CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF 2024)

Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) – AEIF 2024

The Embassy of the United States in Moscow announces an open competition for past participants (“alumni”) of U.S. government-funded and U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs to submit applications to the 2024 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF 2024).   We seek proposals from teams of at least two alumni that meet all program eligibility requirements below. Exchange alumni interested in participating in AEIF 2024 should submit proposals to AlumniRussia@state.gov by February 15, 2024. 

          A. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

AEIF provides alumni of U.S. government-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 has funded nearly 500 alumni-led projects around the world through a competitive global competition.

We invite proposals for projects that support future constructive relations and reinforce ties between the American and Russian people.  All grant proposals must convey an element of U.S. history, culture, or values.

Priority Programming Areas

  • Media & Information:  Projects that promote an understanding of freedom of the press, good journalistic practices, increased access to information, and improved media and digital literacy for the Russian people;
  • Sharing America:  Projects that promote an understanding of the American values of democracy, freedom of expression, and an open society, as well as proposals that increase the understanding of America’s diverse cultures and groups;
  • Empowering Women & Minorities:  Projects that support the rights of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities;
  • Environment & Space:  Projects that promote improvements, innovation, advancement, and collaboration in the areas of space and the environment;
  • English Language Learning & Teaching:  Projects that support innovative, interactive teaching and learning of the English language.

          B. FEDERAL AWARD INFORMATION

Announcement posted: December 4, 2023
Closing date for applications:February 15, 2024
Funding type: Grant, Fixed Amount Award, or Cooperative Agreement. Cooperative Agreements are different from grants in that PDS staff are more actively involved in the grant implementation.  Examples of the substantial involvement by PDS staff include the development of the grant program, final approval of grant activities, and participation in selection panels for program participants.
Decision date: no later than June 30, 2024
Project start date: no earlier than August 1, 2024
Expected size of individual awards:  Between $5,000 to $35,000
Program Performance Period:  3 to 12 months

          C. ELIGILIBITY INFORMATION

  1. Eligible Applicants:The following individuals are eligible to apply:
  • Applicants must be alumni of a U.S. government-funded or sponsored exchange programs or a U.S. government-sponsored exchange program (https://alumni.state.gov/list-exchange-programs).
  • 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 (not in a lead position).
  • Alumni teams may be comprised of alumni from different exchange programs and different countries.
  • Applications must be submitted by exchange alumni or alumni associations of USG exchange alumni. No other organizations are eligible to apply. Exchange alumni can partner with not-for-profit or non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and academic institutions to implement project activities. The grant can be issued to the individual alumni or alumni associations of USG exchange alumni.
  1. Other Eligibility Requirements

If the grant will be processed with an individual, that individual is not required to have a UEI (Unique Entity ID) number or be registered in SAM.gov.  However, should the grant be processed with an organization that is a partner in the project, that organization must have a UEI, as well as a valid registration on www.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.

  1. Cost Sharing

Inclusion of cost share is not a requirement of this opportunity. 

Applicants are only allowed to submit one proposal.

          D. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Application forms required and templates below are available on the sidebar of the AEIF page of this website.  You may also request an application package by emailing AlumniRussia@state.gov.

Applications and budgets must be submitted using the official AEIF 2024 application and budget forms.

Please follow all instructions below carefully. Proposals that do not meet the requirements of this announcement or fail to comply with the stated requirements will be ineligible.

Content of Application

Please ensure:

  • The proposal clearly addresses the goals and objectives of this funding opportunity;
  • The proposal addresses all questions in the official AEIF 2024 application form;
  • All documents are in English;
  • The budget is in U.S. dollars and is submitted using the designated AEIF 2024 budget form;
  • All pages are numbered.

The following documents and information are required:

          1. 2024 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund Proposal Form:

  • Summary Page: Cover sheet stating the applicant name and organization, proposal date, program title, program period proposed start and end date, and brief purpose of the program.
  • Proposal: The proposal should contain sufficient information that anyone not familiar with it would understand exactly what the applicant wants to do. You may use your own proposal format, but it must include all the items below.
  • Proposal Summary: Short narrative that outlines the proposed program, including program objectives and anticipated impact.
  • Introduction to the Organization or Individual applying: A description of past and present operations, showing ability to carry out the program, including information on all previous grants from the U.S. Embassy and/or U.S. government agencies.
  • Problem Statement: Clear, concise and well-supported statement of the problem to be addressed and why the proposed program is needed.
  • Program Goals and Objectives: The “goals” describe what the program is intended to achieve. The “objectives” refer to the intermediate accomplishments on the way to the goals. These should be achievable and measurable.
  • Program Activities: Describe the program activities and how they will help achieve the objectives.
  • Program Methods and Design: A description of how the program is expected to work to solve the stated problem and achieve the goal. Include a logic model as appropriate.
  • Proposed Program Schedule and Timeline: The proposed timeline for the program activities. Include the dates, times, and locations of planned activities and events.
  • Key Personnel: Names, titles, roles and experience/qualifications of key personnel involved in the program. What proportion of their time will be used in support of this program?
  • Program Partners: List the names and type of involvement of key partner organizations and sub-awardees.
  • Program Monitoring and Evaluation Plan: This is an important part of successful grants. Throughout the time-frame of the grant, how will the activities be monitored to ensure they are happening in a timely manner, and how will the program be evaluated to make sure it is meeting the goals of the grant?

          2. Budget Justification Narrative
Applicants must submit a detailed budget and budget narrative justification utilizing the template provided. Line-item expenditures should be listed in the greatest possible detail. Budgets shall be submitted in U.S. dollars and final grant agreements will be conducted in U.S. dollars.

Budget Restrictions: AEIF 2024 does not support the following activities or costs, and the selection committee will deem applications involving any of these activities or costs ineligible:

  • Any airfare to/from the United States and its territories
  • Activities that take place in the United States and its territories
  • Staff salaries, office space, and overhead/operational expenses
  • Large items of durable equipment or construction programs
  • Alcohol, excessive meals, refreshments, or entertainment
  • Academic or scientific research
  • Charitable or development activities
  • Provision of direct social services to a population
  • Individual scholarships
  • Social travel/visits
  • Gifts or prizes
  • Duplication of existing programs
  • Institutional development of an organization
  • Venture capital, for-profit endeavors, or charging a fee for participation in project
  • Support for specific religious activities
  • Fund-raising campaigns
  • Support or opposition of partisan political activity or lobbying for specific legislation

Submission Dates and Times

Exchange alumni interested in participating in AEIF 2024 should submit proposals to AlumniRussia@state.gov  by Thursday, February 15, 2024 / 5:00 pm Moscow Time. No applications will be accepted after that date.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application package has been submitted in its entirety. Incomplete applications will be considered ineligible. Applicants are urged to begin the application process well before the submission deadline.

          E. FEDERAL AWARDING AGENCY CONTACTS 

If you have any questions about the grant application process or the proposal requirements, please email AlumniRussia@state.gov .  Note:  The U.S. Embassy Moscow does not provide any pre-consultation for application-related questions that are addressed in the NOFO.  Once an application has been submitted, State Department officials and staff — both in the Department and at Embassies overseas — may not discuss this competition with applicants until the entire proposal review process is completed.

          F. FEDERAL AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

Federal Award Notices: The Grant, Fixed Amount Award or Cooperative Agreement will be written, signed, awarded, and administered by the U.S. Embassy Grants Officer.  The assistance award agreement is the authorizing document, and it will be provided to the recipient for review and signature by email.  The recipient may only start incurring project expenses beginning on the start date shown on the grant award document signed by the Grants Officer.

If a proposal is selected for funding, the U.S. Department of State 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. Department of State.

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 proposals. Further, the U.S. government reserves the right to reject any or all proposals received.

Payment Method:  Payments will be made by electronic transfer in at least two installments, as needed to carry out the project activities.  All payments must be made into bank accounts that are owned by and reflect the name of the corresponding grantee or recipient.  Payments are usually made in U.S. dollars, but they can be made in Russian rubles upon request and approval.  It may take up to 30 days or longer to process a payment request and transfer the funds to the recipient’s account.  Grantees must have the ability to receive funds at a financial institution not on the U.S. Treasury’s OFAC sanction list.

Reporting Requirements:  Recipients will be required to submit financial reports and program reports.  The award document will specify how often these reports must be submitted. Program and financial reports are due 30 days after the reporting period ends.  Final certified programmatic and financial reports are due 120 days after the close of the project period.

All reports will be submitted electronically to AlumniRussia@state.gov.

In addition, successful applicants are expected to update the Grants Officer or Grants Officer Representative on progress throughout the project period.  This includes keeping the Grants Officer and/or Grants Officer Representative apprised of any problems or issues that might make it difficult for the grantee to comply with the terms of the award within the project period.

          G. OTHER INFORMATION

Please refer back to Funding Restrictions in section D for costs not supported through the 2024 AEIF.

Guidelines for Budget Justification:

  • Venue Costs: Calculate costs for renting space for project-related activities such as workshops or other training activities.  Consider looking for donated space first. If donated space is not possible, costs should be reasonable based on the local environment. All expenses must be itemized and explained.
  • Promotional Items and Advertising:  These items aim to amplify your project.  All requests should be reasonable and relevant to the project. All expenses must be itemized and explained.
  • Meals and Beverage: Include reasonable costs for snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, and meals if essential to the project. Break down meals by the cost per person per meal.
  • All expenses must be itemized and explained.
  • Speaker/Consultant/Training Fees:  Speaker: Maximum of $250 per day for full programming.  Trainer: Maximum of $250 per day or $25 per hour.  Consider asking fellow Alumni with expertise to cost-share speaker/training fees.  Consultant:  A reasonable consultant fee may be included by Alumni for project management and oversight. However, consider cost-sharing as the AEIF cannot provide salary type expenses. All expenses must be itemized and explained.
  • Lodging and Per Diem: List per diem rates and hotel costs which directly support the implementation of the project and indicate single or double occupancy.  Per diem rates should be calculated according to the U.S. government allowable rates or be adjusted to local prices if appropriate. Please consult with your U.S. Embassy/Consulate. All expenses must be itemized and explained.
  • Travel: If the program involves travel, include a brief statement of justification for that travel.  Estimate the costs of travel for this project, consultants or speakers, and participants/beneficiaries. Costs can include in-country and intraregional air fare or local travel costs required for the actual implementation of the project. Travel between the U.S. and project country is not supported. The AEIF does not support travel in business class or higher. All expenses must be itemized and explained.
  • Supplies, Materials, Equipment:  Include general office supplies, computer software, consumable automotive supplies (i.e. fuel), small equipment such as laptops, projector, etc., and expendable materials (i.e. paper, paint). Rent equipment rather than purchase if it is more cost-efficient. All expenses must be itemized and explained.
  • Other: Describe other costs directly associated with the program, which do not fit in the other categories. Commonly cited items are administrative and accounting costs, shipping costs for materials and equipment, and monitoring and evaluation.  All expenses must be itemized and explained.

“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.

Alcoholic Beverages:  Please note that award funds cannot be used for alcoholic beverages.

Registrations: Any applicant listed on the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS) in the System for Award Management (SAM) is not eligible to apply for an assistance award in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 CFR 180 that implement Executive Orders 12549 (3 CFR, 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 CFR, 1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension.”  Additionally, no entity listed on the EPLS can participate in any activities under an award.  All applicants are strongly encouraged to review the EPLS in SAM to ensure that no ineligible entity is included.

Organizations applying for grants must obtain the following registrations.  All are free of charge.  Individuals are not required to obtain these registrations. 

Please proceed the registration in SAM.gov by logging into:  https://www.sam.gov.   You will be given an UEI during the SAM registration as a permanent identifier of your organization.  Please note that SAM registration must be renewed annually.

Questions about the grant application process should be directed to: AlumniRussia@state.gov.