Monday, December 29, 2014

US Offers $11 Million in Cuba Program Grants

US Offers $11 Million in Cuba Program Grants
December 28, 2014
By Tracey Eaton (alongthemalecon)

In the background is the US Interests Section in Havana, soon to be the
US Embassy.
HAVANA TIMES – The United States State Department on Wednesday announced
that it is looking for U.S.- or foreign-based organizations interested
in running programs aimed at boosting civil, political and labor rights
in Cuba.

The department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor expects to
award up to $11 million in grants, ranging from $500,000 to $2 million each.

Statements of interest from organizations hoping to receive funds are
due Feb. 5, 2015.

The bureau's announcement says it will give priority to proposals that
"emphasize the role of Cuban partners in developing and achieving
programmatic objectives."

Perhaps that language was added in light of the Obama administration's
Dec. 17 decision to pursue diplomatic relations with Cuba.

See the full announcement here:

Excerpts are below:

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announces a
Request for Statements of Interest (RSOI) from organizations interested
in submitting Statements of Interest (SOI) outlining programs that will
foster civil, political, and labor rights in Cuba.

DRL invites organizations to submit SOIs for programs that promote
internationally-recognized individual, civil, political, and labor
rights – as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and
other international agreements – in Cuba.

The Cuban government fails to respect freedom of speech and the press,
restricts internet access, maintains a monopoly on political power and
media outlets, circumscribes academic freedom, and maintains some
restrictions on the ability of religious groups to meet and worship. The
government refuses to recognize non-governmental human rights groups or
permit them to function legally.

The government continues to prevent workers from forming independent
unions and otherwise exercising their labor rights. Common human rights
abuses on the island include those involving the abridgement of the
right of citizens to participate in their government, including through
periodic and genuine elections, as well as the use of government
threats, extrajudicial physical violence, intimidation, organized mobs,
harassment, and detentions to prevent free expression and peaceful
assembly. In addition, the government continues to engage in or permit
the following abuses: short-term, arbitrary unlawful detentions and
arrests, harsh prison conditions, selective prosecution, and denial of
fair trial. Authorities also interfere with privacy, engaging in
pervasive monitoring of private communications without legal authority
and with impunity.

DRL programs in Cuba aim to strengthen on-island, independent civil
society capacity to further the rights and interests of Cuban citizens,
and to overcome the limitations that have been imposed by the Cuban
government on citizens' civil, political, and labor rights. In
particular, programs should support the realization in Cuba of rights
enshrined within Articles 5, 9, 10, 12, 13, 19, 20, 21, and 23 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among others.

A highly competitive statement of interest would generally:

- Propose concrete initiatives that reflect ongoing dialogue between the
applicant and Cuban civil society, as well as recent developments on the
- Demonstrate the applicant's experience programming effectively within
Cuba, or within other closed society environments;
- Prioritize South-South exchange, or reflect the linguistic needs and
capabilities of target beneficiaries, in the development of any
off-island activities;
- Reflect an effective, multi-dimensional strategy for confronting
longstanding challenges;
- Offer a specific vision for achieving change, while acknowledging
obstacles that would have to be overcome in order to achieve that change;
- Emphasize the role of Cuban partners in developing and achieving
programmatic objectives.
Activities that are typically funded include, but are not limited to:

- Organizational assistance to Cuban civil society to improve
management, strategic planning, sustainability, and collaboration of
local civil society groups;
- Off-island trainings, short-term fellowships, or engagement;
- Distribution of software that would be easily accessible in an open
society, or the localization of said software for the Cuban
technological environment;
- Baseline surveys or analyses for the purpose of facilitating
implementation and improving monitoring and evaluation;
- Assistance mechanisms designed to provide independent Cuban civil
society with tools, opportunities, and trainings that civil society
counterparts in open societies can access.

Activities that are not typically funded include, but are not limited to:

- The provision of large amounts of humanitarian assistance;
- English language instruction;
- Development of high-tech computer or communications software and/or
hardware specific to Cuba;
- Purely academic exchanges or fellowships;
- External exchanges or fellowships lasting longer than six months;
- Off-island activities for Cubans that are not clearly linked to
on-island initiatives and impact;
- Theoretical explorations of human rights or democracy issues in Cuba,
including programs aimed primarily at research and evaluation;
- Micro-loans or similar small business development initiatives;
- Activities that go beyond an organization's demonstrated competence,
or fail to provide clear evidence of the ability of the applicant to
achieve the stated impact;
- Initiatives directed towards the Cuban diaspora rather than current
residents of Cuba.
- DRL encourages applicants to foster collaborative partnerships;
applicants are invited to form consortia which submit a combined SOI, in
which one organization is designated as the lead applicant. DRL also
strives to ensure its programs advance the rights and uphold the dignity
of the most vulnerable or at-risk populations.

Approximately $11 million in programming will be supported, pending
availability of funds.
An organization may submit no more than two applications. Applications
that request less than the award floor ($500,000) or more than the award
ceiling ($2,000,000) may be deemed technically ineligible.

Source: US Offers $11 Million in Cuba Program Grants - Havana

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