Notice of Funding Opportunity: EducationUSA Mongolia Advising Services

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

U.S. EMBASSY ULAANBAATAR

Notice of Funding Opportunity: EducationUSA Mongolia Advising Services

 

Funding Opportunity Title:             EducationUSA Mongolia Advising Services

Funding Opportunity Number:       PAS-Ulaanbaatar-001/FY2023

Deadline for Applications:              December 15, 2022

CFDA Number:                                  19.022 ECA Overseas Grant

Total Amount Available:                  $35,000 USD

NOFO www.Grants.gov Link: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html?keywords=educationusa%20Mongolia 

A. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

The Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar announces an open competition for a cooperative agreement to administer Education USA Mongolia Student Advising activities and collaborate with the embassy on various U.S. higher education outreach initiatives in Mongolia. 

A.1 Purpose of Cooperative Grant 

U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar is seeking a partner to help administer and manage the EducationUSA Mongolia program.  The primary goal is to manage the individual EducationUSA advisers and ensure they have the resources to conduct EducationUSA advising, outreach, and programs.  The partner will also manage the EducationUSA Mongolia social media accounts, creating localized content and sharing content from the State Department.  The partner may oversee the planning and execution of several large-scale EducationUSA fairs each year.  The partner will also conduct a market survey and needs assessment for EducationUSA Mongolia and recommend changes to U.S. Embassy on EducationUSA posture and activities.

B. BACKGROUND INFORMATION

B.1 Global EducationUSA Overview

EducationUSA is a U.S. Department of State global network of more than 430 advising centers in more than 175 countries and territories.  The network promotes U.S. higher education to students around the world by offering accurate, comprehensive, and current information about opportunities to study at accredited postsecondary institutions in the United States. EducationUSA also provides services to the U.S. higher education community to help institutional leaders meet their recruitment and campus internationalization goals.  Please see EducationUSA’s official website for more information at: https//educationusa.state.gov. 

EducationUSA centers provide the following services to all students and their families free of charge: 

  • Individual advising services, both virtually and in-person, that help Mongolians who wish to study in the United States learn how to research, choose, and apply for admission to American vocational schools, community colleges, and universities.  This includes information about the application process and requirements, how to fund studies, and the visa application process. These services are tailored to the individual’s needs and preferences.  
  • Public and group information sessions, both virtually and in-person, that give prospective students an overview of the U.S. higher education system, the application process for undergraduate and graduate admission, and targeted resources for U.S. higher education research.  
  • Education fairs that provide students with an opportunity to meet with representatives from American higher education institutions (HEIs) and ask them specific questions about their schools.
  • Pre-Departure Orientations for students who are departing to study in the United States.  These orientations cover information such as visas and travel expectations, life in the United States, culture shock, and other topics of interest to departing students. 
  • Appropriate space and technology (e.g. computers, Internet, etc.) to access and research the EducationUSA website. 
  • Basic reference materials on U.S. higher education. 
  • Instruction on how use the advising library and center resources.

EducationUSA Centers offer the following services free of charge to accredited U.S. colleges and universities: 

  • Information about international student mobility. 
  • Information about the local education systems. 
  • Contact information and listings of major local high schools and accredited or government-recognized universities. 
  • Facilitate local outreach. 
  • Provide resources for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to plan for and implement international student recruitment trips. 
  • Opportunity to display materials, if space permits.

EducationUSA Centers offer the following services free of charge to host country schools and government organizations:

  • Information about international student mobility
  • Information about U.S. higher education systems.
  • Networking opportunities with U.S. HEIs 
  • Connection with U.S. HEIs conducting international student recruitment trips
  • Information sessions for high school and university counselors on U.S. higher education application processes

B.2 EducationUSA Mongolia OVERVIEW 

EducationUSA Mongolia is an advising center located at the Natsagdorj Ulaanbaatar City Public Library with satellite information areas at all five American Spaces in Mongolia. The Advising Center promotes U.S. higher education to students and professionals in Mongolia by offering accurate, comprehensive, and current information about opportunities to study at accredited postsecondary institutions in the United States. The EducationUSA Mongolia also provides services to the U.S. Higher Education community to help institutional leaders meet their recruitment and campus internationalization goals. Reach EducationUSA Mongolia by phone (+976 7017 4414), email (ulaanbaatar@educationusa.org), or social media (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EducationUSAMongolia/, Twitter: @EdUSA_Mongolia, Instagram: educationusa_mongolia).

EducationUSA Mongolia annually provides advising services to approximately over 2,000 individuals, offers 40-50 public programs, and an annual pre-departure orientation.  They also annually work with 50-60 U.S. institutions of higher education to provide information about the Mongolian educational system and students, and hosting recruitment events.  Advisers routinely conduct outreach at Mongolian high schools and universities, such as meeting with school guidance counselors, their classes, etc. if applicable. Advisers travel to conduct these meetings in person or conduct them virtually.  They also maintain working relationships with local education officials. Applicants should plan for a 5% growth in services provided each year.

C. SCOPE OF WORK

C.1 Scope of Work for Grantee

In cooperation with U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar, the award recipient will manage EducationUSA across Mongolia, by doing the following tasks:

a). Administer EducationUSA Mongolia advising.

      a. Receive and administer funding for EducationUSA advising center operations. Grantee should expect to administer approximately $35,000 in operational funding annually.  

      b. Administer salary and benefits for EducationUSA advisers.

b). Ensure each adviser conducts regular individual advising engagements every day.  An example of monthly engagement might include approximately 10 engagements with regular advisees to guide them through the application process and around 20 one-off inquiries to the center.  These engagements may be over Zoom, phone, e-mail, or other Embassy approved channels.

c). Ensure each adviser creates and executes regular in-person, hybrid, or virtual events several times per month over the 12-month performance period that share information with relevant audiences (students, parents, teachers, counselors, local and national governmental organizations, and U.S. higher education admissions representatives).  Topics may include Your 5 Steps to U.S. Study, a pre-departure orientation, an alumni panel firsthand experiences studying in the U.S., or other information subject to approval by the Embassy.  Work with the Embassy to convert some of these events to videos and social media posts to be posted on our website and social media channels.

d). Get more students interested in studying in the United States through online engagement and managing the EducationUSA Mongolia social media accounts. Minimum outreach includes at least one original social media post per week, in addition to publishing the social media posts provided by EducationUSA.  Initially, all email campaigns and social media posts will be vetted and approved by the Embassy before posting.

e). Ensure advisers create and maintain relationships with current school college counselors (or equivalent) in Mongolia and U.S. university admissions representatives when appropriate (e.g., when they visit or reach out to EducationUSA); contact data and history must be recorded in the EducationUSA Mongolia database.

f). Assist and support educational outreach activities of U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar, including to underserved populations and locales outside capital/major cities, whenever possible in collaboration with Public Affairs and Consular staff, to inform them of U.S. study opportunities and the services available at the EducationUSA advising center. 

g). Coordinate with event organizers to provide EducationUSA representation at large scale outreach events and fairs. Coordinate with the Embassy for presentation content, marketing resources, and personnel back-up as needed.

h). Ensure advisers have adequate office and advising space. The space should include a minimum of one private room/office for the exclusive use of the EducationUSA adviser as an office, meeting space for small groups, reference material reading area, and storage for reference materials such as books, magazines, and promotional items.  

i).Track and report EducationUSA Mongolia activity.  Report statistics (identified in collaboration with U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar, which may include number of advising sessions, visitors to the center, number of advisees or visitors who report applying to an American HEI, virtual engagements, social media engagements, number of audience members at workshops and events, among others) on a regular basis.

j). Maintain active contact with the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar Public Affairs Section and Regional Educational Advising Coordinator (REAC) for Northeast Asia regarding EducationUSA developments and strategy in Mongolia.

k). In coordination with the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar, provide strategic vision and ongoing recommendations to enhance the efficacy and impact of EducationUSA communications within Mongolia. Develop print and digital materials to support EducationUSA Mongolia strategic communications.

l). Stay abreast of information pertaining to U.S. higher education and the profession of educational advising. Remain updated on technology related to and used for educational advising.

C.2 U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar Responsibilities 

C.2.1 USG-Provided Resources

The United States Government, through the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar, will provide the grantee with the following services, equipment, and funding:

  • Funding for advising center operations
  • Funding for market survey and needs assessment 
  • Laptops, iPads, and printer for advisers and advising center operations
  • Funding for administrative costs 
  • Funding for adviser salaries and benefits
  • Funding for venue costs and purchases for EducationUSA fairs and other large-scale events

C.2.2 Role of the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar

In cooperative agreements, the U.S. embassy is substantially involved in program activities.  The U.S. embassy’s role includes:

  1. Provide policy guidance and direction to the award recipient(s). 
  2. Approve key personnel staff requirements and selections.  
  3. Approve selection and hiring of new EducationUSA advisers and EducationUSA in conjunction with REAC. 
  4. Provide guidance on regional virtual advising priorities; to include specific product and resource development, target audience engagement, and language focus. 
  5. Work with REAC and award recipient staff on substantive advising issues. 
  6. Review program design templates, written and digital products, technology, resources, and social media platform management as needed to ensure that materials and resources align with EducationUSA’s coordinated communication and marketing strategy and State Department requirements.
  7. Perform quarterly review of program administration under the cooperative agreement. Pending satisfactory performance in the current award year, the award recipient may be invited to submit a proposal for a non-competitive renewal award in the subsequent fiscal year. 

D. ELEMENTS OF THE PROGRAM PROPOSAL

Proposals should outline how the partner organization will (A) demonstrate a deep knowledge of the education environment in Mongolia and regional expertise in the country; (B) indicate that the organization has the institutional capacity to support advising centers, and should describe in detail the entire range of EducationUSA advising activities, including group and individual consultations, and the use of virtual outreach platforms; (C) highlight regional networks including, but not limited to, government organizations, institutions of higher education, and other higher education stakeholders.

Proposals should outline how U.S. government funding will be utilized to achieve these goals, in addition to any cost-share to be provided by the partner organization.  Cost sharing is not a requirement but is encouraged.

Proposals should explain how the EducationUSA program would be implemented alongside any non-EducationUSA educational advising activities, other ECA programs, or the recipient organization’s proprietary programs to the best effect. 

Proposals should outline a comprehensive staffing plan that covers all geographic regions included under the proposal with sufficient level of effort to fully support the proposed advising and public engagement activities.  The staffing plan should account for locally competitive adviser salaries commensurate with all required skills for the position.  Adviser salaries should be sufficient to recruit and retain qualified advisers that are able to all advising requirements outlined herein.  Proposals should also outline a plan for staff evaluations, including the evaluation cycle, and the framework and process for providing salary increases.

Proposals should outline how the recipient will utilize U.S. government funds and cost-sharing, if any, to provide a robust set of services.  

E. FEDERAL AWARD INFORMATION

Length of performance period: 12 months

Number of awards anticipated: One

Award amounts: $35,000

Anticipated program starts date (of program planning): February 1, 2023. This notice is subject to availability of funding.

  1. Funding Instrument Type:  

Cooperative agreement.  Cooperative agreements are different from grants in that bureau/embassy staff are more actively involved in the project implementation.  Working closely with the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar, the Recipient shall develop a robust reporting system, a schedule of program events, and division of roles and responsibilities.

Regular, transparent communications via email, phone and video conference calls, and face-to-face meetings (as appropriate) throughout the period of performance are critical to the success of this cooperative agreement.

All major elements of the program and its content require advance approval by the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar, including, but not limited to:

  • Selection of any sub-awardees or other partner organizations or collaborators;
  • Office and venue space;
  • Key hiring decisions

The U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar may require revisions to any aspect of the program not previously approved.  The Embassy also reserves the right to require changes to previously agreed-upon elements of the program due to circumstances beyond our control.

     2. Program Performance Period:

One year, to begin approximately February 1, 2023 and conclude January 31, 2024, with the possibility for future awards pending successful performance and availability of future funding.

F. ELIGILIBITY INFORMATION

U.S. and local organizations with significant experience in education, international relations, and/or events and programming are invited to submit a proposal.  Submissions by individuals will also be considered if experience and circumstances assure capability to implement the programs.

F.1 Eligible Applicants:

The U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar welcomes applications from:

  • U.S.-based, Mongolia-based, and foreign non-profit organizations/ non-governmental organizations (NGOs); and
  • U.S., Mongolian, and foreign private, public, or state institutions of higher education.

For-profit entities are not eligible to apply. Successful U.S.-based applicants will demonstrate strong linkages with a Mongolia-based partner organization.

F.2 Cost Sharing or Matching:

Cost sharing is encouraged, but not a requirement.  Cost-sharing components, including partnerships with other organizations, must be pre-approved by the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar.

F.3 Other Eligibility Requirements:

Awards can only be issued to organizations that are registered in SAM.gov and have an NCAGE code.  Grants to individuals do not require SAM.gov registration but the individual will undergo a background check if selected to receive an Award. 

  • SAM registration: https://www.sam.gov/portal/SAM
  • NCAGE Code: https://eportal.nspa.nato.int/AC135Public/scage/CageList.aspx

G. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Proposal Content: Proposals must include the following:

    • Proposal Summary: a short narrative outlining the key elements of the program, including objectives and anticipated impact.
    • Introduction to the Organization Applying: a description of past and present operations, showing ability to carry out the program; if applicable, list previous projects with U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar or other U.S. government entities;
    • Problem Statement: a clear and concise statement of how the organization that is applying is prepared to address the objectives;
    • Program Objectives: a brief explanation of how the program will achieve the objectives;
    • Program Activities, Methods, and Design: a description of the deliverables, how the deliverables will be managed, and how the services will achieve the goal.
    • Proposed Program Schedule: the proposed timeline for undertaking and completing the specific activities.
    • Program Monitoring and Evaluation Plan: an explanation of how the activities will be monitored throughout the timeframe of the grant to ensure they are happening in a timely manner, and how the program will be evaluated to make sure it is meeting the goals of the grant.
    • Program Sustainabilitya summary of plans designed to help the value of the program live beyond the period of performance.
    • Proposed Budget Narrative and Spreadsheet: a narrative explanation of the overall budget as well as a list of relevant project expenses in U.S. dollars, consistent with the proposal narrative, broken down into the following categories and cost per item and quantities.
  • Personnel and Fringe Benefits:  Describe the wages, salaries, and benefits of permanent staff who will be working directly for the applicant on the program.
  • Travel:  Estimate the costs of travel and per diem for this program, for program staff, consultants or speakers, and participants/beneficiaries.  If the program involves international travel, include a brief statement of justification for that travel.
  • 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).
  • Supplies:  List and describe all the items and materials, including any computer devices, that are needed for the program.  If an item cost 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 or individual.  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.
  • Indirect Costs:  These are costs that cannot be linked directly to the program activities, such as overhead costs needed to help keep the organization operating.  Indirect costs should not exceed 10% of the total program budget without justification or a Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA).

Mandatory Forms – In addition to the narrative and financial proposal, applicants must submit the following mandatory application forms including:

** Note: SF-424 forms can be downloaded from www.grants.gov

All proposals are to be submitted to exchange@usembassy.mn or via www.grants.gov with “EducationUSA Advising Center Program Proposal – (Your organization name)” in the subject line.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that an application has been received in its entirety.  U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar bears no responsibility for applications not received before the due date or for data errors resulting from transmission.

Faxed, couriered, or hardcopy documents will not be accepted.  Reasonable accommodations may, in appropriate circumstances, be provided to applicants with disabilities or for security reasons.  Email exchange@usembassy.mn if you want to inquire about accommodations.

H. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

Criteria – Evaluators will judge each application individually against the following criteria, listed below, and not against competing applications.

  • Quality and Feasibility of the Partnership – 20 points: The proposal is well developed, covers each item, and explains the shared values of the partner organization and EducationUSA and the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar.  The proposal should include a reasonable implementation timeline.
  • Organizational Capacity and Record on Previous Grants – 20 points: The U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar will consider the past performance of prior recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants. Applications should demonstrate an institutional record of 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.
  • Ability to Achieve Objectives – 30 points: A strong application will include a clear articulation of how the partner will contribute to the overall program objectives, and how each component of the partnership will be accomplished.  A comprehensive monthly work plan should demonstrate substantive progress and the logistical capacity of the organization.  Objectives should be ambitious yet measurable, results-focused, and achievable in a reasonable timeframe.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation Plan – 20 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 monitoring and evaluation plan should include output and outcome indicators and show how and when those will be measured.  Outcomes should be evaluated based on participant satisfaction, participant perception about the United States and Americans as a result of the program, and participant behavior as a result of the program.
  • 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.

Process – A Grants Review Committee will evaluate all eligible applications.  Successful and unsuccessful applicants will be notified in writing.

I. FEDERAL AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

Budget Planning – The cooperative agreement will be written, signed, awarded, and administered by the Grants Officer.  The recipient may only start incurring program expenses beginning on the start date shown on the grant award document signed by the Grants Officer.  “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.  Please note that award funds cannot be used for alcoholic beverages.  Please also note that programs supported by the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar cannot be profit-earning programs.  Income earned or derived from ticket sales or other sources related to the program must contribute to program costs not covered by U.S. Embassy grant funds.

Commitment of Funds – Issuance of this notice of funding opportunity does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar, nor does it commit the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of proposals.  Further, the embassy reserves the right to reject any or all proposals received.  If a proposal is selected for funding, the U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar 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 U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar.

Reporting Requirements – Recipients are required to submit financial reports and program reports.  The award document will specify how often these reports must be submitted.

Terms and Conditions – 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: 2 CFR 200, 2 CFR 600, Certifications and Assurances, and the Department of State Standard Terms and Conditions, all of which are available at:  https://www.state.gov/about-us-office-of-the-procurement-executive/.

J. FEDERAL AWARDING AGENCY CONTACTS

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact: exchange@usembassy.mn.