Award Competition

The Stevens Initiative invites educational institutions and non-profit organizations in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa to apply for funds to administer virtual exchange programs between youth in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa. The competition has two stages. First, the Stevens Initiative invites letters of interest, which are due on November 30 for organizations based in the United States and December 21 for organizations based in the Middle East and North Africa. Second, organizations with letters of interest selected as finalists will be invited in early 2017 to submit full award applications. Go to aspen.fluidreview.com to read the full instructions for submitting a letter of interest.

How to Apply

  • Applicants must use the online submission system at aspen.fluidreview.com to submit the letter of interest.
  • Click here to view the questions and prompts from the letter of interest form. Answers must be typed or pasted into the boxes provided in the online form; this document is provided for information purposes only.
  • The Stevens Initiative conducted a webinar to address applicants’ questions on November 1. Click here to view a recording of the webinar. 
  • Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to contact us at stevensinitiative@aspeninstitute.org or call +1 (202) 736-2282 to address any questions they have prior to submitting an application.

COMPETITION FAQS

How do I submit an application?

The call for letters of interest is available here. Follow the registration instructions on that page to electronically fill out and submit your letter of interest.

Where may I find the application?

The full text of the letter of interest form is available here.

When is the application deadline?

The application deadline for letters of interest will be November 30 at 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time for applicants based in the United States. The application deadline for letters of interest will be December 21 at 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time for applicants based in the Middle East and North Africa. Finalists will be invited in early 2017 to submit full award applications.

Who is eligible to apply?

Educational institutions and tax-exempt non-profit organizations in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa are eligible to apply for funds to administer virtual exchange programs between youth in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa. Institutions based in countries outside of the Middle East and North Africa are also eligible to apply if the program serves refugees from the Middle East or North Africa.

Are applications from one region or country preferred over applications from other countries or regions?

No preference is given based on the location of the applicant.

What is the age range for participants?

Participants should be young people in the age range that corresponds to the middle school, high school, undergraduate, and graduate education levels. Also included as participants are the educators, facilitators, or group leaders who work with them.

Which countries are eligible for Stevens Initiative programming?

The Stevens Initiative supports virtual exchange programs between young people in the United States and in the Middle East and North Africa as defined by the U.S. Department of State: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, the Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Programs involving refugees from these countries who are currently in countries not listed above are also eligible.

How much money may an organization request?

Organizations may request $20,000 to $700,000. The award amount requested may not be more than 40% of the applying organization’s FY 2015 annual operating budget. In all cases, organizations should demonstrate their capacity to plan, implement, and evaluate programs of the scale they propose. Maximum duration of the award is 19 months (beginning June 1, 2017) for organizations based in the United States and 18 months for organizations based in the Middle East and North Africa (beginning July 1, 2017). The period of performance ends no later than December 31, 2018, for all awardees.

How will letters of interest be evaluated?

The following factors will be assessed in evaluating letters of interest:

  • Institutional capacity
  • Program feasibility
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Emphasis on reaching those whose access to exchange programs has been limited, including girls, underrepresented populations, the disabled, and other groups
  • Statement of need
  • Appeal to proposed participants
  • Contribution to participants’ global competencies
  • Alignment with a Stevens Initiative priority

Can I apply if my organization does not administer virtual exchange?

Yes. Organizations have the opportunity to explain their experience with education programs that use online technology to deliver content and instruction and in-person exchange programs in addition to their experience with virtual exchange.

Who should submit the letter of interest?

An authorized officer of the applying institution should submit the application.

How many awards will be made?

There is no fixed number of awards to be made.

What is the process for selecting the winners?

The Stevens Initiative will convene an independent review committee of experts from related fields to review letters of interest and recommend which organizations should be invited to submit a full application.

When will the winners be announced?

Finalists will be invited in early 2017 to submit full award applications. Awards will be announced during the summer of 2017.

Can an organization submit more than one letter of interest?

Yes, if the proposed programs are distinct, with different staff, content, budgets, participants, etc., an organization may submit more than one letter of interest.

Can an applicant participate in more than one proposal, for example as the prime applicant on one proposal and as a partner on another proposal?

Yes, if the proposed programs are distinct and if the organization demonstrates that it has the institutional capacity to carry out the proposed work.  

Which member of a partnership should be the prime applicant that submits the letter of interest or application?

The organization that will direct and oversee the proposed program should be the prime applicant.

Can a fiscally-sponsored program apply for Stevens Initiative funding? 

Yes. Fiscally-sponsored organizations are eligible to apply; the application must come through the sponsoring organization.

Can the Stevens Initiative match organizations in the United States with students in the Middle East and North Africa, or vice versa? 

Generally, applicants are encouraged to establish partnerships prior to submitting a letter of interest, or work toward the preliminary stages of a partnership by the time of submitting a full application. At this time, the Stevens Initiative cannot match organizations. 

May applicants submit letters of support on behalf of their application?

Letters of recommendation, memoranda of understanding with proposed partners, and other supporting material may be uploaded during the full application stage.

Is there a preference for how many countries are engaged in a proposal?

No. Proposed programs may connect young people in the United States with peers in one or more than one country in the Middle East and North Africa.

Is program participation restricted to students currently enrolled in academic programs?

No. Program participants should be young people in the age range that typically corresponds to the secondary and post-secondary education levels, but participants do not need to be participating through an education institution or enrolled in education in order to participate in a Stevens Initiative program.

I’m applying from an educational institution. Is the letter of interest to be submitted by my department, or the university as a whole?

Please submit the letter of interest from the university as a whole when speaking of the organization’s core program and constituents. A specific office or department may oversee the program. 

Whom may I contact for more information?

Prospective applicants are encouraged to email us at stevensinitiative@aspeninstitute.org or call +1 (202) 736-2282 to address any questions they have prior to submitting an application.