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 eegrants@epa.gov with additional questions about application procedures only. No questions will be taken regarding proposal content or ideas.


The EPA Environmental Education (EE) Grant Program

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Application Process and Instructions

  • 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.

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Application Content Guidelines

  • 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
    Clearly identify matching funds:
    • 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.

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Eligibility

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Clarification of Terms and Priorities

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Costs and Use of Grant Funds

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Partner organizations, subawardees/subgrantees and contracts

  • 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.

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General Information and Other Questions

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