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Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

[Public Notice: 7254]

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) Request for Grant Proposals: Youth Ambassadors Program With South America

Announcement Type:New Cooperative Agreement.

Funding Opportunity Number:ECA/PE/C/PY-11-18.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number:19.415.

Application Deadline:January 27, 2011.

Executive Summary

The Office of Citizen Exchanges, Youth Programs Division, of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) announces an open competition for the Youth Ambassadors Program with South America. Public and private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3) may submit proposals to recruit and select youth and adult participants, to provide the participants with three-week exchanges focused on civic education, community service, and youth leadership development, and to support follow-on projects in their home communities. Exchange delegations will travel from 10 South American countries to the United States, and U.S. exchange delegations will travel to select countries. ECA anticipates awarding multiple cooperative agreements that cover the administration of this program for two years. The awards will be contingent upon the availability of FY-2011 funds.

I. Funding Opportunity DescriptionAuthority

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 above is provided through legislation.

Overview

The Youth Ambassadors Program is a three-week exchange for high school youth (ages 15-18) and adult educators focused on civic education, community service, and youth leadership development. Subthemes that explore these overarching themes may be added,such as the environment or business and entrepreneurship. Participants engage in a variety of activities such as workshops on leadership and service, community site visits related to the program themes and subthemes, interactive training, presentations, visits to high schools, local cultural activities, civic education programming in Washington, DC or the capital city of the partner country, and other activities designed to achieve the program's stated goals. Multiple opportunities for participants to interact meaningfully with their peers of the host country must be included. Follow-on activities with the participants are an integral part of the program, as the students apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired by planning service projects in their home communities.

The FY2011 Youth Ambassadors Program will focus on the following countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, and the United States. It is anticipated that foreign participants will travel from all of these countries to the United States, and that American participants will travel to select countries.

The goals of the program are to:

(1) Promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of South America;

(2) Prepare youth leaders to become responsible citizens and contributing members of their communities;

(3) Influence the attitudes of the leaders of a new generation; and

(4) Foster relationships among youth from different ethnic, religious, and national groups and create hemispheric networks of youth leaders, both within the participating countries and internationally.

The objectives of the program are for participants to:

(1) Demonstrate a better understanding of the elements of a participatory democracy as practiced in the United States;

(2) Demonstrate critical thinking and leadership skills; and

(3) Demonstrate skill at developing project ideas and planning a course of action to bring the projects to fruition.

The primary themes of the program are:

(1) Civic Education (Citizen Participation, Grassroots Democracy and Rule of Law);

(2) Community Service; and

(3) Youth Leadership Development.

For each project, applicant organizations must focus on these primary themes. Secondary themes, such as the environment or business and entrepreneurship, will serve to illustrate the more abstract concepts of the primary themes. For example, the secondary theme of the environment can be used to examine how a group of individuals with an idea can start a recycling campaign in their community.

Using these goals, objectives, and themes, applicant organizations should identify their own specific and measurable outputs and outcomes based on the project specifications provided in this solicitation. ECA does not anticipate award recipients achieving these overarching goals throughout one project; however, proposals should indicate how these objectives will be reached through these themes, and how they will contribute to the achievement of the stated goals.

Project Options

The total amount of funding available is $3,000,000, pending availability of funds. ECA anticipates awarding multiple cooperative agreements for the management of the Youth Ambassadors Program with South America that together will cover all 10 countries. The Bureau reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal project configurations, budgets, and participant numbers in accordance with the needs of the program and the availability of funds. In addition, the Bureau reserves the right to adjust the participating countries should conditions change in the partner country or if other countries are identified as Department priorities. Organizations may apply for one, two, or three of the options outlined below, but must submit only one proposal under this competition. Multiple submissions will be declared technically ineligible and will not be considered further in the review process. These options will allow applicants the flexibility to propose working with the countries in which they have the best infrastructure. The Bureau strongly urges organizations to focus their applications on countries where they have the strongest organizational capacity. This capacity must be thoroughly described in the proposal. Please note the total approximate funding for each option.

Option 1: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela (Approximately $2,000,000 Total, With One to Four Awards)

A project conducted in English for participants from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and/or Venezuela. Approximately 15-20 participants from each country will travel to the United States each year. Award recipients are encouraged to send delegations that include participants from several countries; however not all delegations must travel to the United States at the same time. It is suitable to break them down into smaller single country or sub-regional groups. Applicants who plan to send a large delegation to the United States at one time must propose a plan to break it into smaller cohorts for most of the exchange activities. In addition to the South American participants, 10-15 participants from the United States will travel to Paraguay and/or Uruguay each year. Delegations of American participants may alternate between specified countries and travel to Uruguay the first year and Paraguay the following year, or delegations may travel to both countries each year. The American participants should have conversational Spanish skills. Applicants are encouraged to be creative and flexible in making arrangements that will help meet our program goals.

ECA may award more than one cooperative agreement from this option. Applicants must include at least two South American countries, and may include up to all seven countries, in their proposals. Applicants should apply for those countries where they have a strong organizational capacity with their in-country partner.

Option 2: Colombia and Ecuador (Approximately $500,000)

A regional project conducted in Spanish for participants from Colombia and Ecuador. Approximately 15-20 participants from each country will travel to the United States each year. This regional project should include activities where participants from both countries interact to share ideas and work on program themes during the exchange in the United States. Delegations may be broken up into smaller sub-groups, but should keep a mix of participants from both countries. Special emphasis should be placed on recruiting participants from underserved communities. Spanish language interpreters should be provided for U.S. programming. In addition to the South American participants, 10-15 participants from the United States may travel to Ecuador. The American participants should have conversational Spanish skills.

Option 3: Brazil (Approximately $500,000)

A single country, reciprocal project conducted in English for participants from Brazil and the United States. The total number of participants each year will be 37 Brazilians (35 youth, 2 adults) and 10-15 Americans. For the Brazil project only, the U.S. Embassy inBrasilia will serve as the in-country partner. The Embassy will manage the recruitment and selection of the Brazilian participants, cover their in-country expenses, arrange and purchase the international travel, oversee their follow-on activities, and administer the Brazil-based exchange activities for the U.S. participants. The award recipient will be responsible for organizing and funding the U.S.-based exchange activities for the Brazilian participants. The recipient will also be responsible for recruiting and selecting the American participants and covering their pre-departure expenses, including passports and visas fees and international travel, paying for all program expenses in Brazil, as well as managing their follow-on activities. The exchanges to the U.S. will take place in January 2012 and January 2013, and the exchanges to Brazil will take place in the summer of 2012 and 2013.

Participants

Both the youth and adult participants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

(1) Be citizens of the country from which they are applying;

(2) Be selected through a merit-based competition;

(3) Represent the diversity of their home country; and

(4) Demonstrate an interest in the partner country and the project themes.

Criteria for selection of the participants will include leadership skills, an interest in service to the community, strong academic and social skills, openness and flexibility. To reach beyond the elite, participants should be recruited from underserved or disadvantaged populations of youth in these countries, including public high schools. Geographic, socio-economic, and ethnic diversity is important, including outreach to indigenous and Afro-descendent populations. It is desirable that a few participants live in the same community to facilitate future collaboration upon their return to their home country.

The youth participants must be high school students aged 15 to 18 years old, with at least one semester of high school remaining. The adult participants may be teachers, trainers, school administrators, and/or community leaders who work with youth. They will have the dual role of both exchange participant and chaperone. The ratio of youth to adults should be approximately 10:1, depending on the size of the exchange delegation.

Except for participants from Colombia and Ecuador, all South American participants must have sufficient English language proficiency to participate fully in interactions with their host families and their peers and in educational activities. A similar level of Spanish language ability is required for the American participants traveling to Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay. Portuguese is not required for the Americans traveling to Brazil. For the U.S.-based activities that will be conducted in Spanish, the award recipient must provide interpretation and place the participants in host families where at least one member speaks Spanish.

Organizational Capacity

Applicant organizations must demonstrate their capacity for conducting international youth exchanges, focusing on three areas of competency: (1) Provision of projects that address the goals, objectives, and themes outlined in this document; (2) age-appropriate programming for youth; and (3) previous experience working on programs in the region. Organizations must demonstrate their capacity to manage a complex, multi-phase program with several separate exchange projects.

In addition to their U.S. presence, applicants must have the organizational capacity in the relevant countries through their own offices or through a partner organization or institution to recruit and select participants for the project, to provide follow-on activities, and to organize a content-rich program for the U.S. participants, if specified. The importance of a viable, experienced in-country partner cannot be over-emphasized. Applicants should consult with their partners and involve them in the preparation of the proposal. Before submitting a proposal, applicants may consult with Public Affairs Sections in U.S. Embassies for suggested partner organizations or concerning the selection and reliability of in-country partner organizations. Please e-mail ECA Program Officer Jennifer Phillips (PhillipsJA@state.gov) for Embassy contact information.

U.S. Embassy Involvement

It is important that the proposal narrative clearly state the applicant's commitment to consult closely with the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in the host country to develop plans for project implementation, including recruitment, selection and orientation of participants, publicity events, and follow-on activities, once a cooperative agreement is awarded. In countries where there is a reciprocal component involving U.S. citizen minors, the U.S. Embassy will provide oversight and monitoring; concur on housing arrangements, including host family locations (regions, neighborhoods); represent the U.S. Government while the exchange activities are taking place in the host country; and assist program staff and participants in the event of an emergency. At the same time, the cooperative agreement requires that the administering organization must be able to manage the program in the host country in its entirety, with little reliance on embassy staff for support. For the Brazil project only, the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia will serve as the in-country partner.

Guidelines

Pending the availability of funds, it is anticipated that the cooperative agreement will begin on or about July 1, 2011. The award period will span approximately two years, and will cover all aspects of the programming in South America and the United States--recruitment, selection, and orientation of the participants, three weeks of exchange activities, and support of follow-on activities. Planning and preparation will start in 2011, and the exchanges will take place at various points throughout 2012 and 2013. Applicants should propose the period of the exchange(s) in their proposals, but the exact timing of the project may be altered through the mutual agreement of the Department of State and the recipient. In addition, while the second year of the award period may build on lessons learned from the first year, proposals should include a plan for keeping the essential elements of the exchange, from project themes to regional groupings, the same in the second year.

The award recipient will be responsible for the following:

Recruitment and Selection:Manage the recruitment and merit-based selection of youth and adult participants in cooperation with the Public Affairs Sections of the U.S. Embassies in the participating countries. Collaboration with Binational Centers (BNCs) is suggested, if possible. Once a cooperative agreement is awarded, the recipient must consult with the Public Affairs Section at the U.S. Embassy to review a participant recruitment and selection plan and to determine the degree of Embassy involvement in the process. Organizers must strive for regional, socio-economic, and ethnic diversity, as well as gender balance. For reciprocal projects sending U.S. participants to South America, the recipients must manage the recruitment and open, merit-based selection of U.S. participants. The Department of Stateand/or its overseas representatives will have final approval of all selected delegations.

Orientations:Provide orientations for exchange participants and for those participating from the host communities, including host families.

Logistics:Manage all logistical arrangements, including passport and visa applications, international and domestic travel, ground transportation, accommodations, interpretation, group meals, and disbursement of stipends.

Exchange Activities:Design and plan three weeks of exchange activities that provide a creative and substantive program that develops both the youth and the adult participants' knowledge and skill base in civic education, community service, and youth leadership development. The exchange will take place in the capital city (Washington, DC or that of the host country) and in one or two other communities. The exchanges will focus primarily on interactive activities, practical experiences, and other hands-on opportunities that provide a substantive project on the specified program themes. Some activities should be school and/or community-based, and the projects will involve as much sustained interaction with peers of the host country as possible (for both the youth and adult participants). Cultural, social, and recreational activities will balance the schedule.

Accommodations:Arrange home stays for the participants in the United States with properly screened and briefed American families for the majority of the exchange period. In the partner countries, home stays are strongly desired whenever feasible in properly screened and briefed South American families. Criminal background checks must be conducted for members of host families (and others living in the home) who are 18 years or older.

Monitoring:Develop and implement a plan to monitor the participants' safety and well-being while on the exchange and to create opportunities for participants to share potential issues and resolve them promptly. The award recipient will be required to provide proper staff supervision and facilitation to ensure that the teenagers have safe and pedagogically rich programs. Staff, along with the adult participants, will assist the youth with cultural adjustments, provide societal context to enhance learning, and counsel students as needed. For the safety and security of both foreign and American participants, applicants must comply with the monitoring and supervision requirements, as well as the host family screening requirements, outlined in the POGI.

Follow-on Activities and In-Country Programming:Plan and implement activities in the participants' home countries, particularly by facilitating continued engagement among the participants, advising and supporting them in the implementation of community service projects, and offering opportunities to reinforce the ideas, values and skills imparted during the exchange. Exchange participants should return home from the exchange prepared to conduct projects that serve a need in their schools or communities. To amplify program impact, proposals should present creative and effective ways to address the project themes, for both program participants and their peers.

Evaluation:Design and implement an evaluation plan that assesses the short- and medium-term impact of the project on the participants as well as on host and home communities.

Dated: November 23, 2010. Ann Stock, Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs, Department of State.