Notice of Funding Opportunity – English Access Microscholarship Program

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 the English Access Microscholarship Programs in Kazakhstan

Announcement Type: Cooperative Agreement

Funding Opportunity Number: DOS-KAZ-NS-AEECA-20-009

Deadline for Applications: July 15, 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:

Due to the uncertain situation with the COVID19 quarantine in Kazakhstan, the Program can be postponed as according to the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Details will follow.

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

FEDERAL AWARD INFORMATION 4

ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION 5

APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION 5

REVIEW AND SELECTION PROCESS 9

FEDERAL AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION 10

FEDERAL AWARDING AGENCY CONTACTS 11

OTHER INFORMATION 11

A. 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 the English Access Microscholarship Program.

Applications may be submitted at any time for consideration before the closing date on July 15, 2020 (11:59 p.m. Nur-Sultan time zone). Applicants are encouraged to apply early.

Background
The English Access Microscholarship Program (Access) is a global program supported by the U.S. Department of State. Access provides a foundation of English language skills to talented 13-15 year-olds from economically disadvantaged sectors through after-school classes and intensive sessions. Access gives participants English skills that may lead to better jobs and educational prospects. The program also gives participants the opportunity to gain an appreciation for U.S. culture and values. It is intended to increase their ability to participate successfully in the socio-economic development of their countries and improve their chances of participating in educational and exchange programs in the United States. Since its inception in 2004, approximately 195,000 students in more than 88 countries have participated in the Access Program.

Project description:

The goal of the Access Program is to equip talented students who possess a minimal knowledge of English with effective communication and critical thinking skills through meaningful interaction, cooperative learning strategies, and real-life contexts. Additionally, Access seeks to prepare students for conversational English language skills with native and non-native speakers of English through a variety of experiential learning activities. Selected participants must be bright, economically disadvantaged students with beginning level of English. Participants should commit to enroll in classes during the full two-year program. Students will graduate with certificates of completion from the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan at the end of their two-year program. The Program is divided into distinct phases:

After-School Instruction

Access Program is a two-year program that requires a minimum of 360 hours of instruction reasonably distributed over the two-year period. After-school instruction has been the preferred time for teaching and has generally taken place three days a week with each class lasting from one to one and a half hours per day. It is the responsibility of the Providers to consider the schedule of the students to ensure that Access classes do not interfere with students’ regular school schedule. Enhancement activities related to U.S. culture and values must occur regularly throughout the two years of the program, including during after-school Instruction. Cultural Enhancement activities should be designed to provide hands-on and interactive opportunities for students to engage in discussions, games, community service, and other activities related to U.S. culture and values. Examples may include community events (celebrating U.S. holidays, e.g. Thanksgiving and/or Fourth of July events) and joint programming with participation of U.S. Embassy personnel, U. S. scholars in town (e.g. English Language Fellows, English Teaching Assistants, Fulbright Students and/or Peace Corps volunteers), English language intensive sessions, leadership training, etc. Access Programs should also include computer instruction to complement English language classes and enhancement activities. Computer classes, multimedia learning, or social media activities during after-school Instruction and/or intensive sessions should be included in the proposal. Community Service Activities Access students should also be involved in community service activities to increase their awareness of issues facing their respective communities while also gaining an understanding of the ways they can positively contribute to civil society.

Intensive Sessions

Intensive Sessions are often two-week-long summer programs that include more instruction hours per week than the After-school program. These sessions are included in the 360 hours of required instruction. Hours of instruction during Intensive Sessions may not exceed 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. Intensive sessions should combine English language instruction with U.S. cultural activities such as drama, computers, art, music, or games and sports, or even civic responsibility projects, leadership and teamwork training, or tolerance programs. Access Program intensive sessions are an important activity which can supplement, initiate, or conclude a student’s two-year English language programming. All intensive sessions should provide students with a window on U.S. culture and values, and their activities as much as possible should incorporate invited speakers (e.g. U.S. exchanges alumni, Embassy personnel, and other native and non-native English-speaking partners, etc.).

Please see the link for further information on the English Access Microscholarship Program: https://exchanges.state.gov/non-us/program/english-access-microscholarship-program

The Successful Provider will be Responsible for the Following Tasks:

  • To advertise and promote the program in local community;

  • To select program participants and staff members;

  • To organize and provide the English Language instruction classes (after school and intensive sessions); and

  • To work closely with the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan and RELO Office in Nur-Sultan;

Project implementation locations

The project implementation location should include cities and towns throughout Kazakhstan. Regional projects should be coordinated with local oblast educational authorities. (Applicants should take note of the Department of States 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

The provider must specify the location(s) of the Access 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 seating for the students; it must have a blackboard/whiteboard, power outlet, heating (for the winter months), and minimal sanitary requisites. The space should also have a computer class with internet capability (or the grantee should consider providing for this separately).

Functional requirements

  1. The provider is responsible for setting criteria for and identifying economically disadvantaged youthto be enrolled in the program. The provider is required to produce midterm and final performance reports. The provider should monitor studentsattendance and performance.

  2. The provider is responsible for creating a highly effective and innovative method for recruiting new Access teachers. This outreach would include, but not be limited to contacting local state education offices, private language schools and use of social media.

  3. Post the highlights on activities on the shared Facebook group

  4. Connect the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program and other USG Alumni to Access with the goal of having one FLEX student attached to every Access group in Kazakhstan.

  5. The provider is responsible for maintaining a database of Access alumni.

  6. Work closely with the National Access Alumni Network team to create activities for the community.

Number of providers:

The provider should reach students in various locations throughout Kazakhstan during this program. The budget per student should be under $1,300 for the two-year period. If one provider would like to run the entire Program in any locations of West Kazakhstan, Central Kazakhstan, North Kazakhstan, the total cost should not exceed $200,000. Proposals that are cost-effective and include significant cost-share will be given priority.

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 July 15, 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 to the target age group. 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 students, and in consultation with the Regional English Language Office at the U.S. Embassy, developing the curriculum. Organizations with previous experience and a capacity of working with educational institutions on a national level will be given priority.

Format of the proposal:

  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 Access Program location(s), methodology, English language intensive sessions, cultural enhancement components, student selection criteria and process, and 3) description of the age range of students, materials used, number of teachers, and grantee cost-sharing.

  1. Budget:

The budget spreadsheet should include all program costs. Categories include a breakdown of costs for the two-year program (e.g. instruction, books/materials, transportation, administration, and cultural enhancement components), the total number of students to be enrolled, the start and end dates for instruction, the number of hours of instruction students will receive per week and year, and the type of program (e.g. after-school, weekend, full-time, or English language intensive sessions). Intensive sessions must be listed as a separate row of the Budget Spreadsheet, with a complete cost breakdown. A breakdown of any cost-sharing by the grantee should be submitted in a separate spreadsheet.

B. FEDERAL AWARD INFORMATION

Funding Instrument Type: Cooperative Agreement

Anticipated period of performance: 20-24 months (2 academic years)

Number of awards anticipated: 1-6

Floor of Individual Award Amounts: $30,000

Ceiling of Individual Award Amounts: $200,000

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.

C.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 organizations proposal. 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.

Cost Sharing or Matching

Inclusion of cost share is not a requirement of this opportunity. However, priority consideration will be given to proposals that include cost-share.

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.

D.APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Application Deadline

Applications may be submitted at any time for consideration before the final closing date of this NOFO on July 15, 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 English Access Microscholarship Program 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 organizations 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.

E. 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.

F. 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.

G. 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.

H. 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 volunteerstime 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.