Funding brief: The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Statements of Interest (RSOI) from organizations interested in submitting Statements of Interest (SOI) for programs that support Internet Freedom. In support of the U.S. International Strategy for Cyberspace, DRL’s goal is to protect the open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet by promoting fundamental freedoms, human rights, and the free flow of information online through integrated support to civil society for technology, digital safety, policy and advocacy, and applied research programs. DRL invites organizations interested in potential funding to submit SOI applications outlining program concepts that reflect this goal.
● Funding Theme #1: Technology: Uncensored and Secure Access to the Global Internet
● Funding Theme #2: Digital Safety
● Funding Theme #3: Policy and Advocacy
● Funding Theme #4: Applied Research
Key Program Considerations: The following list of program considerations is provided as a guide to help applicants develop responsive, robust program proposals. This list of considerations will not be used as criteria to evaluate SOI applications.
● Preference will be given to open source technologies with practical deployment and sustainability plans. These technologies are inherently more transparent and re-usable. At the same time, DRL recognizes that anti-censorship tools may at times rely on non-publicly disclosed information or code for a small portion of their code base.
● Consistent with DRL’s venture-capital style approach to Internet freedom, projects should have a model for long-term sustainability beyond the life of the grant.
● DRL encourages applicants to foster collaborative partnerships, especially with local organization(s) in target countries and/or regions, where applicable. Where appropriate, applicants are invited to form consortia for submitting a combined proposal, but the primary organization that is developing and deploying the anti-censorship technology must be the lead (“prime”) applicant.
● DRL strives to ensure its programs advance the rights and uphold the dignity of the most at-risk and vulnerable populations.
Activities that are not typically considered competitive include, but are not limited to:
● Academic research with no immediate application; theoretical exploration of technology and/or security issues;
● Purchases of bulk hardware or bulk licenses for commercial encryption or technology products;
● Technology and tools that dictate or suggest specific content;
● Technology development without a clear human rights use case in an Internet repressive environment, or without a clear threat model and understanding of adversarial efforts;
● Alternative communications technologies or systems that do not utilize Internet protocols or infrastructure, and are not devised to provide access to censored Internet content;
● Study tours, scholarships or exchange projects;
● Projects that focus on expansion of Internet infrastructure, commercial law or economic development;
● Projects that focus on a single country rather than a regional or global approach;
● Stand-alone public awareness campaigns and/or public awareness campaigns not directly tied to one of the four funding categories listed above;
● Projects not sufficiently connected to real-world impact of improving Internet freedom environments in any country or region; and,
● Activities that go beyond an organization’s demonstrated competence, or without clear evidence of the ability of the applicant to achieve the stated impact.
Projects should aim to have impact that leads to democratic reforms, and should have the potential for sustainability beyond DRL resources. DRL’s preference is to avoid duplicating past efforts by supporting new and creative approaches. This does not exclude from consideration projects that improve upon or expand existing successful projects in a new and complementary way.
To maximize the impact and sustainability of the award(s) that result(s) from this SOI/NOFO, DRL reserves the right to execute a non-competitive continuation amendment(s). Any non-competitive continuation is contingent on performance and availability of funds. A non-competitive continuation is not guaranteed; the Department of State reserves the right to exercise or not exercise the option to issue non-competitive continuation amendment(s).
Due to the determination made under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) for FY 2019, certain assistance may be subject to a restriction under the TVPA. Because the TVPA restriction applies only to assistance to governments, activities proposed for those countries should not include government beneficiaries.
Funding Opportunity Number: SFOP0006232
Donor Name: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labor (DRL)
Funding name: No specific fund name
Deadline: There will be two deadlines for submission of SOIs – September 20, 2019 and Mar, 06th, 2020 . An organization may submit no more than two (2) SOIs per deadline. Organizations that submit applications to the first deadline may also submit applications to the second deadline, regardless of the outcome of their previous applications(s).
Funding details link: Click to view
Funding limit: Estimated Total Program Funding: $14,000,000, Award Ceiling: $3,000,000, Award Floor: $500,000
Special Notes: Please contact with the donor directly for further clarification and understanding.
Project start date: On average, successful applicants receive funding about 9 months from the SOI submission date.
Project duration: DRL Internet freedom programs typically run for 1-3 years.
Eligible organization: As below
Eligibility: Organizations submitting SOIs must meet the following criteria:
● Be a U.S.- or foreign-based non-profit/non-governmental organization (NGO), or a public international organization; or
● Be a private, public, or state institution of higher education; or
● Be a for-profit organization or business (noting there are restrictions on payment of fees and/or profits under grants and cooperative agreements, including those outlined in 48 CFR 30, “Cost Accounting Standards Administration”, and 48 CFR 31, “Contract Cost Principles and Procedures”); and
● Have existing, or the capacity to develop, active partnerships with thematic or in-country partners, entities, and relevant stakeholders including private sector partner and NGOs; and
● Have demonstrable experience administering successful and preferably similar programs. DRL reserves the right to request additional background information on organizations that do not have previous experience administering federal awards. These applicants may be subject to limited funding on a pilot basis.
Applicants may form consortia and submit a combined SOI. However, one organization should be designated as the lead applicant with the other members as sub-award partners.
DRL’s preference is to work with non-profit entities; however, there may be occasions when a for-profit entity is best suited. For-profit entities should be aware that its application may be subject to additional review following the panel selection process, and that the Department of State generally prohibits profit under its assistance awards to for-profit or commercial organizations. Profit is defined as any amount in excess of allowable direct and indirect costs. The allowability of costs incurred by commercial organizations is determined in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) at 48 CFR 30, Cost Accounting Standards Administration, and 48 CFR 31 Contract Cost Principles and Procedures. Program income earned by the recipient must be deducted from the program’s total allowable costs in determining the net allowable costs on which the federal share of costs is based.
DRL is committed to an anti-discrimination policy in all of its programs and activities. DRL welcomes SOI submissions irrespective of race, ethnicity, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or other status.
No entity listed on the Excluded Parties List System in the System for Award Management (SAM) is eligible for any assistance or can participate in any activities under an 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 CFR1989 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.
Organizations are not required to have a valid Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number—formerly referred to as a DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number—and an active SAM.gov registration to apply for this solicitation through SAMS Domestic. However, if a SOI is approved, these will need to be obtained before an organization is able to submit a full application. Therefore, we recommend starting the process of obtaining a SAM.gov registration as soon as possible. Please note that there is no cost associated with UEI or SAM.gov registration.
● Priority Regions: SOIs focused globally or focused on any region will be considered. Applications should prioritize work in Internet-repressive environments.
Eligible Country: No country bar found (Open to all regions-Conditional)
Submission mail: Not found
How to apply: Interested applicant may apply through the website (Click to view).
Complete SOI submissions must include the following:
● Completed and signed SF-424 and SF-424B, as directed on SAMS Domestic or Grants.gov (please refer to DRL’s PSI for SOIs for guidance on completing the SF-424); and,
● Program Statement (not to exceed three  pages in Microsoft Word) that includes:
A table listing:
Name of the organization;
The target country/countries;
● The total amount of funding requested from DRL, total amount of cost-share (if any), and total program amount (DRL funds + cost-share); and,
A synopsis of the program, including a brief statement on how the program will have a demonstrated impact and engage relevant stakeholders. The SOI should identify local partners as appropriate;
A concise breakdown explicitly identifying the program’s objectives and the activities and expected results that contribute to each objective; and,
A brief description of the applicant(s) that demonstrates the applicant(s) expertise and capacity to implement the program and manage a U.S. government award.
Technically eligible SOIs are those which:
● Arrive electronically via SAMS Domestic or Grants.gov by 11:30 p.m. ET on Friday, September 20, 2019 and Friday, March 6, 2020 under the announcement titled “FY 2019 DRL Internet Freedom Annual Program Statement,” funding opportunity number “SFOP0006232”;
● Are in English;
● Heed all instructions and do not violate any of the guidelines stated in this solicitation and the PSI for Statements of Interest.
For all SOI documents please ensure:
● All pages are numbered;
● All documents are formatted to 8 ½ x 11 paper; and,
● 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 can be reformatted to fit within one page width.Visit all Funding opportunities: Click to view
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