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Environmental Literacy Grants FAQs

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the 2018-2019 Environmental Literacy Grants competition.

The Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Environmental Literacy Grants (ELG) Funding Opportunity NOAA-SEC-OED-2018-2005455 is now closed. If your pre-application received authorization to submit a full application, we strongly recommend you re-read the entire funding announcement thoroughly (available in Grants.gov). This “FAQ” is meant to supplement the funding announcement. TImeline: Review of full applications will occur from April through June, 2018. It is anticipated that recommendations for funding under this announcement will be made by September 30, 2018. Projects funded under this announcement will start no earlier than October 30, 2018.

Two informational teleconferences with the program officers occurred on November 21, 2017 and November 29, 2017. Each teleconference included ~1 hour of funding opportunity overview followed by ~1 hour of questions and answers with participants. The transcripts for these teleconferences are below:

NOTE: the same content was presented on each day, but different questions were asked following the overview of the funding opportunity.

If you have any other questions, please email oed.grants@noaa.gov.

Topics:


Templates, models and checklists

 

Q: Where can I find the templates mentioned in the FFO?
A: Our Templates & Models page.

Q: Are there any models for the budget-related elements of the application?
A: Yes; again, please look at our Templates & Models page. There are models for the budget table, budget narrative, and SF-424A form.

Q: Are there any checklists to help me ensure I submit a complete application?
A: Yes, a checklist for completing a full application is available on our Templates & Models page. Please note that incomplete applications will not be considered for funding.

Q: Is it possible to get a copy of a funded application from a previous year?
A: NOAA's Office of Education is not authorized to distribute the applications outside of our internal grants process. If you are interested in seeing a particular application, we recommend you contact the Principal Investigator directly for assistance.

Q: My question is not in this list and is not answered in the Announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity. What should I do?
A: Contact the Environmental Literacy Program grants team at oed.grants@noaa.gov

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Required Project Components and Areas of Emphasis

 

Q: What types of project activities are allowed?
A: NOAA will consider funding a wide range of project types, but all projects must support the education of K-12 students and the public so they are knowledgeable of the ways in which their community can become more resilient to extreme weather events and/or other environmental hazards, and become involved in achieving that resilience. Project activities should build the audiences’ ability to reason about the ways that human and natural systems function and interact; to understand the scientific process and uncertainty; to reason about the ways that people and places are connected to each other across time and space; and to weigh the potential impacts of their decisions systematically. Projects should leverage and incorporate relevant state and local hazard mitigation and/or adaptation plans and collaborate with institutions that are involved in efforts to develop or implement those plans. And, projects should clearly demonstrate how target audiences will be engaged in active learning . Active learning is a process whereby learners engage in activities, such as reading, writing, discussion, or problem solving that promote analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of information. Cooperative learning, problem-based learning, and the use of case methods and simulations are some approaches that promote active learning.

Q: How can I learn more about state and local hazard mitigation and/or adaptation plans?
A: A list of resilience-related information can be found on our Resilience Assets page. On the page, the Georgetown Climate Center provides the status of state efforts. However, Georgetown Climate Center's website is not meant to serve as a comprehensive list of all hazard mitigation and/or adaptation plans. Applicants should contact state and/or local policymakers, resource managers, academics, and others who are involved in efforts to develop or implement those plans. Contacting the state hazard mitigation officers may be of use--we have linked to the FEMA State Hazard Mitigation officers.

Q: Do projects need to focus on a single community and a single threat or vulnerability to that community?
A: No. Projects may focus on a single type of environmental hazard or a range of hazards that may impact a community or communities. Therefore, a project may focus on any of the following:

  • A single community and a single type of environmental hazard or stress associated with that community’s location;
  • A single community and a range of environmental hazards or stresses associated with that community’s location;
  • Multiple communities and a single environmental hazard or stress associated with the locations of those communities; or
  • Multiple communities and a range of environmental hazards or stresses associated with the locations of those communities.

Q: Is it required that my project reach groups from under-served communities? 
A: No.  However, there is an interest in projects that reach groups from under-served communities, which are often the most vulnerable to the risks associated with extreme weather events and environmental change. The extent to which the project will involve groups from under-served or at-risk communities will be evaluated by the merit reviewers.

Q: Is it required that my project reach children and youth?
A: No. However, there is an interest in projects that engage children and youth, as their involvement not only benefits them but also their communities. Engaging youth in community conversations about resilience can benefit the planning process. Children benefit efforts that involve them since they are positive influencers, can become leaders, and are more confident during an actual emergency when they feel prepared for it. We expect projects focused on children and youth to address the need for improved scientific skills and opportunities to engage in the process of building community resilience specifically for this audience(s).

Q: What is the goal of this funding opportunity? 
A: The goal of this Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) is to support the education of K-12 students and the public so they are knowledgeable of the ways in which their community can become more resilient to extreme weather events and/or other environmental hazards, and become involved in achieving that resilience.

Q: At what scale should projects be implemented? 
A: Projects will likely be implemented on the local level (e.g.,county, city, or township), but projects may be implemented in more than one locality. The project description should include a justification of the proposed geographic scale of a project and discussion of the project components that might be applicable to projects in other places.

Note: Projects must be implemented within the United States and its territories – which include Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. It does not include Freely Associated States – the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia or the Republic of Palau. 

Note also the following language from the funding opportunity: "Projects should build the environmental literacy necessary for community resilience to extreme weather and other environmental hazards that are associated with a community’s location."

Q: Must my project focus on or include impacts that occur in coastal communities?
A: No, this funding opportunity does not have a focus on coastal communities. Projects can choose to focus on coastal communities, but it is NOT a requirement.

Q: My question is not in this list and is not answered in the Announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity. What should I do?
A: Contact the Environmental Literacy Program grants team at oed.grants@noaa.gov

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Grants.gov and Submission Information

 

Q: How do I get registered for Grants.gov?
A: Get registered right away! Getting started with Grants.gov is easy, but it can take up to 3 weeks to complete the registration process. Go to www.Grants.gov and click on "Get Started". We recommend going to the Grants.gov "Get Registered" site that explains the steps involved in the registration process.

Please note: Grants.gov requires applicants to register with the system prior to submitting an application (this applies to both pre- and full applications for this competition). This registration process can take several weeks and involves multiple steps. In order to allow sufficient time for this process, applicants should register as soon as they decide they intend to apply, even if they are not yet ready to submit their applications. Also, even if an applicant has registered with Grants.gov previously, the applicant's password may have expired or their System for Award Management (SAM) registration (formerly Central Contractor Registration [CCR]) may need to be renewed or updated prior to submitting to Grants.gov. (Note that your CCR username will not work in SAM; you must create a new SAM User Account to renew or update your registration.) Grants.gov will not accept submissions if the applicant has not been authorized or if credentials are incorrect. Authorizations and credential corrections can take several days to establish. Please plan accordingly to avoid problems with the submission process. For further information please visit the SAM web portal Systems Award Management (SAM) website.

Q: I am registered with NSF's FastLane. Do I also need to register with Grants.gov?
A: Yes, you need to register separately with Grants.gov. Registration with NSF's FastLane does NOT constitute registration with Grants.gov.

Q: How do I fill out an application in Grants.gov?
A: Grants.gov application process information can be found on this page.

Q: How do I access the application package in Grants.gov?
A: The application package is now available in Grants.gov. You can search for it using the Funding Opportunity Number: NOAA-SEC-OED-2018-2005455.

Q: Is my version of Adobe Reader compatible with Grants.gov?
A: To determine if your version of Adobe Reader is compatible with Grants.gov, use their application test package.

Q: I am having technical problems submitting my application through Grants.gov. What do I do?
A: Go to the Grants.gov resources FAQ for additional support: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants.html. For documentation purposes, if you are experiencing difficulties with your Grants.gov submission, we recommend that you contact the Grants.gov help desk and record and save your ticket number.

Q: When are the full applications due?
A: The deadline for full applications is 11:59 pm EDT April 6, 2018. There is no way to submit full application via Grants.gov after this deadline and NOAA’s Office of Education will only accept full applications submitted via Grants.gov. (Please note: Office of Education staff will only be available to answer questions until 5 PM Eastern Time on the day of these deadlines.).

Q: Are original ("wet") signatures required on any part of the full application?
A: When submitting through Grants.gov, the final electronic submission by the authorizing official is equal to an original ("wet") signature.

Q: May I submit a full application by mail, email, or fax?
A: No. NOAA’s Office of Education will only accept full applications submitted through Grants.gov.

Q: What if Grants.gov or my institution's Internet connection is unavailable at the submission deadline?
A: Please avoid this problem by submitting early. If you choose not to submit until the last minute, you do so at your own risk.

Q: Can I request an extension of time to submit a full application?
A: No.

Q: I submitted my full application to Grants.gov, but later discovered a mistake or missing element in my application. What should I do?
A: As long as the problem was discovered before the posted full application deadline, you may re-submit the corrected application to Grants.gov. Please notify the Environmental Literacy Program grants team at oed.grants@noaa.gov that you have submitted an updated version of the application. Once the full application deadline has passed, submitted applications may not be corrected or updated.

Q: Can I submit a full application if I did not submit a pre-application?
A: No. Only applicants who receive authorization from NOAA’s Office of Education are eligible to submit a full application. Full applications from applicants who were not authorized to submit them will not be reviewed or considered for funding.

Q: What details am I allowed to change from the authorized pre-application to the full application?
A: The following 3 details must be the same as the ones in the authorized pre-application:

  • the submitting institution;
  • the principal investigator; and
  • the project title.

Additionally, the proposed project should remain substantially the same as what was submitted in the pre-application.

It is at your discretion to change any other details of your full application besides the three listed above.

Q: My question is not in this list and is not answered in the Announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity. What should I do?
A: Contact the Environmental Literacy Program grants team at oed.grants@noaa.gov.

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Eligibility Requirements

 

Q: Who may serve as a PI or a co-PI?
A: Principal Investigators (PIs) are required to be employees of the organization submitting an application. Principal Investigators (or Project Directors) should have a vested interest in the outcome of the project, and are typically subject matter experts in the field being studied/addressed, and must have financial and programmatic control of the project on behalf of the applying organization. Because consultants or contractors of an organization do not typically have this level of authority, they cannot serve as PIs. Also, federal employees cannot serve as PIs or co-PIs for this solicitation. For co-PIs, there are no restrictions for this funding solicitation. However, many applicant organizations have restrictions about who can serve as co-PIs. PIs should check with the sponsored projects office or equivalent to inquire about possible restrictions.

Q: May a federal employee serve as a PI or co-PI?
A: Federal employees may not serve as PIs or co-PIs on any application; however, they may be included as key personnel or project partners.

Q: May NOAA personnel (both federal employees and contractors) serve as co-PIs?
A: No, NOAA personnel (both federal employees and contractors) cannot serve as co-PIs, but can be listed as project partners.

Q: Are individuals unaffiliated with an institution allowed to apply?
A: No, individuals are not eligible to apply; only institutions may submit applications.

Q: May foreign (non-US) or for-profit institutions apply?
A: No, foreign institutions or for-profit institutions are not allowed to apply to this funding opportunity. However, they may serve as project partners.

Q: May graduate students serve as PIs for this funding opportunity?
A: No; however, they may serve as co-PIs or key personnel.

Q: How many applications can an investigator or institution submit to this funding opportunity?
A: An individual may apply only once as Principal Investigator (PI) through this funding opportunity. However, institutions may submit more than one application per funding opportunity and individuals may serve as co-PIs or key personnel on more than one application.

Q: Would NERRS or Sea Grant be considered eligible applicants? 
A: NERRS, State Sea Grants, and Sea Grant Colleges are eligible applicants, and can also serve as a NOAA partner.

Q: Can federal agencies apply for funds?
A: Federal agencies cannot apply for funds.

Q: My question is not in this list and is not answered in the Announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity. What should I do?
A: Contact the Environmental Literacy Program grants team at oed.grants@noaa.gov.

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Full Application Preparation

 

Q: Are there any templates for full applications?
A: Yes, there are suggested templates for the full application  title page, project description, and current and pending support. We recommend that you use these templates to ensure that the information is provided in a manner that facilitates processing of your application. Additionally, there are models for the budget narrative and budget table, as well as a model showing how to correctly fill out the SF-424A form. These templates are posted on our Templates & Models page.

Q: The required full application elements listed in the Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) are not consistent with what is listed in the mandatory and optional documents sections in the "Grant Application Package" of Grants.gov. Which list do I follow?
A: A complete full application will include all of the elements and forms listed in the FFO regardless of what is shown in Grants.gov. (You can upload forms and documents into Grants.gov even if they are not listed as mandatory or optional documents of an application. See the Application Checklist of Required Elements at on our Templates & Models page for more details about how and where to upload the required documents.)

Q: Where in Grants.gov should I upload the required full application elements?
A: Please see the "Application Checklist of Required Elements" found on our Templates & Models page. This document provides information about how to bundle and upload the required application elements.

Q: Will you enforce the page limits on full applications?
A: Yes. There are page limits only for the project description (15 pages), resumes (3 pages per resume) and logic model (5 pages). The page limit on the project description is inclusive of figures and other visual materials.

Q: Does the list of references cited in the application project description count against the 15-page limit?
A: No. References, milestone chart, budget information, resumes, current and pending support, and letters of commitment are not included in the 15-page project description limit.

Q: What elements are required for the full application package?
A: A checklist of all required elements for the full application can be found on our Templates & Models page.

Q: I do not have any current or pending support to report. Do I still need to include this required element of the application?
A: Yes. If any PI or Co-PI has no current or pending funding beyond this application, this must be clearly indicated on a separate page under a heading "Current and Pending Support".

Q: Can I submit letters of commitment as part of my application? If so, how?
A: Yes, letters of commitment may be included as part of the application submitted through Grants.gov. They will not count against the 15-page project description limit. For instructions on how to submit the letters, please see the Full Application Checklist of Required Elements on our Templates & Models page.

Q: Can additional letters of commitment be submitted after the application deadline?
A: No. All letters must be included as part of the original application submitted through Grants.gov before the application deadline.

Q: May I submit appendices to the project description with additional information on the proposed project activities?
A: No, you may not submit any appendices beyond the required full application elements listed in the Announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity. Any non-requested elements submitted as part of an application package will be removed from the application prior to merit review.

Q: What is our requested federal share on the SF-424 and SF-424a?
A: The federal share is the amount that you are requesting from NOAA.

Q: What do I put down under items #16a and #16b on the SF-424 for the Congressional district if there is more than one district for the applicant and/or project or if my state only has one district? 
A: If the applicant has several offices in different districts, use the district with the largest population. If the project will take place in multiple districts, all districts involved may be used. The SF-424 requires that you enter numbers only. To find your Representative's district go to http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/olm112.aspx. If your state only has one representative (e.g. Alaska) or a delegate instead of a representative (e.g., District of Columbia), enter a zero.

Q: On the SF-424, I do not know what is meant by "Applicant Identifier", "Federal Entity Identifier", "Federal Award Identifier", and "State Identifier" (items 3, 4, 5a, 5b, 6, and 7). Where do I find this information? 
A: These items on the SF-424 do not apply to applications in this call for applications, so please leave them blank. (Note: The boxes in the SF-424 on grants.gov are not highlighted in yellow, which is an indication that providing this information is optional.)

Q: On the CD-511 form, the field for "Award Number" is required. What should I put in this field?
A: Please write "N/A" in the Award Number field.

Q: Can a project have impact in a foreign country?
A: Foreign organizations or U.S. organizations located outside of the U.S. are able to serve as project partners. However, we are anticipating this funding opportunity to be highly competitive and it is likely that projects with impacts occurring within the U.S. would out-compete projects with impacts occurring outside the U.S.

Q: Is a data management plan required?
A: Please see the Federal Funding Opportunity section IV.B.i to determine if a data sharing plan is required.

Q: If my project involves collecting data of any sort, am I required to have a data management plan?
A: If your project collects environmental data, please see the Federal Funding Opportunity section VI.B.9 for instructions on creating a data sharing plan. However, if the data your project is collecting are meant for educational use and not meant for research purposes, they are not considered 'environmental data' in this context. Therefore, the data do not need to be made publicly available, so you do not need a data sharing plan. You can state this in the "Data Sharing Plan" of your application so that reviewers are aware you considered it. Please consult sections IV.B.i and VI.B.9 of the Federal Funding Opportunity for further instructions.

Q: Our project budget will cover 5 years, but the SF424a only provides space for reporting 4 years of funding. How do I fill out the form for all 5 years?
A: If your project has a duration of five years, in section B of the SF424a, sum your budgets for years 4 and 5 and put the combined amounts in column (4). Please note: The totals in section B, row k, should match the totals in section A, column g of the SF424a. For additional information on how to fill out this and other forms, please see our Templates & Models page.

Q: My question is not in this list and is not answered in the Announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity. What should I do?
A: Contact the Environmental Literacy Program grants team at oed.grants@noaa.gov.

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Budget Information

 

Q: What is the total amount of funding for which I may apply?
A: The total federal amount requested from NOAA for each project must be no less than $250,000 and no more than $500,000 for all years of the project, including direct and indirect costs. Any project requesting total federal support from NOAA of less than $250,000 or more than $500,000 for all years combined will not be reviewed or considered for funding.

Q: Should I include matching funds in my total funding request?
A: Matching funds are not required nor will the proposed project be evaluated on that basis. If matching funds are included voluntarily, the applicant will be required to provide that match as part of the terms of their award.

Q: May faculty request academic year salary in addition to or instead of summer salary?
A: NOAA does not limit the amount of salary requested by faculty as long as it does not exceed 100% of an individual's time in a given year, including time accounted for on other grants (as shown in the application section on current and pending support).

Q: May equipment be included in the budget?
A: Yes. Equipment that is necessary to carry out the proposed project may be requested and should be justified in the budget table and narrative.

Q: Are sub-awards allowed?
A: Yes. The project description and budget justification should clearly state why there is a need for a sub-award, what the sub-awardee will do, the organization(s) or individual(s) to which the sub-awards will be made or describe the process that will be used to select the sub-awardee (if not named in the project). Additionally, if any funds are planned for a sub-awardee, you must describe and provide the funding amounts in the same level of detail as is provided in the overall budget, i.e., you should provide the same category break-down as for the overall budget for the sub-awardee budget, for all the categories that apply. The cumulative cost of the sub-awards should appear under the category of "contractual" in the SF-424A.

Q: Should I provide documentation for my institution's negotiated indirect cost (IDC) agreement?
A: Yes, if you include indirect costs (other than the de minimis 10% rate, see below for more information) then you must provide documentation of the negotiated indirect cost agreement. Please upload this document to Grants.gov with the other budget information you will provide.

Q: What if my institution does not have a negotiated indirect cost rate agreement?
A: Under 2 C.F.R. Part 200.414 Indirect (F&A) Costs, any applicant that has never received a negotiated indirect cost rate may elect to charge a de minimis rate of 10% of modified total direct costs which may be used indefinitely. Costs must be consistently charged as either indirect or direct costs, but may not be double charged or inconsistently charged as both pursuant to 2 C.F.R. Part 200.403 Factors affecting allowability of costs. If chosen, this methodology once elected must be used consistently for all Federal awards until such time as a cooperator chooses to negotiate for a rate, which the non-Federal entity may apply to do at any time.

In accordance with 2 C.F.R. Part 200.414(f), if an applicant has not previously established an indirect cost rate with a Federal agency, s/he may choose to negotiate a rate with the Department of Commerce. The negotiation and approval of a rate is subject to the procedures required by NOAA and the Department of Commerce Standard Terms and Conditions Section B.06. The NOAA contact for indirect or facilities and administrative costs is:

Lamar Revis, Grants Officer
NOAA Grants Management Division
1325 East West Highway, 9th Floor
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910
lamar.revis@noaa.gov

If your organization does not have an indirect cost rate agreement with a cognizant federal agency you may list those indirect costs as direct costs in the budget narrative and SF-424A and leave the IDC rate at 0%.

Q: Can the amount for evaluation exceed the recommended 10-20% of the total project budget?
A: Yes; as long as the cost of evaluation is justified in the project description and budget narrative, there is no cap for the costs of evaluation.

Q: What categories should be included in the budget table and narrative?
A: Categories should match those in the SF-424A.

Q: Is there a cap on the amount I can allot for any particular budget category?
A: As long as the costs are justified in the project description and budget narrative, there is no cap on any budget category.

Q: Can funding be allocated to our federal partners on the proposed project?
A: No. You are not allowed to request funding for any federal partner. Federal employees should do all work associated with the proposed project in kind.

Q: My question is not in this list and is not answered in the Announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity. What should I do?
A: Contact the Environmental Literacy Program grants team at oed.grants@noaa.gov.

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Project Partners and NOAA Assets

 

Q: What types of project partners would make a full application more competitive? 
A: Partnerships with both NOAA and non-NOAA entities are encouraged on all proposed projects. Although a specific type of partner will not necessarily make a full application more or less competitive, the capabilities of each proposed partnership will be evaluated by reviewers. The application should clearly articulate the role of each partner and how the partnership will contribute to the success of the project activities. All project partnerships should also be articulated in letters of commitment.

Q: What NOAA entities are available for partnership?
A: NOAA entities include, but are not limited to, programs, offices, and organizations such as the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, National Marine Sanctuary Program, National Sea Grant College Program, National Weather Service Weather Forecast Offices, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, NOAA Cooperative Institutes, NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments teams, and Regional Associations of the Integrated Ocean Observing System. Websites and contact information for many of these entities can be found on our Resilience Assets page and the NOAA in Your Backyard page. 

Q: Where can I find more information on NOAA assets that might be used in my project?
A: A list of resilience-related NOAA assets can be found on our Resilience Assets page.

Q: Who should NOAA letters of commitment come from?
A: In the case of the NOAA partner being a contractor to NOAA, the letter of commitment should come from a federal manager.

Q: My question is not in this list and is not answered in the Announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity. What should I do?
A: Contact the Environmental Literacy Program grants team at oed.grants@noaa.gov.

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Cooperative Agreements

 

Q: Do I need to indicate whether my application is for a cooperative agreement or a grant?
A: No, all selected projects will be funded through cooperative agreements. 

Q: What is the difference between a cooperative agreement and a grant?
A: The legal definition of a Cooperative Agreement: the legal instrument reflecting a relationship between NOAA and a recipient whenever: (1) the principal purpose of the relationship is to transfer money, property, services, or anything of value to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by federal statute and, (2) substantial involvement (e.g., collaboration, participation, or intervention by NOAA in the management of the project) is anticipated between NOAA and the recipient during performance of the contemplated activity. Cooperative agreements are subject to the same OMB, Treasury, and other federal laws and policies as grants. A grant is the funding instrument used when only condition (1) exists.

Q: My question is not in this list and is not answered in the Announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity. What should I do?
A: Contact the Environmental Literacy Program grants team at oed.grants@noaa.gov.

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Last updated: April 9, 2018