Notice of Funding Opportunity: Rural Innovation and Pivoting Hackathon

Notice of Funding Opportunity

Announcement Type: Grant
Funding Opportunity Title: Rural Innovation and Pivoting Hackathon NOFO
Funding Opportunity Number: S-DR860-NOFO-20-006
Date Opened: Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Closing Date and Time for Submission of Application: August 24, 2020
CFDA Number: 19.040 – General Department of State Assistance
Eligibility Category: American and/or Dominican based committed and organized civil-society organizations, think tanks, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions.

Total Amount Available: $25,000
Electronic Requirement: Applications must be submitted by email to the email address listed below.


The Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo, U.S. Department of State, announces an open competition for individuals and organizations to submit applications to carry out a rural innovation and pivoting hackathon, to develop technology-based ideas and solutions to help small and medium businesses in rural areas of the Dominican Republic mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Proposals should include YLAI program resources including the online courses, the online network and YLAI fellows.

Please carefully follow all instructions below:

The U.S. Embassy, Santo Domingo seeks proposals from U.S. and/or Dominican-based higher education institutions and non-profit organizations, that meet all eligibility requirements outlined below.

Organizations should submit proposals via email to by August 24, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.

Project Purpose:
The goal of this virtual program is to bring together entrepreneurs, students, and academia, to receive hands-on training on innovation and business pivoting and develop technology-based solutions that mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in rural areas of the Dominican Republic. The participants will share ideas and form teams to work remotely and develop technological solutions that empower rural entrepreneurs and rural development. The program should provide spaces for the participants to connect, learn best practices on rural business development, promote health and safety measures against COVID-19, and to receive training on business innovation and pivoting. The working teams will develop technology-based solutions that help businesses pivot their strategy and approach or create new opportunities for economic growth and development in their communities. These proposals should promote the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative resources such as the online courses and the YLAI network. At the end of the program, the teams should pitch their projects to a panel composed by program facilitators and mentors, U.S. Embassy representatives, and business leaders, and compete for small seed funding of to kickstart their projects. These seed funds must amount to at least the ten percent (10%) of the program budget, and can be awarded to more than one proposal. A distribution and selection criteria for seed funds should be included the proposal.

Participants and Audiences:
This virtual event should bring together 40 young entrepreneurs, students, teachers, and business leaders ages 18 to 40, with background in, but not limited to, the fields of technology, social management, design, business, and development.

Allowable Activities and Costs:
Please note that a meeting with U.S. Embassy staff prior to the start of the program should be included in the proposal.

Activities that are typically funded include, but are not limited to:
• Online platforms to carry out the program
• Virtual trainer or speaker expenses
• Reasonable equipment and materials

Activities that are not typically funded include, but are not limited to:
• Grants to individuals
• Academic or scientific research
• Paying to complete activities begun with other funds
• Projects that are inherently political in nature or that contain the appearance of partisanship/support to individual or single party electoral campaigns
• Sustained staff salaries, office space, and overhead/operational expenses
• Large items of durable equipment or construction programs
• Alcohol, excessive meals, refreshments, or entertainment
• Charitable or development activities or the provision of direct social services to a population
• Programs that support specific religious activities
• Fundraising campaigns

Suggested activity guidelines:
• Dialogues should be between small groups, large group, to one-on-one if appropriate.
• Involve skilled facilitators at each point of connection to guide conversation and ensure deep engagement for all participants.
• Take time for participants to get to know each other personally.
• Some of the virtual connections should be in small-group format, five or less, so that as many participants as possible get a chance to interact directly.
• Design your training components to so that participants create and execute a joint project together that each group will carry out separately.
• Participants should have incentives or milestones to achieve to interact with one another beyond their project as well.
• Include an introductory event with remarks and participation of U.S. Embassy representatives.
• Include a closing event to present the project results. This event should be live streamed. Integrate a variety of evaluation tools and methods to ensure participants reach program goals, learning, and participant outcomes and outputs. Please use the following logic model template to measure success of the program at the end:

Inputs Activities Output Short-term Outcomes Long-term Outcomes
What are the resources invested to start and maintain the program? What activities will you implement? What are the immediate results of those activities? What are the intermediate results of the intervention? What are the long-term results due to the program intervention?


Sample program timeline:

Day one
• Welcome remarks with U.S. Embassy, implementing partners and facilitators
• Program induction
• Learning activity: Panorama of rural businesses in the Dominican Republic
• Learning activity: Challenges and opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) against COVID-19
• Creation of teams
• Working sprints

Day two
• Working sprint: Project development
• Mentoring sessions

Day three
• Working sprint: Project development
• Mentoring sessions

Day four
• Pitch development and creation of project presentations

Day five
• Pitch presentation
• Panel selects top proposals for seed funding
• Closing event

One week after program closing
• Post program evaluation

One month after program closing
• Post program evaluation of the impact completed
• Follow up with working teams


Length of performance period: 6-12 months
Number of awards anticipated: 01 awards (dependent on amounts)
Award amounts: awards may range from a minimum of $5,000 to a maximum of $25,000
Total available funding: $25,000
Type of Funding: FY20 Smith Mundt Public Diplomacy Funds
Anticipated program start date: 09-30-2020

This notice is subject to availability of funding.

Funding Instrument Type: Grant, Fixed Amount Award, or Cooperative Agreement. Cooperative agreements are different from grants in that bureau/embassy staff are more actively involved in the grant implementation.

Program Performance Period: Proposed programs should be completed in 12 months or less.


1. Eligible Applicants

The following organizations are eligible to apply:
• Not-for-profit organizations, including think tanks and civil society/non-governmental organizations
• Public and private educational institutions
2. Cost Sharing or Matching

No cost share is required for this award competition.
3. Other Eligibility Requirements

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 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


• Address to Request Application Package
Application forms required below are available at the U.S. Embassy website.
• Content and Form of Application Submission (DOC, 202 KB)
Please 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.

Content of Application
Please ensure:
• The proposal clearly addresses the goals and objectives of this funding opportunity
• All documents are in English
• All budgets are in U.S. dollars
• All pages are numbered
• All documents are formatted to 8 ½ x 11 paper, and
• All Microsoft Word documents are single-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, with a minimum of 1-inch margins.

The following documents are required:
1. Mandatory application forms
• SF-424 (Application for Federal Assistance – organizations)
• SF424A (Budget Information for Non-Construction programs)
• SF424B (Assurances for Non-Construction programs)

2. Summary Page: Cover sheet stating the applicant name and organization, proposal date, program title, program period proposed start and end date, and brief purpose of the program.

3. Proposal (10 pages maximum): The proposal should contain sufficient information that anyone not familiar with it would understand exactly what the applicant wants to do. You may use your own proposal format, but it must include all the items below.
• Proposal Summary: Short narrative that outlines the proposed program, including program objectives and anticipated impact.
• Introduction to the Organization or Individual applying: A description of past and present operations, showing ability to carry out the program, including information on all previous grants from the U.S. Embassy and/or U.S. government agencies.
• Problem Statement: Clear, concise and well-supported statement of the problem to be addressed and why the proposed program is needed
• Program Goals and Objectives: The “goals” describe what the program is intended to achieve. The “objectives” refer to the intermediate accomplishments on the way to the goals. These should be achievable and measurable.
• Program Activities: Describe the program activities and how they will help achieve the objectives.
• Program Methods and Design: A description of how the program is expected to work to solve the stated problem and achieve the goal. Include a logic model as appropriate.
• Proposed Program Schedule and Timeline: The proposed timeline for the program activities. Include the dates, times, and locations of planned activities and events.
• Key Personnel: Names, titles, roles and experience/qualifications of key personnel involved in the program. What proportion of their time will be used in support of this program?
• Program Partners: List the names and type of involvement of key partner organizations and sub-awardees.
• Program Monitoring and Evaluation Plan: This is an important part of successful grants. Throughout the time-frame of the grant, how will the activities be monitored to ensure they are happening in a timely manner, and how will the program be evaluated to make sure it is meeting the goals of the grant?
• Future Funding or Sustainability Applicant’s plan for continuing the program beyond the grant period, or the availability of other resources, if applicable.

4. Budget Justification Narrative: After filling out the SF-424A Budget (above), use a separate sheet of paper to describe each of the budget expenses in detail. See section H. Other Information: Guidelines for Budget Submissions below for further information.

5. Attachments :
• 1-page CV or resume of key personnel who are proposed for the program
• Letters of support from program partners describing the roles and responsibilities of each partner
• If your organization has a NICRA and includes NICRA charges in the budget, your latest NICRA should be included as a PDF file.
• Official permission letters, if required for program activities
• Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (

Required Registrations:
Any applicant listed on the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS) in the System for Award Management (SAM) is not eligible to apply for an assistance award in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 CFR 180 that implement Executive Orders 12549 (3 CFR, 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 CFR, 1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension.” Additionally, no entity listed on the EPLS can participate in any activities under an award. All applicants are strongly encouraged to review the EPLS in SAM to ensure that no ineligible entity is included.

All organizations applying for grants (except individuals) must obtain these registrations. All are free of charge:
• Unique entity identifier from Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS number)
• registration

Step 1: Apply for a DUNS number and an NCAGE number (these can be completed simultaneously)

DUNS application: Organizations must have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number from Dun & Bradstreet. If your organization does not have one already, you may obtain one by calling 1-866-705-5711 or visiting

NCAGE application: Application page here:

Instructions for the NCAGE application process: (PDF, 

For NCAGE help from within the U.S., call 1-888-227-2423
For NCAGE help from outside the U.S., call 1-269-961-7766
Email for any problems in getting an NCAGE code.

Step 2: After receiving the NCAGE Code, proceed to register in by logging onto: SAM registration must be renewed annually.

1. Submission Dates and Times

Applications are due no later than August 30, 2020, 2020 at 11:59 P.M.

2. Other Submission Requirements

All application materials must be submitted by email to


1. Criteria

Each application will be evaluated and rated on the basis of the evaluation criteria outlined below.

Quality and Feasibility of the Program Idea – 25 points: The program idea is well developed, with detail about how program activities will be carried out. The proposal includes a reasonable implementation timeline.
Organizational Capacity and Record on Previous Grants – 25 points: The organization has expertise in its stated field and has the internal controls in place to manage federal funds. This includes a financial management system and a bank account.

Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives – 15 points: Goals and objectives are clearly stated and program approach is likely to provide maximum impact in achieving the proposed results.
Budget – 10 points: The budget justification is 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.
Monitoring and evaluation plan – 15 points: Applicant demonstrates it is able to measure program success against key indicators and provides milestones to indicate progress toward goals outlined in the proposal. The program includes output and outcome indicators, and shows how and when those will be measured.
Sustainability – 10 points: Program activities will continue to have positive impact after the end of the program.

2. Review and Selection Process

A Grants Review Committee will evaluate all eligible applications.

3. Federal Awardee Performance & Integrity Information System (FAPIIS)

For any Federal award under a notice of funding opportunity, if the Federal awarding agency anticipates that the total Federal share will be greater than the simplified acquisition threshold on any Federal award under a notice of funding opportunity may include, over the period of performance (see §200.88 Simplified Acquisition Threshold), this section must also inform applicants:

i. That the Federal awarding agency, prior to making a Federal award with a total amount of Federal share greater than the simplified acquisition threshold, is required to review and consider any information about the applicant that is in the designated integrity and performance system accessible through SAM (currently FAPIIS) (see 41 U.S.C. 2313);

ii. That an applicant, at its option, may review information in the designated integrity and performance systems accessible through SAM and comment on any information about itself that a Federal awarding agency previously entered and is currently in the designated integrity and performance system accessible through SAM;

iii. That the Federal awarding agency will consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to the other information in the designated integrity and performance system, in making a judgment about the applicant’s integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards when completing the review of risk posed by applicants as described in §200.205 Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants.


1. Federal Award Notices

The grant award or cooperative agreement 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 NOFO 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: Please note that according to the U.S. government’s federal assistance policy, recipients do not receive advance payments in excess of their “immediate cash needs.” In general, up to 20% of the grant total is withheld as a final payment to ensure that final reports are submitted by grantees. All successful applicants will be provided with this information upon award of funds.

• Administrative and National Policy Requirements
Terms and Conditions: Before submitting an application, applicants should review all the terms and conditions and required certifications which will apply to this award, to ensure that they will be able to comply. These include:

2 CFR 200, 2 CFR 600, and the Department of State Standard Terms and Conditions which are available at:
Note the U.S Flag branding and marking requirements in the Standard Terms and Conditions.

2. Reporting

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. Please find links to the documents below.
• Narrative Report Instructions SF-PPR[PDF, 269 kB]
• Federal Financial Report SF-425[PDF, 575 kB]
• Instructions for the Federal Financial Report[PDF, 160 kB]


If you have any questions about the grant application process, please contact:


Guidelines for Budget Justification
Personnel and Fringe Benefits: Describe the wages, salaries, and benefits of temporary or permanent staff who will be working directly for the applicant on the program, and the percentage of their time that will be spent on the program.

Travel: Estimate the costs of travel and per diem for this program, for program staff, consultants or speakers, and participants/beneficiaries. If the program involves international travel, include a brief statement of justification for that travel.

Equipment: Describe any machinery, furniture, or other personal property that is required for the program, which has a useful life of more than one year (or a life longer than the duration of the program), and costs at least $5,000 per unit.
Supplies: List and describe all the items and materials, including any computer devices, that are needed for the program. If an item costs more than $5,000 per unit, then put it in the budget under Equipment.

Contractual: Describe goods and services that the applicant plans to acquire through a contract with a vendor. Also describe any sub-awards to non-profit partners that will help carry out the program activities.

Other Direct Costs: Describe other costs directly associated with the program, which do not fit in the other categories. For example, shipping costs for materials and equipment or applicable taxes. All “Other” or “Miscellaneous” expenses must be itemized and explained.

Indirect Costs: These are costs that cannot be linked directly to the program activities, such as overhead costs needed to help keep the organization operating. If your organization has a Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate (NICRA) and includes NICRA charges in the budget, attach a copy of your latest NICRA. Organizations that have never had a NICRA may request indirect costs of 10% of the modified total direct costs as defined in 2 CFR 200.68.

“Cost Sharing” refers to contributions from the organization or other entities other than the U.S. Embassy. It also includes in-kind contributions such as volunteers’ time and donated venues.

Alcoholic Beverages: Please note that award funds cannot be used for alcoholic beverages.

Thank you for your interest in the U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs Small Grant Program.
[1] U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo Mission Statement: