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[Federal Register: November 9, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 218)]
[Page 67438-67441]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



[Public Notice 3462]

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs; NIS Community College 
Partnerships Program

NOTICE: Request for Proposals.

SUMMARY: The Office of Global Educational Programs of the United States 
Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs 
announces an open competition for an assistance award program. 
Accredited institutions offering the two-year Associate's degree and 
meeting the provisions described in IRS regulation 26 CFR 1.501(c) may 
apply to pursue institutional or departmental objectives in 
international partnerships with counterpart institutions from Georgia, 
Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine or Uzbekistan. The underlying 
purposes of these partnerships should be: (1) To support through 
teaching, scholarship, and professional outreach from the partner 
institutions, the transition of the New Independent States to 
democratic systems based on market economies; and (2) to strengthen 
mutual understanding and cooperation between the United States and the 
New Independent States. Eligible fields are education, continuing 
education or educational administration; the social, political or 
economic sciences; business/accounting/trade; or journalism/

Program Information

    The NIS Community College Partnerships Program is designed to 
encourage community colleges to share with their educational partners 
in the NIS their practical experience in designing and implementing 
programs which provide targeted training in professional fields; 
provide outreach and services to surrounding communities; and provide 
education to underserved populations.
    In general, underlying the specific objectives of projects funded 
by this program should be the goal of fostering freedom and democracy 
through a deepened mutual understanding of fundamental issues and 
practical applications in the encouragement of civil society, economic 
growth and prosperity, or the free flow of information. Creative, 
innovative strategies to address these underlying concerns in the 
pursuit of clearly defined institutional goals are encouraged. The 
extension of understanding about these issues through outreach from 
academic institutions to larger communities of citizens and 
practitioners is encouraged, particularly by linking educational 
programs in the NIS to the communities that they serve.
    Support from the NIS Community College Partnerships Program is 
limited to partnerships with institutions in Georgia, Kazakhstan, 
Moldova, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. In addition, the Bureau also 
supports institutional linkages in higher education with partners from 
these and other countries in the New Independent States of the former 
Soviet Union through the NIS College and University Partnerships 
Program. A Request for Proposals for this project was announced on July 
27, 2000 with a deadline of January 19, 2001. Community colleges are 
among the institutions eligible to apply for that competition. The 
Bureau supports institutional linkages in higher education with 
partners worldwide through the College and University Affiliations 
Program; a Request for Proposals for this project was announced 
separately on June 19, 2000 and has a deadline of November 13, 2000. 
Applicants interested in either of these two programs should contact 
the Bureau's Humphrey Fellowships and Institutional Linkages Branch at 
(202) 619-5289.

Applicant Objectives

    In the NIS Community College Partnerships Program, partner 
institutions may pursue specific institutional goals with support from 
the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs through exchanges of 
teachers and administrators for any appropriate combination of 
teaching, consultation, research, and outreach, for periods ranging 
from one week (for planning visits) to an academic year.
    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 
at the NIS partner institution(s) in one or more of the eligible 
disciplines. Administrative reform at the foreign partner institution 
should also be a project component. Projects should involve the 
development of new academic programs or the building and/or 
restructuring of an existing program or programs, and should promote 
higher education's role in the transition to market economies and open 
democratic systems. Whenever feasible, participants

[[Page 67439]]

should make their training and personnel resources, as well as the 
results of their collaborative work, available to the government, NGOs, 
and business community.
    To provide adequate time to meet institutional project objectives, 
the Program awards grants for periods of approximately three years. The 
strategy for achieving project goals may include visits in either or 
both directions, but no single formula is anticipated for the duration, 
sequence, or number of these visits. However, visits of one semester or 
more for participants from each of the institutional partners are 
strongly encouraged. Programs must comply with J-1 visa regulations. 
Please refer to Solicitation Package for further information.
    Although strong budgetary and programmatic emphasis may be given to 
visits in one direction over another, the benefits of these visits to 
the sending as well as the receiving sides should be clearly explained 
in terms of their contributions to the departmental or institutional 
objectives that the project is designed to achieve. 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 
    In addition to demonstrating the capacity of each participating 
institution to contribute to its partner(s), proposals should also 
explain how this cooperation would enable each of the institutions to 
address its own needs. Accordingly, applicants are encouraged to 
describe the needs as well as the capabilities of each participating 
department as well as the broader social and educational needs which 
the partner institutions attempt to serve.
    Effective proposals will explain the anticipated cooperation in 
ways that demonstrate that the institutions proposed for participation 
in the partnership clearly understand one another and are committed to 
support one another in project implementation. If the proposed 
partnership would occur within the context of a previous or on-going 
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 in an 
appendix with details about the amounts and sources of external 
    Proposals should outline 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. Proposal budgets should reflect evaluation 
    Proposals must be submitted by the U.S. institutional partner and 
must include a letter of commitment from the foreign partner(s). Faxed 
letters are acceptable. 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 of their administration at any 
partner institution up to a maximum of 20 percent of the total grant, 
including administrative salaries. All indirect costs are unallowable. 
However, substantiated indirect costs may be included as part of an 
institution's cost-sharing. Although grants under this program will be 
issued to eligible U.S. community colleges, adequate provision for the 
administrative costs of the project at all partner institutions is 
encouraged. Administrative salary support may be included for project 
directors and administrative assistants within the 20 percent maximum 
that may be allocated to administrative costs. (See the section of the 
POGI on allowable costs.) Students may participate in the project, but 
not with the Bureau's support for the costs of their visits.
    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 would 
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 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, 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.
    The maximum award in the FY 2001 competition will be $200,000. 
Requests for amounts smaller than the maximum 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.
    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 Proposal Submission 
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.

Eligible Fields

    The NIS Community College Partnerships Program is limited to the 
following academic fields:
    (1) business/accounting/trade;
    (2) education/continuing education/educational administration;

[[Page 67440]]

    (3) journalism/communications; and
    (4) social, political, or economic sciences.

U.S. Institution and Participant Eligibility

    In the United States, participation in the program is open to 
accredited institutions offering the two-year Associate's degree. 
Applications from consortia and other combinations of cooperating 
institutions are eligible. Secondary U.S. partners may include relevant 
non-governmental organizations, non-profit service or professional 
organizations, or other institutions of higher education. If the lead 
U.S. institution is responsible for submitting an application on behalf 
of a consortium, the application must document the lead institution's 
authority to represent the consortium. With the exception of outside 
evaluators on contract with the U.S. institution, participants 
representing the U.S. institution(s) who are traveling under Bureau 
grant funds must be faculty or staff from the participating 
institution(s) and must be U.S. citizens.

Foreign Institution and Participant Eligibility

    In other countries, participation is open to recognized 
institutions of post-secondary education, including pedagogical 
institutes and universities, technical institutes and universities, and 
vocational training schools. Secondary foreign partners may include 
relevant governmental and non-governmental organizations, non-profit 
service or professional organizations. Participants representing the 
foreign institutions must be faculty or staff of the primary or 
secondary partner institution, and be citizens, nationals, or permanent 
residents of the country of the foreign partner, and be qualified to 
hold a valid passport and U.S. J-1 visa.

Foreign Country and Location Eligibility

    Foreign partners from the following countries are eligible:
    Russia--Preference will be given to proposals that designate a 
partner institution outside Moscow and St. Petersburg. Proposals that 
designate a partner institution in the Russian Far East, Tomsk, or 
Samara region are encouraged.
    Ukraine--Preference will be given to proposals that designate a 
partner institution outside Kyiv.


    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 academic discipline(s) is/are not listed as eligible in the 
RFP, herein;
    (6) The amount requested of the Bureau exceeds $200,000 for the 
three-year project.
    Please refer to program-specific guidelines (POGI) in the 
Solicitation Package for further details.

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).

Announcement Title and Number

    All communications with the Bureau concerning this RFP should refer 
to the NIS Community College Partnerships Program and reference number 

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, February 
23, 2001. Faxed documents will not be accepted at any time, nor will 
documents postmarked on Friday, February 23, 2001 but received on a 
later date. It is the responsibility of each applicant to ensure 
compliance with the deadline.
    Approximate program dates: Grants should begin on or about August 
15, 2001.
    Duration: Approximately August 15, 2001-August 14, 2004.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Please contact the United States Department of 
State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of Global 
Educational Programs, Humphrey Fellowships and Institutional Linkages 
Branch, State Annex 44 (ECA/A/S/U) room 349, 301 4th Street, S.W., 
Washington, D.C. 20547, fax: (202) 401-1433 to request a Solicitation 
Package containing 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 Jonathan Cebra (telephone: 202-619-4126, email: on all inquiries and correspondence regarding 
partnerships with institutions in Moldova or Ukraine; please indicate 
Bureau Program Officer Michelle Johnson (telephone: 202-619-4097, 
email: on all inquiries and correspondence 
regarding partnerships with institutions in Russia; please indicate 
Bureau Program Officer Alanna Bailey (telephone: 202-619-6492, email: on all inquiries and correspondence regarding 
institutions in any other eligible country.

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.
    Interested applicants should read the complete Federal Register 
announce- ment before sending inquiries or submitting proposals. Once 
the RFP deadline has passed, Bureau 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 application should be sent 
to: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Cultural and Educational 
Affairs, Ref.: ECA/A/S/U-01-10, Program Management Staff, ECA/EX/PM, 
Room 534, 301 4th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20547.
    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

[[Page 67441]]

public affairs sections at U.S. embassies overseas for their review, 
with the goal of reducing the time it takes to get posts' comments for 
the Bureau's grants review process.

Diversity, Freedom and Democracy Guidelines

    Pursuant to the Bureau's authorizing legislation, programs 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.'' Public Law 106-113 requires that 
the governments of the countries described above do not have 
inappropriate influence in the selection process. Proposals should 
reflect advancement of these goals 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 that 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 
Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs. Final 
technical authority for assistance awards (grants or cooperative 
agreements) resides with the Bureau's Grants Officer.

Review Criteria

    All reviewers will use the criteria below to reach funding 
recommendations and decisions. Technically eligible applications will 
be competitively reviewed 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 Bureau representative. Explanatory information 
provided by the Bureau 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: November 1, 2000.
Helena Kane Finn,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational and 
Cultural Affairs, Department of State.
[FR Doc. 00-28673 Filed 11-8-00; 8:45 am]