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[Funding Opportunity] Professional Development of High School Counselors
June 17, 2021

Department of State
Embassy of the United States in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan
Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO)

Program Office: Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy Nur-Sultan
Funding Opportunity Title: Professional Development of High School Counselors
Announcement Type: Cooperative Agreement
Funding Opportunity Number: DOS-KAZ-NS-PAS-21-014
Deadline for Applications: August 4, 2021 18:00 Almaty/Nur-Sultan time (GMT +6)
CFDA Number: 19.040 – Public Diplomacy Programs


For assistance with the requirements of this solicitation, contact KZ-PAS-Proposals@state.gov

Authorization to submit proposals through KZ-PAS-Proposals@state.gov is a multi-step process that requires prior successful registration with three separate sites: DUNSNCAGE, and SAMPlease 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 Affairs Section (PAS) 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.

A. Funding Opportunity Description Summary

Executive Summary:

The U.S. Embassy Nur-Sultan Public Affairs Section is pleased to announce a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for a program to promote the professional development of high school counselors in Kazakhstan so that they can more effectively support student mobility between the United States and Kazakhstan. The awardee will conduct a series of workshops in the summer and fall of 2021 for counselors at secondary schools throughout Kazakhstan. These workshops will introduce best practices and increase participants’ knowledge of the U.S. higher education system. By strengthening their professional capacity, the program will enable counselors to share accurate information about U.S. education opportunities with high school students in Kazakhstan and contribute to greater student mobility between Kazakhstan and the United States.


The number of students from Kazakhstan studying in the United States has grown in recent years, but without access to reliable resources and information, a U.S. education remains out of reach for many. To assist Kazakhstani students who wish to pursue a U.S. higher education, the U.S. Department of State currently operates EducationUSA advising centers in Almaty, Karaganda, Nur-Sultan, and Shymkent. EducationUSA is a network of over 400 international student advising centers in more than 170 countries. The network promotes U.S. higher education to students around the world by offering accurate, comprehensive, and current information about opportunities to study at accredited postsecondary institutions in the United States.

This funding opportunity seeks to build on EducationUSA’s efforts and invest in local institutional capacity in Kazakhstan by training secondary school counselors. As many as 65 leading secondary schools in the country have created counselor positions in recent years. However, many of these counselors have received limited training, opportunities for networking, or mentorship. The program will bring counselors together and provide them with an opportunity for professional development, as well as useful information and materials. It will also connect them to peers in the United States and enable them to inform students more effectively about higher education opportunities in the United States.

Project Goal: Increase student mobility from Kazakhstan to the United States.

Project Audience(s): At least 100 counselors at secondary schools in Kazakhstan, primarily those prioritizing English-language instructions, e.g.:

  • Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools (NIS)
  • Bilim Innovation Schools
  • International Schools

Additional participants may include U.S. counselors and professional organizations, recruiters from U.S. higher education institutions, and admissions counselors.

Project Objective:

  • Increase the capacity of at least 100 counselors at secondary schools in Kazakhstan to provide accurate information and resources on higher education opportunities in the United States.

At the start of the program, the awardee will survey participants about their expectations for the training workshops, their professional development prospects, and baseline knowledge of higher education in the United States. Upon completion of the training, the awardee will conduct a follow-up survey to measure progress, change in counselor capacity, and evaluate lessons learned. Awardees should track the increase in number of secondary students applying to U.S. institutions, admitted to U.S. institutions, and planning to attend U.S. institutions.

The awardee will conduct a series of two training workshops for participating counselors. The first will take place in summer of 2021; the second will take place in the fall of 2021. Applicants should present a detailed training plan and agenda as part of their application. The training plan should include a virtual workshop contingency, if the COVID-19 pandemic precludes in-person training from being held safely.

Training topics should include, but not necessarily be limited to:

  • The advantages of studying in the United States
  • Differences in the U.S. education system: community colleges vs. colleges vs. universities
  • How to use ranking systems (focus on rankings by field)
  • Timeline and application process
  • Test preparation advice (e.g., TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo, SAT)
  • How to make students’ applications more competitive?
  • How to afford study in the United States: scholarships, 2+2 programs
  • How to prepare students for recruitment fairs?
  • Joining international associations and conferences

Virtual and in-person speakers may include, but not necessarily be limited to:

  • EducationUSA Advisers
  • U.S. high school counselor(s)
  • U.S. admissions counselor(s) from different types of schools: community college, college, and university
  • U.S. college recruiter(s)
  • Representative(s) of a U.S. professional association, such as the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)

The program will also include attendance at the EducationUSA and Bolashak college fairs, which will be held in the fall of 2021. At the conclusion of the program, the awardee will provide participating counselors with up-to-date resource materials for their office, such as college guides, college application guides, and test preparation materials. Virtual benefits such as association membership may also be included.

B. Federal Award Information

Funding Mechanism Type: Cooperative Agreement

Estimated Award Ceiling: $20,000

Length of Project Period: 12 months

Anticipated program start date: August 4, 2021

The Public Affairs 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.

C. Eligibility Information

  1. The following organizations are eligible to apply:
  2. Not-for-profit organizations
  3. Civil society/non-governmental organizations
  4. Public and private educational institutions
  1. 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.
    1. Cost sharing or matching is not required for this funding opportunity.
      1. Pre-award costs are not an allowable expense for this funding opportunity.
        1. 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. 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.
          1. 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

D. 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 clearly addresses 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 Times New Roman 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 August 4, 2021 18:00 Almaty/Nur-Sultan time (GMT +6). 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: Applicants may submit their application using the Submission Method A outlined below:

  • Submit all application materials directly to the following email address: KZ-PAS-Proposals@state.gov. Applicants opting to submit applications via email to KZ-PAS-Proposals@state.gov must include the Funding Opportunity Title and Funding Opportunity Number in the subject line of the email.

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 these registrations. All are free of charge:

  • Unique entity identifier from Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS number)
  • NCAGE/CAGE code
  • www.SAM.gov registration

Follow the steps outlined below to obtain the required registrations:

  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 .

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.

E. 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— 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 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.

Section 2—Organization Information 

A. Applicant Organizational Information Sheet: Applicants must complete and submit the form provided (Attachment 4). An authorized signature by the applicant must be provided on this form.

B. 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.

Section 3—Technical Proposal

Applicants must submit a complete narrative proposal in a format of their choice. 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
  • Implementation Timeline
  • Monitoring and Evaluation (see note below)

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 3 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 3 will ensure a thorough PMP.

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.

Section 4—Budget

A. 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 4). 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. dollars and final grant agreements will be conducted in U.S. dollars.

B. 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.

C. 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 5—Key Personnel and Project Partners

A. 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.

B. 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.

F. Review and Selection Process

1. Acknowledgement of receipt. Applicants will receive acknowledgment of receipt of their proposal.

2. 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.

3. Follow up notification. Applicants will generally be notified within 90 days after the NOFO deadline regarding the results of the review panel.

G. Application Evaluation Criteria

Criteria: Each application submitted under this announcement will be evaluated and rated based on 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.
  • Organizational Capacity and Record on Previous Grants – 20 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: Applicant demonstrates it can measure program success against key indicators and provides milestones to indicate progress toward goals outlined in the proposal. The organization has clearly articulated how it will assess and measure its own performance throughout the project implementation phase using concrete quantitative and qualitative assessment tools.
    • 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 clearly describes the approach that will be used to ensure maximum sustainability or advancement of project goals after the end of project activity.

H. 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 252 CFR 1702 CFR 1752 CFR 1822 CFR 1832 CFR 2002 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

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:

  • President’s September 2, 2020 memorandum, entitled Memorandum on Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients of Federal Funds that Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities;
  • Executive Order on Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence (E.O. 13933); and
  • 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).


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 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.

I. 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.