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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research
Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Program

CLOSED - FOR REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY

Fall 2011 EPA Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowships For Undergraduate Environmental Study

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Number: (See Section IV. for descriptions)

EPA-F2011U-GRO-P1 Natural and Life Sciences
EPA-F2011U-GRO-P2 Environmental Sciences and Interdisciplinary Programs
EPA-F2011U-GRO-P3 Engineering
EPA-F2011U-GRO-P4 Social Sciences
EPA-F2011U-GRO-Q1 Physical Sciences
EPA-F2011U-GRO-Q2 Mathematics and Computer Science

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.513

Solicitation Opening Date: September 14, 2010
Solicitation Closing Date: December 9, 2010
Solicitation Closing Time: 4:00 PM Eastern Time (ET) to receive paper applications.
11:59:59 PM Eastern Time (ET) for electronic submission through Grants.gov.
11:59:59 PM Eastern Time (ET) for e-mail submission of All Letters of Recommendation.

Guidance & FAQs: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/faqs.html
Toll Free Number: 1-800-490-9194
Web-based query form: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/contact_us.html
Electronic Submissions Contact: Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-0442
Eligibility Contact Person: Georgette Boddie (boddie.georgette@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8049
E-mail Address for Letters of Recommendation Submission Only: 2011NCERFellowLetters@epa.gov

Table of Contents:
SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
Synopsis of Program
Award Information
Eligibility Information
Application Materials
Agency Contacts
I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION
A. Introduction
B. Background
C. Authority and Regulations
D. Specific Areas of Interest
E. References
F. Special Requirements
II. AWARD INFORMATION
III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION
A. Eligible Applicants
B. Cost Sharing
C. Other
IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION
A. Internet Address to Request Application Package
B. Content and Form of Application Submission
C. Submission Dates and Times
D. Funding Restrictions
E. Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements
V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION
A. External Review
B. Internal Programmatic Review
C. Funding Decisions
VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION
A. Award Notices
B. Disputes
C. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Access GRO Fellowship Application Package and Forms (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/)
For a checklist and simplified instructions, see the fellowships FAQ (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/faqs/faq_gro_undergrad.html)

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

Synopsis of Program:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowships program, is offering Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) undergraduate fellowships for bachelor level students in environmental fields of study. The deadline for receipt of applications is December 9, 2010 ET 4:00 PM for receipt of paper applications, and December 9, 2010, at 11:59:59 PM ET for submittal of electronic applications to Grants.gov. Subject to availability of funding, the Agency plans to award approximately 40 new fellowships by July 29, 2011. Eligible students will receive support for their junior and senior years of undergraduate study and for an internship at an EPA facility during the summer between their junior and senior years. The fellowship provides up to $19,700 per academic year of support and up to $9,500 of support for a three-month summer internship.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Fellowship
Estimated Number of Awards: Approximately 40 awards
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $1,956,000 for all awards
Potential Funding per Fellowship: Up to a total of $48,900 over a two-year period. Fellows will receive support for their junior and senior years of undergraduate study and for a paid summer internship at an EPA facility between their junior and senior years. Cost sharing is not required.

If selected to receive a fellowship, you will be contacted no later than May 31, 2011 and should subsequently receive your official notification of award by July 29, 2011, for the fall term. Please note that this schedule may be changed without notification due to factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement. The earliest anticipated start date for these awards is September 1, 2011.

Eligibility Information:

  1. Students must attend a fully accredited U.S. college or university (located in the U.S. or its territories) for their last two years of undergraduate studies during the fellowship period.
  2. Students must also be citizens of the U.S. or its territories or possessions, or be lawfully admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence. Resident aliens must include their green card number in their application (you must have your green card at the time of application to be eligible for this Fellowship opportunity). EPA may verify this number with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service of the Department of Homeland Security.
  3. The GRO Undergraduate Fellowship is intended for students entering their last two years of study before obtaining their first bachelor’s degree. The fellowship tenure is for two academic years (9 months each) with a required paid internship during the summer after the first year. Thus, only students who will be entering their last two years of college will be considered eligible.
  4. Students must have at least a “B” average overall at the time of application and during the tenure of the fellowship.
  5. During the tenure of the fellowship, students must attend fully accredited four year U.S. institutions of higher education. These schools must be listed as not highly funded for research and development capacity. For the purposes of this solicitation, EPA considers ineligible those institutions identified as receiving more than $35 million in annual federal research and development funding in the National Science Foundation's publication "Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions: FY 2007," Table 12, column 2. Those institutions either not listed, or listed as having received $35 million or less as designated in column 2 of Table 12 are eligible. These data can be found at: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf09315/pdf/tab12.pdf (28 pp, 76 KB, about PDF).
  6. Students attending two-year institutions or community colleges are eligible to apply. Additionally, students not in attendance at an institution of higher education may apply. However, in order to receive the fellowship, students attending two-year institutions or community colleges or students not in attendance at the time of application will need to show evidence of having received their Associate’s degree, and will need to demonstrate that they only have two years left of undergraduate studies for completion of the Bachelor’s degree, and that they have been accepted to attend an accredited eligible four year institution. This requirement is considered satisfied if the student is transferring to an accredited eligible four-year institution which has an Articulation Agreement with the two-year institution, thus meaning that all credits will transfer towards requirements for the Bachelor’s degree. See III.A. Eligible Applicants below.

Application Materials:
The following Application Materials must be submitted:

  1. Application for Federal Assistance, Standard Form (SF) 424 (for electronic submissions via Grants.gov) or Standard Form (SF) 424 I-Individual (for paper submissions)
  2. EPA Key Contacts Form (5700-54)
  3. Front Page
  4. Personal Statement
  5. Background Information:
      Education & Relevant Experiences
      Publications & Presentations
      Course Work
  6. Letters of Recommendation (sent by referees via e-mail)

You may submit only one application for this announcement, which means choosing only one Funding Opportunity Number (FON).

You may submit either a paper application or an electronic application via Grants.gov but not both for this announcement. The necessary forms for submitting a GRO Fellowship paper application can be found on the NCER web site, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/.

To apply electronically, you must use the application package available at Grants.gov (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications"). See Section IV for further information on application submission procedures.

Agency Contacts:
Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA/NCER resources listed below. To obtain information most quickly, consult the "Guidance & FAQs." If your question is not covered, then call the toll-free number 1-800-490-9194 or send an e-mail to 2011FellowshipsRFA@epa.gov. You will receive a personal response through a return telephone call, voicemailand/or e-mail. Information regarding this announcement obtained from sources other than those indicated below may not be accurate.

Guidance & FAQs: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/faqs.html
Toll Free Number: 1-800-490-9194
E-mail: 2011FellowshipsRFA@epa.gov
Online inquiry: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/contact_us.html
Electronic Submissions Contact: Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-0442
Eligibility Contact Person: Georgette Boddie (boddie.georgette@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8049
E-mail Address for Letters of Recommendation Submission Only: 2011NCERFellowLetters@epa.gov

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

A. Introduction
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), invites applications for the Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowships for undergraduate environmentally related study for bachelor’s level students. The deadline for receipt of applications is December 9, 2010. Subject to availability of funding, the Agency plans to award approximately 40 new fellowships by July 29, 2011. The fellowship provides up to $19,700 per year of academic support and $9,500 for internship support for a combined total of up to $48,900 over the life of the fellowship. The GRO program enhances and supports quality environmental education for undergraduates, and thereby encourages them to continue their education beyond the baccalaureate level, and pursue careers in environmentally related fields. The actual amount awarded per year will vary depending on the amount of tuition and fees and the number of months the stipend is required. This fellowship is intended to help defray costs associated with environmentally oriented study leading to a bachelor’s degree.

B. Background
The GRO Undergraduate Fellowship program is part of the national effort to help ensure that the United States meets its current and projected human resource needs in the environmental science, engineering, and policy fields (Jackson 2002). The goals of the program are to bolster the environmental generation of tomorrow, bridge to diverse communities, and boost excellent research and development that advance the protection of human health and the environment through education. The program focuses its efforts at stimulating and supporting interest in environmentally related research and development at institutions of higher education that receive limited federal funding, including in particular institutions with substantial minority enrollment (Environmental Career Organizations 2001). By enhancing and supporting quality environmental education for undergraduate students, the GRO Undergraduate Fellowship thereby encourages promising students to pursue careers in environmentally related fields and to continue their education beyond the baccalaureate level. This goal is consistent with the mission of EPA, which is to provide leadership in the nation’s environmental science, research, education, assessment, restoration, preservation, pollution prevention and sustainability efforts. The GRO Fellowship program has benefited both public and private sectors by consistently providing the nation with well-trained environmental specialists to meet environmental challenges in our society. GRO supported fellows have provided new environmental research in the physical, biological, health, and social sciences as well as in engineering.

The specific Strategic Goal and Objective from EPA’s Strategic Plan that relate to this solicitation are: Goal 4: Healthy Communities and Ecosystems, Objective 4.4: Enhance Science and Research. The EPA’s Strategic Plan can be found at http://www.epa.gov/cfo/plan/2006/entire_report.pdf (184 pp, 9.87 MB).

C. Authority and Regulations
The authority for this RFA and resulting awards is contained in the Safe Drinking Water Act, Section 1442, 42 U.S.C. 300j-1; Toxic Substances Control Act, Section 10, 15 U.S.C. 2609; Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, Section 20, 7 U.S.C. 136r; Clean Air Act, Section 103, 42 U.S.C. 7403; Clean Water Act, Section 104, 33 U.S.C. 1254; and the Solid Waste Disposal Act, Section 8001, 42 U.S.C. 6981.

For research with an international aspect, the above statutes are supplemented, as appropriate, by the National Environmental Policy Act, Section 102 (2) (F).

Applicable Regulation: 40 CFR Part 46 (Fellowships)

D. Specific Research Areas of Interest
This RFA solicits applications from students performing investigation in a variety of environmentally related research topics which are described below. By providing financial support across disciplines, EPA expects to continue to assist in increasing the nation’s environmental workforce and ability to produce leading edge research, and in advancing the nation’s research and development enterprise (The National Science & Technology Council 2004).

Funding Opportunity Numbers (FON)
Select a single Funding Opportunity Number (FON) for your application. You may only submit one application to this fellowship announcement, thus you may only select one FON. Failure to select a proper FON could result in an inappropriate review assignment. If your application seems to fit under more than one FON, choose the most appropriate one, or select “Environmental Science & Interdisciplinary.” Your application can be submitted to one, and only one, FON.

Note: Your planned course of study should focus on one or more of the following areas of environmental significance and should describe the relationship of these topic areas to the statutorily required purpose of pollution prevention and/or control.

    EPA-F2011U-GRO-P1 Natural and Life Sciences
    (includes pollution prevention and/or control related study in Biology, Ecology, Microbiology, Molecular Sciences, etc.)
    EPA-F2011U-GRO-P2 Environmental Sciences and Interdisciplinary Programs
    (includes pollution prevention and/or control related study in Environmental Studies, Urban Sustainability and Land Use Planning, Environmental Health, Environmental Policy, Environmental Education, Native/Tribal Environmental Science, etc.)
    EPA-F2011U-GRO-P3 Engineering
    (includes pollution prevention and/or control related study in Environmental Engineering, Waste Management, Green Building Engineering, Biotechnology, etc.)
    EPA-F2011U-GRO-P4 Social Sciences
    (includes pollution prevention and/or control related study in Economics, Political Science, International Environmental Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology, Environmental Justice, Communication & Culture, etc.)
    EPA-F2011U-GRO-Q1 Physical Sciences and Earth Sciences
    (includes pollution prevention and/or control related study in Atmospheric Sciences, Chemistry, Geology, Geography, Soil Science, Biogeochemistry, Water Quality, etc.)
    EPA-F2011U-GRO-Q2 Mathematics and Computer Science
    (includes pollution prevention and/or control related study in Environmental Information Science, Mathematics and Statistics, Bioinformatics, etc.)

E. References
Environmental Careers Organization. Creating Lasting Value: A Survey of EPA Minority Academic Institutions (MAI), Fellows from 1990-2001 (2001). Available at http://epa.gov/ncer/fellow/gro/epa_mai_survey_report_final.pdf (33 pp, 331 K).

Jackson, Shirley Ann.  The Quiet Crisis: Falling Short in Producing American Scientific and Technical Talent, Building Engineering and Science Talent (2002). Available at http://www.bestworkforce.org/PDFdocs/Quiet_Crisis.pdf (12 pp, 2.08 MB).

The National Science and Technology Council, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Science for the 21st Century (2004). Available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/files/documents/ostp/NSTC%20Reports/Science21Century.pdf (48 pp, 1.17 MB).

Environmental Protection Agency.  EPA Strategic Plan, 2006-2011. Available at http://www.epa.gov/cfo/plan/2006/entire_report.pdf (184 pp, 9.87 MB).

National Science Foundation. Science and Engineering Indicators. National Science Foundation.  Available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind08/ (2008).

F. Special Requirements
Agency policy and ethical considerations prevent EPA technical staff and managers from providing applicants with information that may create an unfair competitive advantage.  Consequently, EPA employees will not review, comment, advise, and/or provide technical assistance to applicants preparing applications in response to EPA RFAs. EPA employees cannot endorse any particular application.

The fellowship awards expected to be made under this RFA may involve the collection of "Geospatial Information," which includes information that identifies the geographic location and characteristics of natural or constructed features or boundaries on the Earth or applications, tools, and hardware associated with the generation, maintenance, or distribution of such information. This information may be derived from, among other things, a Geographic Positioning System (GPS), remote sensing, mapping, charting, and surveying technologies, or statistical data.

II. AWARD INFORMATION

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $1,956,000 will be awarded under this announcement, depending on the availability of funds and quality of applicants received. The EPA anticipates funding approximately 40 fellowships under this RFA. The maximum projected award per fellowship is $19,700 per year total costs, for up to two years plus $9,500 for internship support.  Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $48,900 will not be considered.

The EPA reserves the right to reject all applications and make no awards or make fewer awards than anticipated under this announcement. The EPA reserves the right to make additional awards under this announcement, consistent with Agency policy, if additional funding becomes available after the original selections are made.  Any additional selections for awards will be made no later than six months after the original selection decisions.

The fellowship provides up to $19,700 per year of academic support and $9,500 for internship support for a combined total of up to $48,900 over the life of the fellowship. A more detailed breakout of the funding which covers stipend, tuition, and expenses is provided below:  

Stipends: During the nine-month academic year, an $800 stipend will be paid to the Fellow each month, for a total annual stipend of $7,200. Stipends are paid directly to the Fellow. Each fellowship institution may choose to supplement a Fellow's stipend from institutional funds in accordance with the supplementation policy of the institution.

Tuition and Academic Fees: Up to $10,000 per year will be paid directly to the institution for allowable tuition and fees. For the purposes of this fellowship, health insurance is not considered to be an academic fee even if it is required by the institution. For purposes of this fellowship, health insurance is an expense, not an academic fee.

Expense Allowance: Up to $2,500 will be provided to pay for items and activities for the direct benefit of the fellow’s education, such as for health insurance, books, supplies, equipment, and travel to technical and scientific meetings. Specific instructions regarding the disbursement and management of the expense allowance will be provided during the award process.

Internship Allowance: During the summer internship, the fellow will receive a total of $9,500 for the three-month period. This amount includes $1,000 for travel to and from the summer internship site, $1,500 for travel while at the site, and a stipend of $7,000 for living expenses.

Summer Internship: The fellow must agree in writing to participate for up to 12 weeks at an EPA facility (located in the U.S. or its territories) as a Summer Intern in the EPA GRO Summer Intern Program, after the first year of EPA fellowship support. Each Intern must complete a summer project that is designed to complement and enhance the training received under the fellowship program. EPA will provide support for temporary relocation and provide a living stipend during the Summer Internship. Fellows will be contacted during their first year to arrange for this Internship.

Annual Conference: Fellows are expected to attend one technical/scientific conference as long as they are members of the GRO undergraduate program. Resources to support this travel are to be taken from the expense allowance.

International Activities: The Fellow's proposed research may be conducted outside the U.S. However, EPA allows only $2,500 for all expenses, including travel. See "Expense Allowance" for details. If it becomes necessary to travel outside the U.S. or its territories, you must notify your Project Officer six (6) months in advance. You will also be required to obtain local permits in other countries to conduct research there. Your Project Officer will obtain the necessary EPA and State Department approvals before the fellowship funds can be used to conduct these activities. Fellows who travel overseas will be required to comply with all provisions of the Fly America Act.

III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

A. Eligible Applicants
Applicants must attend a fully accredited U.S. college or university (located in the U.S. or its territories) for the fellowship period. Individuals must be citizens of the U.S. or its territories or possessions, or be lawfully admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence. Resident aliens must include their green card number in their application. You must have your green card at the time of application to be eligible for this Fellowship opportunity. EPA may verify this number with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service of the Department of Homeland Security.

The GRO Undergraduate Fellowship is intended for students entering their last two years of full time study before obtaining their first bachelor’s degree. Students who have already earned one bachelor’s degree and are pursuing additional degrees are not eligible. The fellowship tenure is for 2 full academic years (9 months each) with a required paid summer internship after their first year. Thus, only students who will be entering their last two years of college will be considered eligible.

In order to receive the fellowship, the student must attend a fully accredited four year U.S. institution of higher education. This school must be among those that are not highly funded for research and development capacity. For the purposes of this solicitation, EPA considers ineligible those institutions receiving more than $35 million in annual federal research and development funding. Institutions who exceed this threshold can be identified in the National Science Foundation's publication "Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions: FY 2007," Table 12, column 2. These data can be found at:  http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf09315/pdf/tab12.pdf (28 pp, 76 KB).

Applicants attending eligible institutions with substantial minority enrollment are particularly encouraged to apply. Examples of such schools are those that the U.S. Department of Education lists as “Accredited Postsecondary Minority Institutions” consistent with Executive Orders 13125 (Increasing Participation of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Federal Programs), 13230 (President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans), 13256 (White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities), and 13270 (Executive Order on Tribal Colleges and Universities), which seek to advance the development of the Nation's full human potential, advance equal opportunity in higher education, strengthen the capacity of these institutions to provide the highest quality education, and increase opportunities for these institutions to participate in and benefit from Federal programs. Note however, that not all of these schools receive $35 million or less annually in Federal Research and Development expenditures. For specific information regarding Federal funding to minority-serving institutions, see FY 2005 Federal S&E Obligations Reach Over 2,400 Academic and Nonprofit Institutions; Data Presented on Minority-Serving Institutions, at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf07326/nsf07326.pdf (8pp, 443 K).

Students attending two-year institutions, community colleges, and not in attendance at an institution of higher education may be eligible to apply. However, in order to receive the fellowship, students attending two-year institutions, community colleges, or not in attendance at the time of application will need to show evidence of having received their Associate’s degree, will need to demonstrate that they only have two years left of undergraduate studies for completion of the Bachelor’s degree, and will need to demonstrate that they have been accepted to attend an accredited eligible four year institution. This requirement is considered satisfied if the student is transferring to an accredited eligible four-year institution which has an Articulation Agreement with the two-year institution, thus meaning that all credits will transfer towards requirements for the Bachelor’s degree. An Articulation Agreement is a signed contract between a community or technical college and a four-year college or university that guarantees that a student who earns an associate degree at a participating two-year institution can transfer all of the general education core credits to the four-year institution toward the completion of baccalaureate degree requirements. More information can usually be obtained directly from the institution’s Registrar. Alternately, a student with an Associate’s degree may provide a letter from the Registrar of the accredited four-year institution verifying that upon matriculation, the student will only have two remaining years of undergraduate study to complete the first Bachelor’s degree.

Students must be pursuing a bachelor's degree in an environmentally related field. Students must have two (2) years remaining from the start of the Fall semester (Fall  2011) before receiving their initial bachelor's degree. Students must have at least a “B” average overall at the time of application and during the tenure of the fellowship.

Acceptance of this fellowship does not necessarily preclude acceptance of another scholarship, fellowship, traineeship, or grant aid. However, this fellowship does preclude receiving other federal fellowships.

The exact term (start and end dates) of the undergraduate fellowship is negotiated with the student and covers a period of nine months for each fellowship year. Students seeking a bachelor’s degree may be supported for a maximum of two years. 

Employees of the U.S. government must be able to prove separation from Federal service before accepting this fellowship.

Diversity: EPA recognizes the need for scientists and engineers from diverse cultural backgrounds.  Broadening opportunities for, and enabling participation of all individuals, including women, men, minorities and persons with disabilities, are essential to the health and vitality of science and in particular, the environmental research and development enterprise. For this reason, EPA strongly encourages women, minorities, and persons with disabilities to apply.

B. Cost-Sharing
Cost sharing is not required.

C. Other
Applications must substantially comply with the application submission instructions and requirements set forth in Section IV of this announcement or they will be rejected. In addition, where a word or page limit is expressed in Section IV with respect to parts of the application, words and pages in excess of the limitation will not be reviewed. Applications must be received by the EPA (via direct mail/courier/express mail) or submitted electronically to Grants.gov on or before the solicitation closing date and times as identified in Section IV of this announcement or they will be returned to the sender without further consideration. All applicants must also follow the instructions for verifying that their application was received by NCER or their application may be rejected without review. Also, applications that fail to demonstrate a public purpose of support or stimulation (e.g., by proposing research which primarily benefits a Federal program or provides a service for a Federal Agency) will not be funded.

Applications deemed ineligible for funding consideration will be notified within fifteen calendar days of the ineligibility determination.

IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Confidentiality:

By submitting an application in response to this solicitation, the applicant grants the EPA permission to make limited disclosures of the application to technical reviewers both within and outside the Agency for the express purpose of assisting the Agency with evaluating the application. Information from a pending or unsuccessful application will be kept confidential to the fullest extent allowed under law; information from a successful application may be publicly disclosed to the extent permitted by law.

In accordance with 40 CFR 2.203, applicants may claim all or a portion of their application/proposal package as confidential business information. EPA will evaluate confidentiality claims in accordance with 40 CFR Part 2. Applicants must clearly mark applications/proposals or portions thereof that they claim as confidential. If no claim of confidentiality is made, EPA is not required to make the inquiry to the applicant otherwise required by 40 CFR 2.204(c)(2) prior to disclosure. However, competitive proposals/applications are considered confidential and protected from disclosure prior to the completion of the competitive selection process.

Formal instructions for submission through Grants.gov follow in Section E.

You may submit either a paper application, or an electronic application via Grants.gov, but not both for this announcement. If not otherwise marked, the following instructions apply to both types of submissions as follows.

A. Internet Address to Request Application Package
For paper applications, GRO Fellowship forms can be found on the NCER web site: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. Instructions for completing these forms follow.

For electronic applications, use the application package available at Grants.gov (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications"). Instructions for completing these forms follow.

For both paper and Grants.gov applications, an e-mail will be sent by NCER to the applicant to acknowledge receipt of the application and to transmit other important information. The e-mail will be sent from receipt.application@epa.gov; any e-mail sent to this address will not be accepted. Please be aware that this notification is separate from the one you will receive from Grants.gov. NCER does not notify you of receipt of your Letters of Recommendation. Due to the volume of applications received, the e-mailed acknowledgement from receipt.application@epa.gov may take several weeks. Thus, our staff will not respond to queries regarding applications received before January 19, 2011. Please make a notation on your calendar to call the toll-free number 1-800-490-9194 from Wednesday, January 19, 2011 to no later than 5:00 PM Eastern Time Friday, January 28, 2011 or information if you have not received the notification from receipt.application@epa.gov by that time. Failure to follow these instructions may result in your application being rejected without review.See "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications" for additional information regarding acknowledgment of receipt of electronically submitted applications. Due to often lengthy delays in delivery, it is especially important that you monitor NCER's confirmation of receipt of your application when using US Postal Service mail. Express or courier mail is encouraged for paper mail-in applications. Also, check your e-mail spam folder and/or check your spam filter settings to ensure e-mails from EPA are delivered to your e-mail inbox.

B. Content and Form of Application Submission
Summary of Application Materials

    Item 1. Application for Federal Assistance, Standard Form (SF) 424 (for electronic submissions via Grants.gov) or Standard Form (SF) 424 I-Individual (for paper submissions)
    Item 2. EPA Key Contacts Form (5700-54)
    Item 3. Front Page
    Item 4.Personal Statement
    Item 5. Background Information:
        Education & Relevant Experiences
        Publications & Presentations
        Course Work
    Item 6. Letters of Recommendation (sent by referees)

The application is made by submitting the materials described below. For Items 3-5, prepare these on 8-1/2"x11" paper with one inch margins. Use a font size of 12 points or larger. It is essential that the application contain all information requested and be submitted in the formats described. It is also essential that all contact information be that of the applicant unless specifically requested otherwise.

The applicant submits Items 1-5 either in hard-copy by mail (postal, express, or courier), or as part of the Grants.gov application (See “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications”). The Letters of Recommendation (Item 6) are e-mailed directly to EPA by those referees writing the letters (see "Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements”).

Item 1. Standard Form 424 (electronic) or 424 I-Individual (paper)

The student, that is the individual applying for funding, must complete Standard Form 424 for electronic submissions via Grants.gov or Standard Form 424 I (Individual) for paper submissions. This form will be the first page of the application. For paper submissions, use the 424 I-Individual form identified for Fellowships available at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. For electronic submissions, use the Standard Form 424 in the electronic application package (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications").

Instructions for Standard Form 424 - electronic submissions only:

Do not follow the instructions provided with the form. Instead, follow the instructions detailed below for items that may cause difficulty. Only the yellow highlighted fields of the form need to be completed.

    8.a. The applicant is the student submitting the application (not an Institution).
    8.b. Enter the student's social security number (see 8.a.).
    8.f. The contact person is the student (see 8.a.).
    9. Enter "P: individual"
    15. Enter the title of your chosen FON. You do not need to provide a description.
    16.a. For help finding the appropriate Congressional District, see Legislative Resources at http://www.house.gov/ (upper left hand corner where it says “Find Congressional Representative.” For U.S. territories (e.g., Puerto Rico), please enter 00.
    16.b. Enter "00".
    17.a. Enter a start date of 09/01/2011.
    17.b. Enter an End Date up to two (2) academic years for bachelor's degree support. If necessary, these dates can be modified if you receive a fellowship.
    18.a. Enter the amount of funding you are requesting (up to $48,900 total for the tenure of the fellowship leading up to the bachelor’s degree).
    18.b.-f. Enter "0"
    19. Enter "c" Program is not covered.

The Authorized Representative is the student (see 8.a.). You may enter "student" as the title. “Close Form” will save and close the form.

Instructions for Standard Form 424 I-Individual - paper submissions only:
This form is in a PDF format that must be filled in first, and then printed for paper applications. It is recommended that you save an electronic copy as well. Only the sections highlighted in yellow must be filled in.

Fill-in Instructions:

Section 1: NAME OF FEDERAL AGENCY. Type in “Environmental Protection Agency.”

Section 2: CATALOG OF FEDERAL DOMESTIC ASSISTANCE NUMBER. Type in “66.513.”

CFDA TITLE: Type in “Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowship Program.”

Section 3: Enter the present date.

Section 4: Click in this field to choose only one Funding Opportunity Number (FON). Click in the “TITLE” field to choose the corresponding Topic Title for the FON. They must match.

Section 5:

  1. Enter your Prefix, First and Last Name. You may include a Suffix and Middle Name if you choose, but they are not required.

    Enter your (Daytime) Telephone Number. You may include an evening number if you choose.

    Enter your contact e-mail address. You may include a fax number if you choose.

  2. Enter the address of your legal permanent residence (must be in the U.S. or one of its territories).
  3. Select your citizen status. If you select “No”, enter your residency information.
  4. Enter your social security number.
  5. Enter the Congressional district for your legal permanent residence. For help finding the appropriate Congressional District of your place of legal, permanent residence, see http://www.house.gov/. If you cannot locate a Congressional District (e.g., Puerto Rico), please enter "00".

Section 6:

  1. PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Choose the corresponding Topic Title for the FON. It should match the ones above. No description is needed.
  2. START DATE: Enter “09/01/2011.”

    END DATE: For End Date, enter a date up to two (2) years later for Bachelor’s support. If necessary, these dates can be modified if you receive a fellowship.

Section 7: For your application to be processed, you must check this box.

SIGNATURE:

For Paper applications (including express mail and courier), print the filled-out form (it is recommended that you save it as well). Sign and Date the form before mailing it in with your application package (See “Submission Instructions for Paper Applications”).

Item 2. EPA Key Contacts Form (5700-54)

The applicant must complete the "Key Contacts" form as the second page of the application as directed below. For paper submissions, use the EPA Key Contacts Form (5700-54) identified for Fellowships available at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. For electronic submissions, use the EPA Key Contacts Form (5700-54) in the electronic application package (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications.").
Ignore all other instructions for completing this form that may be found elsewhere. Please make certain that all contact information is accurate.

Key Contacts Form Instructions for Electronic Submissions:
Authorized Representative: Enter the applicant's name and address information.

Payee: Enter the applicant's permanent address information. This is the address NCER will use for any U.S. Postal Service correspondence.

Administrative Contact: Enter the business information for the applicant's advisor. Leave blank if the applicant has not identified an advisor.

Principal Investigator: Leave blank or, if the applicant has a second advisor, please enter the second advisor's information here.

Key Contacts Form Instructions for Paper Submissions:

Use the Key Contacts form identified for Fellowships available as part of the GRO Fellowship application package at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/.

This form is in a PDF format that must be filled in first, and then printed for paper submission. It is recommended that you save an electronic copy as well. Only the sections highlighted in yellow must be filled in. See “Submission Instructions for Paper Applications.”

Authorized Representative: Enter the applicant's current address information.

Payee: Enter the applicant's permanent address information. This is the address NCER will use for any U.S. Postal Service correspondence.

Administrative Contact: Enter the business information for the applicant's advisor. Leave blank if the applicant has not identified an advisor.

Principal Investigator: Leave blank or, if the applicant has a second advisor, please enter the second advisor's information here.

The applicant does not need to fill out the second page.

Item 3. Front Page (1 page)

The third item of the application serves as the Front Page.

Instructions for both Electronic and Paper Submissions: Starting with a blank page, please begin each item on a separate line using the appropriate numbered heading.

  1. Your name: Last name, first name, middle initial/name.
  2. Current College/University, School or Department: Name and location of the college/university, school or department you are currently attending. If you are not attending a college or university at the time of application, put “N/A.”
  3. Intended College/University, School or Department: Name and location of the college/university, school or department from which your bachelor’s degree will be obtained. If you are considering multiple institutions, list your top two choices. You must provide at least one school name in order to complete requirement (d) below.
  4. Institution GRO Eligibility Letter: You must certify that your school or intended school is GRO eligible. These data can be accessed at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf09315/pdf/tab12.pdf (28 pp, 76 KB) Table 12. If your institution is listed, find the amount in the second column, and multiply the figure by 1000. If your institution is eligible, then complete the following statement: "According to the National Science Foundation's report "Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions: Fiscal Year 2007," Table 12, column two, my institution received $__ million in Federal Research and Development expenditures in fiscal year 2007. Since this is $35 Million or less, my university is GRO eligible." If your institution is not listed, then it is eligible and you should enter “$0”. EPA will verify student eligibility before awards are made. Only students who will attend GRO eligible institutions can be awarded these fellowships.
  5. Degree Sought: Enter the type of Bachelor’s Degree you are seeking to complete (e.g. B.A., B.S.). Include the month and year you expect the degree to be awarded.
  6. Funding Opportunity Number and Topic Title this category must match what appears on Standard Form SF 424 or Standard Form SF 424I (Individual).
  7. Environmental Discipline. List your major(s) for your undergraduate studies.

For Electronic submissions via Grants.gov this item will be combined with Items 4 and 5 into one PDF file that will be uploaded into Grants.gov as the “Mandatory Project Narrative” (See “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications”). Label the file “MandatoryProjectInfo”. Please do not use spaces or special characters in the file name as this may cause Grants.gov to reject your application.

For Paper applications, print this Item (it is recommended that you save an electronic copy as well). See “Submission Instructions for Paper Applications.”

Item 4. Personal Statement

The item must be single-spaced, 750 words or less, and completed using a 12-point or equivalent font size with and one-inch page margins. You may use figures and tables, which will not count towards the 750 word limit. Do not deviate from the format requirements and word limit.

This Personal Statement will be of paramount importance in evaluating your request for a fellowship. Therefore, your answer to all the questions should be well thought out and expressed in a clear and detailed but concise manner. Please give enough details so you may be adequately evaluated, noting the 750-word limit.

Note: Your planned course of study should focus on one or more of the areas of environmental significance identified in Section I.D.

Personal Statement (750-word limit)

Clearly, concisely, and with appropriate detail, answer the following four questions:

Academic and Professional Goals

  1. What are your academic and professional goals and how will this fellowship help you attain them?

Environmental Issue of Concern

  1. What environmental issue is of particular interest to you and how might you go about addressing it (include your planned course of inquiry, which may include a research project if you have one)?

Past Relevant Experiences

  1. What relevant experiences (e.g., education, work, volunteering, study abroad, research, or other) have interested you in environmentally related study, and how have these experiences made you a good candidate for this fellowship?

Broader Societal Impacts

  1. Given your particular environmental interests, what broader societal impacts might you have as a fellow in any of the following areas:
    1. furthering environmental awareness;
    2. encouraging environmental stewardship and sustainability;
    3. promoting environmental equity & justice; and/or
    4. broadening participation of under-represented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, race, disability, socio-economic background, etc.) in environmentally related investigation/problem solving?

This personal statement will be reviewed for how you demonstrate the following criteria:

    1. Commitment to the stated academic and professional career goals;
    2. Organizational, analytical, and communication skills;
    3. Commitment to environmentally-related study as evidenced by your past relevant experiences; and,
    4. Potential to have broader societal impacts.

Personal Statements that address ALL the questions fully will be rated more highly.

Instructions:

For Electronic submissions via Grants.gov this item will be combined with Items 3 and 5 into one PDF file that will be will be uploaded into Grants.gov as the “Mandatory Project Narrative” (See “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications.”). Label the file “MandatoryProjectInfo”. Please do not use spaces or special characters in the file name as this may cause Grants.gov to reject your application.

For Paper applications, print this Item (it is recommended that you save an electronic copy as well). See “Submission Instructions for Paper Applications.”

Item 5. Background Information: Education & Relevant Experiences, Publications & Presentations, and Course Work

Instructions for both Electronic and Paper Submissions:

Start each of these three sections on a separate page.

Education & Relevant Experiences (1 Page Use a resume format)

Under Education, list your educational background--names of all post-secondary institutions attended, years attended, degrees received or expected to receive, major(s), and GPA.

For Relevant Experiences, this part could include but is not limited to paid employment, military service, research positions, internships, study abroad, student groups, volunteering, teaching, etc., focusing on the most relevant first. For each listed experience, indicate dates, names and addresses (city and state) of employers, and a short description of your duties.

Publications & Presentations (1 Page)

Under Publications, list in bibliographic format (style is up to you) any publications such as technical/scientific ones, as well any other media (newspaper, book, etc.). If you have not published, write “NA” for “not applicable”.

For Presentations, list all relevant presentations both poster and oral. For each please provide the title, date, type of presentation [e.g. oral or poster] and name of event (meeting or conference).

Course Work (use as many pages as are necessary)

Provide, in tabular form, a list of all your past and current Course Work (much of this information should be obtained from your transcripts). Include the following: the institutions at which the credits were earned, dates, names and catalog numbers of courses taken, credit hours, grades received, and cumulative GPA for all courses taken at each degree level. Be sure to list any degree(s) (e.g., associates degree, technical degree, etc) received. Abbreviations are allowed if their meaning is generally understood. Note if courses were audited or not completed. If any institution you attended had a grading system different from the traditional "A, B, C" system, explain the system in a short footnote. Do not leave anything out. Include data from your entire college career. DO NOT INCLUDE COPIES OF YOUR TRANSCRIPTS. Top-ranked applicants will be required to submit official copies of transcripts for validation prior to the award of the fellowship.

Instructions:

For Electronic submissions via Grants.gov this item will be combined with Items 4 and 5 into one PDF file that will be uploaded into Grants.gov as the “Mandatory Project Narrative” (See “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications”).

SAVE all Items, 3, 4, and 5 into one file. Convert this one file into a PDF file. Check the file to ensure there are no conversion errors. Label the file “MandatoryProjectInfo”. Please do not use spaces or special characters in the file name as this may cause Grants.gov to reject your application.

For Paper applications, print this Item (it is recommended that you save an electronic copy as well). See “Submission Instructions for Paper Applications.”

Item 6. Letters of Recommendation

Each applicant should arrange for the submittal of three (3) current Letters of Recommendation from individuals who have a personal knowledge of you in an academic and/or professional setting. These letters must be submitted by the letter writers (also called “referees”) directly to EPA electronically via e-mail (see instructions below). All letters of recommendation must be received by EPA no later than 11:59:59 PM Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date, December 9, 2010.

Letters of Recommendation are critical components of the application. If the applicant has a sponsor or advisor in the program, one of these letters of recommendation should come from that individual. Select your references carefully and urge them to write letters specifically about you. Do not write the letters yourself. Letters of Recommendation that appear to be mass-produced are generally not ranked highly by the reviewers. Note: EPA employees cannot endorse any particular application.

Applicants are advised to start the process early of having your Letters of Recommendation composed by the referees and sent in. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all Letters of Recommendation are sent by referees so that they are received by EPA by the due date and time. Failure to submit 3 Letters of Recommendation may negatively affect your score during the evaluation outlined in Section V.

Guidelines for Referees

  1. Letters of Recommendation should be written on official letterhead.
  2. Referees should include the Funding Opportunity Number (FON) and applicant’s name in the e-mail “subject” line when sending the letter. The applicant should provide these to the Referees.
  3. Referees are advised to use the applicant’s full name (as opposed to nicknames or shortened names) in order to ensure his/her letters are matched with the applicant’s fellowship review package.
  4. Referees should write letters specifically about the applicant. Letters of Recommendation that appear to be mass produced do not generally lead to high rankings by the reviewers. It is always useful if the writer also conveys a sense of who the applicant is as an individual.
  5. At a minimum, Letters of Recommendation should address the applicant’s performance and potential, enthusiasm, thoughtfulness, and motivation in his/her chosen field. Remember that your application is evaluated based on your academic merit and potential, your potential to have broader societal impacts as a fellow, and on the relevance of the project to research and development EPA supports under its statutory mandates.
  6. These letters must be submitted directly to EPA electronically via e-mail per the instructions below. All letters of recommendation must be received by EPA no later than 11:59:59 PM ET on the solicitation closing date, December 9, 2010.
    1. Letters of recommendation must be submitted directly to EPA, and must be submitted to 2011NCERFellowLetters@epa.gov. All Letters must have the name of the applicant and the appropriate Funding Opportunity Number (FON) and corresponding Topic Title in the letter itself. The name of the applicant and the appropriate FON and Topic Title must appear in the “subject” line. Letters of Recommendation should be attached to the e-mail submission with a filename containing the FON and the applicant’s last name. Text e-mails or other parts of the application package sent to this address will not receive a response. Any applications e-mailed to this address will be rejected without review.
    2. NCER cannot guarantee that Letters of Recommendation that do not denote the applicant’s name and FON will be matched with the appropriate application. Due to the potentially large number of applicants, NCER CANNOT ACKNOWLEDGE NOR VERIFY RECEIPT OF LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION. It is the applicant's responsibility to see that letters of recommendation are submitted in a timely manner.

Important Note: Letters of recommendation cannot be submitted through Grants.gov. Failure to submit three Letters of Recommendation may negatively affect your score during the evaluation outlined in Section V.

C. Submission Dates and Times
Electronic Submissions:

Electronic applications must be submitted to Grants.govby 11:59:59 PM ET on the solicitation closing date, December 9, 2010.

This includes:

    Item 1. Application for Federal Assistance, Standard Form (SF) 424 entered through Grants.gov

    Item 2. EPA Key Contacts Form (5700-54) entered through Grants.gov

    Items 3, 4 & 5:

      Uploaded as one PDF file labeled “MandatoryProjectInfo” into Grants.gov through “Add Mandatory Project Narrative File” (See “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications”).

Paper Submissions:

Paper applications [one original, and one (1) copy for a total of two (2) copies] must be received by EPA by 4:00 PM ET on the solicitation closing date, December 9, 2010. See “Submission Instructions for Paper Applications” for more details.

Letters of Recommendation:

All Letters of Recommendation (see IV.B. Item 6 above) must be submitted by e-mail to the EPA no later than 11:59:59 PM ET on the solicitation closing date, December 9, 2010.

It should be noted that this schedule may be changed without prior notification because of factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement. In the case of a change in the required solicitation closing date, a new date will be posted on the NCER web site (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/). Applications received after the closing date will be returned to the sender without further consideration.

D. Funding Restrictions
The funding mechanism for all awards issued under GRO solicitations will consist of assistance agreements from the EPA. All award decisions are subject to the availability of funds. In accordance with the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act, 31 U.S.C. 6301 et seq., the primary purpose of a grant is to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by federal statute, rather than acquisition for the direct benefit or use of the Agency. In issuing a fellowship agreement, the EPA anticipates that there will be no substantial EPA involvement in the design, implementation, or conduct of the research. However, the EPA will monitor academic progress through annual reports provided by Fellows and other contacts with the Fellows.

Please note that when formulating budgets for applications, applicants must not include management fees or similar charges in excess of the direct costs and indirect costs at the rate approved by the applicants cognizant audit agency, or at the rate provided for by the terms of the agreement negotiated with EPA. The term "management fees or similar charges" refers to expenses added to the direct costs in order to accumulate and reserve funds for ongoing business expenses, unforeseen liabilities, or for other similar costs that are not allowable under EPA assistance agreements. Management fees or similar charges may not be used to improve or expand the project funded under this agreement, except to the extent authorized as a direct cost of carrying out the scope of work.

E. Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements
You may submit only one application for this announcement through only one of the following methods:

  1. Electronically via Grants.gov.
  2. Paper application.

Contact individuals for your Letters of Recommendation as soon as possible. They are sent separately via e-mail per the instructions above.

Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications

Please read this entire section before attempting an electronic submission through Grants.gov. It is the responsibility of the applicant to see that these instructions are followed. Failure to follow these instructions may result in your application being rejected without review.

START EARLY!  Grants.gov requires a new individual registration to submit an application for this solicitation; however, registration is not required to view the application package. To register, go to http://www.Grants.gov/, click on "Get Registered," click on "Individual Registration." Allow at least one day for the registration to be activated. Safeguard your username and password, as this information can take a great deal of time to retrieve should it be misplaced. Note that the use of an organizational registration (e.g., an academic institution registration) will result in a Grants.gov rejection.

Due to the potentially high volume of applications submitted as the deadline time approaches, it is possible that the Grants.gov electronic submission and telephone assistance systems may become overwhelmed. To assure successful transmission, it is highly recommended that you do not delay submission of your application past 10:00 AM ET on the deadline day. The complete application must be submitted to Grants.gov no later than 11:59:59 PM ET on December 9, 2010. Please note that the Grants.gov telephone assistance line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week excluding Federal holidays.

Note for Fellowship Applicants

    As part of the registration process with Grants.gov, applicants need to enter a Funding Opportunity Number (FON) on the "Registration with Credential Provider" page. There is a problem with some FONs that results in an error message. If you encounter this problem, please use the work around FON: 0716-INDV-REGISTRATION.

The electronic application package available through the http://www.Grants.gov/ web site must be used for electronic submissions. The Grants.gov "Applicant's User Guide" is available at http://www.Grants.gov/help/user_guides.jsp. Grants.gov presents an animated tutorial for individual applicants at http://www.grants.gov/tutorials/individual/Animated2009/index.htm. View a narrated tutorial on how to complete a grant application package using Adobe at http://www.Grants.gov/flash/AdobeReaderApplicationTutorial_skin.swf.

Note: Grants.gov is not compatible with all internet browsers nor is it readily compatible with all computers. To avoid fatal submission problems, please check the compatibility of the browser and computer system you intend to use prior to attempting to submit an electronic application. The Grants.gov system requirements are: Windows 98, ME, NT 4.0, 2000, XP; 500 MHz processor; 128 MB of RAM; 40 MB disk space; Web browser: Internet Explorer 5.01 or higher.  If your default internet browser is not Internet Explorer, contact Grants.gov (1-800-518-4726) for assistance. If your computer system is not listed, please consider submitting a paper application to avoid fatal submission problems. Also, while submitting an application to Grants.gov via dial-up service is possible, the transfer can take one hour or longer and is prone to connection interruptions. Please consider submitting a paper application if you do not have a high-speed internet connection available. For more information on browsers and Adobe Reader, please see http://www.grants.gov/help/download_software.jsp.

Application Package Preparation. See instructions at Section IV.B above. The application package consists of 1 though 4 below.

  1. On the initial electronic Grant Application Package page, complete the "Application Filing Name" field by entering the Applicant's name, starting with the last name. Note: Applicants do not need to complete the "Competition ID" field.
  2. Application for Federal Assistance (SF 424): See instructions in Item 1 of Section IV.B. above. Do not follow the instructions provided with the form. Instead, follow the instructions in Section IV.B. above.
  3. EPA Key Contacts Form 5700-54: Complete the form as described in Section IV.B. Item 2. above. Ignore all other instructions for completing this form that may be found elsewhere.
  4. Items 3-5 Attachment Form (click on "Add Mandatory Project Narrative"): Attach a single electronic file labeled "MandatoryProjectInfo" that contains the Items 3, 4, and 5 for Reviewers described in Section IV.B. above. This file must be submitted in PDF format. Please review the PDF file for conversion errors prior to including it in the electronic application package. Requests to rectify conversion errors will not be accepted if made after the solicitation closing date and time.

Letters of Recommendation cannot be submitted electronically through Grants.gov; see Section IV.B. Item 6. above for submission instructions. All Letters of Recommendation MUST be submitted by e-mail to the EPA no later than 11:59:59 PM ET on December 9, 2010.

Once the application package has been completed, the "Submit" button should be enabled (you may need to "Check Package for Errors" as well as save the file before this occurs). If the "Submit" button is not active, please contact Grants.gov for assistance (Telephone: 1-800-518-4726). Applicants should save the completed application package with two different file names to avoid having to re-key the forms should submission problems be experienced.

Submitting the application to Grants.gov:
Minor problems are not uncommon with transfers to Grants.gov. In addition, slow connection and transfer rates are generally experienced as the deadline time approaches due to high demand. To assure successful transmission, it is highly recommended that you do not delay submission of your application past 10:00 AM ET on the deadline day. For frequently asked questions concerning submissions via Grants.gov, please see http://www07.Grants.gov/help/submit_application_faqs.jsp.

Close all other software before attempting to submit the electronic application package. Click the "Submit" button of the application package. Your internet browser will launch and a sign-in page will appear within a few minutes. Enter your individual registration user name and password.

A successful transfer should take no longer than 10-15 minutes and will end with an on-screen acknowledgement. "Print Screen" or “screen capture” this acknowledgement for documentation purposes. (Note: Subsequent E-mail acknowledgements from Grants.gov regarding your submission may take as long as 48 hours to arrive.) If you experience submission problems, reboot the computer -- turning the power off may be necessary -- and re-attempt the submission. If submission problems continue, contact Grants.gov for assistance (Telephone: 1-800-518-4726). The Grants.gov support desk operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Transmission Difficulties. If transmission difficulties continue after following the above instructions, follow the guidance below. NCER may decide to review the application if it is clearly demonstrated that the transmission difficulties were due solely as a result of unavoidable and unresolvable problems associated with the transfer to Grants.gov. The decision regarding acceptance of the application for review will be made by NCER management and provided to the applicant within ten calendar days of the request. All e-mails, as described below, are to be sent to Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@EPA.gov) with the FON in the subject line. Note: Grants.gov will issue a “case number” upon being contacted for assistance.

  1. Unsuccessful transfer of the application package: If a successful transfer of the application cannot be accomplished due to electronic submission issues, send an e-mail before 11:59:59 PM ET on the solicitation closing date. In that e-mail, document the problem, include the Grants.gov “case number,” and attach the entire application in PDF format.
  2. Grants.gov rejection of the application: If a notification is received from Grants.gov stating that the application has been rejected for reasons other than late submittal or use of an institutional rather than an individual registration, immediately send an e-mail. In that e-mail, document the problem, include all materials provided by Grants.gov, and attach the entire application in PDF format.

Grants.gov will send several e-mails during their processing of the application. Their last e-mail will state that the application has been transferred to the Agency and is undergoing review. Save these e-mails for documentation purposes; however, the critical e-mail is the one acknowledging receipt by the NCER Fellowship Program. This e-mail will be sent from receipt.application@epa.gov.

Due to the volume of applications received, the e-mailed acknowledgement from receipt.application@epa.gov may take several weeks. Thus, EPA staff will not respond to queries regarding applications prior to January 19, 2011. Please make a notation on your calendar to call the toll-free number 1-800-490-9194 from Wednesday, January 19, 2011, to no later than 5:00 PM ET Friday, January 28, 2011, for information if you have not received the notification from receipt.application@epa.gov by that time. Failure to follow these instructions may result in your application being rejected without review.

Submission Instructions for Paper Applications

Your paper application must contain the following:

  1. One original set of Items 1-5. Item 1 should have an original signature.
  2. One additional copy of Items 1-2, which will be used for processing; and one additional copy of Items 3-5, which will be for scanning purposes. Do not permanently bind or staple any of these copies; please use either binder or paper clips to secure them.
  3. Please, if possible, include an electronic copy of your application (e.g., on a CD) to help speed up data entry.

Letters of Recommendation (Item 6) must be submitted by e-mail. Do not have referees mail Letters of Recommendation. Letters of Recommendation received by mail will be rejected.

Because of security concerns, paper applications cannot be personally delivered. They must be sent through regular mail, express mail, or a major courier.

The following address must be used for regular mail only:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8725F)
Funding Opportunity Number: (applicant: place the appropriate FON here or your application may be sorted incorrectly!)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20460

Please note also that due to security concerns, applications sent in by regular mail to the Agency may not be received by NCER for several weeks and may result in damage to electronic media.  Therefore, if you must send in a paper application, the Agency strongly encourages you to use an express mail or courier service.

The following address must be used for express mail and couriers only (encouraged):

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8725F)
Funding Opportunity Number: (applicant: place the appropriate FON here, or your application may be sorted incorrectly!)
1025 F Street, NW (Room 3500)
Washington, DC  20004
Phone: (202) 343-9800

Electronic applications MUST be submitted to Grants.gov no later than 11:59:59 PM, Eastern Time (ET), on December 9, 2010.

Paper applications must be received by EPA no later than 4:00 PM, Eastern Time (ET), on December 9, 2010. Allow sufficient time to assure delivery by 4:00 PM ET on December 9, 2010. Due to uncertainties associated with timely delivery of regular mail, it is especially important to provide an e‑mail address to which an acknowledgment of receipt notification can be sent (see Section IV.A. above).

NOTE: Letters of Recommendation must be e-mailed to EPA, and all of them MUST be submitted no later than 11:59:59 PM ET, on December 9, 2010 (see Section IV.B. Item 6 above for further instructions).

V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

A. External Review
All eligible fellowship applications are reviewed by an appropriate external technical peer review comprised of individual experts using the criteria below. This review is designed to evaluate each student on his or her potential for success in an environmental undergraduate study program. Each external peer review includes non-EPA scientists, engineers, social scientists, and/or economists who are accomplished in their respective disciplines and proficient in the technical subjects they are reviewing. The review is conducted by at least three external peer reviewers. Reviewers are first asked to individually assign a score of excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor to each application based on the criteria. Reviewers may revise their reviews and scores based on any discussion that occurs at the in-person meeting of the reviewers. Individual scores are averaged and translated into the final external peer review score by EPA staff. Applications receiving a final score of very good or excellent as a result of this external peer review process will then undergo an internal programmatic review described below.

The criteria below are of equal importance.

  1. Comment on the seriousness of the applicant’s commitment to the stated academic and career goals.
  2. Comment on the student’s organizational, analytical, and communication skills as evidenced in their articulation of an environmental issue of concern and how they would address it.
  3. Comment on the seriousness of the student’s commitment to environmentally-related study and sustainability as evidenced by their prior experiences.
  4. Comment on the student’s potential to have broader societal impacts.

B. Internal Programmatic Review
Applications receiving scores of excellent or very good as a result of the peer review process will then undergo an internal programmatic review, which will be conducted by technical experts from the EPA, including individuals from the Office of Research and Development (ORD) and program and regional offices involved with the science or engineering proposed. All other applications are automatically declined.

The purpose of the programmatic review is to assure an integrated, balanced research portfolio for the Agency and help determine which applications to recommend for award. Applications will be evaluated against the following criteria (each of which is of equal importance):

1) the strength and degree to which the application relates to protection of human health and the environment in light of EPA’s authorizing statutes while not being duplicative of a government effort; and 2) program balance, including distribution of awards across disciplines, institutions and geography.

C. Funding Decisions
Final funding decisions are made by the NCER Director based on the results of the external peer review and internal programmatic review. In addition, in making the final funding decisions, the NCER Director may also consider overall program goals and the availability of funds. Applicants selected for funding will be required to provide the additional information listed below under “Award Notices.” The application will then be forwarded to EPA’s Grants and Interagency Management Division for award in accordance with the EPA’s procedures.

VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

A. Award Notices
External peer review results will be provided to each student with an award or declination letter.  If selected to receive a fellowship, you will be contacted no later than May 31, 2011 and should subsequently receive your official notification of award by July 29, 2011, for the fall term.  Please note that this schedule may be changed without notification due to factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement.  The earliest anticipated start date for these awards is September 1, 2010.  

You are advised to retain this announcement for future reference.

The official notification of an award will be made by the EPA’s Grants and Interagency Management Division. Selected applicants will be required to provide the following information to complete the application process:

  1. EPA Form 5770-2, "Fellowship Application" This form is available on the NCER web page (www.epa.gov/ncer/fellow/).
  2. Additional information and documentation about your educational status and tuition/other costs.
  3. Sealed official transcripts from all institutions.

B. Disputes
Disputes related to this assistance agreement competition will be resolved in accordance with the dispute resolution procedures set forth in 70 FR 3629, 3630 (January 26, 2005) which can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ogd/competition/resolution.htm. Questions regarding disputes may be referred to the eligibility contact.

C. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
Terms and conditions associated with this award can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/.

  1. Meetings:  Fellows are expected to attend a technical/scientific conference as long as they are members of the GRO program. Resources to support this travel are to be taken from the expense allowance.
  2. Human Subjects: A grant applicant must agree to meet all EPA requirements for studies using human subjects prior to implementing any work with these subjects. These requirements are given in 40 CFR § 26. Studies involving intentional exposure of human subjects who are children or pregnant or nursing women are prohibited by Subpart B of 40 CFR § 26. For observational studies involving children or pregnant women and fetuses please refer to Subparts C & D of 40 CFR § 26. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulations at 45 CFR § 46.101(e) have long required "... compliance with pertinent Federal laws or regulations which provide additional protection for human subjects." EPA’s regulation 40 CFR § 26 is such a pertinent Federal regulation. Therefore, the applicant's Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval must state that the applicant's study meets the EPA's regulations at 40 CFR § 26. No work involving human subjects, including recruiting, may be initiated before the EPA has received a copy of the applicant’s IRB approval of the project and the EPA has also provided approval. Where human subjects are involved in the research, the recipient must provide evidence of subsequent IRB reviews, including amendments or minor changes of protocol, as part of annual reports.
  3. Animal Welfare: A fellowship recipient must agree to comply with the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 (P.L. 89-544), as amended, 7 U.S.C. 2131-2156. The recipient must also agree to abide by the "U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals used in Testing, Research, and Training" (50 Federal Register 20864-20865. May 20, 1985).
  4. Reporting: In order to retain their funding, fellowship recipients must provide their EPA project officer with an annual, written statement from their advisor stating that they are maintaining the same criteria under which they were selected (i.e., acceptable grade-point average, full-time student, and still in the same discipline). Fellows must also provide a final transcript that states that they have completed their studies. Fellows must agree to notify EPA about all employment for at least five years after graduation.
  5. Acknowledgement of EPA Support: EPA's full or partial support must be acknowledged in journal articles, oral or poster presentations, news releases, interviews with reporters and other communications. Any documents developed under the agreement for distribution to the public or inclusion in a scientific, technical, or other journal shall include the following statement:

    This publication [article] was made possible by EPA fellowship number _______.  Its contents are solely the responsibility of the fellow and do not necessarily represent the official views of the EPA.  Further, the EPA does not endorse the purchase of any commercial products or services mentioned in the publication.

    A graphic that can be converted to a slide or used in other ways, such as on a poster, is located at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/star_images.html. EPA expects recipients to use this graphic in oral and poster presentations.

VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA/NCER resources listed below. To obtain information most quickly, consult the “Guidance & FAQs.” If your question is not covered, then call the toll-free telephone number or send a query through the web-based query form. You will receive a personal response through a return telephone call or e-mail.  Information regarding this RFA obtained from sources other than those indicated may not be accurate.

Guidance & FAQs: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/faqs.html
Toll Free Number: 1-800-490-9194
Web-based query form: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/contact_us.html
Electronic Submissions Contact: Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-0442
Eligibility Contact Person: Georgette Boddie (boddie.georgette@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8049
E-mail Address for Letters of Recommendation Submission Only: 2011NCERFellowLetters@epa.gov

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