Potential Applicants: Please note that the following sections of this RFA have been updated as of April 16, 2012.

III. Partnership Implementation Process
IV. Application Content, C. Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy
VIII. Application Review Process, Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy, and Equitable and Cost-Effective Budget.
IX. Additional Terms of the Solicitation, A. Execution of Awards

If you have any questions about the changes in this RFA, please contact the program specialist indicated on this RFA page.

Before You Apply

HED has an easy new online application submission process for all Requests for Applications (RFAs). For more information, please review the Application Guidance page.

Date Issued: March 29, 2012

Award Amount: $1,080,000 USD


Higher Education for Development (HED), in cooperation with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Rwanda, is issuing a Request for Applications (RFA) for a women’s leadership higher education partnership in agricultural sciences in Rwanda.

HED expects to make one (1) award of up to $1,080,000 for the period October 1, 2012 to June 30, 2015 for a partnership between one or more higher education institution(s) in the United States and the Faculty of Agriculture at the National University of Rwanda (NUR) in Butare, Rwanda. The partnership's goal is to increase women’s access to advanced degrees in agricultural sciences and women’s empowerment in agriculture.

This partnership is part of a broader new effort known as the Women’s Leadership Program, whose purpose is to support national and local development goals that promote gender equality and female empowerment. Subject to the availability of U.S. government funding, HED anticipates issuing a total of five RFAs for higher education partnerships under the Women’s Leadership Program in Rwanda (2), Paraguay, South Sudan and Armenia.

Potential Applicants: Please note that the following sections of this RFA have been updated as of April 16, 2012.

III. Partnership Implementation Process
IV. Application Content, C. Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy
VIII. Application Review Process, Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy, and Equitable and Cost-Effective Budget.
IX. Additional Terms of the Solicitation, A. Execution of Awards

If you have any questions about the changes in this RFA, please contact the program specialist indicated on this RFA page.

Note on Required Documents

The documents listed below must be uploaded as part of the online application. Some of these items are HED forms that require completion. Several of the required documents provide guidelines for the material you will need to upload during the application process.

I. Background

A. Higher Education for Development (HED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Higher Education for Development (HED) mobilizes the expertise and resources of the higher education community to address global development challenges. HED manages a competitive awards process to access the best and the brightest within the U.S. higher education community. HED operates with the advice and counsel of the nation's six major higher education associations: the American Council on Education (ACE), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).

HED receives funding from USAID's Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade, Office of Education (EGAT/ED), USAID's functional and Regional Bureaus and worldwide Missions, and the U.S. Department of State to support higher education partnerships to advance global development, economic growth, good governance, and healthy societies. These partnerships provide training, applied research, academic program development, program evaluation, policy analysis, and program implementation, which are critical to furthering the U.S. Government's (USG) foreign assistance goals. Funding for this activity is provided by USAID EGAT/ED and USAID/Rwanda.

  • For more information on Higher Education for Development, please visit: www.hedprogram.org.
  • For information on USAID and its role in economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide over the past 50 years, please visit www.usaid.gov and www.usaid.gov/rw.

B. The Women's Leadership Program in Rwanda
The purpose of the Women's Leadership Program in Rwanda for Agriculture (WLP-Rwanda (Agriculture)) is to support national and local development goals in Rwanda that promote gender equality and female empowerment in agricultural sciences.

HED is working with USAID EGAT/ED and USAID/Rwanda to support a higher education partnership between the National University of Rwanda (NUR) and one or more U.S. higher education institution(s) that will enhance the ability of NUR to advance women's leadership in the field of agricultural sciences.

The WLP-Rwanda (Agriculture) partnership will contribute to the primary objectives of the overall Women's Leadership Program framework. These overarching objectives are:

  1. To promote and support the access of women to higher education and advanced degrees
  2. To strengthen institutional capacity in research and education on women's leadership
  3. To promote women's leadership through higher education extension/outreach efforts in underserved communities

C. Program Relationship to USAID Strategy and Policy
USAID's Education Strategy is premised on the development hypothesis that education is both foundational to human development and critically linked to broad-based economic growth. The 2011-2015 USAID Education Strategy outlines three goals with which all education development projects funded by USAID must align. Projects that HED manages, including the Women's Leadership Program, contribute to Goal 2 of this strategy – improved ability of tertiary and workforce development programs to generate workforce skills relevant to a country's development goals. The Women's Leadership Program in Rwanda will contribute directly to this goal by strengthening the capacity of the National University of Rwanda to advance women's leadership and prepare graduates who can contribute to promoting gender and women's economic empowerment.

At the same time, WLP-Rwanda (Agriculture) also integrates key elements of the new USAID Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy into the program. Specifically, the Women's Leadership Program partnerships are expected to carry out activities that will support USAID efforts related to the Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy and aimed at achieving one or more of the following three overarching outcomes: reduced gender disparities in access to, control over, and benefit from resources, wealth, opportunities and services--economic, social, political, and cultural; reduced gender-based violence and mitigate its harmful effects on individuals; and increased capability of women and girls to realize their rights, determine their life outcomes, and influence decision-making in households, communities, and societies.

Further, the WLP-Rwanda (Agriculture) partnership is designed to contribute to USAID/Rwanda and the Government of Rwanda's agricultural development goals that promote gender equality and female empowerment. More specifically, WLP-Rwanda (Agriculture) aligns with USAID/Rwanda's Strategic Objective 7 (SO7) and the anticipated outcomes of SO7 for improved institutional capacity of service providers and enhanced human and institutional capacity for increased agriculture sector. These outcomes are aligned with the Feed the Future initiative goals for research.

II. Partnership Description

A. Rwanda Country Context
The Government of Rwanda (GOR) has embarked on the complex task of achieving national peace and reconciliation while rebuilding the country's social and physical infrastructure in the post-genocide period. Rwandan policy makers quickly recognized that this transformation must be based on a solid foundation of respect and protection of the basic and fundamental human rights of all its population.

Rwandan government policy reflects a general consensus that women, regardless of ethnic or economic origins, must be economically and socially empowered if the country's development is to be achieved. The Government of Rwanda has shown leadership in the area of gender policy by creating the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, which issued a National Gender Policy in July 2010. The Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion reports to the Prime Minister and works closely with the Rwanda Gender Monitoring Office (GMO), an independent government body which ensures that gender issues are mainstreamed by all government agencies. In addition, the Ministry of Finance works with all ministries in the development of gender-sensitive budgets. These accomplishments build a receptive environment for the promotion of women's leadership in all sectors.

B. The National University of Rwanda in Context
Rwanda's economy depends on the agriculture sector for approximately 80 percent of the labor force and accounts for about a third of GDP. Rwanda's agricultural output grew at a rate of almost 10 percent during the period 1996-2000, but has performed less well since then, with average growth rates of less than 5 percent from 2001-2006. In 2007 agricultural output hardly grew at all (0.7 percent), but in 2008 recorded a significant jump with growth rate of over 10 percent due to increased Government of Rwanda (GOR) investments in the sector and good climatic conditions.

According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), African countries could achieve significant poverty reduction and improvement in food and nutrition security over the next 15-20 years by targeting policies and investment strategies that raise the average growth rate of crop yields by 50 percent, and accelerate overall GDP growth rates to 6.5-8.0 percent in addition to a 50 percent increase in livestock numbers.

Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture in Rwanda–Phase II (PSTA II) (1) is Rwanda's principal guiding document for the country's development strategy in agriculture. PSTA II reflects recent national strategies that have impacted the agriculture sector such as the broader Republic of Rwanda, Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS)and the Decentralization Policy. The EDPRS seeks to strengthen and expand the farmers' cooperative network, improve infrastructure for agricultural products, and increase the country's agricultural research capacities. Agriculture research is a key driver in the EDPRS and PSTA II.

A recent PSTA II report (2) states: "A major constraint (to accomplishing the objectives of PSTA II) is the ineffectiveness of the extension system. The extension agents have weak links to the research service, often do not have sufficient means of moving about the countryside, and generally lack knowledge on more specialized topics. They also have a message-oriented, top-down framework for working and have not developed strong skills as facilitators of the farmers' own processes of knowledge acquisition. Also, there are too few women extension agents. The process of linking District extension agents with specialized sources of knowledge is not well developed."

1. The Role of Universities

Due to the 1994 genocide, Rwanda lost a generation of educators and research scientists and much of the infrastructure for research and higher education was destroyed(3). National program staff are eager but inexperienced and somewhat isolated. As a result, the quality of agriculture science is low. Agricultural education and research must be strengthened in order to provide a science based, results oriented agriculture sector to meet Rwanda's strategic goals.

Rwandan universities are tasked with providing agricultural education, research, and extension programs. Agricultural research and education at the university level is hampered by: a shortage of trained professional staff; insufficient infrastructure; and constrained capacity to deliver applied research results to farmers, agribusiness, and other agriculture stakeholders.

There is currently no post-graduate degree program in agricultural sciences in Rwanda. Students must go to other countries to obtain M.Sc. or Ph.D. degrees. The consequence is severe understaffing and a low percentage of Rwandan nationals on faculty at university agriculture departments. The current extensive use of expatriate faculty members to fill the gap is not sustainable. They often stay in Rwanda for a limited time and their pay is often higher than their Rwandan counterparts.

2. The National University of Rwanda
The National University of Rwanda (NUR) is the oldest university in the country, established in 1963. Student enrollments have climbed dramatically in the past five years, from 7,048 in 2007 to 12,366 in 2011. The majority of students enrolled are male.
(See Table 1 Below.)

Figure 1: Enrollment by Gender, National University of Rwanda 2007-2011 (4)

WLP-Rwanda (Ag) RFA-Enrollment by Gender-Fig1
Men also outnumber women in the teaching and administrative staff.

Figure 2: Teaching and Administrative Staff at NUR 2010
Over the past five years, NUR has taken a number of steps toward quality improvements.

Table 1: Quality Improvements at NUR 2006-2011
Rwanda-NUR-Quality Improvements-Table1

The mission of the Faculty of Agriculture at NUR is to train and produce skilled graduates competent in the job market and able to create jobs for national development. Therefore, the Faculty of Agriculture mission has three components:

  • Teaching. Train undergraduate and post graduate students in agriculture sciences.
  • Research. Conduct problem solving-oriented research to find solutions to agriculture with focus on increasing productivity.
  • Outreach. Transfer technology as a service to the community with a focus on wealth creation and poverty reduction.

NUR's Faculty of Agriculture has four undergraduate programs and one postgraduate program. The undergraduate programs include: agricultural economics and agribusiness, animal science, crop science, and soil science. The only postgraduate program is the Master of Science in Agroforestry and Soil Management.

2a.Teaching Staff and Students: NUR Faculty of Agriculture
Currently, the faculty of agriculture has 23 academic staff of which 15 are Ph.D. holders and five hold an M.Sc. degree. In addition, there are 13 faculty pursuing their Ph.D. studies in South Africa, Tanzania, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States, and they are expected to complete by 2015. Of the 23 academic staff, only six are females with two women Ph.D. holders (including one expatriate working under contract).
The number of students has increased dramatically during the last six years, from 260 in 2005 to about 1,150 in 2011. In 2011, the distribution of enrolled students among departments was:

  • Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness (AGEC): 379
  • Animal Production (PA): 130
  • Crop Production and Horticulture (PVH): 254
  • Soil and Environmental Management (SEM): 387

2b. Curriculum Development and the Proposed Master's Program
Food security is currently a major challenge not only to Rwanda but to all African governments. Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa with a population estimated at 11.4 million and an average population density of about 321 persons per km2. At a growth rate of 2.3 percent per annum, the population is expected to rise to 14 million by the year 2020. There is therefore, considerable demographic pressure on agricultural land with more than 58 percent of households possessing less than 0.5 hectares. The issue of land and farm size has great influence on agriculture production in Rwanda. The major challenge facing the agriculture sector is to satisfy the rise in general demand for quality food due to increasing human population. Food consumption per capita per day is less than 2,000 kcal in the Eastern and Central Africa region while food resources per household provide less than 80 percent of the internationally recommended food requirement for normal healthy life. Access to adequate food supplies throughout the year by many households in the region is a nightmare, as a result of persistent low productivity and income.

In response to this food insecurity backdrop, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) outlines four thrusts for improving Africa's agriculture, and two of them address improving agriculture research, increasing food supply and reducing hunger. Other areas deemed critical for implementation of the program include academic and professional training in the field of agriculture.

The field of plant protection and phytosanitation is important because in many developing countries 40-50 percent of crops are lost due to pests, diseases and inadequate storage. Addressing these losses, through improved quarantine, surveillance, identification, diagnosis and management of crop pests and diseases, is an important focus for immediate measures to address food security. Moreover, the world economy is getting increasingly global. Rwanda is exploiting these opportunities through exports, particularly of horticultural crops. International trade calls for improved standards and vigilance to avoid export of quarantine pests and diseases. Therefore, there is a need to keep an up-to-date pest list. Correct identification of organisms is key in this endeavor. Capacity building in this area will facilitate safe trade by contributing to fulfilling the requirements of International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Expansion of the export market provides opportunities for increased farmer incomes. Therefore, building capacity in these areas of pest management is of paramount importance. 

Likewise, knowledge and expertise in plant genetics, plant breeding and seed science is critical in assuring food security; yet the seed sector is either nonexistent or not fully developed in most countries in the sub-region including Rwanda. This is mainly due to lack of sufficiently trained people in the sector. Seed scientists are essential if a nation has to avail sufficient and healthy seeds of all crops to farmers at the right time and right place. Seed scientists and plant breeders complement each other in the development and production of improved seeds and planting materials, a necessary role in all productive National Agricultural Research Systems. To reinforce the seed sector, the private sector must be involved. The private sector will be attracted to invest in the seed industry if there are sufficient trained personnel with knowledge in seed science. The proposed project shall contribute to addressing this insufficiency of seed scientists in Rwanda and the Eastern and Central African region.

With respect to the livestock sector, the Government of Rwanda has been promoting livestock ownership and quality upgrading through integrated farming system with zero grazing. The main constraints facing the livestock sector include poor general husbandry, nutrition, inadequate breeding, underdeveloped market, lack of appropriate technology, poor extension service, lack of grass root farmers organizations and poor or inadequate livestock research. In order to address the key constraints in animal resources, the livestock sector must adopt technologies to ensure sustainable use of natural resources without destroying the environment. Capacity building is needed in research and along the value chain and development of long term strategies in livestock development. The increase of productivity in livestock is one of the national strategic plans for agricultural transformation.

To become competitive in the globalized market, Rwanda needs a strategic plan to make smallholder farming more productive and sustainable. It is important to improve price incentives, increase the quality and quantity of products, make product markets work better, improve access to financial services and reduce exposure to uninsured risks, enhance the performance of producer organizations, promote innovation through science and technology. To address the above challenges, NUR's Faculty of Agriculture, through the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, plan to establish a M.Sc. program to train agricultural economists with the skills to address the above challenges.

The HED partnership envisioned with one or more U.S. higher education institution(s) will develop a two-year M.Sc. program with a three-semester course work and one semester research in agriculture sciences. There are some existing curriculum modules in agricultural economics and agribusiness that can be adapted for inclusion in this program.The HED partnership will focus on curriculum development, faculty development, and the attainment of gender equity in the faculty and students in the new M.Sc. degree program.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the following available resources on procedures for the introduction, review, and validation of NUR curricula and degree programs.

3. Applied Agricultural Research and Agricultural Extension at NUR
The university has a small farm on which students do their practical training like managing crops and livestock.Current facilities of the NUR Faculty of Agriculture include:

  • Four research stations (one in animal sciences, one in crop sciences, and one agroforestry and aquaculture). All need to be upgraded.
  • Three underequipped labs in animal, crop, and soil sciences, and aquaculture
  • One greenhouse that needs repair and equipment

Beginning in 2011, undergraduate students participate in internships in the rural areas for one month during the third year of studies ("Adopt a Village"). Initially, students use a structured questionnaire and interviews to collect information about the situation of agriculture in their assigned villages. Data collected are analyzed and the report is shared with local authorities of concerned villages. NUR faculty members and local authorities determine together areas of interventions to improve the livelihoods of farmers. These interventions are in the forms of short courses about basic technologies, bookkeeping, demonstration fields, etc. Thus, an internship is considered part of NUR's extension training because students' reports on their experiences and observations are shared with communities.

Further information on NUR and its Faculty of Agriculture can be found at http://www.nur.ac.rw.

(1) Republic of Rwanda, (2008), Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture in Rwanda – Phase II (PSTA II) Final Report February 2009
(2) PSTA II Analysis of existing constraints of Research and Extension" (Final Report, February 2009)
(3) "Rwandan situation was exacerbated by the 1994 genocide, which led to the loss of our meager human and infrastructure resources in our science base." Quote from President Paul Kagame's Preface to the Republic of Rwanda Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation. Delivered in 2004.
Figures 1and 2, and Table 1 are from a presentation by the rector of the National University of Rwanda, Dr. Silas Lwakabamba titled: "National University of Rwanda (NUR) Research Initiative." November 19, 2011.

C.  Partnership Framework
Discussions with USAID/Rwanda and the National University of Rwanda (NUR) Faculty of Agriculture have resulted in the results framework for the partnership explained below. Applicants should consider how the partnership design will achieve the objectives and outputs described in this framework. Activities contributing to the outputs that are listed in this framework are considered "illustrative." Applicants are encouraged to explore various ways of collaborating with the NUR Faculty of Agriculture on the desired outputs and achieving the designated objectives. Creative approaches to activities and partnership implementation are encouraged.

Purpose: To support Rwandan national and USAID/Rwanda's Strategic Objective SO7 agricultural development goals that promote gender equality and female empowerment.

To strengthen the capacity of the National University of Rwanda (NUR) to advance women's leadership in the field of agriculture.

Objective 1: Strengthen the institutional capacity of NUR in teaching and applied research in agricultural sciences.
Outcome 1.1:
A gender-sensitive Master of Science (M.Sc.) program in Agricultural Sciences at NUR that prepares students for careers and leadership roles is established and offered.

  • Output 1.1.1: A gender-sensitive curriculum in agricultural sciences that meets Rwandan and international requirements for a master's degree program is developed.
    Illustrative activity: Partners collaborate to identify learning objectives and new course content for the master's degree program in agricultural sciences and to align the new curriculum with Rwandan and international requirements for approval by the Rwandan Higher Education Commission.
  • Output 1.1.2: Gender sensitive course modules on multidisciplinary professional skills which prepare women students for leadership roles are created.
    Illustrative activities:
    • Partners consult with potential employers to identify priorities for these skill-building modules.
    • Partners develop modules on topics such as budgeting, financial management, human resources, grant writing, etc.
    • Partners review new content and incorporate what is learned into the curriculum.

Outcome 1.2: Enhanced pedagogical skills of NUR faculty to teach the gender-sensitive agricultural sciences curriculum and supervise agricultural sciences research.  

  • Output 1.2.1: Faculty development training about agricultural sciences teaching methods delivered.
    Illustrative activity: Conduct faculty training workshops and/or exchanges focused on innovative student-centered teaching methods and/or on women's empowerment and leadership in agricultural science and extension services.

Outcome 1.3: NUR extension services are enhanced through applied learning and research for agricultural science students

  • Output 1.3.1: Applied learning and research opportunities integrated in the new agricultural sciences master's degree program.
    Illustrative activity: NUR and U.S. partners collaborate with cooperatives, community leaders, and the private sector to identify experiential learning sites and opportunities for applied research focused on women's empowerment and their roles as agricultural producers, extension agents, and leaders in communities.
  • Output 1.3.2: Joint NUR and U.S. institution(s) applied research initiatives that address practical problems in agriculture and economics conducted.
    Illustrative activity: NUR faculty and U.S. partners develop an applied research agenda focused on women's empowerment and women's roles as agricultural producers, extension agents, and leaders in Rwanda.

Objective 2: Promote and support women's access to graduate education in agricultural sciences.
Outcome 2.1:
Barriers to women pursuing advanced degrees in agricultural sciences are reduced.

  • Output 2.1.1: Flexible delivery options that make master's coursework accessible to working women and women with family responsibilities are identified and institutionalized.
    Illustrative activity: NUR and U.S. partners collaborate to research and develop flexible education options that are appropriate for Rwanda, considering options such as evening classes, distance education courses, and limited residency options.
    Illustrative activity: NUR and U.S. partners consult employers and other stakeholders on the development of options, such as release time from regular job assignments, sabbaticals, etc., for graduate training for mid-career professional women.
  • Output 2.1.2: Affordable educational financing options for women are made available.
    Illustrative activity: NUR and the Rwandan National Student Financing Agency (NSFAR) explore affirmative action programs for women, such as low-cost loans, a possible tuition-assistance pilot program, etc.
  • Output 2.1.3: Mentoring programs for women pursing a graduate degree in agricultural sciences are established.
    Illustrative activity: With the assistance of the Gender Focal Point of the NUR Faculty of Agriculture, NUR and U.S. partners collaborate and engage stakeholders to design mentoring program and activities that encourage women to pursue degrees in agricultural science such as career fairs, career counseling, site visits, guest speaker series, etc.

Objective 3: Extend NUR's knowledge about, and women's expertise in, agricultural sciences to the community.
Outcome 3.1: NUR's agricultural extension services are expanded and strengthened.

  • Output 3.1.1: New extension programs that improve the economic empowerment of women farmers are created.
    Illustrative activity: NUR and U.S. partners meet with women farmers and other community stakeholders in the communities to conduct a needs assessment to inform the development of new extension/outreach programs.
    Illustrative activity: NUR and U.S. partners develop an extension/community outreach plan based on stakeholder input and community needs assessment findings.
  • Output 3.1.2: New agricultural technology transfer approaches at NUR are established.
    Illustrative activity: Partners collaborate with the cooperatives, community leaders, and the private sector to identify appropriate technology needed improve agricultural practices in Rwanda.
    Illustrative activity: Partners develop a strategy and implementation plan for technology transfer from NUR to communities.

III. Partnership Implementation Process

With U.S. government funding, HED provides awards to and manages innovative, higher education-based partnerships that target development challenges worldwide. Each partnership involves a college or university in the United States with an institution of higher learning in a developing nation. In support of USAID's development goals, partners work together to address a wide range of challenges—from public health to entrepreneurship training, and beyond. What sets HED partnerships apart is the focus on sustained impact—building educational and human capacity in a way that sets the stage for ongoing improvement.

To achieve sustained impact, HED has put into place a system for effective results-based monitoring and evaluation to manage partnership activities and demonstrate impact. As part of this system, HED requires from all partners comprehensive monitoring and evaluation plans, including a results framework, partnership management plan (PMP), and a partnership implementation plan. (Please review the M&E guide/glossary.)

However, with decades of experience in higher education partnerships for development, HED has documented the importance of cooperation, reciprocity and joint decision-making among partners to finalize the monitoring and evaluation plans in the early stages of project implementation. Therefore, applicants only are required to submit draft versions of the results framework and partnership implementation plan as part of their application submission. (See Section IV, Application Content for more information.) Only after the partnership award has been made will the selected U.S. and host-country partners finalize these materials.

Immediately following the announcement of the award and during the first 90 days of project implementation (referred to as the start-up phase), HED will work with the successful applicant and their partners to establish a solid foundation for the partnership by achieving concurrence among all stakeholders on the results framework, standard and custom indicators, and performance targets. The practice of setting aside the first 90 days of the project for these collaborative start-up activities is based on lessons learned from over a decade of higher education partnership management. Managing start-up activities in this manner allows for the implementation process to factor in the realities of a merit-based competitive selection in which an applicant does not have extensive access to the host-country partner institution for joint planning and thorough data collection. The start-up phase provides a platform for the establishment of a collaborative relationship between partner institutions and an opportunity to collect baseline data and validate or revise the strategy proposed by the U.S. institution during the application process. Dedicating adequate time, as well as financial and technical resources, to the start-up phase of project implementation enables implementing partners to ground partnership strategies in the reality of the host-country context.

Immediately following the award, partners will meet in country and will utilize HED standard monitoring and evaluation (M&E) forms and guidelines to develop the partnership management plan, conduct the baseline assessment and review the initial results framework. Results of the baseline study will inform the final results framework, help strengthen the partnership implementation plan and enable all partnership stakeholders to make informed project management decisions.

HED will assist in this process as needed. At the end of the start-up period, the partners may negotiate any necessary modifications to the award based on these planning documents and the findings of baseline assessment. Upon concluding start-up phase activities, partners will be responsible for producing these deliverables within approximately 90 days of the signing of the award agreement:

  • Final results framework
  • Partnership management plan
  • Baseline assessment report with targets for all standard and custom indicators
  • Final partnership implementation plan

IV. Application Content

A. Partnership Approach
In the partnership approach section of the narrative, applicants should describe how they will work collaboratively with the National University of Rwanda (NUR) to achieve the goal, objectives and outcomes identified for WLP-Rwanda (Agriculture). Each application also should describe anticipated outputs of proposed partnership activities and explain how these outputs would contribute to the partnership’s objectives and expected outcomes. Although applicants should respond to the Partnership Description outlined in Section II, applicants are encouraged to draw from their expertise and knowledge to propose additional outputs and associated activities through which the partnership objectives and outcomes may be achieved.

Applicants should describe how they will work collaboratively with NUR to achieve the partnership objective and outcomes. This description should reflect an understanding of the current context for gender equality and issues related to women’s leadership in Rwanda, as well as USAID priorities for Rwanda. Related, the partnership approach being proposed must take into account strategies to ensure the equitable participation of, and benefits to, all social and demographic groups in Rwanda.

Applicants should be aware that partners will be expected to more fully develop the sustainability plan during the partnership start-up by identifying additional public and private sector partners with whom to work and/or involve in the partnership, including the United States, Rwanda, and other multi-lateral/global organizations whose expertise and resources will be important to the achievement of the partnership’s long-term capacity building goals. Applications should include a description of how the proposed activity fits into the existing context and the U.S. higher education institution(s) ability to coordinate with existing donor-funded projects involved in building the capacity of the NUR Faculty of Agriculture.

Applications also should demonstrate the potential for program sustainability by describing a plan for sustainability that identifies strategies for and activities to support partnership goals and objectives beyond the award duration.

Finally, the partnership approach should identify factors outside of the institution that will help or hinder partnership implementation and describe plans to mitigate these factors when appropriate.

B. Institutional Commitment and Management
Applications should propose an effective partnership management and operational strategy that demonstrates a commitment of institutional resources to support the achievement of the partnership goal and objectives. To that end, applicants should discuss any personnel resources, provided by the award or in-kind and institutional infrastructure at the lead U.S. partner institution to manage the partnership effectively.

Although applicants should describe the interest of their institution in participating in this partnership, shared leadership and collaborative engagement of both the U.S. and host-country partners are viewed as critical elements of success. Therefore, the applicant should describe the ability of their institution to collaborate across departments and units at its own institution, as well as with NUR.  

Regarding language competency, NUR and all official higher education activities in Rwanda are rapidly switching to English as the medium of instruction, as instructed by the Government of Rwanda. Some level of competence in French by the U.S. partner team is advisable, though not a requirement.

C. Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy
The application should discuss how the applicant will work together with National University of Rwanda (NUR) to ensure partnership success through a results-based management and monitoring approach. Applicants should clearly communicate how the partners will collect and analyze performance data, both quantitative and qualitative, through a systematic process of monitoring and data collection throughout the duration of the partnership. The proposed strategy should ensure the occurrence of a critical reflection process through which both the U.S. and Rwandan partners are enabled to utilize monitoring and evaluation data for critical decision making and course correction. The application also should describe how the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) strategy will increase the capacity of the host-country institution to utilize monitoring and evaluation data and processes to strengthen institutional management. In addition to the narrative section on the M&E strategy, applicants should use the HED M&E tools to develop and submit a draft results framework and draft partnership implementation plan that considers the elements described above. (Please review the M&E tool in the "Required Documents" section and the M&E guide/glossary.)

To comply with M&E requirements, applicants must develop and submit the following key M&E documents:

  • Design, Monitoring and Evaluation Worksheets (DME Worksheets) (Please review the M&E in the "Required Documents" section and the M&E guide/glossary.) consisting of:
    1. Standard Indicators–Higher Education – Applicants should become familiar with a set of required USAID standard higher education indicators included in the first sheet of the DME Worksheets. For each indicator, a definition, methodology of data collection and frequency of data reporting is described.
    2. Standard Indicators–Women's Leadership Program – Applicants should become familiar with a set of required USAID standard WLP-Rwanda (Agriculture) indicators included in the second sheet of the DME Worksheets. For each indicator, a definition, methodology of data collection and frequency of data reporting is described.
    3. Results Framework (RF)–Applications should utilize the logical matrix to develop a rigorous results framework and formulate a coherent and well-designed partnership strategy. The results framework will establish cause and effect relationship within the hierarchy of results and reveal underlying assumptions, and as such, it will form the basis for the development of all M&E related documents.
    4. Partnership Monitoring Plan (PMP)–The Partnership Monitoring Plan will allow applicants to outline a systematic approach to results based management and provide a detailed description of the approach to monitoring partnership performance toward objectives over time. Applicants should use the PMP template which includes both standard/required indicators with detailed definitions, projected end of project targets; a plan and methodology for managing the regular data collection process and responsibilities. Applicants are required to also include custom indicators to be finalized after the negotiation period.
    5. Partnership Implementation Plan (PIP)–Applicants are required to include a detailed listing of partnership activities and implementation schedule. The implementation plan will document a logical sequence of events over time that will allow the partnership to progress towards producing required outputs. Applicants will utilize the enclosed format to define activities and major phases of work that will be undertaken to achieve the desired objectives and corresponding outputs.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation Narrative (included in 20-page narrative)
    1. Plan for initial baseline assessment–Applications should include a brief description of the plan and approach for conducting the baseline assessment, proposed schedule and the use of baseline data to refine partnership strategy and finalize targets. HED shares with its partners a set of baseline assessment tools and encourages applicants to review these tools as part of the application process. However, applicants are not required to submit a completed baseline assessment during the application stage. These tools are being provided only for illustrative purposes and will be completed, in close consultation with HED, during the partnership start-up phase. Click here to view the baseline assessment tools.
    2. Plan for utilizing data for results-based partnership management–Briefly describe how the partnership will ensure a management process of critical reflection during which planned indicator targets will be compared and analyzed against actual indicator values. Applicants should describe how knowledge gained through monitoring and evaluation will be used for critical decision making and course correction.
    3. Strategy that shows how progress and results will be communicated and reported to USAID through HED. Applicants should include a description of project reporting and communication strategy that will ensure timely and accurate reporting of results.

Applicants also should plan to allocate adequate resources to monitoring and evaluation including performance management and assessment.

Please note that the selected U.S. partner institutions and the host-country partners, in close consultation with HED, will be required to review and finalize the DME worksheets after the baseline assessment has been conducted.

D. Expertise of Key Personnel
Applicants should demonstrate their commitment to effectively manage the partnership and fulfill financial and programmatic compliance requirements. Applications should identify and describe credentials and experience of key personnel responsible for:

  1. Technical leadership including subject/regional expertise,
  2. Monitoring and evaluation management, and
  3. Administrative and financial management of the HED Award.

E. Planning an Equitable and Cost-Effective Budget
Applications should include an equitable and cost-effective budget and budget narrative that supports the proposed partnership approach. Applicants are encouraged to refer to these documents for guidance about creating a partnership budget and budget narrative:

  • Sample Budget Award
  • Sample Budget Narratives
    A budget narrative supporting your budgeted costs, according to the Federal Cost Principles (2 CFR 220 Appendix A), must be submitted with your application.(See the listing of “Required Documents” at the top of this RFA page.) There is no particular format required for the budget narrative; therefore, feel free to submit the budget narrative using a format that most suits your needs. For your convenience, HED provides two samples of budget narratives (short and long versions) that represent commonly used formats.

Applicants should use the HED budget form (in the required documents section) to develop and submit a budget that considers the following elements. 

1. Equitable Budget: HED partnership awards are intended to support capacity development at the overseas partner institution. In formulating the proposed budget, applicants should consider how the proposed costs support the achievement of the results framework described in the RFA. For this RFA, U.S. applicants must provide evidence in the budget and the budget narrative of an emphasis of resources directly benefiting the NUR. The applicant is encouraged to demonstrate in the budget that at least 50 percent of award resources, and/or the benefits thereof, will benefit NUR.

2. Partnership Activities: The budget should allocate adequate financial resources for the strategic planning and design phase including: an institutional and community assessment; the implementation phase; monitoring and evaluation activities; and an external evaluation. The budget being proposed for the partnership will be considered “illustrative,” as it may change based on the outcome of the institutional and community assessment.  

3. Cost Share: The minimum suggested total cost share from all U.S. partners is 15 percent of the award amount. Reported cost share must be auditable. Non-auditable contributions may not be used to meet the minimum, but can be indicated separately and attached to the budget detail form. Applicants should itemize all cost sharing and in-kind contributions. Read more on cost-share guidelines.

In-kind contributions may include, but are not limited to: waivers of tuition and fees for students participating in academic exchanges; donation of library and classroom materials to the partner; information and communications technologies infrastructure and Internet Service Provider subscription subsidy for the partner and exchange students; faculty salaries; travel and/or per diem for faculty and administrators to participate in professional exchange and development programs; and indirect costs.

Please note that the budget narrative should be appended as an attachment and should not be included as part of the main narrative.

HED is available to answer questions you might have about the budget template, including questions about customizing the template format. Note: The cells on the budget forms are locked, which will prevent you from using some of the MS Excel functions, such as deleting empty rows. If you would like to eliminate blank spaces, add more cells, or feel that your budget requires further customization of the template, please refer such questions to Adriana Lacerda, HED Budget Officer, at alacerda@hedprogram.org. Please allow at least 24 hours for a response to any correspondence or inquiries.

V. Eligibility

HED will only consider applications from regionally accredited, degree granting, U.S. higher education institutions (two- and four-year colleges and universities). U.S. colleges and universities may apply individually or in partnership with other institutions. Consortia applications are welcomed. HED encourages applications from or with the participation of Minority-Serving Institutions. HED will accept only one (1) application from each lead U.S. applicant institution per partnership award. However, U.S. applicant institutions are permitted to participate as secondary institutions in more than one application per partnership award.

In an effort to work with and strengthen local tertiary institutions, the HED program will engage U.S. institutions of postsecondary education (including universities, colleges, and community colleges) as core development partners in each of the activities funded under the program. Funding will be obligated through the U.S. institution to the cooperating institutions and stakeholders in the target countries in a fair, transparent, and open manner through program investments that will both develop and leverage the capacity of the local institutions to meet the human and institutional capacity needs of their country.

Applicants' budgets should demonstrate that award funds will be managed by the applicant and designated partner institution(s). HED can only negotiate an award agreement with the lead U.S. higher education institution named in the application.

VI. Contact Information

Applicants with questions related to this RFA may contact Fatou Kine Liddell, Senior Program Specialist at Higher Education for Development at kliddell@hedprogram.org.

Applicants who wish to learn more about women’s leadership and agricultural development in Rwanda may contact Gary Cramer at USAID/Rwanda. His contact information:
 Dr. Gary Cramer
 Senior Agriculture Advisor
 2657 Avenue de la Gendarmerie, Kigali, Rwanda
 Tel.: +250-252-596-400
 Email: gcramer@usaid.gov

The designated contact for the National University of Rwanda is Dr. Solange Uwituze. Her contact information:
Dr. Solange Uwituze
Vice Dean for Research and Postgraduate
Faculty of Agriculture, National University of Rwanda
Tel.: +250-788-309-637
Email: suwituze@nur.ac.rw

VII. Application Format and Submission

A. Application Format

Effective March 2012, HED accepts applications through an online RFA system.

Please review the list of all required documents for this RFA indicated at the top of this RFA web page. Each link in the "Required Documents" section of the RFA either provides an HED form to download and complete or instructions regarding a required document to upload. Applicants must submit all the required documents to complete the RFA application process..

B. How to Submit an Application

Step 1: To begin the online application process, the applicant must click the blue "Apply Now" button on the RFA web page.

Step 2: Applicants must either register as a new user or sign-in using an existing HED username and password.

Step 3: Complete the requested information on the form.HED's online application system permits users to save an application in progress and return to complete it during subsequent sessions.

Step 4: When you are ready to submit your application, please click the "Submit" button.

Please Note: The online application system will not allow the submission of the application unless all required fields are complete and required documents have been uploaded. A list of all "Required Documents" can be found at the top of each RFA web page. Applicants must submit all required documents online before the deadline. Faxed or hard-copy applications will not be accepted.

Applicants will receive an email acknowledging receipt of their online application. Once the application has been received, there will be no contact between the applicant and the HED program office until completion of the peer review process. This restriction will be enforced to ensure fairness to all parties concerned.

Questions about this online RFA process should be directed to Fatou Kine Liddell, HED Senior Program Specialist, at kliddell@hedprogram.org.

Applications must be received by 11:30 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), on June 20, 2012.

VIII. Application Review Process

A. Review Criteria
Peer reviewers will use the following criteria to evaluate the applications. Reviewers will score each section using the guidance for total points and the questions provided.

Partnership Approach = 25 points

  • Does the approach demonstrate understanding of the current context for gender equality and issues related to women's leadership in Rwanda?
  • Is the approach feasible to achieving the institutional capacity building, partnership objectives and expected outcomes as listed in the RFA?
  • Does the narrative include a realistic sustainability plan?
  • Does the application adequately identify factors outside of the institution that may affect implementation and include plans to mitigate these factors?

Institutional Commitment and Management = 20 points

  • Does the application provide evidence of an effective program management approach?
  • Does the application reflect that sufficient personnel resources, whether in the award budget or in kind, will be available to implement this partnership successfully?
  • Is there a compelling and strategic interest on the part of the U.S. institution to engage with this partner?
  • Does the application clearly articulate the role of each partner institution in implementation?
  • Is there evidence of sufficient infrastructure at the lead U.S. partner institution to manage the partnership effectively? (e.g. financial management, program management and compliance, logistical support, visa compliance, etc)
  • Does the application indicate that the lead U.S. institution and key personnel will be able to operate seamlessly in a foreign language environment?

Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy = 20 points

  • Is the proposed monitoring and evaluation strategy compatible with a results-based management approach?
  • Does the application articulate a clear understanding of how M&E data will be used to guide program implementation?
  • Does the application outline a process for developing a viable results-based framework and M&E plan in collaboration with the Rwandan partner institution?
  • Are the roles of partners and evaluators in the M&E process clearly articulated in the M&E strategy?
  • Are adequate human resources described to carry out the level of M&E described and required in this activity?

Expertise of Key Personnel = 15 points

  • Do the individuals responsible for managing the partnership have appropriate professional credentials and relevant expertise? (Identify and describe the roles of key personnel who will be responsible for technical leadership, monitoring and evaluation, administrative and financial management of the HED Award.)

Equitable and Cost-Effective Budget = 20 points

  • Does the approach demonstrate cost-effectiveness?
  • Does the budget include cost sharing of no less than 15 percent?
  • Does the proposed partnership budget (HED Award and cost share) include adequate funding for the start-up phase?
  • Does the budget include approximately 3 percent of total program costs devoted to performance management, assessment and ongoing monitoring and evaluation costs?

Total = 100 points

B. Peer Review Process
Applications will be peer-reviewed by expert panelists, which include representatives from higher education, international development, and USAID. Awards will be made on the basis of reviewers' recommendations of merit, and final selection by USAID. The peer review of applications is planned to occur in July 2012.

Please note that letters of communication from members of the U.S. Congress in support of an application are discouraged as these may be thought to prejudice the peer-review process. Such letters will not be forwarded to peer reviewers.

Notification about awards is expected following the completion of the peer review process. Upon final announcement of awards, the person named in the application as the U.S. partnership director may submit a written request for copies of the peer reviewers' scores for the application. No personal reviews will be granted, and no comparative score tabulations will be shared.

IX. Additional Terms of the Solicitation

A. Execution of Awards
Awards will be executed as sub-agreements between the designated U.S. university, college, community college, or consortium, and the American Council on Education (ACE), through the Higher Education for Development (HED) office, under USAID Cooperative Agreement AEG-A-00-05-00007-00. The institution recommended for award will receive a draft version of the sub-agreement to review. The award recipient will be expected to submit a marking plan related to USAID branding as part of the sub-agreement that clearly indicates the support provided by USAID for activities conducted under the award.

Please note that no award or cost-share funds may be expended prior to a fully executed (i.e., signed by both parties) sub-agreement between ACE and the designated U.S. institution unless pre-award expenses have been approved in writing as a part of the negotiation of the sub-award. Activities are expected to commence immediately after the sub-agreement is executed.

Payment of award funds to designated U.S. university, college, community college, or consortium shall be on a cost-reimbursable basis, according with approved financial expenditure reports accompanied by cost-share reports. These payments are made based on the applicant’s implementation of the work plan, stated budget, and submission to HED of financial, tax, and narrative progress reports. It is the designated U.S. institution’s responsibility to provide reimbursements for its collaborating partner(s) in accordance with the agreed-upon activity schedule and budget.

B. Post Award Briefings
Partnership directors, and/or their designees, are required to participate in two post-award briefings. The first briefing, conducted in a virtual format, will review reporting, monitoring and evaluation requirements. The second briefing via a conference call will address general requirements of the award.

C. TraiNet Requirements
To comply with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of State, and USAID regulations regarding tracking and monitoring of Exchange Visitors, foreign nationals whose costs are paid, fully or partially, directly or indirectly using USAID program funds for training, non-training, and invitational travel, must enter the U.S. on a J-1 visa (non-immigrant Exchange Visitor visa) processed under one of USAID’s two program numbers, unless otherwise waived according to the procedure in ADS 252.3. J-2 visa applications for family members who are not supported per USAID policy.

USAID expects that all DS-2019 documents (paperwork needed for J visas) and in-country or third country training be processed through the USAID Training, Results and Information Network (TraiNet) system. For more information about TraiNet, go to http://trainethelp.usaid.gov.

Institutions may not directly access the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to issue DS-2019 documents internally. Information regarding USAID’s J-1 visa requirements may be found online at the Participant Training website. Administrators must adhere to the regulations detailed under TraiNet, Visa Compliance System (VCS), the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), and USAID’s Automated Directives System (ADS) 252-Visa Compliance for Exchange Visitors, and 253-Training for Development. U.S. institutions should allow a minimum of four months for the processing of visas when planning activities in the United States. TraiNet management requires a significant commitment of staff time and applicants are encouraged to consider this when developing the program budget.

D. Health and Accident Coverage Insurance
The U.S. institution is responsible for enrolling each participant traveling to the United States or a third country in the institution’s Health and Accident Coverage (HAC) insurance program or in other coverage that meets the following requirements:
(1) Coverage must be at a minimum $50,000 per illness or accident;
(2) Repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500;
(3) Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $10,000; and
(4) A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

Any company selected must be underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of “A–” or above, an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-i” or above, a Standard & Poor's Claims-paying Ability rating of “A–” or above, a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above, or such other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify. Please refer to 22 CFR § 62.14(a) for the full description of the applicable insurance requirements.

The cost of HAC for participants must be included in the budget. More information on the USAID HAC program is available online.

E. Reporting
The awardee will be required to submit to HED the following reports.

  • Financial expenditure reports (both grants and cost share) are due at least quarterly with recorded expenditures for the following periods: Jan. 1-March 31, April 1-June 30, July 1-Sept. 30, and Oct. 1-Dec. 31.
  • Progress reports for the following reporting periods are due semi-annually: April 1-Sept. 30 and Oct. 1-March 31.
  • Financial reports and semi-annual progress reports are due within one-month after the corresponding reporting period closes: Jan. 30, April 30, July 30; and fifteen days after the close of the fourth quarter: Oct. 15.
  • Quarterly financial accrual reports are to be submitted within 10 days of the last month of each quarter: Dec. 10, March 10, June 10, and Sept.10.
  • Annual implementation plans and annual budget projections are to be submitted by April 30 of each year.
  • A foreign tax report covering the Oct. 1-Sept. 30 period is due every Dec. 31.
  • A final narrative report, which includes an assessment of program impact, is due 30 days after the conclusion of program activities.
  • Final financial expenditure reports (both grant and cost share) are due no later than 30 days after the sub-agreement closing date.

X. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question 1: If my institution receives this generous award, when can I begin my partnership activities and how will the award be disbursed?
Answer 1: Please review IX. Additional Terms of the Solicitation, Section A. Execution of Awards for details regarding official HED partnership commencement, sub-agreements, and payment of award funds to U.S. university, college, community college, or consortium.

Q-2: The RFA mentions the creation of a master’s degree program in agricultural sciences at the National University of Rwanda (NUR). Agricultural sciences is a very general term, what specific areas of agricultural sciences will be comprised in that M.Sc. Degree?
A-2: The Faculty of Agriculture at the National University of Rwanda (NUR) has identified the following four specializations in agricultural sciences as priorities for master’s degrees: (i) animal sciences, (ii) crop protection and phytosanitation, (iii) plant breeding and seed sciences, and (iv) agricultural economics and agribusiness. The long-term vision of NUR is to develop master’s and doctoral programs in all four tracks.

Applications for the HED partnership award should focus on ONE (1) of these tracks in the design and approach sections of the application. As further information on priorities among the four tracks is received from NUR, an addendum to the RFA will be posted on the HED website to provide further information.

Q-3: Will you accept multiple applications to this program from a single institution or do we need to prepare for an internal competition?
A-3: We cannot accept competing applications from the same institution. Because of the cross-cutting theme of this initiative, we encourage collaboration among multiple departments (i.e.: agricultural extension, gender studies, and leadership).

Q-4: Can one institution apply to multiple Women's Leadership Program RFAs?
A-4: Although we cannot accept multiple applications from one institution for the same partnership award, institutions may submit applications to more than one Women's Leadership Program RFA which includes Rwanda (Agriculture), Rwanda (Education), Paraguay, Armenia and South Sudan.

Q-5: I am at a large university and I am not sure how to figure out if other departments/faculty will be submitting a proposal?
A-5: We encourage you to contact the office of sponsored programs, sponsored research, or grants office for the process at your institution. If your institution does not have a process for the review of applications for external funding, we suggest that you contact your dean, provost or vice president for guidance.

Q-6: Do we have to work with the National University of Rwanda for this program or can we work with other institutions in Rwanda?
A-6: The successful applicant or consortium will collaborate with the National University of Rwanda (NUR) Faculty of Agriculture, which has been designated by USAID for this investment. NUR was selected as the partner institution by USAID/Rwanda following an assessment of agriculture programs in higher education institutions in Rwanda.

Q-7: Will community colleges be considered for this RFA?
A-7:Yes. HED will consider complete applications from any regionally accredited, degree granting, U.S. higher education institutions (two- and four-year and graduate colleges and universities). For more information, review section V. Eligibility of the RFA.

Q-8: Can applicants subcontract with another university in the United States?
A-8: Yes, consortia models including multiple regionally accredited, degree-granting U.S. institutions are allowed. However, applications must be submitted by ONE (1) regionally accredited, degree-granting, U.S. higher education institution that will serve as the lead. Generally, HED partners use subawards as a vehicle to create consortia, but the most appropriate mechanism to transfer funds should be determined by selected the higher education institutions.

Q-9: Are U.S. universities to make contact with the National University of Rwanda during the proposal writing process or should a university contact NUR only after/if it is selected by HED?
A-9: Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact NUR. Contact information for NUR representatives is provided in the RFA under section VI. Contact Information. To ensure integrity and transparency of the HED selection process, NUR has been asked to treat all applicants equally and to provide the same information to every institution seeking information or collaboration.

Q-10: Will the National University of Rwanda be working on proposals with more than one U.S. higher education institution?
A-10: Yes. The National University of Rwanda has been asked to treat all applicants equally and to provide the same information to every institution seeking information or collaboration.

Q-11: Will the university that wins this competition be chosen by HED, USAID, and NUR or through some sort of collaboration between these organizations?
A-11: HED will convene a peer review panel consisting of external experts and representatives from USAID/Rwanda. NUR will be invited to communicate with USAID/Rwanda during the review of the applications. The HED review panel will make recommendations to USAID/Rwanda for the selection of the winning application. USAID/Rwanda will make the final decision based on these recommendations.

Q-12: Should the selected U.S. higher education institution give a subaward to NUR?
A-12: Although a subaward is the preferred and most commonly used method by HED partners, other mechanisms such as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), can be used. HED partnerships strengthen institutional relationships, and thus the mechanism for financial commitments should be between institutions and not between individuals.

Q-13: Should applicants budget for funds to be allocated to NUR? Is there a maximum or minimum that should be allocated to NUR?
Yes, please refer to section IV. E. of the RFA. (IV. Application Content, E. Planning an Equitable and Cost-Effective Budget).
HED partnership awards are intended to support capacity development at the overseas partner institution. In formulating the proposed budget, applicants should consider how the proposed costs support the achievement of the results framework described in the RFA. For this RFA, U.S. applicants must provide evidence in the budget and the budget narrative of an emphasis of resources directly benefiting NUR. The applicant is encouraged to demonstrate in the budget that at least 50 percent of award resources, and/or the benefits thereof, will benefit NUR.

Q-14: Is it possible to have a NGO as a partner?
Although the primary targets of this RFA are institutions of higher education, limited funds may be channeled to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) under two conditions: NUR concurs and approves the decision and activities must have direct connection to partnership goals of advancing capacity and advancing women's leadership at NUR.

Q-15: Based on the RFA – there seems to be no funding allocation for infrastructure or equipment. Is the purchasing of equipment (for vocational and technical training) restricted?
Funding for infrastructure or equipment could be considered depending on the application. Any purchase of equipment with federal funds that cost $5,000 USD or more must receive prior approval from USAID. Applicants should familiarize themselves with Federal regulations and the USAID Automated Directives System (ADS) regarding equipment approval, procurement and disposal mechanisms. HED advises that applicants consider whether such allocation of funding is critical to achieving the program objectives.

Q-16: What connection does WLP Rwanda (Agriculture) have to HED's broader Women's Leadership Program?
The Women's Leadership Program in Rwanda (Agriculture) partnership will be one of five anticipated partnerships comprising the Women's Leadership Program. Subject to the availability of U.S. government funding, HED anticipates issuing a total of five RFAs for higher education partnerships under the Women's Leadership Program in Rwanda (2), Paraguay, South Sudan and Armenia. The purpose of the Women's Leadership Program is to support host country local and national development goals that promote gender equality and female empowerment. Partnerships in all four countries have similar high-level goals and objectives, but they vary in sector, scope, scale and implementation model based on the needs of each country context.

Q-17: Are we able to use grant funds to support a scholarship component of this initiative?
Although HED partnerships may include a student or faculty exchange component between the U.S. and host-country institutions, the main focus of this specific partnership is the creation of the master's degree program at NUR. It is up to the partners to decide whether a scholarship would be an effective and appropriate mechanism to achieve this important goal of the program.

Q-18: Is veterinary medicine included in agricultural sciences?
Yes. However, please refer to the answer to question 2 (Q-2), which lists the areas of agricultural sciences identified by NUR as priorities for this partnership.

Q-19: In the Rwanda RFAs you refer to "improving women's access to advanced credentials in the field of education and gender sensitive curricula...," are you referring to access to credentials abroad or domestically, or either?
HED partnerships aim to increase or build the institutional and human capacity of the host-country institutions involved, to address local development challenges. A partnership designed to increase women's access to credentials in Rwanda will be more likely to contribute to this goal in a strategic and sustainable manner.

Q-20: What is the financial matching requirement for these awards?
As noted in the RFA, there is a minimum expected cost share of 15 percent of the award amount from the U.S. institution. Please refer to the RFA section IV. E3 (IV. Application Content, E. Planning an Equitable and Cost-Effective Budget, 3 Cost Share) for details on applicable cost sharing.

Q-21: The RFA indicates that the successful application will receive a grant that works on a reimbursement basis. Please explain.
Payment of award funds to designated U.S. university, college, community college, or consortium shall be on a cost-reimbursable basis, in accordance with approved financial expenditure reports and cost-share reports (See section IX. Additional Terms of the Solicitation, A. Execution of Awards).
Generally, financial expenditures are reimbursed on a quarterly basis. On a case-by-case basis, partnerships may submit invoices for reimbursement on a more frequent basis. HED does not issue advance payments.

Q-22: Will we get a list of today's online information session participants in order to see if we can partner on a proposal for this RFA?
If you are interested in being contacted and having your information made public to other institutions in relation to this RFA, please send your contact information to aschachter@hedprogram.org.

Q-23: How difficult is it to start new programs and curricula at NUR? What is the process for developing new curricula?
Details on curricula development, review and approval can be found in the II. Partnership Description section of the RFA under 2b: Curriculum Development and the Proposed Master's Program.

Q-24:What is the language of instruction: French or English?
The language of instruction at NUR is English.

Q-25: If we are working with several universities, can we have Co-PIs, with one institution taking the lead, but the two Co-PIs are from different institutions?
Yes. With any agreement involving several universities, one must take the lead and a principal investigator (PI) must be identified at that higher education institution.There can also be co-PIs at the other partnering institutions. HED encourages collaboration amongst U.S. institutions. However, one must act as the lead for fiduciary and reporting coordinating responsibilities.

Q-26: Will we know who is on the peer review panel?
No. Peer reviewers are kept anonymous. However, applicants can receive peer reviewer feedback on their applications upon request.

Q-27: Are NUR and the selected U.S. partner(s) limited to creating one master’s degree in only one of the four identified specializations in agricultural sciences or can partners create more than one master’s degree?
Applicants may propose to work with NUR on more than one of the master’s degree curricula. However, applications should demonstrate a feasible approach to achieving the creation of more than one master’s degree within the allotted time and financial resources. Applicants wishing to work with NUR on more than one master’s degree may familiarize themselves with the procedures for review and approval of a new master’s degree in Rwanda. These procedures have been linked to the RFA in section II. Partnership Description, B. The National University of Rwanda in Context, 2b. Curriculum Development and the Proposed Master's Program

In addition, please review a concept note provided by NUR. This concept note can also be found in the RFA's section II. Partnership Description, B. The National University of Rwanda in Context, 2b. Curriculum Development and the Proposed Master's Program.  

Q-28: How can applicants work with NUR in the development of their proposals?
Applicants should contact NUR with specific questions that will inform their applications. Applicants should not request NUR to review applications or sections of applications but should create plans that reflect the needs and interests of NUR aligned with the goal and objectives stated in the RFA. The HED RFA review and selection process requires NUR to treat all applicants requesting additional information equally. Therefore NUR cannot make exclusive commitments during the HED review and selection process. The institution(s) that will work with the Faculty of Agriculture at NUR on the implementation of this WLP program will be selected by an HED-convened peer review panel consisting of external experts as well as representatives from USAID/Rwanda. NUR will be invited to communicate with USAID/Rwanda during the review of the applications. The HED review panel will make recommendations to USAID/Rwanda for the selection of the winning application. USAID/Rwanda will make the final decision based on these recommendations.

Q-29: Is the only way to establish a partnership with NUR through this Women’s Leadership Program with HED?
This is the only competition that HED will offer for funding support for a partnership with the NUR Faculty of Agriculture under the Women’s Leadership Program and it is open to all degree granting higher education institutions in the United States with the requisite expertise and interest. Institutions wishing to collaborate with NUR outside of the framework of this Women’s Leadership Program should express their interest to the appropriate person or department at NUR and clarify on the onset that the proposed partnership is not related to an application to HED for the Women’s Leadership Program partnership award.

Q-30: The RFA mentions letters of support from "partner" institutions and "key collaborating partners." Is the "partner" institution in this case NUR? And would "key collaborating partners" refer to subcontracting non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or does this refer more to third parties who might be supportive of the project generally?
In the case of this RFA, NUR would be considered the partner institution. Other higher education institutions that are written into the proposal, and that would serve as main implementing partners, would be considered secondary partner institutions. “Key collaborating partners” refers to non-higher education institutions, such as NGOs. It also could include other third parties who are generally supportive of the partnership.

Q-31: The RFA asks for the curriculum vitae (CV or two-page resume) of the key personnel from both NUR and the U.S. institution(s). Can NUR send those CVs to the U.S institution that requests it?
Yes. NUR will provide CVs at the request of each applicant.

Q-32: Is it mandatory for applicants to use the HED provided templates, such as the excel budget sheet that are provided within the RFA?

A-32: Yes. All applicants are required to adhere to the templates provided within the RFA (with the exception of the suggested budget narrative templates). If you believe that customizing any of the templates is essential to the integrity of your application, please contact HED in advance before taking such a step. If you need to change the budget template, please contact the HED Budget Officer, Adri Lacerda alacerda@hedprogram.org. For changes to any other documents, please consult the HED contact listed on the upper right hand corner of the RFA.

Applications submitted with customized templates that have not received prior approval from HED will not be considered for funding. Please note that the budget narrative is the sole exception to this guidance, applicants may use our suggested templates or another preferred format.



For more information:
Higher Education for Development

Online Information Sessions

WLP-Rwanda (Agriculture) Online Information Session

April 17, 2012
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM Eastern

HED held a web-based information session on April 17, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. EDT (5 p.m. CAT in Kigali and 8 a.m. PDT). Representatives from the National University of Rwanda and USAID/Rwanda were available during the session to discuss this RFA.

All questions and answers from the online information session may be found in the FAQs section on this RFA page.