Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the 2013 Environmental Education Grant Program
The following questions and answers are for informational and explanatory purposes only and are not meant to amend or change the published 2013 Request for Proposals in any way. Please contact email@example.com with additional questions about application procedures only. No questions will be taken regarding proposal content or ideas.
- The EPA Environmental Education (EE) Grant Program
- Application process and instructions
- Application content guidelines
- Clarification of terms and priorities
- Costs and use of grant funds
- Partner organizations, subawardees/subgrantees and contracts
- General information and other questions
- How is the EPA EE Grant Program different this year?
The 2013 Model Grants RFP combines the Model Grant Program with the Sub-Award Program:
- There will be 2-3 grants awarded per Region.
- There will be 1-2 grants issued from Headquarters.
- The upper dollar limit for proposed EPA funds for projects is $200,000.
- There is an emphasis on each grant project being developed as a model that could be replicated in a variety of settings.
- Grantees must award 25% of the funds received from EPA as sub-awards/sub-grants
- There is an emphasis on the importance of each grant project finding a way to reach a broad variety and diversity of audiences, included but not limited to minority, low income and tribal audiences (in fact, there is a requirement that each proposal explain how it will support the cross-cutting strategy of "Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism" in the EPA 2011-2016 Strategic Plan).
- I was looking through the information for the recently released Environmental Education grant opportunity on grants.gov. On the "Full Announcement" page, the following message comes up: "There are no attached files." Is there another way to access the full grant announcement?
The "full announcement" page is not used in EPA grant postings on grants.gov. Instead, click on the link provided in the "synopsis". You can also access the complete Request for Proposals document at http://www2.epa.gov/education.
- What is the deadline for submitting a grant application for the current RFP?
February 4, 2014, 11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) is the deadline for applications submitted electronically to www.grants.gov. Hard copies may be sent by either U.S Postal Service mail or commercial delivery service to the EPA Regional Office that is responsible for the state(s) in which your proposed project will be located or to EPA Headquarters Offices, and must be postmarked by February 4, 2014 to be eligible for consideration. Hand deliveries will be accepted up until close of the business day February 4, 2014 in each Regional Office and Headquarters Office.
- Where do I send my application?
You can submit your application electronically (online) to www.grants.gov or in hard copy format. If you are going to use grants.gov for your submissions, please designate an Authorized Organization Representative (someone who is authorized to sign applications for federal assistance funds) and make sure that individual visits www.grants.gov soon in order to register, as the registration process can take a week or longer.
If you are sending your application in hard copy form, it is important that you send it to the correct point of contact at EPA so that your application is not lost or received after the review process has begun. To determine where to send your application, look at the list of Regions and the states they included in Section VII of the RFP and find the Region in which your proposed project will be located. Section VII (Agency Contacts) also contains address information for the points of contact at each of the 10 Regional Offices and for Headquarters. Please be sure to send the original and 2 copies and include the first and last name of the point of contact in the Regional Office on the mailing label for your application.
Remember, to be eligible your application must be received by www.grants.gov by 11:59 pm EST on February 4, 2014, if submitting electronically, or postmarked by USPS or a commercial delivery service no later than February 4, 2014, or hand delivered by close of the local business day February 4, 2014, in the appropriate Regional of Headquarters Office.
- What are the rules for submitting multiple or repeat applications?
Applicants can submit more than one proposal under this solicitation so long as each one is for a different project and is separately submitted.
Applicants must demonstrate that their proposal is for a project for which they (the applicant) has not been previously awarded a grant by EPA's EE program and a statement to this effect must be included in the first paragraph of the Project Summary; or the applicant must demonstrate that they are expanding, broadening or otherwise enhancing a project previously funded by EPA's EE Grant Program in such a way that it could serve as a replicable model of environmental education practices, methods, or techniques.
- When will I be notified about my application status?
Applicants will receive a confirmation that their proposal was received by EPA within approximately 60 days of receipt.
EPA will contact finalists to request additional federal documentation and other information.
Applicants who are not selected for funding will receive official notification from EPA approximately 15 days after the decision has been made.
- I have heard there is a new requirement for how to name file attachments in grants.gov. What is the new requirement?
Beginning August 15, 2012, applicants are now limited to using the following characters in all attachment file names.
Valid file names may only include the following UTF-8 characters:
A-Z, a-z, underscore (_), hyphen (-), space, period.
If applicants use any other characters when naming their attachment files their applicants will be rejected.
- What are the application content guidelines?
Describe the project accurately and precisely:
- Research the project and describe exactly why there is a need for the project in your community or in the field of environmental education
- Identify existing efforts related to the project - use the information to support the project or to justify a different approach
- Clearly define measurable quantitative and qualitative outputs that can be reported during the funding period
- Include outcomes that will result from carrying out the activities or outputs of the project
- Describe exactly what you are going to do and how you are going to do it
- Identify the products that you will use or produce and how you will distribute them
- Specify the methodology, such as workshops or field trips, you will use to implement the project and explain how it teachers critical-thinking, problem-solving or decision-making skills
- Explain how the project will promote environmental stewardship
- Explain the project's potential for wide application or how it could serve as a replicable model for other communities or organizations
- What are the audience guidelines?
Target your audience carefully:
- Describe clearly the individuals or groups that make up your audience; for example, 19 school districts, and/or 60 high school teachers, 400 middle school students, etc.
- Explain why your audience needs the project; e.g., because of the local impact of a particular environmental issue or an educational need
- Explain if/how your project will reach a wide variety of audiences, including but no limited to minority and low income populations
- Explain how you will recruit your audience and your incentives to keep them; if reaching teachers, explain incentives such as stipends or continuing education credits
- What are the evaluation guidelines?
Develop a methodology for evaluating the project:
- Describe how you will ensure that you are meeting the goals, objectives, outputs, and outcomes of the project
- Identify the strategies, milestones, and tools that you will use to track and measure progress towards achieving the outputs and outcomes of the project
- Describe how monitoring will be used to strengthen the project
- What are the timeline guidelines?
Develop a realistic timeline:
- Demonstrate that you can complete the project within the funding period
- List the sequence and time frames of all tasks you will undertake to meet the goals of the project (on a schedule that covers the entire grant period)
- Describe how the project will be sustained after the federal funding period ends, and/or how it could be replicated in other settings
- What are the budget guidelines?
Develop a realistic budget:
- Make the budget clear and concise and use headings from the Budget Form (SF 424A), such as personnel, travel, and supplies
- Provide details on the basis of costs for items
- Present the budget in such a manner that someone unfamiliar with your organization will understand it
- Identify the personnel, materials, and other resources you will need to implement the project:
- Identify those you and your partners already have and those for which you need funding
- Clarify which costs will be charged to matching funds, in-kind matches, EPA finds, or other funding sources
- Show that your organization has obtained the required level of nonfederal matching funds, that is, at least 25 percent of the total cost of the project (Your match must be at least one-third of the requested Federal amount to be sufficient. For example, if the Federal amount requested is $150,000, divide this amount by 3, which equals $50,000, In this example, your match needs to be at least $50,000, assuming that the total budget for the project is $200,000.
- Carefully document those matching funds that are provided in cash and those represented by in-kind contributions and other nonmonetary support
Be cautious about including what might appear to be excessive personnel or travel costs and high overhead expenses; your budget must be competitive.
Check the budget forms for mathematical errors.
Make certain you don't include unallowed items, such as construction costs.
- What are the logic model guidelines?
- Provide a graphic (logic model) to display the outputs and short-, medium-, and long-term outcomes developed through the project
- Ensure that the logic model clarifies the objectives (outputs and outcomes) and activities that are described in the work plan
- Use the logic model to show how the funded activities will result in positive outcomes
- What are the format guidelines?
Meet the format requirements specified in the solicitation notice and at www.grants.gov if submitting electronically, and be sure to submit an original and 2 copies if submitting in hard copy.
- Pages must be letter-size - 8 1/2 x 11 inches
- Number the pages in the narrative portion of your proposal (i.e., Project Summary and Project Description not to exceed 8 pages.)
- Clearly label all portions of your proposal (i.e., Project Summary, Project Description, Project Evaluation Plan, Detailed Budget, etc.)
- Provide one original signed copy and 2 additional copies as specified in the Solicitation Notice, if doing a paper submission; electronic submission through www.grants.gov is also an option
- Do not exceed the page limits specified for the Project Summary and Project Description
- Do not send extra material, such as videos, newspaper articles, etc.
Spell out each acronym at first use.Perform an internal and/or external review or the application:
- If possible, ask someone who has experience in writing grant proposals to review the application
- Perform an editorial review for clarity and conciseness
- Check the proposal for typographical, grammatical, and mathematical errors
Perform a final quality control check to ensure that application materials are complete and signed and that the copies are legible.
- Is a local government agency eligible to apply for a grant?
The RFP states that "any local education agency...may submit a proposal." The Environmental Education Act does not define a "local education agency". The term is defined in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. If there is any question as to whether you are a local education agency, you can check with the state department of education in the state in which you are located. For purposes of applying for a grant through this RFP, make sure it is clear in your application that you have the authority to conduct education programs. You can demonstrate this authority by providing documentation from your state department of education, referencing the law or bylaws that establish your agency, quoting your current official mission statement, and/or showing us proof that your authority has been set by practice of education programs in the past. Be sure to include this information in a succinct statement in the Project Summary and in the Project Description, as well as in detail in the Programmatic Capability and Past Performance section of the application.
- Who is eligible to apply for a grant?
Any local education agency, college or university, state education or environmental agency, non-profit organization as described in Section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or noncommercial educational broadcasting entities, as defined and licensed by Federal Communications Commission may submit a proposal. Applicant organizations must be located in the United States or its territories and the majority of the educational activities must take place in the United States; or in the U.S. and Canada or Mexico; or in U.S. Territories. A teacher's school district, an educator's nonprofit organization, or a faculty member's college or university may apply, but an individual teacher or faculty member may not apply.
"Tribal education agencies" that are eligible to apply include a school or community college which is controlled by an Indian tribe, band, or nation, which is recognized as eligible for special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians and which is not administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Tribal organizations do not qualify unless they meet that criteria or the non-profit criteria listed above. The terms of eligibility are defined in Section 3 of the Act and 40 CFR 47.105.
- Are county governments eligible?
Yes, education or environment agencies within county governments are considered eligible as defined in the eligibility requirements.
- My tribe is interested in applying for an EE grant. We would apply as a Federally Recognized Tribe and our Environmental Department, who does educate the community, would be the administrator of the grant. I did not see the term “federally recognized tribe” under the eligibility section, but I did see tribal organizations could be eligible. Are we eligible to receive a grant?
Per the RFP: “Tribal education agencies” that are eligible to apply include a school or community college which is controlled by an Indian tribe, band, or nation, which is recognized as eligible for special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians and which is not administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Tribal organizations do not qualify unless they meet that criteria or the non-profit criteria listed above. The terms for eligibility are defined in Section 3 of the Act and 40 CFR 47.105. As stated, you do not match the description of a tribal education agency and would therefore not be eligible to apply for a grant.
- We have read through the EE Model RFP and need to know if our school’s resources would be considered federal funds. We are a Bureau of Indian Education contract school. We have a local tribal charter and are governed by a local school board. Can we use our resources as a non-federal match?
Your question is about resources, but you as an entity are not eligible to apply for this grant. Per the RFP: “Tribal education agencies” that are eligible to apply include a school or community college which is controlled by an Indian tribe, band, or nation, which is recognized as eligible for special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians and which is not administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Tribal organizations do not qualify unless they meet that criteria or the non-profit criteria listed above. The terms for eligibility are defined in Section 3 of the Act and 40 CFR 47.105.
- I am a college student and want to apply for an EPA EE grant. Am I eligible to apply if I am going to use the funds for my own education or environmental issues?
No, individual students are not eligible to apply for grants under this program.
- May an organization apply for 501(C)(3) status at the same time as they apply for a grant, or do they have to have the status approved before they submit their application to EPA?
An organization may apply for 501(C)(3) status at the same time that they apply for a grant, but the organization must have its 501(C)(3) status already approved by the IRS to be eligible for an award under this grant program. If an applicant becomes a finalist for a grant but does not have its 501(C)(3) status approved by the time of the award, it will not be eligible for the award.
- Regarding eligibility for the EE grants program, one eligible type of agency is a "tribal education agency." Does this mean a school of some kind, or could a federally recognized tribe's Environmental Health Department be considered a "tribal education agency"?
No, an entity like a tribal health department is not considered an eligible agency. Only schools or a community college which is controlled by an Indian tribe, band, or nation, including any Alaskan native village which is recognized as eligible for special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians, and which is not administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, is eligible.
- My organization has never received an EE grant from EPA for a project that we've run for several years. Would our project be eligible for funding from EPA?
Yes, your organization would be considered eligible for a grant through the EE program assuming that you meet all of the eligibility requirements as defined in the RFP.
- My organization has received funding for an EE grant in the past. Are we eligible to apply again?
Applicants must demonstrate that their proposal is for a project for which they (the applicant) has no been previously awarded a grant by EPA's EE program and a statement to this effect must be included in the first paragraph of the Project Summary, or the applicant must demonstrate that they are expanding, broadening or otherwise enhancing a project previously funded by EPA's EE Grant Program in such a way that it could serve as a replicable model of environmental education practices, methods, or techniques.
- We are part of a collaboration of non-profit environmental education centers. We have “camps” to which we bring groups of school kids for 2-5 day residential EE program. Can the EE grant funds be used to support residential EE programs conducted for upper elementary and middle school students?
As described, this sort of residential program would be eligible. If you apply and intend to conduct your project as a collaboration of partners, be sure to get partnership letters of commitment from the other “centers”.
- We are a 501 (c)(3) with a school garden program. We solicit funds through grants and corporate contributions then redistribute 100% of those funds for learning gardens and workshops at schools in our county. In essence we are a third-party funder. Are we eligible for an EE grant?
It sounds like you are going to redistribute grant funds through sub-grants. If this is the case, then yes, your project is eligible to apply for an EE grant.
- Can an EE grant be used for a program that targets primarily adults, with little or no K-12 component such as a program to educate homeowners associations, civic groups and elected officials on wastewater management approaches?
Yes, an EE grants can be used to provide environmental education to adults.
- Can local governments apply for EE grants?
The RFP states that “any local education agency…may submit a proposal.” The Environmental Education Act does not define a “local education agency”, that term is defined in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. If there is any question as to whether you are a local education agency, you can check with the state department of education in your state. For this RFP, make sure that it is clear in your application that you have the authority to conduct education programs. Please provide documentation from your state department of education, referencing the law of bylaws that established your agency, quoting your current official mission and/or showing proof that your authority has been set by practice of education programs in the past. Include this information in a succinct statement in the Project Summary and Project Description sections of your proposal, as well as in detail in the Programmatic Capability and Past Performance section of your proposal.
- We are an educational 501 (c) (3) and a residential Quaker school. Are there eligibility issues regarding our status as an educational institution founded on religious principles?
As a 501 (c) (3) organization, you are eligible to apply for an EE grants. The religious aspect is irrelevant.
- Would an indoor environmental focus be appropriate under the category of community projects and community-focused stewardship activities?
Indoor and outdoor environmental issues would be appropriate as community projects.
- Do community-focused stewardship activities need to focus on just teachers and/or students or could they include other community members?
Yes, community members of any age could qualify as audience members in a project funded by this grant program—not just teachers and/or students.
- Can we apply for a grant in one region to replicate a project that was previously funded by the EE grant program in another region?
Applicants must demonstrate that their proposal is for a project for which they, the applicant, have not been previously awarded a grant through this program. OR, the applicant must demonstrate that they are expanding, broadening or otherwise enhancing a project previously funded by this program in such as way that it could serve as a replicable model of environmental education practices, methods, or techniques.
- Can we apply for funding in one EPA Region that would include EE activities in another Region?
If your project includes activities in more than 1 region, you are required to submit your application to Headquarters.
- Can we apply for funding for an outreach project that includes global issues such as sustainable fishing? Would this be considered “protecting America’s waters”?
If your project address a global issue, make sure there is a local focus. Additionally, the applicant must be located in the United States or territories and the educational activities must take place in the U.S., or in the U.S. and Canada or Mexico.
- Is a 501 (c)6 eligible to apply for an Environmental Education grant?
No, an organization must be designated as a 501 (c) (3) by the Internal Revenue Service to apply for an Environmental Education Grant.
- What are ineligible activities?
Environmental education funds cannot be used for:
- Technical training of environmental management professionals;
- Environmental "information" or "outreach" projects that have no educational component, as described in Section I (B) of the RFP;
- Advocacy promoting a particular point of view or course of action;
- Lobbying or political activities as defined in OMB Circulars
- Non-educational research and development; or
- Construction projects - EPA will not fund construction activities such as the aquisition of real property (e.g., buildings) or the construction or modification of any building.
- What kind of restrictions does your grant program put on construction projects? Would the installation of a rain garden qualify? Or a playground that was built to instruct children how a certain environmental principle works?
The solicitation notice specifically prohibits using EPA funds for construction. The creation of something like a rain garden or a playground should be peripheral to an education project, not its main activity and not the major expense of the budget. The solicitation doesn't allow the funds to be used, for example, for the construction of a building, even to hold environmental education classes or house environmental displays, etc. So if expenses to install a rain garden or playground dominate the budget and the project period and require something like heavy equipment purchase or rental, then most likely the project is more construction than education and therefore ineligible. (Note: The solicitation gives an example of a nature trail or a bird house as allowable expenses, but even these would have to be part of a larger education project, not the primary focus of the project and/or expenditure of the budget.)
- Please give more detail on what could be categorized as “advocacy promoting a particular point of view or course of action.”
There can sometimes appear to be a fine line between advocacy and EE. For example, a project advocating for new legislation on a particular environmental issue rather than educating its audience on how think through possible solutions to an environmental problem would be ineligible.
- Does EPA have a definition or example of a "replicable model of environmental education practices, methods, or techniques"?
EPA does not have a formal definition of this term, nor do we have examples of previously funded grants that served as "replicable models" because we have not issued a solicitation for this type of grant before. We are looking for projects that would add to or enhance the field of environmental education and that could be easily duplicated in other settings - i.e., in a variety of geographical locations, with various audience types, in different educational settings (formal and/or non formal), etc.
- We are a public school applying for a grant to install solar panels. Would this be considered a construction project considering its educational purpose is to target environmental issues?
Yes, this is considered a construction project is not an eligible activity for the EE grant program.
- How does EPA define "students" as part of the target audience of a grant funded project - for example, are university students considered an eligible target audience?
Yes, university students are considered “students” under the eligibility criteria for projects in the EE grant program. In fact, “students” in EE projects funded by EPA may be any age and the term may be used to refer to students of informal education programs as well -- for example, programs held in nature centers, zoos, or science centers.
- Who is considered a “Prime” recipient and how would people apply for the sub-grants?
The “Prime” recipient is the organization that is applying for the EE grant. It is the Prime recipient’s responsibility to determine how the sub-grants will be made and all sub-grantees must also be deemed “eligible” as defined in the RFP.
- Must a project address climate change AND air quality or take action on toxics AND chemical safety as stated in the environmental priorities or can the project address one or the other?
The project can address one or the other or both environmental priorities as listed in the Environmental Priorities section of the RFP.
- Is there any guidance you can give our organization regarding what kinds of activities EPA will fund to train educators?
EPA has funded various kinds of projects focused on the training of environmental educators. A resource to help guide projects that address the training of environmental educators is the Guidelines for the Preparation and Professional Development of Environmental Educators developed with EPA funds. You may download or order a copy of this publication by going to EPA's web site at http://www2.epa.gov/education/environmental-education-ee-publications
- Does this program fund the development of environmental education materials or curriculum?
EPA strongly encourages applicants to use existing quality environmental education materials rather than developing new ones because many quality materials are available and some are under-utilized. When determining what educational materials to use, EPA recommends you review “Environmental Education Materials: Guidelines for Excellence” developed with EPA funds. You may download or order a copy of this publication by going to EPA’ web site at http://www2.epa.gov/education/environmental-education-ee-publications. This publication provides guidance on developing, evaluating, and selecting quality environmental education materials.
EPA will consider funding the development of new materials where the applicant demonstrates that there is a need (e.g., that existing quality educational materials cannot be adapted to a particular local environmental concern or audience or existing quality materials are not available). You should specify what steps you have taken to determine this need (e.g., you may cite a conference where this need was discussed, the results of inquiries made within your community or with educational institutions, or a research paper or other published document).
- We represent a university that is applying for one of the EE grants. Our university has a large indirect cost rate. If we reduce our indirect cost rate can the amount reflected in the use of a lowered indirect rate cost be counted toward the matching requirement in this grant program?
This would be an in-kind match, and could be used as a match as long as it is consistent with in-kind match principles.
- If a tribal program becomes a partner in the EE grant application and already receives funds from another office in EPA, do those funds become tribal and become eligible for use as part or the entire required 25% match?
No, the funds from another EPA office are still federal funds and may not be used as any part of the required 25% match.
- I understand that we are required to make sub-grants of exactly 25% of the funds that we receive from EPA. Does this have to be in the form of cash or can we award educational materials that we purchase and distribute?
The sub-grant must be a cash award. You may not use education materials that you have purchased as the sub-grant in place of a cash award.
- Can we report in-kind contributions made before June 1, 2014 toward our 25% matching funds if necessary and applicable to our proposed project?
No. Any contributions made or cost incurred before the specified date in the RFP (June 1, 2014) cannot be reimbursed or used for the required 25% match. If you were to receive a grant, there would be a pre-award condition of up to 90 days when costs could be reimbursed or contributions received to make the required 25% match, but not before the June 1st date stated in the RFP.
- What is the limit for overhead expenditures under the matching funds category?
There is no limit for overhead expenses as part of the 25% match. However, we caution applicants about including what might appear to be excessive personnel or travel costs and high overhead expenses as part of their budget as this can make the application seem less competitive.
- If an applicant does not have an Indirect Cost Rate Agreement with the government, then what costs cannot be included in their proposed budget?
Without an Indirect Cost Rate Agreement, applicants cannot include overhead costs that are not directly attributable to the performance of a specific task in the proposed project.
Organizations with an Indirect Cost Rate Agreement may include such expenses as rent and administrative support for their offices on the “indirect costs” line of their proposed budget. Organizations without such an agreement cannot account for such costs in their proposed budget because those costs are difficult to document as being directly related to specific activities in the grant project.
- Does an applicant have to have an Indirect Cost Rate Agreement in place when they apply for funds from this grant program?
No, an applicant can begin the negotiations for an Indirect Cost Rate Agreement at the same time that they apply for a grant to this program, or within 90 days of the date of an award of a grant under this solicitation. However, recipients are not allowed to seek reimbursement for indirect costs until an approved indirect cost rate is obtained.
If the recipient does not have a current negotiated indirect cost rate or proposal, and if EPA is the recipient’s cognizant agency, EPA can allow the recipient to charge a flat indirect cost rate of 10% of salaries and wages (see 2 CFR Part 230, Appendix A). Recipients that opt to use the 10% flat rate are obligated to use the flat rate for the life of the grant award.
To find more information on indirect cost rate agreements, go to http://www.aqd.nbc.gov/services/ICS.aspx.
- May a college (or other entity) submit a proposal with a budget that contains less than its federally negotiated indirect cost rate and then claim the rest of that percentage rate as part of its required cost match?
Yes, as long as a written copy of the current negotiated indirect cost rate is submitted along with the proposal.
- Is there a matching funds requirement?
Yes, applicants must provide non-federal matching funds of at least 25% of the total cost of the project.
Matching Funds Explanation: Non-federal matching funds must be at least 25% of the total cost of the project. The match must be for an allowable cost and may be provided by the applicant or a partner organization or institution. The match may be provided in cash or by in-kind contributions and other non-cash support. In-kind contributions often include salaries or other verifiable costs and this value must be carefully documented. In the case of salaries, applicants may use fair market value for your locale. If the match is provided by a partner organization, the applicant is still responsible for proper accountability and documentation. All grants are subject to federal audit.
IMPORTANT: The matching non-federal share is a percentage of the entire cost of the project. For example, if the entire budget for the project is $200,000, then the grant recipient must provide $50,000 of those funds, and the request for federal funds would be $150,000. One way to assure that your match is sufficient is to divide the federally requested amount by three (e.g., $150,000/3 = $50,000).
Other Federal Funds: You may use other federal funds in addition to those provided by this program, but not for activities that EPA is funding. You may not use any federal funds to meet any part of the required 25% match described above, unless it is specifically authorized by statute. If you have already been awarded federal funds for a project for which you are seeking additional support from this program, you must indicate those funds in the budget section of the work plan. You must also identify the project officer, agency, office, address, phone number, and the amount of the federal funds.
- Is there any limit of the percentage of matching funds that can be used for in-kind contributions?
No, there is no limit.
- Are salaries allowed as matching funds? Is there any limit to the percentage of requested grant funds that can be used for salaries? Is there a specific way that salaries need to be stated in the matching funds section?
Yes, salaries can be used as a match and there is no set limit, nor a specific way to state them. However, be cautious about including what might appear to be excessive personnel or travel costs and high overhead expenses; your budget must be competitive.
- Can office equipment be used as an in-kind match?
As long as the office equipment is to be used for allowable costs under this grant, the value of the equipment is appropriately documented, and the applicable regulations and OBM circulars are followed, office equipment may be used as an in-kind match.
- Do the required matching funds have to be in cash, or can they be in-kind donations and services, e.g., volunteers' or teacher's time working on the project?
In-kind contributions of services, and other items like equipment, can count toward the required 25% cost match. Please see Section IV(C) (4) of the RFP for a complete matching funds explanation. As stated in the RFP, “the match must be for an allowable cost and may be provided by the applicant or a partner organization or institution. The match may be provided in cash or by in-kind contributions and other non-monetary support.”
- What is "program income" and how and when may it be used by the recipient?
Program income is defined as the money a grant recipient earns as a direct result of a grant-supported activity. For example, registration fees charged for any conference or training course supported with grant funds are considered program income. A terms and conditions document will be issued by the Project Officer after an award is made to indicate how the program income shall be used. In most cases, program income will be used to pay for specified grant costs that are eligible and allowable and that further the project’ goals. It may also be used to finance the non-federal share (match) of the project. Please see 40 CFR 30.2(x), 40 CFR 30.24 and 40 CFR 31.25 for more details on this topic.
- May an applicant use program income as part of their non-federal cost share/match?
Yes, program income may be used to finance the non-federal share of the project.
- When is it allowable for a grant recipient to use grant funds to pay for meals?
Generally, when a speaker or a presentation/panel is provided or other work is being done during breakfast or lunch at a conference/workshop or field trip, it is allowable to use grant funds to pay for meals for the participants. It is also generally allowable to use grant funds to pay for light refreshments/snacks offered during breaks at conferences/workshops or field trips. The specific event at which meals and/or light refreshments/snacks will be provided must be described in the scope of work and the plan for the event, including the provision for refreshments, must be pre-approved by the Project Officer.
Meals and light refreshments provided at a grant recipient’ staff meetings are not allowable, nor are refreshments for evening receptions. Meals and receptions where alcohol is served are not allowable even if the grant funds are not used for the alcohol. Generally, banquets (especially evening banquets) paid for with grant funds are not allowed, nor is any EPA-funded entertainment. Also not allowed are any sort of EPA-funded events that conduct any fund-raising or involve strategies to solicit contributions, endowments, gifts or bequests.
Please note that a determination of reasonableness and necessity of costs for light refreshments/snacks and meals will be made on a case by case basis and included in a Terms and Conditions document at the time of the award of a grant.
- Can we use EPA grant funds to purchase items for our grant project participants that will assist the participants in taking positive environmental actions that align with EPA's environmental priories? (For example, can we purchase with grant funds and provide to our participants stainless steel water bottles to prevent excessive plastic water bottle use?)
Yes, as long as the cost is a relatively small percentage of the total amount of federal funds requested and the reasoning/relevance behind the purchase is explained in the detailed budget in the original application/proposal.
- What are the guidelines for partnerships?
- Enlist the support of other groups that have similar goals
- Secure a commitment of services or dollars
- Identify how partners/alliances will collaborate and/or describe specific responsibilities of each partner
- Submit letters of commitment or memoranda of understanding from partners which state the dollars or services committed
- Can you explain to me the difference between a partner and a sub-awardee?
We view a partner as an organization you form an alliance with to increase the likelihood of your achieving the goals and objectives of your project and to help amplify your reach. You may partner with an organization to help achieve the required 25% match by their providing cash or donating time and services. You may partner with an organization for their experience or expertise. Partners have mutual interests and are committed to the success of the project, but you as the Prime recipient are responsible for the grant. A partner cannot be a sub-awardee/sub-grantee.
We view sub-grantees/sub-awardees as the organizations that are implementing your project at ground level. Sub-awardees/sub-grantees must be eligible organizations as outlined in the RFP (Section 3A). They are often the local level community-based organizations with audiences you want to reach with your project. For example, some organizations have chapters around the country. A sub-grant/sub-award to these chapters helps implement the project and reach your targeted audiences. Another example would be for you as the Prime recipient to work with a school district that will award sub-grants to individual schools in the district. In both cases, you as the Prime recipient of the grant are responsible for making sure that exactly 25% of the funds received from EPA are used for sub-grants/sub-awards.
- Our organization is made up of affiliate chapters. Could be give sub-grants to our chapters to implement our project.
Yes, you can make sub-grants of $5000 or less to your chapters to implement your project.
- If we partner with an external professional evaluator would that be considered a contract or a sub-award and count towards the 25% sub-award requirement?
I am assuming that you are partnering with the external evaluator to evaluate the success of your proposed project. In this case you are looking to them to provide a service to you and this would be considered a contractual arrangement, not a sub-award. You would not be able to count this towards the 25% requirement for sub-awards.
- The solicitation says that sub-awards cannot exceed $5000. We are planning a two year project. It is not clear if this is for each year of the project or the entire project period.
Each sub-award to an organization must be for $5000 or less regardless of the project’s duration. If you were to give out an award of $5000 or less one year and the same the second year you would have then exceed the $5000 or less requirement.
- How do you know when something needs to be competitively bid?
In general, sub-grants do not have to be competed, but contracts do. If a services is being performed in partnership with the grant recipient, in general, a sub-grant is appropriate. If a service is being performed under compete direction by the grant recipient and is being purchased commercially, in general, a competitive bid process must be employed.
- Under this grant program, may a for-profit company be included as a partner?
Yes, as long as the grantee (grant recipient) does not use grant funds to hire the for-profit company to provide services. For example, it is acceptable to use the value of a volunteer teacher or a mentor’ services as a match to the extent allowable under 40 CFR Part 30 or Part 31. An organization applying for a grant under this RFP must ensure that they do not partner with an entity that provides goods or services that are available in the commercial marketplace in order to obtain those goods and services in a non-competitive transaction.
- May an applicant subcontract work on part of the proposed project?
Yes, as long as all federal rules and procedures (or state rules, if the applicant is a state agency) for procurement are followed, then the applicant may subcontract for part of the work of the project. EPA will consider the qualifications of the subcontractor when evaluating the proposal.
- May work on a proposed project be subcontracted to a non-profit organization?
Yes, as long as all federal rules and procedures (or state rules, if the applicant is a state agency) for procurement are followed, then the applicant may subcontract for part of the work of the project. EPA will consider the qualifications of the subcontractor when evaluating the proposal.
- May a partner or subcontractor provide any or all of the 25% cost share requirement?
Yes, provided the costs are allowable under 40 CFR 30.23 or 40 CFR 31.24 for third party contributions. Please note that a third party’ indirect costs may not be counted toward a cost share.
- Must we award sub-grants as part of the project funded under this solicitation?
Applicants must use exactly 25% of the funds received from EPA to make subawards of $5000 or less and must comply with the requirements described in Section I(A) of the solicitation.
- What are you looking for in the Partnership Letters of Commitment?
It is very important that partners provide letters that clearly describe the role they will play in the proposed project. If funds, equipment/supplies or in-kind services will be provided, the dollar amounts or specific equipment/supplies or kinds of services need to be described in detail in the letter. The more detailed and specific the letter is, the more points it will likely receive from reviewers. It is not enough to simply name partners in the proposal; all partners must provide letters of commitment or they will not be given consideration by reviewers. If no letters are provided, it will be assumed there are no partners for the project.
- What if we don't have a partner for the proposed project?
While partnerships are not required for a proposed project to receive a grant from this program, it is important to note that EPA’ EE Program considers partnerships to be a valuable contribution to the success of most projects. However, if you will not have any partners for your project, be sure to explain in your proposal how you anticipate reaching your goals successfully on your own.
- Will EPA consider proposals for 2-year projects?
Yes, as stated in the RFP in Section II(C) - Start Date and Length of Project Period, EPA will accept up to two year project periods; the proposal must demonstrate clearly how the project will be completed in the time frame proposed. Funds for 2 year projects will be restricted to the same limits as those for projects of less than 2 years; i.e., no more than $200,000 total for the entire length of the project.
- How many grants/dollar amounts are usually awarded?
Funds available for these grant projects are anticipated to be approximately $2.77 million nationwide. This grant program generates a great deal of public enthusiasm for developing environmental education projects. Consequently, the competition is very intense and EPA receives many more applications for these grants than can be supported with available funds.
Regional Grant Offices: Under this solicitation each of the EPA’s 10 Regional Offices will fund 2 to 4 grants for an amount no greater than $200,000.
Headquarters will fund 1-2 grants for an amount no greater than $200,000.
- If a grantee produces a product such as a video, curriculum or guide and the development time is funded by EPA, does the grantee retain the copyright on the product for future sale or distribution?
The product would be EPA’s if EPA provided grant funds to produce it. In would not be the property of the entity that prepared the product.
- Is this grant intended for projects that can be fully completed through the use of the EPA grant? In other words, at the end of the grant period, will EPA expect to see a project fully completed through the use of its funds or can EPA funding be one source among many, to produce a project whose costs exceed $200,000 and may take more than 2 years to complete?
Regardless of how much a project costs or how long it takes, the portion of the project that is funded by EPA needs to be completed in the given time associated with the grant funds…1 to 2 years, whichever is requested in the application.
- Are applicants required to serve K-12 students as part of their target audience?
A: No, the audience for your project does not have to be K-12 students.
- Does the applicant have to already know who they would give the sub-awards to when they apply for a grant?
If the applicant does not know who they are going to give sub-awards to, their proposal must outline the process and criteria they will use for selecting the sub-awardees.
- Where can I find information about EPA's Strategic Plan?
See EPA’s 2011-2015 Strategic Plan at http://www.epa.gov/planandbudget/strategicplan.html.
- How can I find out about upcoming solicitations?
You can sign up to receive an e-mail notification at http://www2.epa.gov/education/environmental-education-ee-grants.
Solicitations for environmental education grants are provided at http://www2.epa.gov/education/environmental-education-ee-grants.
- Can I talk to someone about my idea for a grant?
EPA staff are not permitted to discuss potential grant ideas with potential applicants. The point of contact in Headquarters may answer only technical questions that are not addressed here or in the RFP and must do so in writing only (via email at firstname.lastname@example.org) - no phone calls please.
- What are the project design guidelines?
- Describe how the project will meet at least one of EPA's environmental education priorities, such as Community Projects, and one of EPA's environmental priorities, such as protecting air quality, which are identified in the Solicitation Notice.
- Stay focused - be clear which EPA priorities listed in the Solicitation Notice you are addressing. Avoid simply restating the goals and priorities listed in the Solicitation Notice. Evaluation panels often select projects with a clearly defined purpose which can be accomplished over projects that attempt to address multiple priorities without a clear focus.
- Do not propose activities such as technical training of environmental management professionals; research and development not of an educational nature; projects that advocate a particular viewpoint of course of action about environmental issues; or environmental "information" and/or "outreach" projects that have no educational component. These are ineligible.
- We have included a number of citations in the text of the proposal. Do we need to include a references section with full formal citations in the 7-page work plan? Or can we include the references as an appendix outside of the work plan's page limit?
Any literature or research citations should be included in the body of the work plan and are therefore subject to the 8-page limit. It sometimes helps to create footnotes in a smaller font, or in some other way include the citations in a smaller font or more compact format so that you do not take up too much space in the work plan. We do not need a lot of detail in the citations or a formal presentation of them. If we need more information, we will make a request later in the process.
- Will there be any other means through which I can receive more information about this grant program and how to apply for funding?
There are two tutorials on the Environmental Education grants page under the “How to Apply” tab that will provide general information about the grant program and about how to develop a budget for your proposal.
- What are the reporting requirements during the award period?
Quarterly reports give a brief summary of the progress, semi-annual reports give more detailed indices of progress (including budget), and the final report is very detailed and includes discussion of outputs, outcomes and budget.
- Is there more emphasis on reporting quantitative outputs (number of workshops or number of people educated) vs. measurable outcomes (project participants becoming environmental stewards in the way they lead their lives)?
We value both quantitative outputs and measurable outcomes. Both should be reported in the semi-annual and final reports.
- Could you give some examples of programs that have been funded in the past?
All projects that we have funded since 1992 are listed with short descriptions on our web site: http://www2.epa.gov/education/environmental-education-ee-grants#awarded
- How do I evaluate and select high quality environmental education materials among the many existing choices that seem relevant to my project?
When determining what educational materials to use in your project, EPA recommends you review “Environmental Education Materials: Guidelines for Excellence”, which can be downloaded or ordered by going to EPA’ web site at http://www2.epa.gov/education/environmental-education-ee-publications. If you don't know yet which materials you will use as part of your project, you should identify in your proposal what steps you will take to search for and select those materials.
- We are a university that is considering applying for an EE grant. Can we make sub-awards/sub-grants internally within the university?
Yes, sub-awards/sub-grants may be made within the university, but they must be made to different departments from the one that is applying for and managing the grant.