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Education USA Advising Services
January 11, 2024

Embassy of the United States in Astana, Kazakhstan
Notice of Funding Opportunity

Program Office: Public Diplomacy Section, U.S. Embassy Astana

Funding Opportunity Title: Education USA Advising Services

Announcement Type: Cooperative Agreement

Funding Opportunity Number:  DOS-KAZ-AST-ECA-24-001

Deadline for Applications: February 19, 2024 [18:00 Astana/Almaty]

Assistance Listing: 19.022 – Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs

Tentative Amount Available: $26,000


  • For questions relating to Grants.gov, please call the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726.
  • For assistance with the requirements of this solicitation, contact KZPDSGrantProposal@state.govbefore February 19, 2024 [18:00 Astana/Almaty].
  • To inquire about the process for obtaining a Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA) contact Donald Hunter at HunterDS@state.gov.

In order to be eligible to receive an award under this NOFO, organizations must have a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number issued via www.SAM.gov as well as a valid registration on www.SAM.gov. Please begin the registration processes immediately to ensure the registrations are completed well in advance of the submission deadline.  The process can require up to six weeks for the registrations to be validated and confirmed.  See Section D: Submission Requirements for further details.

Due to the volume of applicants and inquiries, the Public Diplomacy Section (PDS) does not accept letters of intent, concept papers, or requests for meetings or phone calls prior to application.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application package has been received in its entirety. Incomplete applications will be considered ineligible. Applicants are urged to begin the application process well before the submission deadline. No exceptions will be made for organizations that have not completed the necessary steps.

Funding Opportunity Description Summary

Executive Summary:

The U.S. Mission to Kazakhstan’s Public Diplomacy Section (PDS), within the U.S. Department of State, is pleased to announce this Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for a cooperative agreement to administer EducationUSA advising services in one region outside of Astana and Almaty.  The awardee should identify and justify where they propose to establish an EducationUSA Advising Center.  The awardee will work with established advising Centers in Astana and Almaty to expand advising services to the selected region.

Pending availability of funding, the awardee will be an impartial source of information for students, parents, and higher education institutions (HEIs) to learn about U.S. higher education opportunities.  The EducationUSA Center funded through this opportunity will become a part of Kazakhstan’s EducationUSA network, conduct outreach, and offer seminars for Kazakh prospective students and representatives of U.S. HEIs.


EducationUSA is the U.S. Department of State’s global network of educational advising centers that work with prospective international students in more than 175 countries to promote U.S. higher education abroad.  Advisers at more than 430 EducationUSA centers worldwide provide accurate, comprehensive, and current information about the diversity of U.S. higher education opportunities, guiding prospective students to find the institution that best fits their needs.  In addition, the EducationUSA network assists accredited U.S. HEI leaders to meet their campus internationalization goals, including strategic guidance to U.S. institutions regarding relevant international higher education systems and partners to enhance their international networks and potential partnerships.  The EducationUSA network, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), also provides information on the U.S. higher education system to foreign governments and institutions.

With approximately 2,000 Kazakh students pursuing higher education in the United States annually, Kazakhstan is the largest sender of international students to the United States in Central Asia.  EducationUSA advising centers are currently located in Almaty, Astana, Aktau, Karaganda, and Shymkent.  The successful applicant will submit a proposal that explains the necessity for operating an advising center in one proposed location outside of Astana and Almaty (possibly, but not necessarily, Aktau, Karaganda, or Shymkent).  PDS will decide, in consultation with the award recipient, on the center’s location to meet the stated program goals.  The award recipient should be prepared to work closely with current implementing partners in Kazakhstan to maintain continuity of programming and operations during the award’s performance period.

This award will support the U.S. Mission to Kazakhstan’s Integrated Country Strategy by increasing Kazakh student mobility and engagement with American peers and institutions, and increasing networks and partnerships between U.S. and Kazakh HEIs, subsequently expanding ties between the American people and U.S. government with Kazakhstan.

EducationUSA centers and advisers provide accurate, current, and comprehensive information on U.S. higher education and opportunities to study in the United States to prospective international students, their parents, and foreign governments and educational institutions.  They promote the recruitment, application, and admission of students to accredited U.S. HEIs.  In Kazakhstan, they also deliver the message that a U.S. education is both advantageous and attainable for Kazakh students.  EducationUSA advisers support students from all economic backgrounds to find the institution best suited to their needs.

ECA’s Educational Resources and Information Branch or EducationUSA Branch (ECA/A/S/A) oversees the global network of advising centers, engages the U.S. Mission in Kazakhstan in the strategic planning process, formulates policies for the network as a whole, and funds advising operations in part by the provision of funding to the U.S. Mission.  The Branch hosts a central website for the network at www.EducationUSA.state.gov, provides guidance on digital content, oversees various training programs for advisers, and coordinates global outreach and resources in partnership with domestic and international stakeholders.  ECA/A/S/A program officers serve as experts on educational issues and support the management of EducationUSA global operations, including close coordination with the U.S. Mission on its educational outreach strategies and operations.  A Regional Educational Advising Coordinator (REAC), based in Dubai and employed by an NGO partner under a cooperative agreement with ECA, will monitor the awardee’s center, lead adviser training in the field, and serve as a regional expert on higher education for the network.   ECA will offer appropriate professional development opportunities, such as workshops and other training programs for EducationUSA advisers; ECA will review and select adviser participants.  Many of these services will be financially supported by ECA.  The award recipient will support adviser participation in broader events to build and maintain their professional skills, in alignment with their adviser training plan.  While providing coverage for daily advising activities, PDS encourages the recipient to support additional engagement or professional development opportunities through direct funding or cost-share.

Project Goal:

Increase the number of Kazakh students who successfully apply for, gain admittance to, and attend a U.S. higher education institution.

Project Audience(s): Beneficiaries will include:

  • Secondary school and university students in one region of Kazakhstan (proposals should identify a proposed region outside of Astana and Almaty)
  • Students at both public and private schools in the identified region
  • Parents of prospective students in the identified region
  • High school counselors at public and private schools in the identified region
  • Representatives of U.S. HEIs, including community colleges

Project Objectives:

  1. Increase awareness of higher education opportunities in the United States among prospective undergraduate and graduate students from public and private schools.
  2. Increase understanding of application and admission requirements, including but not limited to financial aid options and test preparation and strengthen quality of university applications through training and advising on application best practices (Examples include how to write a standout personal essay, requesting recommendation letters, participation in extracurricular activities, etc.)
  3. Assist U.S. HEIs in their overseas enrollment outreach and development of recruitment strategies in Kazakhstan.

To achieve these objectives, the selected recipient will support advising operations in one region of Kazakhstan outside of Astana and Almaty, including in-person services at a physical center, regional outreach, and virtual advising.  A successful proposal will articulate why the proposed location was selected and how a physical center in that location will contribute to student mobility and the U.S. Mission’s education goals.

EducationUSA centers provide the following services to all students free of charge:

  • Regular introductory group sessions, utilizing an in-person and/or virtual format as deemed necessary, in consultation with PDS.  Sessions should be comprehensive and responsive to local needs, and provide an overview of the U.S. higher education system, the application process for undergraduate and graduate admission, and targeted resources for U.S. higher education research.
  • Basic reference materials on U.S. higher education.  Some materials may be funded through the annual ECA/A/S/A Strategic Planning process.
  • Pre-Departure Orientations for students admitted to U.S. universities.

In close collaboration with PDS, the selected applicant will formulate and implement a strategic plan to:

  • Manage one EducationUSA Advising Center.  Proposals should include estimated budget details for the proposed center, including infrastructure and support for virtual advising.  All EducationUSA centers must provide free basic advising services to students;
  • Coordinate and implement outreach, communications, and marketing, in cooperation with existing EducationUSA centers in Kazakhstan;
  • Select and train an adviser and support their professional development;
  • Conduct outreach sessions to the full range of Kazakh students interested in U.S. study in the selected region, including underserved populations and locales outside capital/major cities, whenever possible in collaboration with PDS, Mission Kazakhstan consular staff, and American Corners in Kazakhstan, to inform them of U.S. study opportunities and the services available at the EducationUSA advising center;
  • Create and distribute content and materials, including through the use of digital platforms;
  • Develop emotionally resonant and persuasive content for EducationUSA Kazakhstan’s social media accounts on Instagram and YouTube. Content should be creative, timely, and in keeping with overall EducationUSA messaging, always tailored to key audiences;
  • Proposals should explain how recipients will ensure that the center funded under a cooperative agreement will use EducationUSA branding and its logo consistently, and follow guidelines laid out in the EducationUSA brand identity guide provided by ECA and adhere to ECA guidelines.   The use of the current EducationUSA logo and branded marketing materials is critical to the identity of the network;
  • As necessary, coordinate with the current implementing partner for EducationUSA advising centers in Kazakhstan to ensure the continuity of messaging and engagement across platforms;
  • assist in the organization, running, and evaluation of   EducationUSA fairs in consultation with the REAC, ECA, the U.S. Mission, and other relevant stakeholders;
  • Provide services to accredited U.S. colleges and universities, and maintain an unbiased representation of the full range of U.S. academic institutions;
  • Maintain and update a Data Reporting System (DRS) for EducationUSA advisers, the REAC, Washington D.C. staff, and others as designated by ECA, for use as needed in relation to all EducationUSA programming and network activities;
  • Maintain and update records for students advised, applied, admitted, accepted, and attended; and
  • Execute special programs and events to support activities.

The recipient is expected to work closely with the Dubai-based REAC, who monitors Kazakhstan’s network of EducationUSA advisers and advising centers to ensure compliance with global EducationUSA policies, develop and lead adviser trainings that are responsive to the current professional development needs of advisers, and develop and distribute outreach and resource materials that reflect the local and regional context.  The recipient will utilize the results of REAC monitoring and other evaluation mechanisms to provide timely monitoring, evaluation, and reporting to ECA and PDS, including special events and programs, as well as the number of students who apply to, are admitted to, and attend U.S. educational institutions.

Federal Award Information                                                                                          

Funding Mechanism Type: Cooperative Agreement 

Estimated Total Project Funding: $26,000

Estimated Award Ceiling: $26,000

Estimated Award Floor: $20,000

Length of Project Period: one year

Anticipated program start date: October 2024

Type of Funding:  FY24 EducationUSA Funding

This notice is subject to availability of funding.

Funding Instrument Type:  Cooperative agreement. Cooperative agreements are different from grants in that Department of State staff are more actively involved in the grant implementation. For this award, DoS staff will work closely with the awardee to implement and manage the EducationUSA Advising Center. For example, U.S. Mission to Kazakhstan personnel will be substantially involved in the program activities and details; will communicate with the selected partner on possible travel to the designated region; and provide technical/programmatic expertise as needed. The recipient will be expected to coordinate closely with the U.S. Mission on program activities and content creation and seek prior approval on topics, location, and speaker selection; as well as invite U.S. Mission personnel to participate in events.

The Public Diplomacy Section reserves the right to award less or more than the funds described under circumstances deemed to be in the best interest of the U.S. government, pending the availability of funds and approval of the designated grants officer.

Support for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA): All recipients should consider strategies for expanding the pool of individuals/organizations/beneficiaries to afford opportunities for as diverse and inclusive population as is feasible to bring diverse perspectives based on religion, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex characteristics, national origin, and age to implementation of the program.

  1. Eligibility Information                                                                                                               
  2. The following organizations are eligible to apply:
  • Not-for-profit organizations
  • Civil society/non-governmental organizations
  • Public and private educational institutions
  • Public International Organizations and Governmental institutions
  1. For-profit entities, even those that may fall into the categories listed above, are noteligible to apply for this NOFO.  Organizations may sub-contract with other entities, but only one, non-profit, non-governmental entity can be the prime recipient of the award. When sub-contracting with other entities, the responsibilities of each entity must be clearly defined in the proposal.
  2. Cost sharing or matching is not required for this funding opportunity.
  3. Pre-award costs are not an allowable expense for this funding opportunity.
  4. In order to be eligible to receive an award, all organizations must have a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number issued via SAM.govas well as a valid registration on www.SAM.gov. Please see Section D. Required Registrations on how to obtain these registrations.  Individuals are not required to have a unique entity identifier or be registered in SAM.gov.
  5. This award does not allow:
    • Projects relating to partisan political activity;
    • Charitable or development activities;
    • Construction projects;
    • Projects that support specific religious activities;
    • Fund-raising campaigns;
    • Lobbying for specific legislation or programs
    • Scientific research or surveys;
    • Commercial projects;
    • Projects intended primarily for the growth or institutional development of the organization;
    • Projects that duplicate existing projects; or
    • Illegal activities

Application and Submission Information:                                                                              

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 and Form of Application Submission

Please ensure:

  1. Proposal clearlyaddresses the goals, audiences, and objectives of this notice.
  2. All documents are in English.
  3. All budgets are in U.S. dollars.
  4. All pages are numbered.
  5. All documents are formatted to 8 ½ x 11 paper.
  6. All Microsoft Word documents are single-spaced, 12-point Calibri font, with a minimum of 1-inch margins.
  7. All applicant authorized signatures are provided where indicated on the various, required forms.

Application Deadline: All applications must be received by before February 19, 2024 [18:00 Astana/Almaty].  For the purposes of determining if an award is submitted on time, the Embassy Public Diplomacy Section will utilize the time-stamp provided by Grants.gov.  This deadline is firm and is not a rolling deadline. If organizations fail to meet the deadline noted above their application will be considered ineligible and will not be considered for funding.

Application Submission Process: There are two application 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: KZPDSGrantProposal@state.gov. Applicants opting to submit applications via email to KZPDSGrantProposal@state.govmust include the Funding Opportunity Title and Funding Opportunity Number in the subject line of the email.
  • 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 KZPDSGrantProposal@state.govis unable to assist with technical questions or problems applicants experience with Grants.gov.

Required Registrations

Any applicant listed on the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS) in the System for Award Management (SAM) is not eligible to apply for an assistance award in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 CFR 180 that implement Executive Orders 12549 (3 CFR, 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 CFR, 1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension.” Additionally, no entity listed on the EPLS can participate in any activities under an award.  All applicants are strongly encouraged to review the EPLS in SAM to ensure that no ineligible entity is included.

All organizations applying for grants (except individuals) must obtain a SAM.gov registration as well as a Unique Entity Identifier Number (UEI).  Registration through www.SAM.gov is free of charge.

The Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) is one of the data elements mandated by Public Law 109-282, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA), for all Federal awards.  SAM.gov is the Federal government’s primary database for complying with FFATA reporting requirements.  OMB designated SAM.gov as the central repository to facilitate applicant and recipient use of a single public website that consolidates data on all federal financial assistance.  Under the law, it is mandatory to register in SAM.gov.

Starting April 2022, the UEI will be assigned when an organization registers or renews its registration in SAM.gov at www.SAM.gov.  To access SAM.gov an organization is required to have a Login.gov account. Organization can create an account at https://login.gov/.   As a reminder, organizations need to renew its sam.gov registration annually.

www.sam.gov requires all entities to renew their registration once a year in order to maintain an active registration status in SAM.gov.  It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure it has an active registration in SAM.gov.

If an organization plans to issue a sub-contract or sub-award, those sub-awardees must also have a unique entity identifier (UEI number).  Those entities can register for a UEI only at SAM.gov. Any sub-recipient organization must also meet all the U.S. and Kazakhstan requirements described above.

If an organization does not have an active registration in SAM.gov prior to submitting an application, the application could be deemed ineligible.  All organizations applying for grants (except individuals) must obtain these registrations, the latter are free of charge.

Applicants must acquire all required registrations and rights in the United States and Kazakhstan.  All intellectual property considerations and rights must be fully met in the United States and Kazakhstan.

Any sub-recipient organization must also meet all the U.S. and Kazakhstan requirements described above.

Technical Requirements for Application:

When submitting a proposal, applicants are required to include the following documents and information from Sections 1–5 below, as applicable:

Section 1—Application Summary Coversheet:

Paragraph 1: Executive Summary. Please provide a general overview of the proposed project, and how, specifically, this application is responding to the NOFO prompt. What will be the focus of this project, what will be its SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) objectives, and how will meeting these objectives contribute to NOFO’s stated Project Goal?

Paragraph 2: Summary of Grantee Expertise, Previous Experience on this subject: Detail grantee’s past work in topic area, including best practices and lessons learned. Discuss any networks or communities of practice that formed as a result of grantee’s previous activities, and how grantee would build on those networks.  More details can be attached as an appendix.

Paragraph 3: Logistics, including Selection of Participants: How will applicant organize, coordinate, and execute activities in order to reach stated deliverables? How, specifically, will grantee select participants, whether event attendees, volunteers, or trainees? What is the specific selection process? What are the criteria?

Paragraph 4: Project Monitoring and Evaluation Plan: The Monitoring and Evaluation component of the proposal will outline in detail how the proposal’s activities will advance the program’s goals and objectives (listed above in Section A). This should be a brief overview of the M&E requirement listed below.

Section 2—Technical Proposal

Applicants must submit a complete narrative proposal in a format of their choice, or they may use the attached proposal template. The proposal shall not exceed twelve (12) pages.  Refer to the evaluation criteria in Part G below for further detail about what makes a strong proposal. All proposals must address the following areas:

  • Organizational Description and Capacity
  • Project Justification, Sustainability, and Impact
  • Project Goals, Audiences, Objectives,Activities, and Deliverables
  • Support of Equity and Underserved Communities
  • Implementation Timeline
  • Monitoring and Evaluation (see note below)

Proof of Registration: 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.


STEP Enrollment: U.S. citizens who travel to Kazakhstan are encouraged to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) available at: https://step.state.gov/step/. Enrollment enables citizens to receive security-related messages from the Embassy and makes it easier for us to locate you in an emergency. The Embassy also recommends that all travelers review the State Department’s travel website at travel.state.gov for the Worldwide CautionTravel WarningsTravel Alerts, and Kazakhstan Specific Information.

Monitoring & Evaluation

Proposals must include a draft Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Performance Monitoring Plan (PMP).  The M&E PMP should show how applicants intend to measure and demonstrate progress towards the project’s objectives and goals. Attachment 5 of this funding opportunity contains a template that may be used to fulfill this requirement.  While the grantee is free to create their own template, completing Attachment 5 will ensure a thorough PMP.

The selected applicant(s) will be required to submit an approved M&E PMP before an award is signed. The selected applicant will be required to work with PDS Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist to ensure the M&E PMP achieves an expected level of expertise and meets PDS objectives.

The key components to the PMP are as follows:

  1. Monitoring and Evaluation Narrative: In narrative form, applicants should describe how they intend to monitor and evaluate the activities of their award and collect data that tracks award performance. In addition, the applicant should describe any M&E processes, including key personnel, management structure (where M&E fits into the overall program’s staff structure), technology, and as well provide a brief budget narrative explaining any line item expenditures for M&E listed in the program’s budget.  This narrative is limited to two pages.
  2. Theory of Change Diagram: Applicants will be expected to submit either a Theory of Change diagram or an If-Then Statement that illustrates how project activities will lead to intended outcomes.  Attachment 5 includes a suggested format for these requirements.
  3. Monitoring and Evaluation Datasheet:The applicant must include their proposed activities and their expected outputs and outcomes as well as the goals and objectives as written in the NOFO. The datasheet’s purpose is to explicitly illustrate how a project’s activities lead to tangible results (such as increased beneficiary skills, knowledge, or attitudes) that ultimately address a PDS objective. For more information, please see Attachment 5.

Section 3—Budget

  1. Budget and Budget Detail:Applicants must submit a detailed budget and budget narrative justification. Applicants are encouraged to utilize the template provided with the funding opportunity, but are not required to do so (Attachment 6). Line item expenditures should be listed in the greatest possible detail. Personnel salaries should include the level of effort and the rate of pay, which should cover the percentage of time each staff member will dedicate to grant-based activities.  If your organization is charging an indirect cost rate, you must apply it to the modified total budget costs (MTDC), refer to 2CFR§200.68.  Budgets that are not in the provided format will not be considered. Budgets shall be submitted in U.S. dollarsand final grant agreements will be conducted in U.S. dollars.
  2.  Audit Requirements:  Please note the audit requirements for Department of State awards in the Standard Terms and Conditions https://www.state.gov/m/a/ope/index.htm and 2CFR200, Subpart F – Audit Requirements.  The cost of the required audits may be charged either as an allowable direct cost to the award OR included in the organization’s established indirect costs in the award’s detailed budget.
  3. Visa Fees:Include all visa application and related fees in your budget as applicable.  Please note DS-2019s for post-funded programs must be submitted directly by the award recipient.  If you anticipate your program will include the DS-2019 visa processing, your organization must be a registered Designated Sponsoring Organization.  For more information go to: https://j1visa.state.gov/sponsors/become-a-sponsor/

Section 4—Key Personnel and Project Partners

  1. Key Personnel: A résumé, not to exceed one page in length, must be included for the proposed key staff persons, such as the Project Director and Finance Officer, as well as any speakers or trainers (if applicable).  If an individual for this type of position has not been identified, the applicant may submit a 1-page position description, identifying the qualifications and skills required for that position, in lieu of a résumé.
  2. Project Partners: Letters of support should be included for sub-recipients 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.

Section 5—Standard Form 424 Family

All submissions must include the SF-424 Application for Federal Assistance (Attachment 1) and the SF-424A Budget Information—Non-Construction (Attachment 2). These forms and the instructions for completing them are available at http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/forms.html under the heading “SF-424 Family.”  NOTE: The SF-424B is required only for those applicants who have not registered in SAM.gov or recertified their registration in SAM.gov since February 2, 2019 and completed the online representations and certifications.  An authorized signature by the applicant must be provided on this form.

Please note:

  1. Other items NOTrequired/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.

Special Characters in Submissions

Grants.gov does not accept all UTF-8 special characters in file attachment names. Applicants are able to enter all special characters from the UTF-8 character set when submitting applications and information to Grants.gov. However, if the grantor’s system is not yet compatible with these special characters, the grantor system may produce garbled or missing text in the application. As a result, the application may be rejected.

  1. Review and Selection Process                                                                                                    
  2.  Acknowledgement of receipt.Applicants will receive acknowledgment of receipt of their proposal.
  3.  Review.All submissions are screened for technical eligibility.If a submission is missing any required forms/documents listed, it will be considered ineligible and will not be reviewed by the grants review committee. A technical review panel will review the proposal and based upon the criteria noted in this NOFO.
  4.  Follow up notification.  Applicants will generally be notified within 90 days after the NOFO deadline regarding the results of the review panel.

Application Evaluation Criteria                                                                                               

Criteria:  Each application submitted under this announcement will be evaluated and rated on the basis of the criteria enumerated below. The criteria are designed to assess the quality of the proposed project, and to determine the likelihood of its success.

  • Quality and Feasibility of the Program Idea– 25 points:  The program idea should be innovative and 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.  Proposals should also demonstrate how the program will support diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) principles and engage underserved communities in their program’s administration, design, and implementation.
  • Organizational Capacity and Record on Previous Grants – 25 points:
    • The project proposal demonstrates that the organization has sufficient expertise, skills, and human resources to implement the project.
    • The organization demonstrates that it has a clear understanding of the underlying issue that the project will address.
    • 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 – 15 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.
    • A media or amplification plan (if appropriate) that shows how the organization will use social or traditional media or otherwise increase the number of people who gain exposure to the issue and knowledge of the activities beyond the core participants.
  • Budget – 10 points:The budget and narrative justification are sufficiently detailed. The budget demonstrates that the organization has devoted time to accurately determine expenses associated with the project instead of providing rough estimates. Costs are reasonable in relation to the proposed activities and anticipated results. The results and proposed outcomes justify the total cost of the project. Budget items are reasonable, allowable, and allocable.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation – 15 points:Points for M&E will be awarded by considering three subset criteria within the narrative: (1) Technical M&E; (2) Program Design; and (3) Learning. Specifically, scoring will be based on the following:
    • Technical M&E:A submission will be considered technically sound if there is a complete and thorough draft submission of a M&E Performance Monitoring Plan (PMP).  This will include a list of proposed project activities, corresponding milestone, output, and outcome indicators, a description of data collection methods, and a timeline for collecting such information.  Use of the suggested template (Attachment 5) will satisfy these requirements.  Funded projects will have their plans finalized during the negotiation phase, and monitoring plans may be subject to periodic updates throughout the life of the project.
    • Program Design:A submission will be considered well designed if the proposal addresses a significant problem, identifies an appropriate target audience, and presents a clear theory of change on how the program will address that problem.  Whether through a logical framework, theory of change diagram, or a set of if-then statements, the proposal should state in some form “If these activities are completed, then these outcomes will result”.  Further, if the project requires selecting participants, or beneficiaries, the proposal should articulate how the selection will be done in an equitable way.
    • Learning:A submission will satisfy the learning component by demonstrating an ability to adjust project activities based on new information.  Does the design incorporate community or participant feedback to allow for adjustments?  If the proposal is from a prior grantee, does the proposal discuss how the grantee has adapted, improved or otherwise modified their approach based on learning from previous experience/past performance? If this is a new grantee or new project, has the proposal demonstrated that the applicant used desk research, prior experience, or other evidence to directly inform program design?

Expenses directly associated with monitoring and evaluation are considered allowable.  The suggested template includes a space to list the portion of the total budget amount directly associated with monitoring and evaluation activities.

  • Sustainability – 10 points:The project proposal describes clearly the approach that will be used to ensure maximum sustainability or advancement of project goals after the end of project activity.

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:

In accordance with the Office of Management and Budget’s guidance located at 2 CFR part 200, all applicable Federal laws, and relevant Executive guidance, the Department of State will review and consider applications for funding, as applicable to specific programs, pursuant to this notice of funding opportunity in accordance with the following:  NOTE:

  • Guidance for Grants and Agreements in Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations(2 CFR), as updated in the Federal Register’s 85 FR 49506 on August 13, 2020, particularly on:
    • Selecting recipients most likely to be successful in delivering results based on the program objectives through an objective process of evaluating Federal award applications (2 CFR part 200.205),
    • Prohibiting the purchase of certain telecommunication and video surveillance services or equipment in alignment with section 889 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 (Pub. L. No. 115—232) (2 CFR part 200.216),
    • Promoting the freedom of speech and religious liberty in alignment with Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty (E.O. 13798) and Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities(E.O. 13864) (§§ 200.300, 200.303, 200.339, and 200.341),
    • Providing a preference, to the extent permitted by law, to maximize use of goods, products, and materials produced in the United States (2 CFR part 200.322), and
    • Terminating agreements in whole or in part to the greatest extent authorized by law, if an award no longer effectuates the program goals or agency priorities (2 CFR part 200.340).

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility

The Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA) prioritizes inclusive and integrated programs that address barriers to access for individuals and groups based on their religion, gender, disabilities, ethnicity, or sexual orientation and gender identity. In accordance with the Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Underserved Communities, proposals should demonstrate how the program will advance principles of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) related to race, ethnicity, religion, income, geography, gender identity, sexual orientation, and/or disability.

Proposals should demonstrate how addressing racial equity and/or the status of underserved communities will enhance the program’s goals and objectives, as well as the experience of participants.

The support of underserved communities will be part of the review criteria for this opportunity. Therefore, proposals should clearly demonstrate how the program will support and advance equity and engage underserved communities in the program’s administration, design, and implementation phases.



The term “diversity” means the practice of including the many communities, identities, races, ethnicities, backgrounds, abilities, cultures, and beliefs of a community.


The term “equity” means the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, such as ethnic minorities, and indigenous persons, members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.


The term “inclusion” means the recognition, appreciation, and use of the talents and skills of persons of all backgrounds.


The term “accessibility” means the design, construction, development, and maintenance of facilities, information and communication technology, programs, and services so that all people, including people with disabilities, can fully and independently use them.

Underserved communities:

The term “underserved communities” refers to populations sharing a particular characteristic, as well as geographic communities, that have been systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic, social, and civic life, as exemplified by the list in the preceding definition of “equity.”


Recipients are required to submit quarterly program progress and financial reports throughout the project period. The quarterly progress report should include an up-to-date copy of the PMP datasheet. Progress and financial reports are due 30 days after the reporting period. Final certified programmatic and financial reports are due 120 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.

The Awardee must also provide the Embassy on an annual basis an inventory of all the U.S. government provided equipment using the SF428 form.

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.