Media Literacy Program

Program Office:                                Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia
Funding Opportunity Title:               Media Literacy Program
Announcement Type:                       Grant
Deadline for Applications:              August 4, 2017

AECCA                                             $300,000


Application Deadline
: All applications must be submitted in electronic form in addition to or instead of the hard copies on or before August 4, 2017 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard time.


Eligibility

Eligibility is limited to U.S. and Georgian non-profit/non-governmental organizations.
Applicants must have a demonstrated expertise in media literacy and have knowledge of the Georgian media environment.

Cost Sharing or Matching
This program does not require cost sharing; however, in-kind contributions will be favorably considered.

Contact Information
For questions relating to Grants.gov, please call the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726.
On program requirements of this solicitation, contact Grants Program Coordinator at the Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, at TbilisiGrants@state.gov.

Executive Summary
The Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia is pleased to announce an open competition for assistance awards through this Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for a pilot Program in Media Literacy. The Public Affairs Section (PAS) invites U.S. and Georgian non-profit/non-governmental organizations to submit proposals for an up-to- 24 months project to improve media literacy skills among young Georgians between the ages of 16 – 24 to include ethnic minorities and people at risk of being socially marginalized.

Expected results include an increase of at least 20% in program participants’ ability to distinguish trustworthy news from fake news and an increase of at least 20% in those who cross-check the information from the news.

BUDGET AVAILABLE
Subject to the availability of funds, the total budget earmarked for projects is $300,000. The maximum budget per project will be $150,000.  The U.S. Government reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available.

INTRODUCTION – BACKGROUND
“Media literacy” is an umbrella expression that includes all technical, cognitive, social, civic and creative capacities that allow a citizen to access the media, to have a critical understanding of the media and to interact with it. All these capacities allow a person to participate in the economic, social and cultural aspects of society as well as to play an active role in the democratic process. “Media” is to be understood in a broad way: including all kind of media (television, radio, press) and through all kind of channels (traditional, internet, social media).

  1. Media literacy is intrinsic to a healthy democracy

Democracy, by definition, requires the participation of a well-informed electorate. Citizens inform themselves through the media. Their relationship with the media needs to take place in a context of critical thinking. This furthermore requires certain knowledge of how the media works and how media messages are constructed. There is a tight connection between media literacy and democracy. Media literacy is a tool for citizens to acquire critical thinking and become active in a democratic society.

  1. Media literacy is a necessary response to a changing and increasingly complex media landscape.

The change in the media landscape is brought about both by the digital revolution and by a change of behavior and attitude on the part of citizens. The digital revolution means ubiquitous mobile devices, connectivity everywhere, all the time and to almost everything, converging content and more content produced in innovative audiovisual formats. The digital revolution has also changed people’s attitudes: they are not mere passive recipients of media content, but also content creators and media sources, for example through their involvement in social media. Moreover, people increasingly receive news through social media, rather than through traditional channels.

What is shared by people on social media can also become a source for the news. This proliferation of sources brings a lot of new information, opportunities and potential innovation but also requires critical thinking and verification tools. While some of the matters related to this complex environment can be dealt through regulation, this needs to be complemented with measures that empower the user to be critical of his sources of information and of the media content. This is precisely what media literacy means.

  1. Media literacy is one of the building blocks to tackle key societal issues

Media literacy is one of the instruments that can be used to combat hate speech online, to fight radicalization, and is a tool to allow people to spot and defend themselves from political propaganda.

OBJECTIVES
The objective of the pilot project is to increase critical thinking towards the media among young Georgians and to test the feasibility and usefulness of such actions. Critical thinking includes, among other skills, the ability to distinguish information from propaganda, to deconstruct media communication and to interact with social media in a mindful way.
Media is to be understood as covering all kind of media tools and through all kind of channels. The target group is between the ages of 16 – 24 and should include ethnic minorities and people at risk of being socially marginalized. The Embassy invites applicants to identify and extend existing good practices or to test actions which do not duplicate activities undertaken by other entities. It is also a hands-on oriented counterpart to purely academic activities.

Description of the activities to be funded
The pilot project should have clearly defined objective(s) to advance/target specific area(s)/goal(s) within the field of media literacy, as defined in the Introduction – Background Section. It should propose the adequate mixture of tools and activities to achieve those objectives. These could include:

  • Creation of multilingual on-line material and interactive tools to improve the capacities of citizens to acquire a critical understanding of the media and to interact with it;
  • Awareness-raising and efficient dissemination of the material created by the project or other similar material/activities that can be adapted to the same purpose, in particular through networks that can act as multipliers;
  • Efficient dissemination of best practices, for instance through conferences, workshops, on-line platforms and/or training programs;
  • Social media campaigns aimed at helping citizens to interact with new media in a mindful way;
  • Any other relevant innovative activities that can develop citizens’ ability to distinguish information from propaganda, to deconstruct media communication or any other capacity related to critical thinking towards the media;
  • Activities with local communities or networks to tailor and make accessible some of the above tools to minorities, low-skilled people or people at risk of being socially marginalized.

For all tools and activities proposed it will need to be demonstrated in what way they will directly or indirectly benefit citizens lacking medial literacy skills.
Proposals should provide an assessment of its implementation risks and make suggestions about how to address them.
Proposals should also provide an assessment of and a plan for the sustainability of the action(s) after the end of the project.

FUNDING PRIORITY
The Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia seeks to fund an effective, innovative, and sustainable project to improve media literacy skills among Georgian population.

APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Award Period: Up to 24 months upon applicant’s program design with possible extension.

Application Submission Process:  Applicants must send proposals to TbilisiGrants@state.gov. Include the program name in the e-mail subject. .RAR files will not be accepted.

Application Deadline: All applications must be submitted in electronic form in addition to or instead of the hard copies on or before August 4, 2017 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard time.

Applications submitted after 11:59 p.m. will not be eligible for consideration.  If receipt of application in not confirmed within two days, please contact TbilisiGrants@state.gov.

Telegraphic or fax applications are not authorized for this NOFO and will not be accepted. The total size of each attachment should not exceed 3 MBs.  Every page of the proposal must be numbered.  The application must have a table of contents.  Large graphic files are discouraged.  The format of any attachments must be in Microsoft Word, Excel or PDF.  Attached files should be printable on US letter size paper (8½ x11”).

Application Content:  Applicants must follow the NOFO instructions and conditions contained herein and supply all information required.  Failure to furnish all information or comply with stated requirements will result in disqualification from the competition.  Applicants must set forth full, accurate, and complete information as required by this RFP.  The penalty for making false statements in proposals to the USG is prescribed on 18 U.S.C.1001.

Section 1 – Application for Federal Assistance (SF-424):

Section 2 – Executive summary (maximum 2 pages):

The executive summary is limited to two pages in length.  It must provide a summary of the identified need, proposed activities, and expected results.

Section 3 – Project Goals/Implementation Plan (maximum 10 pages):

The applicant must specify the proposed activities that will be undertaken to achieve the goals and objectives of this NOFO.  The proposed activities should be described in sufficient detail to show how objectives and goals will be met.  The narrative should be brief, concise and provide a clear description of what the applicant proposes to do, where, why, when, how and by whom.

This section should also include a structured monitoring and evaluation plan or matrix that will demonstrate how success will be measured against objectively verifiable performance indicators.  The matrix should also include: sources/means for verification, risks and assumptions for goals and objectives, and expected results and activities.

Section 4 – Organizational Capability (maximum 2 pages):

Applications must include a clear description of the applicant’s organizational and management structure, and previous experience with similar projects.  In addition to information about the organization as a whole, this section must also identify the proposed management structure and staffing plan for the proposed project.  Describe any partnerships, consortia, or coalitions arranged between the applicant and the beneficiary organization(s).

Section 5 – Appendices:

The proposal submission must include the two appendices listed below:

  • Budget (Required) – the budget must identify the total amount of funding requested, with a breakdown of amounts to be spent in the following budget categories: personnel (salary, wages, honoraria); fringe benefits if any; international and domestic travel; materials; equipment, if any; supplies; office /classroom rental; Georgian participants costs, if any; other direct and indirect costs, etc. Include a detailed budget with an accompanying budget narrative which provides in detail the total costs for implementation of the program your organization is proposing.  In addition, a summary of the budget must be submitted using Standard Form SF-424A. (This and other forms are attached on the right hand side under the Category “Additional Resources”)

Applicants that have a Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement with the U.S. Government should submit the latest copy.

  • Resume (Required) – a resume, not to exceed 3 pages in length, must be included for the proposed key staff person, such as the Project Director. If an individual for this type of position has not been identified, the applicant may submit a one-page position description, identifying the qualifications and skills required for that position, in lieu of a resume.

Letters of Intent (Optional) – Public Affairs Section (PAS) recommends that, as necessary, U.S. applicants identify in advance the Georgian partner(s) and beneficiary organization(s) and recommends submitting letters of intent together with the proposal. Georgian applicants should identify local beneficiary (s) and key invited instructors/experts who will help to implement the project.  The letters must identify the type of relationship to be entered into (formal or informal), the roles and responsibilities of the applicant and beneficiary(s) in relation to the proposed project activities, and the expected result of the cooperation.  Please note that these are not letters of support, and should only be included for those organizations that will play an active role in the project, including those that receive financial support through the project budget.  The individual letters cannot exceed 1 page in length, and applicants are limited to submitting up to 5 letters per proposal.

AWARD SELECTION CRITERIA

Evaluation Criteria:  Applicants should note that the following criteria (1) serve as a standard against which all proposals will be evaluated, and (2) serve to identify the significant matters that should be addressed in all proposals.  The USG will award grants to the applicants whose offers represent the best value to the USG on the basis of technical merit and cost.

Each application will be evaluated by a review committee of the Department of State and Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia and other experts, as appropriate.  The evaluation criteria have been tailored to the requirements of this NOFO.

  • Program Strategy and Approach,  and Implementation Plan (60 points): Applicants should demonstrate

 (a) good understanding of the issue; clear definitions of the program and a vision of what will be accomplished at the end the agreement; (b) clarity of proposed objectives; (c) technical soundness of approach, including clarity in scope and focus of activities to be carried out; feasibility of achieving results and objectives;

(d) detailed analysis of potential obstacles, risks and problems that could be encountered during the project implementation; (e) local partnership commitments and optimum utilization of Georgian organizations and Georgian expertise in program implementation; (f) clarity of expected achievements/outcomes of the project, and a brief description of the proposed monitoring and evaluation plan.

The review panel will be viewing the implementation plan in terms of how well it addresses the overall relevance of the goals and objectives, feasibility of the proposed activities and their timeline for completion, and the extent to which the impact of the project will continue beyond the conclusion of the funding period.

  • Organizational Capability (25 points): Proposals should demonstrate the applicant’s ability to develop and implement a university research program. Applicants must demonstrate how their managerial, programmatic and technical capacity and past experience will enable them to achieve the stated goals and objectives; and provide a strategy to ensure the smooth and effective implementation of program activities.  In addition, applicants should describe how they will collaborate with Georgian partner organization(s) to meet the project goals.
  • Appendices (15 points):
    • Budget:  Costs shall be evaluated for realism, control practices, and efficiency.  The review committee must determine that the costs paid for this award are reasonable, allowable, and allocable to the proposed project activities.  This will consist of a review of the budget to determine if the overall costs are realistic for the work to be performed, if the costs reflect the applicant’s understanding of the allowable cost principles established by OMB Circular A-21 and if the costs are consistent with the program narrative.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars_a021_2004

    • Resume: The review committee will consider the appropriateness of the selected project director in view of the role and responsibility that person will play in guiding the project through implementation to completion.  Position descriptions submitted in lieu of a resume will be reviewed for the appropriateness of the qualifications and skills identified.
    • CVs for trainers (Preferred)

AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

Award Notices:  The grant award shall be written, signed, awarded, and administered by the Grants Officer in Tbilisi.  The Grants Officer is the Government official delegated the authority by the U.S. Department of State Procurement Executive to write, award, and administer grants and cooperative agreements.  The assistance award agreement is the authorizing document and will be provided to the Recipient through either mail or facsimile transmission.  Organizations whose applications will not be funded will also be notified in writing.

Anticipated Time to Award:  Applicants should expect to be notified of the final decision within 90 days after the submission deadline.  Following this, the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia staff will provide information at the point of notification about the requirements for the final application, which may include revisions to the activities.  The final applications will not be subject to further competition, but must incorporate any suggested changes made by the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Applicants should be aware that there may be a delay between the time that applications are submitted and awards are made.  Successful applicants can expect to receive their first tranche of grant funds no later than September 2017.  This delay is primarily due to the extensive clearance process that must be undertaken prior to grant awards being made.

Issuance of this NOFO does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government, nor does it commit the Government to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of proposals.  Further, the Government reserves the right to reject any or all proposals received.

  • Reporting Requirements:  Grantees are required to submit quarterly program progress and financial reports throughout the project period.  Progress and financial reports are due 30 days after the reporting period.  Final programmatic and financial reports are due 90 days after the close of the project period.  Progress reports at a minimum should be submitted via electronic mail to an address to be provided in the award.

Disclaimer

If a proposal is selected for funding, the Department of State has no obligation to provide any additional future funding in connection with the award.  Renewal of an award to extend the period of performance is at the total discretion of the Department of State.