Public Affairs Section Request for Grant Proposals: American Language Center

U.S. Embassy, Amman

Public Affairs Section Request for Grant Proposals: American Language Center English Language and Cultural Program

Announcement Type: Cooperative Agreement

Application Deadline: April 20, 2017

Total Funding: $140,000

Funding Opportunity Number: TBD

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number:

Anticipated Award Date: June 1, 2017

Anticipated Project Start Date:  July 15, 2017

Anticipated Project Completion Date: July 1, 2018

Eligible applicants: Applications may be submitted by public and private non-profit organizations and institutions of higher education meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c)(3) or applicants officially registered with the Government of Jordan as a non-profit organization or not-for-profit company.

SUMMARY:

This cooperative agreement will provide all staffing, security, resource materials, technology infrastructure, technical support and key program activities to administer the English language and cultural programs of the American Language Center (ALC) in Amman, which is one of approximately 700 American Spaces supported by the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) of the U.S. Department of State.  The ALC program in Amman is envisioned to be a platform for in-person engagement with Jordanian audiences through enhanced English language learning based on the existing ALC English language curriculum, supplemented with jointly developed cultural programs.

Key program activities under this cooperative agreement will include hiring sufficient experienced teachers to administer the tuition-based English language program (using the existing ALC curriculum, materials, and online resources); providing cultural programs including but not limited to a monthly book club, monthly film club, weekly language exchange and 2-3 additional cultural events per month; administration of the ALC’s social media properties; supervision of language lab facilities; and marketing and advertising for all ALC activities. In coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Amman and utilizing Embassy advising staff, the Center will also offer regular group and individual EducationUSA advising sessions, as well as other related events.  Decisions on staffing and program content will be made in consultation with the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Amman.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

Authority:

Overall grant making authority for this program is contained in the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, Public Law 87-256, as amended, also known as the Fulbright-Hays Act. The purpose of the Act is “to enable the Government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries; to strengthen the ties which unite us with other nations by demonstrating the educational and cultural interests, developments, and achievements of the people of the United States and other nations…and thus to assist in the development of friendly, sympathetic and peaceful relations between the United States and the other countries of the world.”  The funding authority for the program above is provided through legislation.

Overview:

Over 700 American Spaces worldwide provide welcoming environments where visitors can connect with and learn about the United States. Hosted in embassies, schools, libraries, and other partner institutions worldwide, American Spaces are platforms for providing information about the United States, our policy, culture, and values; English language learning; alumni activities, and information about study in the U.S.  A multifunctional platform for public diplomacy programs, American Spaces promote open dialogue, counteract negative preconceptions, and build bridges of understanding.

The American Language Center in Amman is in a critical location in the Levant and serves as one of the key points of engagement with Jordanian citizens, most importantly, youth.  English language learning is supplemented with accurate and timely information about U.S. culture and values, policy, current events, and other issues of interest.  Fees will be charged for enrollment in the English language courses.  Fee structure will be determined in coordination with the Public Affairs Section at the U.S. Embassy, and will be expected to cover the majority of the operating costs of the Center.  No fees will be charged to any other American Center visitors, either for access to the center or participation in any activities.  Visitors will have the opportunity to become members of the Center, so that they can receive regular information about programs and activities.  Membership is not required to access the facility and attend programs and activities.

Timing

It is anticipated that the cooperative agreement will be awarded no later than June 10, 2017, with a renewable period of performance starting July 15, 2017 and lasting 12 months. The U.S. Embassy in Amman anticipates a new session of English classes should begin no later than July 15, 2017. The exact timing of the program may be altered through the mutual agreement of the U.S. Embassy and the recipient, pending the availability of funds.

Program Structure:

American Spaces are partially funded through the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP), but overseen more directly by the Public Affairs staff at U.S. Embassies and Consulates where they are located.  The recipient organization should be able to administer the English language program without direct supervision of the U.S. Embassy.

At the same time, critical decisions on programming, staffing, security, and major supplies (such as computers and other technology) will be made in close coordination and with the approval of U.S. Embassy Public Affairs staff, and a sizeable portion of equipment or other resources may be made available on loan from existing inventory.  The Public Affairs staff overseeing the American Center in Amman include: the Public Affairs Officer, the Cultural Affairs Officer (CAO), an Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer (ACAO), and several locally employed Embassy employees. In addition, a Regional Public Engagement Specialist (REPS) will work closely with the staff to ensure that employees are properly trained and are able to support and deliver innovative programming.

This cooperative agreement will provide funding for 12 months of activity.

Program Activities:

  • Staffing the American Center:

Applicants should propose a plan for recruiting and selecting (with U.S. Embassy approval) sufficient quality local English teaching staff, each of which will teach 3-4 classes per term of no more than 16 students.  The U.S. Embassy envisions the winning proposal including the following positions, at a minimum: no fewer than five teachers and two teacher/activity coordinators (i.e. managing testing, or social media, or supplemental activities in addition to teaching), as well as 1-2 full-time or part-time administrative support staff.  Experience living, working or studying in the United States for teachers or coordinators would be helpful but is not required.

For the purpose of the American Center project, the grant recipient organization will act as the employer of all locally hired, full-time and temporary staff. The grant recipient will be responsible for establishing transparent and fair employment practices. All policies are subject to review by the U.S. Embassy. It is the responsibility of the grant recipient to ensure that labor agreements are prepared and signed with each employee in full accordance with current Jordanian law, and all social security and tax deductions are accurately and timely performed by the employer.

The grant recipient will advise all locally hired staff of the fact that the employee is employed by a U.S. Government grantee does not absolve him/her from payment of any taxes imposed by any level of government in Jordan.  The U.S. Government bears no liability or responsibility for the employment, benefits or welfare of the employee under employment agreement between the grantee and the employee, nor will any credit for employment be given by the U.S. Government should the employee ever apply for a position with the U.S. Government.

  • Supplying the American Language Center: The proposal should include a detailed plan for procuring supplies and materials necessary to provide the full range of services and programming typical of American Spaces. As determined by the Embassy, any or all of the related equipment may be supplied from existing inventories. These include, but are not limited to:
  • Internet services, IT support (including software), and maintenance of equipment such as photocopiers and A/V equipment
  • American Language Center website and social media properties
  • Communications (telephone, postal services, etc.)
  • Technology and equipment (laptops, projectors, SmartBoards, etc.)
  • Information resources, both physical and virtual
  • Marketing materials and promotional signs
  • Contractual services to maintain the center’s activities, including janitorial services, equipment repair as needed, labor for room setup, and delivery of drinking water

Supplemental equipment not identified above may also be supplied on loan by the Embassy for discrete activities.

  • Implementing Programs:

The grant recipient organization will conduct a minimum of 18 English classes per/session, using the existing ALC curriculum (or a lightly modified version thereof), materials, and online resources. The recipient is authorized to collect fees for the English language classes, based on a fee structure that will be established in consultation with the Public Affairs section at the U.S. Embassy in Amman.  The fees for instruction should cover the majority of the implementation costs for the program, and should at a minimum be competitive in the local market for English instruction.

Each month, the grant recipient organization will also host 2-3 supplemental cultural programs for visitors. Programs should be advertised through a publicly available calendar to inform local citizens of upcoming events.  When possible, programs should be low-cost or even free to produce and rely on volunteers, many of which can be arranged in coordination with the U.S. Embassy.  Examples of these types of activities can include: interactive discussions on topics about the United States that are relevant and of interest to the target audience, film screenings, open mic nights, digital video conferences, workshops for U.S. exchange program alumni, etc.  In addition to 2-3 such cultural events per month, the grant recipient will continue the following pre-existing programs from the ALC: monthly book club, monthly film club, and language exchange involving native English and native Arabic speakers.

 

The U.S. Embassy in Amman, both through the Public Affairs Section and other Embassy sections, will also provide other programming opportunities at the grantee’s premises as well.  For example, the Public Affairs Section administers a robust cultural and academic exchange portfolio that includes visiting artists, musicians, academics, students, and American speakers.  Additional programs managed by partner organizations (EducationUSA advising, alumni events, lectures by Fulbright scholars, etc.) will also take place at the at the grantee’s premises. All activities of this kind organized or sponsored by the U.S. Embassy will be integrated into the activities of the ALC program.  There will be between 5-10 Embassy sponsored cultural events taking place at the grantee’s premises each month, in addition to at least three days in which educational advising events will be held, also organized and funded by the U.S. Embassy.

Responsibilities:

  1. The award recipient’s specific responsibilities for this program include, but may not be limited to:
  • Recruiting and hiring staff, as outlined above;
  • Providing a facility for the teaching of English classes, small-scale cultural programs, educational advising and technology based language lab;
  • Conduct general English language classes utilizing the curriculum and materials of the ALC. Supplemental, specialized courses, for which additional fees are permitted, are also encouraged as appropriate.  Per-session revenues from English courses should, on average, exceed $50,000.
  • Provide logistical and operational support for agreed-upon programs and events initiated through PAS Amman’s public diplomacy programming or by PAS’s partner organizations;
  • Marketing the ALC program to target audiences;
  • Providing weekly updates on program attendance and a monthly report on operations and programs to PAS Amman;
  • Actively managing a social media presence for the ALC program;
  • Ensuring that the ALC program premises are clean and all equipment is well-maintained;
  • Cooperating with the Regional Security Office’s (RSO) requirements for security as outlined by the U.S. Embassy
  1. In a cooperative agreement, the grantor is substantially involved in program activities above and beyond routine grant monitoring. The Embassy’s activities and responsibilities for this program are as follows:
  • Approve all staff;
  • Provide policy guidance on key themes to be promoted in program development;
  • Approve the monthly calendar of events;
  • Provide guidance and oversight on the further development of English language curriculum and cultural programs;
  • Provide additional programming opportunities through Public Affairs programs.
  • Provide guidance on the State Department’s licensing agreement for film showings.
  • Provide security consultation.

PROPOSAL CONTENTS

Applicants should submit a proposal describing the program in a convincing and comprehensive manner. Any applicant requesting additional information should direct their request to AmmanGrants@state.gov.  Proposals should address succinctly, but completely, the elements described below and must follow all format requirements.

NOTE: Proposals must be submitted in the following formats:

– Microsoft Word

– Microsoft Excel

– Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF)

Proposals should include the following items under the section headings in the GrantSolutions Application Checklist:

Online Forms

SF-424, “Application for Federal Assistance”

SF-424A, Budget Information – Non-Construction Programs

SF-424B, “Assurances – Nonconstruction Programs”

Executive Summary

In one double-spaced page, provide a summary of the proposed program including information on the applicant, an overview of program activities, and funding level requested from the U.S. Embassy in Amman.

Narrative

Within 10 double-spaced, single sided pages with one inch margins, in a size 12 New Times Roman font, provide a detailed description of the project addressing the areas listed below. In the narrative, applicants should not only describe major program activities but also explain and justify their programmatic choices.

  1. Vision: Describe the project objectives and the desired outcomes.
  1. Staffing: Describe how the applicant will provide adequate oversight of the programming through program and administrative staff in support of the project.
  1. Project Activities: Describe the key components of the program including recruiting and hiring staff to administer the program; providing all necessary supplies for programming including and other interactive tools for students and program attendees; the administration of the English teaching program, including projected budget details and revenues expected from tuition fees; designing a monthly program of activities for visitors, including, but not limited to, local and U.S. embassy guest speakers, workshops, English-language clubs, book clubs, American speakers traveling to Jordan to engage Jordanian audiences, virtual lectures and discussions with Americans, dialogue programs with exchange program alumni, presentations from representatives of U.S. universities, and other thematic programming in support of key issues and topics of importance to Jordanian audiences and U.S. foreign policy goals.
  1. Monitoring: Detail how the applicant will ensure the program will be effectively monitored throughout its duration.
  1. Evaluation: In the submitted proposal, applicants should include a plan describing how success in meeting the stated goals of the program will be measured and reported. The Embassy recommends that the proposal include a draft survey questionnaire or other method.
  1. Institutional Capacity and Project Management: Outline the applicant organization’s capacity to conduct projects of this nature, focusing on the provision of educational and thematic programs; and previous work in the region.
  1. Work Plan/Schedule: Outline the phases of the project planning and implementation for the entire award period. Provide a sample draft schedule of activities in a given month.

Additional Attachments

  1. Work Plan / Calendar of Activities
  2. Resumes of key personnel
  3. Copy of indirect agreement, if applicable
  4. Detailed budget (excel)
  5. Budget narrative

BUDGET INFORMATION

The level of funding available for this program is $140,000, which will support one cooperative agreement. Proposals exceeding this amount are unlikely to receive additional consideration, but will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  The Embassy reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the program and the availability of funds, as well as negotiate other administrative or program design aspects with competitive applicants prior to finalizing the cooperative agreement.

The available funding may be used to support the program and administrative costs necessary to implement the program as described in this solicitation. Please submit a comprehensive line item budget, broken down according to the budget line items in the SF-424A: Personnel; Fringe Benefits; Travel; Equipment; Supplies; Contractual; Construction; Other Direct Costs; and Indirect.  Indicate how costs are calculated (for example, staff salary x percentage of time worked x number of months worked).

An explanatory budget narrative must also be included. For clarification, any applicant applying to implement more than one project should provide separate sub-budgets for each program component, phase, location, or activity.

Suggested program costs include, but are not limited to, the following:

o Materials and supplies

o Cultural and social activities

o Meeting and workshop costs

o Evaluation

o Other justifiable expenses directly related to supporting program activities

While there is no rigid ratio of administrative to program costs, the Embassy urges applicants to keep administrative costs as low and reasonable as possible.

Indirect Costs

An organization with an audited indirect cost rate negotiated with a cognizant federal government agency other than the U.S. Department of State should include a copy of the cost-rate agreement as an addendum to the budget. If the applicant currently has an assistance award from the U.S. Department of State, the agreement does not need to be submitted unless the applicant has negotiated a new indirect cost rate with a cognizant agency other than the U.S. Department of State during the past 12 months. An applicant must indicate in the proposal budget how the rate is applied.

Taxes

Grantees are responsible for complying with all applicable tax treaties and federal, state and local laws on tax withholding and reporting for project participants. Because of the complexity of current tax laws regarding scholarship and fellowship income, it is strongly recommended that grantees consult with tax counsel regarding such compliance.

APPLICANT ELIGIBILITY 

Applications may be submitted by U.S. public and private non-profit organizations and institutions of higher education meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c)(3).

Applicants must be able to demonstrate experience working in Jordan and should have a legally registered local office to provide program oversight.  Applicants may not submit proposals that rely on local partners to administer components of the program.  The applicant organization must be able to demonstrate the ability to administer all components of the program as outlined in this solicitation, and in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy in Amman.

APPLICATION SUBMISSION

Applications for this solicitation should not be submitted through grants.gov.  Please e-mail the entire proposal by the due date to AmmanGrants@state.gov.  Applications can be submitted as one PDF document, or with separate attachments in Microsoft Word and Excel.

REVIEW PROCESS

The U.S. Embassy, Amman will review all proposals for technical eligibility. Proposals will be deemed ineligible if they do not fully adhere to the guidelines stated herein and in the Solicitation Package. All eligible proposals will be reviewed by a selection committee from the U.S. Embassy. Applications will also be forwarded to the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Office of Public Diplomacy (NEA/PD) for review.

Technically eligible applications will be competitively reviewed according to the criteria stated below. These criteria are not rank ordered and all carry equal weight in the proposal evaluation:

  1. Quality of the Program Idea: Objectives should be reasonable, feasible, and flexible. The proposal should clearly demonstrate how the institution will meet the program’s objectives and plan. The proposed program should be creative, respond to the design outlined in the solicitation, and demonstrate originality. It should be clearly and accurately written, substantive, and with sufficient detail.
  2. Program planning: A detailed work plan should clearly demonstrate how project objectives would be achieved. The agenda and plan should adhere to the program overview and guidelines described above.
  3. Institutional Capacity, Track Record, and Ability to Operate in Host Country: Proposed personnel and institutional resources in both the United States and Jordan should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the program goals. The proposal should demonstrate an institutional record of successful programs in the host country, including responsible fiscal management and adherence to local laws. The proposal should demonstrate and ability to function independently in the host country, ideally with a local office that is able to provide constant oversight of the program in country.
  4. Program Monitoring and Evaluation: The proposal should include a plan to evaluate the program’s success in meeting its goals, both as the activities unfold and after they have been completed. The proposal should include a draft survey questionnaire or other technique, plus a description of a methodology to link outcomes to original project objectives. The award recipient will be expected to submit intermediate reports after each project component is concluded.
  5. Cost Effectiveness: The applicant should demonstrate efficient use of funds. The overhead and administrative components of the proposal, including salaries and honoraria, should be kept as low as possible. All other items should be necessary and appropriate.

 

NOTE:  The cooperative agreement can be renewed up to three times on an annual basis pending successful implementation of the program, and subject to availability of funds.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

 

Additional Requirements:

You are required to have a Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number to apply for a grant or cooperative agreement from the U.S. Government. This number is a nine-digit identification number, which uniquely identifies business entities. Obtaining a DUNS number is easy and there is no charge. To obtain a DUNS number, access http://www.dunandbradstreet.com or call 1-866-705-5711. Please ensure that your DUNS number is included in the appropriate box of the SF – 424 which is part of the formal application package.

All federal award recipients must maintain current registrations in the System for Award Management (SAM) database. Recipients must maintain accurate and up-to-date information in www.SAM.gov until all program and financial activity and reporting have been completed. Recipients must review and update the information at least annually after the initial registration and more frequently if required information changes or another award is granted. Failure to register in SAM will render applicants ineligible to receive funding.

You must have nonprofit status with the IRS at the time of application.

Administrative and National Policy Requirements:

Terms and Conditions for the Administration of this program include the following:

1) New federal assistance regulations at 2 CFR 200 titled Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance).

2) U.S. Department of State Terms and Conditions

Reporting Requirements: You must provide the U.S. Embassy’s Grants Officer Representative (contact information will be in the final cooperative agreement) with an electronic copy of the following required reports:

  • Quarterly Program Reports: performance reports shall not be required more frequently than quarterly or less frequently than annually. The first page of the Performance Progress Report form (SF-PPR) must be submitted with all programmatic reports.
  • Quarterly Financial Reports: the Federal Financial Report (FFR SF-425/SF-425a). The U.S. Embassy in Amman transfers funds through bank transfers using the SF-270 form.  Therefore, applicants should not expect to use the Payment Management System (PMS) for drawdowns or financial reporting.
  • A final program and financial report no more than 90 days after the expiration or termination of the award;

Issuance of the RFGP does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the U.S. Government. The U.S. Embassy reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the program.

Contact Information:

Please contact AmmanGrants@state.gov with any questions regarding this solicitation