Notice of Funding Opportunity: The 2020 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund

U.S. Department of State
U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Notice of Funding Opportunity: The 2020 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund

The Public Affairs Section of U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar is now accepting applications from past participants (“alumni”) of U.S. government-funded and U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs to the 2020 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF 2020).  AEIF 2020 will provide resources for alumni projects around the world to advance women’s and girls’ safety and their meaningful participation in peace and security processes. The application deadline is 8:30am on Monday March 2, 2020

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION 

AEIF provides alumni of U.S. sponsored and facilitated exchange programs with funding to expand on skills gained during their exchange experience to design and implement innovative solutions to global challenges facing their community.  Since its inception in 2011, AEIF funded nearly 500 alumni-led projects around the world through a competitive global competition.  

AEIF supports teams of alumni with grants from USD $5,000 up to USD $25,000 for public service projects that promote shared values and innovative solutions to global challenges.  The theme of Women, Peace, and Security includes projects that:

  • Strengthening the role of women in peace, security, and governance;
  • Engaging women as partners in preventing terrorism and countering radicalization and recruitment;
  • Promoting the protection of women and girls from violence, abuse, and exploitation; and/or 
  • Supporting women’s political and civic participation.

II. AWARD INFORMATION

Funding Instrument Type: Funding is offered through grants or fixed amount awards. 

Should the grant recipient be an organization that is a partner in the project, the organization must have a unique entity identifier (Data Universal Numbering System/DUNS number) at https://fedgov.dnb.com/webform/, as well as a valid registration on https://sam.gov.  Organizations must have a commitment to equal opportunity employment practices and to non-discrimination practices with regard to beneficiaries, without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. 

Should the grant recipient be an individual, the individual is not required to have a DUNS number or be registered at sam.gov.

Project and Budget Periods: Projects generally should be completed in one year or less. The program will consider applications for the continuation of awards beyond the initial budget period on a non-competitive basis subject to availability of funds, satisfactory progress of the project, and a determination that continued funding would be in the best interest of the U.S. Department of State.

Applicants should consider their budgets carefully and submit a budget commensurate with their project goals. 

Program General Timeline:

Application Period:  January 23 – March 2, 2020
Finalists Announcement: July 2020
Performance Period: August 2020 – August 2021

III. ELIGILIBITY INFORMATION 

The following individuals are eligible to apply:

  • Applicants must be alumni of a U.S. government-funded exchange program (https://alumni.state.gov/list-exchange-programs) or a U.S. government-sponsored exchange program (https://j1visa.state.gov/);
  • Projects teams must include teams of at least two (2) alumni;
  • Alumni who are U.S. citizens may not submit proposals, but U.S. citizen alumni may participate as team members in a project;
  • Alumni teams may be comprised of alumni from different exchange programs and different countries; and
  • Applications must be submitted by exchange alumni.  Not-for-profit, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and academic institutions are not eligible to apply in the name of the organization but can serve as partners for implementing project activities.

Cost Sharing: Inclusion of cost share is not a requirement of this opportunity, however monetary and/or non-monetary cost share will increase the competitiveness of the proposed project.

Grant Program Area:  Proposals must address women in peace, security, and governance.  Proposals that do not address the theme as outlined in the program objectives will be deemed ineligible.  All project activities must take place outside of the United States and its territories.

III. APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS

A complete application will include: 

  1. [AEIF 2020 Application Form] (DOCX 564KB); and 
  2. [AEIF 2020 Budget Form] (XLSX 32KB).

Please refer to [AEIF 2020 Application Guidance] (PDF 356KB) for proposal and budget guidance for exchange alumni.

How to Apply: All application materials must be submitted to susi@usembassy.mn with “Application to AEIF 2020” in the subject line of the email.

Proposals that do not meet the requirements of this announcement or fail to comply with the stated requirements will not be considered.

IV. REVIEW AND SELECTION PROCESS

Evaluation Criteria:  The U.S. embassy will use the criteria outlined below to evaluate all applications.  After this initial review, the Public Affairs Section will submit the top proposals from their country to the global AEIF 2020 competition.  The proposals will be reviewed by a Selection Committee made up of regional and exchange program experts located at the Department of State in Washington, DC.  Panelists will use the criteria below to review and evaluate applications. 

Purpose and summary, description, and implementation plan:  20 points
When developing the purpose, summary, description, and implementation plan, applicants should aim to make all descriptions clear, concise, and compelling.  Reviewers will judge the proposals based on the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the community where it is undertaken.  Does the project address an important gap of understanding or need? If the aim of the project is achieved, how will existing knowledge or practice be improved?  What audience do the applicants hope to reach with this project? How many people will participate and how will they be selected?  

Relevance of the project to women, peace, and security:  10 points
AEIF 2020 will provide resources for alumni-led projects around the world that advance women’s and girls’ safety and their meaningful participation in peace and security processes.  Throughout the proposal, applicants will need to demonstrate how your project will strengthen the role of women as agents of peace, reconciliation, development, growth and/or stability.  In developing the project, applicants should keep in mind the safety of alumni and project beneficiaries, including unintended impacts the project may have on their security.

Degree of alumni involvement:  10 points
Projects must include at least two (2) alumni team leaders.  More than two alumni may comprise the team, however, the minimum is two.  As the team leaders, the alumni must be closely involved in project planning, implementation, etc.  Applicants should ensure that the proposal includes the following information for each alumni team member: first name, last name, e-mail address, exchange program, country of citizenship, and roles and responsibilities. 

Participation and support from reliable local partners:  10 points
A successful application will demonstrate buy-in and support from the community where the project will take place.  The involvement of local partners is a strong sign that there is community support and that the project will engage a broad array of experts, such as subject matter experts, community centers, academic institutions, businesses, local/national government, non-governmental organizations, American Spaces, etc.  

Evaluation and impact of the project:  10 points
Proposals must include a plan to monitor and evaluate the project’s success, both as the activities take place and at the end of the project.  Overall, the quality of monitoring and evaluation plan will be judged on how well it 1) specifies the intended outcomes and how these outcomes will be achieved, 2) gives clear descriptions of how each outcome will be measured, 3) identifies when the outcomes will be measured, and 4) explains how outcomes will be collected (such as surveys, interviews, or focus groups).  Successful monitoring and evaluation depend heavily on setting clear goals and outcomes and consider potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success. Interim and final reporting is required for winning AEIF projects and winning applicants should have a reporting plan to share information about the success/impact of the project.

Sustainability:  10 points
Project activities will continue to have positive impact after the end of the project.

Communication, media and outreach plan:  10 points
The project includes a plan to share information about the project. 

Budget and budget narrative:  20 points
The budget and narrative justification are sufficiently 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.  The results and proposed outcomes justify the total cost of the project. Budget items are reasonable, allowable, and allocable.

Total: 100 points

Disclaimer:  This notice is subject to availability of funding. U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar does not guarantee availability of funding by receiving applications under this announcement.  Only successful applicants will be contacted.

V. INQUIRIES 

An information session for interested alumni will be held in February.  The session information will be posted on Embassy’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.  

Any inquiries about the program will not be answered via phone.  Please direct all inquiries to the Embassy’s Facebook or email at susi@usembassy.mn.