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Notice of Funding Opportunity 2024 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF 2024)
25 MINUTE READ
December 1, 2023

Overview

The U.S. Mission to Spain and Andorra announces an open competition for past participants (“alumni”) of U.S. government-funded and U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs to submit applications to the 2024 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF 2024). We are seeking proposals from teams of at least two alumni that meet all program eligibility requirements below.

Deadlines for Applications: 

Exchange alumni interested in participating in AEIF 2024 should submit proposals to spainpdgrants@state.gov no later than February 20, 2024, 18:00 h.

Proposals Budget from $5,000 – $35,000

Program description

AEIF provides alumni of U.S. sponsored and facilitated exchange programs with funding to expand on skills gained during their exchange experience to design and implement innovative solutions to global challenges facing their community. Since its inception in 2011, AEIF has funded nearly 500 alumni-led projects around the world through a competitive global competition.

Program objectives

The U.S. Mission welcomes proposals for creative, engaging projects that align with our strategic objectives. These include:

  1. Stimulating collaborations between Spanish and/or Andorran organizations and those in the United States working to defend human rights and democracy and the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in Spain, Andorra, and worldwide.
  2. Encouraging Spaniards and/or Andorrans to take action in the fight against the climate crisis.
  3. Increasing the number of Spaniards who actively promote U.S.-Spain security and defense partnerships and the NATO Alliance.
  4. Sharing information with Spanish and/or Andorran audiences about educational opportunities, short-term exchanges, summer work programs, or English language learning in the United States.
  5. Building support for women’s entrepreneurship, innovation, and STEM education to expand new economic opportunities in Spain and/or Andorra.
  6. Strengthening the digital, science, and technology ecosystem in Spain and Andorra through stronger connections in these sectors with the United States.
  7. Expanding media literacy to raise awareness of fake news and other malign influence tactics and to render ineffective disinformation campaigns targeting Spain.
  8. Increasing regional and global alumni collaboration by bringing alumni together to build or expand alumni networks.

Please be aware that projects funded through this grant must include an American element. This could involve:

  1. a connection or partnership between Spanish and/or Andorran and American organizations or institutions;
  2. an American expert taking part, in person or virtually, in your project;
  3. high lightening or examining shared values and interests between Spain and/or Andorra and the United States;
  4. incorporating a U.S. approach or method you have learned about to address an issue or challenge facing your community, institution, or profession.

Grant activities may take any number of forms, including academic competitions, conferences, workshops, courses, curriculum development, hackathons or app development, online projects, mock trials or moot court competitions, simulations and role-playing activities (e.g., Model Congress, Model United Nations), performances, or other activities.

Eligibility information

1. Eligible Applicants:

The following individuals are eligible to apply:

  • Applicants must be alumni of a U.S. government-funded exchange program.
  • Alumni who are U.S. citizens may not submit proposals, but U.S. citizen alumni may participate as team members in a project.
  • Alumni teams may be comprised of alumni from different exchange programs and different countries.
  • Applications must be submitted by exchange alumni. Not-for-profit, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and academic institutions are not eligible to apply in the name of the organization but can serve as partners for implementing project activities.


2. Cost Sharing:

Inclusion of cost share is not a requirement of this opportunity.

 

3. Grant Program Area:

Proposals must address the program objectives mentioned above. All project activities must take place in Spain or Andorra, or if presented in collaboration with alumni from other countries, must take place outside the United States and its territories.


4. Other Eligibility Requirements:

If the grant will be processed with an individual, that individual is not required to be registered in SAM.gov. However, should the grant be processed with an organization that is a partner in the project, that organization must have be fully registered on SAM.gov, with an assigned Unique Entity Identifier (UEI).

Organizations must have a commitment to equal opportunity employment practices and to non-discrimination practices with regard to beneficiaries, without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.

Applicants are only allowed to submit one proposal.

Application and submission information

1. Address to Send Application Packages

Application and budget templates need to be sent to spainpdgrants@state.gov

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

Applications and budgets must be submitted using the official AEIF 2024 application and budget forms. Please download the forms.

Follow all instructions below carefully. Proposals that do not meet the requirements of this announcement or fail to comply with the stated requirements will be ineligible.

Please ensure:

  • The proposal clearly addresses the goals and objectives of this funding opportunity.
  • The proposal addresses all questions in the official AEIF 2024 application form.
  • All documents are in English
  • The budget is in U.S. dollars and is submitted using the designated AEIF 2024 budget form.
  • All pages are numbered.

The following information is required:

Proposal: The proposal should contain enough information so that anyone not familiar with it would understand exactly what the alumni team wants to do.  Proposals must include the following:

  • Project Team Information: At least two exchange alumni team members are required for a project to be considered for funding. Applications need to provide the name and contact information, describe the role each team member will have in the project and their experience, qualifications, and ability to carry out that role. Applicants need to indicate what proportion of the team member’s time will be used in support of the project.
  • Proposal Summary: A short narrative which outlines the proposed project, including challenge/s to be addressed, project objectives, and anticipated impact.
  • Project Goals and Objectives: The goal/s of the proposed project need to describe what the project is intended to achieve and include the objectives supporting the goal/s. Objectives should be specific, measurable, and realistically achievable in a set time frame.
  • Project Methods, Design, and Timeline: A description of how the project is expected to solve the stated problem and achieve the goal/s. This should include a description of the project’s direct and indirect beneficiaries as well as a plan on how to continue the program beyond the grant period, or the availability of other resources, if applicable. The proposed timeline of activities should include the dates, times, and locations of the planned activities and events. Applicants may also submit information on proposed workshops and/or training agendas and materials.
  • Local Project Partners: A list of partners who will support the proposed project, if applicable.
  • Communication Plan: It should include a communication and outreach strategy for promoting the proposed project. It may include social media, websites, print news, or other forms of media intended to use to share information about the project to beneficiaries and the public. Communications should include AEIF 2024, Exchange Alumni, and U.S. Embassy branding.
  • Project Monitoring and Evaluation Plan: The Monitoring and Evaluation component of the proposal should outline in detail how the proposal’s activities will advance the program’s goals and objectives. This should include any outcomes showing a change in knowledge, awareness, and attitudes; improved quality of services; increased capacity at a school, group; etc. Proposals should also include how the grantee will measure the impact of planned activities.
  • Budget Justification Narrative: Applicants must submit a detailed budget and budget narrative justification utilizing the template provided. Line-item expenditures should be listed in the greatest possible detail. Budgets shall be submitted in U.S. dollars and final grant agreements will be conducted in U.S. dollars.

Budget Restrictions: AEIF 2024 does not support the following activities or costs, and the selection committee will deem applications involving any of these activities or costs ineligible:

  • Any airfare to/from the United States and its territories
  • Activities that take place in the United States and its territories
  • Staff salaries, office space, and overhead/operational expenses
  • Large items of durable equipment or construction programs
  • Alcohol, excessive meals, refreshments, or entertainment
  • Academic or scientific research
  • Charitable or development activities
  • Provision of direct social services to a population
  • Individual scholarships
  • Social travel/visits
  • Gifts or prizes
  • Duplication of existing programs
  • Institutional development of an organization
  • Venture capital, for-profit endeavors, or charging a fee for participation in project
  • Support for specific religious activities
  • Fund-raising campaigns
  • Support or opposition of partisan political activity or lobbying for specific legislation

Review and selection process

Evaluation Criteria: Mission Spain will screen and pre-select proposals and a Selection Committee made up of regional and exchange program experts located at the Department of State in Washington, DC will make the final decision. Panelists will use the criteria below to review and evaluate applications:

  • Relevance to Application Theme: The proposal provides sufficient information on how the activities will support the theme(s) of the competition. The narrative explains any relevant local context the DC Selection Committee may not be aware of in relation to this project.  Proposed project ideas must be public diplomacy in nature (i.e. not development or military).
  • Purpose and Summary, Description, and Implementation Plan: When developing the purpose, summary, description, and implementation plan, applicants should aim to make all descriptions clear, concise, and compelling.  Reviewers will judge the proposals based on the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the community where it is undertaken.  Does the project address an important gap of understanding or need?  If the aim of the project is achieved, how will existing knowledge or practice be improved?  What audience do the applicants hope to reach with this project?  How many will participate?  How will they be selected?
  • Degree of Alumni Involvement: Projects must include the involvement of at least two (2) exchange alumni.  They may be the project team leaders or collaborate directly with the U.S. Mission Public Diplomacy Section (PDS) in formulating the project.  More than two alumni may comprise the team, however, the minimum is two.  As the team leaders, the alumni must be closely involved in project planning, implementation, etc.  Applicants should ensure that the proposal includes the following information for each alumni team member: first name, last name, e-mail address, exchange program, country of citizenship, and roles and responsibilities.
  • Participation and Support from Local Partners: The proposal demonstrates buy-in and support from the community where the project will take place. Local partner involvement is a strong sign that there is community support and that the project will engage a broad array of experts, such as subject matter experts, community centers, academic institutions, businesses, local/national government, non-governmental organizations, American Spaces, etc.
  • Evaluation and Impact of the Project: A monitoring & evaluation (M&E) plan is pivotal to project implementation and important tracking progress towards the project’s objectives and goals.  An M&E plan should consider the data needed to effectively monitor progress toward specific outputs and outcomes as well as how that data collection will be accomplished.  Well-crafted indicators should be used to understand a program’s progress toward the desired results.  The M&E plan will be reviewed in base of following factors:
    • Completion
    • Applicability and logic of objectives and indicators
    • Clear approach to monitoring
    • Adherence to SMART criteria
    • Feasibility of baselines and targets
    • Data quality plan
    • Capacity to implement the plan
  • Sustainability: Applicants should consider how the project will continue to have positive impact after the end of the project.
  • Communication, Media, and Outreach Plan: The project should include a clear plan and timeline for how and when the team will share information about the project.  The award recipient must also comply with U.S. Mission and U.S. Department of State branding and community guidelines, as detailed in the award.
  • Budget and Budget Narrative: Reviewers will ensure that the budget and narrative justification are sufficiently detailed; costs are reasonable in relation to the proposed activities and anticipated results; the budget is realistic, accounting for all necessary expenses to achieve proposed activities; the results and proposed outcomes justify the total cost of the project and budget items are reasonable, allowable, and allocable.

Disclaimer: This notice is subject to availability of funding. U.S. Mission to Spain and Andorra does not guarantee availability of funding by receiving applications under this announcement. Only successful applicants will be contacted.

Federal award administration information

The grant award will be written, signed, awarded, and administered by the Grants Officer. The assistance award agreement is the authorizing document, and it will be provided to the recipient for review and signature by email. The recipient may only start incurring program expenses beginning on the start date shown on the grant award document signed by the Grants Officer.

If a proposal is selected for funding, the Department of State has no obligation to provide any additional future funding. Renewal of an award to increase funding or extend the period of performance is at the discretion of the Department of State.

Issuance of this grant does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the U.S. government, nor does it commit the U.S. government to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of proposals. Further, the U.S. government reserves the right to reject any or all proposals received.

Payment Method: Payments will be made through Electronic Funds Transfer (ACH/EFT). Payment schedules will be worked out with grantees, after the grant is issued. The Recipient is required to refund to the U.S. Government any unexpended funds related to a reduction in scope of the federal assistance activity or purpose after the completion of the program.

Reporting Requirements: Recipients will be required to submit financial reports and program reports. The award document will specify how often these reports must be submitted.