Notice of Funding Opportunity – Young Pacific Leaders Conference 2021

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE U.S. EMBASSY NEW ZEALAND, PUBLIC AFFAIRS SECTION

Notice of Funding Opportunity

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Title: Young Pacific Leaders Conference 2021

Funding Opportunity Number: PAS-NEWZEALAND-2020-04

Application Deadline: Friday, August 14, 11:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time

Total Amount Available: $250,000 USD, subject to availability of funds

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

U.S. Embassy New Zealand announces an open competition for organizations interested in submitting proposals to organize a comprehensive program designed to provide emerging Pacific leaders with the skills and knowledge they need to become leaders in the region’s economic and civic development. As a Pacific nation, the United States has long been committed to working with partners in the region to ensure continued regional security, as well as economic growth and development. This program for young leaders will create ties across the Pacific to ensure that we are better prepared to address challenges together in the future.

The State Department has convened a Young Pacific Leaders (YPL) Conference each year for the past six years, taking place in American Samoa, Samoa, New Zealand, Hawaii, and Fiji, with a conference pending in Papua New Guinea. All these conferences shared the goal of building leadership capacity and creating ties among emerging leaders from across the Pacific region (see below for a list of participating countries). This year, the conference should bring together a group of emerging leaders, ages 25-35, with the goal of providing them with practical leadership skills and a deeper knowledge of regional issues related to the four pillars of the YPL program: civic engagement, environment/resource management, education, and economic and social development. The conference should also help participants grow their networks and enable them to work with their peers on issues that affect the region.

The conference should emphasize experiential learning and capacity building in order to equip participants with the tools they need for success. We encourage pre- and post-conference programming that will reinforce the learnings from the conference. The location of the conference should be in Hawaii, in order to showcase the United States as a Pacific country and the U.S. connections to the Pacific region. 

Goals of the conference should include:

  • Developing the knowledge and skills of youth in the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand, to become economic and civil society leaders who cooperate across the region to address difficult issues.
  • Ensuring that emerging Pacific leaders see the United States as a partner in solving regional and global challenges.
  • Building a network of emerging Pacific leaders that can share best practices and collaborate on shared challenges.

Not-for-profit organizations or universities (see C. Eligibility Information) are invited to submit a proposal that describes how each of the following activities will be administered:

  • Design and implement a 3-4 day program for young leaders to take place in late 2021 or early 2022 (specific timing to be determined in partnership with the Department of State taking into account COVID-19 travel restrictions). Demonstrating planned coordination with partner organizations knowledgeable in the region is highly encouraged.

  • The program should accommodate delegates from the following countries: Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Islands of French Polynesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna, and the American-affiliated Pacific including American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Hawaii.

  • Delegates may include alumni of the previous YPL conferences. U.S. Embassy New Zealand is able to provide contact information for alumni delegates. Proposals should include a plan for promoting the conference application across the eligible countries and territories, and identifying and selecting delegates, in partnership with the U.S. embassies in the Pacific region.

  • Delegates should be drawn from Pacific Islands youth, as well as Australia and New Zealand. Australia and New Zealand participants can include members from Pacific Islander diaspora and indigenous communities, as well as youth working on relevant issues affecting the Pacific region. They should be between the ages of 25-35 with a track record of making an impact in their community, institution, or company and have at least two years of professional experience. Proficiency in English and citizenship in one of the participating countries is also required.

  • The program should include substantive interaction with U.S. Government representatives as well as non-government organizations, businesses and think tanks that focus on the Pacific, particularly in the areas comprising the predetermined thematic areas. The program should include speakers from both the United States and the Pacific region.

  • The program should also include experiential learning activities, enabling delegates to immerse themselves in relevant areas of the host-country’s community, as pertains to the thematic areas.

  • Proposals are encouraged to include opening and closing events, to include key speakers from a broad cross-section of sectors.

  • Participants and leaders should have formal and informal opportunities to network with each other to develop collaborative relationships that will persist after the conference’s conclusion.

  • Proposals should explain how participants will be assisted in continuing and building upon the connections and learnings made during the program, and should describe how alumni of the program will be encouraged to continue to build upon their relationships and implement ideas developed at the event.

  • Proposals should include management of travel and lodging logistics for all participants, speakers, and staff, as well as venue(s). Proposals must show how grant funds will be used to cover the cost of the venue, transportation, visas, travel insurance, lodging, and meals or per diem for eligible participants, speakers, and staff. All travel funded under the grant agreement should be economy class and must comply with Fly America requirements.

  • Proposals should include a plan for publicizing both the application opportunity as well as the conference, to include both traditional and social media, as appropriate, in partnership with the U.S. embassies located in the Pacific region.

  • Proposals should include a plan for evaluating the program’s goals, including pre- and post-event surveys of participants.

  • Proposals should include a description of the applicant’s experience with U.S.-Pacific relations, youth leadership development, and event organization as well as experience in and/or ties with organizations in the Asia-Pacific or other international expertise.

FEDERAL AWARD INFORMATION

Length of performance period:  Up to 24 months.

Number of awards anticipated:  One.

Award amounts:  Up to $250,000 USD.

Total available funding:  Up to $250,000 USD.

Type of funding:  FY20 Public Diplomacy Funding. 

Anticipated program start date:  October 1, 2020. 

Funding Instrument Type:  Cooperative Agreement.

This notice is subject to availability of funding.

U.S. Embassy New Zealand may issue one or more awards resulting from this NOFO to the applicant(s) whose application(s) conforming to this NOFO are the most responsive to the objectives set forth in this NOFO. The U.S. government may (a) reject any or all applications, (b) accept other than the lowest cost application, (c) accept more than one application, (d) accept alternate applications, and (e) waive informalities and minor irregularities in applications received.

The U.S. government may make award(s) on the basis of initial applications received, without discussions or negotiations. Therefore, each initial application should contain the applicant’s best terms from a cost and technical standpoint. The U.S. government reserves the right (though it is not under obligation to do so), however, to enter into discussions with one or more applicants in order to obtain clarifications, additional detail, or to suggest refinements in the project description, budget, or other aspects of an application.

U.S. Embassy New Zealand anticipates awarding a cooperative agreement, and expects to be substantially involved in its implementation. Examples of substantial involvement can include:

  1. Approval of the Recipient’s work plans, including: program dates, participant selection, planned activities, travel plans, work placements, planned expenditures,  and changes to any activity to be carried out under the cooperative agreement;
  2. Approval of sub-award Recipients if applicable, concurrence on the substantive provisions of the sub-awards, and coordination with other cooperating agencies;
  3. Other approvals that will be included in the award agreement.

ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

C.1 Eligible Applicants

U.S. Embassy New Zealand welcomes applications from non-profit   organizations/nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and private, public, or state institutions of higher education. For-profit entities are not eligible to apply.

C.2 Cost Sharing

Providing cost sharing is encouraged, but not a requirement for this NOFO. Inclusion of cost share in the budget does not result in additional points awarded during the review process.

C.3 Other

In order to be eligible to receive an award, all organizations must have a unique entity identifier (Data Universal Numbering System/DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet), as well as a valid registration on www.SAM.gov. Please see Section D.3 for information on how to obtain these registrations.  Individuals are not required to have a unique entity identifier or be registered in SAM.gov.

APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

D.1 Address to Request Application Package

Applicants can find application forms, kits, or other materials needed to apply on www.grants.gov under the announcement title “Young Pacific Leaders Conference 2021” funding opportunity number PAS-NEWZEALAND-2020-04. Please contact the point of contact listed in section G if requesting reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities or for security reasons. Please note: reasonable accommodations do not include deadline extensions.

D.2 Content and Form of Application Submission

For all application documents, please ensure:

  1. All documents are in English and all costs are in U.S. dollars. If an original document within the application is in another language, an English translation must be provided (please note: the Department of State, as indicated in 2 CFR 200.111, requires that English is the official language of all award documents. If any documents are provided in both English and a foreign language, the English language version is the controlling version);
  2. All pages are numbered, including budgets and attachments;
  3. All documents are formatted to 8 ½ x 11 paper; and,
  4. All documents are single-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, with 1-inch margins. Captions and footnotes may be 10 point Times New Roman font. Font sizes in charts and tables, including the budget, can be reformatted to fit within 1 page width.

Complete applications must include the following:

  1. Completed and signed SF-424, SF-424A, and SF-424B, as directed on Grants.gov; completed and signed SF-LLL, “Disclosure of Lobbying Activities”(if applicable) (which can be found with the solicitation on Grants.gov); and your organization’s most recent audit (single program audit, if applicable, or standard audit).
  2. Table of Contents (not to exceed one [1] page in Microsoft Word) that includes a page numbered contents page, including any attachments.
  3. Executive Summary (not to exceed two [2] pages in Microsoft Word) that includes:
  4. Name and contact information for the project’s main point of contact;
  5. The total amount of funding requested and project length;
  6. A statement of work or synopsis of the project, including a concise breakdown of the project’s objectives, activities, and expected results; and,
  7. A brief statement on how the project is innovative and will have a demonstrated impact.
  8. Proposal Narrative (not to exceed ten [10] pages in Microsoft Word). Please note the ten-page limit does not include the Table of Contents, Executive Summary, Attachments, Detailed Budget, Budget Narrative, or Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA). Applicants are encouraged to submit multiple documents in a single Microsoft Word or Adobe file, (i.e., Table of Contents, Executive Summary, and Proposal Narrative in one file).
  9. Detailed Line-Item Budget (in Microsoft Excel) that includes three [3] columns including the request to U.S. Embassy New Zealand, any cost sharing contribution, and total budget (see below for more information on budget format). A summary budget should also be included using the OMB approved budget categories (see SF-424A as a sample). Costs must be in U.S. dollars. Detailed line-item budgets for sub-awardees should be included in additional tabs within the Excel workbook.
  10. Budget Narrative (in Microsoft Word) that includes substantive explanations and justifications for each line item in the detailed budget spreadsheet, as well as the source and a description of all cost-share offered. For ease of review, U.S. Embassy New Zealand recommends applicants order the budget narrative as presented in the detailed budget. Personnel costs should include a clarification of the roles and responsibilities of key staff, base salary, and percentage of time devoted to the project. The budget narrative should provide additional information that might not be readily apparent in the detailed-line item budget, not simply repeat what is represented numerically in the budget, i.e. salaries are for salaries or travel is for travel.

Attachments:

    1. Information about the team of people who would execute the work, with descriptions of the experiences and skills of each and his/her role in the bidder’s organization and in the team
    2. Monitoring and Evaluation Plan.
    3. Timeline of the overall proposal. Components should include activities, evaluation efforts, and project closeout.
    4. Additional optional attachments: Attachments may include further timeline information, letters of support, memorandums of understanding/agreement, etc. Letters of support and MOUs must be specific to the project’s implementation (eg from proposed partners or sub-award recipients) and will not count towards the page limit.

If your organization has a NICRA and includes NICRA charges in the budget, your latest NICRA should be included as a .pdf file. This document will not be reviewed by the panelists, but rather used by project and grant staff if the submission is recommended for funding and therefore does not count against the submission page limitations. If your proposal involves subawards to organizations charging indirect costs, please submit the applicable NICRA also as a .pdf file. If your organization does not have a NICRA per 2 CFR 200. 414(f) the organization can elect to charge the de minimis rate of 10% of the modified total direct costs as defined in 2 CFR 200.68. The budget narrative should indicate what costs will be covered using the 10% de minimis rate.

Please note: U.S. Embassy New Zealand retains the right to ask for additional documents not included in this NOFO. Additionally, to ensure all applications receive a balanced evaluation, the U.S. State Department Review Panel will review the first page of the requested section up to the page limit and no further.

Additional information that successful applicants must submit after notification of intent to make a Federal award, but prior to issuance of a Federal award, may include:

  1. Written responses and any revised application documents addressing any conditions or recommendations from the Review Panel;
  2. Other requested information or documents included in the notification of intent to make a Federal award or subsequent communications prior to issuance of a Federal award.

D.3 Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM)

Applicants must have an active registration in SAM (www.sam.gov) prior to submitting an application, must prove a valid Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number, formerly referred to as a DUNS number, and must continue to maintain an active SAM registration with current information at all times during which it has an active Federal award or an application or plan under consideration by the U.S. government.

The Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) is one of the data elements mandated by Public Law 109-282, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA), for all Federal awards. 

SAM is the Federal government’s primary database for complying with FFATA reporting requirements. OMB designated SAM as the central repository to facilitate applicant and recipient use of a single public website that consolidates data on all federal financial assistance. 

Under the law, it is mandatory to obtain a UEI number and register in SAM.

SAM requires all entities to renew their registration once a year in order to maintain an active registration status in SAM. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure it has an active registration in SAM and to also maintain its active registration in SAM.

No entity listed on the Excluded Parties List System in SAM is eligible for any assistance or can participate in any activities in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 CFR 180 that implement Executive Orders 12549 (3 CFR Part 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 CFR Part 1989 Comp., p. 235).

U.S. Embassy New Zealand may not make a Federal award to an applicant until the applicant has complied with all applicable UEI and SAM requirements and, if an applicant has not fully complied with the requirements by the time U.S. Embassy New Zealand is ready to make an award, U.S. Embassy New Zealand may determine that the applicant is not qualified to receive a Federal award and use that determination as a basis for making a Federal award to another applicant.

D.4 Submission Dates and Times

Applications are due no later than 11:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on August 14, 2020 by email to publicaffairsusnz@state.gov with the subject line “Young Pacific Leaders Conference, funding opportunity number PAS-NEWZEALAND-2020-04. 

Submission via email will automatically log the date and time an application submission is made, and the Department of State will use this information to determine whether an application has been submitted on time. Late applications are neither reviewed nor considered unless the U.S. Embassy New Zealand point of contact listed in section G is contacted prior to the deadline and is provided with evidence of system errors outside of the applicants’ control and is the sole reason for a late submission. Applicants should not expect a notification upon U.S. Embassy New Zealand receiving their application.

If ultimately provided with a notification of intent to make a Federal award, applicants typically have two to three weeks to provide additional information and documents requested in the notification of intent. The deadlines may vary in each notification of intent and applicants must adhere to the stated deadline in the notification of intent.

D.5 Funding Restrictions

U.S. Embassy New Zealand will not consider applications that reflect any type of support for any member, affiliate, or representative of a designated terrorist organization. No entity listed on the Excluded Parties List System in SAM is eligible for any assistance.

Federal awards generally will not allow reimbursement of pre-Federal award costs; however, the grants officer may approve pre awards cost on a case by case basis. Generally, construction costs are not allowed under U.S. Embassy New Zealand awards.

D.6 Other

All application submissions must be emailed to publicaffairsusnz@state.gov.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that an application has been received in its entirety. U.S. Embassy New Zealand bears no responsibility for applications not received before the due date or for data errors resulting from transmission.

Faxed and couriered documents will not be accepted. Reasonable accommodations may, in appropriate circumstances, be provided to applicants with disabilities or for security reasons.

Applicants must follow all formatting instructions in the applicable solicitation and these instructions.

APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

E.1 Criteria

Evaluators will judge each application individually against the following criteria, listed below in order of importance, and not against competing applications.

Quality of Project Idea.

Applications should be responsive to the NOFO, appropriate in the regional context, and should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the stated mission.

Project Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives.

A strong application will include a clear articulation of how the proposed project activities contribute to the overall project objectives, and each activity will be clearly developed and detailed. A comprehensive monthly work plan should demonstrate substantive undertakings and the logistical capacity of the organization. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable results-focused and achievable in a reasonable time frame. Applications should address how the project will engage relevant stakeholders and should identify local partners as appropriate. If local partners have been identified, U.S. Embassy New Zealand strongly encourages applicants to submit letters of support from proposed in-country partners. Additionally, applicants should describe the division of labor among the direct applicant and any local partners. If applicable, applications should identify target areas for activities, target participant groups or selection criteria for participants, and the specific roles of sub-awardees, among other pertinent details. In particularly challenging operating environments, applications should include contingency plans for overcoming potential difficulties in executing the original work plan and address any operational or programmatic security concerns and how they will be addressed.

Institution’s Record and Capacity.

U.S. Embassy New Zealand will consider the past performance of prior recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants. Applications should demonstrate an institutional record of responsible fiscal management and full compliance with all reporting requirements for past grants. Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the project’s objectives.

Cost Effectiveness.

U.S. Embassy New Zealand strongly encourages applicants to clearly demonstrate project cost effectiveness in their application, including examples of leveraging institutional and other resources. However, cost-sharing or other examples of leveraging other resources is not required and does not need to be included in the budget. Inclusion in the budget does not result in additional points awarded during the review process. Budgets however should have low and/or reasonable overhead and administration costs and applicants should provide clear explanations and justifications for these costs in relation to the work involved. All budget items should be clearly explained and justified to demonstrate its necessity, appropriateness, and its link to the project objectives.

Please note: If cost-share is included in the budget then the recipient must maintain written records to support all allowable costs that are claimed as its contribution to cost-share, as well as costs to be paid by the Federal government. Such records are subject to audit. In the event the recipient does not meet the minimum amount of cost-sharing as stipulated in the recipient’s budget, U.S. Embassy New Zealand’s contribution may be reduced in proportion to the recipient’s contribution.

Multiplier Effect/Sustainability.

Applications should clearly delineate how elements of the project will have a multiplier effect and be sustainable beyond the life of the grant. A good multiplier effect will have an impact beyond the direct beneficiaries of the grant. A strong sustainability plan may include demonstrating continuing impact beyond the life of a project.

Project Monitoring and Evaluation.

Complete applications will include a detailed plan (both a narrative and table) of how the project’s progress and impact will be monitored and evaluated throughout the project. Incorporating a well-designed monitoring and evaluation component into a project is one of the most efficient methods of documenting the progress and results (intended and unintended) of a project. Applications should demonstrate the capacity to provide objectives with measurable outputs and outcomes and engage in robust monitoring and assessment of project activities. The quality of the M&E plan will be judged on the narrative explaining how both monitoring and evaluation will be carried out, as well as who will be responsible for those related activities. For each performance indicator, the table should also include baselines and yearly and cumulative targets, data collection tools, data sources, types of data disaggregation, and frequency of monitoring and evaluation. There should also be metrics to capture how project activities target the most at risk and vulnerable populations or addresses their concerns, where applicable.

FEDERAL AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

F.1 Federal Award Notices

U.S. Embassy New Zealand will provide a separate notification to applicants on the result of their applications. Successful applicants will receive a letter electronically via email requesting that the applicant respond to panel conditions and recommendations. This notification is not an authorization to begin activities and does not constitute formal approval or a funding commitment.

Final approval is contingent on the applicant successfully responding to the panel’s conditions and recommendations, being registered in required systems, and completing and providing any additional documentation requested by U.S. Embassy New Zealand. Final approval is also contingent on final review and approval by the Department of State’s warranted grants officer.

The notice of Federal award signed by the Department of State’s warranted grants officers is the sole authorizing document. If awarded, the notice of Federal award will be provided to the applicant’s designated Authorizing Official via email to be counter-signed.

F.2 Administrative and National Policy Requirements

The Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards set forth in 2 CFR Chapter 200 (Sub-Chapters A through F) shall apply to all non- Federal entities, except for assistance awards to Individuals and Foreign Public Entities (for more information on these exceptions, see Chapters 5, Federal Assistance to Individuals, and 6, Federal Assistance to Foreign Public Entities Directive.) Sub-Chapters A through E shall apply to all foreign organizations, and Sub-Chapters A through D shall apply to all U.S. and foreign for-profit entities.

The applicant/recipient of the award and any sub-recipient under the award must comply with all applicable terms and conditions, in addition to the assurance and certifications made part of the Notice of Award. The Department’s Standard Terms and Conditions can be viewed at https://www.state.gov/m/a/ope/index.htm

F.3 Reporting

Applicants should be aware that U.S. Embassy New Zealand awards will require regular financial and progress reporting. The Federal Financial Report (FFR or SF-425) is the required form for the financial reports. The progress reports must include a coversheet with information about the award, a narrative attachment as described below; and information about progress made on the Project Indicators, using a mutually agreed upon format approved by the grants officer.

Narrative progress reports should reflect the focus on measuring the project’s impact on the overarching objectives and should be compiled according to the objectives, outcomes, and outputs as outlined in the award’s Scope of Work (SOW) and in the 

Monitoring and Evaluation

(M&E) Statement. An assessment of the overall project’s impact should be included in each progress report. Where relevant, progress reports should include the following sections:

  • Relevant contextual information (limited);
  • Explanation and evaluation of significant activities of the reporting period and how the activities reflect progress toward achieving objectives, including meeting benchmarks/targets as set in the M&E plan. In addition, attach the M&E plan, comparing the target and actual numbers for the indicators;
  • Any tangible impact or success stories from the project, when possible;
  • Copy of mid-term and/or final evaluation report(s) conducted by an external evaluator; if applicable;
  • Relevant supporting documentation or products related to the project activities (such as articles, meeting lists and agendas, participant surveys, photos, manuals, etc.) as separate attachments;
  • Description of how the Recipient is pursuing sustainability, including looking for sources of follow-on funding;
  • Any problems/challenges in implementing the project and a corrective action plan with an updated timeline of activities;
  • Reasons why established goals were not met;
  • Data for the required indicator(s) for the reporting period as well as aggregate data by fiscal year;
  • Additional pertinent information, including analysis and explanation of cost overruns or high unit costs, if applicable.
  • A final narrative and financial report must also be submitted within 90 days after the expiration of the award.

Please note: delays in reporting may result in delays of payment approvals and failure to provide required reports may jeopardize the recipient’s ability to receive future U.S. government funds.

U.S. Embassy New Zealand reserves the right to request any additional programmatic and/or financial project information during the award period.

CONTACT INFORMATION

For technical submission questions related to this solicitation, please contact Natalie Wilkins at wilkinsnd@state.gov or Mara Hosoda, hosodam@state.gov

OTHER INFORMATION

Applicants should be aware that U.S. Embassy New Zealand understands that some information contained in applications may be considered sensitive or proprietary and will make appropriate efforts to protect such information. However, applicants are advised that U.S. Embassy New Zealand cannot guarantee that such information will not be disclosed, including pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or other similar statutes.

The information in this NOFO is binding and may not be modified by any U.S. Embassy New Zealand representative. Explanatory information provided by U.S. Embassy New Zealand that contradicts this language will not be binding. Issuance of the NOFO and negotiation of applications does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the U.S. government. U.S. Embassy New Zealand reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the project evaluation requirements.

This NOFO will appear on www.grants.gov and the U.S. Mission New Zealand website.