US offers funding to strengthen civil society in Sri Lanka

The US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announced an open competition for organizations interested in submitting applications for projects that support strengthening civil society in Sri Lanka.

DRL has sought proposals for programs that promote and enable space for civic engagement in Sri Lanka.

Proposals should assess freedoms of association and assembly following the 2019 Presidential and 2020 Parliamentary elections, help strengthen the capacity for civil society to influence and monitor the role of the government, and provide targeted technical assistance to ensure resilient civic engagement in a closing space with government to ensure all voices are represented, including marginalized populations.

Program activities may include but are not limited to:

  • Create new or strengthen existing networks of like-minded Sri Lankan CSO’s to improve their communication and coordination after the elections.
  • Support Sri Lankan civil society organizations with organizational development, management, legal support, and other forms of capacity building, in addition to technical program support
  • Support civil society to engage with elected officials and advocate for issues of key concern at the local and national level.
  • Develop public-awareness and advocacy campaigns that can be implemented via multiple media and social platforms.

All programs should aim to have impact that leads to reforms and should have the potential for sustainability beyond DRL resources.

DRL’s preference is to avoid duplicating past efforts by supporting new and creative approaches.

This does not exclude from consideration projects that improve upon or expand existing successful projects in a new and complementary way.  Programs should seek to include groups that can bring perspectives based on their religion, gender, disability, race, ethnicity, and/or sexual orientation and gender identity.  Programs should be demand-driven and locally led to the extent possible.

DRL requires all programs to be non-discriminatory and expects implementers to include strategies for integration of individuals/organizations regardless of religion, gender, disability, race, ethnicity, and/or sexual orientation and gender identity.

Competitive proposals may also include a summary budget and budget narrative for 18 additional months following the proposed period of performance, indicated above.  This information should indicate what objective(s) and/or activities could be accomplished with additional time and/or funds beyond the proposed period of performance.

Where appropriate, competitive proposals may include:

  • Opportunities for beneficiaries to apply their new knowledge and skills in practical efforts;
  • Solicitation of feedback and suggestions from beneficiaries when developing activities in order to strengthen the sustainability of programs and participant ownership of project outcomes;
  • Input from participants on sustainability plans and systematic review of the plans throughout the life of the project, with adjustments made as necessary;
  • Inclusion of vulnerable populations;
  • Joint identification and definition of key concepts with relevant stakeholders and stakeholder input into project activities;
  • Systematic follow up with beneficiaries at specific intervals after the completion of activities to track how beneficiaries are retaining new knowledge as well as applying their new skills.

Activities that are not typically allowed include, but are not limited to:

  • The provision of humanitarian assistance;
  • English language instruction;
  • Development of high-tech computer or communications software and/or hardware;
  • Purely academic exchanges or fellowships;
  • External exchanges or fellowships lasting longer than six months;
  • Off-shore activities that are not clearly linked to in-country initiatives and impact or are not necessary per security concerns;
  • Theoretical explorations of human rights or democracy issues, including projects aimed primarily at research and evaluation that do not incorporate training or capacity-building for local civil society;
  • Micro-loans or similar small business development initiatives;
  • Initiatives directed towards a diaspora community rather than current residents of targeted countries.

Applications are due no later than 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST), on Thursday, May 7, 2020 on https://www.grants.gov/ or SAMS Domestic (https://mygrants.servicenowservices.com) under the announcement title “DRL Strengthening Civil Society in Sri Lanka,” funding opportunity number “SFOP0006665.” (Colombo Gazette)

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