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Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP) - Request for Grant Proposals
 

U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Public Affairs Section - Request for Grant Proposals

Program Office:   Office of Cultural Affairs (PAS)

Funding Opportunity Title: Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP)

Announcement Type:   New Cooperative Agreement

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number:  19.021

Date Open:    Monday, May 21, 2012

Deadline for Applications:  Friday, June 22, 2012

I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is pleased to announce an open competition for the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP) through this Request for Proposals (RFP).  Public and private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code 26 USC 501 (c) (3) may submit proposals to support English-speaking secondary school and undergraduate students from Iraq in five- or six-week U.S.-based exchange programs in the summer of 2013 that explore the themes of leadership development, civic rights and responsibilities, respect for diversity, and community engagement.  Competitively-selected American students will join Iraqi participants in all U.S. activities.  The program will continue after the U.S.-based exchange with follow-on activities in the participants’ home communities, including through alumni activities focused on leadership development.  Applicants must have the capacity to work in Iraq through an in-country partner organization, branch office, or other affiliates/consultants that can manage the nationwide recruitment and selection of participants, communication with participants prior to the U.S.-based program, and alumni activities following the U.S.-based program.  The Embassy will have approximately $2,375,000 available to award one cooperative agreement to carry out program activities described in this RFP.

II. 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 other countries of the world.”

Purpose:  The U.S. Embassy’s support of this youth leadership exchange, IYLEP, seeks to build leadership, civic responsibility, respect for diversity, and community engagement among Iraqi secondary school and university students through five- or six-week exchanges to take place in the summer of 2013, followed by alumni activities.  This program supports Section IV of the 2008 U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement, which seeks to foster educational and cultural cooperation between the people of the United States and the people of Iraq.

The goals and objectives of the program are to:

  • Promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of Iraq;
  • Enable the participants to understand civic participation and rights and responsibilities in a democracy;
  • Promote community engagement among Iraqi youth;
  • Develop leadership skills among Iraqi youth; and
  • Foster understanding and relationships between people of different ethnic and religious groups.

Participants:  Applicants should propose to implement a five-week U.S.-based exchange for 45 secondary school students and five adult mentors and a six-week exchange for 100 undergraduate students, for a total of 150 Iraqi participants.  Given the number of participants in the program, applicants must propose a plan to break the delegation into smaller cohorts for most of the exchange activities.  This is to ensure all participants benefit from exchange activities and to increase the effectiveness of monitoring and evaluation, including the participants’ safety and well-being while on the U.S.-based program.

Participants should be secondary school students ages 15-17, and undergraduate students in their first through third years of university, who have demonstrated leadership abilities in their schools and/or communities, are able to demonstrate fluency in English, and are Iraqi citizens residing in Iraq. 

The adult mentors who will accompany secondary school students should be educators and/or community leaders who work with youth and have demonstrated an interest in promoting youth leadership and social development.  The secondary school portion of the program must include some activities appropriate for adult participants, separate from the activities with the youth, that contribute toward leadership and professional skills development.  Proposals must include a detailed description of the proposed adult programming.

The Embassy must approve all selected Iraqi participants.

Iraqi participants should be joined by at least 10 American secondary school students and 30 undergraduate students who are competitively selected and the same age as the Iraqi students.  The Embassy encourages the inclusion of as many American participants as possible.

Organizational Capacity:  Applicants must demonstrate their capacity for implementing youth exchange programs and for working in Iraq.  Applicants must identify an in-country partner organization, branch office, or other associates/consultants to support a nationwide recruitment and selection process and alumni activities.  The organization must demonstrate an ability to work in both of Iraq’s national languages, Arabic and Kurdish, and its associates must together be able to travel to all 18 provinces of Iraq to support program activities.  The award recipient may be asked to work cooperatively with other organizations implementing similar programs, in order to streamline certain program processes.

Guidelines:  The award will begin on or about September 1, 2012.  The award duration will be 15-20 months and will cover all aspects of program planning, participant recruitment, interviews, and selection, in-country pre-departure orientations, U.S.-based exchange activities, and follow-on activities in the participants’ home communities, including through alumni activities focused on leadership development.  Applicants should propose a specific program timeline that includes exchange dates in the summer of 2013, but the exact timing may be altered through mutual agreement between the Embassy and the award recipient. 

The award recipient will be responsible for implementing the following, in close consultation with the Embassy:

  1. Conduct open and competitive recruitment for the program in each of the 18 provinces of Iraq and in the United States for American participants and host institutions.
  2. Arrange interview panels of prospective participants in Iraq in each of the three major geographic areas of Iraq (north, central, south).  Interview panels should consist of program staff, Iraqi academic and community leaders, and U.S. Embassy representatives.  Arrange interview panels for American participants and a competitive selection process for U.S. host institutions.
  3. Serve as the primary point of contact and source of information for students and their families in Iraq and the United States throughout the entire program process.
  4. Design and conduct a pre-departure orientation in Iraq to prepare Iraqi participants for the program.
  5. Conduct an orientation for U.S.-based staff, students, and those individuals participating as host families, prior to the start of the program.
  6. Partnering with U.S.-based educational and community organizations, design and plan exchange activities for participants that provide a creative and substantive program in no more than three U.S. locations, focused on specific themes.  (For example: The theme of community involvement can be explored through a public health-focused program.)  Activities should be community-based and involve extensive interactions between Iraqi and American participants.  In the secondary school exchange, activities must also provide the opportunity for adult mentors to interact with youth to help them foster leadership skills and community involvement at home.
  7. Conduct a welcome orientation in the United States for Iraqi and American participants to review program goals and expectations.
  8. Coordinate with the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA), Office of Private Sector Programs, regarding issuance of DS-2019 forms.
  9. Manage all logistical elements of the exchange, including facilitating Iraqi students’ travel to the Embassy for U.S. visa interviews, international and U.S. domestic travel, ground transportation, accommodations, group meals, and disbursement of pocket money.
  10. Arrange homestays with properly screened and briefed host families for a significant portion of the exchange period.  Criminal background checks, including a search of the Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Registry, must be conducted for host families and other members of household who are more than 18 years of age.
  11. Develop and implement a plan to monitor the participants’ safety and well-being while on the exchange, including proper staff supervision and opportunities for students to share potential problems and have them resolved.  Staff, along with adult mentors in the secondary school program, should assist youth participants with cultural adjustments, provide context to enhance learning, and counsel students as needed.  Criminal background checks, including a search of the Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Registry, must be conducted for all program staff.
  12. Provide a closing session to summarize and evaluate the delegation’s activities, prepare participants for their return home, and further prepare them for follow-on activities and alumni programs.
  13. Plan and organize follow-on activities after the conclusion of the U.S. based exchange to help participants continue to implement what they learned in their home communities.  Organize one alumni leadership conference for secondary school students and another for undergraduate students in Iraq.

The form of this award will be a cooperative agreement.  In a cooperative agreement, the Embassy is substantially involved in program activities.  The Embassy’s involvement with IYLEP will include, but not be limited to:

  1. Advice and assistance in execution of all program components.
  2. Advice and participation in interview panels in Iraq.
  3. Approval of final candidate selection and alternates.
  4. Assistance in coordination with ECA for DS-2019 forms and the Embassy Consular Section for J-1 visa appointments.  Note that all foreign participants will travel on a U.S. Government designation under the J Exchange Visitor visa category.  It is the responsibility of the participants to meet the requirements for a J visa under U.S. immigration law.  In addition, the recipient agency should render all assistance necessary to enable the Department of State to comply fully with the laws and regulations governing the administration of exchange visitor programs (22 CFR 62 et seq).  All proposals must explicitly state in writing that the organization is prepared to assist in meeting all requirements set forth in 22 CFR 62.
  5. Approve all printed or web-based materials, including recruitment materials, applications, other publicity materials, and the final calendar of exchange activities.
  6. Approve templates of all written correspondence with Iraqi participants, including letters notifying students of their status in the program.
  7. Monitor and evaluate the program through regular communication with the award recipient and site visits as necessary.

Additional Information:  The award recipient will retain the name “Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program” to identify the project.  All materials, publicity, and correspondence related to the program will acknowledge this as a program of the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.  The Embassy will be allowed to distribute materials related to this program as it sees fit.

The recipient must inform the Embassy of its progress at each stage of the project’s implementation in a timely fashion and will be required to obtain advance approval for any program changes.

Special Provision for Performance in a Designated Combat Area:  All Recipient personnel deploying to areas of combat operations, as designated by the Secretary of Defense (currently Iraq and Afghanistan), under assistance awards over $100,000 or performance over 30 days must register in the Department of Defense maintained Synchronized Pre-deployment and Operational Tracker (SPOT) system. Recipients of federal assistance awards shall register in SPOT before deployment, or if already in the designated operational area, register upon becoming an employee under the assistance award, and maintain current data in SPOT.  Information on how to register in SPOT will be available from your Grants Officer or Grants Officer Representative during the final negotiation and approval stages in the federal assistance awards process.

Recipient performance may require the use of armed private security personnel.  To the extent that such private security contractors are required, grantees are required to ensure they adhere to Chief of Mission policies and procedures regarding the operation, oversight, and accountability of these contractors.

III. ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

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

Applicants are not required to include cost sharing.  However, applications that include cost sharing from non-U.S. Government sources will be more competitive, and applicants are encouraged to provide the highest levels of cost sharing possible.  When providing cost sharing, the applicant must agree to provide the amount of cost sharing agreed upon in the grant agreement.  Cost sharing can take the form of both allowable direct and indirect costs.  For accountability, the recipient must maintain records to support all costs claimed as part of the cost-share agreement.  Such records are subject to audit.  Please refer to OMB Circular A-110, (Revised), Subpart C.23 – Cost Sharing and Matching.

Additional Information on Eligibility:  All Federal assistance recipients must have a Dun & Bradstreet Number (DUNS) and a CCR (CAGE) number prior to funds disbursement.  A DUNS number may be acquired at no cost by calling the dedicated toll-free DUNS number request line at 1-866-705-5711 or requesting on-line at http://www.dnb.com/

IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Award Period: 15-20 months

Fiscal Year Funds:  2012

Award Amount:  $2,375,000 is available for this cooperative agreement

Anticipated Total Program Funding:  $2,375,000

Anticipated Number of Awards:  One

Anticipated Start Date:  September 2012

The Embassy reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal project configurations, budgets, and/or participant numbers in accordance with the needs of the program and the availability of funds.

Application Submission Process:  Applicants must use the attached grant application form and submit proposals electronically to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad at BaghdadPDgrants@state.gov.   For questions about this solicitation, contact the same e-mail address.

Application Deadline: All applications must be submitted on or before June 22, 2012, 11:59 p.m. Iraq time.  Applications submitted after 11:59 p.m. will be ineligible for consideration.  Begin the application process early, as this will allow time to address any technical difficulties that may arise in advance of the deadline.  There will be no exceptions to this application deadline.

Application Content:  Applicants must follow the RFP instructions and conditions contained herein and supply all information required.  Failure to furnish all information or comply with stated requirements will result in disqualification from the competition.  Applicants must set forth full, accurate, and complete information as required by this RFP.  The penalty for making false statements in proposals to the USG is prescribed on 18 U.S.C.1001.

The proposals may not exceed eight (8) double-spaced pages in 12-point, Times New Roman font with one-inch margins.  This requirement excludes the allowable appendices, which are identified in Section 4 below.  The proposal must consist of the following:

Section 1 – Project Goals/Implementation Plan: 
The proposed activities should be described in sufficient detail to show how objectives and goals will be met.  This section should also include a detailed monitoring plan that describes how success will be measured via performance indicators and provide milestones to indicate progress toward RFP-stipulated goals. 

Section 2 - Organizational Capability: 
Applications must include a clear description of the applicant’s management structure and experience and background in the country/region as these relate to the proposed activities.  Besides information about the organization as a whole, this section must also identify the proposed management structure and staffing plan for the proposed project.  The organization should show that it has expertise in one or more of the goals and demonstrate the ability to perform the proposed activities.  Where partners are described, please describe each partner’s respective role and provide CVs for persons responsible for the project and financial administration.  Each key person responsible for the proposed project and its financial administration should be listed.

Section 3 - Appendices: 
The proposal submission must include two appendices, with a third, optional appendix to be submitted at the discretion of the applicant.  Only the appendices listed below may be included as part of the application: 

(a) Budget (Required) – The budget must identify the total amount of funding requested, with a breakdown of amounts to be spent in the following budget categories: personnel; fringe benefits; travel; equipment; supplies; consultants/contracts; other direct costs; indirect costs and cost share.

(b) Résumé (Required) – A résumé, not to exceed one page in length, must be included for proposed key staff, such as the Project Director.  If the individual for these types of positions has not been identified, the applicant may submit a one-page position description, identifying the qualifications and skills required for that position.

V. AWARD SELECTION CRITERIA

Evaluation Criteria:  Applicants should note that the following criteria (1) serve as a standard against which all proposals will be evaluated, and (2) serve to identify the significant matters that should be addressed in all proposals.  The USG will award grants to the applicants whose offers represent the best value to the USG on the basis of technical merit and cost.

Each application will be evaluated by a peer review committee of Department of State and U.S. Embassy Baghdad and other experts, as deemed appropriate.  The evaluation criteria have been tailored to the requirements of this RFP. 

  • Project Goals/Implementation Plan (50 points): Applicants should describe what they propose to do and how they will do it.  The proposed activities must directly relate to meeting the goals and objectives, and applicants should include information on how they will measure activities’ effectiveness and provide milestones to indicate progress toward RFP-stipulated goals.  The review panel will be viewing the implementation plan in terms of how well it addresses the goals and objectives, feasibility of the proposed activities and their timeline for completion, and the extent to which the impact of the project will continue beyond the conclusion of the funding period. 
  • Organizational Capability (30 points): Proposals should demonstrate the ability to develop and implement youth exchanges.  Applicants must demonstrate how their resources, capabilities, and experience will enable them to achieve the stated goals and objectives.
  • Appendices (20 points):

o Budget:  Costs shall be evaluated for realism, control practices, and efficiency.  The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad must determine that the costs paid for this award are reasonable, allowable, and allocable to the proposed project activities.  This determination will consist of a review of the budget to determine if the overall costs are realistic for the work to be performed, if the costs reflect the applicant’s understanding of the allowable cost principles established by OMB Circular A-122, and if the costs are consistent with the program narrative.

o Résumé: The review panel will consider the appropriateness of the selected project director in view of the role and responsibility that person will play in guiding the project through implementation to completion.  Position descriptions submitted in lieu of the resume will be reviewed for the appropriateness of the qualifications and skills identified. 

VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

Award Notices:  The grant shall be written, signed, awarded, and administered by the Grants Officer.  The Grants Officer is the Government official delegated the authority by the U.S. Department of State Procurement Executive to write, award, and administer grants and cooperative agreements.  The assistance award agreement is the authorizing document and it will be provided to the Recipient through either mail or facsimile transmission.  Organizations whose applications will not be funded will also be notified in writing.

Anticipated Time to Award:  Applicants should expect to be notified of the recommended proposal within 30 days after the submission deadline.  U.S. Embassy staff will provide information at the point of notification, which may include revisions to the activities. 
Issuance of this RFP does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government, nor does it commit the Government to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of proposals.  Further, the Government reserves the right to reject any or all proposals received.

VII. DISCLAIMER

If a proposal is selected for funding, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has no obligation to provide any additional future funding in connection with the award.  Renewal of an award to increase funding or extend the period of performance is at the total discretion of the Embassy.

VIII. CONTACT INFORMATION

For assistance with the requirements of this solicitation, contact U.S. Embassy Baghdad at BaghdadPDgrants@state.gov.