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SMALL GRANTS PROGRAM: U.S. EMBASSY IN YEREVAN
05.01.2019

DEMOCRACY COMMISSION SMALL GRANTS PROGRAM 2019

U.S. EMBASSY IN YEREVAN

U.S. Embassy Yerevan is pleased to announce the first round of the Democracy Commission Small Grants Program competition for fiscal year 2019. The program funds initiatives that develop democracy, promote respect for human rights, and support civic education in Armenia.

Purpose

The purpose of the program is to award small sums of money for specific projects and initiatives that support the development of democratic institutions in Armenia. Grants will be awarded to non‑governmental organizations (NGOs) and local independent media outlets. To be eligible for consideration, every applicant must submit a project proposal aimed at furthering the development of democratic institutions in Armenia. Projects must incorporate a concrete plan of activities aimed at and leading to positive changes in the democratic environment and citizens’ civic involvement in Armenia. In order for a project proposal to be successful, the application must be focused on one or more aspects of democratic building, must contain a clear action plan of what is suggested to be done to bring about improvements in the given sphere and provide a convincing explanation on how the suggested activities will result in the anticipated improvements. Project results shall be measurable by their long-term impact on the strengthening of democratic institutions in Armenia.

General Guidelines

  • The maximum amount of the grant is U.S. $50,000.
  • U.S. and third-country organizations and individuals are not eligible for grants under this program.
  • The Program CANNOT fund: partisan political activity; humanitarian aid and charities or charitable activities; scientific research; fund-raising campaigns; commercial projects; trade activities; conferences and individual trips abroad; projects aiming only at primary institutional development of the organization.
  • Grants are made on a one‑time basis. A successful applicant may apply for a second grant following completion of the first grant, but the second proposal must be for a distinctly different project from the first project funded by the Democracy Commission.

Evaluation Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated according to the following criteria: relevance of the proposed project to the Democracy Commission Small Grants program goals; topic of the project; presence of clearly formulated objectives and target groups; project sustainability and the ability of the applying organization to carry out the project. Grants are appropriated locally after the responsible offices in the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. approve the project.

Application Procedures

Applicants must complete the online formal application in English providing substantial information about the applicant organization and its activities including a detailed description of the proposed project. The names of the organization's officers and a short biography of each person to be involved in the project should be attached to the application. Please note that successful organizations will have to obtain DUNS number and register in SAM. If applicants do not have DUNS number at the time of application, they can write the following numbers in answer to the question #8c “123456787”.

The application must also include a statement describing the proposed project and explaining how it will meet one or more of the Democracy Commission's goals. The proposal should contain sufficient information that anyone not familiar with it would understand exactly what the applicant wants to do and why. Please be specific and focused on the subject.

The application must contain a convincing justification of the need of the project suggested. “What is the importance of the project?”, “Why should it be funded?”, ”Who will be affected by the project?”, “What difference will it make to Armenia?” are some of the questions that the application must address. The Democracy Commission will support only those projects that will make an important contribution to the development of democracy in Armenia.

Letters of endorsement, attesting to the seriousness of the proposal, may be attached.

For joint proposals, the relationship between cooperating partners must be described; the division of responsibilities and authority between them, as well as letters of commitment from all partnering organizations must be submitted.

Sustainability

The expected long-term effects of the project should be described. It is presumed that the project or its effects will be carried over into the future after the funding from the Democracy Commission ends. Therefore, the proposal must also contain a very thorough explanation on how the organization will fund the activity in the future. Likewise, the institutional sustainability of the applicant organization following the implementation of the project should be demonstrated convincingly.

Budget guidelines

In order to be sure that the Commission understands why there is a need for funding, the applicant should prepare a line-by-line, detailed list of expenses that will be generated by this project. Budgets should be submitted in U.S. dollars. The budget should be prepared in a logical manner and offer enough detail that a reviewer will be able to understand exactly what the figures mean and how that figure was determined. Please remember that the budget in essence is a program description in financial terms and therefore its coherence and cost-efficiency is vital for the success of your application.

ALL PROJECT EXPENSES SHOULD BE CALCULATED IN ADVANCE AND BE REALISTIC. IF THE PROPOSAL SEEKS FUNDING TO PURCHASE EQUIPMENT WITH ANY SINGLE ITEM EXCEEDING $1000 IN COST, THE APPLICATION MUST INCLUDE THREE PRO-FORMA ESTIMATES FROM DIFFERENT EQUIPMENT VENDORS STIPULATING THE MARKET PRICE OF THE DESIRED ITEM. The proposal should also include a statement that explains very precisely the proposed budget so that members of the Democracy Commission will understand exactly how the money would be spent. The budget narrative should follow the actual budget presentation itself and describe in some detail the costs presented in the budget. In other words, the narrative explains, line by line, what the numbers mean and how they were determined.

Program expenses should cover costs for the project activities. They may include preparation or acquisition of literature or educational materials; honoraria to specialists or associates; travel, contracts, expenses for seminars or conferences (speaker’s fee, preparation of materials and room rental), etc.

Equipment means computer, copying machine, printer or other technical devices necessary for the fulfillment of the project (for example, the purchase of a computer for organizing a conference is not a justified expense). Remember that renting equipment for the short-term project activities is often preferable to the Commission than outright purchase.

Salaries should be paid only to the people who will have a direct and specific involvement in the project which is not otherwise within the regular scope of their duties and who will spend a majority of their time on the project. Salaries should not be requested for the on-going, operational job remuneration of the organization staff. The salary should be calculated on the total number of hours worked for the duration of the project (the percentage of the person’s monthly involvement with the project is the preferable calculation formula). Salary levels should be reasonable and no higher than other local salaries. Please bear in mind that the total amount of salaries to be funded should not exceed 20% of the total budget. Copies of job contracts must be included in the reporting to be furnished to US Embassy Yerevan Public Affairs Office if project is funded.

Administrative expenses include communication expenses (phone, fax, e-mail, postage); copying and print services; office materials and supplies (paper, toner, envelopes, etc.). Please bear in mind that this category of expenses will be funded only in exceptional cases when linked directly to the project activities and vital to the project success. Applicants should not request funding for administrative expenses to cover the on-going institutional needs of their organization. As in the case of the salaries, applicants are expected to be able to cover part of the expenses associated with the implementation of the project.

The use of “miscellaneous expenses” as a budget item is unacceptable.

Meals not integral to a program event are not acceptable grant expenses. An effort should be made to secure funding from other sources for food costs. When these costs cannot be supported otherwise they should be clearly justified and limited to a maximum of 10% of the total award amount. This includes expenses associated with individual per diems for grant-related activities.

Entertainment costs not integral to a program event (amusement, diversion, social activities, ceremonies, alcoholic beverages, cocktail parties) are not allowable expenses.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE BUDGET ITEMS CANNOT BE CHANGED DURING THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROJECT WITHOUT WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE GRANTS OFFICER

Grants for publication of materials should describe the intended audience, content, and how materials will be distributed. Grants for seminars/workshops should describe the expected audience, content, and timeframe. If a seminar or a training workshop is proposed in the application, it should also contain the attachments of the training materials that will be used for the training.

Notification of Applicants/Length of Grant Process

All applicants will be notified in writing regarding the decision of the Democracy Commission once the application has been reviewed.

In the case of successful proposals, the complete grant process (from the date of the deadline for submission of the applications to the time the funds are available for use) usually takes up to 10 weeks. Please note that for the current round of the program, grant funds will be disbursed upon receipt of the official communication from the Department of State, Washington, DC on the availability of funds for this fiscal year.

Grant Awards and Report Requirements

Awards will be made in two or more segments. An initial segment will be authorized to initiate the project. The applicant must provide an interim report about the use of the first segment of funds before additional funds will be released. If no interim report is provided or if the report is unsatisfactory, no additional funds will be released.

Final Reports

All grant recipients must submit a formal report to the Grants Officer upon completion of the project. The report should discuss what was done, whether the project was successful from the applicant's perspective and how it might be improved in the future. Copies of video materials, CDs and other video and audio aids generated during the implementation of the project attesting to the success of the grant activities are welcome, and sometimes required indeed. An accounting of the use of the grant funds and all relevant receipts must also be included. The information from this report will enable the Democracy Commission to better evaluate future proposals.

Recommendation:

Please do not send the application before you:

  • Read once again the Democracy Commission Guidelines that describe the Small Grants Program. Make sure you understand those guidelines and that your proposal fits the purposes it discusses.
  • Carefully review the application to make sure it is complete and free of errors.
  • Ask someone who does not know anything about your project to read your proposal to determine if it is understandable. Remember that the members of the Democracy Commission will not know anything about your proposal until they read it. If they cannot understand it simply by reading what you have written, it will not be approved.
  • Ask someone with experience applying for grants to look at the application and provide advice on improving it.
  • Make sure the application is neatly typed and easy to read in English. Perfect English is not required but the proposal must be understandable to an English speaker.

All applications must be written in English and submitted online via the following link bit.ly/2EJFuk9 by February 21, 2019, 18:00 local time. More information is available at: www.usa.am/announce/grants.zip (ZIP 276 KB).

 


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