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Secretary's War Widows Program

Request for Proposals: Secretary's War Widows Program

December 18, 2009

Public Notice

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues Request for Proposals: Secretary’s War Widows Program

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) and the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) announce a Request for Proposals (RFP) from organizations interested in submitting proposals to support and address the specific challenges and needs of widows and female heads of households in Iraq, in particular poor, isolated, and/or illiterate widows and female heads of households, including but not limited to rural areas, in multiple governorates. The Department of State recognizes that women’s empowerment and equal and active civic involvement are key components of a thriving society. The Department is therefore deeply committed to ensuring that women’s rights are fully integrated into U.S. foreign policy.

To address the concerns and needs of women in Iraq, DRL and S/GWI announce an open competition for assistance from the U.S. Department of State’s Fiscal Year 2009 Economic Support Funds (ESF) from organizations interested in submitting proposals for projects that focus on immediate support for widows and female heads of household in Iraq. Organizations should have a demonstrated capacity to work in Iraq on issues related to women and are encouraged to demonstrate how their proposed projects would address needs not covered by existing or other planned programs in Iraq and provide measurable outcomes. Applicants are also highly encouraged to identify local partners and NGOs in Iraq for segments of their proposed work plan. This request for proposals does not guarantee funding and is subject to approval by the Ambassador-at-Large of S/GWI, the Assistant Secretary of DRL, and the Office of Acquisitions Management.

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Applications should consider how to ensure the greatest possible degree of support among Iraqis for the stated objectives. Organizations are invited to submit proposals that provide a compelling country-oriented rationale and comprehensively outline and develop program concepts and capacity to manage projects that will address one or more of the following priorities:
• Projects that support efforts to increase awareness of and access to existing legal and social services, such as the Government of Iraq widow stipend program; of particular interest are projects that focus on and encourage financial independence and sustainable income-generating opportunities.
• Projects that identify, recruit, and train Iraqi widows and female heads of household in literacy, entrepreneurship, and practical career-building skills that enable them to engage in the economy with competitive and practical skills reflecting cultural and market conditions.
• Projects that build training programs with a focused follow-on component regarding job placement and assistance, particularly working with Iraqi NGOs that have demonstrated capability of providing results-oriented training on career-building skills and job placement support; partnership and coordination with the private sector are also encouraged.
• Projects that assist local organizations in securing micro-grant opportunities from other sources to encourage practical and innovative small and medium businesses.
• Projects that support and strengthen project implementation and sustainability through buy-in and partnerships with the Government of Iraq and local communities.
• Projects that strengthen advocacy, increase human rights awareness, and support the integration and self-sufficiency of women as active members of their communities to address issues of concern to Iraqi women, particularly widows and female heads of household.
• Projects that support and promote women’s human rights, women’s health, and the inclusion of women in the social, political, and economic fabric of Iraqi society.
• Projects that include and foster coordination and partnerships among local groups and organizations that aim to enhance the empowerment of Iraqi widows and female heads of household as effective members of Iraqi civil society.
• Proposals should address coordination with Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) and with the international community and other USG-funded entities in Iraq, if applicable.
• Proposals should demonstrate awareness of cultural sensitivities and address initiatives to ensure safety of participants.

Proposals should conform to DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), available at (For this solicitation, applicants must use the Revised PSI dated October 2009). An organization may submit no more than one proposal addressing this RFP.

For all application documents, please ensure:
1) All pages are numbered, including budgets and attachments;
2) All documents are formatted to 8 ½ x 11 paper, and
3) All Microsoft Word documents are single-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, with a minimum of 1-inch margins.

Complete applications should include the following for proposal submission:
1. Completed and signed SF-424, SF-424a and SF424b, as directed on

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 one [1] page in Microsoft Word) that includes:
a) the target country(ies);
b) name and contact information for the project’s main point of contact;
c) a one-paragraph “statement of work” or synopsis of the program and its expected results;
d) a concise breakdown of the project’s objectives and activities;
e) the total amount of funding requested and program length, and
f) a brief statement on how the project is innovative, sustainable, and will have a demonstrated impact.
4. Proposal Narrative should not exceed ten [10] pages in Microsoft Word. Please note the 10-page limit does not include the Table of Contents, Executive Summary, Attachments, Detailed Budget, Budget Narrative, or NICRA. Applicants may submit multiple documents in one Microsoft Word file: i.e., Table of Contents, Executive Summary, Proposal Narrative, and Budget Narrative in one file or as separate, individually submitted files. Submissions should address the specific criteria outlined in the solicitation, and may include:
a) Proposals should clarify how the program is innovative and necessary in the country: This may include how program methods are creative or approach an issue in a new and unique way. Moreover, an explanation should be provided as to how new activities will not duplicate or merely add on to existing activities.

b) Demonstrated Program Planning: The program plan should clearly describe the proposed objectives and activities, demonstrating clear linkages between activities and objectives. If applicable, proposals should identify local partners, target areas for activities, target participant groups or selection criteria for participants, and purpose/criteria for subgrants, among other pertinent details. Where appropriate, applicants may include back-up plans if the program or components of the program are not able to be implemented as initially conceived.

c) Multiplier Effect and Sustainability: The proposal should demonstrate how the program will include elements of sustainability and achieve lasting impact.

d) Institution’s Record and Capacity: The organization should briefly describe any experience it has in Iraq and/or similar experience elsewhere, as well as specific and relevant program successes that demonstrate the organization’s record and capacity. Given the page limitations, it is recommended that applicants avoid including general organizational history.
5. Budget Narrative (preferably in Microsoft Word) that includes an explanation/justification for each line item in the detailed budget spreadsheet, as well as the source and description of all cost-share offered. For ease of review, it is recommended that applicants order the budget narrative as presented in the detailed budget. Primarily Headquarters- and Field-based personnel costs should include a clarification on the roles and responsibilities of key staff. In addition, it is recommended that budget narratives address the overall cost-effectiveness of the proposal, including any cost-share offered (see below for more information on cost-sharing and cost-effectiveness).

6. Detailed Line-Item Budget (preferably in Microsoft Excel or similar spreadsheet format) that includes three [3] columns including DRL and S/GWI request, any cost-sharing contribution, and total budget (see below for more information on budget format). Costs should be in USD.

7. Attachments (not to exceed seven [7] pages total, preferably in Microsoft Word) that include the following in order:
a) Pages 1-2: Monitoring and Evaluation Plan (see below for more information on this section).
b) Page 3: Short bios of key program personnel that highlight relevant professional experience. Given the limited space, CVs are not recommended for submission.
c) Page 4: Timeline of the overall proposal. Components should include activities, evaluation efforts, and program closeout.
d) Page 5-7: Additional optional attachments. Attachments may include further timeline information, letters of support, memorandums of understanding/agreement, etc. For applicants with a large number of letters/MOUs, it may be useful to provide a list of the organizations/government agencies that support the program rather than the actual documentation.
8. If your organization has a negotiated indirect cost rate agreement (NICRA) and includes NICRA charges in the budget, your latest NICRA should be sent as a .pdf file. This document will not be reviewed by the panelists, but rather used by program and grant staff if the submission is recommended for funding. Hence, this document does not count against the submission page limitations. If your proposal involves subgrants to organizations charging indirect costs, and those organizations also have a NICRA, please submit the applicable NICRA as a .pdf file (see below for more information on indirect cost rate).

Note: To ensure all applications receive a balanced evaluation, the DRL and S/GWI Review Committee will review the first page of the requested section up to the page limit and no further. DRL and S/GWI encourage organizations to use the given space effectively.

Organizations must also fill out and submit SF-424, SF-424A, and SF-424B forms as directed on
Please fill in the highlighted yellow fields and use the following guideline for the SF-424:
1. Type of Submission: Application
2. Type of Application: New
5b. Federal Award Identifier: Please enter zeros or leave blank
8a. Please enter name of applicant (organization)
8b. Please enter the organization’s EIN or TIN number
8c. Please enter the organization’s DUNS number
8d. Please enter the organization’s address
8f. Please enter the name, telephone number and e-mail address of the primary contact person for this proposal
9. Please select type of applicant from pull down list
11. The CFDA number is 00.000
12. Please enter the Funding Opportunity Number (similar to DRL-07-GR-018-MW-010101) and Title (similar to Global Request for Statements of Interest).
15. Please enter descriptive title of project
16a. Please enter congressional district of applicant organization
16b. Please enter N/A or zeros
17. Please enter the approximate start and end dates of the proposed activities
18. Please enter the amount requested from the USG under “Federal,” any cost-share under “Applicant,” fill in the total, and otherwise use zeros.
19. Please enter “c”
20. Complete as indicated
21. Complete as indicated
Please fill in the highlighted yellow fields of the SF 424A with information from your proposed budget.

Please fill in the highlighted yellow fields of the SF-424B:
Page 2 - Complete applicant organization and title of authorized official sections.
Strong monitoring and evaluation plans incorporate performance indicators for all program activities and include benchmarks, or targets, for each indicator. Performance indicators are ways to objectively assess the degree of success a program has had in achieving its stated objectives, goals, and planned program activities. Performance indicators should address the direct products and services delivered by a program (outputs), and the results of those products and services (outcomes). Findings on outputs and outcomes should both be reported.
Outputs, which are products and services delivered from the program activities, are often stated as an amount. Output data show the scope or size of project activities, but they cannot replace information about progress toward outcomes or the project’s impact. Outputs may include the number of people trained or the number of seminars conducted. An example of a program output: train 100 civil society organization members in organizational fundraising.
Outcomes, in contrast, represent the specific, realistic results of a project and are usually measured as an extent of change. Outcomes may include progress toward expected program objectives or other results of the program. For example, a program’s objective could be to increase the participation of female candidates in elections. One outcome of the program would be that after receiving training, women run and win seats in the Parliament.

DRL and S/GWI recommend that applicants include a clear description of the methodology and data collection strategies/tools to be employed (e.g., pre- and post-surveys, interviews, focus groups) and, where feasible, samples of evaluative tools such as draft survey questionnaires. DRL and S/GWI expect that the grantee will track participants or partners as appropriate and be able to respond to key evaluation questions, including satisfaction with the program/training, information learned as a result of the program/training, changes in attitude and behavior as a result of the program, and effects of the program on institutions in which participants work or partner institutions. Applicants should include the monitoring and evaluation process in their timeline.
Overall, the quality of your monitoring and evaluation plan will be judged on how well it incorporates the above-mentioned components. Since a quality evaluation should be as objective and unbiased as possible, DRL and S/GWI highly encourage all applicants to include an independent evaluation (e.g., hiring an outside evaluator to assess the program from its inception) as part of their overall monitoring and evaluation plan. Costs for an outside evaluation may be charged to the grant.

DRL and S/GWI will not consider proposals that reflect any type of support for any member, affiliate, or representative of a designated terrorist organization, whether or not elected members of government.
The bulk of project activities must target the requested country and should last between one and three years. U.S.-based activities, study tours, scholarships, or exchange projects will not be deemed competitive. Projects that have a strong academic, research, conference, or dialogue focus will not be deemed competitive.
Awards are contingent on the availability of funds. DRL and S/GWI have approximately $5 million in ESF available for the Secretary’s War Widows Program grant awards. Grants are expected to range approximately between $500,000 and $1 million. All awards will support program and administrative costs required to implement the program. DRL and S/GWI anticipate making grant awards in spring 2010.
Organizations submitting proposals must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a registered U.S. non-profit organization meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c) (3). Applicants in the process of registration must submit proof that they are seeking non-profit status from the Internal Revenue Service at the time of proposal submission. Should the applicant be selected for a grant award, funding will be contingent upon 501(c)(3) status; or

  • Be a U.S. university or research institution meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c) (3); and

  • Have demonstrated experience administering successful projects, preferably targeting the requested country and/or region, or similarly challenging program environment. DRL and S/GWI reserve the right to request additional background information on organizations that do not have previous experience administering federal grant awards. These applicants may be subject to limited funding on a pilot basis; and

  • Have existing, or the capacity to develop, active partnerships with organization(s) in the target country and/or region.

  • Organizations may form consortia and submit a combined proposal. However, one organization should be designated as the lead applicant.

DRL and S/GWI will review all proposals for eligibility. Eligible proposals will be subject to compliance of Federal and Bureau regulations and guidelines and may also be reviewed by the Office of the Legal Adviser or by other Department elements. Final technical authority for assistance awards resides with the Department’s Grants Division.

Proposals will be funded based on an evaluation of how the proposal meets the solicitation review criteria, U.S. foreign policy objectives, and priority needs. A Department of State Review Committee will evaluate proposals submitted under this request. Review criteria will include:

1) Quality of Program Idea
Proposals should be responsive to the solicitation and exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the ESF mission. DRL and S/GWI typically do not fund continuation programs but innovative, stand-alone programs.

2) Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives
A relevant work plan should demonstrate substantive undertakings and logistical capacity of the organization. The work plan should adhere to the program overview and guidelines described above. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable and achievable. For complete proposals, applicants should provide a monthly timeline of project activities.

3) Multiplier Effect/Sustainability
Proposed programs should address long-term institution building with an emphasis on moving towards sustainability, garnering other donor support, or demonstrating capacity-building results.

4) Program Evaluation Plan
Programs should demonstrate the capacity for effective monitoring, engage in impact assessments, and provide objectives with measurable outputs and outcomes. It is highly recommended that projects propose an independent evaluation with a clear plan.

5) Institution’s Record and Capacity
DRL and S/GWI will consider the past performance of prior recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants. Proposals should demonstrate an institutional record of successful programs, including 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. Roles and responsibilities of primary staff should be provided.

6) Cost Effectiveness
The overhead and administrative components of the proposal, including salaries and honoraria, should be kept as low as possible. All other items should be necessary and appropriate. Given that the majority of DRL and S/GWI-funded programs take place overseas, U.S.-based costs should be kept to a minimum. Cost sharing is strongly encouraged and is viewed favorably by DRL and S/GWI reviewers.
Applicants must submit proposals using by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on January 20, 2010.

Please note: In order to safeguard the security of applicants’ electronic information, utilizes a credential provider to ensure that we can determine, with certainty, that someone really is who they claim to be.

The credential provider for is Operational Research Consultants (ORC). Applicants MUST register with ORC to receive a username and password which you will need to register with as an authorized organization representative (AOR). Once your organization's E-Business point of contact has assigned these rights, you will be authorized to submit grant applications through on behalf of your organization.

Each organization will need to be registered with the Central Contractor Registry (CCR) and you will need to have your organization's DUNS number available to complete this process. After your organization registers with the CCR, you must wait 3 business days before you can obtain a username and password. This may delay your ability to post your proposal. Therefore, DRL and S/GWI strongly encourage applicants to begin this process on well in advance of the submission deadline.

No exceptions will be made for organizations that have not completed the necessary steps to post applications on


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