FY 2010 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program Questions and Answers
Direct Services Grant Program (Funding Opportunity: DHS-10-CIS-010-003)
Q1. Are Direct Services grant awards available both to organizations proposing citizenship education services only and organizations proposing both citizenship education and naturalization application preparation services? Do I have a better chance of getting a grant if I propose both citizenship education services and naturalization application preparation services?
A. DHS will make grant awards to support both program types. Organizations proposing citizenship education services only will not be in direct competition with organizations proposing both citizenship education services and naturalization application preparation services. Organizations proposing citizenship education services only can receive a maximum score of 100 points and will compete with organizations proposing those same services. Organizations proposing both citizenship education services and naturalization application preparation services can receive a maximum score of 160 points and will compete with organizations proposing those same services. Two separate ranked lists will be forwarded for final funding decisions. Please refer to Section V of the Direct Services Grant Program funding announcement for a full description of the review process and evaluation criteria.
Q2. How many Direct Services grants will go to organizations proposing to provide only citizenship education services versus organizations proposing to provide both citizenship education and naturalization application assistance?
A. Of the 45 estimated awards, USCIS anticipates recommending an approximately equal number of awards for both types of programs, subject to the programmatic selection factors described in Section V, C of the funding announcement.
Q3. What happens if an organization submits two applications under the Direct Services Grant Program announcement – one for citizenship education services and a second for citizenship education services and naturalization application preparation services?
A. Organizations should not submit more than one application under the Direct Services Grant Program. If an organization submits multiple applications, prior to commencing review, DHS will contact the organization to confirm which application the organization wants to include in the review process. The other application will not be reviewed.
Q4. Does the single application limit per organization apply to affiliates of national organizations?
A. No. All eligible affiliates may apply and will be reviewed as individual applicants under the Direct Services Grant Program funding announcement.
Q5. Can a partner organization be listed on multiple applications?
A. Yes, however DHS reserves the right to contact all organizations included in the application prior to making an award.
Q6. Is sub-contracting permitted?
A. Organizations may propose to sub-contract specific tasks that the organization does not have the expertise to perform, such as sub-contracting a curriculum expert to redesign the citizenship class curriculum. However, the applying organization must directly provide the citizenship education services and must demonstrate its ability to successfully manage all aspects of the grant-funded project, including financial management. Under the Direct Services Grant Program, sub-granting is not allowed. The principal applicant may not serve as a funding pass-through.
Q7. How many immigrants should receive services for $100,000?
A. Under the Direct Services Grant Program, DHS does not require that a specific number of LPRs receive citizenship services. For a comprehensive list of selection criteria, please review Section V.B. titled “Evaluation Criteria” on page twenty-three (23) of the funding announcement.
Q8. Is it acceptable for my organization to provide ESL classes and my partner organization to provide civics classes?
A. No. The primary applicant must provide both the civics classes and the ESL classes.
Q9. My organization provides application preparation services and we have volunteers that provide citizenship education. Is this acceptable?
A. Under the direct services grant, the organization applying for the grant must provide the citizenship education services. If your organization oversees the volunteers who teach the classes, then that is acceptable.
Q10. For organizations proposing to provide naturalization application preparation services, is the organization required to be recognized and/or accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals? If so, how does our organization prove BIA certification?
A. Applicants must include a description of the organization’s quality assurance process for naturalization application preparation and information services provided to clients (if this service is proposed). It is up to the applicant to determine how to best meet this requirement. (Please see page 16 of the Direct Services FOA).
National Capacity Building Grant Program (Funding Opportunity: DHS- 10-CIS-010-002)
Q11. Can a sub-applicant budget include a paid partnership with another organization to provide services at the local level?
A. No. The goal of the National Capacity Building Grant Program is to use grant funding to build the organizational capacity and technical expertise of specific sub-applicants to provide local services beyond the performance period of the grant. Sub-applicant program funding proposals should reflect this goal and program design decisions should focus on building the capabilities of the sub-applicant to provide citizenship preparation services.
Q12. We are applying for the National Capacity Building grant. Can our affiliates have volunteers working at more than one site?
A. Yes. The important thing to remember is that affiliates must provide direct services, but they can be located anywhere in the U.S.
Q13. Can a coalition of member organizations serve as the principal applicant under the National Capacity Building Grant?
A. Yes. However, there must be a single principal applicant that meets the definition of a national, regional, or statewide organization in Section I of the funding announcement and the member organizations must meet the definition of an affiliate/member organization in Section I of the funding announcement. There must be an established and formal oversight relationship between the principal applicant and each sub-applicant.
Q14. How is a sub-applicant different from an affiliate?
A. A sub-applicant must be an affiliate or a member of the applicant’s organization. There must be an ongoing legal relationship between the parties.
Q15. What if my organization does not have a field or affiliate/member structure? Can I pick any local organization as a sub-applicant?
A. No. The sub-applicant must be part of a pre-existing, established, and identifiable affiliate or member network structure. See the definitions in Section I of the funding announcement.
Q16. Can the principal applicant create a new affiliate/member organization with this funding?
A. No. The organizations included as sub-applicants must already exist.
Q17. Can a sub-contractor serve as a sub-applicant under the National Capacity Building Program?
A. No. The distinction between a sub-contractor and an affiliate/member organization is that a contractor is tied to the primary applicant through a discrete contractual arrangement; whereas, an affiliate/member organization is one that has a pre-existing, established and ongoing legal relationship with the primary applicant. The relationship between the sub-applicant and the primary applicant must extend beyond the grant performance period. The objective of this funding opportunity is to increase the long-term capacity of the sub-applicant.
Q18. Can an organization be included as a sub-applicant under the National Capacity Building Grant and also be included as a partner providing naturalization application preparation services under the Direct Services Grant?
A. No. The principal applicant under the National Capacity Building Grant should select sub-applicants who need organizational development, capacity building, and technical assistance in order to build or improve programs and to effectively manage those programs. The expectation for an organization included as a partner in the Direct Services Grant is that the partner has a sound organization and brings expertise and qualifications to the program. If an organization is included as a sub-applicant, it will be hard to justify that they are well-qualified to provide high quality programming under the Direct Services Grant.
Q19. Under the National Capacity Building Grant, can the principal applicant propose any amount for the sub-applicant programs?
A. There is no minimum budget for individual sub-applicant proposals. The maximum request for a single sub-applicant is $150,000.
Q20. Does a sub-applicant need to have experience providing citizenship preparation services in its community?
A. No. However, the principal applicant must clearly demonstrate the ability to guide sub-applicants to gain the expertise and experience. The sub-applicants must demonstrate the ability to gain the experience to sustain its citizenship program beyond the performance period of the grant.
Q21. Does the principal applicant need to have experience in both citizenship education services and naturalization application preparation services to apply for the National Capacity Building Grant?
A. No. However, the principal applicant must only propose activities for sub-applicants that reflect the subject matter expertise of the principal applicant. That is, if the principal applicant does not have experience or expertise in naturalization application preparation services, this should not form part of the sub-applicants’ citizenship preparation program design.
Q22. Are two principal applicants allowed?
A. No. A single principal applicant must assume primary responsibility for all fiscal management and programmatic aspects of the grant.
Q23. What is the maximum award for a principal applicant proposing only two sub-applicants?
A. For two sub-applicants, the maximum possible award is $450,000. This amount is based on a maximum of $150,000 for the principal applicant and a maximum of $150,000 each for the two sub-applicants.
Q24. What activities can the principal applicant fund with the up to $150,000?
A. The principal applicant may use funds for management and oversight costs, along with costs associated with the programmatic aspects of the grant. This includes program staff, technical assistance, organizational and program development, training, domestic travel, program evaluation, etc.
Q25. How can I demonstrate community need for local citizenship preparation services under the National Capacity Building Grant?
A. You should use reputable or substantiated statistical data or evidence such as state or local government reports, regional analyses, published policy reports or U.S. Census Bureau data, such as the American Community Survey.
Q26. If USCIS rejects one or more of the proposed sub-grantees, can we negotiate to have a substitute or substitutes included?
A. No. Only sub-applicants included within the original grant application package will be considered for funding. DHS reserves the right to approve funding for some, none, or all of the two (2) to four (4) proposed sub-applicant programs.
Q27. There is a stipulation in the National Capacity Building Grant funding announcement that the sub-applicants may not be located in the same city or locality. Would a suburb of a metropolitan area count as the same locality?
A. The purpose of the National Capacity Building Grant is to build capacity within a wide range of communities most in need throughout a state, region, or across the nation. DHS strongly discourages submission of applications that propose multiple sub-applicants within a single metropolitan area, and will not accept applications proposing multiple sub-applicants within the same city or county. DHS reserves the right to approve funding for some, none, or all of the two (2) to four (4) proposed sub-applicant programs and will consider program balance factors in making final funding decisions.
Q28. Do the sub-applicants included in the proposal also have to be non-profits?
A. Yes. Each sub-applicant must meet the same non-profit eligibility requirements as the principal applicant.
Application and Eligibility
Q29. Which funding opportunity should I apply for?
A. If you are a local organization with demonstrated experience providing direct citizenship preparation services to legal immigrants, you may apply for the Direct Services Grant. If you are a national, regional, or statewide organization, you may serve as the principal applicant under the National Capacity Building Grant. Affiliates or members of national, regional, or statewide organizations may not apply as the principal applicant under the National Capacity Building Grant. Affiliates or members included as sub-applicants under the National Capacity Building Grant may not apply for the Direct Services Grant.
Q30. Can the principal applicant under the National Capacity Building Grant also apply for a Direct Services Grant?
A. Yes. However, the Direct Services applicant must demonstrate that they will implement a direct citizenship services program for lawful permanent residents (LPRs). The organization cannot receive funding under the Direct Services Grant and pass it along to affiliates or members of the same organization to implement the program.
Q31. How many applications can an individual organization submit for each funding opportunity?
A. Organizations may only submit one application for each grant program. For the Direct Services Grant Program, a local organization cannot submit one application proposing citizenship education services only and a second application proposing both citizenship education services and naturalization application preparation services. For the National Capacity Building program, the national, regional, or statewide organization cannot submit multiple applications proposing different sets of sub-applicants. The principal applicant must select between two (2) and four (4) sub-applicants for its proposal.
Q32. Are there any examples available of the grant applications for the agencies that have been awarded grants in the past?
A. Unfortunately given the public and competitive nature of the grant process, we are unable to provide previous grant applications. Please view the funding announcements at www.uscis.gov/grants. If you have questions regarding the grant funding announcements, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. These questions will be used to inform the FAQs.
Q33. On the www.grants.gov website, is it possible to save the application and come back to it?
A. When working in www.grants.gov, it is not possible to save the application and go back to it later. Applicants must download the application package with Abode Reader. Once the application is saved in Abode, then applicants may save their work and go back to it later. Once the application is completed, applicants must upload it to www.grants.gov and then submit it.
Q34. What happens if www.grants.gov crashes on April 30 due to too much traffic?
A. DHS strongly encourages applicants to submit their applications in advance of the April 30, 2010 deadline. If the applicant encounters difficulties, please contact the Grants.gov Help Desk at 1-800-518-4726 to report the problem and obtain assistance with the system. DHS is not responsible for any technical difficulties on www.grants.gov.
Q35. Should an organization hire a grant preparer?
A. It is up to individual organizations to decide whether or not to hire a grant preparer.
Q36. Do applicant organizations need to demonstrate 501(c)(3) status or is it acceptable to simply be a nonprofit corporation?
A. 501(c)(3) status is not necessary. However, to be eligible, you must provide documentation of public or private non-profit status as defined in section III, A of the funding announcements.
Q37. Can an organization with a pending 501(c)(3) status apply?
A. Prior to submission of an application, organizations must have documentation of public or private non-profit status as described in Section III, A of the funding announcements.
Q38. Are state and local governments eligible to apply for either funding opportunity?
A. Both local and state governments may apply for the Direct Services Grant, provided the state or local agency or entity directly provides the services to LPRs and does not serve as a funding pass-through. For the National Capacity Building Grant, only a state agency or entity, with an organizational structure that includes subordinate offices in different cities or localities, may apply. Local governments are not eligible to apply for the National Capacity Building Grant.
Q39. Can a statewide organization with multiple sub-offices apply for both types of grants?
A. Yes. The statewide organization should decide which grant to apply for based on the capability and experience of the sub-offices.
Q40. My organization has experience with X, Y, and Z and has relationships with Partner A and Partner B. Am I eligible to apply?
A. DHS cannot advise applicants on their eligibility. It is the applicants’ responsibility to determine their eligibility to apply for the funding opportunities.
Q41. Is USCIS willing to send someone from USCIS Headquarters to our community to do an in depth presentation about these funding opportunities?
A. Due to the expected level of participation and the OOC staffing levels, such presentations will not be possible.
Questions about the FY2010 Citizenship and Integration Grants Program should be submitted to: email@example.com. You may also reach the USCIS Grants Division Information Line at 202-272-1280.
Q42. Can a public non-profit institute of higher learning with multiple sites in the same city apply for both types of grants?
A. Please see the answer to “There is a stipulation in the National Capacity Building Grant funding announcement that the sub-applicants may not be located in the same city or locality. Would a suburb of a metropolitan area count as the same locality?” above for the National Capacity Building Grant. For the Direct Services Grant, funding could be used to expand citizenship preparation offerings at these existing sites.
Q43. Do individuals providing citizenship services to immigrants qualify as eligible applicants?
Q44. Are for-profit entities eligible to apply for either of the grants?
Letter Of Intent
Q45. Is the letter of intent mandatory?
A. Yes. The letter of intent is mandatory and was due March 26, 2010. Your application will not be considered unless you submitted a letter of intent. Please see the “Overview Information” Section of either funding opportunity announcement for specific instructions on submitting the letter of intent.
Q46. If we submitted a Letter of Intent before the deadline, how do we know if we are allowed to submit an application?
A. You should have received an auto-reply message after submitting your Letter of Intent. You must include this auto-reply message in your application. If you did not receive an auto-reply message, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q47. What if my organization filed a Letter of Intent, but we have decided to be a sub-applicant or a partner on another application?
A. The principal applicant must have filed the Letter of Intent. The partner or sub-applicant cannot use another organization’s Letter of Intent. An application will not be considered without a letter of intent submitted by the primary applicant.
Q48. If we submit a letter of intent and then decide not to apply, should we notify DHS?
A. Yes. If your organization decides not to apply once it has submitted a letter of intent, DHS would appreciate notification of this decision via the same email or fax options provided within the grant funding announcements.
Q49. Do individuals receiving grant-funded services have to be lawful permanent residents or can they have any legal immigration status?
A. Individuals receiving services must have the status of lawful permanent resident (LPR). The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2010 states, “…none of the funds made available in this Act for grants for immigrant integration may be used to provide services to aliens who have not been lawfully admitted for permanent residence.” Organizations must demonstrate how they will verify that only LPRs will receive grant-funded services.
Q50. The funding announcement states that organizations must provide citizenship education and ESL classes to LPRs only. If an organization also serves non-LPRs, should organizations place LPRs in a class by themselves?
A. Organizations must show that only LPRs will receive services funded by the grants. Applicants must demonstrate how they will ensure that they are using grant funds to serve only LPRs.
Q51. Can the local programs provide only naturalization application preparation services?
A. No. This is an optional activity under both funding announcements, and may be proposed only after the mandatory citizenship education program requirement is satisfied.
Q52. Does an organization need to focus on the Priority Immigrant Groups as was the case in FY2009?
A. There is no mandatory requirement to focus services on specific priority immigrant groups.
Q53. What qualifies as an “underserved immigrant community?”
A. It is the applicant’s responsibility to show why a particular immigrant community is underserved.
Q54. Are organizations allowed to charge a small registration or tuition fee for citizenship classes?
A. Yes. However, the fees must be nominal. The project narrative and budget narrative should include the amount proposed and explain why this fee is necessary within the program structure.
Note: In most cases, any program income generated from the receipt of this grant must be used to further the project.
Q55. Regarding child care costs to assist class participants, are there eligibility requirements? What is the maximum rate allowed to cover child care expenses?
A. It is the applicant’s responsibility to explain the eligibility criteria for the child care that will be provided as well as what rate is reasonable.
Q56. If family members provide child care, are they allowed to receive reimbursements from this grant?
A. DHS does not give reimbursements. It is the applicant’s responsibility to determine what best works for their budget. Applicants must justify why this is a critical component of their budget and project plan.
Q57. Can we use volunteers to provide services? How would you like to see us using volunteers?
A. It is up to the applicant to decide how to make the best use of volunteers.
Q58. Is the organization applying required to conduct classes on-site, or can an organization choose to conduct classes off-site?
A. Organizations may conduct their classes off-site.
Q59. Can organizations limit services to one ethnic, religious, or language group they currently serve?
A. No. Eligible participants targeted for these grant funds must be served regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds or the language they speak.
Q60. Can organizations apply for less than $100,000 under the Direct Services Grant and $500,000 under the National Capacity Building Grant?
Q61. Are there limitations if an organization already receives other federal funding?
A. There is a standard clause that reads: “Requests for funds under this announcement shall not be used to take the place of activities described in the application that are currently supported with other funding. Also, grant funds shall not be used to support activities that are normally part of the organization’s operations.”
Q62. Are the grants a one-time opportunity, or will there be a chance for grantees to renew the funding?
A. The performance period is one year for the Direct Services grant and two years for the National Capacity Building grant. There is no guarantee for a renewal of the grant. The continued funding of the grant program is contingent upon future appropriations from Congress. If additional appropriations are received, we anticipate holding competitive grant opportunities.
Q63. Is this grant only for preparing immigrants for citizenship through classes (English as a Second Language or civics) or also through legal services?
A. Both are allowable program components. However, applicants must propose citizenship education services, which include citizenship/civics-focused English as a Second Language (ESL) and citizenship instruction. Once this mandatory program element is satisfied, the organization may propose naturalization application preparation services.
Q64. In addition to ESL and civics education, can we provide Adult Basic Education to English-speaking LPRs?
A. There is no requirement for priority groups in FY2010, so applicants can serve any LPRs. The important thing to remember is applicants should focus on preparing LPRs for naturalization, which includes ESL-focused civics classes and citizenship education.
Q65. Can the grant money be used to pay the costs associated with BIA recognition and accreditation?
Q66. How does my organization acquire BIA accreditation?
A. Please see the following Department of Justice website: http://www.justice.gov/eoir/press/09/WhoCanRepresentAliensFactSheet10022009.pdf (PDF)
Q67. Will DHS provide any training for the FY 2010 selected grantees?
A. Yes. Selected grantees will attend a two-day grantee workshop in Washington, DC. Applicants must include the cost for this travel in their budget. (Please see page 21 of Direct Services FOA or page 21 of the National Capacity Building FOA).
Q68. For the National Capacity Building grant, should the applicant submit separate budgets for each sub-applicant or one combined budget?
A. Lead applicants must complete one national budget in its entirety along with separate budgets for each of the proposed sub-applicant projects. In addition, please submit the annual operating budget for the principal applicant as well as the annual operating budget for each proposed sub-applicant organization. (See page page 12 and page 20 of the National Capacity Building FOA).
Q69. For the National Capacity Building grant, are the sub-applicants allowed to have indirect and fringe benefits rates in their budgets?
A. Yes. The budget narrative outlined in the funding announcement applies to the lead applicants and the sub-applicants. (See page 12).
Q70. I am applying for the Direct Services grant. My organization has several partners. In my proposal, should I submit one combined budget or separate budgets?
A. The applicant should submit only one budget because there is only one organization applying.
Q71. Which budget category includes facility rental costs?
A. Facility rental costs should be included under “Other Direct Costs.” Facility rental costs should not exceed more than 20% of the total approved budget. (Please see page 21 of Direct Services FOA or page 21 of the National Capacity Building FOA.)
Q72. What counts as proof of fringe-benefit rate?
A. If a fringe benefit has been negotiated with, or approved by, a cognizant Federal agency, provide a copy of the agreement. If no rate agreement exists, provide a breakdown of the amounts and percentages that comprise fringe benefit costs such as health insurance, FICA, retirement insurance, taxes, etc. Identify the base for allocating these fringe benefit expenses. (Please see page 10 of Direct Services FOA or page 13 of the National Capacity Building FOA.)
Q73. Are indirect costs allowed?
A. Yes. For more information, please see page 12 of the Direct Services FOA or page 15 of the National Capacity Building FOA.
Grants Evaluation Criteria
Q76. Will USCIS look more closely at organizations who have limited resources as opposed to organizations with substantial resources that do not necessarily need additional funding?
A. An organization’s net worth is not one of the evaluation criteria for the FY2010 Citizenship and Integration Grants Program. Proposals are evaluated on the degree to which an organization has a sound management and fiscal structure including: well-defined roles for administrators and staff, established financial management systems, and a commitment to ongoing staff and volunteer development and training to ensure effective program implementation. For a comprehensive list of selection criteria, please review Section V.B. titled “Evaluation Criteria” on page twenty-three (23) of the funding announcement.
Q77. Are organizations with partnerships required to have an ongoing relationship with the partner extending beyond the grant period?
A. The requirement that partnerships should extend beyond the grant period is for the National Capacity Building grant only. This is not required for the Direct Services grant.
Q78. Will cities with larger populations be given more consideration?
A. The size of the city in which an organization is located is not a specific selection factor. For a comprehensive list of selection criteria, please review Section V.B. titled “Evaluation Criteria” on page twenty-three (23) of the funding announcement.
Q79. Can we submit letters of support?
A. The funding announcement states that no other documentation should be submitted other than what is requested. Letters of support are not requested, so DHS will not consider them.
Q80. Is USCIS able to publish the points by which applicants will be judged?
A. The evaluation criteria and corresponding point values are found in Section V, B of the funding announcements.
Q81. How can FY2009 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program applicants obtain feedback about their application so that they may be better prepared this time?
A. FY 2009 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program applicants may request a written summary evaluation and score breakdown by sending an e-mail to: email@example.com. Results will be sent to the requesting organization within sixty days from the date the written request is received.
Q82. If any agency was awarded a grant by USCIS in the past, do they have preference over agencies applying for the first time?
A. Previous grant awardees do not receive a preference over agencies applying for the first time. Each year, applications are reviewed and rated individually.
Q83. My organization originally submitted a Letter of Intent for the National Capacity Building Grant Program. Now that we are working on the grant proposal, we see that we are better qualified for the Direct Services Grant Program. Would DHS accept a grant proposal from my organization for the Direct Services Grant Program, even though we declared out intent to apply for the National Capacity Building Grant Program?
A. Yes. As long as your organization submitted the mandatory Letter of Intent for at least one of the FY2010 Citizenship and Integration Grant Programs prior to the March 26, 2010 deadline, your organization may submit an application for the Direct Services Grant Program, the National Capacity Building Grant Program, or both.
Q84. The nonprofit organization where I work is being merged into another nonprofit organization, but that merger is not projected to be complete until after the close of the grant application period. Who applies?
A. The organization that is capable of performing the proposed work at the time the proposal is submitted must be the organization to submit the proposal.
Q85. Is the organization required to have a certified ESL instructor to conduct the ESL classes?
A. It is the applicant’s responsibility to demonstrate the organization’s ability to provide language instruction.
Q86. The funding announcement requires applicants to provide a justification for the program design. Should we put that in the narrative?
A. Yes. Applicants should explain their program design and why they choose that design.
Q87. The funding announcement for both grants explains that DHS may change the ranked order of a proposal in order to achieve a program balance. Could you please explain this?
A. If DHS notices that the best proposals are over-representing certain areas, DHS may choose to take a proposal out of ranked order to achieve a program balance. For example, to represent diverse community sizes, proposals should be balanced between urban areas and small towns. Additional factors may be taken into account to ensure that no one group, area, method, etc. is over-represented.
Q88. The funding announcement asks for a graphic representation or a chart of the project plan. Do we need to provide this in addition to the narrative?
A. Yes, both are required.
Q89. Should our organization submit an MOU for our volunteers?
A. The MOU is required for any formal agreement between the applicant and another organization. MOUs are not required for individual volunteers.
Q90. Is there a format for the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding)?
A. There is no required format.
For additional information on the grant program, please visit www.uscis.gov/grants. To learn more about applying for federal funding opportunities, please visit http://www.grants.gov/ or contact the Grants.gov support line at (800) 518-4726.