Animated Series on Media Literacy

U.S. Embassy Tbilisi, Georgia

 

Program Office:  Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia
Funding Opportunity Title: Animated Series on Media Literacy
Announcement Type: Cooperative Agreement
Deadline for Applications: July 30, 2021
Total amount: $200,000

ELIGIBILITY 

Georgian non-profit/non-governmental, educational organizations and film production studios are invited to submit a proposal for the creation of an animated cartoon series on the topic of media literacy.

The U.S. Embassy invites the organizations with a demonstrated professional expertise and achievements in media literacy programming and production of animated series to apply.  Prior experience, and successful implementation of similar products will be considered favorably.  The Recipient is expected to coordinate the creative process of the program with the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia.

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 Unit 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 is pleased to announce an open competition to produce animated series on the theme of media literacy.  PAS encourages Georgian non-profit/non-governmental and/or educational organizations with a media literacy focus to partner with production teams to submit an application for an up-to-18 months project to produce animated series designed to build the youth’s media literacy and critical thinking skills.  This is vital to help the youth analyze news and identify reliable sources in the environment of prevalent fake news stories and propaganda.  The produced animated series will be distributed via multiple digital/social platforms and traditional media channels, regional broadcasters included.  The program envisages to target young Georgians i.e. high-school and university students, hopefully, with their parents.

Expected results include improving the youth’s media literacy skills, increasing their ability to distinguish trustworthy information from fake news, filter messages, and mitigate disinformation’s malign influence.  Public Affairs Section expects the series to develop traction among the youth and become the subject of daily conversation among them.

BUDGET AVAILABLE 

Subject to the availability of funds, the total budget earmarked for this project is $200,000.  The U.S. Government reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available.

BACKGROUND 

Media literacy is an umbrella expression that includes all technical, cognitive, social, civic and creative capacities that allow a citizen to exercise the right to access information, speak up and express their opinion.  For that it is important 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 literacy is a necessary response to a changing and increasingly complex media landscape.  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 /her sources of information and of the media content.

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

This project suggests reaching people vulnerable to misinformation through animated series on media literacy via new media platforms, as well as traditional media channels.

OBJECTIVES of the project are:

  • Harness the power of animation to fight fake news and propaganda, promote media literacy to encompass primarily the youth, plus different age audiences and societal groups thanks to its entertaining and engaging style, making it appealing and easy for consumption.
  • Produce animated series on the theme of media literacy. The series should consist of at least two seasons with 24 standalone episodes dedicated to the prevalent fake news stories (spread by media, social media, or/and by hearsay) spanning diverse topics, e.g., vaccination, Georgia’s vulnerability to the unknown as well as tackling false narratives including Western malign influence on national customs and traditions, the West taking advantage of Georgia’s dire economic situation and building strategic facilities such as the Lugar Center, it is attacking the Orthodox Church, Russia being a potential market for Georgia’s goods and hospitality services, etc.
  • The episodes will run once or twice a week to build up the audiences’ attachment to the series on the following platforms: Facebook, YouTube, regional broadcasters, plus one of the national broadcasters, the latter contingent on funds to cover the primetime placement fee.
  • Reach people where they are; on new media platforms, as well as on traditional media channels through animated series to diversify and multiply target audiences i.e. reach age groups of high school and university students, and their parents, thus keep people open to new information without resorting to myths and speculations.
  • Promote media literacy to enable wide audiences to identify and counter Russian disinformation and propaganda and more actively challenge the proliferation of fake news.
  • Suggest the animated series as supplementary teaching material to educational institutions.
  • 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.

Program Overview and Design

The applicant should submit a core concept, a script synopsis with the main storyline, script blueprints for a minimum of two episodes, a one-two- minute-long pilot video (demo), and a schedule of start and end dates of the production. A clear vision for the animated series’ placement (social/digital media, TV, etc.)

The grant recipient will retain copyright of the product.  PAS preserves the right to distribute the product to Georgia’s regional television stations free of charge, and to translate the product into minority languages upon availability of additional funds.

The application should have clearly defined objective(s) to advance/target specific area(s)/goal(s) within the field of media literacy, as defined in the Executive Summary and Background Sections.  It should propose the adequate mixture of tools and activities to achieve the listed objectives.  These could include:

Replace negative narratives about the West with the reliable information provided in a language and form understandable to the ordinary citizens, primarily the youth.

PAS involvement:

The Recipient is expected to work closely with the Public Affairs Section throughout the grant period to shape the concept and develop the plot of the product to ensure that the animated series resonate with the desired demographic and is commensurate with U.S. policy.

FUNDING PRIORITY 

The Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi 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 18 months upon applicant’s program design with possible extension contingent to availability of funds and successful completion of the project.

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 before July 30, 2021 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): 

This form can be found on-line at:

https://www.grants.gov/forms/sf-424-family.html

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.

PAS will evaluate the applicants’ creativity in proposing a product that will cater to the interests and taste of diverse audiences.

This section should also include a structured monitoring and evaluation plan or matrix that will demonstrate how success will be evaluated against performance indicators designed to measure outputs and outcomes.  The matrix should also include: sources/means for verification, risks and their mitigation plan.  The applicant should provide an assessment of and a plan for the sustainability of the action(s) after the end of the project.

Section 4 – Organizational Structure and Capability (maximum 2 pages):

Applications must include a clear description of the organization initiating a coalition application (lead applicant) and its management structure. This section must describe previous experience in similar projects of coalition member organizations.  This section also must identify the proposed management structure and staffing plan and describe distribution of roles and functions between the lead applicant and its partner /sub-awardee 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 as applicable: personnel; travel; equipment; supplies; other direct and indirect costs.  Include a detailed budget outline with an accompanying budget narrative.  In addition, a summary of the budget must be submitted using Standard Form SF-424A.  This form can be found on-line at:

http://aopefa.a.state.gov/Content/documents/SF424A-V1.0.pdf

http://aopefa.a.state.gov/Content/documents/SF424Instructions.pdf

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.

Required Registrations:

Any applicant listed on the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS) in the System for Award Management (SAM) is not eligible to apply for an assistance award in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 CFR 180 that implement Executive Orders 12549 (3 CFR, 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 CFR, 1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension.” Additionally, no entity listed on the EPLS can participate in any activities under an award.  All applicants are strongly encouraged to review the EPLS in SAM to ensure that no ineligible entity is included.

All organizations applying for grants (except individuals) must obtain these registrations.  All are free of charge:

Unique entity identifier from Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS number)

NCAGE/CAGE code

www.SAM.gov registration

Step 1:  Apply for a DUNS number and an NCAGE number (these can be completed simultaneously)

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

NCAGE application: Application page here: https://eportal.nspa.nato.int/AC135Public/scage/CageList.aspx

Instructions for the NCAGE application process:

https://eportal.nspa.nato.int/AC135Public/Docs/US%20Instructions%20for%20NSPA%20NCAGE.pdf

For NCAGE help from within the U.S., call 1-888-227-2423

For NCAGE help from outside the U.S., call 1-269-961-7766

Email NCAGE@dlis.dla.mil for any problems in getting an NCAGE code.

Step 2: After receiving the NCAGE Code, proceed to register in SAM.gov by logging onto: https://www.sam.gov.  SAM registration must be renewed annually.

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

  • 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 the 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.

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.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/information-for-agencies/circulars/#educational

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 2021.  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.