2021 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund


 for U.S. Government Exchange Program Alumni Only

   U.S. Department of State

U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland


 The Embassy of the United States in Poland announces an open competition for past participants (“alumni”) of U.S. government-funded and U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs to submit applications to the 2021 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF 2021).   We seek proposals from teams of at least two alumni that meet all of the program eligibility requirements described below.  Exchange alumni interested in participating in the AEIF 2021 competition should submit proposals with the subject title “AEIF 2021 Project Proposal” to Alumni_Poland@state.gov no later than May 9, 2021.


Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the AEIF provides alumni of U.S. government-sponsored and facilitated exchange programs with funding to expand on skills that they gained during their exchange experience to design and implement innovative solutions to global challenges facing their respective communities. Since its inception in 2011, AEIF has funded nearly 500 alumni-led projects around the world through a global competition.

The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland will accept projects proposed and managed by teams of at least two (2) alumni that support themes that do one of or a combination of the following:

  • Enhance awareness of stewardship for environment and activities that take care of environment.
  • Build atmosphere of inclusion of any minority groups such as gender and sexuality, racial and ethnic minority groups, people with disabilities, and others.
  • Involve youth in activities strengthening democracy, good citizenship and civic engagement.


Announcement posted:  April 7, 2021
Closing date for applications proposals: May 9, 2021
Funding type: Small grants awards funded by the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (Washington, DC)
Decision date by the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs: July, 2021
Expected size of individual awards:  Between $10,000 to $25,000.

Program Performance Period: Proposed programs should be completed in the period of August 2021-August 2022.


  1. Eligible Applicants:

The following individuals are eligible to apply: 

  • Applicants must be alumni of a U.S. government-funded exchange program (https://alumni.state.gov/list-exchange-programs) or a U.S. government-sponsored exchange program (https://j1visa.state.gov/).
  • Projects teams must include teams of at least two (2) alumni.
  • Alumni who are U.S. citizens may not submit proposals, but U.S. citizen alumni may participate as team members in a project.
  • Alumni teams may be comprised of alumni from different exchange programs and different countries.
  • Applications must be submitted by exchange alumni. Not-for-profit, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and academic institutions are not eligible to apply in the name of the organization but can serve as partners for implementing project activities. 
  1. Cost Sharing

Inclusion of cost share is not a requirement of this opportunity but project proposals with cost share will be considered more competitive.

  1. Grant Program Area:

Proposals must address themes specified in A. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION above.  Proposals that do not address any of these themes as outlined in the program objectives will be deemed ineligible and not be considered for an award. All project activities must take place outside of the United States and its territories. 

  1. Other Eligibility Requirements

If the grant will be processed with an individual, that individual is not required to have a DUNS number or be registered in SAM.gov.  However, should the grant be processed with an organization that is a partner in the project, that organization must have a unique entity identifier (Data Universal Numbering System/DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet), as well as a valid registration on www.SAM.gov. Organizations must have a commitment to equal opportunity employment practices and to non-discriminatory practices with regard to beneficiaries, without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.

You will find more information on DUNS, NCAGE and SAM registrations in H. INSTRUCTIONS FOR DUNS, NCAGE and SAM REGISTRATIONS at the end of this document.


  1. Address to Request Application Package

To apply, please fill out the following templates: application and budget.

  1. Content and Form of Application Submission

Applications and budgets must be submitted using the official AEIF 2021 proposal and budget forms.

Please carefully follow all instructions below. Proposals that do not meet the requirements of this announcement or fail to comply with the stated requirements will be ineligible.

Please ensure that:

  • The proposal clearly addresses the goals and objectives of this funding opportunity.
  • The proposal addresses all questions in the official AEIF 2021 proposal form.
  • All documents are in English.
  • The budget is in U.S. dollars and is submitted using the designated AEIF budget form.
  • All pages are numbered at the bottom of each page.

The following U.S. government administrative documents are required:

  1. Mandatory application forms
  • SF-424 (Application for Federal Assistance – organizations) or SF-424-I (Application for Federal Assistance –individuals)
  • SF424A (Budget Information for Non-Construction programs)
  • SF424B (Assurances for Non-Construction programs) 
  1. Proposal: The proposal should contain sufficient information so that anyone unfamiliar with its subject matter would understand exactly what the alumni team wants to accomplish in their project.

Proposals should include the following contents, in the following order:

Proposal Summary:  A short narrative that outlines the proposed project, including project objectives and anticipated impact. 

Alumni Team Information:  There must be at least two exchange alumni team members for a project to be considered for funding.  Along with the name and contact information for each alumnus/alumna, describe the role each team member will have in the project and their experience, qualifications, and ability to carry out that role.  Indicate what proportion of their time will be used in support of the project. 

Problem Statement:  A clear, concise and well-supported statement of the problem to be addressed and why the proposed project is needed. 

Program Goals and Objectives:  The “goals” describe what the project intends to achieve.  The “objectives” refer to the intermediate accomplishments that serve to meet the end goals.  These should be achievable (realistic) and measurable. 

Local Program Partners:  List partners who will support your project.  Please note if you have an existing relationship with your partner organization(s) and describe their role in the project. If you do not have an existing relationship, explain how you anticipate establishing a partnership with the organization(s). 

Program Methods and Design:  A description of how the project is expected to work to solve the stated problem and achieve the goal. 

Proposed Project Schedule and Timeline:  The proposed timeline for the project activities.  Include the dates, times, and locations of planned activities and events. 

Project Monitoring and Evaluation Plan: The Monitoring and Evaluation component of the proposal should outline in detail how the proposal’s activities will advance the program’s goals and objectives (listed above). A strong proposal includes: 

  • Any outcomes that the grantee expects to occur because of their program. Outcomes could include, for example, a change in knowledge, awareness, and attitudes; improved quality of services; increased capacity at a school, of a group; etc.  Proposals should also include how the grantee will know those outcomes are occurring (surveys, interviews, observations, etc.)

For example:  If the program expects that a teacher-training program will improve the skills of a teacher, a proposal may explain the skills the teacher would gain as a result of the training, with the proposal providing for a survey to be conducted both before and after the program that would show a positive change in understanding or skills thanks to the program. 

  • A plan to include the grantee’s reflection of how their program contributed to the program’s goals. As applicable, a strong final report would include success stories, behaviors changed, lessons learned, and results obtained. 

Sustainability: Explain how the alumni team plan to continue the program beyond the grant period, or the availability of other resources, if applicable. 

Communication Plan:  Explain how you will promote your project.  Include social media, websites, print news, or other forms of media you intend to use to share information about your project to beneficiaries and the public.  Communications should include branding of the AEIF 2021 program as well as the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland.  These may include training materials; materials for recipients; or materials to communicate or promote with foreign audiences a program, event, project, or some other activity under an agreement.  Note: Exceptions to the branding requirement are allowable under certain conditions. 

  1. Budget Justification Narrative: Applicants must submit a detailed budget and budget narrative justification utilizing the template provided. Line item expenditures should be listed in the greatest possible detail. Budgets shall be submitted in U.S. dollars and final grant agreements will be conducted in U.S. dollars.

Budget Restrictions: AEIF 2021 does not support the following activities or costs, and the selection committee will deem applications involving any of these activities or costs ineligible:

  • Airfare to or from the United States and its territories
  • Activities that take place in the United States and its territories
  • Sustained staff salaries, office space, and overhead/operational expenses exceeding 10% of total operational costs
  • Large items of durable equipment or construction programs
  • Alcohol, excessive meals, refreshments, or entertainment
  • Academic or scientific research
  • Charitable or development activities or the provision of direct social services to a population
  • Support or opposition of partisan political activity or lobbying for specific legislation or programs
  • Programs that support specific religious activities
  • Fund-raising campaigns
  • Programs intended primarily for the growth or institutional development of the organization
  • Venture capital, for-profit endeavors, or charging a fee for participation in the project
  • Individual scholarships
  • Personal development
  • Social travel/visits
  • Gifts or prizes
  • Programs that duplicate existing programs


Evaluation Criteria:  The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland will use the criteria outlined below to evaluate all applications.  After this initial review, the Public Affairs Section will submit the top proposals from their country to the global AEIF 2021 competition. The proposals will be reviewed by a Selection Committee made up of regional and exchange program experts located at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC. Panelists will use the criteria below to review and evaluate applications:

Relevance to Application Theme
The proposal provides sufficient information on how the activities will support the theme(s) of the competition. 

Purpose and Summary, Description, and Implementation Plan
When developing the purpose, summary, description, and implementation plan, applicants should aim to make all descriptions clear, concise, and compelling.  Reviewers will judge the proposals based on the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the community where it is undertaken.  Does the project address an important gap of understanding or need?  If the aim of the project is achieved, how will existing knowledge or practice be improved?  What audience do the applicants hope to reach with this project?  How many will participate?  How will they be selected?

Degree of Alumni Involvement
Projects must include at least two (2) exchange alumni.  More than two alumni may comprise the team, however, the minimum is two.  As the team leaders, the alumni must be closely involved in project planning, implementation, etc.  Applicants should ensure that the proposal includes the following information for each alumni team member: first name, last name, e-mail address, exchange program, country of citizenship, and roles and responsibilities. 

Participation and Support from Local Partners
A successful application will demonstrate buy-in and support from the community where the project will take place. Local partner involvement is a strong sign that there is community support and that the project will engage a broad array of experts, such as subject matter experts, community centers, academic institutions, businesses, local/national government, non-governmental organizations, American Spaces, etc. 

Evaluation and Impact of the Project
Proposals must include a plan to monitor and evaluate the project’s success, both as the activities take place and at the end of the project. Overall, the quality of monitoring and evaluation plan will be judged on how well it 1) specifies the intended outcomes and how these outcomes will be achieved, 2) gives clear descriptions of how each outcome will be measured, 3) identifies when the outcomes will be measured, and 4) explains how outcomes will be collected (such as surveys, interviews, or focus groups). Successful monitoring and evaluation depend heavily on setting clear goals and outcomes and consider potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success. Interim and final reporting is required for winning AEIF projects and winning applicants should have a reporting plan to share information about the success/impact of the project. 

Have the applicants considered how the project will continue to have positive impact after the end of the project. 

Communication, Media, and Outreach Plan
The project should include a clear plan and timeline for how and when the team will share information about the project.  It is important to ensure that the U.S. Embassy gets recognition throughout the process, if circumstances permit. 

Budget and Budget Narrative
The budget and narrative justification are sufficiently detailed. Costs are reasonable in relation to the proposed activities and anticipated results.  The budget is realistic, accounting for all necessary expenses to achieve proposed activities.  The results and proposed outcomes justify the total cost of the project.  Budget items are reasonable, allowable, and allocable. 

Disclaimer: This notice is subject to availability of funding. The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw does not guarantee availability of funding by receiving applications under this announcement. Only successful applicants will be notified if their proposals are selected.  Applicants who submit unsuccessful or ineligible proposals will not be notified.


The grant award will be written, signed, awarded, and administered by a certified U.S. Department of State Grants Officer.  The award agreement is the authorizing document and it will be provided to the recipient for review and signature by email. The recipient may start incurring program expenses only on, or after the start date shown on the grant award document signed by the Department of State Grants Officer.

If a proposal is selected for funding, the U.S. Department of State has no obligation to provide any additional future funding.  Renewal of an award to increase funding or extend the period of performance is at the discretion of the Department of State.

Issuance of this NOFO does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the U.S. government, nor does it commit the U.S. government to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of proposals. Furthermore, the U.S. government reserves the right to reject any or all proposals received.

Payment Method: The Recipient must request payment under the award by completing the U.S. government administrative form SF-270—Request for Advance or Reimbursement and submitting the form to the Grants Officer.  Unless otherwise stipulated in the award, the Recipient may request payments on a reimbursement or advance basis.  Advance payments must be limited to the minimum amounts needed and be timed to be in accordance with the actual, immediate cash requirements of the Recipient in carrying out the purpose of this award.  The timing and amount of advance payments must be as close as is administratively feasible to the actual disbursements by the Recipient for direct program or project costs and the proportionate share of any allowable indirect costs.

Reporting Requirements: Recipients will be required to submit financial reports and program reports on quarterly basis.  All reports must be signed and certified by an authorized representative of the Recipient organization.  All financial reports must be submitted using form SF-425–Federal Financial Report.  As appropriate, performance reports must contain: a comparison of actual accomplishments to the objectives of the federal award established for the period; the reasons why established goals were not met; and additional pertinent information including an analysis and explanation of cost overruns or high unit costs.  The award document will specify additional reporting requirements.


Questions about the grant application process should be directed to: Alumni_Poland@state.gov.

H. INSTRUCTIONS FOR DUNS, NCAGE and SAM REGISTRATIONS (for organizations only – individuals are exempt from this requirement):

To register in SAM one must first obtain DUNS and NCAGE numbers. This process may take from several days up to several weeks, so applicants are advised to start early.  Please note that no fee or payment is required to register for SAM or obtain DUNS and NCAGE numbers.

DUNS Registration (Dun & Bradstreet)

  • To obtain a DUNS number please go to https://www.bisnode.pl/produkty/db-numer-duns/.
  • There is no fee to obtain a DUNS number in support of submitting a grant proposal to the U.S. government, and any additional services offered during the registration process are not necessary.

NCAGE Registration (NATO Commercial and Governmental Entity)

SAM Registration (System for Award Management)

  • To register in SAM please go to SAM.gov. No fee or payment is required to register for SAM.
  • If you are registering a new entity in SAM.gov, you must provide an original, signed notarized letter stating that you are the authorized Entity Administrator before your registration will be activated. The Recipient is required to scan and submit a letter through Federal Service Desk. For instructions please click here (PDF).
  • If you are registered in SAM.gov, please note that registration is only valid for one year. If it expired, you must renew your registration.