Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program (SYLEP) Grant

Program Office:                                Public Affairs Section (PAS), U.S. Embassy Riyadh

Funding Opportunity Title:             Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program (SYLEP)

Announcement Type:                       New – Cooperative Agreement

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number:  19.021

Date Open:                                         June 20, 2017

Deadline for Applications:               August 20, 2017



Eligible applicants:  Applications may be submitted by public and private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501 (c)(3).

Cost Sharing or Matching

There is no minimum or maximum percentage required for this competition; however, PAS encourages cost sharing, contributions in-kind, and other forms of cost participation.

When cost sharing is offered, it is understood and agreed that the applicant must provide the amount of cost sharing as stipulated in its proposal and later included in an approved agreement.  Cost sharing may be in the form of allowable direct or indirect costs.  For accountability, you must maintain written records to support all costs which are claimed as your contribution, as well as costs to be paid by the U.S. Government.  Such records are subject to audit.  The basis for determining the value of cash and in-kind contributions must be in accordance with OMB Circular A-110 (Revised), subpart C.23—Cost Sharing and Matching.  In the event you do not provide the minimum amount of cost sharing as stipulated in the approved budget, the contribution from the Public Affairs Section will be reduced in like proportion.

 Other Special Eligibility Criteria

Organizations should have significant experience working with international audiences, particularly youth.  Additionally, they should have a history of successful program implementation and a proven capacity for designing effective exchanges in fields such as economics, entrepreneurship, capacity-building and fostering leadership skills.    

Contact Information

For assistance with the requirements of this solicitation, contact Jennifer Hall Godfrey, Public Affairs Counselor, U.S. Embassy Riyadh at:



Phone: +966-1-488-3800 ext. 4959


The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh is pleased to announce an open competition for the Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program (SYLEP) through this Notice of Funding (NOFO).  Public and private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code 26 USC 501 (c) (3) may submit proposals to support English-speaking undergraduate students from Saudi Arabia in a three-week U.S.-based exchange program in Summer 2018 that explores the themes of community engagement to promote peace and prosperity, respect for diversity, and tolerance of religious belief.  The program should continue after the U.S.-based exchange with follow-on activities in the participants’ home communities, including through alumni activities focused on social entrepreneurship and projects promoting peaceful coexistence with other members of society and the world at large.  A total of 30 to 34 participants would travel to the United States in up to two delegations from Saudi Arabia in the summer of 2018.  U.S. Embassy Riyadh funding will support the planning and implementation of U.S.-based programming, including a period of homestays with American families, and participant international travel.  The U.S. Embassy Riyadh and the U.S. Consulates in Jeddah and Dhahran will recruit, screen, and select the participants and support program alumni, in coordination with the award recipient.  Pending the availability of funds, it is U.S. Embassy Riyadh’s intent to award one cooperative agreement for an estimated total amount of $400,000 per year for up to three consecutive years, depending upon the successful completion of goals and the desire of the U.S. Embassy Riyadh and the chosen recipient to continue the program, and pending availability of funding.

Authority:  Overall grant-making authority for this program is contained in the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, Public Law 87-256, as amended, also known as the Fulbright-Hays Act.  The purpose of the Act is “to enable the Government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries; to strengthen the ties which unite us with other nations by demonstrating the educational and cultural interests, developments, and achievements of the people of the United States and other nations…and thus to assist in the development of friendly, sympathetic, and peaceful relations between the United States and other countries of the world.”


The U.S. Mission’s support for the Saudi Youth Leadership Program, SYLEP, started in the summer of 2014.  This successful program seeks to build leadership, civic responsibility, respect for diversity, and community engagement among Saudi university students through a three-week summer exchange.  It is now being revised to strengthen components of promotion of peace, prosperity, and tolerance.

Goals and Objectives:

The goals of the program are to:

  • Promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of Saudi Arabia.
  • Prepare youth leaders to become involved in sowing the seeds of tolerance and cross-cultural understanding in their own communities.
  • Inspire youth leaders to become actively engaged in social entrepreneurship programs that help their community.
  • Teach students techniques for conflict analysis and resolution.

The program objectives are for participants to:

  • Demonstrate a better understanding of civic engagement as practiced in the United States;
  • Demonstrate critical thinking and leadership skills; and,
  • Demonstrate skill at developing project ideas and planning a course of action to bring the projects to fruition.

The primary program themes, including illustrative examples, are listed below:

  • Respect for Diversity and Tolerance (ethnicity, race, gender, religion, geographic location, socio-economic status, and disabilities).
  • Community Engagement, (citizen participation and diplomacy, social responsibility and volunteerism).

Applicant organizations must focus on these primary themes and should present a program plan that allows the participants to engage around these themes with U.S. organizations and peers in a creative, memorable, and hands-on way.

A successful program will nurture the participants’ leadership development and equip them with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to be active leaders in engaging in projects that promote positive values and counter radical ideologies.  Successful applicants will present a plan to engage the participants in issues of concern in their schools and communities upon their return home.

Participants:  Applicants should propose to implement a three-week U.S.-based exchange for 30 to 34 undergraduate Saudi students.  Applicants may propose a plan to break the delegation into smaller cohorts for some of the exchange activities.  This is to ensure all participants benefit from exchange activities and to increase the effectiveness of monitoring and evaluation, including the participants’ safety and well-being while on the U.S.-based program.

Participants will be undergraduate students in their first through third years of university, who have demonstrated leadership abilities in their schools and/or communities, are able to demonstrate fluency in English, and are Saudi citizens residing in Saudi Arabia.

Organizational Capacity:  Applicant organizations must demonstrate their capacity to conduct international youth exchanges, focusing on three areas of competency:  (1) management of projects that address the goals, objectives, and themes outlined in this document; (2) age-appropriate programming for youth; and (3) previous experience working on programs in the region.  Applicants need not have organizational capacity in Saudi Arabia, as the U.S. Embassy Riyadh will serve as the in-country partner.

U.S. Embassy and Consulates General Involvement:  The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh and the U.S. Consulates General in Jeddah and Dhahran will recruit, screen, and nominate participants beginning in early 2018.  The Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy will select the participants for the exchange in consultation with the implementing partner.  In addition to recruitment, the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh and the U.S. Consulates General in Jeddah and Dhahran will provide pre-departure briefings, facilitate visas, and oversee follow-on alumni projects.  The award recipient must consult regularly with the Public Affairs Section at the U.S. Embassy to implement the project and coordinate participants’ international airline tickets.  The award recipients will also be responsible for preparing materials for the pre-departure briefings and providing follow-on support to participants.

Guidelines:  Pending availability of funds, the award will begin on or about September 30, 2017.  The award duration will be approximately 12 to 15 months, as appropriate for the applicant’s program design. Planning and preparation will start in fall 2017.  Applicants should propose a specific program timeline that includes exchange dates in the summer of 2018 but the exact timing will be determined through mutual agreement between the Embassy and the award recipient.

The U.S. Embassy Riyadh reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal project configurations, budgets, and participant numbers in accordance with program needs and the availability of funds.  The U.S. Embassy Riyadh also reserves the right to extend this program to up to three years based upon the availability of funds.

The award recipient will be responsible for the following, which should be described in detail in the proposal:

Orientations:  Provide pre-departure materials and information about the U.S. program to assist the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia, participants, and their families in preparation for the exchange.  Conduct orientations for those participating from the host communities, including host families.  Additionally, conduct a welcome orientation upon arrival to the United States.

Logistics:  Manage all logistical arrangements, including international and domestic travel, ground transportation, accommodations, group meals, and disbursement of pocket money. Coordinate with the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA), Office of Private Sector Programs, regarding issuance of DS-2019 forms. Arrange homestays with properly screened and briefed host families for a significant portion of the exchange period.  Criminal background checks, including a search of the Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Registry, must be conducted for host families and other members of household who are more than 18 years of age.

Exchange Activities:  Design and plan three weeks of exchange activities that provide a creative and substantive program that develops the youth participants’ knowledge and skill base in civic education, conflict analysis and resolution, cultural sensitivity training, and youth leadership development.  The exchanges will take place in no more than two or three locations so that the participants have time to familiarize themselves with a community.  The academic and extracurricular components will focus primarily on interactive activities, practical experiences, and other hands-on opportunities that provide a substantive project on the specified program themes.  Some activities should be university and/or community-based, and the projects should involve as much sustained interaction with American peers as possible.  Participants will explore leadership through activities such as project planning, team building, and public speaking and social media skills.  Cultural, social, and recreational activities will balance the schedule.

Applicants should arrange a short visit to Washington, D.C. during the exchange, so that participants can explore the U.S. capital and American government institutions.  The Washington, D.C. visit must include substantive exchange activities (such as site visits to youth or community organizations and/or interactive workshops), in addition to cultural and recreational activities.  The visit should also provide participants with an opportunity to meet Department of State representatives during the stay.

Monitoring:  Develop and implement a plan to monitor the participants’ safety and well-being while on the exchange and to create opportunities for participants to share potential issues and resolve them promptly.  The award recipients will be required to provide proper staff supervision and facilitation to ensure that the participants have safe and pedagogically rich programs.  Staff, along with the adult participants, will assist the youth with cultural adjustments, provide societal context to enhance learning, and counsel students as needed.  Criminal background checks, including a search of the Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Registry, must be conducted for all program staff.

Follow-on Activities:  Applicants should also provide a closing session to summarize and evaluate the delegation’s activities, prepare participants for their return home, and further prepare them for follow-on activities and alumni programs, particularly by facilitating continued engagement among the participants, advising and supporting them in the implementation of community service projects, and offering opportunities to reinforce the ideas, values and skills imparted during the exchange as Department of State alumni.  Exchange participants should return home from the exchange prepared to conduct projects that serve a need in their communities to promote peace and tolerance.

The U.S. Embassy Riyadh and the U.S. Consulates in Jeddah and Dhahran will assist award recipients in overseeing follow-on activities and may arrange occasional in-person alumni gatherings, where possible.  However, the award recipient should be prepared to take the lead on maintaining on-going correspondence with participants, monitoring program activities, and providing guidance to participants as they conduct their follow-on projects.

Evaluation: Design and implement an evaluation plan that assesses the short- and medium-term impact of the project on the participants as well as on host and home communities.

The form of this award will be a cooperative agreement.  In a cooperative agreement, the Embassy is substantially involved in program activities.  The Embassy’s involvement with SYLEP will include, but not be limited to:

  1. Advice and assistance in execution of all program components.
  2. Participant recruitment and selection.
  3. Assistance in coordination with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State for DS-2019 forms and the Embassy Consular Section for J-1 visa appointments.  Note that all foreign participants will travel on a U.S. Government designation under the J Exchange Visitor visa category.  It is the responsibility of the participants to meet the requirements for a J visa under U.S. immigration law.  In addition, the recipient agency should render all assistance necessary to enable the Department of State to comply fully with the laws and regulations governing the administration of exchange visitor programs (22 CFR 62 et seq).  All proposals must explicitly state in writing that the organization is prepared to assist in meeting all requirements set forth in 22 CFR 62.
  4. Approve all printed or web-based materials, including recruitment materials, applications, other publicity materials, and the final calendar of exchange activities.
  5. Approve templates of all written correspondence with Saudi participants.
  6. Monitor and evaluate the program through regular communication with the award recipient and site visits as necessary.

Additional Information:  The award recipient will retain the name “Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program” to identify the project.  All materials, publicity, and correspondence related to the program will acknowledge this as a program of the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Mission Saudi Arabia.  The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to distribute materials related to this program as it sees fit.

The recipient must inform the Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy Riyadh of its progress at each stage of the project’s implementation in a timely fashion and will be required to obtain advance approval for any program changes.

III. ELIGIBILITY Requirements.

Applications may be submitted by public and private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501 (c) (3).

Applicants are not required to include cost sharing.  However, applications that include cost sharing from non-U.S. Government sources will be more competitive, and applicants are encouraged to provide the highest levels of cost sharing possible.  When providing cost sharing, the applicant must agree to provide the amount of cost sharing agreed upon in the grant agreement.  Cost sharing can take the form of both allowable direct and indirect costs.  For accountability, the recipient must maintain records to support all costs claimed as part of the cost-share agreement.  Such records are subject to audit.  Please refer to OMB Circular A-110, (Revised), Subpart C.23 – Cost Sharing and Matching.

Additional Information on Eligibility:  All Federal assistance recipients must have a Dun & Bradstreet Number (DUNS) and a CCR (CAGE) number prior to funds disbursement.  A DUNS number may be acquired at no cost by calling the dedicated toll-free DUNS number request line at 1-866-705-5711 or requesting on-line at


A proposal will be deemed technically ineligible for consideration if:

  • It does not fully adhere to the guidelines established in this document and in the Solicitation Package;
  • It is not received by the deadline.



Award Period: 12-36 months

Anticipated Total Program Funding: $1,200,000, pending availability of funds and the need for the program as determined by the Public Affairs Officer, for three years, at $400,000 per annual program.


Anticipated Number of Awards:  One

The Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy Riyadh reserves the right to award less or more than the amount above in the absence of suitable applications or under such other circumstances as PAS may deem to be in the best interest of the U.S. Government.


Application Submission Process:  Applicants must submit proposal papers electronically via

For assistance with the requirements of this solicitation, contact Jennifer Hall Godfrey, Public l Affairs Counselor, U.S. Embassy Riyadh at:



Phone: +966-1-488-3800 ext. 4959

Application Deadline: All applications must be submitted on or before August 20, 2017, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.  Applications submitted after 11:59 p.m. will be ineligible for consideration.  Begin the application process early, as this will allow time to address any technical difficulties that may arise in advance of the deadline.  There will be no exceptions to this application deadline.

Application Content:  Applicants must follow the NOFO instructions and conditions contained herein and supply all information required.  Failure to furnish all information or comply with stated requirements will result in disqualification from the competition.  Applicants must set forth full, accurate, and complete information as required by this NOFO.  The penalty for making false statements in proposals to the USG is prescribed in 18 U.S.C.1001.


Each application submitted under this announcement will be evaluated and rated on the basis of the following evaluation criteria.  The criteria are designed to assess the quality of the proposed project, and to determine the likelihood of its success.  The criteria are closely related and are considered as a whole in judging the overall quality of an application.  Applications will be reviewed on the basis of their fullness, coherence, clarity, and attention to detail.  Points are awarded only to applications that are responsive within the context of this program announcement.

Applicants must submit a full project description in accordance with the following instructions and the specified evaluation criteria.  The instructions give a broad overview of what the project description should include while the evaluation criteria provide details of more program-specific information that is needed.Cover Sheet: Provide a summary of the project description (no more than one page) with reference to the amount and duration of the funding request.  Narrative/Agenda:  Outline a draft agenda and plan of action which describes the scope and detail of how the proposed work will be accomplished.  Account for all functions or activities identified in the application. Cite factors which might accelerate or decelerate the work and state reasons for taking the proposed approach rather than others.  Describe any unusual features of the project such as design or technological innovations, reductions in cost or time, or extraordinary social and community involvement. Include concrete suggestions/contacts for internship placements and ideas for trainers.  Provide quantitative projections of the accomplishments to be achieved for each function or activity in such terms as the number of people to be served and the number of activities accomplished.  When accomplishments cannot be quantified by activity or function, list them in chronological order to show the schedule of accomplishments and their target dates.  List those organizations, cooperating entities, consultants, or other key individuals who will work on the project, along with a short description of the nature of their effort or contribution.

The concept papers may not exceed eight double-spaced pages in 12-point, Times New Roman font with 1-inch margins.  This requirement excludes the allowable appendices, which are identified in Section 4 below.  The proposal must consist of the following:


Section 1 – Application for Federal Assistance (SF-424):

This form can be found on-line at:



Section 2 – Draft Agenda/Implementation Plan:  The proposed activities should be described in sufficient detail to show how objectives and goals will be met.  This section should also include a detailed monitoring plan that describes how success will be measured via performance indicators and provide milestones to indicate progress toward NOFO-stipulated goals.


Section 3 – Organizational Capability:  Applications must include a clear description of the applicant’s management structure, and experience and background in the country/region as these relate to the proposed activities.  Besides information about the organization as a whole, this section must also identify the proposed management structure and staffing plan for the proposed project.  The organization should show that it has expertise in one or more of the goals and demonstrate the ability to perform the proposed activities.  Where partners are described, please describe each partner’s respective role and provide CVs for persons responsible for the project and financial administration.  Each key person responsible for the proposed project and its financial administration should be listed.


Section 4 – Appendices:  The concept paper submission must include two appendices, with a third, optional appendix to be submitted at the discretion of the applicant.  The appendices listed below may be included as part of the application:


  • Budget (Required) – the budget must identify the total amount of funding requested, with a breakdown of amounts to be spent in the following budget categories: personnel; fringe benefits; travel; per diem/housing allowances; equipment; supplies; consultants/contracts; other direct costs; and indirect costs.
  • Resume (Required) – resumes, not to exceed one-page in length, must be included for the proposed key staff people, such as the Project Director. If an individual for these types of positions has not been identified, the applicant may submit a one-page position description, identifying the qualifications and skills required for that position, in lieu of a resume.




Applicants must submit their application electronically using, which requires registration by the applying organization. Sections B.1 below outlines system requirements and provides instructions for how to register.


It is important to understand that the application process is not complete until the applicant receives notification that their application has been validated and forwarded to the granting agency (U.S. Department of State). Please allow sufficient time for entering the application into the system. Please note that it is the responsibility of the applicant to monitor their application to ensure that it is successfully received and validated.


B.1 is a single portal for applicants to find and apply to U.S. Government funding opportunities. To apply using this option, applicants must have a DUNS number and be registered with the System for Award Management (SAM).  Instructions for meeting these two requirements can be found above in Part III under “III. ELIGIBILITY Requirements.”  The registration process for this site is a five-step process: 1) obtain a DUNS number; 2) register with System for Award Management; 3) create a profile, including username and password; 4) obtain Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) authorization; and 5) track AOR status. The registration process can take 7-10 business days or longer, even if all the registration steps are completed in a timely manner. To register, go to and click on “Get Registered.”



Evaluation Criteria:  Applicants should note that the following criteria (1) serve as a standard against which all proposals will be evaluated, and (2) serve to identify the significant matters that should be addressed in all proposals.  The USG will award grants to the applicant whose offers represent the best value to the USG on the basis of technical merit and cost.

Each application will be evaluated by a peer review committee of Department of State and U.S. Embassy Riyadh and other experts, as deemed appropriate.  The evaluation criteria have been tailored to the requirements of this NOFO.

  • Project Goals/Implementation Plan (70 points): Applicants should describe what they propose to do and how they will do it.  The proposed activities must directly relate to meeting the goals and objectives, and applicants should include information on how they will measure activities’ effectiveness and provide milestones to indicate progress toward NOFO-stipulated goals.  The review panel will be viewing the implementation plan in terms of how well it addresses the goals and objectives, feasibility of the proposed activities and their timeline for completion, and the extent to which the impact of the project will continue beyond the conclusion of the funding period.


  • Organizational Capability (20 points): Proposals should demonstrate the ability to develop and implement youth exchanges.  Applicants must demonstrate how their resources, capabilities, and experience will enable them to achieve the stated goals and objectives.


  • Appendices (10 points):
  • Budget:  Costs shall be evaluated for realism, control practices, and efficiency. PAS must determine that the costs paid for this award are reasonable, allowable, and allocable to the proposed project activities.  This will consist of a review of the budget to determine if the overall costs are realistic for the work to be performed, if the costs reflect the applicant’s understanding of the allowable cost principles established by OMB Circular A-122, and if the costs are consistent with the program narrative.
  • Résumé: The review panel will consider the appropriateness of the selected project director; in view of the role and responsibility that person will play in guiding the project through implementation to completion.  Position descriptions submitted in lieu of the résumé will be reviewed for the appropriateness of the qualifications and skills identified.



Award Notices:  The cooperative agreement shall be written, signed, awarded, and administered by the Grants Officer.  The Grants Officer is the Government official delegated the authority by the U.S. Department of State Procurement Executive to write, award, and administer grants and cooperative agreements.  The assistance award agreement is the authorizing document and it will be provided to the Recipient through either mail or facsimile transmission.  Organizations whose applications will not be funded will also be notified in writing.

Anticipated Time to Award:  Applicants should expect to be notified of the recommended proposal within 30 days after the submission deadline.  U.S. Embassy staff will provide information at the point of notification, which may include revisions to the activities.
Issuance of this NOFO does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government, nor does it commit the Government to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of proposals.  Further, the Government reserves the right to reject any or all proposals received.

VIII. Disclaimer

If a proposal is selected for funding, the Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy Riyadh has no obligation to provide any additional future funding in connection with the award.  Renewal of an award to increase funding or extend the period of performance is at the discretion of the Public Affairs Section.