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East Asia and the Pacific: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Request for Proposals: Countering Closing Civic Space in Kenya and Uganda

Department of State

Public Notice

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Request for Proposals: Countering Closing Civic Space in Kenya and Uganda

I. Requested Proposal Program Objectives

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Proposals (RFP) from organizations interested in submitting proposals for projects that will support efforts of local civil society groups to protect and promote civic space in Kenya and Uganda.

PLEASE NOTE: DRL strongly encourages applicants to access immediately www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov in order to obtain a username and password. GrantSolutions.gov is highly recommended for all submissions and is DRL’s preferred choice of receiving applications. For more information, please see DRL’s Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) for Full Proposals, as updated in October 2014, available at: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.

DRL invites organizations to submit proposals for programs to conduct the following:

Kenya/Uganda (up to $841,500 available):

DRL seeks to support efforts of local civil society groups to protect and promote civic space in dozens of countries around the world, and is seeking program proposals to meet that goal in Kenya and Uganda. Proposals should be designed for one regional project in Kenya and Uganda, and incorporate a regional perspective to challenge increasing restrictions on civil society in East Africa. Funds will support programs that aim to strengthen local organizations’ ability to successfully advocate for space to operate, both at a country and regional level. Program activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Strengthening the capacity of civil society to address laws and policies that restrict civic space;
  • Implementing a media campaign and public outreach activities to encourage citizens’ support for the role of civil society
  • Designing innovative outreach activities to educate officials about civil society’s activities, how they contribute to Kenyan and Ugandan society, and the impact of laws and policies that restrict them;
  • Enhancing coordination and information-sharing amongst civil society to more effectively and successfully promote civic space; and
  • Advocating for civic space through regional or global human rights mechanisms.

Successful programming will enable civil society to exercise their voices safely and effectively at the national and regional level and will promote engagement and participation of marginalized populations, including youth, in national affairs. Proposals should focus on relevant legislation.

Unless otherwise noted, all proposed programs must be for at least 18 months in duration. Proposals must demonstrate awareness of similar USG-supported programming in Kenya and Uganda and how the proposed program would complement ongoing efforts. Letters of support from potential subgrantees or program beneficiaries are recommended. Cost-sharing from non-USG funding sources is highly encouraged.

II. Background Information on general DRL funding

DRL supports programs that uphold democratic principles, support and strengthen democratic institutions, promote human rights, and build civil society around the world. Funds are available to support projects that have the potential to have an immediate impact leading to long-term sustainable reforms. Projects should have potential for continued funding beyond DRL resources. DRL prefers innovative and creative approaches rather than programs which simply duplicate or add to efforts by other entities.

DRL will not consider proposals that reflect any type of support for any member, affiliate, or representative of a designated terrorist organization, whether or not elected members of government.

The information in this solicitation and DRL’s PSI for Full Proposals, as updated in October 2014, is binding and may not be modified by any DRL representative. Explanatory information provided by DRL that contradicts this language will not be binding. Issuance of the solicitation and negotiation of submissions does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government. DRL reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the program evaluation requirements.

This request for proposals will appear on www.grants.gov, www.grantsolutions.gov, and DRL’s website http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.

III. Eligibility Information:

Organizations submitting proposals must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a U.S.-based or foreign-based non-profit organization/non-government organization (NGO), or a public international organization; or
  • Be a private, public, or state institutions of higher education; or
  • Be a for-profit organization or business, although there are restrictions on payment of fees and/or profits to the prime recipient under grants and cooperative agreements, including those outlined in 48 CFR Part 30 (“Cost Accounting Standards”), 48 CFR Part 31 (“Cost Principles”), and 22 CFR 145.24(b)(3)(“Program Income”); and
  • Have existing, or the capacity to develop, active partnerships with thematic partners or in-country partners, entities, and relevant stakeholders including industry and NGOs; and
  • Have demonstrable experience administering successful and preferably similar projects. DRL reserves the right to request additional background information on organizations that do not have previous experience administering federal grant awards. These applicants may be subject to limited funding on a pilot basis.

Organizations may form consortia and submit a combined proposal. However, one organization should be designated as the lead applicant.

DRL’s preference is to work with non-profit entities; however there may be occasions when a for-profit entity is best suited. For-profit entities should be aware that its application may be subject to additional review following the panel selection process.

No entity listed on the Excluded Parties List System in the System for Award Management (SAM) is eligible for any assistance or can participate in any activities under an award in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 CFR 180 that implement Executive Orders 12549 (3 CFR Part 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 CFR Part 1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension.”

Organizations are not required to have a DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number and www.sam.gov registration to apply for this solicitation through www.grantsolutions.gov. If a project is selected for further funding stages, these will need to be obtained.

IV. Application Requirements, Deadline, and Technical Eligibility

Applications must conform to DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) for Full Proposals, as updated in October 2014, available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.

An organization may submit no more than one application. Applications that request less than the award floor ($700,000) or more than the award ceiling ($841,500) will be deemed technically ineligible.

Technically eligible applications are those which:

  1. Arrive electronically via GrantSolutions.gov or Grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. EST on January 23, 2015;
  2. Are in English, or if an original document within the application is in another language, an English translation is provided;
  3. Heed all instructions contained in this solicitation document and DRL’s Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) for Full Proposals, including length and completeness of application; and,
  4. Do not violate any of the guidelines stated in this solicitation and the PSI for Full Proposals.

Applicants should be aware that all awards made on or after 12/26/2014 will be made with terms and conditions subject to the OMB Uniform Guidance: Cost Principles, Audit, and Administrative Requirements for Federal Awards (2 CFR Chapter I, Chapter II, Part 200, et al.). Applications that are submitted before 12/26/2014 for Federal awards to be made on or after 12/26/2014 should be developed in accordance with the Uniform Guidance.

It is the sole responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all of the material submitted in the grant application package is complete, accurate, and current. DRL will not accept proposals submitted via email, fax, the postal system, or delivery companies or couriers. DRL strongly encourages all applicants, especially foreign or first-time applicants, to submit applications before January 23, 2015 to ensure that the application has been received and is complete.

V. Review and Selection Process

AQM will determine technical eligibility for all applications. All technically eligible applications will then be reviewed against the same six criteria by a Department of State Review Panel. Additionally, the Panel will evaluate how the application meets the solicitation request, U.S. foreign policy goals, and the priority needs of DRL overall. Panelists review each application individually against the evaluation criteria, not against competing proposals.

In most cases, the Department of State Review Panel includes representatives from DRL, the appropriate Department of State regional bureau, as well as USAID. DRL requests feedback on applications from the appropriate U.S. embassies and USAID missions for the panelists’ consideration. In some cases, additional panelists may participate, including from other Department of State bureaus or offices, U.S. government departments, agencies, or boards, representatives from partner governments, or representatives from entities that are in a public-private partnership with DRL. At the end of discussion on an application, the panel votes on recommending the application for approval by the DRL Assistant Secretary and final signatory authority for assistance awards resides with the Department’s Grants Officer. The Grants Officer Representative (GOR) for the eventual award does not vote on the panel.

Department of State Review Panels may provide conditions and recommendations on applications to enhance the proposed program, which must be addressed by the applicant before further consideration of the award. To ensure effective use of limited DRL funds, conditions or recommendations may include requests to increase, decrease, clarify, and/or justify costs and program activities.

Review Criteria

1) Quality of Program Idea/Inclusivity of Marginalized Populations

Applications should be responsive to the solicitation, appropriate in the country/regional context, and should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to DRL’s mission of promoting human rights and democracy. DRL typically does not fund programs that continue an organization’s ongoing work (funded by DRL or other sources), but prioritizes innovative, stand-alone programs. In countries where similar activities are already taking place, an explanation should be provided as to how new activities will not duplicate or merely add to existing activities and how these efforts will be coordinated. Projects that have a strong academic, research, conference, or dialogue focus will not be deemed competitive. DRL strongly discourages health or science related projects unless they have an explicit component related to the requested program objectives in the solicitation.

DRL strives to ensure its programs advance the rights and uphold the dignity of the most at risk and vulnerable populations, including women, youths, people with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, religious minorities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. To the extent possible, applicants should identify and address considerations to support these populations in all proposed program activities and objectives, and should provide specific means, measures, and corresponding targets to include them as appropriate. Applicants should provide strong justifications if unable to incorporate the most at risk and vulnerable populations within proposed program activities and objectives. Applications that do incorporate the most at risk and vulnerable populations will be viewed favorably in this category.

2) Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives

A strong application will include a clear articulation of how the proposed program activities contribute to the overall program objectives, and each activity will be clearly developed and detailed. A comprehensive monthly work plan should demonstrate substantive undertakings and the logistical capacity of the organization. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable results-focused and achievable in a reasonable time frame. A complete application must include a logic model to demonstrate how the program will have an impact on its proposed objectives. Applications should address how the program will engage relevant stakeholders and should identify local partners as appropriate. If local partners have been identified, DRL strongly encourages applicants to submit letters of support from proposed in-country partners. Additionally, applicants should describe the division of labor among the direct applicant and any local partners. If applicable, applications should identify target areas for activities, target participant groups or selection criteria for participants, and the specific roles of subgrantees, among other pertinent details. In particularly challenging operating environments, applications should include contingency plans for overcoming potential difficulties in executing the original work plan and address any operational or programmatic security concerns and how they will be addressed.

3) Cost Effectiveness

DRL strongly encourages applicants to clearly demonstrate program cost-effectiveness in their application, including examples of leveraging institutional and other resources. Applications should include budgets with low and/or reasonable overhead and administration costs and provide clear explanations and justifications for these costs in relation to the work involved. All budget items should be clearly explained and justified to demonstrate its necessity, appropriateness, and its link to the program objectives. DRL also encourages but does not require cost-sharing, which may be in the form of allowable direct or indirect costs and offered by the applicant and/or in-country partners. Cost-sharing is not an evaluation criteria nor is it considered as part of the “Cost Effectiveness” evaluation criteria. Cost-sharing is the portion of program cost not borne by the sponsor. Applicants should consider all types of cost-sharing, including in-kind, and public-private partnerships. Examples include the use of office space owned by other entities; donated or borrowed supplies and equipment; (non-federal) sponsored travel costs; waived indirect costs; and program activities, translations, or consultations conducted by qualified volunteers. The values of offered cost-share should be reported in accordance with (the applicable cost principles outlined in) OMB Circular A-110 (Revised) Subpart C (23) “Cost-sharing or Matching” for programs starting before December 26, 2014 or OMB’s Uniform Guidance for programs starting on or after December 26, 2014. Other federal funding does not constitute cost-sharing.

4) Program Monitoring and Evaluation

Complete applications will include a detailed plan (both a narrative and table) of how the project’s progress and impact will be monitored and evaluated throughout the project. Incorporating a well-designed monitoring and evaluation component into a project is one of the most efficient methods of documenting the progress and potential success of a program. Applications should demonstrate the capacity for engaging in impact assessments and providing objectives with measurable outputs and outcomes.

The quality of the M&E plan will be judged on the narrative explaining how monitoring and evaluation will be carried out and who will be responsible for monitoring and evaluation activities and the detailed table listing by program objectives the output and outcome-based performance indicators with baselines and yearly and cumulative targets, data collection tools, data sources, types of data disaggregation, and frequency of monitoring and evaluation; an external midterm and/or final evaluation or justification for why one is not included; and metrics to capture how program activities target the most at risk and vulnerable populations or addresses their concerns. Competitive applications will propose to share pre- and post-test surveys with DRL immediately following trainings.

5) Multiplier Effect/Sustainability

Applications should clearly delineate how elements of the program will have a multiplier effect and be sustainable beyond the life of the grant. A good multiplier effect will have an impact beyond the direct beneficiaries of the grant (e.g. participants trained under a grant go on to train other people, workshop participants use skills from a workshop to enhance a national level election that affects the entire populace). A strong sustainability plan may include demonstrating continuing impact beyond the life of a project or garnering other donor support after DRL funding ceases.

6) Institution’s Record and Capacity

DRL will consider the past performance of prior recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants. Applications should demonstrate an institutional record of successful democracy and human rights programs, including responsible fiscal management and full compliance with all reporting requirements for past grants. Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the project’s objectives.

For additional guidance, please see DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), as updated in October 2014, as well as DRL’s Monitoring and Evaluation Primer and Sample Monitoring and Evaluation Plan. All are available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.

VI. Contact Information

GrantSolutions.gov Help Desk:

For assistance with GrantSolutions.gov accounts and technical issues related to using the system, please contact Customer Support at help@grantsolutions.gov or call 1-866-577-0771 (toll charges for international callers) or 1-202-401-5282. Customer Support is available 8 AM – 6 PM EST, Monday – Friday, except federal holidays.

Grants.gov Helpdesk:

For assistance with Grants.gov accounts and technical issues related to using the system, please call the Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or email support@grants.gov. The Contact Center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except federal holidays.

See http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/snow-dismissal-procedures/federal-holidays/#url=2014 for a list of federal holidays.

For technical questions related to this solicitation please contact Richard Gaines at GainesRB@state.gov.

With the exception of technical submission questions, during the solicitation period U.S. Department of State staff in Washington and overseas shall not discuss this competition with applicants until the entire proposal review process has been completed and rejection and approval letters have been transmitted.

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