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100K Frequently Asked Questions
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100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)* on Request for Proposals (RFPs)

Topics:

General Information
Innovation Network
Proposal Application
Eligibility
Proposed Partnerships
Program Duration
Program Design
Monitoring & Evaluation

 

General Information

All open RFP information is available via the Apply for a Grant button at http://www.100kstrongamericas.org/educate.
We anticipate opening a grant competition on a quarterly basis, but the best manner in which to receive announcements about future rounds is to join the Innovation Network. It is a free enrollment and you can do this via the “Join the Innovation Network” button at http://www.100kstrongamericas.org/educate.
The Innovation Fund grants are only for higher education institutions. They are not individual student scholarships. Students are encouraged to visit http://studyabroad.state.gov and www.educationusa.info for information about individual study abroad for both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens. If possible, we also recommend that you talk to the study abroad advisor at your school.

Innovation Network

The process of registering for the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Network is a requirement prior to applying for/submitting a grant proposal in response to RFPs. Click here to join now.
There is no fee to register for the Innovation Network.
There is no deadline to joining the Innovation Network; however, institutions applying in response to the RFPs should join prior to submitting an application. Institutions who elect not to apply or who are not eligible to apply in the current Competition may still register and create an account in the Innovation Network at any time in order to receive the latest information about active and upcoming rounds of innovation competition.
Registering and creating an account in the Innovation Network helps to facilitate the application process for future grants. For example, when logged in, specific fields required in every 100K application will auto-populate with answers provided previously. It can also help you and your institution track of your applications. Most importantly, being a part of the Innovation Network will ensure that you will receive messages about upcoming grant competitions, opportunities, and events.
Joining the Innovation Network is not a guarantee of winning a grant.
No. It is only necessary for your institution to register for the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Network once, although multiple individuals or divisions of an HEI may register separately if they so desire.
No. The only prerequisite to applying for a grant is to join the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Network, which is managed by Partners of the Americas.

Proposal Application

There is a limit of one submission per competition per applying individual. Applications may be sent by schools, faculties, or departments within universities and must indicate the school in the proposal cover page as the applying entity. Due to limited available funding, however, it is unlikely that multiple awards will be given to the same HEI under a single RFP even if submitted from different schools. An institution overall can be involved in proposed activities for multiple proposals within the same RFP as a partner, but schools, faculties, or departments within a single institution can only be the prime applicant for one proposal.
Proposals may have multiple key personnel involved; however, in describing their management approach, applicants must name the one person who will be ultimately responsible for implementation and reporting.

Eligibility

Institutional Eligibility
Bi-national Centers (BNCs) are eligible to apply if partnered with an in-country HEI as the prime applicant and as the institution whose capacity is to administer study abroad programs to the United States.
If a BNC is competing as prime, it must compete in partnership with at least one other in-country HEI (in addition to a partner HEI(s) in the partner country(ies). These partner institutions should be identified in the proposal. It is not necessary for a formal agreement (i.e. MOU) to have been signed before submitting the proposal, but if the proposal describes an agreed-upon partnership or desire to form one, the submission should be strengthened or letter(s) of support or any documentation indicating that such a partnership is in the development process.
Institutions that facilitate study abroad opportunities as described in the RFP and that present convincing evidence of partnership with HEIs in both the sending and receiving countries may apply either as prime applicant or in partnership with an HEI that applies as a prime applicant.
A diversity of programs may be proposed as long as they meet the criteria outlined in the RFP, which includes the requirement that the participating students receive some level of credit from their home institution. For example, an experience that provides only 2 or 3 credit hours would be eligible. As long as the HEI is legally registered within an eligible country, it can apply for the grant, no matter the length of the program under which the institution is applying.
Organizations that host university students and/or researchers can apply for a grant as part of a program if in collaboration with in-country HEI as the prime applicant.
If your organization is considered an HEI, you are eligible to apply as long as you convincingly demonstrate partnerships with HEIs in your country of operation as part of the proposed activities and demonstrate how the proposed activities will increase exchange opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate level students. If you are not an HEI, you must work with an HEI in your country that will apply as the prime.
No. Institutions that have received an Innovation Fund grant may re-apply for future grants.
Country Eligibility
RFPs are open to all higher education institutions in the Western Hemisphere (i.e. Latin America, the Caribbean, and North America only). Note that some RFPs may have geographic (country) restrictions.
There are no priority countries; however, some RFPs will have geographic (country) restrictions. In rounds that are open to all HEIs in the Western Hemisphere, we encourage diversity in country partnerships. For information on relative numbers of students studying in and from specific countries, please consult http://www.iie.org/research-and-publications/open-doors.
Because of restrictions on the sources of funding for the RFPs, there is no flexibility beyond the eligible countries listed within each RFP. However, 100,000 Strong in the Americas is a hemisphere-wide initiative and we anticipate inclusion of most countries in the region through the various rounds of competition to come in the future.
South-south exchanges between or within non-US countries are not eligible for support. Proposals from non-U.S. based HEIs must include a U.S. HEI as a partner institution.
Puerto Rico is considered to be part of the U.S.; therefore, proposals must highlight an exchange between the U.S. or Puerto Rico and one of the eligible non-U.S. countries in the Western Hemisphere.

Proposed Partnerships

Collaboration is encouraged if it meets program objectives. The prime applicant must be a single higher education institution and propose to work with at least one other HEI in the partner country(ies). Proposals may involve multiple institutions in the same country, but one institution must be designated the prime applicant responsible and accountable for implementing the proposed program.
Submitted proposals must identify the HEI(s) with whom to partner for the proposed study abroad program.
It is not necessary for a formal agreement (i.e. MOU) to have been signed before submitting the proposal, but if the proposal describes an agreed-upon partnership or desire to form one, the submission should be strengthened by letter(s) of support indicating that such a partnership is in development.
Proposals must identify higher education institution(s) with whom to partner for the proposed study abroad program. Proposals may include partnerships with institutions that facilitate study abroad opportunities as described in the RFP, but remember that the prime applicant must be a single higher education institution (HEI) and should propose to work with at least one other HEI in the partner country(ies). This is in addition to civil society, associations, government agencies, non-profit organizations, or private sector partners.

Program Duration

Though the Innovation Fund Grant funds projects for one year, proposed programs may continue beyond the timeframe of the grant. The grant aims to serve as a catalyst towards a more sustainable study abroad program that would promote student mobility in the Western Hemisphere. We understand that programs require time to establish lasting links between the partner institutions that can flourish after the termination of the formal program and multiple years of implementation.
Grant funds for winning proposals must be used and program activities, including exchanges, must take place within the agreed timeframe. With prior approval, however, use of the funds and/or implementation of the project may extend beyond the grant period. It is important to note that some RFPs may have strict conditions of funding and timing, and therefore, no flexibility will be shown in these cases. Applicant proposals must include a timeline of activities according to the timeframe of the grant, but may also add activities beyond the dates to demonstrate sustainability of the project.
There is not a specific program length requirement for the student exchange portion. As long as the experience results in some level of credit from the home institution and the proposed project meets the other criteria outlined in the RFP, the proposal will be considered.

Program Design

All academic fields are eligible, unless otherwise noted on the RFP.
Current and new programs are both eligible, as long as the proposal responds to the criteria in the RFP.
The proposal is open to building capacity to support undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate exchanges. Priority is not given to one group of students over the other and is open to all both traditional and non-traditional students.
Teacher exchanges alone do not qualify. Proposals must focus on student mobility, though some support can be used for faculty.
Two-way exchanges of students are encouraged by 100,000 Strong in the Americas, and the RFPs are designed to promote bi-directional study abroad. However, proposed programs do not have to be bi-directional. It is not a requirement that proposed programs involve reciprocal, balanced exchanges.
No.
There is no restriction, preference, or pre-determined number on where resources should be focused, which direction is priority, which groups to target, or how many should travel. Proposals will be judged by an objective panel on the basis of the criteria outlined in the RFP. However, proposals that address diversity in the profiles of students will be looked upon favorably.
As specified, the program must involve some level of credit given to the student from his/her home institution.
A diversity of programs may be proposed as long as they meet the criteria outlined in the RFP, which includes the requirement that the participating students receive some level of credit from their home institution. For example, an experience that provides only 2 or 3 credit hours would be eligible.
100,000 Strong in the Americas ultimately strives to reach a level of 100,000 students studying abroad in each direction with a face-to-face component of the study experience. Integrated proposals that involve on-line collaboration can be proposed, as long as the proposed program includes an in-person international experience that results in some level of credit from the home institution.
For the purposes of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative, only study abroad that involves physical mobility of students is counted toward the goals. However, proposals that include programs of academic study with both a significant online component and cross-border study abroad component would be eligible.
The program should involve institutional partnerships between the U.S. and a non-U.S country. An institution-led program that develops programs in the partner country(ies) without at least one partner institution in that country would be viewed less favorably.
Yes; such activities could be part of a proposed program, as long as the applicant BNC meets all other program requirements, including but not limited to partnership with at least one in-country HEI and identification of at least one U.S. partner HEI. Additionally, the program design should result in some level of academic credit for participating students from their home institution.

Budget & Cost Considerations
Proposals should propose and justify a budget for up to USD $25,000, in addition to the cost-share amount.
There is no requirement that the funding be dedicated t only one program.
• Faculty travel, including site visits to potential partner institution to establish or to build upon an existing partnership?
• Conference participation to relay sharing of information and findings from grant activities?
• Student travel, including housing, visa costs, and on-the-ground expenses?
• Student scholarships, research grants, etc.?
• Research expenses, including supplies, transportation, and other field expenses?
• Outreach/promotion or marketing materials?
• Equipment expenses?
• Creation or purchase of software that would assist in data collection on incoming international and outgoing national students (such as a database system), and/or to assist in assessing outcomes (M&E)?
• Defer student program fees or other student costs to a third-party non-profit partner?
• Subsidize non-student costs paid to a partner?
Please refer to the RFP for any restrictions in the use of grant funds. In general, the budget should be reasonable, well justified, and in accordance with activities that can be convincingly demonstrated to be related to the objectives of the proposed program. Diverse activities may be proposed as long as they are clearly described and reasonably budgeted as part of the proposed program to build the capacity of the partnering institutions, and encourage and promote mobility in either or both directions. While the Innovation Fund does not provide direct scholarships, applicant HEIs are encouraged to use portions of the grant to administer their own scholarships, travel grants, or partial funding mechanisms to students to encourage study abroad between the eligible countries.
There is no limit on the percentage of funding that should be allocated for certain activities or line items, but the budgetary description should provide justification and address sustainability of the proposal.
RFPs clearly state that the budget must provide a detailed breakdown of program costs and adhere to the format stipulated. It is recommended that you use the Budget Summary Template, adding activities as needed.
The indirect rate is typically that which an institution charges for costs associated with facilities (operation and maintenance) and administration (departmental and central), and that cannot be readily and specifically attributed to a given activity in the proposed program.
RFPs do not prescribe a specific indirect rate and grant funds may be used toward indirect costs, however, given the size of the awards, institutions may consider proposing significant counterpart funding to compensate for the lower amount of available direct program funds for the proposed project. Generally, cost-effectiveness is considered during the review process.
The RFPs do not prescribe a specific administrative rate, but cost-effectiveness will be considered during the review process. Given the size of the awards, organizations with high overhead rates may consider proposing significant counterpart funding to compensate for the lower amount of available direct program funds for the proposed project.
Proposals should focus on creating sustainable study abroad programs within HEIs. The budget should be reasonable, well justified, and in accordance with activities that can be convincingly demonstrated to be related to the objectives of the proposed program.
Budget must include cost-share, which may include cash or in-kind contributions. Non-monetary share or contribution may be included. Typically in past proposals, costs associated with laboratory usage have been included where applicable, but not classrooms. There is no minimum or maximum percentage required for the cost-share; however, applicants are strongly encouraged to provide cost sharing and additional funding on at least a 1:1 ratio in support of its proposed activities. HEIs that demonstrate cost sharing that would not happen without this grant money will be considered favorably, as an incentive to bring additional local resources to bear on increasing study abroad in the region. In previous competitions, cost sharing by winning proposals averaged more than 1.5 to 1, which means that for each $1 dollar of the grant fund, institutions (and their partners) contribute $1.5 dollars.
Either will be acceptable.
Yes, it may be conditional.
Yes, fees/tuition paid by students to participate in the proposed program can be presented as cost-share. Other examples of cost-share items include: student lodging, airfare, local transportation, meal plans, language workshops, books & materials, etc.
The funding authorized should be predominantly coordinated and spent by the applicant HEI. The decision to allocate funds to partnering institutions is up to the prime applicant; however, it is important to keep in mind that the prime applicant will be responsible for submitting periodic financial reports to the Innovation Fund.
All applications should be submitted by one primary institution. Applicant institutions that propose programs involving multiple institutions should describe the activities, roles, and budget related to those institutions. The grant will be awarded to the prime applicant institution, who is responsible for the execution and reporting on the project, including management of the budget and overall partnership.
Each applicant may only submit once per competition. The maximum award to a winning institution/ partnership is $25,000, unless specified by the RFP.
Grant funds are disbursed to winning institutions within the start of the grant period.
Institutional Capacity
This refers to the applicant’s perception of institutional support for study abroad. The diagnostic questions presented in the Online Application Form are designed to collect general non-attributable information about applying institutions with regard to study abroad to and from the U.S.
Sustainability Plan
Each institution’s Sustainability Plan will be unique. This section of the proposal should demonstrate how each HEI plans to continue to collaborate and exchange students, faculty, curriculum, etc. after the grant ends.
Yes, proposals with strong sustainability plans are viewed favorably, and it is encouraged that applicants mention ways in which their proposed program will grow beyond the grant period and funding received.
There is no set period for the sustainability plan, but longevity will be looked upon favorably.

Monitoring & Evaluation

The Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) section of the RFP describes the basic requirements for measurement metrics. The applying HEI should propose reasonable and relevant metrics for the activities proposed, recognizing the overall objectives outlined in the RFP, the proposed objectives of the applying institution’s project, and the overall goals of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative to increase study abroad between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Proposals must include a timeline of activities for program implementation (i.e. all activities), as presented in the Program Description section of the proposal. This will serve as the basis for the Innovation Fund staff to monitor grant recipient projects. A detailed schedule may be requested throughout program implementation.
It is neither expected nor discouraged.
Supporting Documents
Proposals must also include at least one letter of support; either from the applying institution, its international studies office, the partner institution(s) and/or others joining or supporting the applicant on the proposed program. No formal agreement is required between partnering institutions, but the intent to collaborate must be demonstrated. Please consult the RFP for a description of the supporting documents.
You may submit either a MoU or letter of support.
You may identify more than one PI for the proposed program. You may upload as many résumés in any format, but they should adhere to the page limits described in the RFP for annexes.
Aside from the proposal, which has a 10-page maximum, you may upload up to 10 pages of additional supporting documents that count separately towards the Annex.
No, we do not require any legal/official documents or proof of internal approvals. A letter of support is sufficient and should already reflect the level of support from the institution.
Proposal Evaluation
The scoring rubric mirrors the evaluation criteria presented in the RFP.
There are no specific innovations that are of priority or of most interest. Please refer to relevant RFP for the eligible areas of the competition.
Proposals undergo several rounds of review that span weeks to months until a group of finalists emerges, during which finalists may be asked to clarify aspects of their proposals, similar to a best-and-final-offer phase.
No, there will be no interview as part of the evaluation process.
No, we do not and will not share winning proposals. However, we do offer to provide feedback to those whose proposals are not selected.