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Application FAQs


Q: Can the Letter of Interest submission deadline be extended?
A: No. The Letter of Interest submission deadline is September 13 at 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time and cannot be extended.

Q: Can documents be submitted in languages other than English?
A: No. All documents and application answers must be completed in English.

Q: What if my organization wants to request a budget/number of participants/cost per participant that falls in neither the “seeding” or “scaling” categories?
A: The Stevens Initiative is only accepting Letters of Interest that fall within the budget range, the number of participant range, and the cost per participant range for either the Scaling or the Seeding awards. If you have any questions about these rules, please contact the Stevens Initiative at

Q: What is the anticipated timeline for notifying applicants of the outcome of the Letter of Interest phase?
A: The Stevens Initiative will notify applicants in October (date to be determined) of the outcome of the Letter of Interest phase.

Q: Can an organization submit more than one application?
A: Yes, if the programs are distinct, with different staff, content, budgets, participants, etc., an organization can submit more than one application.

Q: Can an applicant participate in more than one proposal, e.g. be an applicant on one proposal and be a partner on another proposal?
A: Yes, if the proposed programs are distinct.

Q: Is the Stevens Initiative award competition open to applications from organizations that do not currently run virtual exchange?
A: Yes. Organizations that have not run virtual exchange programs may apply for a Seeding award.

Q: Can a student group apply for an award?
A: Student groups that are part of a college or university should approach the office on campus that handles external funding and/or student activities. The application must be from the college or university or from an eligible non-profit organization. 

Q: Can I see feedback for past applicants?
A: The Initiative shared an overview of common feedback to unsucessful Letters of Interest from the 2016/2017 competition on the Initiative website. The guidelines and priorities of this competition differ from those for past competitions. We hope this information is helpful as you refine your virtual exchange programs and plans, and we encourage you to carefully review the guidelines and priorities for this competition rather than relying on the feedback to past Letters of Interest.


Q: The application mentions sustained communication. How long should programs run?
A: There is no strict minimum or maximum program duration or number of contact hours. The Stevens Initiative wants to see young people engaging in a way in which they get to know each other, work together, and build relationships and a sense of trust over time.

Q: To what extent should everything be in place before we apply for funding?
A: Organizations should formulate plans to the greatest extent possible before applying. The more information that can be provided in the application, the better.

Q: Can an organization’s programming include students from countries outside of the MENA region in addition to students from the United States and MENA region?
A: Young people from outside the United States or the MENA region cannot be supported through a Stevens Initiative award.

Q: Is it allowable to have implementing staff in multiple countries?
A: Yes.

Q: Is the Initiative prioritizing programs that have more significant spread across different countries in the Middle East or regions of the United States?
A: Awards support both bilateral (the United States and one other country) and multilateral programs (the United States and more than one other country) and do not prioritize one arrangement over the other. Proposals should be feasible; working in a wide array of places or harder to reach places may be challenging.

Q: Is program participation restricted to students currently enrolled in academic programs? What about recent graduates?
A: Programs do not need to be restricted to people enrolled in education. The program does not need to be administered through an education institution.

Q: Can proposals include an in-person exchange component?
A: Yes, in-person exchange components can be included in proposals to the extent that they complement the participants’ virtual exchange experience.

Q: Is an IRB (institutional review board) required for an evaluation to meet the project requirements?
A: No, it is not required, though some of our awardees have gone through the IRB process. We encourage awardees to meet the standards of their field and their institution. Awardees work closely with our evaluation experts to make sure they meet common standards of evaluation, as well.


Q: Are awardees expected to propose cost share?
A: Cost share is permitted but not required.

Q: Can the requested budget amount change between the Letter of Interest round and the full application round, if the organization is invited to submit the full application?
A: Yes, though any change should be explained and justified in the full application. The budget template submitted as part of the full application asks for a detailed justification for all expenses.

Q: The application indicates that applicants cannot request more than 80% of the 2017 annual operating budget of the applying organization. If the applying organization has partners in the project with larger budgets, can the budget request be up to 80% of the partners’ budgets?
A: No. The budget request may be no more than 80% of the 2017 annual operating budget of the applying organization.

Q: For applicants outside of the United States, can the Stevens Initiative disburse funds to U.S. partners in order to avoid wire transfer fees?
A: No. Funds to organizations based outside of the United States will be disbursed only to the primary applicant.


Q: The guidelines say that the Stevens Initiative will collect information about youth participants in the programs it supports. How will that information be used?
A: The Stevens Initiative will collect contact information for each participant in the programs supported through these awards. The information will be used to invite alumni to opt in to the Department of State's alumni community and deidentified information will be used to assess the reach of the Stevens Initiative. Information will be kept securely.

Q: Does the initiative offer the possibility of grant renewal for successful grantees?
A: Awardees are eligible to request new funds through future competitions. The Initiative encourages awardees to plan for other funding sources and strategies to sustain and grow the program beyond the period of Stevens Initiative support.