Friday, March 25, 2016

New State Department program targets Cuban youth

Barack Obama. By Ben Heine
Just three days after Barack Obama left Cuba, the State Department today announced a $753,989 community internship program targeting "young emerging leaders from Cuban civil society."
Non-profit organizations and educational institutions are invited to submit proposals. The deadline is May 20. The first awards are expected to be given in late July or early August.
The State Department's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs plans to manage the program, aimed at financing two- to four-month professional development programs "which will fuel the participants’ development of action plans for nongovernmental community activities in Cuba."
The announcement states:
"Cuban civil society is not formed into well-established organizations that would typically be found in a society with a strong democratic tradition. Through participation in the program, participants will develop a set of leadership tools and skills to manage and grow civil society organizations that will actively support democratic principles in Cuba."
The announcement is below:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The United States Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) announces a Notification of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to support the Community Internship Program for Cuban Youth. Subject to the availability of funds, WHA intends to issue an award in an amount not to exceed $753,989 in FY2015 Economic Support Funds for a project period of three years. The anticipated start date for this activity is August 2016 and WHA intends to support one award as a result of this NOFO.


WHA invites U.S. nonprofit organizations and U.S. educational institutions to submit proposals for the Community Internship Program for Cuban Youth, which will support the participation of young emerging leaders from Cuban civil society in a two- to four-month professional development program. The program will include specialized training and an internship with a nonprofit organization in the United States, which will fuel the participants’ development of action plans for nongovernmental community activities in Cuba. Cuban civil society is not formed into well-established organizations that would typically be found in a society with a strong democratic tradition. Through participation in the program, participants will develop a set of leadership tools and skills to manage and grow civil society organizations that will actively support democratic principles in Cuba.

WHA reserves the right to fund any or none of the applications submitted and reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the program and the availability of funds. The authority for this NOFO is found in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended. The CFDA Number for this funding opportunity is 19.750.

This NOFO consists of this cover letter plus the following sections:

I. Funding Opportunity Description
II. Award Information
III. Eligibility information
IV. Agency Contacts

The complete solicitation package includes the mandatory Proposal Submission Instructions, which includes Application and Submission Instructions and Application Review Information.

Eligible organizations interested in submitting an application should read this NOFO thoroughly to understand the project sought, the application submission requirements and evaluation process.

This funding opportunity is posted on Grants.gov and may be amended. See the Application and Submission Instructions for further details. Potential applicants should regularly check the website to ensure they have the latest information pertaining to this NOFO.

Any questions concerning this NOFO should be submitted in writing via email to the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at WHAGrants@state.gov by May 6, 2016 [Subject line “Community Internship Program for Cuban Youth” and your organization name]. Responses to questions will be made available to all potential applicants through an amendment to this NOFO and posted on Grants.gov.

Francisco L. Palmieri
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
U.S. Department of State

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

U.S. foreign assistance for Cuba seeks to empower Cubans to freely determine their own future by increasing human capacity, promoting community level engagement, and expanding civil society networks. Since 1996, the United States has provided assistance to increase the flow of information on democracy and human rights to Cuba through a variety of U.S. and foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

The U.S. Department of State has engaged with independent civil society groups on education, communication, and civic issues. The Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) seeks to build upon these earlier, successful capacity-building efforts and provide professional development opportunities to current and future civil society and community leaders through coursework and internships on nonprofit management. Civil society organizations in Cuba have had few models to follow as they grow to serve the needs of their communities. With an increased ability to travel, Cubans are eager for more information and want to take advantage of professional development opportunities not afforded to them otherwise.

To support further progress, the U.S. Department of State has allocated $753,989 in FY 2015 Economic Support Funds for a professional development program that supports the management of independent organizations in Cuba. All activities will need to be implemented in accordance with the relevant legislation. Assistance to Cuba is governed by a complex series of statutory and other restrictions. The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 (also referred to as “Helms-Burton Act”, P.L. 104-114) provides notwithstanding authority to furnish assistance and provide other support for individuals and independent NGOs to support democracy-building efforts for Cuba.

PROJECT PURPOSE
By supporting the growth of civil society and contributing to the development and diversification of human capital in Cuba, this project will fund the participation of young emerging leaders from Cuban civil society in a two- to four-month professional development program, consisting of specialized training and an internship with a nonprofit organization in the United States, which will fuel the participants’ development of action plans for nongovernmental community activities in Cuba. Cuban civil society is not formed into well-established organizations that would typically be found in a society with a strong democratic tradition. Through participation in the program, participants will develop a set of leadership tools and skills to manage and grow civil society organizations that will actively support democratic principles in Cuba.

PROJECT GOAL
The goal is to foster a new generation of civil society leaders who will possess the skills and knowledge to professionalize Cuba’s civil society base. This cadre of young professionals will model effective leadership of civil society organizations that are accountable to the public, promote community engagement, support diversity, and further democratic principles in Cuba.

PROJECT OBJECTIVES
In order to fulfill this purpose and meet this goal, this project will build the professional capacity of 25-30 Cubans to advance social justice causes by providing a short training and internship program in the United States within a three-year period. Participants will learn to function professionally and effectively in leading or managing a civil society movement at the grassroots level.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND GUIDELINES
In order to fulfill and meet the above-stated purpose and goal, the recipient of this grant will fulfill several major components.

To promote networking among emerging civil society leaders, participants will travel to the United States in two to four cohorts over three years. Cohorts need not be the same size. Each cohort will follow the sequence of components below:

A. Orientation and Training: Participants will start with a group orientation and professional development activities.
B. Internship: Interns will participate in immersion experiences with well-organized, community-based NGOs in the United States, matched on area of interest.
C. Planning and Networking: During the U.S. program, participants will prepare a small project on a subject related to the internship, and will also develop a plan of action for activities in Cuba upon returning home.

Applicants must describe the design and management of all of the components within the proposal narrative or in the attachments. Applicants should also be sure to describe the roles and responsibilities of the project management team and partner organizations or institutions.

1. Recruitment and Selection

Recruitment Plan and Partners:
Applicants for the administration of this project will describe in their proposals a robust recruitment and selection plan that will include a) outreach that will generate a strong pool of qualified candidates; b) the promotional materials that will be developed and disseminated; c) details on engaging geographically, racially/ethnically, and socio-economically diverse candidates; and d) participant selection criteria and a candidate screening process. Staff of the recipient organization should not plan to travel to Cuba to conduct on-island recruitment, so applicants must provide detailed plans to recruit and interview candidates from the United States. Before final decisions are made, the grantee will recommend the principal and alternate participants to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Participants:
Program participants will be Cuban citizens and residents who demonstrate an interest in independent organizations. As emerging leaders, participants will be between 20 and 35 years of age and may be university students or young professionals. English language skills are preferred but will not be a requirement; therefore, the orientation and training must be conducted in Spanish (or interpreted for select components), and internships with U.S. organizations and communities that can accommodate Spanish-speakers must be incorporated into the program. The participants should also demonstrate the aptitude (maturity, independence, self-reliance, etc.) for success in a program abroad. Participants must demonstrate a stated desire to return and work in the management of independent organizations in Cuba. The implementing organization’s recruitment plan must actively seek a candidate pool representing gender, racial, socio-economic, and geographic diversity in Cuba.

Visas:
Each participant must be able to receive a U.S. visa and commit to returning to Cuba upon completion of the program. The award recipient will issue the relevant forms to support the students in obtaining appropriate visas. The award recipient and all sponsored participants must comply with all visa regulations.

Pre-departure Orientation:
The award recipient will provide participants with a substantive pre-departure orientation – any combination of video-conferencing, in-person sessions, written materials (provided in hard copy, USB drives, or CD/DVD), and/or low-bandwidth websites – to effectively prepare them for the program. This will include the provision of details on the program components, cross-cultural adjustment, travel and financial matters, terms and conditions of the program, and health insurance. Guidance should also outline what to bring to the United States, how to communicate with home, and other logistical matters.

2. U.S. Program

A. Orientation and Training: Participants will start with a group orientation and up to one month of specialized training and site visits to familiarize them with democratic practices in the United States. The training will focus on professional development needs for emerging civil society leaders, including information technology training for research, documentation, advocacy, and outreach, as well as train-the-trainer activities aimed at increasing the impact of the program once participants have returned to Cuba. Training will also cover the topics of ethics, accountability, and social inclusion. Site visits will introduce the participants to a wide variety of nonprofit organizations in the United States. This section of the program will be led in Spanish.

B. Internship: Interns will participate in immersion experiences with well-organized NGOs in the United States. Interns will be matched with organizations based on interest area, language ability (including organizations and communities that can cater to Spanish-speaking interns), and relevance to the participants’ goals and community needs. The internships will expose the Cubans to a range of organizations in a consolidated democracy that support their interest in making choices independent of state authority and are salient to their daily lives. Small, locally-oriented organizations will be more relevant for the interns than large, national organizations. Thematic areas such as environmental protection, health, literacy and education, youth development, gender violence, supporting persons with disabilities, legal aid, and substance abuse are expected to be of interest to young Cubans. Through the course of the internships, participants will explore methods for NGO strategic planning, fiscal management, needs assessment, and public relations, among other aspects of NGO management.

In the proposal narrative and/or attachments, applicants to this NOFO should describe how they will recruit potential host organizations, match interns with organizations, support the living situations of the interns in U.S. communities, and ensure that the internships deliver the professional development opportunities in nonprofit organizations as outlined above. As previously noted, interns are not expected to be proficient in English; proposals should describe how Spanish-speakers will be accommodated in host organizations and communities.

C. Planning and Networking: As part of the professional development program, participants will do research, write a short paper, or prepare a case study on a subject related to the internship, the results of which will be shared with their peers, as appropriate. They will also develop a plan of action to implement in Cuba that organizes nongovernmental grassroots activities for a social cause. These program assignments will be introduced in the orientation, and re-addressed at a workshop arranged for each cohort before the participants return home. The implementing organization must provide follow-on support to participants, perhaps through a small grants program to operationalize democratic management goals (e.g., developing by-laws or a strategic plan to reach the disenfranchised) and/or through a mentorship program developed with civil society actors in the United States and/or other countries in Latin America.

3. Follow-on with Alumni

Staying engaged with the alumni is important for evaluating the success of the project as well as continuing to support the alumni in engaging in networks of their professional peers in the United States and in Latin America. Applicant organizations should describe various approaches to facilitate this engagement. All proposed follow-on activities for alumni must be developed in close consultation with WHA and reflect the goals and objectives of the project. Proposals should include an outline of and timeline for follow-on alumni programming, information on how it will be coordinated, and how longer-term linkages with alumni may be fostered and maintained.

4. External Evaluation

As part of the award, the recipient organization must identify an external evaluator that will complete a comprehensive evaluation of the results of the project, guided by the stated purpose and goals. Specifically, the evaluation should measure whether participants learned a wide range of skills specific to the management and sustainability of a nonprofit organization, including accountability to boards, staffs, volunteers, clients, funders, and members of the public, as applicable. During the course of the program, participants will hone critical thinking, interpersonal, goal-setting, and organization skills, especially through the hands-on experience in the day-to-day operations of a nonprofit organization.

To the extent possible, given limitations on access to alumni and the time frame of the award, the evaluation should also measure the longer-term impact of the award, including the participants’ abilities to more effectively establish, lead, manage, and grow independent organizations in support of democratic principles in Cuba. The evaluation should ascertain if participants returned to Cuba with practical tools for managing an independent organization, including staff and volunteer recruitment and retention, fiscal management, public relations, and evaluation.

The proposal must include a plan for this evaluation.

BUDGET GUIDANCE
The federal grant amount of $753,989 will support the participation of 25 to 30 interns in a professional development program over three years. Factors such as the length of the program and the locations of the internships will affect the costs for each participant. The budget will include roundtrip airfare between Cuba and the United States; room and board (which could include homestays or university dormitories); local transportation; provision of orientation, training, and a closing workshop; and other program-related expenses.

Allowable program costs may include the following:
• Recruitment and advertising materials and expenses
• Pre-departure orientation expenses
• Passport and visa fees, as necessary, including travel costs for interviews
• Roundtrip airfare between Cuba and the United States
• Monthly stipend for room and board
• Winter clothing, if necessary
• Travel within the United States and local transportation (excluding automobile purchases)
• Orientation and training expenses (e.g., travel, lodging, meals, materials, honoraria for speakers)
• Health insurance (accident and sickness)
• Withholding for taxes, if necessary. Applicants should assist participants in complying with federal income tax regulations and for calculating appropriate amounts that must be withheld from the participants’ support in accordance with the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

NOTE: Grant funds may not be used for expenses related to spouses, children, or family relocation or reunification.

DESIRED RESULTS AND ILLUSTRATIVE INDICATORS
By the end of the project, the Community Internship Program for Cuban Youth is expected to have supported 25-30 participants in completing a comprehensive professional development program that includes an internship, specialized training, and a plan for civic engagement. The program will allow the participants to establish themselves in Cuba as professional resources for organized civil society efforts and be better connected to civil society organizations in other countries. Alumni will have the tools to promote causes by attracting broad audiences, modeling social responsibility and good governance, and mobilizing independent actors within civil society to promote freedom of expression and assembly.

The recipient will develop a project-level Project Monitoring Plan (PMP) with annual and end-of- project targets and results anticipated for key performance indicators. The following table shows required indicators that must be measured, as well as illustrative targets, which the recipient will be responsible for monitoring and reporting during and after the project. The recipient should propose additional outputs, indicators, and/or targets as necessary. WHA will regularly monitor the project’s performance to assess whether project activities are on track and targets are being achieved.

Required outcome indicators for the project are provided below. The recipient is expected to identify targets for these indicators based on what it can reasonably achieve within the performance period of the project, based on the expected overall project results described above.

Outcome Indicators
Targets:
Number of individuals who report acquiring a robust body of knowledge about multiple facets of nonprofit management.
TBD
Number of individuals who utilize their U.S. experience to establish or manage a nonprofit or independent organization in Cuba or participate in one as an employee, board member, or volunteer (within a year of participation in the project)
TBD

Output indicators and illustrative targets that should be used for the project are provided below. The recipient should review these and either confirm the illustrative targets or propose alternative targets, as appropriate.

Output Indicators
Illustrative targets:
Number of People who Have Completed USG Assisted Civic Education Programs
At least 25

The recipient will be required to collect baseline data for all the PMP indicators during the first year of the project. In addition, applicants should define certain terms included in the outcomes and indicators at the very beginning of the project so that it is possible to measure the change during and at the end of the project. Such baseline information will be critical for both monitoring and evaluation of project progress and results.

II. AWARD INFORMATION

The U.S. government may issue one award resulting from this NOFO to the responsible applicant whose application conforming to this NOFO is the most responsive to the objectives set forth in this NOFO. The U.S. government may (a) reject any or all applications, (b) accept other than the lowest cost application, (c) accept more than one application, (d) accept alternate applications, and (e) waive informalities and minor irregularities in applications received.

The U.S. government may make award on the basis of initial applications received, without discussions or negotiations. Therefore, each initial application should contain the applicant’s best terms from a cost and technical standpoint. The U.S. government reserves the right (but is not obliged) to enter into discussions with one or more applicants in order to obtain clarifications, additional detail, or to suggest refinements in the project description, budget, or other aspects of an application.

APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION:
Please refer to the Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) for more information on how to apply to this NOFO, including information on proposal’s content and formatting. Please use both the PSI and this announcement to ensure that your proposal submission is in full compliance with the requirements. Proposal submissions that do not meet all of the requirements outlined in the NOFO and PSI will NOT be considered.

FEDERAL AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION:
Pursuant to 2 CFR 200.400(g), it is U.S. Department of State policy not to award profit under assistance instruments. NOTE: Overseas-based nonprofit organizations are legally required to comply with the 2 CFR 200.

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 an application. In addition, a final award of any resultant grant agreement cannot be made until funds have been fully appropriated, allocated, and committed through internal WHA procedures. While it is anticipated that these procedures will be successfully completed, potential applicants are hereby notified of these requirements and conditions for award. Applications are submitted at the risk of the applicant. All preparation and submission costs are at the applicant’s expense.

It is the responsibility of the recipient of this NOFO to ensure that it has been recorded as received by Grants.gov or Grant Solutions in its entirety. The Department bears no responsibility for data errors resulting from transmission or conversion processes associated with electronic submissions.

The federal award signed by the Grants Officer is the authorizing document.

Reporting Requirements
Recipients will, at a minimum, be required to submit Quarterly Progress Reports (to include the SF-PPR, as the cover page) and Quarterly Financial Reports (SF-425). Progress Reports will compare actual to planned performance and indicate the progress made in accomplishing each assistance award task/goal noted in the grant agreement and will contain analysis and summary of findings, both quantitative and qualitative, for key indicators. Financial Reports provide a means of monitoring expenditures and comparing costs incurred with progress.

NOTE: It is the Department of State’s policy that English is the official language of all documents. If reports or any supporting documents are provided in both English and a foreign language, it must be stated in each version that the English language version is the controlling version.

Mandatory disclosures (2 CFR 200.113)
The non-federal entity or applicant for a federal award must disclose, in a timely manner, in writing to the federal awarding agency or pass-through entity all violations of federal criminal law involving fraud, bribery, or gratuity violations potentially affecting the federal award. Non-federal entities that have received a Federal award including the term and condition outlined in Appendix XII—Award Term and Condition for Recipient Integrity and Performance Matters are required to report certain civil, criminal, or administrative proceedings to SAM. Failure to make required disclosures can result in any of the remedies described in §200.338 Remedies for noncompliance, including suspension or debarment.

Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS)
i. A federal awarding agency, prior to making a federal award will 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. 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. 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 §200.205 Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants.

OTHER INFORMATION
Applicant organizations must demonstrate commitment to non-discrimination with respect to beneficiaries and adherence to equal opportunity employment practices. Non-discrimination includes equal treatment without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, gender, and political affiliation. Applicants are reminded that U.S. Executive Orders and U.S. law prohibits transactions with or support to individuals or organizations associated with terrorism.

Proposals that reflect any type of support for elected members of government or for any member, affiliate, or representative of a designated to terrorist organization or narcotics trafficker will NOT be considered.

III. ELIGIBLITY INFORMATION

(1) Eligible Entities: Applicants that are eligible to apply are U.S. nonprofit organizations and U.S. educational institutions.

To be eligible for a grant award, in addition to other conditions of this NOFO, organizations must have a commitment to non‐discrimination with respect to beneficiaries and adherence to equal opportunity employment practices. Non‐discrimination includes equal treatment without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, gender, and political affiliation.

Applicants are reminded that U.S. Executive Orders and U.S. law prohibits transactions with, and the provision of resources and support to, individuals and organizations associated with terrorism. It is the legal responsibility of the Recipient to ensure compliance with these Executive Orders and laws. This provision must be included in any sub‐awards issued under this grant award.

(2) WHA encourages applications from potential new partners.

IV. AGENCY CONTACTS

Any prospective applicant desiring an explanation or interpretation of this NOFO must request it in writing by the deadline for questions specified in the cover letter to allow a reply to reach all prospective applicants before the submission of their applications. Any information given to a prospective applicant concerning this NOFO will be furnished promptly to all other prospective applicants as a Questions and Answers amendment to this NOFO, if that information is necessary in submitting applications or if the lack of it would be prejudicial to any other prospective applicants.

Please be sure to check Grants.gov for any updates or amendments to the NOFO and to see published Questions and Answers regarding the NOFO.

Any questions concerning this NOFO must be submitted in writing by email to WHAGrants@state.gov by the deadline for questions indicated at the top of this NOFO’s cover letter. Please use the name of the program, Community Internship Program for Cuban Youth, and your organization’s name in the subject line.

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