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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

[Federal Register: February 14, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 31)]
[Notices]               
[Page 7639-7642]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr14fe03-165]                         


-----------------------------------------------------------------------


DEPARTMENT OF STATE


[Public Notice 4275]


 
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Program Title: Central 
Asia School Connectivity Program: Uzbekistan and Tajikistan


ACTION: Request for proposals.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------


SUMMARY: The Youth Programs Division, Office of Citizen Exchanges, of 
the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces an open 
competition for the School Connectivity Program for Uzbekistan and 
Tajikistan. Public and private non-profit organizations meeting the 
provisions described in IRS regulation 26 CFR 1.501(c) may submit 
proposals to expand the educational opportunities available in 
Uzbekistan and Tajikistan by providing access to the Internet and 
related training to help promote civic education and education reform. 
Applicants may submit proposals to implement the program in both or one 
of the countries. The anticipated amount of funding available is as 
follows: Uzbekistan--$1,425,000; Tajikistan--$572,000.


Program Information


Overview


    The Central Asia School Connectivity Program for Uzbekistan and 
Tajikistan is designed to introduce youth to a broad range of ideas 
about civil society while enhancing the use of Internet technology. 
Through this program, secondary schools in each country will be able to 
incorporate civics and related resource materials into their curricula 
and improve general education under the guidance of specially trained 
teachers. The goals of the program are:
    1. To provide access to information via the Internet;
    2. To provide youth in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan with the 
opportunity to learn democratic values through virtual and person-to-
person exchanges with U.S. schools;
    3. To provide training and resources to improve the teaching of 
civic education and related fields;
    4. To generate personal and institutional ties across borders among 
students, educators and their schools.
    5. To identify sustainability strategies that will allow for 
program continuation when funding is no longer available.
    The main components of this program for which grant funding is 
provided are:
    [sbull] Recruiting and selecting secondary schools in Uzbekistan 
and Tajikistan and in the U.S. in a competitive, transparent process;
    [sbull] Establishing computer centers, including hardware, 
software, Internet access, and renovations;
    [sbull] Providing training for teacher-trainers who will, in turn, 
train teachers and students in selected schools and, later, other 
community members;
    [sbull] Facilitating joint civics-based telecurriculum projects 
with U.S. schools, and possibly schools from other countries;
    [sbull] Developing civic-based educational resources that utilize 
the Internet and coordinate the use of curricula from other related 
programs;
    [sbull] Providing regional seminars and cross-border exchanges for 
participating youth to advance computer usage and increase awareness of 
a civil society;
    [sbull] Developing school-community partnerships and other locally 
based initiatives to help sustain computer centers and support 
curriculum innovation.
    [sbull] Conducting a three-week program in the U.S. for teachers to 
enhance computer and training skills, develop mentoring techniques and 
gain exposure of school-community partnerships at a grassroots level.


Guidelines


    The number of grants to be awarded under this competition will be 
based upon the quality and responsiveness of proposals to the review 
criteria presented later in this Request for Grant Proposals (RFGP). 
For purposes of simplicity, these Guidelines refer to ``grant'' and 
``grant recipient.'' Sub-grant and consortium arrangements are 
possibilities. The grant(s) should begin on or about June 2003, subject 
to availability of funds. The grant period should be two years.
    The grant recipient will be responsible for:
    (1) Selecting schools for the installation of a computer center, 
the provision of training, and the implementation of a civic education 
program that emphasizes use of the Internet. Selected schools will be 
partnered, either one-to-one or in small groups, with U.S. schools so 
that students and faculty may work on joint projects with American 
peers over the Internet in order to practice their newly-developed 
knowledge of using this tool for educational purposes.
    (2) Equipping each of the selected schools with 6-8 computers, 
printers, and other items necessary to afford them


[[Page 7640]]


Internet connectivity. This will be accompanied by improvements to the 
classrooms to ensure that facilities are suitable and secure. Once 
established, centers will be staffed by site monitors who will oversee 
their use.
    (3) Providing training to a core group of educators in Internet 
education, American studies, English, civic education, curriculum 
development, and teaching methodologies. These educators will be 
employed by the grant recipient to train others in their respective 
regions. They will also be responsible for ongoing support, project 
implementation and site supervision. The training of teachers and 
students will focus on basic computer skills, use of electronic mail 
and bulletin boards, and use of the World Wide Web for research and for 
supplementing lesson plans. These educators will also oversee school 
partnership programs.
    (4) Facilitating joint telecurriculum projects among students to 
learn about civil society, including the basics of democracy, 
volunteerism, conflict resolution, good citizenship, and civic 
responsibility, such as voting. Project staff will help teachers and 
youth select topics, facilitate action planning and evaluation 
processes, provide guidance, and assist with the development of a final 
product for widespread dissemination.
    (5) Collaborating with USG agencies, local NGOs and ECA-funded 
programs relevant to this project to enhance local capacity and build 
on current efforts. This includes the incorporation of education 
materials created by other USG-funded initiatives and the engagement of 
program beneficiaries in project activities.
    (6) Facilitating a three-week exchange of teachers to the United 
States in which participants will receive specialized training and will 
reside with partner teachers with whom they have worked during the 
academic year. Participants will be exposed to U.S. educational 
practices, specifically the use of technology in U.S. classrooms, as 
well as school-community partnerships and grassroots volunteer 
organizations that use computer technology as a tool for income-
generating activities. Activities will focus on the role that the 
individual can play in a democracy, including school-based programs 
that educate young people on their civil, moral, and legal obligations 
to society. Upon return to their home country, participants will share 
their experiences and serve as mentors to other schools in the network.
    (7) Developing sustainability strategies in communities where 
schools have been selected. Community representatives may identify 
income-generating activities and will use technology to shape a 
sustainable development path for computer centers in their communities. 
Community members may receive training in issues such as developing a 
needs assessment, entrepreneurship, management, marketing, and 
fundraising. The creation of PTAs will be instrumental in generating 
community involvement and support.
    (8) Developing an evaluation plan that will focus on: (a) 
Determining if objectives are being met or have been met; (b) measuring 
attitudinal and behavioral change; (c) identifying any unmet needs, and 
(d) assessing if the project has effectively discovered resources, 
advocates, and financial support for sustainability of current efforts. 
Informal evaluation through discussions, monthly updates and other 
sources of feedback will be carried out throughout the duration of the 
project.


Budget Guidelines


    All organizations applying under this competition must demonstrate 
in their proposal narrative a minimum of four years experience managing 
and conducting international exchange programs. Bureau grant guidelines 
require that organizations with less than four years experience 
conducting and managing international exchanges be limited to $60,000 
in Bureau funding. Since the grant or grants awarded under the 
competition will exceed the $60,000 ceiling, organizations with less 
than four years experience, per above, are not eligible to apply under 
this competition.
    The Bureau reserves the right to accept proposals for both 
countries or for single countries and make an award or awards in 
accordance with what serves the best interest of the programs. 
Applicants must submit a summary budget that includes all program 
components as well as breakdowns reflecting both administrative and 
program budgets. Applicants should provide separate sub-budgets for 
each program component, phase, location, or activity to provide 
clarification. Administrative costs, including indirect rates, should 
be kept to a minimum and cost-shared as possible.
    Please refer to the Solicitation Package for complete budget 
guidelines and formatting instructions.
    Announcement Title and Number: All correspondence with the Bureau 
concerning this RFP should reference the above title and number ECA/PE/
C/PY-03-28.
    Program Data Requirements: Organizations awarded grants will be 
required to maintain specific data on program participants and 
activities in an electronically accessible database format that can be 
shared with the Bureau as required. As a minimum, the data must include 
the following:
    (1) Name, address, contact information and biographic sketch of all 
persons who travel internationally on funds provided by the grant or 
who benefit from the grant funding but do not travel.
    (2) Itineraries of international and domestic travel, providing 
dates of travel and cities in which any exchange experiences take 
place.


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.
    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://exchanges.state.gov
 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.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The Office of Youth Programs, ECA/PE/
C/PY, Room 568, U.S. Department of State, 301 4th Street, SW., 
Washington, DC 20547, tel. (202) 619-5904, and fax (202) 619-5311, e-
mail amussman@pd.state.gov to request a Solicitation Package. The 
Solicitation Package contains detailed award criteria, required 
application forms, specific budget instructions, and standard 
guidelines for proposal preparation. Please specify Bureau of Education 
and Cultural Affairs Program Officer Anna Mussman on all other 
inquiries and correspondence.
    Please read the complete Federal Register announcement before 
sending


[[Page 7641]]


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 
website at: http://exchanges.state.gov/education/rfps. 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, April 7, 
2003. 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 and 8 copies 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-03-28, Program Management, ECA/EX/PM, Room 
336, 301 4th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20547.


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. Pub. L. 
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 
reviewed by the program office, as well as the State Department 
Geographic Area Office and Public Diplomacy section at the U.S. embassy 
overseas, where appropriate. Eligible proposals will be forwarded to 
panels of Bureau officers 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 (grants or 
cooperative agreements) resides with the Bureau's Grants Officer.


Review Criteria


    Technically eligible applications will be competitively reviewed 
according to the criteria stated below. These criteria are not rank 
ordered and all carry equal weight in the proposal evaluation:
    1. Quality of the program idea: Proposals should exhibit 
originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the Bureau's 
mission. Proposals should display an understanding of the goals of the 
program, as reflected in the priorities of this RFGP. Exchange 
activities should ensure sufficient use of program resources. Proposals 
should demonstrate a commitment to excellence and creativity in the 
implementation and management of the program.
    2. Program planning: A detailed agenda and relevant work plan 
should explain how objectives will be achieved and should include a 
timetable for completion of major tasks. The substance of workshops, 
seminars and exchange activities should be described in detail. 
Responsibilities of in-country partners should be clearly described.
    3. Ability to achieve program objectives: Objectives should be 
reasonable, feasible, and flexible. Proposals should clearly 
demonstrate how the institution will meet the program's objectives and 
plan.
    4. Support of Diversity: Proposals should demonstrate substantive 
support of the Bureau's policy on diversity.
    Achievable and relevant features should be cited in both program 
administration (selection of schools and participants, program venue 
and program evaluation) and program content. Applicants should refer to 
the Bureau's Diversity, Freedom and Democracy Guidelines in the 
Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI).
    5. Institutional Capacity/Record/Ability: Applicants should 
demonstrate knowledge of each country's educational environment and 
display significant experience in developing school-based Internet 
programs. Proposals should exhibit an institutional record of 
successful exchange programs, including responsible fiscal management 
and full compliance with all reporting requirements as determined by 
the Bureau's Grants Division. Proposed personnel and institutional 
resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the program 
goals and objectives.
    6. Project Evaluation: Proposals should include a plan to evaluate 
the activity's success, both as the activities unfold and at the end of 
the program. Applicants should provide baseline data and questionnaires 
for use in surveying schools/participants to facilitate the 
demonstration of results. Applicants may describe any experience 
conducting results-oriented evaluations.
    7. Follow-on Activities: Proposals should provide a strategy for 
the continuation of the schools' Internet access and online linkages 
without the Bureau's financial support. Applicants should detail how 
exchange participants will share newly-acquired knowledge and skills 
with others.
    8. Cost-effectiveness/cost sharing: The overhead and administrative 
components of the proposal, including salaries and honoraria, should be 
kept as low as possible. While lower ``per school'' figures will be 
more competitive, the Bureau expects all figures to be realistic. All 
other items should be necessary and appropriate. Proposals should 
maximize cost-sharing through other private sector support as well as 
institutional direct funding contributions.


Authority


    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


[[Page 7642]]


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 authorities for this program are provided through 
the Fulbright-Hays Act and the FREEDOM Support Act (FSA).


Notice


    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.


Notification


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


    Dated: February 3, 2003.
Patricia S. Harrison,
Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs, Department of 
State.
[FR Doc. 03-3683 Filed 2-13-03; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4710-05-P





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