Thursday, September 6, 2012

New tool in fight for democracy: Video games

Tomb Raider wallpaper. Credit: HDGameWallpaper.net
By Sept. 30, the State Department expects to award $4.2 millon to organizations that will promote democracy and human rights in Cuba.
One program calls for creating video games that will encourage critical thinking and get young people more engaged in the fight for changes in society.
Here is a breakdown of the $4.2 million:

  • Human rights: $1,050,000. Improve capacity of human rights investigators and monitors, especially those outside Havana.
  • Social media: $750,000. Equip activists and citizens with the tools to denounce and detect human rights abuses and corruption. They would work with investigative journalists who would develop stories about trends and cases.
  • Youth and technology: $700,000. Engage youth especially on the issue of Cuba’s future through the innovative usage of technology, including social media. Use video games to promote civic engagement.
  • Free markets: $700,000. Hold discussions on economic issues to boost demands for democratic reforms.
  • Freedom of expression: $1,000,000. Increase freedom of thought and expression, especially among artists, poets, musicians and writers.

The State Department announced the grants in June and accepted applications up until July 13 (download 15-page announcement).

Officials prefer that those carrying out the democracy programs be native Spanish speakers with on-island experience. They say the number of U.S. citizens and permanent residents traveling to Cuba should be "limited or excluded."

The State Department says it may require grant recipients to reveal who in Cuba receives money or resources.



The full text of June 13 notice is below:

Department of State
Public Notice

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Request for Proposals: To expand Cuban civic participation and strengthen independent civil society groups with a view to supporting the ability of Cuban citizens to freely determine their own future.

SUMMARY
The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Proposals from organizations interested in submitting proposals for projects that promote democracy and human rights in Cuba.

PLEASE NOTE: DRL strongly urges applicants to access immediately www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov in order to obtain a username and password. It may take two full weeks to register. Please see the section entitled, “DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS” below for specific instructions.

REQUESTED PROPOSAL PROGRAM OBJECTIVES
DRL invites organizations to submit proposals outlining innovative implementation concepts and capacity to manage projects, targeting one of the following issues. Proposals that include a majority of on-island activities are strongly preferred. Special thought and consideration should be given to the selection of consultants and other personnel who may be required to travel to Cuba.  To the extent possible, travel by U.S. citizens and permanent residents should be limited or excluded.  It is preferable that personnel who travel to Cuba speak Spanish fluently, possess solid understanding of the Cuban context, and have prior experience on the island, in order to maximize their effectiveness in this unique operating environment.

Proposals that combine topics may be deemed technically ineligible. Applicant organizations proposing the disbursement of small cash grants should demonstrate their capacity to disburse cash grants and propose a comprehensive plan for administering multiple small cash grants and ensuring that funds are used strategically within the scope of the primary grant. In addition to quarterly reporting responsibilities, grantees will be required to provide DRL, on a quarterly basis, a record of all small cash grant disbursements, breakdown of disbursements, activity funded, and goals reached to date. To ensure transparency and oversight, DRL reserves the right to request any programmatic and/or financial information related to grant activities, including information regarding on-island beneficiaries.

Please note that successful applicants must be able to obtain a Specific License from the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Financial transactions and travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens and permanent residents is restricted by U.S. law and regulations, and implementing partners must maintain a license from the Department of Treasury explicitly covering grant activities for the duration of the agreement. Individuals travelling to conduct award activities must utilize the implementer’s license in all cases. Such licenses restrict the activities and transactions in which U.S. citizens and residents may engage while in Cuba.

DRL invites organizations to submit proposals outlining program concepts and capacity to manage projects targeting the following topics:

Human Rights Documentation (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $1,050,000):
DRL seeks proposals for projects to improve the capacity of human rights monitors and investigators in Cuba, principally those outside of Havana. The project should increase understanding of those domestic, regional, and international legal mechanisms available to victims and strengthen Cuban partner’s ability to document, compile, analyze, and present abuse cases to domestic, regional, and international human rights bodies. Projects should be designed with the end goal of empowering Cubans to demand respect for their human rights while detecting and denouncing abuses.
Potential activities include:
Coordinated trainings on topics including:
o Domestic, regional, and international human rights law.
o Domestic, regional, and international mechanisms intended to guard against human rights abuses.
o Effective strategies for addressing abuses within the framework of domestic, regional, and international organisms.
o Best practices for data gathering, secure data storage, and case development.
The development and provision of technological tools and software to facilitate human rights abuse reporting. This component might include tools that:

  • Enable rapid response assistance for victims, including those who are detained or imprisoned.
  • Facilitate case development and submission.
  • Assist in the visualization of human rights trends and instances of abuse as they occur on the island.

Applicants should allocate an appropriate level of funding to facilitate safe on-island communications (including, but not limited to, cellular phones, cellular phone recharges and Internet fees) to:

  • Collect, preserve, and distribute the testimony of abuse victims.
  • Develop sophisticated legal cases based on extensive data gathering efforts.
Proposals that demonstrate an ability to undertake measures to press for accountability and coordinate action and advocacy surrounding human rights abuses in addition to the collecting of cases will be favorably reviewed.

Social Media Advocacy for Human Rights and Accountability (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $750,000):

DRL seeks proposals that bolster Cuban citizen engagement to demand government accountability. The project should equip citizens, activists, and civil society with technology-based tools and platforms that will increase their ability to document corruption trends across the island and to build interpersonal reporting networks. Envisioned projects should be designed with the end goal of empowering Cubans to demand an accountable government through the detection and denouncement of corruption. Strong proposals will emphasize in their activities that accountability is a feature of democratic and free societies. Proposals must demonstrate an understanding of how technological tools might be used in the Cuban context in a secure manner.

Strong proposals should develop synergies with investigative journalism projects to facilitate the production of narratives that illustrate trends and specific cases. Project activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Facilitation of collective problem-solving by exploring the usage of crowdsourcing, taking into account and planning around connectivity limitations in Cuba.
  • Facilitation of coalitions and interpersonal networks to coordinate and implement social advocacy efforts.
  • Creation of synergies with ongoing journalist training and legal and conflict resolution activities. Potential collaborative synergies might include the development of fact-based journalist narratives behind reported incidents of corruption and facilitating the provision of legal assistance to social activists as needed.

Applicants should allocate an appropriate level of funding to facilitate safe, relevant on-island communications (including, but not limited to, cellular phones, cellular phone recharges and Internet fees).

Youth and Technology (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $700,000):
DRL seeks proposals to engage Cuban youth around the issue of Cuba’s future through the innovative usage of technology, such as social media and critical thinking digital applications that foster civic engagement and independent problem solving. The project should look to innovative uses of technology appropriate for the Cuban environment to engage youth and enable them to network with one another, share experiences and information, and develop their capacity for grassroots organization on issues of common interest.
Approximately 70 percent of the program funds should be spent on activities that include:

  • Digital safety training to promote broad awareness of privacy and security issues that arise in Internet and mobile communications, tailored specifically to Cuba’s political context and to the communications practices of youth.
  • Development and deployment of tools that promote the security and reliability of communications on the Internet and mobile devices.

Additional illustrative project activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Development and promotion of social media platforms and critical thinking digital applications that encourage conceptualization and discussion regarding Cuba’s future.
  • Foster civic engagement among Cuban youth by facilitating the production of teaching tools in the form of video games developed and/or locally customized by the program. Civic-participation teaching tools should help Cuban youth could practice critical thinking, organizing, group problem solving, and skills building, among other themes, that encourage them to creatively engage to mitigate concerns that their government does not address.

Applicants should allocate an appropriate level of funding to facilitate safe on-island communications (including, but not limited to, cellular phones, cellular phone recharges and Internet fees).

Building Civil Society’s Ability to Advocate for Free Market Principles (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $700,000):
DRL seeks proposals that increase demand for democratic reforms via the dissemination of information on market economies. The project should provide opportunities for Cuban citizens and civil society to meet and discuss economic issues and produce Cuban-led alternatives to the current economic model. In addition, the project should support analysis of the Cuban economy by independent, grassroots Cuba-based think tanks. The project should include activities that enable civil society discussions, professionalize and increase the capacity of independent economists, disseminate educational materials on market economies, and promote outreach to the general public. Illustrative project activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Development of independent Cuban-based capacity to analyze current economic conditions and advocate for reform.
  • Production and dissemination in Cuba of educational materials on market economies.
  • Presentation of Cuban-generated proposals for alternatives to the current economic system.
  • Public debates and focus groups in Cuba to educate the general population on free market principles.

Freedom of Expression (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $1,000,000):
DRL seeks proposals to increase the ability of Cuban citizens to exercise fundamental freedoms, especially freedom of thought and expression. The project should support greater freedom of expression on the island by capitalizing on interest surrounding the promotion of independent civic space for creative output. It should increase the ability to express opinions, share ideas, and disseminate information, especially among performing artists, visual artists, musicians, poets, and writers. The project should target specific and strategic regions of Cuba, especially those outside of Havana. Illustrative project activities may include, but are not limited to:
Organization of concerts and other musical gatherings that feature independent groups and artists.
Presentation of Cuban-generated art and media exhibits that draw attention to sociopolitical issues.
Incorporation of democratic practices or themes in artistic activities, such as by voting for a favorite artist or piece.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Subject to Congressional approval, the Bureau anticipates awarding grants before September 30, 2012. The bulk of funding activities should take place during a two to three-year time frame.

Projects that leverage resources from funds internal to the organization or other sources, such as public-private partnerships, will be highly considered. Projects that have a strong academic or research focus will not be highly considered. Cost sharing is strongly encouraged, and cost sharing contributions should be outlined in the proposal, budget, and budget narrative.
Approximately $4,200,000 in FY 2011 ESF Funds subject to the availability and Congressional approval of funding would be awarded for programs in the themes outlined above. To support program and administrative costs required for implementation, the Bureau anticipates making awards to the maximum available figure listed by theme for Cuba programs.

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 is binding and may not be modified by any Bureau representative. Explanatory information provided by the Bureau that contradicts this language will not be binding. Issuance of the solicitation does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government. The Bureau reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the program evaluation requirements. To ensure transparency and oversight, DRL reserves the right to request any programmatic and/or financial information during the grant period.

This request for proposals will appear on www.grants.gov, www.grantsolutions.gov and DRL’s website, www.state.gov/g/drl.

Once the Request for Proposals deadline has passed, U.S. Department of State staff in Washington and overseas may not discuss competing proposals with applicants until the review process has been completed.

TECHNICAL ELIGIBILITY
Proposals should conform to DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), as updated in March 2012, available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm. (For this solicitation, applicants must use the Revised PSI dated March 2012.)

Technically eligible submissions are those which: 1) arrive electronically via www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov by July 13, 2012 before 11:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST); 2) heed all instructions contained in the solicitation document and Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), including length and completeness of submission; and 3) do not violate any of the guidelines stated in the solicitation and this document.

An organization may submit no more than two (2) proposals. Proposals that do not meet the requirements of the announcement and Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) may not be considered. Proposals that request more than the award ceiling will be deemed technically ineligible.

The information contained herein is to assist you as a general reference for completion of the proposal submission.  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.

For all application documents, please ensure:
All pages are numbered, including budgets and attachments,
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.

Complete applications should include the following for proposal submission:
Completed and signed SF-424, SF-424a (Budget Summary) and SF424b (Assurances), most recent A-133 Audit, and Certifications Regarding Lobbying forms as directed on www.grants.gov and www.grantsolutions.gov.

Table of Contents (not to exceed one [1] page in Microsoft Word) that includes a page-numbered contents page, including any attachments.

Executive Summary (not to exceed one [1] page in Microsoft Word) that includes:
Name and contact information for the project’s main point of contact,
A one-paragraph “statement of work” or synopsis of the program and its expected results,
A concise breakdown of the project’s objectives and activities,
The total amount of funding requested and program length, and
A brief statement on how the project is innovative, sustainable, and will have a demonstrated impact.

Proposal Narrative (not to exceed ten [10] pages in Microsoft Word). Please note the ten page limit does not include the Table of Contents, Executive Summary, Attachments, Detailed Budget, Budget Narrative or NICRA. Applicants may submit multiple documents in one Microsoft Word file, i.e., Table of Contents, Executive Summary, Proposal Narrative, and Budget Narrative in one file or as separate, individually submitted files. Submissions should address four specific criteria (Quality of Program, Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives, Multiplier Effect/Sustainability, and Institution’s Record and Capacity). Details about these criteria are described in the Review Process section below.
Budget Narrative (preferably in Microsoft Word) that includes an explanation/justification for each line item in the detailed budget spreadsheet, as well as the source and description of all cost-share offered. For ease of review, it is recommended that applicants order the budget narrative as presented in the detailed budget. Primarily Headquarters- and Field-based personnel costs should include a clarification on the roles and responsibilities of key staff and percentage of time devoted to the project. In addition, cost-effectiveness is one of the key criteria for rating the competitiveness of a program proposal. Applicants that include cost share in their budget should note that cost share is considered a commitment and that the grantee will be held responsible for meeting the amount of cost share included. It is recommended that budget narratives address the overall cost-effectiveness of the proposal, including any cost-share offered (see the PSI for more information on cost-sharing and cost-effectiveness).

Detailed Line-item Budget (in Microsoft Excel or similar spreadsheet format) that contains three [3] columns including DRL request, any cost sharing contribution, and total budget. A summary budget should also be included using the OMB approved budget categories (see SF-424 as a sample). See the PSI for more information on budget format. Costs must be in U.S. Dollars.

Attachments (not to exceed seven [7] pages total, preferably in Microsoft Word) that include the following in order:
Pages 1-2: Monitoring and Evaluation Plan (see PSI for more information on this section).
Page 3: Roles and responsibilities of key program personnel with short bios that highlight relevant professional experience. Given the limited space, CVs are not recommended for submission.
Page 4: Timeline of the overall proposal. Components should include activities, evaluation efforts, and program closeout.
Page 5-7: Additional optional attachments. Attachments may include additional timeline information, letters of support, memorandums of understanding/agreement, etc. For applicants with a large number of letters/MOUs, it may be useful to provide a list of the organizations/government agencies that support the program rather than the actual documentation.

If your organization has a negotiated indirect cost rate agreement (NICRA) and includes NICRA charges in the budget, your latest NICRA should be sent as a pdf file. This document will not be reviewed by the panelists, but rather used by program and grant staff if the submission is recommended for funding. Hence, this document does not count against the submission page limitations. If your organization does not have a NICRA agreement with a cognizant agency, the proposal budget should not have a line item for indirect cost charges. Rather, any costs that may be considered as indirect costs should be included in specific budget line items as direct costs. Furthermore, if your proposal involves sub-grants to organizations charging indirect costs, and those organizations also have a NICRA, please submit the applicable NICRA as a .pdf file (see the PSI for more information on indirect cost rate).

Note: To ensure all applications receive a balanced evaluation, the DRL Review Committee will review the first page of the requested section up to the page limit and no further. DRL encourages organizations to use the given space effectively.

APPLICANT/ORGANIZATION CRITERIA
Organizations submitting proposals must meet the following criteria:

* Be a U.S. non-profit organization meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c) (3) or a comparable organization headquartered internationally, or an international organization.

* Have demonstrated 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.

*Be a registered user of www.grants.gov and/or www.grantsolutions.gov. NOTE: This process can take up to one month for new organizations so please register early. See additional details below.

* Have existing, or the capacity to develop, active partnerships with in-country entities and relevant stakeholders.

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

* An OMB policy directive published in the Federal Register on Friday, June 27, 2003, requires that all organizations applying for Federal grants or cooperative agreements must provide a Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number when applying for all Federal grants or cooperative agreements in or after October 1, 2003. Please reference: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg/062703_grant_identifier.pdf for the complete OMB policy directive.

* All organizations applying for Federal grants or cooperative agreements will need to be registered with the Central Contractor Registry (CCR) http://www.ccr.gov/. Your organization's DUNS number is needed to complete this process.

REVIEW PROCESS
The Bureau will review all proposals for eligibility. Eligible proposals will be subject to compliance of Federal and Bureau regulations and guidelines and may also be reviewed by the Office of the Legal Adviser or by other Department elements. Final signatory authority for assistance awards resides with the Department’s Grants Officer. DRL and the Grants Office reserve the right to request any additional programmatic and/or financial information regarding the proposal.

Proposals will be funded based on an evaluation of how the proposal meets the solicitation review criteria, U.S. foreign policy objectives, and the priority needs of DRL. A Department of State Review Committee will evaluate proposals submitted under this request. Each proposal will be rated along six criteria. Review criteria will include:

Quality of Program Idea (30 points)
Proposals should be responsive to the solicitation and appropriate in the country/regional context, and should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the Bureau's mission of promoting human rights and democracy. The bureau typically does not fund programs that continue an organization’s ongoing work (funded by the Bureau 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.

DRL strives to ensure its programs advance the rights and uphold the dignity of the most at risk and vulnerable populations, including women, people with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, religious minorities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. To the extent possible, organizations 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.

Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives (20 points)
A strong proposal 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 relevant work plan should demonstrate substantive undertakings and the logistical capacity of the organization. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable and achievable. For complete proposals, applicants should also provide a monthly timeline of project activities and a logic model to demonstrate how the program will have an impact on its proposed objectives. Proposals should address how the program will engage relevant stakeholders and should identify local partners as appropriate. If local partners have been identified, the Bureau 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, proposals should identify target areas for activities, target participant groups or selection criteria for participants, and the specific roles of sub-grantees, among other pertinent details. In particularly challenging operating environments, proposals 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.

Logic Model: A logic model is a useful tool to help one “map” a project and keep track of activities (outputs) and results (outcomes) by specifying strategic objectives, identifying what resources are needed, outlining proposed activities and beneficiaries, and illustrating its relationship to the proposed results. The components of a basic logic model include:

Needs: The community need or problem as identified by the organization.
Inputs: Human and financial resources used for the program implementation.
Activities: Actions taken or work performed through which inputs are mobilized to produce outputs.
Participation: The individuals who participate or are targeted through the activities.
Pathways: Linkages that specify how activities of a program lead to the expected outputs, outcomes, and impact of a program through each step of the logic model.
Expected Outputs: Direct and measurable results expected from program activities. They should be tangible, visible and measurable products of program work. If they are sustainable beyond the activity, they may turn into program outcomes.
Expected Outcomes: The short-term and medium-term effects of a program’s outputs. Outcomes should reflect the results of program’s activities and their near-term effects on program goals.
Expected Impact: The long-term effects of a program, which is linked closely to the overall program objective. Such an objective could be as ambitious as reducing human rights violations in an authoritarian society, or it could be less ambitious, though equally important, such as adding greater female representation to a country’s political parties.
Assumptions: Hypotheses about factors or risks which could affect the progress or success of a program intervention. Our underlying beliefs about the program, the stakeholders or beneficiaries.
External Factors: Factors which are not explicitly in the control of the program but which can have an important effect on the intended outcomes and impact, such as government policies or changes in the political situation in the country.
While the logic model is represented in a linear trajectory, the relationship between factors may not always be unidirectional. Sometimes factors can mutually affect each other. Thus, the logic model should be viewed as a dynamic and evolving process, which should be re-evaluated and adjusted when conditions change. More information about the logic model, including sample templates, can be found on the DRL Logic Model Primer.

Cost Effectiveness (15 points)
DRL strongly encourages applicants to clearly demonstrate program cost-effectiveness in their proposal submissions, including examples of leveraging institutional and other resources. Additional information on cost-effectiveness as a review criterion can be found in the Request for Statements of Interest/Proposals.

Cost-sharing is the portion of program cost not borne by the sponsor. DRL encourages cost-sharing, which may be in the form of allowable direct or indirect costs and offered by the applicant and/or in-country partners. Applicants should consider all types of cost-sharing. 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.” Other federal funding does not constitute cost-sharing.

The recipient of an assistance award must maintain written records to support all allowable costs that are claimed as its contribution to cost-share, as well as costs to be paid by the Federal government. Such records are subject to audit. In the event the recipient does not meet the minimum amount of cost-sharing as stipulated in the recipient’s budget, the Bureau’s contribution will be reduced in proportion to the recipient’s contribution.

Program Monitoring and Evaluation (15 points)
A monitoring and evaluation plan (M&E plan) is a systematic and objective approach or process for determining project performance toward its objectives over time. Complete proposals should 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. Successful monitoring and evaluation depend on the following:
Setting strategic objectives that are clear, specific, attainable, measurable, results-focused, and placed in a reasonable time frame;
Linking program activities to stated strategic objectives;
Developing key performance indicators that include baselines and targets and measure realistic progress towards all strategic objectives and program activities.

Strong monitoring and evaluation plans incorporate performance indicators for all program objectives and activities and include baselines and targets for each indicator. Performance indicators are ways to objectively observe program progress and measure the degree of success a program’s planned activities have had in achieving the stated objectives. Performance indicators should address the direct products and services delivered by a program (defined as outputs), and the results of those products and services (defined as outcomes). Findings on outputs and outcomes should both be reported.

Outputs, which are products and services delivered from the program activities, are often stated as an amount. Output data show the scope or size of project activities, but they cannot replace information about progress towards the project’s outcomes or impact. Examples of program outputs include: 100 civil society organization members trained in organizational fundraising and 60 radio programs produced.

Outcomes, in contrast, represent the specific, realistic results of a project and are often measured as an extent of change. Outcomes may include progress toward expected program objectives or other results of the program. For example, a program’s objective could be to increase the participation of female candidates in elections. One outcome of the program would be that after receiving training on effective engagement in the political process, 40% of the female participants ran for a seat on the Parliament. When setting targets for outcome indicators, particularly when using percentages, it is important to not just provide a numerical value but explicitly explain what the value represents. For example, one outcome could be level of knowledge gained on basic human rights issues. Setting the target as 40% increased knowledge is too vague. A clearer target would be: on average participants demonstrate at least 40% increase in knowledge on basic human rights issues after their participation in the project.

The Bureau recommends that applicants include a clear description of the methodology and data collection strategies and tools to be employed (e.g., pre- and post-test surveys, interviews, focus groups). The Bureau expects that the grantee will track participants or partners as appropriate and be able to respond to key evaluation questions, including satisfaction with the program, information learned as a result of the program, changes in attitude, behavior, or skills as a result of the program, and the effects of the program on institutions or organizations where participants work. To address gender considerations, applicants should also track and disaggregate data of participants by sex, where applicable, and include indicators that capture gender sensitivity. Similarly, projects that address issues affecting other traditionally marginalized populations, such as the disabled, LGBTs, and ethnic and religious minorities, should track and disaggregate data of participants by those target populations, where applicable and appropriate. Applicants should include indicators that measure support for issues affecting marginalized populations. Lastly, applicants should include the monitoring and evaluation process in their timeline.

Overall, the quality of your monitoring and evaluation plan will be judged on how well it incorporates the abovementioned components into a coherent whole. Since a quality evaluation should be as objective and unbiased as possible, DRL highly encourages all applicants to include a mid-term and final independent evaluation. Ideally the outside evaluator should be involved with the program evaluation from the program’s inception. Costs for an outside evaluation may be charged to the DRL grant.

Grantees will be required to provide reports with an analysis and summary of their findings, both quantitatively and qualitatively, in their quarterly progress and final reports to the Bureau. It is recommended that grantees refer back to their M&E plan in these reports. All data collected, including survey responses and contact information, must be maintained for a minimum of three years after the project ends and provided to the Bureau upon request. DRL conducts quarterly reviews of every program in order to meet OMB reporting requirements and to ensure that grants are being administered and implemented successfully. During these reviews, DRL uses the M&E plan as one way to compare the actual progress and impact of a program against the proposed activities and objectives.

In summary, it is recommended that an M&E plan should include a brief narrative explaining how the monitoring and evaluation will be carried out (e.g., the primary methodologies to be used), and who will be responsible for monitoring and evaluation activities. The M&E plan should also include a table with output- and outcome-based performance indicators, including the baselines and quarterly targets for each indicator; type of data disaggregation for the indicator, if applicable (disaggregation by sex, disability status, ethnic or religious minority status, or sexual orientation is required where applicable and appropriate); monitoring and evaluation data collection tools; data source; and frequency of monitoring and evaluation.  For a more detailed explanation of what DRL is looking for in the M&E plan, please review the DRL Monitoring and Evaluation Primer.

*Note: The Office of the Director of Foreign Assistance (F) requires all DRL grantees to report on standard indicators at the appropriate F Framework Governing Justly and Democratically (GJD) Element level. Therefore, applicants are requested to review the F Framework GJD Indicators and to include in the M&E plan at least one of these indicators, which is relevant to their program. Information on and the list of standard indicators is provided at http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/101763.pdf. Please denote these indicators in the M&E plan with an asterisk.

Multiplier Effect/Sustainability (10 points)
Proposals 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.

Institution’s Record and Capacity (10 points)
The Bureau will consider the past performance of prior recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants. Proposals 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.

PROPOSAL SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS
Applicants must submit proposals using www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov by 11:30p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on July 13, 2012. DRL will not accept proposals submitted via email, fax, the postal system, or delivery companies or couriers. 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit applications via www.grantsolutions.gov but may also submit applications via www.grants.gov.  Several of the steps in the www.grantsolutions.gov registration process can take multiple weeks. Therefore, applicants should check with appropriate staff within their organizations immediately after reviewing this solicitation to confirm or determine their registration status with Grants.gov. The www.grantsolutions.gov website is available to all applicants, but DRL especially encourages foreign NGOs and public international organizations to submit proposals through this website. 

Interested organizations using GrantSolutions for the first time should register on the www.grantsolutions.gov site to create a new Applicant account as soon as possible because this process must be completed before an application can be submitted.  To register with GrantSolutions follow the “First Time Applicants” link and complete the “GrantSolutions New Applicant Sign Up” application form.  Organizations that have previously used www.grantSolutions.gov do not need to register again. If an organization that has previously used www.grantSolutions is not able to access the system, please contact Customer Support for help in gaining access (see contact information below).

Please note: In order to safeguard the security of applicants’ electronic information, www.grantsolutions.gov utilizes a credential provider to confirm, with certainty, the applicant organization’s credentials. The credential provider for www.grantsolutions.gov is Operational Research Consultants (ORC). Applicants MUST register with ORC to receive a username and password which you will need to register with www.grantsolutions.gov as an authorized organization representative (AOR). Once your organization's E-Business point of contact has assigned these rights, you will be authorized to submit grant applications through www.grantsolutions.gov on behalf of your organization.

To apply, each organization will need to be registered with the Central Contractor Registry (CCR) http://www.ccr.gov/, and will need to have your organization's DUNS number available to complete this process. For more information regarding the DUNS number, please visit www.dnb.com or call 1-866-705-5711. After registering with the CCR, your organization must wait approximately three to five business days before obtaining a username and password. This may delay your ability to post your proposal. Therefore, DRL strongly urges applicants to begin this process well in advance of the submission deadline.

Once registered, the amount of time it can take to upload an application will vary depending on a variety of factors including the size of the application and the speed of your internet connection. When using www.grantsolutions.gov, validation of an electronic submission via can take up to two business days.

The www.grantsolutions.gov websites include extensive information on all phases/aspects of the www.grantsolutions.gov process, including an extensive section on frequently asked questions, located under the "For Applicants" section of the website. DRL strongly recommends that all potential applicants review thoroughly www.grantsolutions.gov, well in advance of submitting a proposal through the www.grantsolutions.gov system.

Direct all questions regarding www.grantsolutions.gov registration and submission to:
www.grantsolutions.gov Customer Support
Contact Center Phone: 888-577-0771
Business Hours: Monday – Friday, 8AM – 6PM Eastern Standard Time
Email: help@grantsolutions.gov

Applicants have until 11:30 PM, Washington, D.C. time of the closing date to ensure that their entire application has been uploaded to www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov. Applications uploaded to the site after the deadline will be considered technically ineligible and automatically rejected.

Please refer to www.grantsolutions.gov for definitions of various "application statuses" and the difference between a submission receipt and a submission validation. Applicants will receive a validation e-mail from www.grantsolutions.gov upon the successful submission of an application. Again, validation of an electronic submission via www.grantsolutions.gov can take up to two business days. DRL will not notify you upon receipt of electronic applications.

Faxed, couriered, or emailed documents will not be accepted at any time. Applicants must follow all formatting instructions in this document and the PSI.

It is the responsibility of all applicants to ensure that proposals have been received by www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov in their entirety. DRL bears no responsibility for data errors resulting from transmission or conversion processes.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Should you have any questions regarding the solicitation, please feel free to contact
Violeta Roman at RomanV@state.gov or Alex Covington at CovingtonAP@state.gov with questions. State Department officials and staff - both in the Bureau and at embassies overseas - may not discuss this competition with applicants until the entire proposal review process is completed.

The information in this solicitation is binding and may not be modified by any Bureau representative. Explanatory information provided by the Bureau that contradicts this language will not be binding. Issuance of the solicitation does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government. The Bureau 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 and DRL’s website, www.state.gov/j/drl.

Once the Request for Proposals deadline has passed, U.S. Department of State staff in Washington and overseas may not discuss competing proposals with applicants until the review process has been completed. Upon award, organizations will be required to register with www.grantsolutions.gov if they have not already done so.

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