Thursday, March 30, 2006

Iran Democracy Program Announcement

Department of State:
Bureau for Near Eastern Affairs (NEA)
Office of Middle East Partnership Initiatives (MEPI)
Funding Opportunity Title: Iran Democracy Program Announcement
Announcement Type: Pre-applications
CFDA Number: 19.500
Deadline for Pre-Applications:July 31, 2006
Federal Agency Contact: Anna Mary Portz
Telephone number: 202-776-8500

I. Funding Opportunity Description: The Office of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) announces an open competition for grant applications that support democratic governance and reform in Iran.

This represents a new MEPI funding initiative, and submissions must outline activities linked to reform and demonstrate how the proposed approach would achieve sustainable impact in Iran. Submitting organizations must articulate capacity and expertise in civil society programming and knowledge of local conditions and needs. READ MORE

Strengthening and multiplying the number of organizations engaging in democratic practices such as the rule of law, government accountability, access to independent sources of information, freedom of association and speech, and free, fair and competitive elections will increase the contributions of Iranians to their own futures and those of their society. MEPI has particular interest in supporting programs that are innovative and that meet needs and opportunities not already addressed by current donor funding.

Accordingly, this request seeks projects to broaden and deepen within Iran the means and modes of publicly expressed and responsible citizen views on reform in all its aspects. The range of possible themes and issues includes, but is not limited to:
  • freedom of association
  • the right of citizens to access independent sources of information;
  • the right to advocate responsibly on important issues and debate ideas freely with other citizens and local, regional, and national government representatives without fear of retribution, including through democratically organized and legal political parties;
  • the right to participate in local and national governance processes;
  • the right to transparent and effective government services, including regular public accountability for monies spent;
  • the right to speedy, fair, and transparent access to courts of law to settle civil, commercial, and criminal matters;
  • the right to participate as candidates and supporters in transparently organized, free, fair and competitive democratic elections.
MEPI seeks to strengthen the community of Iranian reformers at the local and national levels and support reformers with demonstrated commitment as they work to build broader alliances with new stakeholder groups around issues of core democratic values.

MEPI supports programs that link reformers within and across national boundaries and use local organizational capacity to leverage opportunities to advance reform. When a U.S. or European based NGO proposes to lead a project, we strongly encourage partnerships that will help suitable local organizations expand and become vibrant and strongly led.

Background Information about MEPI: MEPI is a Presidential initiative to promote positive change in the Middle East and North Africa through diplomatic efforts and through results-oriented programs, both regional and specific to individual countries. Reform is of strategic, long-term importance to the national security interests of the United States and to the U.S. goal of ensuring that the people of the region experience the benefits that come with more open economies, greater educational opportunities, and political freedom. A key element of MEPI is creating links and partnerships between civil societies and governments to jointly achieve sustainable reform.

Electronic Link to Full Announcement: Go to, click on Current Opportunities, and click on Iran Democracy Program Announcement.

II. Award Information:

Funding Instrument Type: Grants

Anticipated Total Program Funding: $7 million in Federal Fiscal Year 2006

NEA expects to award grants ranging from $100,000 to $1,000,000. Awards initially may be funded for up to two years, with the possibility to extend for up to one additional year based on the achievements in the first budget period, availability of funds, and the best interests of the U.S. Government.

Applicants are advised that U.S. sanctions against Iran restrict certain financial and equipment transfers to Iran and to Iranian citizens. However, awards under this RFA will fall within a license issued by the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) for activities conducted with funds awarded under announcement. Appropriate reporting requirements will be required to comply with OFAC regulations. Other restrictions may also apply. Failure to comply with applicable U.S. laws and regulations may result in forfeiture of award.

NEA reserves the right to award less, or more than the funds described, in the absence of worthy applications, or under such other circumstances as may be deemed to be in the best interest of the U.S. Government.

Ceiling on amount of individual Awards: $1,000,000

Floor of Individual Award Amounts: $100,000

Project and Budget Periods: These funds are intended for start-up initiatives. Proposed project periods may be up to three years. The initial budget period may be up to 24 months. Applications for continuation grants funded under these awards, beyond the initial budget period, will be considered on a noncompetitive basis, subject to availability of funds, satisfactory progress of the grantee, and a determination that continued funding would be in the best interest of the U.S. Government.

III. Eligibility Information: Unrestricted

Any organization may apply but MEPI encourages pre-applications from partnerships or consortia led by or including local organizations. In this context, NEA defines partnership as a negotiated arrangement among organizations that provides for a substantive, collaborative role for each of the partners in the planning and implementation of the project. Pre-applications intending to represent a coalition of providers should be prepared to provide, if requested, a signed partnership agreement stating:
  • An intent to commit or receive resources from the prospective partner(s) contingent upon receipt of funds;
  • How the partnership arrangement advances the objectives of the project;
  • Supporting documentation identifying the resources, experience, and expertise of the partner(s);
  • Evidence that the partner(s) has been involved in the planning of the project;
  • Clarification of the role of the partner(s) in the implementation of the project, evaluation, and sustainability.
IV. Pre-Application Submission and Deadline: Concept papers are not to exceed seven pages and must include an estimate of the comprehensive annual cost of tasks and activities projected in the pre-application. While a full budget is not required at this stage, a preliminary budget may be attached to the pre-application.

Selected pre-applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal in English for funding consideration and may receive technical assistance in this process.

Submission: Iran democracy pre-application materials may be submitted to the U.S. Department of State's AnnaMary Portz by e-mail sent as an attachment to, or apply online via, or to the mailing address: c/o Room 6258, 2201 C St. NW, Washington, DC 20520. Submissions shall be considered as meeting an announced deadline if they are submitted before 4 p.m. on the due date.

V. Review and Selection Process: Submissions under this announce­ment should include information addressing the following criteria. Each pre-application will be evaluated and rated on the basis of these evaluation criteria designed to assess the quality of the proposed project and to determine the likelihood of its success. The criteria are closely related and are considered as a whole in judging the overall quality of a pre-application. Only those pre-applications scoring highly enough will be invited to submit a full application for U.S. Government funds.

Results or Benefits Expected - The applicant clearly describes the results and benefits to be achieved. The applicant identifies how improvement will be measured on key indicators and provides milestones indicating progress. Proposed outcomes are tangible and achievable within the grant project period. (30 points)

Innovation and Sustainability - The applicant details innovative initiatives to build reform networks, improve the effective use of media and volunteer campaigns in reform outreach, and broaden the base of support for political reform across the many sectors of society, including the religious community and religious leaders A key element of program design is sustainability, progressively achieved throughout the project, by innovative advances in local and regional leadership and societal ownership of reform efforts. (20 points)

Approach - The applicant must demonstrate that its strategy and plan are likely to achieve the proposed results; that proposed activities and timeframes are rapid, reasonable and feasible in the context of Iran. The plan describes in detail how the proposed activities will be accomplished. (20 points)

Organization Profiles - Where partners are proposed, the applicant describes the rationale for the consortia, each partner's respective role, and how the coalition will enhance the accomplishment of the project goals. In all cases, the applicant describes joint planning consultation efforts undertaken. Individual organization staffs, including volunteers, are well qualified. (20 points)

VI. Award Administration and National Policy Requirements. Those applicants selected for award based on the pre-application and full proposal stages of competition under this RFA will receive grants provided that they execute a bilateral grant agreement containing terms and conditions prescribed by U.S. law and regulation.

All Federal assistance recipients must have a Dun & Bradstreet Number prior to funds disbursement per a U.S. Government policy (published in the Federal Register June 27, 2003). A DUNS number may be acquired at no cost by calling the dedicated toll-free DUNS number request line at 1-866-705-5711 or by requesting online at