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[Federal Register: July 26, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 144)]
[Page 46029-46032]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



[Public Notice 3372]

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Request for Proposals: 
NIS College and University Partnerships Program (NISCUPP)

SUMMARY: The Office of Global Educational Programs of the Bureau of 
Educational and Cultural Affairs in the Department of State announces 
an open competition for an assistance award program. Accredited, post-
secondary educational institutions meeting the provisions described in 
IRS regulation 26 CFR 1.501c may apply to pursue institutional or 
departmental objectives in partnership with foreign counterpart 
institutions from the New Independent States with support from the NIS 
College and University Partnerships Program. These objectives should 
support the overall goals of the program: to support the transition of 
the New Independent States to democratic systems based on market 
economies, and to strengthen mutual understanding and cooperation 
between the United States and the New Independent States. The means for 
achieving these objectives may include teaching, scholarship, and 
professional outreach to professionals and other members of the 
communities served by the participating institutions.

Program Overview

    Underlying the specific institutional objectives of projects funded 
by this program should be the goals of encouraging the growth of 
freedom and democracy through a deepened mutual understanding of 
fundamental issues and practical applications in the encouragement of 
civil society, economic stability and prosperity, or the free flow of 
information. Innovative strategies to address these underlying concerns 
in the pursuit of clearly defined institutional objectives are 
encouraged. Outreach from academic institutions to larger communities 
of citizens and practitioners to extend understanding about these 
issues is also encouraged.
    The Bureau supports institutional linkages in higher education with 
partners from the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union 
through the NIS College and University Partnerships Program, for which 
this Request for Proposals invites applications for funding in FY2001. 
The Bureau also anticipates issuing a separate and additional Request 
for Proposals for a partnership program for community colleges 
interested in cooperating with institutions in some or all of the New 
Independent States. Eligible community colleges may apply for grants 
under either or both of the above competitions, but the Bureau will not 
give multiple awards for duplicate partnerships under these 
    The Bureau also supports institutional linkages in higher education 
with partners worldwide through the College and University Affiliations 
Program; the College and University Affiliations Program Request for 
Proposals was announced separately and has a deadline of November 13, 
2000. Applicants interested in the Bureau's College and University 
Affiliations Program should contact the Bureau's Humphrey Fellowships 
and Institutional Linkages Branch at (202) 619-5289.

Applicant Objectives

    While the benefits of the project to each of the participating 
institutions may differ significantly in nature and scope, proposals 
should outline well-reasoned strategies leading to specific, 
demonstrable changes at the department or institution in the NIS.
    For example, proposals may describe the parameters and possible 
content of new courses, new research or teaching capacities or 
methodologies, new or revised curricula or programs, or other changes 
anticipated as a result of the project. Proposals to pursue a limited 
number of related thematic objectives at each institution are preferred 
to proposals addressing a large number of unrelated objectives.
    Proposals must focus on curriculum, faculty, and staff development, 
as well as administrative reform, at the NIS partner institution(s) in 
one or more of these eligible disciplines. Projects should involve the 
development of new academic programs or the restructuring of existing 
programs, and should promote higher education's role in the transition 
to market economies and open democratic systems. Whenever feasible, 
participants should make their training and personnel resources and 
research results available to government, NGOs, and businesses.
    Partner institutions may pursue their institutional objectives 
through exchanges of teachers, researchers, administrators or, in 
limited circumstances, students for any appropriate combination of 
teaching, consultation, research, and outreach, for periods ranging 
from one week to an academic year. The strategy for achieving project 
objectives may include exchange visits in either or both directions, 
but no single formula is anticipated for the duration, sequence, or 
number of these visits. Visits of one semester or more for participants 
from each of the institutional partners are strongly encouraged. To 
provide adequate time to meet institutional project objectives, the 
Program awards grants for periods of approximately three years.
    Although strong budgetary and programmatic emphasis may be given to 
visits in one direction over another, the benefits of all these visits 
to the sending as well as the receiving sides should be clearly 
explained. Exchange visits for the purpose of attending conferences are 
not encouraged except in combination with other grant activities and in 
support of specific educational objectives at one or more of the 
participating institutions.
    Proposals that realistically assess institutional capacities will 
be better able to justify the request for support.
    Effective proposals will demonstrate that the proposed partnership 
institutions understand one another and are committed to support and 
cooperate with another in project implementation. Accordingly, 
proposals should reflect substantial awareness of the foreign as well 
as the U.S. partner(s).
    If the proposed partnership would occur within the context of a 
previous or ongoing project, the proposal should explain how the 
request for Bureau funding would build upon the pre-existing 
relationship or complement previous and concurrent projects, which must 
be listed and described with details about the amounts and sources of 
external support. Previous projects

[[Page 46030]]

should be described in the proposal, and the results of the evaluation 
of previous cooperation efforts should be summarized.
    Proposals should outline and budget for a methodology for project 
evaluation. The evaluation plan should include an updated assessment of 
the current status of each participating department's and institution's 
needs at the time of program inception; ongoing formative evaluation to 
allow for prompt corrective action; and, at the conclusion of the 
project, summative evaluation of the degree to which the project's 
objectives have been achieved together with observations about the 
project's influence within the participating institutions and their 
surrounding communities or societies. The final evaluation should also 
include recommendations about how to build upon project achievements, 
both with and without the Bureau's support. Evaluative observations by 
external consultants with appropriate subject or regional expertise are 
especially encouraged.


    The commitment of all partner institutions to the proposed project 
should be reflected in the cost-sharing which they offer in the context 
of their respective institutional capacities. Although the 
contributions offered by U.S. and foreign institutions with relatively 
few resources may be less than those offered by other applicants, all 
participating institutions are expected to identify substantial costs 
to contribute. These costs may include the estimated costs of in-kind 
contributions for which funds are not exchanged. Consistent with the 
``Review Criteria'' for this competition listed elsewhere in this 
document and with specific reference to ``Cost-Sharing'' and 
``Institutional Commitment to Cooperation,'' proposed cost-sharing will 
be considered an important indicator of each participating 
institution's interest in the project and of the institution's 
potential to benefit from it.
    Proposals must be submitted by the U.S. institutional partner and 
must include a letter of commitment from the foreign partner(s). The 
letters should be signed by persons authorized to commit institutional 
resources to the project. U.S. and foreign partner institutions are 
encouraged to consult about the proposed project with program office 
staff in Washington, DC.
    The Bureau's support may be used to defray the costs of the 
exchange visits as well as the costs (up to a maximum of 20 percent of 
the total grant) of their administration at any partner institution, 
including administrative salaries and direct administrative costs but 
excluding indirect costs. Although grants will be issued to eligible 
U.S. colleges and universities, adequate provision for the 
administrative costs of the project at all partner institutions, 
including the foreign partner(s), is encouraged.
    The proposal may include a request for funding to reinforce the 
activities of exchange participants through the establishment and 
maintenance of Internet and/or electronic mail communication facilities 
as well as through interactive technology or non-technology-based 
distance-learning programs. However, projects focusing primarily on 
technology or physical infrastructure development are not encouraged. 
Proposals that include Internet, electronic mail, and other interactive 
technologies should discuss how the foreign partner institution will 
support the costs of such technologies after the project ends. 
Applicants may propose other project activities not specifically 
anticipated in this solicitation if the activities reinforce exchange 
activities and their impact.
    The maximum award in the FY2001 competition will be $300,000. 
Requests for smaller amounts are eligible. Budgets and budget notes 
should carefully justify the amounts requested. Grants awarded to 
organizations with less than four years of experience in conducting 
international exchange programs will be limited to $60,000. Grants are 
subject to the availability of funds for Fiscal Year 2001. The amount 
of funding available for proposals to the NIS College and University 
Partnerships Program in FY 2001 has not yet been determined. In FY 
2000, 56 proposals were received under this competition. Of this 
number, approximately 20 proposals are anticipated to be funded.

Eligible Fields

    The NIS College and University Partnership Program is limited to 
the following academic fields:
    (1) law;
    (2) business/accounting/trade;
    (3) education/continuing education/educational administration;
    (4) public administration/public policy analysis;
    (5) journalism/communications; and
    (6) social, political, or economic sciences

U.S. Institution and Participant Eligibility

    In the United States, participation in the program is open to 
accredited two-and four-year colleges and universities, including 
graduate schools. Applications from community colleges, minority-
serving institutions, undergraduate liberal arts colleges, research 
universities, and combinations of these types of institutions are 
eligible. Applications from consortia or other combinations of U.S. 
colleges and universities are eligible. Secondary U.S. partners may 
include non-governmental organizations as well as non-profit service 
and professional organizations. The lead U.S. organization in the 
consortium or other combination of cooperating institutions is 
responsible for submitting the application. Each application must 
document the lead organization's authority to represent all U.S. 
cooperating partners.
    With the exception of outside consultants reporting on the degree 
to which project objectives have been achieved, participants 
representing the U.S. institution who are traveling under the Bureau's 
grant funds must be faculty or staff from the participating 
institution(s). Participants representing the U.S. institution must be 
U.S. citizens.

Foreign Institution and Participant Eligibility

    In other countries, participation is open to recognized 
institutions of post-secondary education. Secondary foreign partners 
may include relevant governmental and non-governmental organizations, 
as well as non-profit service and professional organizations.
    With the exception of outside consultants reporting on the degree 
to which project objectives have been achieved, participants 
representing the foreign institutions must be faculty or staff of the 
foreign institution. Foreign participants must be citizens, nationals, 
or permanent residents of the country of the foreign partner and must 
be qualified to hold a valid passport and a U.S. J-1 visa.

Foreign Country and Location Eligibility

    Foreign partners from the following countries are eligible:
    Belarus--foreign partners must be independent institutions (state 
universities are not eligible);
    Russia--preference will be given to proposals which designate 
partner institutions outside Moscow and St. Petersburg; proposals for 
partnerships with institutions located in Moscow or St. Petersburg 
should clearly indicate

[[Page 46031]]

how those partnerships will have impact on other regions. Proposals 
which designate a partner institution in the Tomsk Region are 
    Tajikistan--in consideration of the State Department Warning 
advising U.S. citizens to defer travel to Tajikistan, proposals should 
not include travel by U.S. participants to Tajikistan;
    Ukraine--preference will be given to proposals which designate 
partner institutions outside Kiev; proposals for partnerships with 
institutions located in Kiev should clearly indicate how those 
partnerships will have impact on other regions;
    Partnerships including a secondary foreign partner from a non-NIS 
country are eligible; however, with the exception noted below, the 
Bureau will not cover overseas non-NIS partner institution costs.

Central European Partners

    The Bureau encourages proposals which build upon established 
collaboration between U.S. institutions and partners in Central and 
Eastern Europe in order to support faculty and curriculum development 
in the NIS and to promote regional cooperation. Within the context of 
this partnership agreement and under the guidance of the U.S. partner 
institution, funds may be budgeted for the exchange of faculty between 
NIS institutions and institutions of higher learning in Central and 
Eastern Europe (applicants planning to submit proposals for trilateral 
partnerships with a partner from Central and Eastern Europe are 
encouraged to contact the program office).


    A proposal may be deemed technically ineligible if:
    (1) It does not fully adhere to the guidelines established herein 
and in the Solicitation Package;
    (2) It is not received by the deadline;
    (3) It is not submitted by the U.S. partner;
    (4) One of the partner institutions is ineligible;
    (5) The foreign country or geographic location is ineligible;
    (6) The amount requested from the Bureau exceeds $300,000.

Grant-Making 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 cited above is provided through the Freedom for Russia and 
Emerging Eurasian Democracies and Open Markets Support Act of 1992 
(Freedom Support Act).
    Projects must conform with the Bureau's requirements and guidelines 
outlined in the solicitation package for this RFP, which can be 
obtained by following the instructions given in the section below 
entitled ``For Further Information.'' The ``Project Objectives, Goals, 
and Implementation'' (hereafter, POGI) and the ``Project Specific 
Instructions'' (hereafter, PSI), which contain additional guidelines, 
are included in the Solicitation Package. Proposals that do not follow 
RFP requirements and the guidelines appearing in the POGI and PSI may 
be excluded from consideration due to technical ineligibility.

Announcement Title and Number

    All communications with the Bureau concerning this announcement 
should refer to the NIS College and University Partnerships Program and 
reference number ECA/A/S/U-01-06.

Deadline for Proposals

    All copies must be received at the Bureau of Educational and 
Cultural Affairs by 5 p.m. Washington, D.C. time on Friday, January 19, 
2001. Faxed documents will not be accepted, nor will documents 
postmarked on Friday, January 19, 2001 but received on a later date.
    Approximate program dates: Grant activities should begin on or 
about August 15, 2001.
    Program Duration: Approximately August 15, 2001-August 14, 2004.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Contact the Humphrey Fellowships and 
Institutional Linkages Branch (College and University Affiliations 
Program); Office of Global Educational Programs; Bureau of Educational 
and Cultural Affairs; ECA/A/S/U, Room 349; U.S. Department of State; 
SA-44, 301 Fourth Street, SW.; Washington, DC 20547; phone: (202) 619-
5289, fax: (202) 401-1433. Applicants may also send a message to to request a Solicitation Package.
    The Solicitation Package includes more detailed award criteria; all 
application forms; and guidelines for preparing proposals, including 
specific criteria for preparation of the proposal budget. Please 
specify Bureau Program Officer Michelle Johnson (telephone: 202-619-
4097, e-mail: on all inquiries and 
correspondence regarding partnerships with institutions in Russia; 
please indicate Bureau Program Officer Jonathan Cebra (telephone: 202-
619-4126, e-mail: on all inquiries and 
correspondence regarding partnerships with institutions in Ukraine, 
Belarus, and Moldova; please indicate Bureau Program Officer Alanna 
Bailey (telephone: 202-619-6492, e-mail: on all 
inquiries and correspondence regarding partnerships with institutions 
in any other eligible country (in the Central Asia or Caucasus 

To Download a Solicitation Package Via Internet

    The entire Solicitation Package may be downloaded from the Bureau's 
website at Please read all 
information before downloading.
    Please specify ``NIS Colleges and Universities Partnerships Program 
Officer'' on all inquiries and correspondence. Prospective applicants 
should read the complete Federal Register announcement before 
addressing inquiries to the College and University Affiliations Program 
staff or submitting their proposals. Once the RFP deadline has passed, 
Department staff may not discuss this competition in any way with 
applicants until the Bureau proposal review process has been completed.


    Applicants must follow all instructions given in the Solicitation 
Package. The original and 10 copies of the complete application should 
be sent to: U.S. Department of State, SA-44, Ref: ECA/A/S/U-01-06, 
Program Management, ECA/EX/PM, Room 336, Bureau of Educational and 
Cultural Affairs, 301 4th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20547.
    All copies should include the documents specified under Tabs A 
through E in the ``Project Objectives, Goals, and Implementation'' 
(POGI) section of the Solicitation Package. The documents under Tab F 
of the POGI should be submitted with the original application and with 
one of the ten copies.

[[Page 46032]]

    Applicants must also submit the ``Executive Summary'' and 
``Proposal Narrative'' sections of the proposal on a 3.5'' diskette, 
formatted for DOS. This material must be provided in ASCII text (DOS) 
format with a maximum line length of 65 characters. The Bureau will 
transmit these files electronically to the Public Affairs Sections at 
U.S. Embassies for review, with the goal of reducing the time needed to 
make the comments of overseas posts available in the Bureau's grant 
review process.

Diversity, Freedom and Democracy Guidelines

    Pursuant to the Bureau's authorizing legislation, projects must 
maintain a non-political character and should be balanced and 
representative of the diversity of American political, social, and 
cultural life. ``Diversity'' should be interpreted in the broadest 
sense and encompass differences including, but not limited to 
ethnicity, race, gender, religion, geographic location, socio-economic 
status, and physical challenges. Applicants are strongly encouraged to 
adhere to the advancement of this principle both in program 
administration and in program content. Please refer to the review 
criteria under the ``Support for Diversity'' section for specific 
suggestions on incorporating diversity into the total proposal. Public 
Law 104-319 provides that ``in carrying out programs of educational and 
cultural exchange in countries whose people do not fully enjoy freedom 
and democracy,'' the Bureau ``shall take appropriate steps to provide 
opportunities for participation in such programs to human rights and 
democracy leaders of such countries.'' Proposals should account for 
advancement of this goal, in their program contents, to the full extent 
deemed feasible.

Review Process

    The Bureau will acknowledge receipt of all proposals and will 
review them 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 
evaluated by independent external reviewers.
    The independent external reviewers, who will be professional, 
scholarly, or educational experts with appropriate regional and 
thematic knowledge, will provide recommendations and assessments for 
consideration by the Bureau. The Bureau will consider for funding only 
those proposals which are recommended for further consideration by the 
independent external reviewers.
    Proposals will also be reviewed by Department staff as well as by 
the officers of the Office of the Coordinator of United States 
Assistance to the New Independent States and the public diplomacy 
sections of U.S. Embassies. Proposals may also be reviewed by the 
Office of the Legal Advisor or by other offices of the U.S. Department 
of State. Funding decisions will be made at the discretion of the Under 
Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Final technical 
authority for assistance awards (grants or cooperative agreements) will 
reside with a contracts officer with competency for Bureau programs.

Review Criteria

    All reviewers will use the criteria below to reach funding 
recommendations and decisions. Technically eligible applications will 
be reviewed competitively according to these criteria, which are not 
rank-ordered or weighted.
    (1) Broad Significance of Institutional Objectives: Project 
objectives should have significant but realistically anticipated 
ongoing consequences for the participating institutions that will also 
contribute to the transition of the New Independent States to market 
economies and democratic societies.
    (2) Clarity and Relevance of Project Objectives to Institutional 
Needs: Proposed projects should outline clearly formulated objectives 
that relate specifically to the needs of the participating 
    (3) Creativity and Feasibility of Project Implementation: Plan to 
achieve project objectives should demonstrate the feasibility of doing 
so during a three-year period by utilizing and reinforcing exchange 
activities realistically and with creativity.
    (4) Institutional Commitment to Cooperation: Proposals should 
demonstrate significant understanding at each institution of its own 
needs and capacities and of the needs and capacities of its proposed 
partner(s), together with a strong commitment, during and after the 
period of grant activity, to cooperate with one another in the mutual 
pursuit of institutional objectives.
    (5) Project Evaluation: Proposals should outline a methodology for 
determining the degree to which a project meets its objectives, both 
while the project is underway and at its conclusion. The final project 
evaluation should include an external component and should provide 
observations about the project's influence within the participating 
institutions as well as their surrounding communities or societies.
    (6) Cost-effectiveness: Administrative and program costs should be 
reasonable and appropriate with cost-sharing provided by all 
participating institutions within the context of their respective 
capacities and as a reflection of their commitment to cooperate with 
one another in pursuing project objectives. Although indirect costs are 
eligible for inclusion among costs to be contributed by the applicant, 
contributions should not be limited to indirect costs.
    (7) Support of Diversity: Proposals should demonstrate substantive 
support of the Bureau's policy on diversity by explaining how issues of 
diversity relate to project objectives for all institutional partners 
and how these issues will be addressed during project implementation. 
Proposals should also outline the institutional profile of each 
participating institution with regard to issues of diversity.


    The terms and conditions published in this RFP are binding and may 
not be modified by any State Department representative. Explanatory 
information provided by the Department of State that contradicts 
published language will not be binding. Issuance of the RFP does not 
constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government. The 
Bureau reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal 
budgets in accordance with the needs of the program and the 
availability of funds. Awards made will be subject to periodic 
reporting and evaluation requirements.


    Final awards cannot be made until funds have been appropriated by 
Congress, allocated and committed through internal Bureau procedures.

    Dated: July 16, 2000.
Evelyn S. Lieberman,
Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, U.S. 
Department of State.
[FR Doc. 00-18931 Filed 7-25-00; 8:45 am]


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