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Ambassador’s Special Self Help Fund
Notice of Funding Opportunity
February 7, 2024

Funding Opportunity Title: U.S. Embassy in Madagascar and Comoros – Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund – Small Grants

Deadline for Applications: April 30, 2024

CFDA Number: 19.220 – Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund

Maximum for Each Award: $7,500

Email: SSHMadagascar@state.gov or ComorosGrants@state.gov


The U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo and the U.S. Department of State are pleased to announce an open competition for registered NGOs and associations interested in submitting applications to carry out projects through the Ambassador’s Special Self-help (SSH) Small Grants Program.

The Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Program provides small grants to assist community development projects that improve basic economic or social conditions in local communities across Madagascar and the Comoros. The program aims to encourage self-reliance within local communities by providing some of the resources they need to a good idea into action. Eligibility is restricted to local NGOs, community associations, and cooperatives. Funding will be distributed, pending Congressional Funding Approval, no later than September 30th. Grants generally range from $4,000 to $7,500 U.S. dollars and must be completed within one year.

To be eligible for funding your project must meet the following criteria:

  • helps improve basic economic or social conditions at the local community or village level and have long-lived value.
  • demonstrates a clear impact that will benefit a large number of people within one year.
  • has a substantial community participation in the activity. Contributions may include labor, materials (bricks, sand, gravel, seeds, etc.), land, buildings, or money to ensure the success of the project.
  • is initiated and administered at a local level.
  • lists multiple key members and a brief biographical sketch that includes their experience and responsibility to the organization and the project; managers of a project should have evidence that they are financially responsible and will be able to account for funds sent to them.
  • is self-sustaining upon completion. The U.S. Embassy’s support for the project must be a one-time-only/one grant contribution.
  • is within the ability of the local community to manage and maintain on a sustainable basis; Requests for large-scale agriculture or construction projects, or for expensive equipment are not considered priority projects.
  • respect human rights, including disability rights, gender equality, and under-represented groups. Strong proposals should also have a net-positive impact on the local environment.

Limitations/Exclusions from Eligibility:

The Self-Help Program may only pay for items and technical assistance that are absolutely necessary for the completion of the project. The Self-Help Program cannot be used for administrative costs, salaries, costs associated with the project manager, travel to and from the Embassy, or items that are not permanent in nature. Costs incurred prior to the actual award of a grant will be reimbursed only by pre-approval of the grants officer at the sole discretion of the Embassy.

Additionally, the Special Self-Help Program does NOT fund:

  • Requests to buy equipment like vehicles, office equipment, copiers, stereos.
  • Proposals that have a purely police, military, or cultural emphasis.
  • Religious projects unless they genuinely assist the whole community without regard to religious affiliation.
  • Personal or familial businesses.
  • Scholarships, donations, or honorariums.
  • Payment for pesticides, herbicides, labor, salaries, operating costs, printing material, fuel, or land.
  • Renovation of an existing facility that is in disrepair as a result of neglect or lack of money.
  • Renovation or rehabilitation of a facility, equipment belonging to the Government or to a state-owned company.
  • Office supplies such as pencils, paper, forms and folders.
  • Projects that are partially funded by another donor or from the government of your country. Funds cannot be commingled with funds from other donors, international organization or other U.S. government programs.
  • Projects that focus on refugees or displaced persons. There are specific U.S. bilateral or multilateral assistance programs designed to address their needs.
  • SSH funds may not be used to buy previously owned equipment, luxury goods, or gambling equipment.
  • Salaries or supervision costs for the supervising organization. Contingency estimates also do not qualify.
  • activities with unmitigated and negative environmental consequences (such as dams or roads through forest lands);
  • revolving loan funds and grants for seed money for new enterprises.
  • Micro-finance projects
  • Projects dedicated only to research, market study, capacity building and training.


Length of performance period: 12 months or less

Number of awards anticipated: 4 to 7 awards (depending upon amounts)

Award amounts: awards may range from a minimum of $4,000 to a maximum of $7,500.

Total available funding: TBD

Type of Funding: Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund

Anticipated program start date: October 01, 2024

This notice is subject to availability of funding.

Funding Instrument Type: Grants

Program Performance Period: Proposed programs should be completed in 1 year or less.

Optional: The Department of State will entertain applications for continuation grants funded under these awards beyond the initial budget period on a non-competitive basis subject to availability of funds, satisfactory progress of the program, and a determination that continued funding would be in the best interest of the U.S. Department of State.


The following organizations are eligible to apply:

  • Registered associations and non-profit NGOs located in Madagascar and the Union of the Comoros.
  • Associations/non-profit NGOs run by or working with people with disabilities are encouraged to participate to this program.

Local Community Involvement:

Local involvement (Cost-sharing) of the organization or group must be at least 10% in cash or in kind of the total project costs. The local contributions can be in cash or in kind. In-kind contributions could be: labor (wages of masons and workers), food, accommodation for qualified labor, carts of sand or gravel, bricks for construction, sand, fence, water supply, transportation costs, donations of materials etc.


  1. Address to request application package.

Application forms required below are available at here, or e-mail us at SSHMadagascar@state.gov or ComorosGrants@state.gov

  1. Content and Form of Application Submission.

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 of Application

Please ensure:

  • The proposal clearly addresses the goals and objectives of this funding opportunity
  • All documents are in English
  • All budgets are in U.S. dollars
  • All pages are numbered

The following documents are required:

  1. Mandatory application forms:

1.1 For Non-Construction programs

SF424 (Application for Federal Assistance – organizations)

SF424A (Budget Information for Non-Construction programs)

SF424B (Assurances for Non-Construction programs)

1.2 For Small Construction programs:

SF424 (Application for Federal Assistance – organizations)

SF424C (Budget Information for Small Construction programs)

SF424D (Assurances for Small Construction programs)

  1. Summary Page: Cover sheet stating the applicant’s name and legal organization name, proposal date, program title, program period proposed start and end date, and brief purpose of the program.
  2. Proposal (10 pages maximum): The proposal should contain sufficient information that anyone not familiar with it would understand exactly what the applicant wants to do. You may use either the SSH narrative sample that you can download here, or request at SSHMadagascar@state.gov or ComorosGrants@state.gov, or your own proposal format, but it must include all the items below:
  • Proposal Summary: Short narrative that outlines the proposed program, including program objectives and anticipated impact.
  • Introduction to the Organization or Individual applying: A description of past and present operations, showing ability to carry out the program, including information on all previous grants from the U.S. Embassy and/or U.S. government agencies.
  • Problem Statement: Clear, concise, and well-supported statement of the problem to be addressed and why the proposed program is needed
  • Program Goals and Objectives: The “goals” describe what the program is intended to achieve. The “objectives” refer to the intermediate accomplishments on the way to the goals. These should be achievable and measurable.
  • Program Activities: Describe the program activities and how they will help achieve the objectives.
  • Program Methods and Design: A description of how the program is expected to work to solve the stated problem and achieve the goal. Include a logic model as appropriate.
  • Proposed Program Schedule and Timeline: The proposed timeline for the program activities. Include the dates, times, and locations of planned activities and events.
  • Key Personnel: Names, titles, roles, and experience/qualifications of key personnel involved in the program. What proportion of their time will be used in support of this program?
  • Program Partners (if applicable): List the names and type of involvement of key partner organizations and sub-awardees.
  • Program Monitoring and Evaluation Plan: This is an important part of successful grants. Throughout the timeframe of the grant, how will the activities be monitored to ensure they are happening in a timely manner, and how will the program be evaluated to make sure it is meeting the goals of the grant?
  • Future Funding or Sustainability Applicant’s plan for continuing the program beyond the grant period, or the availability of other resources, if applicable.
  • The number of direct beneficiaries: Clearly describe the number of men and women who benefit directly from the project. Beneficiaries may be not employees of the organization but members of the community who will participate actively in the realization of the project and will benefit from it directly.
  1. Budget Justification Narrative: After filling out the SF-424A or C Budget (above), use a separate sheet of paper to describe each of the budget expenses in detail. See section H. Other Information: Guidelines for Budget Submissions below for further information.

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.

The U.S. Embassy requires all applicants to obtain, for free, a Unique Entity ID at www.sam.gov and have an active registration with the System for Award Management (SAM). If selected to receive funding, applicants will be required to show proof of a Unique Entity ID number for their organization, as well as a valid SAM registration. We recommend all applicants begin this process when they submit their application for funding.

You can register in the System for Award Management (SAM) by logging into https://www.sam.gov/SAM/

  1. Submission Dates and Times

Applications are due no later than April 30, 2024 at 11:59 PM. Applications received by the U.S. Embassy after the closing date will not be considered.

  1. Other Submission Requirements

All application materials must be submitted by email to SSHMadagascar@state.gov (Madagascar) or ComorosGrants@state.gov (Comoros).


  1. Criteria

Each application will be evaluated and rated based on the evaluation criteria outlined below:

Quality and Feasibility of the Program Idea – 25 points: The program idea is well developed, with detail about how program activities will be carried out. The proposal includes a reasonable implementation timeline.

Organizational Capacity and Record on Previous Grants – 25 points: The organization has expertise in its stated field and has the internal controls in place to manage federal funds. This includes a financial management system and a bank account.

Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives – 15 points: Goals and objectives are clearly stated, and program approach is likely to provide maximum impact in achieving the proposed results.

Budget – 10 points: The budget justification is detailed. Costs are reasonable in relation to the proposed activities and anticipated results. The budget is realistic, accounting for all necessary expenses to achieve proposed activities.

Monitoring and evaluation plan – 15 points: Applicant demonstrates it can measure program success against key indicators and provides milestones to indicate progress toward goals outlined in the proposal. The program includes output and outcome indicators and shows how and when those will be measured.

Sustainability – 10 points: Program activities will continue to have positive impact after the end of the program.

  1. Review and Selection Process

A Grants Review Committee will evaluate all eligible applications.

  1. Federal Awardee Performance & Integrity Information System (FAPIIS)

For any Federal award under a notice of funding opportunity, if the Federal awarding agency anticipates that the total Federal share will be greater than the simplified acquisition threshold on any Federal award under a notice of funding opportunity may include, over the period of performance (see §200.88 Simplified Acquisition Threshold), this section must also inform applicants:

  1. That the Federal awarding agency, prior to making a Federal award with a total amount of Federal share greater than the simplified acquisition threshold, is required to review and consider any information about the applicant that is in the designated integrity and performance system accessible through SAM (currently FAPIIS) (see 41 U.S.C. 2313);
  2. That an applicant, at its option, may review information in the designated integrity and performance systems accessible through SAM and comment on any information about itself that a Federal awarding agency previously entered and is currently in the designated integrity and performance system accessible through SAM;

iii. That the Federal awarding agency will consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to the other information in the designated integrity and performance system, in making a judgment about the applicant’s integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards when completing the review of risk posed by applicants as described in §200.205 Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants.


  1. 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 program 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.

Issuance of this NOFO does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the U.S. government, nor does it commit the U.S. government to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of proposals. Further, the U.S. government reserves the right to reject any or all proposals received.

Payment Method: Payments will be made through EFT.

  1. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

Terms and Conditions: Before applying, applicants should review all the terms and conditions and required certifications which will apply to this award, to ensure that they will be able to comply. These include:

2 CFR 200, 2 CFR 600, Certifications and Assurances, and the Department of State Standard Terms and Conditions, all of which are available at: https://www.statebuy.state.gov/fa/pages/home.aspx

Note the U.S Flag branding and marking requirements in the Standard Terms and Conditions.

  1. Reporting

Reporting Requirements: Recipients will be required to submit financial and program reports. The award document will specify how often these reports must be submitted.


If you have any questions about the grant application process, please contact: SSHMadagascar@state.gov or ComorosGrants@state.gov.


Applicants should be aware that Small Grants Office understands that some information contained in applications may be considered sensitive or proprietary and will make appropriate efforts to protect such information.

Issuance of the NOFO and negotiation of applications does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the U.S. government. The Small Grants Office reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the project evaluation requirements.