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U.S. Ambassador’s Special Self Help Fund
January 9, 2023


    The U.S. Embassy Maseru/ Bureau of African Affairs of the U.S. Department of State announces an open competition for organizations interested in submitting applications for projects that are community-initiated and involving schools, clinics, co-operatives, associations, training, or community improvement projects. Please follow all instructions below.


Program Objectives:

The U.S. Ambassador’s Special Self-Help (SSH) program is a grass-roots assistance program that allows U.S. embassies to respond quickly to local requests for small community-based development projects. This Self-Help fund provides small, short-term grants (one year) to community groups that are working to improve the basic economic and social conditions of their villages or communities.


Special consideration will be given to projects which:

  • Support high impact, quick implementation activities that benefit a large number of people within one year without requiring further SSH assistance
  • Are within the ability of the local community to operate and maintain
  • Are not in any way initiating, continuing, or supplementing technical assistance programs
  • Are a direct response to the initiative and aspirations of the local community
  • Ensure broadly accessible, reliable, and economically sustainable water and sanitation services for health, security, and prosperity (not issues directly relating to agriculture or household level)
  • Assist special populations which may be vulnerable or at-risk on a temporary or chronic basis such as the disabled, orphans, children and at-risk youth, ethnic minorities, the elderly, female heads of households, or other socially excluded groups
  • Provide social assistance



SSH funds can be used for:

  • Seeds and supplies for agriculture, except for fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides
  • Water-related projects such as wells, latrines, pumps, boreholes, tanks, and fish ponds
  • School equipment and supplies including desks, chairs, laboratory equipment and library items
  • Communal construction equipment such as brick-making machines
  • Miscellaneous durable goods, e.g. a stove or refrigerator for a school or hospital, or a washing machine for a clinic
  • Small construction projects, e.g. construction of classrooms, community centers, etc.

Participants and Audiences:

All applicants must be registered Non-Profit Organizations, cooperatives, orphanages, schools and health facilities that work directly with communities.



Length of performance period: 12 months

Number of awards anticipated: 8 awards (dependent on amounts)

Award amounts: awards may range from a minimum of $4,000 to a maximum of $10,000

Total available funding: $70,000

Type of Funding: FY22 U.S Ambassador’s Special Self Help Fund under the Foreign Assistance Act

Anticipated program start date:  September 30, 2023


This notice is subject to availability of funding.


Funding Instrument Type:  Grant, fixed amount award, or cooperative agreement. Cooperative agreements are different from grants in that bureau/embassy staff are more actively involved in the grant implementation.


Program Performance Period: Proposed programs should be completed on September 29, 2024 or less.




Eligible Applicants

  • Non-Profit Organizations
  • Schools
  • Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs),
  • Community Based Organizations (CBOs),
  • Faith Based Organizations (FBOs)
  • Orphanages
  • Health Facilities


Cost Sharing or Matching

There is a requirement for cost sharing, matching, or cost participation (e.g. funds, material and/or labor) of 10%.


Other Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to receive an award, all organizations must have a unique entity identifier (Data Universal Numbering System/DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet), as well as a valid registration on www.SAM.gov. Please see Section D.3 for information on how to obtain these registrations.




Application guidelines can be requested via email, grantsmaseru@state.gov or U.S. Embassy Maseru Main Gate.


The U.S. Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund will accept applications from February 1, 2023 to March 31, 2023.


Any application that is received after the deadline, is incomplete, or is missing required documentation will be rejected.


Please Note: The Special Projects Office retains the right to ask for additional documents not included in this NOFO.


Additional information that successful applicants must submit after notification of intent to make a Federal Award, but prior to issuance of a Federal award, may include:

  1. Pre-award site visit;
  2. Written responses and any revised application documents addressing any conditions or recommendations from the review panel;
  3. Bank account information; and
  4. Other requested information or documents discussed during negotiations prior to issuance of a Federal award.


Content of Application

Please ensure:

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


Mandatory application forms


  • Form SF-424, Application for Federal Assistance


  • From SF-424D, Assurances for Construction Programs and Form SF-424C, Budget for Construction Programs


  • Form SF-424A, Budget for Non-Construction Programs and From SF-424B, Assurances for Construction Programs

Summary Page: Cover sheet stating the applicant name and organization, proposal date, program title, program period proposed start and end date, and brief purpose of the program.

Proposal (20 pages maximum): The proposal should contain sufficient information that anyone not familiar with it would understand exactly what the applicant wants to do. You may use your own proposal format, but it must include all the items below.

  • Proposal Summary: Short narrative that outlines the proposed program, including program objectives and anticipated impact.
  • Introduction to the Organization or Individual applying: A description of past and present operations, showing ability to carry out the program, including information on all previous grants from the U.S. Embassy and/or U.S. government agencies.
  • Problem Statement: Clear, concise and well-supported statement of the problem to be addressed and why the proposed program is needed
  • Program Goals and Objectives:  The “goals” describe what the program is intended to achieve.  The “objectives” refer to the intermediate accomplishments on the way to the goals. These should be achievable and measurable.
  • Program Activities: Describe the program activities and how they will help achieve the objectives.
  • Program Methods and Design: A description of how the program is expected to work to solve the stated problem and achieve the goal.  Include a logic model as appropriate.
  • Proposed Program Schedule and Timeline:  The proposed timeline for the program activities.  Include the dates, times, and locations of planned activities and events.
  • Key Personnel: Names, titles, roles and experience/qualifications of key personnel involved in the program.  What proportion of their time will be used in support of this program?
  • Program Partners:  List the names and type of involvement of key partner organizations and sub-awardees.
  • Program Monitoring and Evaluation Plan: This is an important part of successful grants. Throughout the time-frame of the grant, how will the activities be monitored to ensure they are happening in a timely manner, and how will the program be evaluated to make sure it is meeting the goals of the grant?
  • Future Funding or Sustainability Applicant’s plan for continuing the program beyond the grant period, or the availability of other resources, if applicable.


Budget Justification Narrative: After filling out the SF-424A Budget (above), use a separate sheet of paper to describe each of the budget expenses in detail. See section H. Other Information: Guidelines for Budget Submissions below for further information.


Attachments :

  • 1-page CV or resume of key personnel who are proposed for the program
  • Letters of support from program partners describing the roles and responsibilities of each partner
  • Official permission letters, if required for program activities


  1. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM.gov)


Required Registrations:

Any applicant listed on the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS) in the System for Award Management (SAM) is not eligible to apply for an assistance award in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 CFR 180 that implement Executive Orders 12549 (3 CFR, 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 CFR, 1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension.” Additionally, no entity listed on the EPLS can participate in any activities under an award.  All applicants are strongly encouraged to review the EPLS in SAM to ensure that no ineligible entity is included.


All organizations applying for grants (except individuals) must obtain these registrations.  All are free of charge:

  • Unique entity identifier from Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS number)
  • NCAGE/CAGE code
  • www.SAM.gov registration


Step 1: Apply for a DUNS number and an NCAGE number (these can be completed simultaneously)


DUNS application: Organizations must have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number from Dun & Bradstreet. If your organization does not have one already, you may obtain one by calling 1-866-705-5711 or visiting http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform


NCAGE application: Application page here: https://eportal.nspa.nato.int/AC135Public/scage/CageList.aspx

Instructions for the NCAGE application process:



For NCAGE help from within the U.S., call 1-888-227-2423

For NCAGE help from outside the U.S., call 1-269-961-7766

Email NCAGE@dlis.dla.mil for any problems in getting an NCAGE code.


Step 2: After receiving the NCAGE Code, proceed to register in SAM.gov by logging onto: https://www.sam.gov.  SAM registration must be renewed annually.


Submission Dates and Times

 Applications are due no later than 31 March 2023.


Funding Restrictions

  • Remodeling or renovating an existing facility that is in disrepair as a result of neglect or lack of money
  • Activities with unmitigated and negative environmental consequences (such as dams or roads through forest lands)
  • Purely religious or church projects.  However, those that genuinely assist the whole community, without regard to religious affiliation, may be funded
  • Military activities (including those relating to police, prisons or other law enforcement activities)
  • Purchase of pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides
  • Sports equipment or uniforms for a national sports team
  • Musical instruments or uniforms for a national orchestra or dance company
  • Student bursaries
  • Salaries for existing positions
  • Ongoing needs for education/training
  • Vehicles, tractors, computers, copiers, fax machines
  • Office supplies such as pencils, paper, forms and folders
  • Office equipment such as computers, fax machines, or photocopiers
  • Private businesses


Other Submission Requirements


All application materials must be submitted by email to grantsmaseru@state.gov or

or mailed to/handed in to

U.S. Embassy Maseru

Special Projects Office

254 Kingsway

P.O. Box 333

Maseru 100, Lesotho



  1. Criteria

Each application will be evaluated and rated on the basis of the evaluation criteria outlined below.


The Special Projects Office will determine eligibility for all applications and then each application will be evaluated and rated individually against the following criteria, listed below. The Special Projects Office strives to ensure each application receives a balanced evaluation by a review panel.


The application should be responsive to the NOFO, should be original, innovative and creative.


The application should demonstrate an immediate positive impact on a community need.

Competitive applications should clearly indicate the number of beneficiaries and the type of support they will receive, and the funds requested should reflect the number of beneficiaries served.


The project must be achievable and realistic for the means and skills of the community and must be completed within the 12-month timeframe.


The application should clearly detail how activities will be carried out, and the objectives should be clear, measurable, and have a well-defined timeline.


The project should show a clear path to self-sustaining activities that will continue once the grant money has been used.


The project needs to be able to quantify and report on the number of beneficiaries served with the funding received.


The budget should be complete and reasonable in relation to the proposed activities and anticipated results.  The plan for services and related cost estimates must be realistic.


After rating, shortlisted applicants will be contacted and may be asked for an interview to provide additional information or clarification on portions of their application and may be asked to accommodate a site visit. The final list of applicants will be presented to an internal review panel for final selection. Applicants not selected will receive notification that they will not receive a grant.


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


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


i. That the Federal awarding agency, prior to making a Federal award with a total amount of Federal share greater than the simplified acquisition threshold, is required to review and consider any information about the applicant that is in the designated integrity and performance system accessible through SAM (currently FAPIIS) (see 41 U.S.C. 2313);


ii.  That an applicant, at its option, may review information in the designated integrity and performance systems accessible through SAM and comment on any information about itself that a Federal awarding agency previously entered and is currently in the designated integrity and performance system accessible through SAM;


iii. That the Federal awarding agency will consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to the other information in the designated integrity and performance system, in making a judgment about the applicant’s integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards when completing the review of risk posed by applicants as described in §200.206 Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants.




Federal Award Notices


The grant award or cooperative agreement will be written, signed, awarded, and administered by the Grants Officer. The assistance award agreement is the authorizing document and it will be provided to the recipient for review and signature by email. The recipient may only start incurring program expenses beginning on the start date shown on the grant award document signed by the Grants Officer.

If a proposal is selected for funding, the Department of State has no obligation to provide any additional future funding. Renewal of an award to increase funding or extend the period of performance is at the discretion of the Department of State.

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


Payment Method:


The Recipient must request payment under the award by completing form SF-270—Request for Advance or Reimbursement and submitting the form to the Grants Officer. Unless otherwise stipulated, the Recipient may request payments on a reimbursement or advance basis.

Advance payments must be limited to the minimum amounts needed and be timed to be in accordance with the actual, immediate cash requirements of the Recipient in carrying out the purpose of this award. The timing and amount of advance payments must be as close as is administratively feasible to the actual disbursements by the Recipient for direct program or project costs and the proportionate share of any allowable indirect costs.



Administrative and National Policy Requirements


Before submitting an application, applicants should review all the terms and conditions and required certifications which will apply to this award, to ensure that they will be able to comply.


These include:


In accordance with the Office of Management and Budget’s guidance located at 2 CFR part 200, all applicable Federal laws, and relevant Executive guidance, the Department of State will review and consider applications for funding, as applicable to specific programs, pursuant to this notice of funding opportunity in accordance with the following:  NOTE:

  • President’s September 2, 2020 memorandum, entitled Memorandum on Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients of Federal Funds that Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities;
  • Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping (E.O. 13950);
  • Executive Order on Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence (E.O. 13933); and
  • Guidance for Grants and Agreements in Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations (2 CFR), as updated in the Federal Register’s 85 FR 49506 on August 13, 2020, particularly on:
    • Selecting recipients most likely to be successful in delivering results based on the program objectives through an objective process of evaluating Federal award applications (2 CFR part 200.205),
    • Prohibiting the purchase of certain telecommunication and video surveillance services or equipment in alignment with section 889 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 (Pub. L. No. 115—232) (2 CFR part 200.216),
    • Promoting the freedom of speech and religious liberty in alignment with Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty (E.O. 13798) and Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities (E.O. 13864) (§§ 200.300, 200.303, 200.339, and 200.341),
    • Providing a preference, to the extent permitted by law, to maximize use of goods, products, and materials produced in the United States (2 CFR part 200.322), and
    • Terminating agreements in whole or in part to the greatest extent authorized by law, if an award no longer effectuates the program goals or agency priorities (2 CFR part 200.340).




Reporting Requirements:

The Recipient is required to submit semi-annual and final progress reports, and financial reports. A final certified financial report and program report must be submitted to the Grants Officer within 90 days after the award period end date. The first page of the Performance Progress Report Form (PPR) must be submitted with all program reports. The Federal Financial Report (FFR SF-425/SF-425a) must be submitted for all financial reports. These forms can be accessed at: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/forms/post-award-reporting-forms.html#sortby=1 . Failure to comply with these reporting requirements may jeopardize the Recipient’s eligibility for future Agreements.



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



Guidelines for Budget Justification

Personnel and Fringe Benefits: Describe the wages, salaries, and benefits of temporary or permanent staff who will be working directly for the applicant on the program, and the percentage of their time that will be spent on the program.

Travel: Estimate the costs of travel and per diem for this program, for program staff, consultants or speakers, and participants/beneficiaries. If the program involves international travel, include a brief statement of justification for that travel.

Equipment: Describe any machinery, furniture, or other personal property that is required for the program, which has a useful life of more than one year (or a life longer than the duration of the program), and costs at least $5,000 per unit.

Supplies: List and describe all the items and materials, including any computer devices, that are needed for the program. If an item costs more than $5,000 per unit, then put it in the budget under Equipment.

Contractual: Describe goods and services that the applicant plans to acquire through a contract with a vendor.  Also describe any sub-awards to non-profit partners that will help carry out the program activities.

Other Direct Costs: Describe other costs directly associated with the program, which do not fit in the other categories. For example, shipping costs for materials and equipment or applicable taxes. All “Other” or “Miscellaneous” expenses must be itemized and explained.

Indirect Costs:  These are costs that cannot be linked directly to the program activities, such as overhead costs needed to help keep the organization operating.  If your organization has a Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate (NICRA) and includes NICRA charges in the budget, attach a copy of your latest NICRA. Organizations that have never had a NICRA may request indirect costs of 10% of the modified total direct costs as defined in 2 CFR 200.68.

“Cost Sharing” refers to contributions from the organization or other entities other than the U.S. Embassy.   It also includes in-kind contributions such as volunteers’ time and donated venues.

Alcoholic Beverages:  Please note that award funds cannot be used for alcoholic beverages.

Notice of Funding Opportunity_SSH_FY23