Democracy Commission Small Grants Program (PAS)

Democracy Commission Small Grants Program 2022

 

NOTICE OF FUNDING OPPORTUNITY

Funding Opportunity Title: Democracy Commission Small Grants
Funding Opportunity Number:  DOS-GEO-22-005-12152021
Deadline for Applications: 02/25/2022
Assistance Listing Number: 19.900 — AEECA/ESF PD Programs
Total Amount Available: $450,000

THIS NOTICE IS SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY OF FUNDING.

A. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

U.S. Embassy Tbilisi announces an open competition for Democracy Commission Small Grants Program (DemCom). The United States initiated in 1994 as a flexible mechanism to enable embassies to support local democratic initiatives in the countries of Central, Eastern Europe, and the post-Soviet States.

The implementing body at each mission is the Democracy Commission, chaired by the Deputy Chief of Mission and including the Public Affairs Officer, other members of the Country Team, and representatives of U.S. Government agencies.

Program Objectives:

The purpose of the Democracy Commission Small Grants Program is to award grants for specific projects that support democracy, enhance the development of democratic institutions and foster education of civil society in Georgia. Grants will be awarded to non-governmental, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and media organizations based and registered in Georgia.

The maximum amount of a grant is $50,000 per project.

The project proposals must address at least one of the following themes:

ECONOMIC GROWTH:

  • Rural Economic Development/Entrepreneurship Development/Social Entrepreneurship
  • Tourism Development/Hospitality Management
  • Basic Education (Please see note below.)

GENDER EQUALITY AND SOCIAL INCLUSION:

  • Women Empowerment
  • Inclusion of Ethnic and Religious Minorities
  • Civic Integration of People with Disabilities/Inclusive Education
  • Protection of Children’s Rights and Child Welfare

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND MORE INFORMED CITIZENRY:

  • Journalism Education and Professionalism
  • Media Literacy Training and Production of High-Quality Independent Media Content
  • Capacity Building and Advocacy for Local SCOs
  • Cyber Security, Strategic Communications and Digital Diplomacy

NOTE: Basic education projects may include strengthening public schools for grades 1-12 through teacher training and professional development, online learning, virtual platforms and innovative programs for students including school libraries, science and tech labs, and enrichment programs.  For more information on basic education strategies, please review the U.S. Government Education Strategy FY2019-2023 and the USAID Education Policy Program Cycle Implementation and Operational Guide)

 B. FEDERAL AWARD INFORMATION

Application Submission:  December 17, 2021 -February 25, 2022
Length of performance period: up to 12 months
A number of awards anticipated: Depending on budget request award amounts.
Award amounts: The maximum amount of a grant is $50,000 per project.
Type of Funding: FY21/22 Economic Support Funds under the Foreign Assistance Act
Anticipated program start date: June 2022
Funding Instrument Type: Grant
Program Performance Period: Proposed programs should be completed in 12 months or less

C. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

Eligible Applicants:

The following organizations are eligible to apply:

  • Georgian not-for-profit organizations, including think tanks and civil society/non-governmental organizations;
  • Higher Education Institutions.
  • Independent media outlets registered in Georgia.

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. Please see Section D.4 for information on how to obtain these registrations. Please note that process of registration on the SAM.gov portal can take a substantial amount of time, so we recommend starting the process as early as possible.

Cost Sharing or Matching: Cost share is not required

D. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Please include the program name – 2022 Democracy Commission in the subject line.

Please, be advised that emails exceeding 6MB and RAR files will not be accepted.

Address to Request Application Package: Application forms required below are available on the U.S. Embassy website under the Democracy Commission Small Grants announcement.

Content and Form of Application Submission: 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 and exclude VAT.
  • All pages are numbered (max 9 pages)
  • The application package must be archived only into ZIP archive. RAR archived packages will not be accepted.

Completed application and required supporting documents must be submitted electronically to: TbilisiGrants@state.gov

Please include the program name 2022 Democracy Commission in the subject line. 

The following documents are required:

Application forms required below are available at the U.S. Embassy website under Democracy Commission Small Grants Announcement.

Please make sure, that you download and use free Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to open and fill out the attached PDF files.

1. Mandatory application forms:

  • SF-424 (Application for Federal Assistance – organizations)
  • SF-424A (Budget Information for Non-Construction programs)
  • SF-424B (Assurances for Non-Construction programs)
  • Application form (Microsoft Word doc.)
  • 1- page CV of project team leader
  • Support Letter/s
  • Copy of registration on SAM.gov
  • Copy of the NGO registration certificate

2. Summary Page: Cover sheet stating the applicant name and organization, proposal date, program title, program period proposed start and end date, and brief purpose of the program.

3. Proposal (8 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.

  • Proposal Summary: Short narrative that outlines the proposed program, including program objectives and anticipated impact.
  • Introduction to the Organization or Individual applying: A description of past and present operations, showing the ability to carry out the program, including information on all previous grants from the U.S. Embassy and/or U.S. government agencies.
  • Problem Statement: Clear, concise, and well-supported statement of the problem to be addressed and why the proposed program is needed
  • Program Goals and Objectives:  The “goals” describe what the program is intended to achieve.  The “objectives” refer to the intermediate accomplishments on the way to the goals. These should be achievable and measurable.
  • Program Activities: Describe the program activities and how they will help achieve the objectives.
  • Program Methods and Design: A description of how the program is expected to work to solve the stated problem and achieve the goal.  Include a logic model as appropriate.
  • Proposed Program Schedule and Timeline:  The proposed timeline for the program activities.  Include the dates, times, and locations of planned activities and events.
  • Key Personnel: Names, titles, roles, and experience/qualifications of key personnel involved in the program.  What proportion of their time will be used in support of this program?
  • Program Partners:  List the names and types of involvement of key partner organizations and sub-awardees.
  1. Program Monitoring and Evaluation Plan: This is an important part of successful grants. Throughout the time frame of the grant, how will the activities be monitored to ensure they are happening in a timely manner, and how will the program be evaluated to make sure it is meeting the goals of the grant? Democracy Commission proposals should include a plan to monitor the project’s success that includes outcome indicators, targets, and a baseline; a mid-point check-in (as appropriate); and an evaluation at the end of the program.  Successful monitoring depends heavily on setting clear goals and outcomes at the outset of a program. Applicants’ project descriptions should include a clear description of the project’s objectives that are within the capacity of the grantee to achieve, the anticipated project outcomes, and how and when they intend to measure these outcomes (performance indicators). The more that outcomes are “SMART” (specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and time-bound), the easier it will be to conduct the evaluation. Overall, the quality of an applicant’s monitoring plan should be judged on how well it 1) specifies intended outcomes; 2) gives clear descriptions of how each outcome will be measured; 3) identifies when particular outcomes will be measured; and 4) provides a clear description of the data collection strategies for each outcome (i.e., surveys, interviews, or focus groups). Applicants’ monitoring plans should clearly distinguish between program outputs and outcomes. Outputs are products and services delivered, often stated as an amount. The output information is important to show the scope or size of project activities, but it cannot substitute for information about progress towards outcomes or the results achieved. Examples of outputs include the number of people trained or the number of seminars conducted. Outcomes, in contrast, represent specific results a project is intended to achieve and are usually measured as an extent of change.
  • Future Funding or Sustainability Applicant’s plan for continuing the program beyond the grant period, or the availability of other resources, if applicable.

Previous U.S. Government Funding: Please list all previous U.S. Government funding which will include previous Democracy Commission grants as well as USAID or NED funded projects. Please list the year, amount of the project, and name of the project.

3. 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 program, and the percentage of their time that will be spent on the program. Salary or honoraria should be listed according to the rate of pay and percentage of time spent on program-related activities.

Travel: Estimate the costs of travel and per diem for this program, for program staff, consultants or speakers, and participants/beneficiaries. Funds may 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.

Equipment: Describe any machinery, furniture, or other personal property that is required for the program, which has a useful life of more than one year (or a life longer than the duration of the program), 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 program. 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 program activities.

Other Direct Costs: Describe other costs directly associated with the program, 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.

Food and refreshments costs for conferences and networking events are allowable up to 10% of the total project costs.

 “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.

Alcoholic Beverages: Please note that award funds cannot be used for alcoholic beverages.

Budget Justification Narrative: After filling out the SF-424A Budget (above), use a separate sheet of paper to describe each of the budget expenses in detail.

In order to be sure that the Commission understands why there is a need for money, the applicant should prepare a line-by-line list of expenses that will be generated by this project. The budget should be prepared in a logical manner and offer enough detail that a reviewer will be able to understand exactly what the figures mean and how that figure was determined.

The budget narrative should follow the actual budget presentation itself and describe in some detail the costs presented in the budget. In other words, the narrative explains, line by line, what the numbers mean and how they were determined. (For example, Travel: $3,000. Explanation: Two-day conference in (location) for 30 participants with a 2 x $50 travel grant to each participant for the room, board, and transportation costs.)

Program expenses should cover all costs for the project activities. They may include all honoraria to specialists or associates; travel/per diem/lodging expenses for trips; and all expenses for seminars or conferences (speakers’ fee, preparation of materials, and room rental).

Fees are paid to the people who will spend the majority of their time on the project and have signed contracts. The fees should be calculated on the total number of hours worked for the duration of the project. Fee levels should be reasonable and no higher than other local salaries and should include all local taxes.

Administrative expenses include communication expenses (phone, fax, e-mail, postage); bank taxes; copying and print services; office materials (paper, toner, envelopes, etc.).

Bank charges should be pre-calculated and included in the budget. The use of “miscellaneous expenses” as a budget item is unacceptable.

Funding Restrictions:

Allowable and Unallowable Budget Items:

  1. Grants may not provide for infrastructure needs that are not sustainable once grant funds are depleted.
  2. Salaries, overhead, equipment, and other administrative expenses are allowable only as they relate to specific project activities and are in accordance with grant guidelines.  Salary or honoraria should be listed according to the rate of pay and percentage of time spent on program-related activities.  While salary expenses are permissible for indigenous personnel, payment of honoraria and other expenses for foreign experts will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  3. Funds may 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. Funds may not be used to provide direct social services to populations, such as health care, childcare, food subsidies, etc.
  5. Funds may not be used for alcohol, entertainment, “contingency” or “miscellaneous” costs.
  6. Funds may only be used for food expenses under special circumstances.  When these costs cannot be supported by cost share, they should be clearly justified and limited to a maximum of ten percent of the total award amount.  This includes expenses associated with individual per diems for grant-related activities.

4. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM.gov) (NOTE: This section is required and not optional)

System for Award Management (SAM) – SAM is a U.S. Government-wide registry of vendors doing business with the U.S. federal government and requires annual renewal. The system centralizes information about grant applicants/recipients and provides a central location for grant applicants/recipients to change organizational information. Applicants must maintain an active account, with current information, while its application is under consideration for funding. To keep an active SAM.gov account, applicants must renew it at least once each year. If an account expires, the organization cannot submit a grant application until it is renewed.

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
  • SAM.gov registration

Please note that process of registration on the SAM.gov portal can take a substantial amount of time, so we recommend starting the process as early as possible.

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.

For help with SAM.GOV, please visit their support page at: https://www.fsd.gov or contact them at: (+1) 334-206-7828.

SUBMISSION DATES AND TIMES:

Application submission dates: 

E. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

1. 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 is well developed, with detail about how program activities will be carried out. The proposal includes a reasonable implementation timeline.
Organizational Capacity and Record on Previous Grants – 25 points: The organization has expertise in its stated field and has the internal controls in place to manage federal funds.  This includes a financial management system and a bank account.
Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives – 15 points: Goals and objectives are clearly stated and the program approach is likely to provide maximum impact in achieving the proposed results.
Budget – 10 points: The budget justification is 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.
Monitoring and evaluation plan – 15 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 program includes output and outcome indicators and shows how and when those will be measured.
Sustainability – 10 points: Program activities will continue to have a positive impact after the end of the program.

Federal Awardee Performance & Integrity Information System (FAPIIS)

For any Federal award under a notice of funding opportunity, if the Federal awarding agency anticipates that the total Federal share will be greater than the simplified acquisition threshold on any Federal award under a notice of funding opportunity may include, over the period of performance (see §200.88 Simplified Acquisition Threshold), this section must also inform applicants:

i. That the Federal awarding agency, prior to making a Federal award with a total amount of Federal share greater than the simplified acquisition threshold, is required to review and consider any information about the applicant that is in the designated integrity and performance system accessible through SAM (currently FAPIIS) (see 41 U.S.C. 2313);

ii. That an applicant, at its option, may review information in the designated integrity and performance systems accessible through SAM and comment on any information about itself that a Federal awarding agency previously entered and is currently in the designated integrity and performance system accessible through SAM;

iii. That the Federal awarding agency will consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to the other information in the designated integrity and performance system, in making a judgment about the applicant’s integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards when completing the review of risk posed by applicants as described in §200.206 Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants.

F. FEDERAL AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

Federal Award Notices

The grant award 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 program 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.

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.

Payment Method:

Payments will be made in general in two segments. An initial segment will be authorized to initiate the project. The applicant must provide an interim report about the use of the first segment of funds before the second segment is released.

Administrative and National Policy Requirements

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:

In accordance with the Office of Management and Budget’s guidance located at 2 CFR part 200, all applicable Federal laws, and relevant Executive guidance, the Department of State will review and consider applications for funding, as applicable to specific programs, pursuant to this notice of funding opportunity in accordance with the following:  NOTE:

  • Guidance for Grants and Agreements in Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations (2 CFR), as updated in the Federal Register’s 85 FR 49506 on August 13, 2020, particularly on:
    • Selecting recipients most likely to be successful in delivering results based on the program objectives through an objective process of evaluating Federal award applications (2 CFR part 200.205),
    • Prohibiting the purchase of certain telecommunication and video surveillance services or equipment in alignment with section 889 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 (Pub. L. No. 115—232) (2 CFR part 200.216),
    • Promoting the freedom of speech and religious liberty in alignment with Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty (E.O. 13798) and Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities (E.O. 13864) (§§ 200.300, 200.303, 200.339, and 200.341),
    • Providing a preference, to the extent permitted by law, to maximize the use of goods, products, and materials produced in the United States (2 CFR part 200.322), and
    • Terminating agreements in whole or in part to the greatest extent authorized by law, if an award no longer effectuates the program goals or agency priorities (2 CFR part 200.340).

Reporting Requirements:

Recipients will be required to submit financial reports and program reports. The award document will specify how often these reports must be submitted. All recipients must submit a formal report to the Grants Officer upon completion of the project. The report should discuss what was done, whether the project was successful from the applicant’s perspective and how it might be improved in the future. Copies of video materials, CDs, and other video and audio aids generated during the implementation of the project attesting to the success of the grant activities are welcome.

G. FEDERAL AWARDING AGENCY CONTACTS

If you have any questions about the grant application process, please contact: TbilisiGrants@state.gov