Environmental Literacy Program Priority 2 FAQs

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Priority 2 of the 2022-2023 Environmental Literacy Program grants competition.

This “FAQ” is meant to supplement the the Fiscal Year 2022 Environmental Literacy Program grants funding announcement (NOAA-SEC-OED-2022-2006995). 

Important Dates:
For Priority 2, the deadline for full applications has passed. Review of applications will occur from January through May, 2022. It is anticipated that recommendations for funding under this announcement will be made by September 30, 2022. Projects funded under this announcement will start no earlier than October 1, 2022.

Note: there are differences between priority 1 and 2 and so there is a separate FAQ page for priority 1. Please visit the Priority 1 FAQ page if you are interested in that priority.

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


Templates, Models, and Checklists

Q: Where can I find the templates mentioned in the Notice of Federal Funding?

A: You can find them on our Templates & Models page. 

Q: Are there any models for the budget-related elements of the application?

A: Yes; models for the budget table, budget narrative, and SF-424A form are available on our Templates & Models page.

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 on this list and is not answered in the Notice of Federal Funding. 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 goal of this funding opportunity, which is for communities to have sufficient collective environmental literacy to take actions that build resilience to extreme weather and climate change in ways that contribute to community health, social cohesion, and socio-economic equity. These communities are composed of children, youth, and adults who participate in formal and informal education experiences that develop their knowledge, skills, and confidence to: 1) reason about the ways that human and natural systems interact globally and locally, including the acknowledgement of disproportionately distributed vulnerabilities; 2) participate in civic processes; and 3) incorporate scientific information, cultural knowledge, and diverse community values in decision making. Projects should leverage and incorporate relevant resilience plans and collaborate with individuals and institutions that are involved in efforts to develop or implement those plans. And, projects should engage participants in active and social learning activities. These projects should also build on best practices and reflect the rationale articulated in NOAA’s Community Resilience Education Theory of Change.

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. NOTE: resilience plans may include climate action plans, climate adaptation plans, hazard mitigation plans, sustainability plans, climate resilience plans, among others.

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 underserved communities? 

A: No. However, there is a particular interest in projects that specifically engage underserved members of the community, defined here as people who have been systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic, social, and civic life (e.g. minority; low income; homeless; persons with disabilities; and rural, tribal, and indigenous communities). These underserved community members face greater exposure to extreme weather and climate change impacts, and they have fewer resources to prepare for and adapt to the associated risks. Projects should employ approaches and partnerships that are appropriate for the targeted underserved population(s). The extent to which the project will involve groups from underserved will be evaluated by the merit reviewers.

Q: What is the goal of this funding opportunity? 

A: The goal of this funding opportunity is for communities to have sufficient collective environmental literacy to take actions that build resilience to extreme weather and climate change in ways that contribute to community health, social cohesion, and socio-economic equity. 

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. Projects should clearly identify and describe the geographic location(s), the environmental hazard(s) that will be the focus of the project, the target audiences (especially underserved populations), and how groups living in those location(s) may be disproportionately impacted by extreme weather and climate change. 

Projects can occur anywhere within the United States and U.S. territories. However, projects must be implemented only 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.

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: What other funding opportunities does NOAA offer that may fit my proposed project?

A: NOAA offers other funding opportunities for resilience projects. NOAA’s Coastal Resilience Grants Program funded 46 projects in 2020 and the grantees may be partners for projects proposed to this funding opportunity. The NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program funds locally relevant, authentic experiential learning for K-12 audiences through Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs). MWEEs are multi-stage activities that include learning both outdoors and in the classroom and aim to increase understanding and stewardship of watersheds and related ecosystems. The B-WET program serves seven geographic areas of the country: California, Chesapeake, Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, New England, and the Pacific Northwest. Several competitions will be open this year.

Q: How much information should I provide that explains the rationale from our previously funded ELP work? That is, should we assume the reviewers will be familiar with our past project?

You should assume that the review panel will not be familiar with your current project. We will provide an orientation for the reviewers in which we will present information about NOAA, ELP and the fact that the P2 applications represent the second phase of work for previously funded projects, but we will not ask the reviewers to familiarize themselves with the existing portfolio. Therefore, you will need to include in your project description a bit of background of what you've done in the existing/previously funded ELP project as well as what you propose to do in the new project. You should also include some of the justification of the overall approach from the original proposal and the impacts the project had or is having to date. Also, be clear about what you've learned from the current/previously funded project and how the new project incorporates those lessons/improves upon the originally proposed approach. 

Q: My question is not on this list and is not answered in the Notice of Federal Funding. 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 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. 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 or Grants.gov’s “Organization Registration” page.

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-2022-2006995.

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. 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 EST on January 25, 2022. After this deadline passes, there is no way to submit an application via Grants.gov and NOAA’s Office of Education will only accept applications submitted via Grants.gov. (Please note: Office of Education staff will only be available to answer questions Monday through Friday until 5:00 PM Eastern Time.)

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: My question is not on this list and is not answered in the Notice of Federal Funding. What should I do?

A: Contact the Environmental Literacy Program grants team at oed.grants@noaa.gov.

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Eligibility Requirements

Q: What types of applicants are allowed to apply to this funding opportunity?

A: Eligible applicants are limited to institutions of higher education; K-12 public and independent schools and school systems, other nonprofits, including community-based organizations and informal education institutions such as museums, zoos, and aquariums; state and local government agencies; and Indian tribal governments in the United States. Federal agencies, for-profit organizations, foreign institutions, and individuals are not eligible to apply; however, federal agencies, for-profit organizations, foreign institutions, and individuals may participate with an eligible applicant as a project partner.

Priority 2 awards will support the evolution of projects funded under the 2015-2018 funding opportunities from this program (NOAA-SEC-OED-2015-2004408, NOAA-SEC-OED 2016-2004737, and NOAA-SEC-OED-2018-2005455). Projects should build off of resources, relationships, and lessons learned from their previous or current project, as well as from other projects in the ELP community resilience education community of practice. The full list of awards that support or supported eligible projects can be found here. Projects for this priority must be implemented within the United States and its territories. See Notice of Federal Funding section III.A, Eligible Applicants, for additional details.

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: It is strongly encouraged that an individual serve as a PI on only one application submitted to this funding opportunity. Institutions may submit more than one application and individuals may serve as co-PIs or key personnel on more than one application.

A given project idea may only be submitted to one priority or the other. In the event a project is submitted to both priorities, the Office of Education staff will contact the applying institution(s) to ask them which application should be withdrawn.

Q: Would the National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERR) or Sea Grant Programs be considered eligible applicants? 

A: NERRs and Sea Grant Programs 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 nor may federal employees receive funding through these awards, even if project partners.

Q: My question is not on this list and is not answered in the Notice of Federal Funding. 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. 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. Although optional, we recommend that you use these templates to ensure that the information is provided in a manner that facilitates processing of your application. These templates are posted on our Templates & Models page. 

Q: The required full application elements listed in the Notice of Federal Funding Opportunity (NOFO) 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 NOFO 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 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), the DEIJ statement (2 pages), 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 count against the 15-page limit on the project description?

A: No. References, milestone chart, budget information, DEIJ statement, resumes, current and pending support, and letters of commitment are separate components of the application and are not included in the 15-page project description limit.

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 the 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 should be included as part of the application submitted through Grants.gov. They will not count against the 15-page project description limit. 

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 Notice 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 an impact in a foreign country?

A: No, projects must be implemented only within the U.S. However, foreign organizations or U.S. organizations located outside of the U.S. are able to serve as project partners.

Q: Is a data management plan required?

A: We anticipate that most proposed projects under this funding announcement will not involve the collection of environmental data. If no environmental data will be collected/created as part of the project, then applicants should state so in this section. However, if an applicant's project does involve the collection of environmental data, the applicant should consult Section VI.B.9 (Data Management Plan) 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, you will need to complete a second SF-424a form for year 5 only. 

Q: My question is not on this list and is not answered in the Notice of Federal Funding. 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 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

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 on this list and is not answered in the Notice of Federal Funding. 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. Projects are strongly encouraged to develop meaningful partnerships with community-based organizations (CBOs), particularly those that serve  underserved communities. CBO partners should contribute to the conceptualization of the project, as well as its implementation and may be part of project leadership or advisory teams. Also, partnerships with individuals and institutions that are involved in efforts to develop or implement resilience plans are encouraged. Additionally, if the institution applying does not possess experience working with the issue of community resilience, a partner will be needed to provide that expertise. The capabilities and appropriateness of the proposed partnerships 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 be supported by 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 Coastal Zone Management 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 on this list and is not answered in the Notice of Federal Funding. 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 on this list and is not answered in the Notice of Federal Funding. What should I do?

A: Contact the Environmental Literacy Program grants team at oed.grants@noaa.gov.

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