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[Federal Register: October 25, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 207)]
[Page 65628-65631]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



[Public Notice 4176]

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Request for Grant 
Proposals: Islamic Countries Youth Initiative Academic Studies Program

SUMMARY: The Youth Programs Division, Office of Citizen Exchanges of 
the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces an open 
competition for grants in support of projects to bring to the United 
States high school students from countries with significant Muslim 
populations to attend school and live with host families. Public and 
private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in 
Internal Revenue Code section 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3) and public 
institutions may submit proposals to carry out projects for academic 
semester and year study, as described below.

Program Information


    The goal of the program is to foster a community of shared 
interests and values developed through better mutual understanding 
through first-hand participation in an exchange. The objectives are to: 
Provide the opportunity for young people in selected countries to learn 
more about American society, people, institutions, values and culture; 
foster personal ties; enhance American understanding of the foreign 
students' countries and cultures; and support program alumni to put the 
knowledge and skills acquired on the exchange to good use in their home 
countries. The program seeks to select students with leadership 
potential and to develop their leadership skills while in the U.S. and 
when they return home.
    This initiative is intended to lay a solid foundation for future 
exchanges by investing in the infrastructure in the U.S. and overseas 
necessary to ensure fulfillment of the exchange program's objectives. 
Funding will support pilot semester and year exchanges and incorporate 
lessons learned into perfecting the model for conducting future 
programs. Grants will be awarded both to organizations that have the 
necessary infrastructure and experience conducting academic high school 
exchange programs with the partner countries, as well as to those that 
seek to collaborate with the Bureau in building the necessary 
infrastructure for exchanges with the partner countries where this does 
not currently exist. The timing of grant awards and the amount of 
funding for this initiative are subject to the availability of money 
that will be transferred to the Bureau.


    The partner countries for this pilot initiative will be selected 
based on a number of factors: (1) Foreign policy considerations, (2) a 
favorable climate for exchange, (3) data collected through an 
independent research study commissioned by the Bureau, and (4)

[[Page 65629]]

the ability of the private sector to administer exchange programs, as 
demonstrated by the response to this RFGP. The tentative list includes: 
Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, 
Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, 
Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Syria, Tunisia, 
Turkey, United Arab Emirates, West Bank/Gaza, and Yemen. The Bureau 
reserves the right to amend this list at any time as conditions change.
    There are two phases that will be funded simultaneously. Phase I--
As noted above, a portion of the funding will be awarded to 
organizations that (1) have in place the existing infrastructure in the 
U.S. and in the partner countries to undertake a program with the 
required quality features, as outlined in this RFGP and supplementary 
documents; (2) have a recent track record of successfully conducting 
high school academic year exchanges with the partner countries; and (3) 
demonstrate their ability to comply with all requirements for 
administering federal grants, including the relevant J-1 visa 
regulations. To be eligible for this phase of the initiative, the 
grantee organization must be already designated by the Department of 
State as a secondary school student exchange visitor sponsor. The 
Bureau expects to be able to make award decisions by April 1, 2003. It 
is anticipated that participants selected for participation in phase I 
programs will travel to the U.S. in the summer of 2004 for the 2004-05 
academic year. In the unlikely event the grants can be awarded in time 
to enable an organization to screen, select, orient and place 
scholarship winners for participation in the 2003-04 academic year, 
this is a possibility. As an alternative, grant recipients may bring a 
contingent of students to the U.S. for the spring 2004 semester. 
Approximately $2,000,000 is available for phase I grants, including 
funds earmarked for a special project for Indonesia.
    Phase II--In the second phase of the program, the Bureau seeks to 
award grant funding to assist in the establishment of academic year 
exchanges with countries where no or inadequate capability exists at 
the present time. The goal is to encourage organizations to form 
partnerships, consortia, and other arrangements to pool resources that 
will result in successful exchange activity. J-1 visa designation is 
not a requirement, but a thorough understanding of the secondary school 
student exchange visitor regulations is essential. Funding availability 
is April 1, 2003, the same as in phase I. Because of the longer lead 
time needed for phase II, exchange participants will not begin their 
programs before the 2004-05 academic year, at the earliest, and may 
also participate in the 2005-06 academic year. Approximately $4,500,000 
is available for phase II grants.
    The following apply to both phases of this program:
    1. While the emphasis is on bringing foreign students to the U.S., 
programs that provide opportunities for American high school students 
to study in the partner countries for a semester or year are eligible 
for consideration.
    2. The essential components for all academic study projects 
undertaken with Bureau grant funding are: Collaboration with American 
embassies overseas in planning and implementing the exchange; an open, 
merit-based recruitment and selection process; testing for adequate 
English language ability for foreign participants; in-country pre-
departure orientation; placement in schools that are committed to 
pursuing the program's objectives and will assist the students to be 
successful in academic, extracurricular and social activities; the 
ability to maintain on-program support in the students' home and host 
countries for the duration of the exchange; enhancement programming 
during the exchange in leadership development, civil society issues 
(including citizen activism and community service), and cultural 
enrichment; ongoing orientation and reentry training; community 
outreach to amplify the impact of the program and promote mutual 
understanding; and the ability to track and work with alumni to 
reinforce what was learned on the exchange and help them adjust to 
their home environments and apply what they acquired to promote the 
program's goals.
    3. All grantees are required to include people with physical 
disabilities in the exchange.
    4. Grant funding will be used to develop cultural orientation 
materials for use by all organizations that benefit from ECA grants 
under this initiative. Organizations may submit a proposal to develop 
these materials as a project by itself or as part of a grant for the 
exchange component.
    5. Collaboration with Department of State efforts and networking 
with educational, civic, and other organizations to engage public 
schools and the American public in hosting participants in this 
    6. All exchange participants must travel on J-1 visas using DS2019s 
issued by the ECA program office under its program designation.
    7. Grant funding will be available to pay for a percentage of the 
students in phase II exchanges to participate in a pre-academic English 
enhancement and cultural adjustment program, on an as-needed basis.
    Please refer to the Solicitation Package for further information, 
especially the Project Objectives, Goals and Implementation (POGI) and 
the Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI).

Budget Guidelines

    The number of grants awarded under phase I will be determined by 
the number of competitive proposals judged meritorious. The minimum bid 
for any organization is the amount needed to sponsor 40 students. There 
is no maximum bid limit. For phase II, in developing countries where 
there has been no previous exchange experience, the minimum number of 
students per country is 40. The objective is to foster the level of 
programming necessary to sustain an in-country organization in a cost-
effective manner. See the POGI for additional budget details. Grants 
awarded to eligible organizations with less than four years of 
experience in conducting international exchange programs will be 
limited to $60,000. The Bureau encourages applicants to provide maximum 
levels of cost-sharing and funding from private sources in support of 
its programs.

Announcement Title and Number

    All correspondence with the Bureau concerning this RFGP should 
reference the above title and number ECA/PE/C/PY-03-20.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The Youth Programs Division, Office of 
Citizen Exchanges, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. 
Department of State, 301 4th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20547, 202-619-
6299, fax 619-5311, to request the POGI and PSI. 
These documents contain detailed award criteria, required application 
forms, specific budget instructions, and standard guidelines for 
proposal preparation. Please specify Bureau Program Robert Persiko on 
all inquiries and correspondence.
    Please read the complete Federal Register announcement before 
sending inquiries or submitting proposals. Once the RFGP deadline has 
passed, Bureau staff may not discuss this competition with applicants 
until the proposal review process has been completed.

To Download a Solicitation Package Via Internet

    The entire Solicitation Package may be downloaded from the Bureau's

[[Page 65630]]

Web site: Please read all 
information before downloading.

Deadline for Proposals

    All proposal copies must be received at the Bureau of Educational 
and Cultural Affairs by 5 p.m. Washington, DC time on Monday, December 
16, 2002. Faxed documents will not be accepted at any time. Documents 
postmarked the due date but received on a later date will not be 
accepted. Each applicant must ensure that the proposals are received by 
the above deadline.
    Applicants must follow all instructions in the Solicitation 
Package. The original, one fully-tabbed copy, and eight copies with 
Tabs A-F of the application should be sent to:
    U.S. Department of State, SA-44, Bureau of Educational and Cultural 
Affairs, Ref.: ECA/PE/C/PY-03-20, Program Management, ECA/EX/PM, Room 
534, 301 4th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20547.
    Applicants must also submit the ``Executive Summary,'' ``Proposal 
Narrative,'' budget sections and resumes, as well as important 
appendices, as e-mail attachments in Microsoft Word and Excel to the 
program office at The Bureau will transmit these 
files electronically to the Public Affairs Section at the U.S. 
embassies for their review, with the goal of reducing the time it takes 
to get embassy 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.

Adherence to All Regulations Governing the J Visa

    The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is placing renewed 
emphasis on the secure and proper administration of Exchange Visitor (J 
visa) Programs and adherence by grantees and sponsors to all 
regulations governing the J visa. Therefore, proposals should 
demonstrate the applicant's capacity to meet all requirements governing 
the administration of Exchange Visitor Programs as set forth in 22 CFR 
6Z, including the oversight of Responsible Officers and Alternate 
Responsible Officers, screening and selection of program participants, 
provision of pre-arrival information and orientation to participants, 
monitoring of participants, proper maintenance and security of forms, 
record-keeping, reporting and other requirements. As noted above, ECA 
will be responsible for issuing DS-2019 forms to participants in this 
program. A copy of the complete regulations governing the 
administration of Exchange Visitor (J) programs is available at http://, or from: United States 
Department of State, Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation, 
ECA/EC/ECD-SA-44, Room 734, 301 4th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20547, 
Telephone: (202) 401-9810, FAX: (202) 401-9809.

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 
reviewed by the program office, as well as the Public Affairs personnel 
overseas, where appropriate. Eligible proposals will be subject to 
compliance with Federal and Bureau regulations and guidelines and 
forwarded to Bureau grant panels for advisory review. Proposals may 
also be reviewed by the Office of the Legal Adviser or by other 
Department elements. Final funding decisions are at the discretion of 
the Department of State's Assistant Secretary for Educational and 
Cultural Affairs. Final technical authority for assistance awards 
resides with the Bureau's Grants Officer.

Review Criteria

    Technically eligible applications will be competitively reviewed 
according to the criteria stated below. The review is an assessment of 
the proposal's strengths and weaknesses in key areas. These criteria 
are not rank ordered and all carry equal weight in the proposal 
    1. Quality of the program idea: Proposals should exhibit 
originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the Bureau's 
mission and the purposes outlined in the solicitation.
    2. Program planning: Detailed agenda and relevant work plan should 
demonstrate the ability to ensure that the proposed project 
accomplishes the stated objectives in the desired time frame.
    3. Multiplier effect/impact: Proposed programs should strengthen 
long-term mutual understanding, including maximum sharing of 
information and establishment of long-term institutional and individual 
ties both during the exchange and after the participants return home.
    4. Support of Diversity: Proposals should demonstrate substantive 
support of the Bureau's policy on diversity in all program aspects 
including participants (exchange students and hosts), sending and 
hosting communities, orientation, and program activities. Proposals 
should articulate a diversity plan, not just a statement of compliance.
    5. Institutional Capacity: Proposed personnel and institutional 
resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the program's 
goals. Proposals for infrastructure building should convincingly 
describe the need and the plan to address that need in specific terms 
(e.g., staffing, staff training, equipping and maintaining an office). 
The plan should demonstrate a thorough understanding of local 
requirements for establishing and registering an NGO.
    6. Institution's Record/Ability: Proposals should demonstrate an 
institutional record of successful exchange programs, including 
responsible fiscal management and full compliance with all reporting 
requirements for past Bureau grants as determined by Bureau Grant 
Staff. The Bureau will consider the past performance of prior 
recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants.
    7. Follow-on Activities: Proposals should provide a plan for 
continued contact with returnees to ensure that

[[Page 65631]]

they are tracked over time, integrated into alumni associations, and 
provided opportunities to reinforce what the knowledge and skills they 
acquired on the exchange and share them with others.
    8. Project Evaluation: The Bureau will provide baseline data and 
standard questionnaires for use in surveying participants and returnees 
to ensure that data is comparable from one program to another and will 
facilitate the demonstration of results. The proposal should indicate 
concurrence with this plan. Applicants may describe any experience 
conducting results-oriented evaluations. Successful applicants will be 
expected to submit intermediate reports after each project component is 
concluded or quarterly, whichever is less frequent.
    9. Cost-effectiveness: The overhead and administrative components 
of the proposal, including salaries and honoraria, should be kept as 
low as possible. All other items should be necessary and appropriate.
    10. Cost-sharing: Proposals should maximize cost-sharing through 
institutional direct funding contributions, as well as other private 
sector support.
    11. Value to U.S.-Partner Country Relations: Proposed projects 
should receive positive assessments by the U.S. Department of State's 
geographic area desk and overseas officers of program need, potential 
impact, and the feasibility of the implementation plan.


    Overall grant making authority for this program is contained in the 
Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, Pub. L. 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 above is provided through legislation.


    The terms and conditions published in this RFGP 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 RFGP 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: October 21, 2002.
C. Miller Crouch,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational and 
Cultural Affairs, Department of State.
[FR Doc. 02-27230 Filed 10-24-02; 8:45 am]