U.S. Department of State
U.S. Embassy Vilnius, Lithuania
Notice of Funding Opportunity
Funding Opportunity Title: 2022 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF 2022)
Funding Opportunity Number: PAS-LH500-FY22-01
CFDA Number: 19.022
Deadline for Applications: 01/31/22 (Round 1) – 04/08/22 (Round 2)
Total Amount Available: $10,000 – $40,000
The U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania, 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 2022 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF 2022). We seek proposals from teams of at least two alumni that meet all program eligibility requirements below. Exchange alumni interested in participating in AEIF 2022 should submit proposals to VilniusGrants@state.gov by 5 p.m. (Lithuania time) on either of these two dates:
- January 31, 2022 (Round 1)
- April 8, 2022 (Round 2)*
The U.S. Embassy will review the proposals. *While we anticipate that we will recommend one proposal per round to the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) for funding, we reserve the right to recommend zero proposals from Round 1 (and, therefore, potentially two proposals from Round 2) or to recommend two proposals from Round 1, which would necessitate cancelling Round 2. Therefore, we encourage all interested applicants to apply early in Round 1.
A. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
AEIF provides alumni of U.S. government exchange programs with funding to expand the skills gained during their exchange experience by designing and implementing 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.
This year, the U.S. Embassy in Lithuania will accept public service projects proposed and managed by teams of at least two (2) alumni that support themes such as:
- 100th anniversary of U.S.-Lithuania diplomatic relations in 2022
- Transatlantic partnership and security, e.g., support for NATO, the bilateral U.S.-LT military relationship, cyber security and IT issues, border and migration issues, etc.
- Fostering bilateral economic cooperation; innovation and entrepreneurship
- Encouraging interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
- Women’s empowerment and gender equality; combatting gender-based violence
- Combatting climate change; environmental protection and sustainability
- Human rights, the rights of persons with disabilities, social cohesion, tolerance, diversity, equity, inclusion
- Fostering support for civil society, civic engagement, and volunteerism
- Media literacy and countering disinformation
- Public/Global Health
All AEIF projects must also address at least one of the following:
- Bring alumni together from different exchange programs to build or expand an alumni network capable of working together on common interests and to increase regional and global collaboration of alumni.
- Strengthen the relationship between alumni and the U.S. government to work together on activities that address mutual goals and challenges.
- Support alumni as they develop their leadership capacity and implement projects in their communities.
Proposed project ideas must be public diplomacy in nature (i.e., not development or military).
B. FEDERAL AWARD INFORMATION
Announcement posted: December 29, 2021
Closing dates for applications: 1) January 31, 2022 (round 1) – April 8, 2022 (round 2)
Expected size of individual awards: from $10,000 to $40,000
Funding type: A grant award
Decision date: April-May (round 1) – July-August (round 2)
Program Performance Period: 2022-2023 (Proposed programs should be completed in a 6- to 12-month timeframe or less)
C. ELIGILIBITY INFORMATION
- Eligible Applicants:
The following individuals are eligible to apply:
- Applicants must be alumni of a U.S. government-funded exchange program (https://alumni.state.gov/list-exchange-programs) or a U.S. government-sponsored exchange program (https://j1visa.state.gov/).
- Projects teams must include teams of at least two (2) alumni.
- Alumni who are U.S. citizens may not submit proposals, but U.S. citizen alumni may participate as team members in a project.
- Alumni teams may comprise alumni from different exchange programs and different countries.
- Applications must be submitted by exchange alumni. At least one not-for-profit, non-governmental organization, think tank, or academic institution must serve as the main partner for implementing project activities (including serving as the point of contact for payments and grant forms). See “other eligibility requirements” for more information.
- Cost Sharing
Inclusion of cost share is not a requirement of this opportunity.
- Grant Program Area:
Proposals must address one or more themes from the Program Description above.
Proposals that do not address the theme(s) as outlined in the program objectives will be deemed ineligible.
All project activities must take place in Lithuania. Cross-border projects are possible but will require additional validation by the correspondent U.S. Mission.
- Other Eligibility Requirements:
The grant will be processed with an organization that is a partner in the project. The organization (not-for-profits registered in Lithuania, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, or academic institutions) must have a unique entity identifier (Data Universal Numbering System/DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet), 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.
Applicants are only allowed to submit one proposal.
D. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION
- Address to Request Application Package: Application and budget forms are available in the sidebar on the right side of this webpage.
- Content and Form of Application Submission:
Applications and budgets must be submitted using the official AEIF 2022 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.
- The proposal clearly addresses the goals and objectives of this funding opportunity;
- The proposal addresses all questions in the official AEIF 2022 application form;
- All documents are in English;
- The budget is in U.S. dollars and is submitted using the designated AEIF 2022 budget form;
- All pages are numbered.
The following documents and information are required:
a. Mandatory application forms:
AEIF 2022 Proposal Form
AEIF 2022 Budget Form
SF-424 (Application for Federal Assistance – organizations) or SF-424-I (Application for Federal Assistance –individuals)
SF424A (Budget Information for Non-Construction programs)
SF424B (Assurances for Non-Construction programs)
b. Project Team Information: At least two exchange alumni team members are required for a project to be considered for funding. Applications need to provide the names and contact information, describe the role each team member will have in the project, and describe their experience, qualifications, and ability to carry out that role. Applicants need to indicate what proportion of the team member’s time will be used in support of the project.
c. Proposal Summary: A short narrative that outlines the proposed project, including challenge/s to be addressed, project objectives, and anticipated impact.
d. Project Goals and Objectives: The goal/s of the proposed project need to describe what the project is intended to achieve and include the objectives that support the goal/s. Objectives should be specific, measurable, and realistically achievable in a set time frame.
e. Project Methods, Design, and Timeline: A description of how the project is expected to work to solve the stated problem and achieve the goal/s. This should include a description of the project’s direct and indirect beneficiaries as well as a plan on how to continue the program beyond the grant period or the availability of other resources, if applicable. The proposed timeline for the project activities should include the dates, times, and locations of planned activities and events. Applicants may also submit proposed workshop or training agendas and materials.
f. Local Project Partners: A list of partners who will support the proposed project, if applicable.
g. Communication Plan: The communication plan should include a communication and outreach strategy for promoting the proposed project. It may include social media, websites, print news, or other forms of media intended to share information about the project to beneficiaries and the public. Communications should include AEIF 2022, ExchangeAlumni, and U.S. Embassy branding.
h. Project Monitoring and Evaluation Plan: The Monitoring and Evaluation component of the proposal should outline in detail how the proposal’s activities will advance the program’s goals and objectives. This should include any outcomes showing a change in knowledge, awareness, and attitudes; improved quality of services; increased capacity at a school, group, etc. Proposals should also include how the grantee will measure the impact of planned activities.
i. 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 2022 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
- Required Registrations: All organizations applying for grants (except individuals) must obtain these registrations. All are free of charge:
- Unique Identifier Number from Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS number)
- NCAGE/CAGE code
- SAM.gov registration
Lithuanian organizations may request registration instructions for DUNS, NCAGE and SAM.gov in Lithuanian by sending a request to VilniusGrants@state.gov
Step 1: Apply for a DUNS number and an NCAGE number (these can be completed simultaneously).
DUNS application: Organizations must have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number from Dun & Bradstreet. If your organization does not have one already, you may obtain one by calling 1-866-705-5711 or visiting http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform/displayHomePage.do;jsessionid=81407B1F03F2BDB123DD47D19158B75F. http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform
NCAGE application: You will find the application page here: https://eportal.nspa.nato.int/AC135Public/scage/CageList.aspx
Instructions for the NCAGE application process are located here: https://eportal.nspa.nato.int/AC135Public/Docs/US%20Instructions%20for%20NSPA%20NCAGE.pdf
For help from within the United States, call 1-888-227-2423.
For help from outside the United States, call 1-269-961-7766.
Email NCAGE@dlis.dla.mil for any problems in getting an NCAGE code.
Step 2: After receiving the NCAGE Code, proceed to register in SAM by logging onto: https://sam.gov/SAM/. SAM registration must be renewed annually.
E. REVIEW AND SELECTION PROCESS
Evaluation Criteria: The U.S. Embassy in Lithuania’s Public Affairs Section will use the criteria outlined below to evaluate all applications. After review, the Public Affairs Section will submit from zero to two proposals per round from Lithuania to the global AEIF 2022 competition. The proposals will be reviewed by a selection committee made up of regional and exchange program experts located at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. Panelists will use the criteria below to review and evaluate applications. The selection committee may or may not select Lithuania’s proposal(s).
Relevance to Application Theme: The proposal provides sufficient information on how the activities will support the theme(s) of the competition. The narrative explains any relevant local context the D.C. selection committee may not be aware of in relation to this project. Proposed project ideas must be public diplomacy in nature (i.e., not development or military).
Purpose and Summary, Description, and Implementation Plan: When developing the purpose, summary, description, and implementation plan, applicants should aim to make all descriptions clear, concise, and compelling. Reviewers will judge the proposals based on the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the community where it is undertaken. Does the project address an important gap of understanding or need? If the aim of the project is achieved, how will existing knowledge or practice be improved? What audience do the applicants hope to reach with this project? How many will participate? How will they be selected?
Degree of Alumni Involvement: Projects must include the involvement of at least two (2) exchange alumni. They may be the project team leaders or collaborate directly with PAS in formulating the project. More than two alumni may comprise the team; however, the minimum is two. As the team leaders, the alumni must be closely involved in project planning, implementation, etc. Applicants should ensure that the proposal includes the following information for each alumni team member: first name, last name, e-mail address, exchange program, country of citizenship, and roles and responsibilities.
Participation and Support from Local Partners: The proposal demonstrates buy-in and support from the community where the project will take place. Local partner involvement is a strong sign that there is community support and that the project will engage a broad array of experts, such as subject-matter experts, community centers, academic institutions, businesses, local/national government, non-governmental organizations, American Spaces, etc.
Evaluation and Impact of the Project: A monitoring & evaluation (M&E) plan is pivotal to project implementation and important for tracking progress toward the project’s objectives and goals. An M&E plan should consider the data needed to effectively monitor progress toward specific outputs and outcomes as well as how that data collection will be accomplished. Well-crafted indicators should be used to understand a program’s progress toward the desired results. An M&E plan should be reviewed for the following:
- Applicability and logic of objectives and indicators
- Clear approach to monitoring
- Adherence to SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound)
- Feasibility of baselines and targets
- Data quality plan
- Capacity to implement plan
Sustainability: The applicants should consider how the project will continue to have positive impact after the end of the project.
Communication, Media, and Outreach Plan: The project should include a clear plan and timeline for how and when the team will share information about the project. It is important to ensure that the U.S. Embassy in Lithuania gets recognition throughout the process, if circumstances permit.
Budget and Budget Narrative: The budget and narrative justification are sufficiently detailed. Costs are reasonable in relation to the proposed activities and anticipated results. The budget is realistic, accounting for all necessary expenses to achieve proposed activities. The results and proposed outcomes justify the total cost of the project. Budget items are reasonable, allowable, and allocable.
Disclaimer: This notice is subject to availability of funding. The U.S. Embassy in Lithuania does not guarantee availability of funding by receiving applications under this announcement. Only successful applicants will be contacted.
F. FEDERAL AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION
The grant award will be written, signed, awarded, and administered by the 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 program 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 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 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: Funds will be disbursed in two payments. The first payment (80 percent of total funds allocated) will be paid once the agreement with the grantee is finished and signed. The second payment (20 percent of total funds allocated) will be paid when final reports are submitted and approved by the Grants Officer.
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. Final program and financial reports will need to be submitted to the Grants Officer no later than 30 days after the project has been completed. In addition to that, copies of invoices, agreements and other financial documents will be needed to ensure the transparency of the spending of funds.
G. FEDERAL AWARDING AGENCY CONTACTS
Questions about the grant application process should be directed to VilniusGrants@state.gov