Empowering Women Journalists : Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO)

Program Office: Public Affairs Section, US Embassy, Kathmandu, Nepal
Funding Opportunity Title: Empowering Women Journalists
Announcement Type: Grant
Funding Opportunity Number: PAS-KTM-NOFO-21-02
Deadline for Applications: July 16, 2021 5:00 pm NST
CFDA Number: 19.040


For assistance with the requirements of this solicitation, contact usembktm@state.gov

Due to the volume of applicants and inquiries, Public Affairs Section (PAS) does not accept letters of intent, concept papers, or requests for meetings or phone calls prior to application.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application package has been received in its entirety. Incomplete applications will be considered ineligible. Applicants are urged to begin the application process well before the submission deadline. No exceptions will be made for organizations that have not completed the necessary steps.

A.Funding Opportunity Description Summary

Executive Summary:

Despite progress in gender equality over recent decades, the participation of women in Nepali media is lacking and career advancement opportunities are lagging.  Moreover, when given positions, female journalists are often relegated to topics and portfolios deemed culturally appropriate for a woman to cover. Few are afforded opportunities to build robust experience covering prominent stories and editorial credibility.  Without these opportunities, professional development for female journalists is difficult. Many women journalists also cite difficulties networking, due to responsibilities socially linked to the status of women in Nepali society and because the spaces and times in which traditional networking occur often act as a barrier for the participation of women.

To promote and foster efforts toward gender equality and the empowerment of women in the media sector, the U.S. Mission Nepal aims to support a program to empower and train female journalists in Nepal. Subject to the availability of funds, Empowering Women Journalists aims to expand the professional networks and workplace capacity of ten women journalists from Nepal by offering a mentorship program with leading women journalists from the United States and other countries.

The mentorship program will expose select female journalists to current, global trends in journalism and provide them with professional development to excel in their fields. Through this one-year program, at least ten competitively-selected journalists will be connected with mentors from abroad. Through several rounds of face-to-face and virtual engagement (depending on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic), the mentees will engage in discussions to develop innovative solutions to counter prevalent issues unique to female journalists in Nepal. They will also receive feedback and mentorship on their writing. Finally, participating journalists will complete a capstone project, designed in consultation with the grantee. These projects should not only have an eye toward building individual capacity but also reach beyond their own experiences as female journalists and raise awareness around broader issues that affect women in journalism and build fellow journalists’ capacity.


Female journalists in Nepal face a myriad of issues around retention, empowerment, and financial security. Women at the editorial and other senior levels are rare in Nepal and few opportunities for advancement and professional development exist.

Sociocultural factors play into this dynamic. Because Nepal is a deeply patriarchal society, most female Nepali journalists are unable to continue their employment after getting married and/or after having children. Only a few media outlets have inclusive policies that support women at the top level and many female journalists feel that Nepali media houses are not gender-inclusive. Moreover, the media in Nepal has recently undergone restructuring, often resulting in the downsizing of their workforce and further edging women out of the media workplace. Finally, most informal networking takes place at times and places that count women out, making it difficult to find connections for career advancement and continued growth.

This program aims to empower at least ten female journalists from Nepal. They will be paired with a mentor and take part in networking activities that will build their professional capacity. With their experience and newfound expertise, they will be better skilled to transfer knowledge to their peers, mentor fellow journalists, and raise awareness about women in Nepali media.

The U.S. Mission, through various exchange programs, has been identifying successful women journalists who show promise for career advancement and building their capacity with exchange opportunities. The Embassy has also designed fellowships and other trainings to encourage women participation in investigative journalism and curbing misinformation/disinformation programs. These programs have strengthened alumni’s skills and confidence, and many have established themselves as role models in their fields. In addition to American and other international journalists serving as mentors, Nepali journalists who have benefited from previous participation in exchange programs will be instrumental in the mentorship program.

This funding opportunity seeks to empower Nepali women journalists in three ways:
1) To build participants’ networks;
2) To give them individual mentorship to hone their reporting skills and to build journalistic capacity; and
3) To strategize broader solutions to encourage women’s participation in all levels of the Nepali media sector.

Project Goal: The U.S. Embassy exercises American leadership to help Nepal transform into a more self-reliant, independent, and resilient partner. An informed public shapes government policy, civil society, and the private sector.  To advance women journalists in Nepal and to inform the Nepali public more equitably, the goal of this project is to give at least ten women journalists from Nepal more professional knowledge, skills, and connections while also developing their networks and mentorship capability.

Project Audience(s): The primary audience for this mentorship program are women journalists from Nepal. Recent alumni of US Exchange programs will also be leveraged. Participants in the program will subsequently train other journalists in each of their respective communities.

Project Objectives: By 2022, at least ten women journalists from Nepal will be mentored by U.S. and other international journalists so that they can produce compelling stories for national as well as international audiences. Mentees will be responsible for completing a capstone project, designed in consultation with the grantee. Components of this final project may include: 1) Producing articles that highlight the challenges women journalists face in Nepal (along with recommendations to address those challenges), 2) Mentoring fellow female journalists, and 3) Network and capacity-building projects.

 B. Federal Award Information

Funding Mechanism Type: Grant
Estimated Total Project Funding: $20,000- $25,000 USD
Length of Project Period: One year
Anticipated program start date: August 15, 2021

The Public Affairs Section reserves the right to award less or more than the funds described under circumstances deemed to be in the best interest of the U.S. government, pending the availability of funds and approval of the designated grants officer.

C. Eligibility Information

  1. The following organizations are eligible to apply
    • Not-for-profit organizations
    • Civil society/non-governmental organizations
    • Think tanks and media think tanks
    • Public and private educational institutions
    • Media forums
  1. Organizations may sub-contract with other entities, but only one, non-profit, non-governmental entity can be the prime recipient of the award. When sub-contracting with other entities, the responsibilities of each entity must be clearly defined in the proposal.
  2. Cost sharing or matching is not required for this funding opportunity.
  3. Pre-award costs are not an allowable expense for this funding opportunity.
  4. In order to be eligible to receive an award, all organizations must have a unique entity identifier (Data Universal Numbering System/DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet), as well as a valid registration on SAM.gov. Please see Section D. Required Registrations on how to obtain these registrations
  5. This award does not allow:
    • Projects relating to partisan political activity;
    • Charitable or development activities;
    • Construction projects;
    • Projects that support specific religious activities;
    • Fund-raising campaigns;
    • Lobbying for specific legislation or programs
    • Scientific research or surveys;
    • Commercial projects;
    • Projects intended primarily for the growth or institutional development of an organization;
    • Projects that duplicate existing projects; or Illegal activities

D. Application and Submission Information:

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

Content and Form of Application Submission

Please ensure:

  • Proposal clearly addresses the goals, audiences, and objectives of this notice.
  • All documents are in English.
  • All budgets are in U.S. dollars.
  • All pages are numbered.
  • All documents are formatted to 8 ½ x 11 paper.
  • All Microsoft Word documents are single-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, with a minimum of 1-inch margins.
  • All applicant authorized signatures are provided where indicated on the various, required forms.

Application Deadline: All applications must be received by July 16, Thursday, 2021 5 pm NST. This deadline is firm and is not a rolling deadline. If organizations fail to meet the deadline noted above their application will be considered ineligible and will not be considered for funding.

Application Submission Process:

All application materials must be submitted directly to usembktm@state.gov. The application must include the Funding Opportunity Title and Funding Opportunity Number in the subject line of the email.

Required Registrations

Any applicant listed on the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS) in the System for Award Management (SAM) is not eligible to apply for an assistance award in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 CFR 180 that implement Executive Orders 12549 (3 CFR, 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 CFR, 1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension.” Additionally, no entity listed on the EPLS can participate in any activities under an award.  All applicants are strongly encouraged to review the EPLS in SAM to ensure that no ineligible entity is included.

All organizations applying for grants (except individuals) must obtain these registrations.  All are free of charge. It can take up to six weeks to complete these registrations.:

  • Unique entity identifier from Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS number)
  • NCAGE/CAGE code
  • SAM.gov registration

Follow the steps outlined below to obtain the required registrations:

  • Step 1: Apply for a DUNS number and an NCAGE number (these can be completed simultaneously)
  • DUNS application: Organizations must have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number from Dun & Bradstreet, if your organization does not have one already, you may obtain one by calling 1-866-705-5711 or visiting http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform
  • NCAGE application: Application page here (but need to click magnifying glass and then scroll down to click new registration) https://eportal.nspa.nato.int/AC135Public/scage/CageList.aspx
  • Instructions for the NCAGE application process:https://eportal.nspa.nato.int/AC135Public/Docs/US%20Instructions%20for%20NSPA%20NCAGE.pdf
  • For help from within the U.S., call 1-888-227-2423
  • For help from outside the U.S., call 1-269-961-7766
  • Email NCAGE@dlis.dla.mil for any problems in getting an NCAGE code. After receiving the NCAGE Code, proceed to register in SAM by logging onto: https://www.sam.gov/
  • Step 2: Once DUNS and NCAGE are obtained, continue to SAM registration on SAM.gov .

 Applicants must acquire all required registrations and rights in the United States and Nepal. All intellectual property considerations and rights must be fully met in the United States and Nepal.

Any sub-recipient organization must also meet all the U.S. and Nepal’s requirements described above.

E. Technical Requirements for Application:

When submitting a proposal, applicants are required to include the following documents and information from Sections 1–5 below, as applicable:

Section 1—Application Summary Coversheet:

Paragraph 1: Executive Summary. Please provide a general overview of the proposed project, and how, specifically, this application is responding to this Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). The Executive Summary should answer what will be the focus of this project, what will be its SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) objectives, and how will meeting these objectives contribute to NOFO’s stated Project Goal?

Paragraph 2: Summary of Applicant’s Expertise, Previous Experience on this subject: Detail applicant’s past work in topic area, including best practices and lessons learned. Discuss any networks or communities of practice that formed as a result of the applicant’s previous activities, and how the applicant would build on those networks.  More details can be attached as an appendix.

Paragraph 3: Logistics, including Selection of Participants: How will the applicant organize, coordinate, and execute activities in order to reach stated deliverables? How, specifically, will the applicant select participants, whether event attendees, volunteers, or trainees? What is the specific selection process? What are the criteria?

Paragraph 4: Project Monitoring and Evaluation Plan: The Monitoring and Evaluation component of the proposal will outline in detail how the proposal’s activities will advance the program’s goals and objectives (listed above in Section A). This should be a brief overview of the M&E requirement listed below.

 Section 2—Technical Proposal

Applicants must submit a complete narrative proposal in a format of their choice. The proposal shall not exceed twelve (12) pages.  Refer to the evaluation criteria in Part G below for further detail about what makes a strong proposal. All proposals must address the following areas:

  • Organizational Description and Capacity
  • Project Justification, Sustainability, and Impact
  • Project Goals, Audiences, Objectives, Activities, and Deliverables
  • Implementation Timeline
  • Security (see note below)
  • Monitoring and Evaluation (see note below)

Proof of Registration: A copy of the organization’s registration should be provided with the proposal application. U.S.-based organizations should submit a copy of their IRS determination letter. Nepal-based organizations should submit a copy of their certificate of registration from the appropriate government organization.

Monitoring & Evaluation
Proposals must include a draft Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Performance Monitoring Plan (PMP).  The M&E PMP should show how applicants intend to measure and demonstrate progress towards the project’s objectives and goals.  Attachment 1of this funding opportunity contains a template that may be used to fulfill this requirement.  While the applicant is free to create their own template, completing Attachment 1 will ensure a thorough PMP.

The selected applicant(s) will be required to submit an approved M&E PMP before an award is signed. The selected applicant will be required to work with PAS Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist to ensure the M&E PMP achieves an expected level of expertise and meets PAS objectives.

The key components to the PMP are as follows: 

  • Monitoring and Evaluation Narrative: In narrative form, applicants should describe how they intend to monitor and evaluate the activities of their award and collect data that tracks award performance. In addition, the applicant should describe any M&E processes, including key personnel, management structure (where M&E fits into the overall program’s staff structure), technology, and as well provide a brief budget narrative explaining any line-item expenditures for M&E listed in the program’s budget. This narrative is limited to two pages.
  • Theory of Change Diagram: Applicants will be expected to submit either a Theory of Change diagram or an If-Then Statement that illustrates how project activities will lead to intended outcomes. Attachment 1includes a suggested format for these requirements.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation Datasheet: The applicant must include their proposed activities and their expected outputs and outcomes as well as the goals and objectives as written in the NOFO. The datasheet’s purpose is to explicitly illustrate how a project’s activities lead to tangible results (such as increased beneficiary skills, knowledge, or attitudes) that ultimately address a PAS objective. For more information, please see Attachment 1.1: Instructions.

Section 3—Budge

A. Budget and Budget Detail: Applicants must submit a detailed budget and budget narrative justification. Applicants are encouraged to utilize the template provided with the funding opportunity but are not required to do so (Attachment 2). Line-item expenditures should be listed in the greatest possible detail. Personnel salaries should include the level of effort and the rate of pay, which should cover the percentage of time each staff member will dedicate to grant-based activities. If your organization is charging an indirect cost rate, you must apply it to the modified total budget costs (MTDC), refer to 2CFR§200.68. Budgets that are not in the provided format will not be considered. Budgets shall be submitted in U.S. dollars and final grant agreements will be conducted in U.S. dollars.

B. Audit Requirements: Please note the audit requirements for Department of State awards in the Standard Terms and Conditions https://www.state.gov/m/a/ope/index.htm and 2CFR200, Subpart F – Audit Requirements.  The cost of the required audits may be charged either as an allowable direct cost to the award OR included in the organization’s established indirect costs in the award’s detailed budget.

Section 4—Key Personnel and Project Partners

A. Key Personnel: A résumé, not to exceed one page in length, must be included for the proposed key staff persons, such as the Project Director and Finance Officer, as well as any speakers or trainers (if applicable). If an individual for this type of position has not been identified, the applicant may submit a 1-page position description, identifying the qualifications and skills required for that position, in lieu of a résumé.

B. Project Partners: Letters of support should be included for sub-recipients or other partners. The letters must identify the type of relationship to be entered into (formal or informal), the roles and responsibilities of each partner in relation to the proposed project activities, and the expected result of the partnership. The individual letters cannot exceed 1 page in length.

Section 5—Standard Form 424 Family

All submissions must include the SF-424 Application for Federal Assistance (Attachment 3) and the SF-424A Budget Information—Non-Construction (Attachment 4). These forms and the instructions for completing them are available at http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/forms.html under the heading “SF-424 Family.”  NOTE: The SF-424B is required only for those applicants who have not registered in SAM.gov or recertified their registration in SAM.gov since February 2, 2019 and completed the online representations and certifications.  An authorized signature by the applicant must be provided on this form.

Please note:

  • Other items NOT required/requested for submission, but which may be requested if your application is approved for funding include:
  • Copies of an organization or program audit within the last two (2) years
  • Copies of relevant human resources, financial, or procurement policies
  • Copies of other relevant organizational policies or documentation that would help the Department determine your organization’s capacity to manage a federal grant award overseas.
  • The Embassy reserves the right to request any additional programmatic and/or financial information regarding the proposal.

F. Review and Selection Process

  1. Acknowledgement of receipt. Applicants will receive acknowledgment of receipt of their proposal.
  2. Review. All submissions are screened for technical eligibility. If a submission is missing any required forms/documents listed, it will be considered ineligible and will not be reviewed by the grants review committee. A technical review panel will review the proposal and based upon the criteria noted in this NOFO.
  3. Follow up notification. Applicants will generally be notified within 90 days after the NOFO deadline regarding the results of the review panel.

G. Application Evaluation Criteria

Criteria:  Each application submitted under this announcement will be evaluated and rated on the criteria enumerated below. The criteria are designed to assess the quality of the proposed project, and to determine the likelihood of its success.

  • Quality and Feasibility of the Program Idea – 30 points: The program idea should be innovative and well developed, with sufficient detail about how project activities will be carried out. The proposals should demonstrate originality and outline clear, achievable objectives. The proposal includes a reasonable implementation timeline. The project scope is appropriate and clearly defined.
  • Organizational Capacity and Record on Previous Grants – 15 points:
  • The project proposal demonstrates that the organization has sufficient expertise, skills, and human resources to implement the project.
  • The organization demonstrates that it has a clear understanding of the underlying issue that the project will address.
  • The organization demonstrates capacity for successful planning and responsible fiscal management. This includes a financial management system and a bank account.
  • Applicants who have received grant funds previously have been compliant with applicable rules and regulations.
  • Where partners are described, the applicant details each partner’s respective role and provides curriculum vitae (CVs) for persons responsible for the project and financial administration. Proposed personnel, institutional resources, and partners are adequate and appropriate
  • Project Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives – 25 points: The project plan is well developed, with sufficient detail about how activities will be carried out. The proposal specifies target audiences, participant recruitment, and geographic areas of implementation. The proposal outlines clear, achievable objectives. The proposal includes a reasonable implementation timeline. The project scope is appropriate and clearly defined.
  • A media or amplification plan (if appropriate) that shows how the organization will use social or traditional media or otherwise increase the number of people who gain exposure to the issue and knowledge of the activities beyond the core participants.
  • Budget – 10 points: The budget and narrative justification are sufficiently detailed. The budget demonstrates that the organization has devoted time to accurately determine expenses associated with the project instead of providing rough estimates. Costs are reasonable in relation to the proposed activities and anticipated results. The results and proposed outcomes justify the total cost of the project. Budget items are reasonable, allowable, and allocable.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation – 10 points: Points for M&E will be awarded by considering three subset criteria within the narrative: (1) Technical M&E; (2) Program Design; and (3) Learning. Specifically, scoring will be based on the following:
    • Technical M&E: A submission will be considered technically sound if there is a complete and thorough draft submission of a M&E Performance Monitoring Plan (PMP). This will include a list of proposed project activities, corresponding milestone, output, and outcome indicators, a description of data collection methods, and a timeline for collecting such information.  Use of the suggested template (Attachments 1 & 1.1) will satisfy these requirements.  Funded projects will have their plans finalized during the negotiation phase, and monitoring plans may be subject to periodic updates throughout the life of the project.
    • Program Design: A submission will be considered well designed if the proposal addresses a significant problem, identifies an appropriate target audience, and presents a clear theory of change on how the program will address that problem. Whether through a logical framework, theory of change diagram, or a set of if-then statements, the proposal should state in some form “If these activities are completed, then these outcomes will result”.  Further, if the project requires selecting participants, or beneficiaries, the proposal should articulate how the selection will be done in an equitable way.
    • Learning: A submission will satisfy the learning component by demonstrating an ability to adjust project activities based on new information. Does the design incorporate community or participant feedback to allow for adjustments?  If the proposal is from a prior grantee, does the proposal discuss how the grantee has adapted, improved or otherwise modified their approach based on learning from previous experience/past performance? If this is a new grantee or new project, has the proposal demonstrated that the applicant used desk research, prior experience, or other evidence to directly inform program design?

Expenses directly associated with monitoring and evaluation are considered allowable.  The suggested template includes a space to list the portion of the total budget amount directly associated with monitoring and evaluation activities.

  • Sustainability – 10 points: The project proposal clearly describes the approach that will be used to ensure maximum sustainability or advancement of project goals after the end of project activity.

H. Federal Award Notices

The grant award or cooperative agreement will be written, signed, awarded, and administered by the Grants Officer. The assistance award agreement is the authorizing document, and it will be provided to the recipient for review and signature by email. The recipient may only start incurring project expenses beginning on the start date shown on the grant award document signed by the Grants Officer.

If a proposal is selected for funding, the 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.

For more details:

Attachment 1- Template – M&E Performance Monitoring Plan – Standard (docx 78KB)

Attachment 1.1- Instructions – M&E Performance Monitoring Plan (docx 44KB)

Attachment 2- PAS Budget Narrative _Template (XLXS 33KB)

Attachment 3- SF424_4_0-V4.0 (PDF 167KB)

Attachment 4- SF424A-V1.0 (4) (PDF 1.6MB)