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Notice of Funding Opportunity – Strategic programming at American Corners in Kazakhstan
August 11, 2020

Notice of Funding Opportunity – Strategic programming at American Corners in Kazakhstan.

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: Kazakhstan American Corners Grants
Announcement Type: Grant or Cooperative Agreement
Funding Opportunity Number: DOS-KAZ-NS-PAS-20-011
Deadline for Applications: September 11, 2020 (11:59 p.m. Nur-Sultan time)
CFDA: 19.441 – American Corners

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 KZ-PAS-Proposals@state.gov. The subject line should in the Funding Opportunity Title and Number.





The U.S. Embassy Nur-Sultan Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce funding is available through the Embassy’s Public Diplomacy American Corners Grants Program. The U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section (PAS) in Nur-Sultan is soliciting proposals from Kazakhstan and United States’ not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations that support the development and implementation of strategic programming at American Corners in Kazakhstan.


Since the opening of the first American Corner in Oskemen, Kazakhstan American Corners have become widely-recognized, full-fledged cultural centers that provide emerging leaders in Kazakhstan with a place to learn more about the United States, improve their English in an authentic environment, and interact with Americans. Kazakhstan now has 10 American Corners where programs take place in-person and are regularly streamed to online audiences to expand high-quality cultural and educational programs throughout the network of American Corners in Kazakhstan. Also, as part of its tech-forward mission, some spaces run makerspaces with state-of-the-art design, prototyping, and audio-visual equipment to support business start-ups, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals. Dedicated staff provide training and mentor visitors to help them complete their projects. All services and events are currently free to the public.

American Corner programs are planned in consultation with host institutions and the Public Affairs Section. They should be free to the public and utilize the help of volunteers and local partners. Kazakhstan has nine American Corners where the programs proposed by applicants may take place. They are located in:

  • Nur-Sultan
  • Aktobe
  • Pavlodar
  • Petropavlovsk
  • Shymkent
  • Oskemen
  • Uralsk
  • Karaganda
  • Kostanay

Proposed activities and implementation strategies should focus on priority themes and complement or utilize American Corners’ core programs (listed below).

Priority Themes

  • Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship, particularly for women, youth (18 – 30) and vulnerable population to advance economic independence and sustainable development. (commercial activity or specific businesses/startups will not be considered)
  • Media Literacy – to develop a society that is able to recognize false information or question the accuracy of information.
  • Innovation – to promote access to and empowerment through STEAM.
  • Environment and Climate- to raise environmental awareness by creating citizen understanding of sustainable manage of ecosystems and natural resources, particularly related to air quality initiative.
  • Cultural Heritage – to promote the understanding that ancient and historic monuments, objects, and archaeological sites as well as intangible aspect of culture in the world enrich and inform today’s societies, and help connect us to our cultural origins.

Core Programs

  1. Accurate Information about the United States: Providing accurate, compelling, timely and audience-appropriate information about the United States – its history, culture, society, values, and foreign policies.
  2. English Language Learning: Facilitating English language learning through access to English language speakers, resources, computers, and internet access.
  3. Study in the United States: Promoting higher education study in the United States by providing international students with accurate, comprehensive, and current guidance on applying to U.S. colleges and universities.
  4. Culture and STEAM: Fostering people-to-people connections to increase understanding and build respect with host country audiences through science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) and cultural programs.
  5. U.S. Alumni Engagement: Supporting continuing engagement with U.S. government exchange program alumni, connecting them to local audiences through alumni programs in which credible, local voices can share firsthand information about the United States and American values. 

Funding Instrument Type: Cooperative Agreement or Grant

Anticipated period of performance: 9-12 months

Number of awards anticipated: 30

Floor of Individual Award Amounts: $2,500

Ceiling of Individual Award Amounts: $50,000

The U.S. Embassy Nur-Sultan Public Affairs Section 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.


The U.S. Embassy Nur-Sultan Public Affairs Section encourages applications from U.S. and Kazakhstan registered not-for-profit, non-governmental organizations, and educational institutions. Previous grant experience should be documented in the organization’s 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.

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.


Application Deadline: All applications must be received by September 11, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Nur-Sultan Time. For the purposes of determining if an award is submitted on time, PAS 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.

Applications are accepted in English only, and final grant agreements will be concluded in English. Budgets shall be submitted in U.S. dollars and final grant agreements will be conducted in U.S. dollars.

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: 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.
  • 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 KZ-PAS-Proposals@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

All applications must be received by the deadline communicated in this NOFO. Proof of timely submission is automatically recorded by Grants.gov. An electronic time stamp is generated within the system when the application is successfully received by Grants.gov. Applicants will receive an acknowledgement of receipt and a tracking number from Grants.gov with the successful transmission of their application. Applicants should print this receipt and save it as proof of timely submission.

When PAS 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). Proof of timely submission shall be the date and time that Grants.gov receives your application. Applications received by Grants.gov after the established due date for the program will be considered late and will not be considered for funding.

Applicants using dial-up connections should be aware that transmission should take some time before Grants.gov receives it. Grants.gov will provide either an error or a successfully received transmission message. The Grants.gov Contact Center reports that some applicants abort the transmission because they think that nothing is occurring during the transmission process. Please be patient and give the system time to process the application. Uploading and transmitting many files, particularly electronic forms with associated XML schemas, will take some time.

Applications are due no later than September 11, 2020 (11:59pm Nur-Sultan time).

Technical Requirements

Address to Request Application Package

This NOFO 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)
    3. SF424B (Assurances for Non-Construction programs)
  1. Summary Page: Cover sheet stating the applicant name and organization, proposal date, project title, project period proposed start and end date, and brief purpose of the project.
  1. Proposal (10 pages maximum): The proposal should contain sufficient information that anyone not familiar with it would understand exactly what the applicant wants to do. You may use your own proposal format, but it must include all the items below.
    1. Proposal Summary: Short narrative that outlines the proposed project, including project objectives and anticipated impact.
    2. Introduction to the Organization Applying: A description of past and present operations, showing ability to carry out the project, including information on all previous grants from the U.S. Embassy and/or U.S. government agencies.
    3. Problem Statement: Clear, concise and well-supported statement of the problem to be addressed and why the proposed project is needed
    4. Project Goals and Objectives: The “goals” describe what the project is intended to achieve.  The “objectives” refer to the intermediate accomplishments on the way to the goals. These should be achievable and measurable.
    5. Project Activities: Describe the project activities and how they will help achieve the objectives.
    6. Program Methods and Design: A description of how the project is expected to work to solve the stated problem and achieve the goal. Include a logic model as appropriate
    7. Proposed Project Schedule and Timeline: The proposed timeline for the project activities. Include the dates, times, and locations of planned activities and events
    8. Key Personnel: Names, titles, roles and experience/qualifications of key personnel involved in the project. What proportion of their time will be used in support of this project?
    9. Project Partners: List the names and type of involvement of key partner organizations and sub-awardees
    10. 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). A strong proposal will include:
      1. Any outcomes the grantee expects to occur because of their program. Outcomes could include: change in knowledge, awareness, and attitudes; improved quality of services; increased capacity at a school, group; etc. Proposals should also include how the grantee will know those outcomes are occurring (surveys, interviews, observations, etc.)
        1. For example: If the program expects that a teacher-training program will improve the skills of a teacher, a proposal may explain the skills the teacher would gain and plan to perform a pre and post survey that would show a change in understanding due to the program.
      2. A schedule of when grant activities will occur (such as participant selection, workshops, travel, lectures, trainings, etc.), and when the grantee will check the grant’s progress to know how it is performing. Results of those checks are expected to be reported in the quarterly reports.
      3. A plan to include the grantee’s reflection of how their program, as a whole, contributed to the program’s goals. As applicable, a strong final report would be supported by success stories, behaviors changed, lessons learned, and results obtained.
    11. Future Funding or Sustainability: Applicant’s plan for continuing the program beyond the grant period, or the availability of other resources, if applicable.
  1. Budget Justification Narrative: Applicants must submit a detailed budget and budget narrative justification utilizing the template provided. Line item expenditures should be listed in the greatest possible detail. Budgets shall be submitted in U.S. dollars and final grant agreements will be conducted in U.S. dollars.
    1. Publishing short informational publications, manuals and public informational materials are allowable. All publishing should be clearly linked to the project activity, should describe the intended audience, provide a clear understanding of the material’s content, how materials will be distributed, and specify who is responsible for the distribution of the materials. The Public Affairs Section reserves the right to review and approve all funded publications.
    2. Salaries (including income tax and social deductions), equipment, and other administrative expenses are allowable only as they relate to specific project activities. Salary or honoraria should be listed according to rate of pay and percentage of time spent on program-related activities. While salary expenses are permissible for local personnel, payment of honoraria and other expenses for foreign experts will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The Public Affairs Section strongly urges applicants to consider utilizing local and regional experts.
    3. Any request for computer equipment must include the procurement of original, not pirated, software.
    4. Any equipment which is procured with grant funds is loaned to the NGO and remains the property of the U.S. Embassy for a minimum of three years. This is to ensure that equipment will not be used for personal matters and that equipment will be returned to the U.S. Embassy should the NGO cease its activities. At the end of project or three years, the Public Affairs Section will review the work of the NGO to determine whether 1) the loan will be extended, 2) the equipment will be given permanently to the NGO, or 3) the equipment will be returned to the U.S. Embassy.
    5. Coffee breaks and working lunches only will be considered on case by case basis and should be clearly justified and limited to a maximum of 10% of the total award amount.
    6. Lodging costs should be indicated separately from meal costs related to the project activities.
  2. 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:
  2. Copies of an organization or program audit within the last two (2) years
  3. Copies of relevant human resources, financial, or procurement policies
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  3. Other Prohibited Expenses:
    1. Grants may not cover ongoing salaries, professional fees, or on-going operational expenses (furniture, utilities, communication expenses, office rental, car and building purchase, etc.);
    2. Grants may not be used for the production or procurement of English-language materials. The Public Affairs Section will not fund the publishing of academic theses.
    3. Public Affairs Section funds should not be used to pay for travel to the United States or for travel grants. Projects involving regional travel will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and must have a clear justification outlining why the travel is integral to the project.
    4. Public Affairs Section funds cannot be used to provide direct charity or social services to populations.
    5. Alcohol and entertainment costs are not allowable expenses.
  1. Program Activities: Activities that are not typically funded include, but are not limited to:
    1. profit-generating projects;
    2. scholarships to support educational opportunities or study for individuals*;
    3. paying to complete activities begun with other funds;
    4. financial support for fundraising or fund development projects;
    5. projects that are inherently political in nature or that contain the appearance of partisanship/support to an individual or single party in electoral campaigns;
    6. political party and lobbying activities;
    7. projects that support specific religious activities; and,
    8. microloans/microfinance projects, distribution of seed money for enterprises, and legal/land rights-focused programs are not allowable.

*Individuals interested in educational exchange or study opportunities in the United States should visit https://kz.usembassy.gov/education-culture/study-usa/ for more information on available programs.


The U.S. Embassy in Nur-Sultan has formed a Selection Committee consisting of representatives from U.S. government agencies and community members to review submitted proposals. Once the application process is over, it may take up to 30 days to complete the review and approval process. The Public Affairs Section reserves the right to reject applications for any reason.


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


  • 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 – 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 – 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.
    • 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 – 20 points: Applicant demonstrates it is able to 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.



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


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.

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.



If you have any questions about the grant application process, please contact: KZ-PAS-Proposals@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.



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.