Dates: Applications are due March 28, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Successful applicants will be notified by May 29, 2013, contingent on full year appropriations.
The mission of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic participation through service and volunteering. CNCS has helped to engage millions of citizens in meeting community and national challenges through service and volunteer action. CNCS seeks to: direct the power of national service to solve a common set of challenges; expand opportunities for all Americans to serve; build the enduring capacity of individuals, organizations and communities to effectively use service and volunteering to solve community problems; and, embrace innovative solutions that work.
The focus of this competition is to fund approximately five awards, one per CNCS regional cluster, to deliver training conferences for AmeriCorps programs and Senior Corps projects.
Publication of this Notice does not obligate CNCS to award any specific number of grants and/or to obligate the entire amount of funding available.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Please note that additional questions (and corresponding responses) are being added to these FAQS on a regular basis as they come in via email, voice mail, and through the TA calls.
1. What is the purpose of this grant?
The purpose of the funding is for planning and delivering regional training conferences for AmeriCorps programs and Senior Corps projects in each of CNCS’ five regional clusters.
2. Can representatives of other CNCS programs/projects (other than Senior Corps and AmeriCorps), non-CNCS funded organizations, or AmeriCorps members attend the conferences?
Yes. Anyone who wants to attend and pays the required registration fees can attend; however, the conference content should be targeted to the needs of Senior Corps project directors and AmeriCorps State and National grantees and programs.
3. What are the funding priorities?
CNCS expects to fund applicants that propose to:
- Deliver an excellent conference experience for participants
4. What are the expected CNCS training outcomes?
Awardees are able to propose an overall conference agenda that serves the needs and interests of the Senior Corps projects and AmeriCorps programs within the proposed region; however, the agenda must include sessions that address the CNCS expected training outcomes -- Conference participants will demonstrate knowledge of CNCS Performance Measurement and Evaluation Competencies, as well as CNCS Compliance Competencies as measured by post-session assessment results. CNCS will provide awardees with an approved list of competencies and learning objectives to serve as the basis for the curriculum design for the required content. Training materials will also be available to access online. CNCS will also provide awardees with approved assessment instruments to measure the knowledge gains of participants toward the CNCS expected training outcomes.
5. How much funding is available?
Subject to the availability of appropriations for FY 2013, CNCS anticipates awarding approximately $250,000 to fund these Regional Training Conference Grants. CNCS expects to make approximately five awards, one for each of five regional clusters.
6. What are the CNCS Regional Clusters?
The regional clusters are:
1) Pacific (AK, American Samoa, CA, Guam, HI, ID, MT, Northern Mariana Islands, NV,OR, UT, WA, and WY).
2) Southwest (AR, AZ, CO, KS, LA, MO, NM, OK, and TX).
3) North Central (IA, IL, IN, MI, MN, ND, NE, OH, SD, and WI).
4) South (AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, and WV).
5) Atlantic (CT, DC, DE, MA, ME, MD, NH, NJ, NY, PA, Puerto Rico, RI, US Virgin Islands, and VT).
7. Can an applicant propose to serve a geographic area different from the CNCS Regional Clusters?
Yes. If from an applicant’s perspective it makes more sense to serve a smaller, larger, or different group of states/territories from the current CNCS regional clusters, an applicant may propose to do so by providing a rationale and justification in the application narrative. The amount of the award requested should be adjusted depending on whether an applicant is proposing a smaller or larger region than a CNCS Cluster, based on an average award of $50,000 to support one CNCS Region.
8. How will CNCS ensure that all states and territories have access to a regional conference if applicants propose different regions?
During the negotiation prior to award, CNCS will ensure that all states and territories are covered when final awards are made.
9. What instrument will be used to fund these activities?
The funding instrument is a cooperative agreement, which provides for substantial involvement by CNCS with awardees as they carry out approved activities.
10. What is the funding period?
These are one-year awards with the period of performance one-year from the date of the award. However, awardees are expected to conduct a regional cluster conference before the end of calendar year 2013.
11. Who is eligible to apply?
- State and local government entities, non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, Indian tribes, and for-profit organizations are eligible to apply. State service commissions and other organizations that operate or intend to operate CNCS-supported programs are eligible.
12. How can an applicant meet the organizational capacity requirements around demonstration of success in providing training and technical assistance to both Senior Corps projects and AmeriCorps programs?
In order to meet all of the requirements, applicants:
- May submit supplemental materials, including post conference and/or training evaluations that demonstrate successful provision of training and technical assistance to Senior Corps and/or AmeriCorps audiences.
13. What are the match requirements?
There is no cost share or match. However, applicants are encouraged to include revenue projections from registration fees in their proposed budget, as well as in-kind donations and /or sponsorships to supplement registration fees and other costs to participants.
14. Do I need a Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering Systems (DUNS), Employer Identification Number (EIN) and be registered with the Systems for Award Management (SAM)?
Yes. Applications must include a DUNS number and an Employer Identification Number. The DUNS number does not replace an Employer Identification Number. All applicants must be registered with the Systems for Award Management (SAM).
15. How do I request an application?
The Notice for this competition is available at www.nationalservice.gov/for_organizations/funding/nofa.asp. If you are unable to access this website and need a printed copy, call 202-606-7515.
16. What is the deadline?
Applications are due no later than 5:00 Eastern Time on March 28, 2013. Applications must arrive at CNCS by the deadline in order to be considered. CNCS will not consider applications received after the deadline. CNCS reserves the right to extend the submission deadline, and any notice of such extended deadline will be posted on this website.
CNCS may consider an application after the deadline only if you submit an email explaining the extenuating circumstance that caused the delay. Send the e-mail to LateApplications@cns.gov within 24 hours following the deadline. CNCS determines the validity and admissibility of late applications on a case-by-case basis. If extenuating circumstances make the use of eGrants impossible, you may send a hard copy of the application to:
Corporation for National and Community Service
Please use a non-U.S. Postal Service carrier due to security-related delays in receiving mail from the U.S. Postal Service. All deadlines and requirements in the Notice apply to hard copy applications. Hard copies must include a cover letter detailing the circumstances that make it impossible to submit via eGrants. CNCS does not accept applications submitted via fax or email.
18. What should be included in the application?
Submission in eGrants
Applications must be submitted via eGrants, therefore, applicants need to establish an eGrants account by accessing: https://egrants.cns.gov/espan/main/login.jsp
Content of the Application
The completed application will consist of the following components, submitted via the appropriate screens in eGrants:
19. May supplemental information be included?
You may submit up to the equivalent of 20 standard (8 ½ x11”) pages of supplementary material such as brochures, evaluation reports, memorandum of understanding or other materials describing relationships and responsibilities from partnering organizations or consortia members, and curriculum materials that demonstrate organizational capacity. Supplementary material must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the application deadline either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by hard copy to the address below:
Corporation for National and Community Service
Please use a non-U.S. Postal Service carrier due to security-related delays in receiving mail from the U.S. Postal Service. CNCS will not return any supplementary materials.
20. How will my application be evaluated?
In evaluating applications for funding, reviewers will assess the applicant’s understanding of requirements through the information provided in the program design, organizational capacity, and cost-effectiveness and budget adequacy sections of the application. The weights assigned to each category are listed in the chart below. Reviewers will assess application narratives against these criteria and the extent to which the applicant responds to the expectations for funding in the Notice. Please read this guidance carefully to ensure that you are fully and appropriately responding in the application to the information requested. Your application narrative will be assessed against the following:
Program Design 35%
21. What is the review process?
The review process consists of three stages:
Note: CNCS reserves the right to change the review model depending on the number of applications received and other unanticipated factors.
Selection for Funding
22. What are the reporting requirements?
Grantees are required to submit one progress report, a final report, and a minimum of two Federal Financial Reports (FFRs).The final program report will be due no later than 30 days after the end of the grant and is cumulative over the entire award period. The narrative will be submitted in eGrants. However, grantees will also be required to submit a report on data collected during their conference delivery using provided templates.
At the time of award or soon after, awardees will be provided with a list of the required competencies that must be included in the curriculum provided during the conference and used for measuring knowledge gains. CNCS anticipates the core competencies to be available at the time of award. Prior to conference delivery, awardees will be provided with assessment questions tied to the competencies along with the methodology for collecting data on knowledge gains. CNCS is requesting Office of Management and Budget approval for this information collection under the Paperwork Reduction Act. CNCS anticipates approval for the information collection in time for the delivery of the regional training conferences. CNCS intends to aggregate data on knowledge gains collected from all five conferences to assess the degree to which AmeriCorps programs and Senior Corps projects are gaining the capacity to measure performance and meet CNCS requirements. Awardees will also be provided with already approved templates for reporting conference outputs and customer satisfaction data.
23. What are the requirements for access for persons with disabilities?
All grant recipients will ensure that training and technical assistance activities and online environments are accessible to persons with disabilities as required by law. Awardees will:
- Notify potential participants that reasonable accommodations will be provided upon request.
24. What other requirements are there for awardees?
- Submit digital copies of all curricula, handouts, and other materials developed for upload to the National Service Knowledge Network for access by the broader network within two weeks after the completion of the conference.
25. Are there any dates that should be avoided in scheduling the conferences?**
Yes. The Senior Corps Virtual Conference will be presented the week of August 5, 2013, and the AmeriCorps Grantee Meeting the week of September 16, 2013.
26. What if a grantee is unable to find a reasonably priced hotel or facility or available dates to conduct the conference by the end of calendar year 2013?
In the event that there are no available dates at facilities with a reasonable cost within the region of a particular grantee, the grantee will need to keep the Program Officer informed of difficulties encountered and options available and negotiate dates outside of the required deadline accordingly.
27. May an applicant propose a virtual conference or some portion of the conference to be virtual?
Yes. CNCS encourages applicants to be creative and innovative in proposing a conference delivery that will best meet the funding priorities (see question #2). Technological delivery methods may provide potential cost-efficiencies. CNCS will evaluate the capacity of the applicant to support the approach proposed.
28. Will CNCS programs and projects be able to use grant funds to attend?
This is an allowable expense for Senior Corps projects and an allowable cost for AmeriCorps program grants.
29. Will there be TTA calls prior to the application deadline?
Yes. The TTA calls are hosted by the Corporation to answer questions from potential applicants about this funding opportunity on:
29. Who do I contact if I have questions?For further information or for a printed copy of the Notice, email email@example.com or call 202-606-7515.
Additional FAQs Submitted Via Email, Voicemail, and TA calls
1. Are all of the questions asked by potential applicants reflected in the FAQs?
No, we anticipate more questions particularly from the TA calls coming up Feb. 27 and March 6. We will add additional FAQs to the existing FAQs online based on those conversations and what comes to us via email and voice mail.
2. Would a National Direct legal applicant and its subgrantees be expected to participate in the regional conference where the parent organization is headquartered or the regional conference for each service site?
They should choose to participate in whatever regional conference that best meets their needs.
3. Who is the preferred target of TTA for Senior Corps? Senior Corps participants or sponsors/grantees of Senior Corps programs? To responsibly apply, we have to know how many Senior Corps sponsors/grantees or participants are in each state.
Senior Corps Project Directors. Sponsors and participants are welcome but the target audience is the Project Director.
4. Given the tight timeline, when can we expect to see an answer to a question submitted to the FAQs?
We are doing everything we can to respond as quickly as possible.
**These dates are intended and may be subject to change.
5. How many grantees/subgrantees are in each state as represented through commissions, National Directs, and Senior Corps?
This document includes data from our system reflecting the numbers of AmeriCorps state commission grantees and subgrantees and national direct grantees as well as Senior Corps projects by state. This document does not include the recent RSVP grants that were just announced which are not yet in the system.
6. How many National Direct service locations are funded in each state? For example, a National Direct’s headquarter is in Minnesota but it has service locations in Oregon and Arizona. To responsibly apply, we have to know how many National Direct service locations are in each state.
This document includes data for how many national direct operating sites there are in each state
In 2013 CNCS is not providing formula grants to state commissions for program development, assistance and training. As per the NOFO, this competition is a critical component of CNCS’ training and technical assistance strategy for AmeriCorps programs and Senior Corps projects in 2013.
The Corporation hosted two technical assistance calls to answer questions from potential applicants about this funding opportunity. For the list of FAQs from each call click on the date below or just scroll down.
FAQs from TA Calls
TA Call for Regional Conference Competition
1. Can one grantee be awarded for all five clusters?
2. If one grantee is awarded all five clusters, does that mean that only one conference would have to be completed by the end of the 2013 Calendar Year with the remainder to be finished within the year timeframe?
No. This is a 2013 T&TA strategy and we would like for the conferences to take place in 2013 if possible.
3. Is there any guidance as to what is considered a reasonable cost for participants?
As far as registration fees there is precedent based upon conference registration fees charged for past CNCS-funded conferences. Examples include: 2012 AmeriCorps Grantee Meeting $310; 2012 Financial and Grants Management Institute $250; and the 2011 AmeriCorps Grantee Meeting $175.00. These were all basically 2.5 to three-day meetings. Our records indicate that registration fees for state and local conferences sponsored by CNCS grantees have ranged from $85.00-$100.00 for a one-day event to $150.00 for a 2.5 day event, but we have also seen registration fees as low as $65.00 for a 2.5 day event with lodging rates at the government rate or less.
4. There is a reference in the NOFO to enrollment targets. Who defines those?
Applicants should propose target numbers and a strategy for how to reach those targets. If applicants are interested in learning how many AmeriCorps programs and Senior Corps projects are located within each state, please see Additional FAQs Submitted Via Email, Voicemail, and TA calls above and look for question #s five and six.
5. The NOFO references this project as a pilot program. I understand that applicants are required to have training and technical assistance experience in general and in particular with national service programs. Given this is a pilot program, how would we demonstrate particular experience with national service programs?
This is the first time we are doing this competition but there has been a long history of training and technical assistance delivered over the years at the national, state, and local level by a wide variety of organizations. In this competition we are looking for organizations that can demonstrate a successful track record of providing training and technical assistance to national service programs in the past.
6. Given the curriculum can be delivered online, face-to-face or through a combination of both, does the Corporation have a preference or give greater weight to one over the other?
We will evaluate the applications against what is stated in the NOFO. In the NOFO we are specific about evaluation criteria. We are looking for applicants to be creative and innovative.
7. On page 7 of the Application Instructions there is a chart with demographic reporting information about the number of volunteers engaged in different types of groups that have been connected. Is that just boilerplate that is in there for other grants or does that apply to us?
For this competition we are using CNCS’ universal application instructions. There are sections of these instructions that do not apply to this competition and they are noted in Section B of the NOFO starting on page 6. The chart you referred to is in item 4. of Section B of the NOFO “Reporting Requirements” and as noted, it does not apply to this competition.
8. You mentioned the eight core competencies and the survey to measure participant gains. Would that be provided to the applicant after the award?
Yes. We are concluding a project to identify core competencies and learning objectives across CNCS programs and projects. Based on these competencies and learning objectives we will also be developing assessment instruments to measure the extent to which the learning objectives were obtained (participant knowledge gains). The competencies, learning objectives, and assessment instruments will be provided awardees soon after award.
9. Is there an option to provide that information prior to the award?
The overall framework for the core competencies is provided in the NOFO on page 3. Because applicants have only eight pages to write their narrative we do not want applicants to spend too much time on what CNCS is going to be providing for awardees to incorporate. We will be looking for applicants to talk about their overall approach to the conference and agenda.
10. Would the Corporation work with the grantee on marketing and getting the word out about these regional opportunities?
Yes, we can assist by sending emails to potential participants through our gov.delivery system.
11. I just want to confirm that if an applicant chose to deliver the core curriculum via an online model, would that online model have to be delivered as well by December 31st?
Yes. The conference needs to be delivered by December 31st, 2013 unless there is an extenuating reason which you would negotiate with your program officer.
12. Could an applicant decide to go with the model that was for example completely online, not a conference?
This is an important clarification. By online, CNCS was referring to a virtual conference experience (a series of topics presented live on the web with interactive features) as opposed to delivering online courses. In fact, the CNCS already has online courses and will be improving; tweaking and aligning online course offerings to be aligned with the core competencies once they are finalized. We see these regional conferences as the live, interactive complement to the CNCS core curriculum courses online.
13. Given the potential for five distinct awards with an emphasis on the compliance side of programmatic and fiscal, in what ways will we be able to ensure consistency of information and accuracy of information in each of the clusters knowing that compliance is a real critical piece to the program’s success?
The core competencies and learning objectives will be very specific about what information and knowledge CNCS programs and projects need to know to be successful at doing their jobs. Also, in the event that an awardee is developing separate curriculum and not downloading curriculum that CNCS will have available, CNCS staff would ask to review all curriculum for accuracy prior to dissemination and delivery.
14. With all the conferences needing to happen by the end of 2013, what kinds of support will CNCS provide in both planning and on-site training?
All funding will be through cooperative agreements, which means for substantial involvement of the Government. You will be assigned a program officer for these grants and that person will be available to assist with the planning and support leading up into the conference. As for CNCS staff available to assist onsite with training at the conference, please see response to question #15 below.
15. CNCS staff has played a large role in helping deliver as well as plan the training. Will that still be a part of the process?
In terms of CNCS staff attending the conference, we will consider requests for CNCS staff to attend your event if you have a purpose that is compelling and a reason for a particular CNCS staff member to be there. CNCS will try to honor requests given schedule and travel budget limitations. We cannot make any promises but we will try.
16. When do you anticipate awards will be made and when funds will be made available?
We anticipate making awards by June 2013.
TA Call for Regional Training Conferences Notice
1. Because the announcement stated that for-profit organizations are eligible to apply for this grant, can they factor in a service or management fees?
2. If an applicant is interested in working in more than one regional cluster, should they submit a separate RFP for each cluster they’re interested in working in?
No, you should propose the states that you are interested in serving and demonstrate your capacity to serve those states/regions.
3. Can a lead applicant in one proposal be included as part of a consortia in other proposals?
4. Are registration fees and sponsorships considered program income?
5. Please clarify the dollar amount per region. Is it $50,000 or is it $250,000?
Two hundred and fifty thousand is the amount that is available for this grant competition. We anticipate making approximately five awards of approximately 50,000 each.
6. Is there any history or anticipation of the numbers of participants that would be at the conference that is organized by the successful organization?
We are interested in the applicant proposing targets and demonstrating how they would try to meet those targets.
7. Is it your expectation that this would be a one-day conference?
There is no expectation regarding the length of the conference. We are looking for applicants to propose how long it would take to complete what they want to accomplish, and that they can accomplish it for the money requested.
8. What expense categories would you expect to see in the budget for this application?
The budget worksheet is set forth out in eGrants. There are specific categories, including personnel expense, fringe benefits, equipment, and supplies. If travel is required, we would expect costs to be identified. Any contractual services, actual training costs, evaluation, administrative costs, and any additional costs should be included. The application instructions detail what costs that are allowable. You will need to justify and provide the calculation as to how you arrived at the numbers.
9. Given that the grant award is for 12-months, and the Notice states the conferences should be held before December 31, 2013, is there any flexibility concerning that date?
We expect to make these awards around June 1. As these conferences are part of our 2013 TTA strategy, we are looking for these conferences to be held before the end of 2013. However, in the event that an awardee is experiencing significant difficulty in identifying appropriate dates and facilities for the proposed region, the awardee may contact its assigned program officer to negotiate a possible extension beyond 2013.
10. Historically the CNCS supported other conferences to provide training and development to grantees.
One of these was the financial grants management conference that, for the last eight years or so, has been held almost every year. Is this proposed regional conference structure intended to replace these other training and development conferences, or, is it possible that in the future that CNCS may also host a national financial grants management conference? In 2013 there are no plans to host a national Financial and Grants Management Institute. There are two strategies for addressing the content that was typically delivered through that vehicle:
11. Is it possible that different applicants may be asked to collaborate once all the applications are submitted so that these different applicants can share their collective expertise with one another in an effort to openly support the goals of the Notice?
In the Notice, we state that all awardees will participate in an in-person or virtual grantee training meeting. At that meeting, time will be devoted to talking about possible collaboration and sharing of expertise.