Advocacy for Policy Reform Grants Program

Advocacy for Policy Reform Grants Program

Request for Applications - RFA[1]

Advocacy for Policy Reform Grants Program

Issuance Date:June 5, 2013

Closing Date: July 10, 2013

Anticipated Number of Awards: 15

Funding Range: $ 55,000-80,000

Duration:12 months

RFA Number:267-A-00-12-00001- 32202-00003

Mercy Corps is pleased to announce a Request for Applications (RFA) from qualified,registered Iraqi CSOs, networks, coalitions or partnerships to implement Advocacy for Policy Reform initiatives in any of the 15 Federal Governorates.

Funding for these grants is made under USAID Cooperative Agreement number AID-267-A-00-12-00001with Mercy Corps for implementation of the Broadening Participation through Civil Society (BPCS)/Musharaka Program.

To be eligible for grantaward applicants must meet ALL eligibility criteria and application requirements specified in this RFA, and electronically submit a complete Application Package, including applications form(s) and mandatory attachments, by July10, 2013 at 4:00 p.m.

BPCSProgram Background:

BPCSis a three-year program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Mercy Corps and its consortium partners ACDI/VOCA, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), Mercy Hands and Public Aid Organization (PAO). The goal of the project is to helpIraqi democracy become more participatory and dynamic by deepening citizens’ engagement in social, economic and political processes. The program is working to foster an increasingly professional, active, and interconnected civil society that offers greater opportunities for citizens to contribute to and benefit from Iraq’s continuing development.

Grant Program Description and Goals

With this RFA, Mercy Corps is launching a newgrant and assistance program to help Iraqi civil society participate in and have influence over public policies, monitor government reforms, and promote greater transparency, accountability, and citizen participation in public policy decision-making. Grants awarded under thisprogramwill directly assist individual CSOs, partnerships, coalitions, and networks to implement realistic and innovativeadvocacy and policy monitoring initiatives aimed at elevating key policy reform issues andaffectingchanges in policies, programs, procedures or practices at the local or national level.

Grantswill assist competitively selected Iraqi CSOs to implement issue-based advocacy campaigns for policy reforms that address the concerns of citizens. Funding is provided to support CSOs develop alternative policy solutions, mobilize broad-based support, influence policy makers to adopt and implement policy reforms in the near term, and hold them accountable for results.

Grantees will receive customized training, technical assistance and mentoring in advocacy principles, strategies, tools and techniques in order to help them develop their advocacy campaigns. They willalso have opportunities to participate in networking, information exchange, and learning and knowledge sharing forums with other grantees.

Advocacy for Policy Reform: Improved Delivery, Management, and Oversight of Public Services Sector

During the past several years, Iraqis have demand equal access to, equitable distribution of, and greater efficiency in delivery of public services. For much of the population, the deterioration in living conditions has become dire. Citizens suffer from a lack of access to clean drinking water, woefully insufficient electricity generation, broken down sewage systems, a devastated infrastructure, and pollution.Althoughregional disparities and differencesexist between urban and rural areas,inadequate electricity, water, and sanitation are problems for all Iraqis. Opinion polls continue to single out the inability of government to provide adequate public service as one of the most critical issues facing Iraq.

The approximately eight-month period leading up to the 2014 Parliamentary electionsprovides an opportunity for CSOs to launch and coordinate advocacy campaigns to reform and improve public service delivery. Getting this important issue on the national agenda, galvanizing support, and pressing candidates for parliamentary elections, political parties’ platforms, provincial and national government officials and agencies to take action is critical to Iraq’s development prospects.

Award Purpose/Description

Grants will support well-structured, integrated, and creative advocacy campaigns and government watchdog/monitoring activities aimed at improving access to and delivery of key public services; especially electricity, water, and sanitation.

Applications should be designed to achieve results across four inter-related dimensions

  • Elevating public services policy issues prior to and during the 2014 election campaign;
  • Achieving changes to national or local policies, regulations or practices;
  • Strengthening the capacities of CSOs, citizens, and citizens groups to hold government accountable and responsive to citizen and community needs;
  • Expanding the political space for CSOs, citizens and citizens groups to participate in all stages of the public policy decision-making process.

Applications for advocacy campaigns should include strategies and activities for:

  • Developing and articulating policy alternatives on public services issues; and establishing a clear advocacy agenda;
  • Raising awareness among citizens, candidates, other CSOs and stakeholders;
  • Mobilizing broad-based support in the period leading up to elections;
  • Establishing partnerships, networks, or coalitions;
  • Using traditional and new media and targeted communications strategies to advocate for change;
  • Influencing decision-makers;
  • Engaging with other civil society groups including syndicates, universities, policy and research institutes (think thanks);
  • Holding newly elected and government officials to account for reforms in public services in the aftermath of elections;
  • Expanding opportunities for citizen/government interaction for policy reform.

Illustrative examples of activities that will be supported include, but are not limited to:

  • Public articulation of policy options and publication of policy proposals for public service reforms;
  • Policy forums, town hall meetings, and working groups that engage citizens, candidates and government officials in the period leading up to the parliamentary elections;
  • Use of TV and radio shows and social media platforms to raise public awareness and attract the attention of voters and candidates for election;
  • Policy meetings with government officials;
  • Advocacy e-mail and text messages to decision makers and stakeholders; petitions.
  • Monitoring and publically reporting on government performance to provide improved public services

Applications should demonstrate innovative and creative approaches to grant objectives, and allocate sufficient time to implement broad based advocacy campaigns prior to the 2014 elections and subsequent monitoring of government progress in implementing public services reforms.

Geographic Coverage

Award activities may be implemented in any of the 15 FederalGovernorates.

Grant Value and Duration

Mercy Corps anticipates awarding up to 15 grants, ranging in value from $ 55,000-$ 80,000. Exact award amounts will depend on the applicants’ approved activities, proposed partnering arrangements, timelines, and budget.

Applications from networks, coalitions, and partnerships are strongly encouraged.

Mercy Corps will allocate 20% of the total amount of available funding to youth managed or youth focused CSOs.

Maximum grant project duration is12months with an anticipated start date of August 15, 2013.

Mercy Corps reserves the right to award one, several, or no grants from applications received, as well as to balance the distribution of awards according to geographic location and or/selected target issue.

Award Information

All grant awards are made under USAID Cooperative Agreement number AID -267- A-00- 12 – 00001 with Mercy Corps.

Authorized Geographic Code: The authorized geographic code for procurement of goods and services under this RFA is Code 937 (the United States, the Cooperating Country (Iraq), and Developing Countries except Advanced Developing Countries).

Award Instrument:Standard Subawards

Maximum award amount: $ 80,000

Anticipated number of awards: 15

Anticipated start date: August 15, 2013

Maximum award performance period: 12 months.

Subawards funded under this RFA will be administered in accordance with the following regulations as applicable.

  • 22 CFR 228
  • 22CFR 226
  • Applicable OMB Circulars
  • Mandatory and Required As Applicable Standard Provisions for Non-U.S. Nongovernmental Recipients
  • Guidelines for Financial Audits Contracted by Foreign Recipients

Regulations listed above can be accessed via the USAID webpages:

Eligibility Requirements

To be considered for an Advocacy for Policy Reform Grant, applicants must meet ALL of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Legally registered with the NGO Directorate as a non-governmental, non-profit organization or network. Informal partnerships, networks or coalitions that have formed to implement advocacy campaigns are eligible to apply as long as there is a legally registered lead organization responsible for grant implementation.
  • Currently active in the community with existing programs and relevant previous experience implementing similar or related advocacy initiatives;
  • Not affiliated with any political party or involved in partisan political activities;
  • Minimum of three years active experience working in the CSO/NGO sector, and a two year track record of designing, implementing or participating in advocacy initiatives;
  • Be an issue-based advocacy-oriented CSO;
  • Application requirements are adhered to, budget is within the award ceiling, the application forms and mandatory attachments are fully completed, and the full application package is submitted prior to the deadline stipulated in the RFA;
  • Sufficient human resources, financial management capacities, and technical expertise to implement proposed activities;
  • Not included in any US government restricted list that would make the organization or associated individuals ineligible for US government funding.

Applications that do not meet the above criteria will not be considered for review


Applications received by the due date will first be screened by BPCS grant team for completeness and conformity with eligibility criteria and application requirements. Incomplete, late or ineligible applications will not be considered for review.

BPCS Grant Review Committee, composed of representatives from Mercy Corps, consortium partners, and possible external evaluators will review each eligible proposal according to clearly defined selection criteria, determine whether to recommend, reject or request further information about the application, and determine the amount of funding that will be awarded to recommended applicants.

Selection Criteria

The Review Committee will assess and score applications according to the following selection criteria:

A. Technical Proposal (40 points)

1. Problem Definition and Analysis(5 points): Extent to which the selected issue/problem is well defined, based on data and research findings that support the nature and extent of the problem, and address its causes and consequences.

2. Policy-Relevant Solution (5 points): Extent to which the proposed policy-relevant solution or alternative option demonstrates a clear, viable, and feasible approach to addressing the problem.

3. Concept, Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation of the Advocacy Campaign (30 points)

  • The advocacy campaign conforms to the goals and objectives of the grant program;
  • Extent to which the applicant provides clear statements of long-term, intermediate and short-term advocacy goals;
  • Advocacy objectives are clear, specific, measurable, and achievable within the proposed timeframe.
  • Advocacy strategies and activities are appropriate, well thought- out, and include broad-based information dissemination, awareness raising; constituency and stakeholder mobilization; networking and coalition-building; influencing government officials, newly elected Governorate Council representatives, political parties, and candidates for Parliamentary elections; and use of traditional and social media platforms to attain wide media coverage.
  • Extent to which applications submitted from individual CSOs include working in partnerships or alliances for implementation of proposed advocacy campaigns
  • Proposed activities are directly relevant to attainment of project goals and objectives, follow a logical sequence of implementation, are conducted within a realistic timeframe, and have a named person responsible for implementation.
  • Extent to which the Monitoring and Evaluation plan is clear, detailed and provides indicators of, and procedures for, measuring and evaluating advocacy progress and achievements

B. Cost Proposal: Budget and Budget Narrative (20 points)

  • Extent to which the budget is cost-effective and presents a clear, reasonable, detailed, and accurate reflection of financial needs in order to achieve expected results.
  • Budget line-item expenditures are justified in a budget narrative.

C. Organizational Profile, Capacity, and Past Performance (40 points)

  • Extent to which the project proposal falls within the mission of the organization;
  • Prior successful experience in implementation of innovative advocacy campaigns and monitoring government reform processes;
  • Demonstrated ability to mobilize local resources and volunteers, and cooperate with diverse stakeholders to achieve program goals;
  • Sufficient level of project management, financial management and human resources capacities to successfully implement the project and comply with grant management and reporting requirements;
  • Record of grant awards from diverse donors and successful completion of grant-funded projects.

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS: To be eligible for review, applications must include:

1. Fully completed and signed Mercy Corps Grant Application Form (Annex 1)in Arabic and English,including completed tables and charts for Board of Directors Information, Grant Award History,Implementation Plan Gantt Chart, and Monitoring and Evaluation Plan. Use Times New Roman Font 12. Applications should not exceed 10 pages of text (excludingapplicant information and project identification, budget and budget narrative, and completedtables and charts).

2. Fully completed Budget and Budget Narrative using Mercy Corps Budget template (Annex 2) in Arabic and English.

3. All of the following mandatory attachments:

  • Scanned copy of current Certificate of Registration with the NGO Directorate
  • Scanned Copies of national ID Cards for all members of the Board of Directors
  • CVsin Arabic and English of Project Manager/Director and key staff and scanned copies of their National ID Cards/Jinsiya.
  • Partnership Statements or MOUsin Arabic and English with any proposed partnering organizations.

Submission Requirements and Instructions

Applications must be submitted electronically by email attachments to before Wednesday July 10, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. The email subject line must include the English name of the organization and the English words “Advocacy RFA”.Late or incomplete applications will not be considered for review.

Preparation of Electronic Submission

In order to ensure that the applications are received by Mercy Corps in their entirety please prepare your submission taking note of the following:

  • No additions or modifications will be accepted after the submission date. E-mail attachments should not exceed 15MB limit per e-mail.
  • Application documents must be in either Microsoft Word or PDF (for narrative text) or Microsoft Excel (for tables and budgets)
  • All documents should be submitted at the same time in 3 compressed folders labeled in English as follows: Folder 1: Grant Application Forms, Folder 2: Budget and Budged Narrative, and Folder 3: Mandatory Attachments. Use either ZIP or RAR compressed folder formats. Contents of each of the folders is specified below:

Folder 1: Grant Application Forms

Fully completed and signed Mercy Corps Grant Application Form (Annex 1) in Arabic and English, including:

  • Board of Directors List
  • Grant Award History
  • Implementation Plan Gantt Chart
  • Monitoring and Evaluation Table

Folder 2: Budget and Budget Narrative

Fully completed Budget and Budget Narrativein Arabic and English using Mercy Corps Budget template (Annex 2)

Folder 3: Mandatory Attachments (Annex 3)

  • Scanned copy of current Certificate of Registration with the NGO Directorate
  • Scanned Copies of national IDCards for all members of the Board of Directors
  • CVsin Arabic and English of the Project Manager and key staff and scanned copies of their National ID Cards/Jinsiya.
  • Partnership Statements or MOUsin Arabic and English with any proposed partnering organizations.
  • Ensure the total of your 3 compressed folders is below the 15MB limit.
  • If your email client will not send 15MB sized attachments, please split into smaller compressed folders and submit your application by multiple emails. If you do this, please indicate in the email subject line the English name of your organization, the words Advocacy RFA, theEnglish name of the split folder, and the sequence of multiple emails (e.g. “number 1 of 4) For example, if your cost application is being sent in two emails, the first email should have a subject line in English which says: "[applicant organization name], [Advocacy RFA], [DocumentName] Part 1 of 2".
  • After submission of your electronic application, please check your own email to confirm that the compressed folders you intended to send were indeed sent. If you discover an error in your transmission, please send the material again and in the email subject line write the English words “corrected submission”
  • Any questions you may have about this RFA must be submitted via email to and include the English words “Advocacy RFA Question” in the subject line.

Timetable for Advocacy for Policy Reform Grants

Deadline for submission of applications: July 10, 2013

Review and selection process:July 11-August 12

Tentative award date:August 13, 2013

Anticipated project start date:August 15, 2013

Advocacy for Policy Reform: Improved Public Services


Grant Application Form and Narrative Proposal

Section I: Applicant Information
Name of Organization
Telephone Number / Email
Website (if applicable)
Location of Offices or Branches / List all the locations where your organization has offices or branches.
Year Organization was Founded
Registration with NGO Directorate / Date Registered: Registration Number:
Are you registered as a CSO or Network?
Have you updated your registration?
Registration with a Provincial Council / Are you registered with a Provincial Council?
If yes, specify which PC:
Registration Date:
Registration Number:
Authorized Representative / Name:
Title: Address:
Telephone Number(s):
Bank Name and Branch Address
Account Name
Type of Account
Account Number (USD)
Account Number (IQD)
Bank’s SWIFT Code Number
Section II
Cover Page: Project Identification
Contact Person / Name:
Telephone Number(s):
Project Title
Project Implementation Location(s)
Project Duration (months)
Name and Location of Partnering Organizations (if applicable)
Total Project Budget
Funds provided from other sources
Total amount requested from Mercy Corps/BPCS
Submission Date
Section III - Organizational Profile, Capacity, and Past Performance
Purpose / Mission / Describe the purpose or mission of your organization. What is the goal of the organization?
Main Constituency Group / Describe the main constituency groups that your organization represents and/or serves.
Main Approaches / What are the key approaches or activities you use to achieve your mission?
Youth Focus / Are you a youth managed or youth focused organization?
Human Resources / Provide the number of full-time and part time staff and their positions/functions.
Provide the number of volunteers and describe how they are engaged in the work of the organization.
Other Organizational Resources / Provide details of the other resources you organization has available for implementation of the proposed project (e.g. financial, space, equipment, specialized expertise etc.)
Board of Directors
Governance Body / Does your organization have a Board of Directors or similar Governance body? Yes______No______
If yes, complete the Board of Directors Information Table (TABLE A - page17)
Affiliations / Is your organization legally affiliated with any other Iraqi or international organization? Yes______No______
If yes, please provide details.
Is your organization a branch of a political party or affiliated with a political party? Yes______No______
If yes, please provide details.
Does your organization participate in partisan political activities? Yes______
If yes, please provide details.
Membership in Networks, Alliances,
Coalitions / Is your organization a member of a network, coalition or alliance?
If yes, , please list which one(s), briefly describe the purpose/mission of the
network, and the number of members
Financial Resources / How is your organization financed?
Annual Budget / Provide your total annual budget for the past 3 years:
2010: 2011: 2012:
Grant Award History / Complete the Grant Award History Table ( Table B –page 18 )
Donations / Provide information about the sources and amount of any significant in-kind contributions you have received from communities, private sector, government, or other sources.
Current Activities or Projects / List your current activities or projects; briefly describe the funding sources, types of activities, and where they are being implemented.
Anticipated Donor Grant Awards / Do you anticipate that your organization will receive other donor funds during the period of the Mercy Corps advocacy grant? Yes______No______
If yes, list the potential donors and anticipated funding amounts.
Prior Applications for Mercy Corps Grants / Have you applied from a grant from Mercy Corps or its partner organizations during the past 3 years? Yes ____ No______
If Yes, specify for which grant RFA.
Advocacy and Policy Monitoring Experience / Describe your organization’s experience in design and implementation of successful advocacy campaigns and/or monitoring government implementation of reforms at local, provincial or central levels.

On behalf of (Name of Organization), I hereby attest that the information provided in this application is true and current.