February 22, 2021

USAID’s CMM is open, with $9m call for Peacebuilders

We are delighted to share with our members and the wider community that the latest USAID Conflict Management and Mitigation (CMM) grant application has opened with $9 million available to the region’s peacebuilders. Not only that, but the cross-border component—which had been cancelled by the Trump Administration in 2018—has not only been restored, but has been listed as a top priority within this call for proposals, with support also available for shared society programming. We urge all members to strongly consider submitting a proposal. We would also encourage organizations who have not previously engaged in cross-border work to as their primary activity to consider doing so. Grants issued will range from $150,000 to $1,500,000, allowing organizations of varying sizes to consider application, whether as lead grantee or as a partner. 

You can read the full USAID information packet containing all key details of the call here

However, they will be holding two question submission periods to answer all questions pertaining to the NOFO. The deadlines for submission are as follows: 

  • 1st Round Submission of Questions Due Date: March 12, 2021 (ANSWERS NOW IN: PLEASE SCROLL DOWN) 
  • 1st Round Responses to Questions Issued: March 16, 2021;
  • 2nd Round Deadline for Questions: March 23, 2021; and
  • 2nd Round Responses to Questions Issued: March 26, 2021.

Questions should be submitted in writing to Ms. Sandy Sakran, Sr. Acquisition and Assistance Specialist, at ssakran@usaid.gov. Please ensure that your subject line begins with “NOFO 72029421RFA00001 Questions.”

ALLMEP is proud of its pivotal role in advocating for the creation of CMM almost 15 years ago, and grateful for the incredible support it has provided to so many of our members. More recently, our advocacy also helped to secure the $250m Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA) which will be delivering unprecedented resources to the field. Taken together, these programs represent the two largest investments in Israeli/Palestinian peacebuilding in history. Having one follow the other over the next 12-18 months represents an unparalleled opportunity for our members and the entire peacebuilding community to scale their work and impact. We will be working intensively with our members and strategic partners to ensure that the field is ready to take advantage of this moment.

Update 3.16 USAID Answers to First Batch of Questions

  1. My question concerns project partnerships. The RFA discusses P2P work and encourages Israeli-Palestinian CB actions. Would that indicate that applications should be received as project partnerships, that are from two NGOs?
    USAID Response: Applications may be received from a prime organization alone, a prime with sub-partners, or a joint partnership/consortia in which case the prime will be a combination of two or more organizations. Based on their technical and financial capacity, it is up to the applicants to determine the best fit for their organization and proposed program.
  2. For projects including individuals from Jerusalem (be it organizational or participant), is that considered cross-border work or shared society? I am unsure given the previous Administration’s stance on Jerusalem.
    USAID Response: A proposed program is defined as ‘Cross Border’ or ‘Israel Only’ based on its proposed categories of participants and not based on location. As stated in Section A of the RFA, the following are the two categories of participants 1. Israelis and Palestinians (Cross Border Activities); 2. aisraeli Arab and Jewish citizens (Israel Only Activities).
  3. Could you please confirm that an institutional capacity page and/or some description of the management plan are NOT required in the concept note stage under this NOFO?
    USAID Response: A separate section for institutional capacity and/or a management plan is not required under Phase 1. However, applicants may choose to highlight certain aspects within their institutional capacity or management plan to further demonstrate and convey needed aspects to support their proposed program within the requested framework of the Concept Paper.
  4. Are we eligible to apply for the new P2P program, if we are already operating a program from the last fund?
    USAID Response: Yes.
  5. For two years there have been no business requirements for USAID West Bank/Gaza on the USAID business forecast and this one was not posted on the forecast. How is this solicitation affected by the termination and restrictions of all USAID programs in January 2019. We know the termination occurred because West Bank/Gaza officials will not agree to terrorism language in the 2019 appropriations. Has the status of USAID West Bank/Gaza programs changed since 2019? How is this solicitation affected by those restrictions? The solicitation did not mention the current restrictions.
    USAID Response: USAID programs were ceased in January 2019 in connection with deliberations on the potential impact of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA); ATCA has since been changed to remove reference to our specific funding. Distinct from ATCA, the laws and procedures to ensure that the Mission’s assistance does not inadvertently provide support to entities or individuals associated with terrorism remain in effect, and are applied through reference to Mission Order 21, included in RFA section F.7.10 as well as Annex 4 of the RFA.
  6. Can a concept note be submitted by co-applicants or can there be multiple subpartners? Or are we limited to a single applicant with one subpartner?
    USAID Response: See response to Question 1.
  7.  Regarding the recommendation to “keep participation as equal as possible with balanced numbers from both sides:” In the case of a program including Palestinians from the PA and both Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, how would we count the Arab citizens of Israel in cross-border P2P activities? As a third group, in which case a balanced program would include 33% from each group?
    USAID Response: Applicants should provide a compelling rationale on the numbers and percentages of selected groups of beneficiaries.
  8. The cover page template asks about direct beneficiaries and participants. Are these the same people? If not, how are the two defined?
    USAID Response: Direct beneficiaries are those who come into direct contact with the set of interventions (goods or services) provided by the proposed program. Individuals who receive benefit from program-supported technical assistance or service provision are considered direct beneficiaries. Note: all participants are beneficiaries, but not all beneficiaries are necessarily participants.
  9. What age range is considered “youth”?
    USAID Response: Please refer to the Youth discussion under Section A of the RFA. Included as a reference is the USAID Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation, Youth and Conflict: A Toolkit for Intervention, http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/pnadb336.pdf

    “For the purposes of this study, youth are defined as having reached the stage in life wherethey are physically capable of assuming adult roles but would generally not be expected tomake decisions or provide support for others.That is, they have left behind childhood buthave not yet assumed the responsibilities of adulthood.The youth age range usually fallsbetween 15 and 24, although some societies frame this differently. Indeed, in societiessubject to crises or upheaval, the concept of youth may radically alter as boys and girls areforced to take on adult responsibilities at a very young age. Definitions may also vary formen and women”

  10. Are programs in Jerusalem between Israeli Jews and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem considered to be inside Israel or cross-border for the purpose of this NOFO?
    USAID Response: Please refer to the response under Question No. 2 above.
  11. Is SAM registration a requirement prior to submission of a concept paper?
    USAID Response: While encouraged, SAM registration is not a requirement under Phase 1, submission of a concept paper.
  12. Do programs that connect Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem and Israeli citizens in West Jerusalem count as “cross-border?”
    USAID Response: Please refer to the response provided under Question No. 2 above.
  13. Should the program hypothesis be a half page or just 5 lines?
    USAID Response: There is no hard limit requirement for the program hypothesis section. The only hard requirement is the 2 page limit for the Cover Page and the 5 page limit for the Technical Section. The guidance provided further within the technical section is just as a reference and a recommendation. Applicants may go beyond or rather less than the approximate page limitation cited for ‘Context and Conflict Analysis’ and ‘Program Hypothesis’ as they see fit.
  14. Does the Concept Paper submission end after the heading, DO NO HARM/RISKS?
    USAID Response: Yes.
  15. Can you please define Sub-Partner? I want to work with an Israeli organization to pay our personnel on the ground there, and I want to work with Prime, in the West Bank to pay our personnel there. Are they considered Sub-Partners? Or is it the schools and community centers that we will be in?
    USAID Response: The RFA uses the term Sub-Partner to mean an entity that: (i) Receives a subaward from you (the prime recipient); and (ii) Is accountable to you for the use of the Federal funds provided by the subaward.
  16. The main question I have pertains to the eligibility of our organization as one focused on economic cooperation that has clear social impact, but that is not specifically a “peacebuilding” initiative. Will we fit the image of a successful applicant for the grant, or would a group with a more explicit focus on peace work be a better fit?
    USAID Response: To be eligible under this RFA, an organization needs to meet one of the categories in Section C. Eligibility Information; eligibility is met/not met, there is no ranking.
  17. We have been working with Palestinian partner and we would like to know if Palestinian organization can apply for this program. Last time they have got refused.
    USAID Response: Yes Palestinian orgranizations may apply for this prgoram. Please refer to the eligibility requirements under Section C of the RFA. The Conflict Management and Mitigation program is a highly competitive funding opportunity with unfortunately limited funding. Not all applicants will be successful. The review of the concept notes is conducted in accordance with the merit review evaluation criteria stated in Section E of the RFA. Upon completion of this review process, unsuccessful applicants are strongly encouraged to request feedback from USAID on their submitted application and proposed program.
  18. Just to make sure on the technical level – we are not required to submit a budget, bios and SF forms, as well as register for DUNS or SAM, at the concept note stage?
    USAID Response: That is correct.
  19. Can construction and renovation costs that are necessary for the people-to-people program be included in the USAID CMM grant? In other words, will the grant cover renovationsrelated costs as part of a CMM program?
    USAID Response: Subject to written approval, construction and renovation costs are allowable expenses under the Standard Assistance Awards only. These types of activities require substantial involvement from USAID and as such cannot be implemented under a Fixed Amount Award type mechanism.
  20. Should we integrate past experience and organizational capacity into the P2P approach and activities section?
    USAID Response: See response to Question 3 above
  21. Given the heightened sensitivities around peacebuilding here at the moment, can USAID elaborate on how it recommends applicants balance feasibility of engaging with certain groups of people over common interests, with the theoretically ideal, but harder to reach in practice, key people in the conflict?
    USAID Response: The applying organization should demonstrate its ability to implement proposed activities to reach intended results envisioned under its theory of change.
  22. The Concept Note template cover page section asks for: “Estimated Joint Activity Hours per Participant.” Without a detailed implementation plan, it will be challenging to provide a precise figure. Can USAID confirm that it is acceptable if this number changes should the concept advance to future phases?
    USAID Response: Yes. Please note that the title labels these to be ‘Estimated’. That said, the stated number should be realistically and convincingly demonstrated to be feasible.
  23. Is USAID able to provide any impact/outcome level indicators it would want to see in this particular CMM program to measure effectiveness?
    USAID Response: In the phase of developing an M&E plan, USAID will work with applicants to finalize a set of indicators that best measures program effectiveness.
  24. We understand that this opportunity does not fund research activities, but we have several questions to better understand what does and does not constitute “research”. Can the project include qualitative research, such as public opinion surveys, focus groups, and interviews? These would not be the product or objective of the project, but rather an output – the research findings would help develop content for trainings or seminars that convene Jewish and Arab people in influential positions.
    USAID Response: Proposed programs should not have a strong academic or research focus. Applicants may include certain research aspects that are integral to the overall success of the proposed program.
  25. If the aforementioned qualitative research is conducted as a partnership between an Israeli and Palestinian, or Israeli-Jewish and Israeli-Arab think tank or other research organization, is that acceptable people-to-people work within the scope of this opportunity?
    USAID Response: Please see the below definition of People to People. It is up to the applicants to convincingly demonstrate to USAID how their proposed program meets the RFA objectives. People to People (P2P) – All peacebuilding programs ultimately bring people together, but P2P in practice means something more specific. The P2P approach is based on the peacebuilding hypothesis that if belligerent groups within a community are given the opportunity to interact, they will better understand and appreciate one another and will prefer to resolve conflicts peacefully. Similarly, if key actors from belligerent groups are given the opportunity to interact, they will better understand and appreciate one another, be better able to work with one another, and prefer to resolve conflicts peacefully. P2P can be the goal of the program hypothesis to overcome stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination. It can also be used as an approach embedded in the program design to bring about some other outcome.
  26. Would acceptable people-to-people work include focus groups and other qualitative research activities in which participants are both Jewish and Arab?
    USAID Response: Please refer to the response provided under Question No. 24.
  27. Will the opportunity support research conducted by an Israeli think tank alone, the product of which contributes to and supports Jewish/Arab partnership and reduces carriers to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (the partnership is not a part of the project, but is an eventual result)?
    USAID Response: Please note the below under Section A ‘Program Description’ of the RFA:

    “To meet Congressional intent, this RFA will support “people-to-people” conflict mitigationand reconciliation programs and activities which bring together individuals of differentethnic, religious or political backgrounds from areas of civil conflict, national conflict andwar. Only proposed activities that provide innovative or creative opportunities foradversaries to address issues, reconcile differences, promote greater understanding andmutual trust and work on common goals or solve shared issues with regard to potential,ongoing, or recent conflict in the West Bank, Gaza and, Israel, will receive consideration forfunding under this RFA.”

  28. As in NOFO meetings and working together (Palestinians and Israelis) is important part of any project in this RFA. With the current political situations both in Gaza and West Bank it will be not possible to have such meeting and joint working. What is the USAID decision for this situation?
    USAID Response: USAID appreciates and notes the complexities of joint programming within the RFA both from a political perspective as well as the recent COVID created challenges. See Section A ‘Program Description’ of the RFA which discusses, specifically, Gaza programming and the necessary safety precautions related to COVID throughout the programs proposed implementation.
  29. Is it a requirement to have a partner American organization, or, is it accepted to have American experts in-person, in the planned project (of course with the Palestinian and Israeli partners)?
    USAID Response: It is up to the applicants to propose the optimal composition fit that best meets the needs of their proposed program. There are no restrictions with regards to the above proposed layout.
  30. Regarding the financial Management of the project, can it be with either partners (Gaza, West Bank, or Israel), or there are special restrictions or conditions?
    USAID Response: Please refer to the response provided under question no. 28 above.
  31. We facilitate connections between children from East and West Jerusalem. Can programs in these areas be included in the proposal?
    USAID Response: Yes.
  32. Can USAID give an overview of their policy as to lobbying Congress. The NOFO talks about policy change. Normally that is achieved by lobbying. Is there no place at all for lobbying government departments?
    USAID Response: Lobbying is restricted through certain USG grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements by relevant statutes and Executive branch rules, and would not be an allowable cost under this RFA.
  33. Can programming happen in the United States?
    USAID Response: The Place of Performance of resultant awards is Israel, West Bank and Gaza. As such, program implementation is expected to take place within these geographic areas.
  34. What is the policy in regards to mentioning the occupation and participating in political people to people work?
    USAID Response: Applicants should include sufficient information under the Context and Conflict Analysis section of the application that explains and identifies the sources of conflict and impediments as they relate to the proposed program.
  35. The NOFO says that eligibility excludes academics, but later says that universities are invited as nonprofits to participate. Can you clarify?
    USAID Response: Please refer to Section C of the RFA. Qualified U.S. and non-U.S. colleges and universities may apply for funding under this RFA.
  36. Unlike prior CMM calls, it appears there is no Organizational Capacity / past experience information required in the concept note. Is this right?
    USAID Response: That is correct. Please refer to the response provided under Question No. 3 above.
  37. Do multiple applications from one organization impact USAID decision-making process on your org’s other applications i.e. one per org?
    USAID Response: There is no restriction to the number of applications an organization submits. All applications are reviewed and evaluated on a stand alone basis in line with the merit review evaluation criteria stated in Section E of the RFA.
  38. Is there any funding for Gaza that is specific to their particular needs or is it excluded because of risk?
    USAID Response: Funding under this RFA is not correlated per location. Proposed activities may support interventions in Gaza, but Applicants are cautioned about the difficult and restricted operating environment in Gaza. For further information please refer to Section A of the RFA.
  39. Is it important to recognize the balance of power in the conflict? Is this relevant to those evaluating CMM apps?
    USAID Response: Please refer to the response provided under Question No. 33 above.
  40. Can an application feature both capital costs and its project management costs?
    USAID Response: Yes. Please note that during negotiations (Phase 3) all proposed costs willbe reviewed in line with the below applicable cost principles:
    ● 2 CFR 200, Subpart E, Cost Principles
    ● 48 CFR 31.2 Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and 48 CFR 731.2 USAID Acquisition Regulations (AIDAR) – Cost Principles for Commercial Organizations
  41. Is it possible that one organization can be sub partner in two separate grants?
    USAID Response: Yes
  42. How much would you recommend budgeting for a compliance officer?
    USAID Response: It is up to the Applicants to determine the level of effort required for a compliance officer taking into consideration their internal organizational capacity and the requirements of their proposed program. A discussion with USAID on this matter may take place during Phase 3 of the process.
  43. Are projects only involving East Jerusalem (East and West) with other parts of Israel considered cross-border or Israel only?
    USAID Response: Please refer to the response provided under Question No. 2 above.
  44. Do you recommend having not only a dedicated compliance officer AND a dedicated M&E reporter on salary?
    USAID Response: Please refer to the response provided under Question No. 41 above.
  45. How much specificity do you suggest in the concept paper?
    USAID Response: Please refer to the response provided under Question No. 12.
  46. What would you advise on language framing for a Palestinian organization whose work on the ground is totally about Palestinian-to-Palestinian cooperative effort — in significant part to protect from anti-normalization pressures?
    USAID Response: This RFA supports activities mainly among Israelis and Palestinians and/or among Israeli Arab and Jewish citizens.
  47. Can we apply for a project here in Israel-Palestine but with a staff member in UK or US? How would the financial side work?
    USAID Response: Yes you may. Based on an allowability determination, disbursement would be according to the applicant’s internal processes.
  48. Can we pay from the grant salary for people who retired from the Palestinian government?
    USAID Response: Please refer to section F.7.4 ‘Prohibition Against Cash Assistance to the Palestinian Authority’. The restriction states the following: “U.S. legislation provides that none of the funding under this Award may be “obligated or expended with respect to providing funds to the Palestinian Authority.” In accordance with that prohibition, the Recipient shall not provide any cash to the Palestinian Authority (PA); to any ministry, agency or instrumentality of the PA; to any municipality or other local government unit; or to any full-time or part-time employee or official of any of the foregoing entities. This restriction applies to payments of any kind, including salaries, stipends, fees, honoraria, per diem, and so forth.” Provided the individual(s) do not fall under one of the categories stated above, the costs may be determined to be allowable if considered reasonable and allocable based on the cost principles and the applicant’s proposed program.
  49. If we have also applied for EU funding for the same project does that fit into the co-funding category?
    USAID Response: Yes that may be considered as Cost Share or matching. For further details on Cost Share/Matching please refer to Section C.2 of the RFA.
  50. Is it important to identify specific personnel in the concept phase?
    USAID Response: Identifying key personnel is not a requirement under the Phase 1 – Concept Paper Submission stage. Applicants may opt to do so if they believe that information will further demonstrate how the proposed program will support and advance the purpose of P2P Reconciliation Programming

Update 3.29 USAID Answers to Second Batch of Questions

  1. The DUNS and SAM website linked on the application has not worked for me or my co-workers. I’m wondering if you can share an alternate link where I can register my organization’s information.
    USAID Response: Please use the following link to access SAM:https://sam.gov/SAM/
  2. I have a question regarding eligibility– my organization, is regionally-focused. Our activities are regional with the ultimate goal of addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Are we eligible?
    USAID Response: Please refer to Section C of the RFA for Eligibility Information with regards to the type of organization. In addition, proposed programs will need to respond to the objectives described in Section A ‘Program Description’ of the CMM P2P RFA.
  3. The below questions refer to the large grants for cross-border activities:
    i. Is there a minimum for project duration?
    USAID Response: No.
    ii. What sort of framework are you looking for in reference to support systems?
    USAID Response: We regret we don’t understand the question.
    iii. What scope (frequency and intensity) of joint activities are suitable for this grant?
    USAID Response: It is up to applicants to propose and demonstrate what suits/works best for their proposed program.
    iv. Please confirm East Jerusalem is considered the “West Bank” for the purpose of this grant.
    USAID Response: Applications are categorized as ‘Israel Only’ or ‘Cross Border’ based on the proposed participants and not locations. As stated in Section A of the RFA, the following are the two categories of participants:
    1) Israelis and Palestinians (Cross Border Activities);
    2) Israeli Arab and Jewish citizens (Israel Only Activities).
  4. Do you fund projects designed to result in a media/documentary project as the final “product”?
    USAID Response: Yes.
  5. The RFA states grants issued will range from $150,000 to $1,500,000. Do you fund the entire cost of a project, or do you expect there will be other additional funders for a project?
    USAID Response: Please refer to Section C.2 of the RFA. Cost Share is not a requirement.
  6. Do you need a non-profit recipient to be based in the United States, in Israel, or Palestine, or
    any of the above?
    USAID Response: Please refer to Section C ‘Eligibility Information’ to verify that your
    organization meets the stated eligibility requirements.
  7. I understand that for Phase 1, no detailed budget is necessary. As such, we have not yet broken down the financial structure of our program and it is not yet clear how much of the funding will go to our sub-partners (Re cover-page line “Total Amount of sub-partner award under proposed program”). Will we be able to edit this number in later phases?
    USAID Response: Yes. The amounts requested for Phase I are titled as ‘Estimates’.
  8. What is the difference between cover-page questions “Cost-Share Amount” vs. “Total Amount of Sub-partner Award”?
    USAID Response: Please refer to Section C.2 for a detailed definition of ‘Cost Share’. The total amount of sub-partner award is the estimated portion of the amount (from the total requested USAID amount) you are envisioning would need to flow down to the partner organization (if applicable), for purposes of implementing a portion of the proposed program. If no partners are envisioned, please leave this blank.
  9. Will it be possible to change our sub-partners after submitting the Phase 1 concept paper?
    USAID Response: Yes. However, if selected to proceed to Phase II, the prime applicant will need to demonstrate that the change in sub-partners will not alter the objectives, outcomes and anticipated results of their selected proposed program.
  10. Regarding the technical side of the submission of the concept paper, something is unclear to us. Does the concept paper need to be submitted via the grants.gov system, or is it sufficient to send the seven-page document in Word format directly to (ssakran@usaid.gov)? Is it only if we reach stage II that we work via the grants.gov system?
    USAID Response: Concept paper submissions will need to be submitted to ssakran@usaid.gov in line with the instructions provided under Section D.4 of the RFA.
  11. With regards to Grant ‘72029421RFA00001’ my question is – How much detail is required for the description of project activities? Should the concept note include the specific number of participants (in total and per activity), number of activities, a clear timeframe, etc.?
    USAID Response: It is up to Applicants to determine the level of required detail necessary in line with the instructions provided in the RFA.
  12. According to the NOFO the structure of the Technical Section (up to 5 pages) is as follows:
    1. Contexts & Conflict Analysis
    2. Program Hypothesis
    3. P2P Approach and Activities
    4. Sustainability
    5. Gender Equality and Female Empowerment P2P Reconciliation Programming
    6. Do No Harm / Risk
    However, under section 6, it is specifically indicated that: “Do No Harm should not be an isolated discussion in the application but be addressed holistically throughout all sections.”. So, the question is: Is section 6 a standalone section or not (and therefore the paper has 5 sections only)?
    USAID Response: As you indicated above, the ‘Do No Harm’ should not be an isolated discussion. Should there be a need to summarize or complement the discussion which should be addressed holistically throughout all sections; applicants are requested to do so in section 6, after the Gender Equality Section.
  13. Following up to seek your guidance on how successful applicants have overcome the language barrier (lack of a shared language) to create meaningful experiences for Palestinian and Israeli youth in the past. We have encountered this issue and have yet to connect with other organizations who have overcome it.
    USAID Response: Due to program ownership we cannot provide guidance