.gov.

Applicants utilizing Grants.gov must register with Grants.gov prior to submitting an application. Registering with Grants.gov is a one-time process; however, it could take as long as two weeks to have the registration validated and confirmed. Please begin the registration process immediately to ensure that the process is completed well in advance of the deadline for applications. Until that process is complete, you will not be issued a user password for Grants.gov, which is required for application submission.

There are four steps that you must complete before you are able to register:

  1. Step 1: Apply for a DUNS number and an NCAGE number (these can be completed simultaneously)

    1. DUNS application: Organizations must have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number from Dun & Bradstreet, if your organization does not have one already, you may obtain one by calling 1-866-705-5711 or visiting http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform

    2. NCAGE application: Application page here (but need to click magnifying glass and then scroll down to click new registration) https://eportal.nspa.nato.int/AC135Public/scage/CageList.aspx

      1. Instructions for the NCAGE application process:https://eportal.nspa.nato.int/AC135Public/Docs/US%20Instructions%20for%20NSPA%20NCAGE.pdf

        1. For help from within the U.S., call 1-888-227-2423

        2. For help from outside the U.S., call 1-269-961-7766

      2. Email NCAGE@dlis.dla.mil for any problems in getting an NCAGE code. After receiving the NCAGE Code, proceed to register in SAM by logging onto: https://www.sam.gov/

  2. Step 2: Once DUNS and NCAGE are obtained, continue to SAM registration on www.SAM.gov

  3. Step 3: Once SAM registration is confirmed, continue to Grants.gov organization registration http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants/organization-registration.html.Organizations must maintain an active SAM registration (www.SAM.gov) with current information at all times during which they have an active Federal award or an application under consideration by a Federal awarding agency. SAM registration must be renewed annually. Given the volume of applications, review may take up to 90 days, and we are unable to individually confirm receipt of proposals.

  4. Step 4: Register yourself as an Authorized Organization Representative (AOR); and be authorized as an AOR by your organization on www.grants.gov

For more information, go to www.grants.gov. Please note that your SAM registration must be annually renewed. Failure to renew your SAM registration may prohibit submission of a grant application through Grants.gov.

Timely receipt requirements and proof of timely submission

If an applicant applies through Submission Method A, they can expect a confirmation of receipt from RELO within 10 work days. If the applicant does not receive an email confirmation in that time, they should contact RELO-Nur-Sultan@state.gov to ensure the proposal was received.

If an applicant applies through Submission Method B, applicants will receive an acknowledgement of receipt and a tracking number from Grants.gov with the successful transmission of their application. When RELO successfully retrieves the application from Grants.gov and acknowledges the download of submissions, Grants.gov will provide an electronic acknowledgment of receipt to the email address of the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR).

Address to Request Application Package

This Notice of Funding Opportunity document and any amendments can be found at www.grants.gov (search by Opportunity Number).

Please follow all instructions below carefully. Proposals that do not meet the requirements of this announcement or fail to comply with the stated requirements will be ineligible.

Content of Application

Please ensure:

  • The proposal clearly addresses the goals and objectives of this funding opportunity

  • All documents are in English

  • All budgets are in U.S. dollars

  • All pages are numbered

  • All documents are formatted to 8 ½ x 11 paper, and

  • All Microsoft Word documents are single-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, with a minimum of 1-inch margins.

The following documents are required:

  1. Mandatory application forms: Standard Forms 424 are available, along with guidance for completing these forms, at: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/forms.html under the heading, “SF-424 Family.”

    1. SF-424 (Application for Federal Assistance – organizations) 

    2. SF424A (Budget Information for Non-Construction programs)

  1. Narrative: A narrative document, no longer than five pages, that describes the program in detail is required. This document should include:

    1. a description of the grantee organization including resume and previous experience

    2. the description of the proposed MOOC project.

  1. Budget Justification Narrative: The budget spreadsheet should include all program costs. Categories include a breakdown of costs for the two-cycle program, the total number of participants to be enrolled, the start and end dates for instruction, the number of hours of instruction participants will receive. A breakdown of any cost-sharing by the grantee should be submitted in a separate spreadsheet. Line item expenditures should be listed in the greatest possible detail. Personnel salaries should define the percentage of time each position will allocate to the project and the rate of pay. Budgets shall be submitted in U.S. dollars and final grant agreements will be conducted in U.S. dollars.

  1. Organization Information

    1. Applicant Organization Survey: Applicants must complete and submit the survey (Attachment 1).

    2. A copy of the organization’s registration should be provided with the proposal application. U.S.-based organizations should submit a copy of their IRS determination letter. Kazakhstan-based organizations should submit a copy of their certificate of registration from the appropriate government organization.

  1. Attachments:

    1. 1-page CV or resume of key personnel who are proposed for the project

    2. Letters of support should be included for sub-awardees or other partners. The letters must identify the type of relationship to be entered into (formal or informal), the roles and responsibilities of each partner in relation to the proposed project activities, and the expected result of the partnership. The individual letters cannot exceed 1 page in length.

    3. If your organization has a NICRA and includes NICRA charges in the budget, your latest NICRA should be included as a PDF file.

    4. Official permission letters, if required for project activities

Please note:

  1. Other items NOT required/requested for submission, but which may be requested if your application is approved for funding include:

    1. Copies of an organization or program audit within the last two (2) years

    2. Copies of relevant human resources, financial, or procurement policies

    3. Copies of other relevant organizational policies or documentation that would help the Department determine your organization’s capacity to manage a federal grant award overseas.

  2. The Embassy reserves the right to request any additional programmatic and/or financial information regarding the proposal.

Applications are accepted in English only, and final grant agreements will be concluded in English.

Funding Restrictions

  1. Construction: This award does not allow for construction activities or costs.

  2. Pre-award Costs: Pre-award costs are not an allowable expense for this funding opportunity.

  1. REVIEW AND SELECTION PROCESS

Criteria

Each application will be evaluated and rated on the basis of the evaluation criteria outlined

below.

  • Quality and Feasibility of the Program Idea 25 points: The program idea should be well developed, with sufficient detail about how project activities will be carried out. The proposals should demonstrate originality and outline clear, achievable objectives. The proposal includes a reasonable implementation timeline. The project scope is appropriate and clearly defined.

  • Organizational Capacity and Record on Previous Grants – 25 points:

    • The organization has expertise in the subject area and demonstrates the ability to perform the proposed activities.

    • The organization demonstrates capacity for successful planning and responsible fiscal management. This includes a financial management system and a bank account.

    • Applicants who have received grant funds previously have been compliant with applicable rules and regulations.

    • Where partners are described, the applicant details each partner’s respective role and provides curriculum vitae (CVs) for persons responsible for the project and financial administration. Proposed personnel, institutional resources, and partners are adequate and appropriate

  • Project Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives – 20 points: The project plan is well developed, with sufficient detail about how activities will be carried out. The proposal specifies target audiences, participant recruitment, and geographic areas of implementation. The proposal outlines clear, achievable objectives. The proposal includes a reasonable implementation timeline. The project scope is appropriate and clearly defined.

  • Budget – 10 points: The budget and narrative justification are sufficiently detailed. Costs are reasonable in relation to the proposed activities and anticipated results. The budget is realistic, accounting for all necessary expenses to achieve proposed activities. The results and proposed outcomes justify the total cost of the project. Budget items are reasonable, allowable, and allocable.

  • Monitoring and Evaluation – 10 points: Applicant demonstrates it is able to identify key program milestones and targets (such as the expected number of teachers hired) and track that the award is meeting those milestones and targets in a timely manner.

  • Sustainability – 10 points: Project activities will continue to have positive impact after the end of the project.

  1. FEDERAL AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

Federal Award Notices

The grant award or cooperative agreement will be written, signed, awarded, and administered by the Grants Officer. The assistance award agreement is the authorizing document and it will be provided to the recipient for review and signature by email. The recipient may only start incurring project expenses beginning on the start date shown on the grant award document signed by the Grants Officer.

If a proposal is selected for funding, the Department of State has no obligation to provide any additional future funding. Renewal of an award to increase funding or extend the period of performance is at the discretion of the Department of State.

The Federal government is not obligated to make any Federal award as a result of the announcement. Issuance of this NOFO does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the U.S. government, nor does it commit the U.S. government to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of proposals. Further, the U.S. government reserves the right to reject any or all proposals received. The U.S. government also reserves the right to make an award in excess of the award ceiling.

Administrative and National Policy Requirements

Terms and Conditions: Before submitting an application, applicants should review all the terms and conditions and required certifications which will apply to this award, to ensure that they will be able to comply. These include: 2 CFR 200, 2 CFR 600, Certifications and Assurances, and the Department of State Standard Terms and Conditions, all of which are available at: https://www.state.gov/m/a/ope/index.htm

Reporting

Recipients are required to quarterly program progress and financial reports throughout the project period. Progress and financial reports are due 30 days after the reporting period. Final certified programmatic and financial reports are due 90 days after the close of the project period.

All reports are to be submitted electronically.

Awardees that are deemed to be high risk may be required to submit more extensive and frequent reports until their high risk designation has been removed.

  1. FEDERAL AWARDING AGENCY CONTACTS

If you have any questions about the grant application process, please contact:RELO-Nur-Sultan@state.gov.

For questions relating to Grants.gov, please call the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726.

To inquire about the process for obtaining a Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA) contact Donald Hunter at HunterDS@state.gov.

  1. OTHER INFORMATION

Guidelines for Budget Justification

Personnel and Fringe Benefits: Describe the wages, salaries, and benefits of temporary or permanent staff who will be working directly for the applicant on the project, and the percentage of their time that will be spent on the project.

Travel: Estimate the costs of travel and per diem for this project, for both program staff, consultants or speakers, and participants/beneficiaries. If the project involves international travel, include a brief statement of justification for that travel.

Equipment: Describe any machinery, furniture, or other personal property that is required for the project, which has a useful life of more than one year (or a life longer than the duration of the project), and costs at least $5,000 per unit.

Supplies: List and describe all the items and materials, including any computer devices, that are needed for the project. If an item costs more than $5,000 per unit, then put it in the budget under Equipment.

Contractual: Describe goods and services that the applicant plans to acquire through a contract with a vendor. Also describe any sub-awards to non-profit partners that will help carry out the project activities.

Other Direct Costs: Describe other costs directly associated with the project, which do not fit in the other categories. For example, shipping costs for materials and equipment or applicable taxes. All “Other” or “Miscellaneous” expenses must be itemized and explained.

Indirect Costs: These are costs that cannot be linked directly to the project activities, such as overhead costs needed to help keep the organization operating. If your organization has a Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate (NICRA) and includes NICRA charges in the budget, attach a copy of your latest NICRA. Organizations that have never had a NICRA may request indirect costs of 10% of the modified total direct costs as defined in 2 CFR 200.68.

Cost Sharing” refers to contributions from the organization or other entities other than the U.S. Embassy. It also includes in-kind contributions such as volunteers’ time and donated venues.

Branding Requirements: As a condition of receipt of a grant award, all materials produced pursuant to the award, including training materials, materials for recipients or materials to communicate or promote with foreign audiences a program, event, project, or some other activity under an agreement, including but not limited to invitations to events, press materials, and backdrops, podium signs, etc. must be marked appropriately with the standard, rectangular U.S. flag in a size and prominence equal to (or greater than) any other logo or identity. Note: Exceptions to the branding requirement are allowable under certain conditions. If an applicant is notified that their award has been chosen for funding, the Grants Officer will determine, in consultation with the applicant, if an exception is applicable.

Copyrights and Proprietary Information
If any of the information contained in your application is proprietary, please note in the footer of the appropriate pages that the information is Confidential – Proprietary. Applicants should also note what parts of the application, program, concept, etc. are covered by copyright(s), trademark(s), or any other intellectual property rights and provide copies of the relevant documentation to support these copyrights.