Grant Opportunities

Department of State’s Bureau of NEA/AC seeking Applications for MEPI Local Grants Program

Department of State’s Bureau of NEA/AC seeking Applications for MEPI Local Grants Program

Deadline: 25 February 2020

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Office of Assistance Coordination (NEA/AC) is seeking applications for MEPI Local Grants Program to foster meaningful and effective partnerships between citizens, civil society, the private sector, and governments to resolve local challenges and promote shared interests in the areas of participatory governance and economic opportunity and reform.

Focusing on promoting stability and prosperity in the region, MEPI supports partnerships through projects that are responsive to emerging opportunities by being field-driven, applying evidence-based decision-making, and designing results-oriented projects.

The MEPI Local Grants Program seeks projects that build links between and among citizens, civil society, government, and the private sector, and are responsive to emerging opportunities at the local level in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The program supports projects that align with U.S. foreign policy goals and promote U.S. interests in the region, enhancing stability, and increasing prosperity across MENA.

Objectives

  • developing, promoting, and implementing locally designed solutions to self identified environmental, economic, or social problems through civic engagement or economic participation;
  • fostering inclusive economic growth that reaches marginalized communities, youth, and women;
  • advancing participatory governance through promoting citizens’ engagement and decision makers’ willingness to work with citizen groups and civil society organizations;
  • improving civil society’s representation of the needs of citizens through collective action on the local level;
  • working towards gender parity in economics and/or politics;
  • increasing youth engagement in meaningful economic and civic activities; and 7 fostering innovative approaches to solving social, economic, or political issues.

Goals

  • Develop and promote locally designed solutions to environmental, economic, or social problems.
  • Foster inclusive economic growth that reaches marginalized communities, youth, and women.
  • Encourage citizens’ engagement in participatory governance and decision-makers’ willingness to work with citizen groups and civil society organizations.
  • Increase civil society’s representation of the needs of citizens through collective action on the local level.
  • Work towards gender parity in politics and/or economics.
  • Increase youth engagement in meaningful economic and civic activities.
  • Foster innovative approaches and solutions.

Priority Areas

Participatory Governance:

  • Enable civil society to effectively interact with government officials to increase responsiveness to citizen needs. Enhance citizens’ ability to actively participate in their governments and develop a more informed citizenry.
  • Enable government officials’ engagement with, and responsiveness to, their citizens to resolve issues of shared concern.

Economic Reform:

  • Enable citizens, policy makers, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector with the skills and resources to provide economic opportunity, foster economic growth, and promote improved business enabling environments.

Funding Information

  • Estimated Total Program Funding: $4,000,000
  • Award Ceiling: $500,000
  • Award Floor: $50,000

Eligible Countries and Territories

In this announcement, applicants seek to support projects in the Middle East and North Africa region except in the following locations: Egypt, Libya, West Bank, Gaza, United Arab Emirates, and Oman. Please note: Applications that focus on activities in the excepted countries and territories listed above will NOT be considered.

Project Design

In addition to the overarching MEPI objectives and requirements identified above, projects must meet country-specific project priority areas as outlined below:

Algeria

  • Country Priorities:
    • Support for Civil Society: Enable CSOs to reach out to both constituents and local and national government counterparts in order to increase citizen participation in decision making processes and governance. Sample activities under this priority could include but are not limited to:
      • Strengthening CSOs’ administrative, financial, and programmatic capacities.
      • Offering interactive spaces for citizens to identify and prioritize local needs.
      • Creating communication channels to promote effective, reliable, and transparent bridges between citizens and local authorities.
      • Conducting advocacy activities to advance specific policy goals resulting in demonstrable outcomes and impacts during the project timeframe.
    • Economic Growth: Increase youth employability through job placements and/or the creation of effective and sustainable businesses. Applicants should have business sustainability plans and established relationships with employers, demonstrated through a letter of intent or formal partnership. Sample activities under this priority could include but are not limited to:
      • Equipping youth, especially in rural areas and areas with high unemployment rates, with soft and technical skills and place them in long-term employment opportunities.
      • Developing policies and procedures related to job-related training to align with identified market needs based on employer feedback and job placement outcomes.
      • Creating mentoring opportunities and incubations mechanism to scale up nascent or small and medium sized businesses to a sustainable level
  • Geographic/Thematic Focus: Projects must target at least one of the following populations: youth, women, and/or people living with disabilities. Priority will be given to geographic areas outside the main cities and to MEPI alumni. Applicants must demonstrate the process of assessing the implications for women, men, and other groups of any planned action at social, economic, and political levels in their project narrative through implementation and evaluation.
  • Specific eligibility requirements:
    • Eligible applicants include: Local civil society organizations, non-profit organizations, community groups, non-governmental organizations, professional associations, private sector organizations, and universities based in Algeria, which have obtained all required registrations.
    • Priority will be given to applicants who have previously implemented or managed international awards in an amount of at least $50,000.

Bahrain

  • Country Priorities: As civil society matures in Bahrain, CSOs need support for new approaches and solutions to solving Bahrain’s development challenges. The three thematic areas of environmental, social, and economic problems are fields where CSOs currently operate, but could benefit from additional support. Additionally, innovation in developing relationships between government, academic institutions, businesses, and civil society will assist in expanding the role local organizations play in promoting equitable political and economic solutions. Empowering youth voices, in particular, to fuel economic development and maturation of civil society, will be important to keeping talented youth invested in staying in Bahrain and participating in its development.
  • Geographic/Thematic Focus: Proposals are open to all population and policy areas with a special focus on underserved youth.
  • Specific eligibility requirements: Partnerships will be made with officially registered organizations, professional associations, private sector organizations, or academic institutions.

Israel

  • Country Priorities:
    • Economic empowerment of disadvantaged groups through advocacy, skills training that leads to job placement, integrating into high-tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem, regional cooperation, and industrial/tech zones.
    • Strengthening policing partnerships with local authorities and relevant key holders, especially in communities that have protested the prevalence of violence and lack of police support.
    • Building leadership skills and professional capacities through non-partisan projects for diverse political and social activists.
    • Promoting awareness of rights and civic education within the Bedouin community, with particular emphasis on women.
    • Working towards gender parity and enhancing the participation of women and minority communities in political life and civil society in advancing peace and security issues.
  • Geographic/Thematic Focus: Target beneficiaries will be from periphery communities and disadvantaged groups, as well as relevant key policy figures.
  • Specific eligibility requirements:
    • NGO’s or non-profit institutions including academia with headquarters based in Israel
    • Must be registered with the Israeli Ministry of Justice
    • Implementers of a MEPI Local Grant with a current MEPI project still under implementation by August 1, 2020 are not eligible to apply to this funding opportunity.
    • Priority will be given to applicants with at least two years of experience. Applicants are encouraged to have have exisiting private sector or government partnerships when relevent.

Jordan

  • Country Priority:
    • The lack of effective engagement between government and citizens and the proliferation of demonstrations as a primary means of communication with the government make it clear that dialogue between the government and the people has broken down. Better communication requires government efforts to expand meaningful outreach and build trust with civil society at all levels, while civil society must be supported to effectively advocate for local needs and cultivate an active citizenry across the country. At the same time, economic opportunities for youth and the unemployed remain an existential need for both young people and their families, and gender gaps persist in workforce participation and among other genderdiscriminatory laws and practices that affect women’s ability to earn a livelihood and become leaders and decision-makers. Improving two-way communication between the government and the populace and enhancing active civic engagement accountable are important steps, while young people’s need for greatly expanded economic opportunities must also be addressed in parallel to build greater trust in government and defuse public frustration with current economic policies, perceptions of corruption, and declining living standards.
  • Geographic/Thematic Focus:
    • Priority will be given to projects that target disadvantaged areas including, but not limited to:
      • Southern governorates: Aqaba, Ma’an, Tafileh, and Karak
      • Northern governorates: Irbid, Ajloun, and Jerash
      • Middle region: Zarqa, Madaba, East Amman, and Central Badia

Kuwait

  • Country Priorities:
    • The Embassy encourages applications that target building the CSOs capacity to effectively interact with government officials to promote the following goals:
      • Kuwait citizens, and particularly Kuwaiti women, develop greater civil participation in government and increase confidence in political institutions.
      • Civil society organizations and/or private sector organizations to help develop local solutions to labor rights violations and trafficking-in-persons, marginalized populations in Kuwait, and/or gender equality.
  • Geographic/Thematic Focus: Stateless people, domestic violence, gender parity, civil society organizations.
  • Specific eligibility requirements:
    • Registered nonprofit companies, registered or unregistered civil society organizations, and societies can all apply to MEPI local grants.
    • It is preferred that applicants have existing private and government sector partnerships, like MOU’s or ongoing partnerships

Lebanon

  • Country Priorities:
    • Removal or mitigation of barriers to economic growth through an improved business and investment climate and reducing other impediments identified in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” report. Assistance in the establishment of new micro and small business start-ups and the expansion of existing ones, and/or improving economic selfsufficiency of marginalized groups, for example, people with disabilities.
    • A citizenry informed about peaceful political participation and civic action within the legal framework of Lebanon’s Constitution, and prepared to engage with Lebanon’s government to advocate for and implement reforms.
  • Geographic/Thematic Focus:
    • Priority will be given to proposals which include regions outside the greater Beirut area. Successful proposals should focus on one or both of the following areas of priority:
      • Encourage citizens’ engagement in participatory governance and decision-makers’ willingness to work with citizen groups and civil society organizations. Examples could include, but are not limited to:
        • Creating linkages with international advocacy organizations to education civil society leaders effective that could advance reforms Fostering lines of communication between decision makers and civil society to address the need for critical economic and political reforms, create viable solutions and regain public trust in governance.
        • Creating linkages with international advocacy organizations to education civil society leaders on effective peaceful, legal civic actions that could advance reforms within the framework of the Lebanese Constitution;
        • Innovative measures to improve government service delivery and reduce opportunities for corruption, for example, through e-governance;
        • Partnerships with relevant government institutions to bring Lebanese government policies and procedures closer to international standards and best practices.
      • Foster inclusive economic growth. Examples could include, but are not limited to:
        • Business incubation centers or other direct assistance to micro and small business start-ups, and expansion of existing businesses;
        • Programs fostering inclusive economic growth; for example, providing training, coaching, and mentoring to marginalized groups – such as the disabled – to enable them to be economically productive and self-sustaining;
        • Fostering Lebanese exports and/or establishing new local production as substitutes for goods typically imported;
        • Partnerships with relevant government institutions to improve Lebanon’s business and investment climate, for example, by reducing regulatory barriers identified in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” report.
  • Specific eligibility requirements:
    • Registered civil society organizations (CSOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community groups, professional or educational organizations, or other for-profit or nonprofit groups. Priority will be given to organizations with demonstrated competence in the areas of focus of their proposed activities.
    • Public-private partnerships are encouraged where relevant. In such cases, applicants are encourged to establish a Memorandum of Understanding or letter of intent with the target ministry or other governmental body.

Morocco

  • Country Priorities:
    • Foster inclusive economic growth: Proposals must focus on creating jobs, promoting economic advancement, and bridging the gap between the education system and the job market. Activities could include but are not limited to:
      • Promoting the creation of small- and medium-size businesses by providing technical assistance to address challenges to private sector development, including legal procedures, and difficulties in accessing finance.
      • Improving job seekers’ skills and employability through technical and skills training that lead to placement in internships and employment opportunities.
    • Encourage citizens’ engagement in the electoral process or participatory governance and decision-makers’ willingness to work with citizen groups and civil society organizations:
      • Proposals must be innovative, sustainable, and actively support increased dialogue between citizens, civil society, and local government with the goal of effectively addressing the needs of the community. Activities could include but are not limited to:
        • Preparing citizens to be active and informed participants in the electoral process in the run up to the 2021 elections.
        • Expanding local civic education efforts that promote transparency, public safety, gender equality, and a deeper understanding of citizens’ rights in innovative, measurable, and sustaining ways.
        • Increasing citizen awareness and participation, particularly among young women and men, of avenues of participation and communication with local government. This could include knowing who to contact for various services or educational information. Ideally, youth-led organizations would find innovative ways to engage youth on issues that matter the most to them and provide innovative ways for youth to interact with peers and local government bodies.
  • Geographic/Thematic Focus: Projects that have a focus on cities or rural areas other than Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakech, and Beni Mellal are preferred.
  • Specific eligibility requirements: Applicant organizations must be registered with the Government of Morocco.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Eligible applicants include local civil society organizations, non-profit organizations, community groups, non-governmental organizations, professional associations, private sector organizations, and universities based in the Middle East and North Africa region except Egypt, West Bank, Gaza, United Arab Emirates, and Oman.
  • NEA/AC is committed to an anti-discrimination policy in all of its programs and activities.
  • NEA/AC welcomes applications irrespective of an applicants’ race, ethnicity, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. They encourage applications from organizations working with underserved communities, including women, people with disabilities, and youth.
  • For more information, visit https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=322439

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