Frequent Questions about the Environmental Education Grants Program
Below are questions and answers about the Environmental Education (EE) Grant Program for informational and explanatory purposes only. They are not meant to amend or change a published solicitation notice in any way. Please contact email@example.com with additional questions about application procedures only. No questions will be taken regarding application content or ideas.
The closing date and time for receipt of application submissions is Monday, January 6, 2020, 11:59pm Eastern Time (ET). Also, please make sure you have a DUNS numberExitand a current registration with the System for Award Management (SAM).
Information related to all solicitation notices
- EPA priorities
- Definitions of terms
- Role of the prime, partners, contractors, and subawardees
- Application process
- Application forms and instructions
- Cost requirements and uses of grant funds
- Award information
- Post award information
General Overview of the EPA EE Grant Program
How competitive is this grant program?
This grant program generates a great deal of public enthusiasm for developing environmental education projects. Consequently, the competition is very intense and EPA receives many more applications for these grants than can be supported with available funds. In some past years the ratio of grant awards to applications have been anywhere from 1/10 to 1/30.
Can I talk to someone in EPA’s EE Grant Program about my idea for a grant?
No. EPA staff are not permitted to discuss potential grant ideas with potential applicants. The point of contact for the EE Grants Program may answer only technical questions that are not addressed in a current solicitation notice or in the FAQs.
Do you issue an RFA every year?
Our ability to publish an RFA and fund EE grants is completely dependent on budget appropriations. If this program is approved for funding, we will run a competition each year. EPA also reserves the right to make additional awards under this announcement consistent with Agency policy and guidance if additional funding becomes available after the original selections are made. Any additional selections for awards will be made no later than 6 months after the original selection decisions.
To stay up-to-date on all EPA Environmental Education information, we encourage you to subscribe to the EE Grants Listserv.
Whom can I contact if I need help with a grant application?
Applicants may send any questions regarding this grant program or the submittal of an application to EEgrants@epa.gov. Applicants can keep checking the list of FAQs as it is updated during the open period of a solicitation.
The main EE Grants webpage will also provide announcements of dates, times and call-in numbers for conference call(s) that will be held by EPA's Office of Environmental Education to clarify points in open solicitations.
How can I find out about upcoming solicitation notices?
If you wish to be notified about upcoming solicitation notices, visit the main EE Grants webpage where you can sign up to receive e-newsletters from EPA's Office of Environmental Education. The e-newsletters will contain news and announcements related to notifications of new solicitation notices and other information on EPA's EE Grants Program.
Can I see examples of previously funded projects in each Region, and by Headquarters?
Yes. Visit the main EE Grants webpage and look under the tab called “Grants Awarded” to see the list and short descriptions of applications previously funded by this program.
Are there other EE grant programs that I can apply to?
Other available federal grant funding opportunities are listed on the federal site www.grants.gov
Who is eligible to apply for an EE Grant?
Any local education agency, college or university, state education or environmental agency, nonprofit organization as described in Section 501(C )(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, or a noncommercial educational broadcasting entity as defined and licensed by U.S. Federal Communications Commission may submit an application. A teacher's school district, an educator's nonprofit organization, or a faculty member's college or university may apply, but an individual teacher, educator, faculty member, student or citizen may not apply. Organizations located outside the United States or its territories are not eligible to apply. Tribal education agencies eligible to apply include schools or community colleges controlled by an Indian tribe, band or nation which is recognized as eligible for special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians, and which are not administered by the Bureau of Indian Education. For more specific information see Section III of the current solicitation notice.
Can a student apply for a grant to study environmental education?
No. Neither an individual student nor any individual person can apply for a grant from this program.
Can a teacher apply for a grant to do an environmental education project with their students?
No. Neither an individual teacher nor any individual person may apply for a grant from this program.
Can an organization located in Canada or Mexico apply for a grant to do an environmental education project in the United States.?
No. An organization must be located in the United States or one of its territories to be eligible to apply for a grant from this program.
Is an application eligible if the work of the project is proposed to take place outside of the United States?
Possibly, if the applicant organization is located in the United States or one of its territories, AND, the majority of educational activities in the program take place in the United States; or in the United States and Canada or Mexico; or in U.S. Territories.
Is a 501 (c) (6) organization eligible to apply for an Environmental Education grant?
No. A non-profit organization must be designated as a 501 (c) (3) by the Internal Revenue Service to apply for an Environmental Education Grant.
Is a local government agency eligible to apply for a grant?
Yes. The solicitation notice states that "any local education agency...may submit an application." The Environmental Education Act does not define a "local education agency." If there is any question as to whether you are a local education agency, you can check with the state department of education in the state in which you are located.
For purposes of applying for a grant through the current solicitation notice, any local government agency must make sure it is clear in the grant application that it has the authority to conduct education programs. This authority can be demonstrated by providing documentation from the state department of education, referencing the law or bylaws that established the agency, quoting the current official mission statement, and/or showing proof that authority has been set by practice of education programs in the past. Be sure to include this information in a succinct statement in the Project Summary and in the Detailed Project Description, as well as in detail in the Programmatic Capability and Past Performance section of the application.
Are county governments eligible?
Yes. Local education agencies are eligible, as well as environment agencies within county governments, as long as they can demonstrate they have the authority to conduct education programs. This authority can be demonstrated by providing documentation from the state department of education, referencing the law or bylaws that established the agency, quoting the current official mission statement, and/or showing proof that authority has been set by practice of education programs in the past. Be sure to include this information in a succinct statement in the Project Summary and in the Detailed Project Description, as well as in detail in the Programmatic Capability and Past Performance section of the application.
My tribe is interested in applying for an EE grant. We would apply as a Federally Recognized Tribe and our Environmental Department, which does educate the community, would be the administrator of the grant. I did not see the term “federally recognized tribe” under the eligibility section, but I did see tribal organizations could be eligible. Are we eligible to receive a grant?
“Tribal education agencies” that are eligible to apply include a school or community college which is controlled by an Indian tribe, band, or nation, which is recognized as eligible for special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians and which is not administered by the Bureau of Indian Education. Tribal organizations qualify if they meet that criteria or the non-profit criteria listed in Section III of the current solicitation notice. In addition, an environmental agency within a tribe would be eligible as long as they were not administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and could demonstrate they have the authority to conduct education programs. This authority can be demonstrated by providing documentation from the Tribe or the tribal department of education, referencing the law or bylaws that established the agency, quoting the current official mission statement, and/or showing proof that authority has been set by practice of education programs in the past. Be sure to include this information in a succinct statement in the Project Summary and in the Detailed Project Description, as well as in detail in the Programmatic Capability and Past Performance section of the application.
I represent a school administered by the Bureau of Indian Education. Are we eligible for an EE grant?
No. Per Section III of each solicitation notice: “Tribal education agencies that are eligible to apply include a school or community college which is controlled by an Indian tribe, band, or nation, which is recognized as eligible for special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians and which is not administered by the Bureau of Indian Education. Tribal organizations do not qualify unless they meet that criteria or the non-profit criteria (having 501C3 status with the IRS).”
May an organization apply for 501(c)(3) status at the same time as they apply for a grant, or do they have to have the status approved before they submit their application to the EPA?
Yes. An organization may apply for 501(C)(3) status at the same time that they apply for a grant, but the organization must have its 501(C)(3) status ALREADY APPROVED by the IRS to be eligible for an award under this grant program. If an applicant becomes a finalist for a grant but does not have its 501(C)(3) status approved by the time of the award, it will not be eligible for the award.
We are part of a collaboration of 501(C)(3) non-profit environmental education centers. We run a residential EE program for school children. Can the EE grant funds be used to support residential EE programs conducted for elementary and middle school students?
Yes. As described, this sort of residential program would be eligible. If you intend to conduct your project as a collaboration of partners and want to apply for a grant under one of our solicitation notices, decide which one of you will be the applicant and “prime recipient”. Then be sure to get partnership letters of commitment from the other “centers”.
We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit that receives funds through grants and corporate contributions and then redistributes 100% of those funds for EE programs at school districts in our region of the country. Are we eligible for an EE grant?
Yes. If you are an eligible entity as defined in the current solicitation notice (501c3 non-profits are eligible) and your proposed project is going to redistribute grant funds to eligible entities through subawards, your organization is eligible for an EE grant. You must, of course, adhere to the requirement that EXACTLY (no more and no less than) 25% of the funds you receive from EPA under an EE grant be awarded to subawardees in amounts of $5000 or less.
What do you mean by eligible subawardees?
Subawardees are organizations that receive a part of the grant funds awarded by EPA to a "Prime recipient" (prime) through a process determined by the Prime. The Prime selects the subawardees, grants them the funds, and does all the follow up with them (i.e., EPA does not get involved in the subaward process). However, subawardee organizations must be eligible to receive funds per the same rules of eligibility as specified in the current solicitation notice for the Prime recipients (see Section III of the solicitation notice).
We are an educational 501(c)(3) and a religious-based school. Are we eligible to apply for a grant from your program, even though we are an educational institution founded on religious principles?
Yes. As a 501(c)(3) organization, you are eligible to apply for an EE grant. The religious aspect is irrelevant.
My organization has never received an EE grant from EPA for a project that we’ve been running for several years. Would our project be eligible for funding from EPA?
Yes. Your project would be considered eligible for a grant through the EE program assuming that your organization meets all of the eligibility requirements as defined in the solicitation notice. The fact that the project already exists under non-EPA funding does not prevent it from being eligible for funding under the current EPA EE Program solicitation.
Can an organization who has an active EE grant or an organization that has previously been awarded an EE grant apply to the current RFA?
Applicants can be funded in consecutive years or while they have an active EE grant with the EPA so long as the grant application is for a different project. According to Section III (C)(11) of the RFA: "Applicants must demonstrate that their application is for a project for which they (the applicant) have not been previously awarded a grant by EPA's EE program and a statement to this effect must be included in the Project Summary; or the applicant must demonstrate that they are expanding, building on, enhancing, or otherwise modifying a project previously funded by EPA's EE Grant Program."
What does the term “threshold eligibility criteria” mean, as used in the solicitation notice?
Threshold eligibility criteria are requirements that an applicant must meet in order for their application to be deemed eligible for consideration for a grant award – in this case for a grant award from the Environmental Education Grant Program. (See Section III of the current solicitation notice for the list of threshold eligibility criteria.)
Must I meet all the threshold eligibility criteria to be considered eligible for a grant?
Yes. Failure to meet ALL the threshold eligibility criteria will result in disqualification of the application for funding consideration.
Are there any activities that are ineligible for funding in this program?
Yes. EE Grant funds cannot be used for the following activities:
- Technical training of environmental management professionals
- Environmental "information" and/or "outreach" projects that have no additional educational component, as described in Section I (B) of the solicitation notice
- Advocacy promoting a particular point of view or course of action
- Lobbying or political activities
- Non-educational research and development
- Construction projects- EPA will not fund construction activities such as the acquisition of real property (e.g. buildings) or the construction or modification of any building.
If my project includes ineligible activities, will my entire project be ineligible for funding?
If an application is submitted that includes any ineligible tasks or activities, that portion of the application will be ineligible for funding and may render the entire application ineligible for funding.
What does EPA consider to be "technical training for environmental management professionals" and why isn't this considered to be environmental education?
According to the National Environmental Education Act, “Environmental Education does not include technical training activities directed toward environmental management professionals or activities primarily directed toward the support of non-educational research and development." Technical training of environmental professionals generally refers to such activities and programs as certification of technical trades like waste water management, or practical workshops to update skills in areas like air quality monitoring, or on-the-job training of technicians such as green landscapers.
Are construction activities eligible for funding?
No. EE grants are non-construction grants, therefore construction activities will not be funded under the program. Examples of construction activities are: acquisition of real property (e.g., buildings or land), construction or modification of any building, such as constructing roof-top gardens, etc.
What kind of restrictions does your grant program put on construction programs? Would the installation of a rain garden qualify? Or a playground that was built to instruct children how a certain environmental principle works?
The solicitation notice specifically prohibits using EPA funds for construction. The creation of something like a rain garden or a playground should be peripheral to an education project, not its main activity and not the major expense of the budget. This grant program doesn't allow the funds to be used, for example, for the construction of a building, even to hold environmental education classes or house environmental displays, etc. So if expenses to install a rain garden or playground dominate the budget and the project period, and require something like heavy equipment purchase or rental, then most likely the project is more construction than education and therefore ineligible. (Note: Sometimes this grant program has deemed the creation of such things as a nature trail or a bird house as allowable expenses, but even these must be part of a larger education project, not the primary focus of the project and/or expenditure of the budget.)
Would installing solar panels be considered a construction project if the purpose of installing them is to demonstrate a way to deal with environmental issues?
Yes. Installing solar panels is clearly a construction project and therefore is not an eligible activity for receiving funds through the EE Grant Program.
Who reviews my application for eligibility?
Applications to the EE Local Grants solicitation will be reviewed for threshold eligibility by an EE Coordinator or designee in the EPA Region in which the proposed project will be located, or by staff in the Office of Environmental Education at EPA Headquarters if grants are being awarded from there.
If my application is deemed ineligible, when will I be notified?
Ineligible applicants will be notified within 15 calendar days of the determination that they are ineligible based on the threshold eligibility criteria.
What educational priorities does my project need to demonstrate in order to be eligible?
In order to be eligible, all applicants must address at least one of the following EPA educational priorities:
- Agricultural Education
- Community Projects
- Career Development
Further details related to these priorities can be found in Section 1 of the 2020 Solicitation.
What environmental priorities does my project need to demonstrate in order to be eligible?
In order to be eligible, all applicants must address at least one of the environmental priorities listed in any current solicitation notice. In the 2020 solicitation notice both environmental priorities and suggested sub-topics are listed (see the list below), and applicants are instructed to select a priority and name the sub-topic they will address under that priority (they could address one of the suggested topics listed or name one of specific concern to their audience, as long as it aligned with an EPA environmental priority).
- Improving air quality to ensure Americans are living and working in areas that meet high air quality standards.
- Work to prevent future air quality issues by making appropriate preparations for the prevention of wild fires.
- Work to educate communities about sources of air pollution and potential solutions; e.g., using farmers' markets and farm to table systems to teach about the environmental benefits of local food supplies that do not require long distance transportation.
- Ensuring clean and safe water by supporting clean drinking water, aquatic ecosystems, and recreational, economic and subsistence activities.
- Work to prevent future water quality and human health issues through appropriate management for flood and hurricane preparedness.
- Work to prevent future water quality and human health issues through appropriate communications about the risks of poor water quality resources; e.g., educating school-aged children, their parents, and the community about water conservation through the establishment and maintenance of school or community gardens or the removal of invasive plant species and/or planting of native gardens.
- Work to manage nutrients in water systems by reducing the use of pesticides and/or nutrient run-off from soil, while maintaining both quality agricultural yields and minimal environmental harm.
- Work to manage the health of aquatic ecosystems to achieve the maximum in environmental and human health benefits and support recreational, economic, and subsistence activities.
- Ensuring the safety of chemicals.
- Work on Integrated Pest Management to achieve the most environmentally effective management of pests in the agricultural setting.
- Work collaboratively on Integrated Vegetation Management issues for the maximum in environmental benefits; for example, for maintaining native species within public rights-of-way.
- Work to educate school-aged children, their parents, and the community on pesticide and environmental health issues; e.g., maintaining school gardens to teach about pesticide management.
- Revitalize land and prevent contamination.
- Work to manage food waste for environmental benefits; e.g., the benefits of composting, reduction of waste going to landflls, etc.
- Work to increase electronic recycling and other efforts to reduce waste disposal in landfills.
- Work to increase plastic recycling and other efforts to reduce plastic disposal in landfills.
- Work to educate individuals about human health and environmental risks associated with improper management of waste and the benefits associated with reducing trash in waterways.
Do I need to address more than one educational priority or more than one environmental priority in my project?
No. The project must only address at least one of the educational priorities, and at least one of the environmental priorities.
Can I address more than one educational or environmental priority in my project?
Yes. Applications may address more than one priority in each category. However, it is important that the application is clear as to what the focus of the project will be and how that focus will contribute to a project with quality outputs and outcomes.
Will I get a higher score in the application review if I address more than one educational or environmental priority?
No. Applicants will not get any extra points for addressing more than one education priority and/or more than one environmental priority.
Does EPA give any of the educational or environmental priorities a higher degree of importance or priority than any of the others?
No. None of the educational or environmental priorities listed in the solicitation notice are considered of higher importance or priority to EPA than any of the others.
What are EPA’s Strategic Goals?
EPA’s current Strategic Goals are outlined in EPA's Strategic Plan.
Does my application have to specifically describe how it will support one or more Strategic Goals of the EPA? If so, where do I find more information on these goals?
Yes. Applications must specifically reference one or more of EPA's Strategic Goals in the application and explain how the project will support the goal(s). Read more about EPA’s Strategic Goals in EPA's Strategic Plan.
Do community-focused stewardship activities need to focus on just teachers and/or students or could they include other community members?
Community members of any age could qualify as audience members in a project funded by this grant program—not just teachers and/or students.
Does this program fund the development of environmental education materials or curriculum?
EPA encourages applicants to use existing quality environmental education materials when available, rather than developing new ones, because many existing quality materials are under-utilized.
EPA will consider funding the development of new materials where the applicant demonstrates that there is a need (e.g., that existing quality educational materials cannot be adapted to a particular local environmental concern or audience or existing quality materials are not available). You should specify what steps you have taken to determine this need (e.g., you may cite a conference where this need was discussed, the results of inquiries made within your community or with educational institutions, or a research paper or other published document).
How do I evaluate and select high quality environmental education materials among the many existing choices that seem relevant to my project?
When determining what educational materials to use in your project, EPA recommends you review “Environmental Education Materials: Guidelines for Excellence”, which can be downloaded or ordered by going to EPA’s environmental education publications webpage. This publication provides guidance on developing, evaluating, and selecting quality environmental education materials. If you don't know yet which materials you will use as part of your project, you should identify in your application what steps you will take to search for and select those materials.
Where can I find a resource on environmental educators, if I want my project to focus on environmental education teaching skills?
A resource to help guide projects that address environmental education teaching skills is the 'Guidelines for the Preparation and Professional Development of Environmental Educators' developed with EPA funds. You may download or order a copy of this publication by going to EPA’s environmental education publications webpage.
Can an EE grant be used for a program that targets primarily adults, with little or no K-12 component, such as a program to educate homeowners associations, civic groups and elected officials on local environmental issues?
Yes. EE grants can be used to provide environmental education to adults.
Are applicants required to serve K-12 students as part of their target audience?
No. The audience for a project does not have to be K-12 students.
How does EPA define “students”—e.g., are university students considered an eligible target audience?
Yes. University students are considered “students” under the eligibility criteria for projects in the EE Grants Program. “Students” in EE projects funded by EPA may be any age and the term may be used to refer to students of informal education programs as well -- for example, programs held in nature centers, zoos, or community or agricultural centers.
Definitions of Terms
How does the EE Grants Program define Environmental Education?
EPA’s EE Grants Program defines environmental education (EE) as activities that increase public awareness and knowledge about environmental and conservation issues and provide participants with the skills necessary to make informed decisions and to take responsible actions. EE is based on objective and scientifically-sound information and does not advocate a particular viewpoint or a particular course of action. EE teaches individuals how to weigh various sides of an issue through critical thinking, problem solving and decision making skills on environmental and conservation topics. EE covers the range of steps and activities from awareness to action with an ultimate goal of environmental and conservation stewardship. EE involves lifelong learning; its audiences are of all age groups, from very young children through senior citizens. EE can include both outdoor and in-classroom education, in both formal and informal settings.
How does the EE Grant Program define Conservation?
Conservation, as related to EPA’s mission and for purposes of this solicitation, is defined as the preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment, natural ecosystems, vegetation, and wildlife in order to achieve maximum environmental and human health benefits.
How does the EE Grant Program define Environmental or Conservation Information?
Environmental or conservation information provides facts or opinions about environmental or conservation issues or problems. Information is essential to any educational effort. However, environmental or conservation information is not, by itself, environmental education. Information provides facts or opinions whereas education teaches people how to think, analyze, and solve problems.
How does the EE Grant program define Environmental or Conservation Outreach?
Environmental or conservation outreach disseminates information and sometimes asks audiences to take specific action, but doesn’t necessarily teach people how to analyze an issue. Outreach often presents a particular point of view, and often in pursuit of a particular goal. Examples may include a community meeting to inform residents about a toxic site in their area and where they can go for help, or a campaign to get volunteer participants for restoration of soil health or of a stream’s riparian zone.
Why are environmental or conservation information and outreach not classified as EE?
Environmental education may include environmental or conservation information and outreach, but environmental education fosters critical thinking, problem solving and decision making skills on environmental or conservation topics. Environmental education covers the range of steps and activities from awareness to action with an ultimate goal of environmental and/or stewardship. Environmental or conservation information simply provides facts and outreach provides direct contact, personalized messaging and activities about a specific topic. Information and outreach are valuable tools, but are used for different purposes than education.
Can my project focus on environmental or conservation information and outreach?
No. Environmental education may include environmental or conservation information and outreach, but these activities alone, or as the main focus of the project, do not qualify as environmental education, and therefore do not qualify for this EPA grant. The applicant must demonstrate how their project will reflect the components of environmental education as defined in the solicitation notice.
What is the difference between outputs and outcomes of a project?
Outputs are tangible products developed during the life of the grant, such as lesson plans, workshops, websites, field trips, stewardship activities, etc. Outcomes are non-tangible results achieved by implementing the outputs, such as a better understanding of an environmental topic, or an attitude change, or a commitment to long term stewardship.
What is the difference between a short-term output and a short-term outcome?
A short-term output is an activity, effort or work product, such as training sessions for formal and informal educators or development of educational materials and websites that can be measured qualitatively or quantitatively during the funded period. A short-term outcome is a result, effect or consequence that will occur from carrying out the outputs of the environmental education project during the project period such as increased knowledge, skills and motivation.
Roles of the Prime, Partners, Contractors and Subawardees
What is a "prime" recipient?
The prime recipient is the organization that applies for and receives a grant directly from EPA. The prime recipient is responsible for determining the goals and of the project and how they will be accomplished, deciding how the subawardees will be selected, including the assurance that all subawardees are deemed eligible according to the solicitation notice, and ensuring that the project meets its goals within the timeframe and budget proposed.
What is a "partner"?
A partner is an organization (or for-profit company) that makes a commitment to join the applicant (the prime) in the design and/or implementation of the proposed project by providing funds and/or services integral to the accomplishment of the project’s goals. Usually a partnering organization (or company) has similar organizational goals to the prime/applicant and/or experience/expertise needed in the project. Applicants may work with one or more partners to develop, design and implement proposed projects. If an entity designated in the application as a partner is not involved in the development, design or implementation of the project and/or does not provide a letter of commitment, then it is not a true partner according to the EPA EE Grant Program.
What is the difference between a "partner" and a "subawardee"?
The EE Grants Program considers a partner to be an organization that makes a commitment to join the applicant (the prime) in the design and/or implementation of the proposed project by providing funds and/or services integral to the accomplishment of the project’s goals. The prime may partner with an organization to help achieve the required minimum 25% (of the total budget) match; i.e., the partner is providing cash or donating time and services. The prime may also partner with an organization for their experience or expertise. Partners and primes have mutual interests and are both committed to the success of the project, but the prime recipient is responsible for accomplishing the goals of the project within the timeframe and budget proposed in the original grant application. A partner cannot receive a subaward unless the partner is an eligible entity as defined in Section III of the solicitation notice.
Subawardees receive an award from the prime recipient to perform tasks integral to the project’s goals, as outlined by the prime. Subawardees are selected by the prime and must be eligible entities as outlined in the solicitation notice (Section III). They are often the local level community-based organizations with audiences proposed to be reached by a project. One example would be for the prime recipient to award subawards to school districts to carry out activities proposed in the work plan.
What is the difference between a “subawardee” and a “contractor”?
A subawardee is an eligible organization (as defined by the solicitation notice) that receives an award from the prime recipient to perform tasks integral to the project’s goals, as outlined by the prime. The subawardees are often local level community-based organizations with audiences proposed to be reached by a project. One example would be for the prime recipient to award subawards to school districts to carry out activities proposed in the work plan.
A contractor is an individual, organization, or for-profit company that receives money from a prime recipient, subawardee, or partner to provide goods or services (work tasks) considered non-integral or non-substantive to the project’s goals. The person or organization performing the evaluation of the project is often a contractor, as is a company providing buses for field trips, for examples. All contracts must be competed.
Do you have a graphic that summarizes the roles and responsibilities of a prime recipient, a partner, a subawardee and a contractor?
|Must be eligible as defined in Section III of the solicitation notice||Can provide match||Can receive sub awards||Must compete to receive award||Performs work integral to grant project||Performs Tasks non- integral or non-substantive to project|
|Partner||x||x (if an eligible entity)||x|
If we partner with an external professional evaluator would that be considered a contract or subaward and count towards the 25% subaward requirement?
Generally, an external evaluator needs to have some objectivity, and therefore would not be in a position to be a partner in the project they are evaluating. Usually an external evaluator is hired for their services, and this would be considered a contractual arrangement, not a subaward. A contract would not be able to be counted toward the 25% requirement for subawards, even if it is for an amount of $5000 or less.
May an applicant use a contractor’s services to perform work on part of the proposed project?
Yes. The applicant may hire a contractor for part of the work of the project as long as all federal rules and procedures (or state rules, if the applicant is a state agency) for procurement are followed.
Under this grant program, may a for-profit company be included as a partner?
Yes. A for-profit company may be included as a partner as long as the grantee (prime recipient) does not enter the partnership with the intent to hire the for-profit company to provide goods or services that are available in the commercial marketplace in order to obtain those goods and services in a non-competitive transaction.
May an applicant contract with a non-profit organization to do work on a proposed project?
Yes. Work on a proposed project may be contracted out to a non-profit organization as long as all federal rules and procedures (or state rules, if the applicant is a state agency) for procurement are followed.
May a partner or contractor provide any or all of the required minimum 25% non-federal match?
Yes. A partner or contractor may provide any or all of the required minimum 25% non-federal match provided the costs they are covering are allowable for third party contributions under grant regulations. Contributions to matching funds may include cash, volunteer services, and donated supplies and equipment. Please note that a third party’s indirect costs may not be counted toward a cost share.
What are you looking for in the Partnership Letters of Commitment?
The letter the partner writes to verify their partnership must clearly state how they are to be involved in the development, design or implementation of the project. It is very important that partners provide letters that clearly describe the role they will play in the proposed project. If funds, equipment/supplies or in-kind services will be provided, the dollar amounts or specific equipment/supplies or kinds of services need to be described specifically and in detail in the letter.
It is not enough to simply name partners in the application. All partners must provide letters of commitment or they will not be given consideration by reviewers. If no letters are provided, it will be assumed there are no partners for the project.
To whom should our partners address their letters of commitment?
The EE Regional Coordinator whose name appears in the RFA.
Do I need recommendation or endorsement letters in my application in order to be considered?
No. Only submit letters from partner organizations making a commitment to the project. Please do not submit letters that simply recommend or endorse the project. Only letters of commitment from a partner organization, if applicable, will be considered in evaluating application.
Do we have to have a partner for our proposed project?
No. Applicants are not required to form partnerships for a proposed project to receive a grant from this program. However, it is important to note that EPA’s EE Grants Program considers partnerships to be a valuable contribution to the success of most projects. See Section V of the solicitation notice for scoring factors or evaluation criteria.
If you do not have any partners for your project, be sure to explain in your application how you anticipate reaching your goals successfully on your own.
Does my project have to include a subaward program?
Yes. Each project must include a subaward program and a description of how the applicant plans on using the subaward program to achieve its project goals, and how it plans to ensure that EXACTLY (no more than, no less than) 25% of the EPA funds awarded will be used for subawards of $5000 or less to eligible subawardees. Applications must also explain how the prime recipient will select the subawardees and monitor the subawardees' activities, materials, and delivery methods to ensure that they contribute to the project's expected outputs and outcomes and are in alignment with its educational and environment priorities.
How much of the funds awarded to the prime recipient (grantee) must go toward subawards?
Each recipient (the prime recipient) of a grant under this solicitation will be required to award EXACTLY (no more and no less than) 25% of the funds received from EPA to eligible subawardees in the form of subawards of $5000 or less.
Would the prime recipient (EPA EE Grant recipient) be allowed to award subawards for more than $5000 with either EPA funds or with their own matching funds?
Yes. Subawards in amounts of more than $5000 may be awarded with either EPA funds or matching funds, but those subawards will not count as one of the $5000 or less subawards required to be awarded with the EPA funds the prime recipient receives in an EE grant.
Would the prime recipient be allowed to award BOTH a subaward for $5000 or less from EPA funds AND a subaward for more than $5000 from EPA funds to the same subawardee?
Generally not. Awarding subawards that total more than $5000 to one organization designated as a subawardee in the project's $5000 or less subaward program in most cases would violate the requirement of the National Environmental Education Act. There may be cases, however, in which one entity may receive more than one subaward and still have one or more of those $5000 or less subawards count toward the required 25% subaward program as long as the prime recipient can demonstrate that each subaward is for a distinctly separate and different task fulfilling different goals or objectives of the project.
Would the prime recipient be allowed to award BOTH a subaward for $5000 or less from EPA funds AND another subaward (of any amount) from their OWN funds (i.e., funds from a source other than the EPA EE grant) to the same subawardee to do work on the EPA grant?
Yes. But subawards awarded with a prime recipient’s own funds, no matter what the amount is, would not count toward the requirement to use 25% of EPA funds for subawards of $5000 or less.
We are planning a two year project. If we award a subaward to an organization for $5000 as part of the required $5000 or less subaward program the first year of our project, can we then give the same organization another subaward from EPA funds the second year for $5000 or less?
Generally not. Once the prime has designated an organization as a subawardee in the project’s required subaward program (in which exactly 25% of EPA funds must be expended on subawards of $5000 or less), then generally a maximum of $5000 in EPA funds can be awarded in subaward(s) to that organization, regardless of the project’s duration. For example, if a prime were to give a $3000 subaward from EPA funds to organization X the first year of a two-year project and $2000 the second year, the $5000 or less requirement will have been met. If organization X were to receive a subaward from EPA funds the second year for more than $2000 (e.g., $2500), then the $5000 limit will have been exceeded, which violates the terms of the agreement with the EE Grant Program, unless the prime recipient can demonstrate that each subaward is for a distinctly separate and different task fulfilling different goals or objectives of the project.
If awarded the grant, am I responsible for ensuring the awardees of the subawards are eligible for funds?
Yes. The prime recipient of the grant funds must ensure that all subawards they award with funds from this program go to entities that would qualify as "eligible applicants." More information on eligibility can be found in Section III of the solicitation notice.
We are a university that is considering applying for an EE grant. Can we make subawards internally within the university?
Sometimes, depending on how a university’s system is set up. Such situations will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Universities that are considering applying as a prime recipient and awarding subawards to sub-recipients within their university should contact EEGrants@EPA.gov and explain their particular situation before submitting an application.
When I apply do I need to know and have outlined in the application (or complete application for selected finalists) which entities or organizations will receive subawards?
No. The applicant does not have to know to whom they will be awarding subawards at the time they submit their proposal/or complete application for selected finalists. However, applications must outline the process and criteria that will be used for selecting the subawardees.
Do I have to make the subawardees compete for the subawards?
No. EPA does not require the prime to run a competition for the subawards.
Our organization is made up of affiliate chapters. Could we give subawards to our chapters to implement our project?
An applicant can make subawards of $5000 or less to their chapters to implement the project, assuming that the chapters are set up as separate entities from the main organization and are eligible entities as defined in Section III of the solicitation notice.
Where can I find the deadline for submission of an application?
Information about the submission deadline for the current solicitation notice can be found on the first page of the solicitation notice under Dates.
If the application is submitted late, will the application be reviewed?
No. Applications submitted to grants.gov after the submission deadline (or hand delivered or postmarked after the deadline, if an applicant has been granted an exception) will be considered late and given no further consideration unless the applicant can clearly demonstrate that it was late due to EPA mishandling or because of technical problems associated with www.grants.gov.
How do I submit an application for the EE Grant Program?
Applicants should follow the instructions given in the solicitation notice to make sure they submit a complete and accurate application. Applications must be submitted electronically through www.grants.gov. Applications may be submitted in hard copy via hand delivery, U.S. Postal Service, or by private delivery service ONLY IN LIMITED CIRCUMSTANCES and only when AN EXCEPTION/WAIVER has been applied for and granted by EPA. See Section IV and Section VII of the solicitation notice for more information.
Can I email my application?
No. Email submittals of applications are not accepted for the EE Grant Program. Electronic applications must be submitted through www.grants.gov.
How do I apply electronically using www.grants.gov?
The electronic submission of your application must be done in www.grants.gov and only by an official representative of your institution who is registered with www.grants.gov and is authorized to sign applications for Federal assistance—the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR). Using www.grants.gov also requires that your organization have a Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) number and a current registration with the System for Award Management (SAM). The process for registering in SAM.gov and receiving or verifying a DUNS number can take a month or more to complete.
The DUNS Number is a unique 9 digit identification for each physical location of your organization and is required for all organizations to obtain before applying for grants and/or contracts with the federal government. A DUNS number can be obtained at www.dnb.com.EXIT
The System for Award Management or SAM is used to register your organization to do business with the federal government and can be found at www.sam.gov.
Be sure that all the information about your organization is exactly the same in grants.gov, SAM and DUNS.
Applicants must ensure that all registration requirements are met in order to apply for this opportunity through www.grants.gov and should ensure that all such requirements have been met well in advance of the submission deadline. Registering on www.grants.gov and SAM.gov is FREE. Obtaining a DUNS number assignment is also FREE.
To apply through www.grants.gov, you must use Adobe Reader software. It is recommended that you download the compatible Adobe Reader system well in advance of the application deadline. For more information about Adobe Reader, to verify compatibility, or to download the free software, please visit Adobe Reader Compatibility Information on Grants.gov
How do I register for www.grants.gov?
The electronic submission of your application must be made by an official representative of your institution who is registered with Grants.gov and is authorized to sign applications for Federal assistance. For more information on the registration requirements that must be completed in order to submit an application through Grants.gov, go to www.grants.gov and click on “Applicants” on the top of the page and then go to the “Get Registered” link on the page.
If your organization is not currently registered with www.grants.gov, please encourage your office to designate an Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) and ask that individual to begin the registration process as soon as possible. Please note that the registration process also requires that your organization have a DUNS number and a current registration with the System for Award Management (SAM) and the process of obtaining both could take a month or more.
Whom should I contact if I am having problems with grants.gov?
Grants.gov is a federal government-wide database; it is not an EPA database. If you are having any problems uploading your application materials or any other such problems, you will need to contact the system administrator for grants.gov. Please DO NOT CALL EPA with questions on grants.gov. Please call Grants.gov for assistance at 1-800-518-4726 or email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Application Forms and Instructions
Can I submit more than one application under this solicitation?
Yes. Applicants can submit more than one application under this solicitation so long as each one is for a different project and is separately submitted.
What forms and documents are required to be submitted for the EE Grant Program?
The following forms and documents are required to be submitted when applying for a grant in this program (please use the guidelines in Sections IV and V of the solicitation notice when preparing each of these):
- Application for Federal Assistance (SF-424)
- Budget Information for Non-Construction Programs (SF-424A)
- Other forms that may be required (refer to the current solicitation notice): Assurances – Non-Construction (SF 424-B), Pre-Award Compliance (EPA Form 4700-4), EPA Key Contacts Form, and Grants.gov Lobbying Form
- Work Plan prepared as described in Section IV(C) of the announcement.
- Detailed Budget and Narrative.
- Logic Model;
- Programmatic Capability and Past Performance;
- Partnership letters of commitment (only if you have partner organizations making a commitment to the project – please NO letters of endorsement or recommendation).
Is there a preferred number of files or file type extensions for the application submission?
It is preferred for easier processing that you combine your files into no more than 6 files. PDFs are preferred when possible. Trying to upload a large number of individual files leaves room for error in the uploading and downloading process.
Is there an example Logic Model available?
Yes. An example of a basic logic model with broad outputs and outcomes is in Appendix D of the solicitation notice. A template that you can use to create your own specific version of a Logic Model that complements your project can be found on the main EE Grants webpage.
Is there a limit to the number of resumes and the length of any resumes submitted to demonstrate our programmatic capability?
Yes. Only 3 one-page resumes should be included with the application.
Is there a page limit for the Work Plan?
Yes. The Work Plan may not exceed 8 single-spaced pages. The entire narrative portion of the Work Plan (Project Summary, Detailed Project Description, and Project Evaluation) cannot exceed 8 single-spaced pages. Be precise, but also concise. Additional pages past the 8th page will not be reviewed with the application, potentially rendering it incomplete or incomprehensible. In addition, do not send extra material, such as videos, newspaper articles, etc.—they will not be reviewed.
Can the application be longer than is specified?
No. A page limit of 8 pages is specified in Section IV of the solicitation notice. Additional pages past the 8th page will not be reviewed with the application, potentially rendering it incomplete or incomprehensible. In addition, do not send extra material, such as videos, newspaper articles, etc.—they will not be reviewed.
Do the Detailed Budget and the Appendices count towards the 8 page limit?
No. The Detailed Budget and Appendices (Timeline, Logic Model, Programmatic Capability/Past Performance, and Partnership Commitment Letters) are not included in this page limit. There are no page limits on the Detailed Budget and Appendices.
Are there limits on page and font size?
Yes. One page refers to one side of a single-spaced page on 8 1/2 by 11 inch typed in a font size no smaller than 10 point.
Can I reorder the format of my application from the outline provided?
It is strongly advised that you submit your applications in the following order to ensure it is properly and thoroughly reviewed:
- Standard Form (SF) 424, Application for Federal Assistance;
- SF 424A Budget Information;
- Other federal forms as required in the solicitation notice;
- Work Plan including (a) Project Summary, (b) Detailed Project Description, (c) Project Evaluation;
- Detailed Budget;
- Appendices including (a) Timeline, (b) Logic model, (c) Programmatic capability and past performance; (d) Partnership letters of commitment.
Where do I identify Congressional Districts affected by my project?
To identify the appropriate Congressional District, go to www.house.gov.
Where can I find instructions for filling out SF-424- Application for Federal Assistance, the SF-424 A- Budget, and other forms required for this application?
There are instructions for filling out the SF-424, the SF-424 A, and other forms required to be submitted with your application in Appendix A of the solicitation notice and on the grants.gov website.
What details of the project must the Work Plan include?
The 8-page Work Plan includes the following sections (please see Section IV of the solicitation notice for complete descriptions of what each section should include.) Each section should be clearly labeled in your application. The Work Plan should be comprehensive and clear to a person unfamiliar with your project. Do not use acronyms and technical or specialized terms without defining them.
- Project Summary
- Detailed Project Description (the What, Why, How, and Who of the Project)
- Project Evaluation
Can I reorder paragraphs within the subsections of the Detailed Project Description?
You may reorder the paragraphs within the subsections of the Detailed Project Description (the What, Why, How and Who) but they must include the correct headings or you risk the possibility of information being overlooked when the project is scored.
If I have previously received federal funding from the EPA's EE Grant Program should I include that in my application?
Yes. In the Project Summary section of your Work Plan, please note any projects previously funded by the EPA's EE Grant Program, and also list all of the previously EPA funded projects your organization has received in the past 3 years. In addition, all these previously funded grants should be labeled as "EPA EE Grants" under the Past Performance section of your application.
Do you have any additional suggestions of what to do to maximize the effectiveness of our application?
In addition to reading and following the instructions in the solicitation notice very carefully, we suggest that you perform an internal and/or external review on the application for clarity and conciseness. We recommend that you check the application for typographical, grammatical, and mathematical errors and perform a final quality control check to ensure that all application materials are complete and signed, and that the copies are legible.
When and how will I be notified about the status of my appplication?
Regarding receipt of your application:
Applicants will receive a confirmation that EPA has received their application after EPA has entered information about all applicants into a database. If you have not received confirmation of receipt from EPA (not www.grants.gov) within 60 days of the application deadline, please contact the appropriate Regional or HQ EPA staff as identified in Section VII of the relevant announcement. Failure to confirm that your application has been received may result in your application not being reviewed.
Regarding eligibility determination:
Applicants will be notified of ineligibility status within 15 days of the determination being made.
Regarding selection or non-selection for a grant award:
Specific dates are not available for when EPA will make decisions and contact (usually by email) the highest scoring finalists and send non-selection notifications to the others because of the variations in circumstances from Region to Region.
Note: Notification of receipt of applications, as well as non-eligibility, selection and non-selection notification will be sent to the individual identified on line #21 of the SF424.
Cost Requirements and Uses of Grant Funds
Are we required to use part of the funding we receive from the EPA EE Grants Program for subawards?
Yes. All applicants for grants are required to propose to award EXACTLY 25% (no more and no less) of the dollar request from EPA in the form of subawards of $5000 or less (See FAQs on the Roles of the Prime, Partners, Contractors, and Subawardees). Since the National Environmental Education Act requires that exactly 25% of the EE grants budget be spent on awards of $5000 or less, EPA’s EE Grant Program is very strict about this amount being EXACT in the applicant’s proposed budget and in any prime recipient’s enacted budget.
Do the subawards have to be in the form of cash or can we award educational materials that we purchase and distribute?
Yes. The subaward must be a cash award. You may not use education materials that you have purchased as the subaward in place of a cash award.
Is there a cost sharing (match) requirement for this grant program?
Yes. There is a cost share (match) requirement for the EE Grant Program. Applicants must demonstrate how they will provide non-federal funding matching funds of at least 25% of the TOTAL cost of the project. To determine your minimum match requirement, calculate how much you will spend on the entire project from beginning to end, including both federal funds and your own funds, and divide this number by 4. The applicant may propose more than the required 25% match if they choose but should keep in mind that whatever dollar amount an applicant gives in an application as the matching funds will be the amount they are obligated to provide during the life of the grant.
The matching funds cannot be from a federal source (e.g., from another federal grant). The funds can be either in cash or in-kind services (e.g., volunteer hours), and can be from the applicant or from partner(s).
In the application do I need to state where the non-federal matching funds for my project will come from?
Yes. Applicants must demonstrate how the applicant will meet the match requirement in the application in order to be eligible for funding consideration.
Are salaries allowed as matching funds? Is there any limit to the percentage of requested grant funds that can be used for salaries? Is there a specific way that salaries need to be stated in the matching funds section?
Yes. Salaries can be used as a match and there is no set limit. It is suggested you be as specific and detailed in the Detailed Budget as possible when describing the salaries being covered by matching funds or being requested to be covered by grant funds – e.g., give the name(s) and title(s) of the person(s) whose salary is being listed, plus their normal salary and the percentage of their time being spent on the project. Be reasonable in your requests for personnel costs, as well as travel and overhead expenses, so your budget is competitive. Explain clearly in your Work Plan why and how the persons whose salaries are in the budget will be employed on the project.
Do the required matching funds have to be in cash, or can they be in-kind donations and services, e.g., a volunteer’s or teacher’s time working on the project?
Either is acceptable. In-kind contributions of services, and other items like equipment, can count toward the required 25% cost match. Please see Section IV of the solicitation notice for a complete matching funds explanation. As explained in the solicitation notice, the match must be for an allowable cost and may be provided by the applicant or a partner organization or institution. The match may be provided in cash or by in-kind contributions and other non-monetary support.
Can office equipment be used as an in-kind match?
Yes. Office equipment can be used as an in-kind match as long as the cost is a relatively small percentage of the total amount of the match and the equipment is necessary for the achievement of the project’s goals. Costs and relevance of the equipment must be explained in the Detailed Budget. Note that if the equipment is not provided at the level of costs outlined in the application, then that part of the match must be accounted for in some other way during the project period – e.g., direct funds or in-kind services.
Can the non-federal matching funds be provided by a partner?
Yes. Applicants may ask partners to assist with matching funds requirements.
If a tribal (or other type) organization becomes a partner in the EE grant application and already receives funds from another office in EPA (or other federal agency), do those funds become tribal (or considered the organization's own funds) and therefore become eligible for use as part of the entire required 25% match?
No. The funds from another EPA office (or other federal agency) are still federal funds and may not be used as any part of the required 25% match.
What is “program income” and how and when may it be used by the recipient?
Program income is defined as the money a grant recipient earns as a direct result of a grant-supported activity. For example, registration fees charged for any conference or training course supported with grant funds are considered program income. A terms and conditions document will be issued by the Project Officer after an award is made to indicate how the program income shall be used. In most cases, program income will be used to pay for specified grant costs that are eligible and allowable and that further the project’s goals.
May an applicant use program income as part of their non-federal cost share/match?
Yes. Program income can be used to finance the non-federal cost share (match) of the project.
What is an Indirect Cost Rate?
An Indirect Cost Rate is a percentage of an organization’s costs allowed for overhead and administrative expenses, determined to be fair within the boundaries of sound administrative principles.
What is an Indirect Cost Rate Agreement?
An Indirect Cost Rate Agreement is a negotiated agreement between a grant recipient and the cognizant Federal agency which identifies the fairness and basis of the indirect cost rate.
Does an applicant have to have an Indirect Cost Rate Agreement in place when they apply for funds from this grants program?
No. An applicant does not have to have an Indirect Cost Rate Agreement in place when they apply for a grant. Applicants can begin the negotiations for an Indirect Cost Rate Agreement, request an extension of an IDC rate, or request a regulatory exception to use the 10% de minimus rate, at the same time that they apply for a grant to this program. However, recipients are not allowed to seek reimbursement for indirect costs until an approved indirect cost rate, as described in Section 6.1 of EPA’s Indirect Cost Policy, is obtained.
What if I don’t have an Indirect Cost Rate Agreement?
Applicants without a current IDC rate have different options available to them depending on their specific situation. Please consult the policy, guidance, and training available in RAIN-2018-G02.
If an applicant does not have an Indirect Cost Rate Agreement with their cognizant Federal agency and does not intend to propose one prior to their grant application submission, what costs cannot be included in their proposed budget?
If there is no Indirect Cost Rate Agreement in place and the applicant does not intend to propose a rate to their cognizant agency, indirect costs may not be included in the budget. Indirect costs are defined in 2 CFR 200.56 as follows:
- §200.56 Indirect (facilities & administrative (F&A)) costs.
- Indirect (F&A) costs means those costs incurred for a common or joint purpose benefitting more than one cost objective, and not readily assignable to the cost objectives specifically benefitted, without effort disproportionate to the results achieved. To facilitate equitable distribution of indirect expenses to the cost objectives served, it may be necessary to establish a number of pools of indirect (F&A) costs. Indirect (F&A) cost pools must be distributed to benefitted cost objectives on bases that will produce an equitable result in consideration of relative benefits derived.
Our university has a large indirect cost rate. If we reduce our indirect cost rate can the amount reflected in the use of a lowered indirect cost rate be counted toward the matching requirement in this grant program?
Yes, under 2 CFR 200.306(c) recipients with approved negotiated IDC rates may use unrecovered IDCs, including IDCs attributable to cost-sharing or matching, to meet a required or voluntary cost-share with prior EPA approval. You will need to provide a written copy of the university’s current negotiated cost rate agreement with the application. Please see Section 6.5 of EPA’s Indirect Cost Policy for additional information about using unrecovered IDCs for match.
What is the limit for indirect costs under the matching funds category?
The only limit on using indirect costs as part of the 25% match is the limit set by the indirect cost rate agreement the applicant has with the federal government. Indirect costs can be used as a match only when the applicant has an indirect cost rate agreement in place with the federal government, and the applicant has agreed to waive reimbursement for the part of the indirect costs that will be used as match. Therefore, for example, an applicant who has an indirect cost rate agreement with the federal government of 50% of costs could waive their right to reimbursement on half of that amount and claim the 25% they were not reimbursed as part of their required match. The dollar amount to be used as match cannot exceed the amount limited by the agreed upon rate, however. In the example given, the applicant could not claim 60% of their costs as indirect costs and say they were waiving all of that amount to be claimed as match.
Can our organization spend the majority of our federal funds on a single item such as a vehicle or a large piece of equipment?
Please keep in mind that the purpose of this grant is to promote environmental and conservation stewardship and help develop knowledgeable and responsible students, teachers, and citizens. This grant program provides financial support for projects that design, demonstrate, and/or disseminate environmental education practices, methods, or techniques, as described in this notice, that will serve to increase environmental literacy and encourage behavior that will benefit the environment in the local community(ies) in which they are located.
With this in mind, if expenses to purchase a vehicle, large equipment, or materials to build a vehicle dominate the budget and the project period, then most likely the project runs the risk of failing to meet the very purpose and goals of this solicitation.
Are stipends (teacher, student, or other project participant) an allowable cost?
Stipends are an allowable cost and must be categorized as "Other" in your project budget.
When is it allowable for a grant recipient to us federal funds to purchase food/beverages?
Generally, when a speaker or a presentation/panel is provided or other work is being done during breakfast or lunch at a conference/workshop or field trip, it is allowable to use grant funds to pay for meals for the participants. It is also generally allowable to use grant funds to pay for light refreshments/snacks offered during breaks at conferences/workshops or field trips. The specific event at which meals and/or light refreshments/snacks will be provided must be described in the scope of work and the plan for the event, including the provision for refreshments AND must be pre-approved by the Project Officer.
Meals and light refreshments provided at a grant recipient’s staff meetings are not allowable, nor are refreshments for evening receptions. Meals and receptions where alcohol is served are not allowable even if the grant funds are not used for the alcohol. Generally, banquets (especially evening banquets) paid for with grant funds are not allowed, nor is any EPA-funded entertainment. Also not allowed are any sort of EPA-funded events that conduct any fund-raising or involve strategies to solicit contributions, endowments, gifts or bequests.
Please note that a determination of reasonableness and necessity of costs for light refreshments/snacks and meals will be made on a case by case basis and included in a Terms and Conditions document at the time of the award of a grant.
What is the difference between the Budget we must provide on the form 424A and the Detailed Budget narrative that the solicitation notice also requires us to include?
The Budget form (SF-424A) is a standard government form that must be included in every grant application or application made to a federal grant program. It asks for dollar amounts in specified categories (such as Federal Funds and Non-Federal Funds) for particular line items (such as Personnel, Travel, Supplies, etc.). A Detailed Budget can be presented in any format (i.e., no particular form is required) but must include the same dollar amounts in the same categories and line items as the 424A, in much greater detail, with an accompanying narrative about how those funds will be used. For example, for Personnel in a Detailed Budget, an applicant should identify not only the dollar amount to be spent on this line item, but also the personnel who will be paid (or will volunteer) to staff and manage the project, including names, titles and roles, and how much of their time will be spent working on the project. For Travel, identify not only the dollar amounts to be spent, but also who will be traveling, to where, and what the costs will entail (e.g., airfare, hotel rooms, meals, etc.) Every line item should be presented in this level of detail in the Detailed Budget. (See Appendix B of the solicitation notice for an Example of a Detailed Budget.) Be sure to check both the SF 424A and the Detailed Budget for mathematical errors before submitting them. Make sure all line item and total dollar amounts are the same in both budgets. And, make certain that un-allowed items, such as construction costs, are not included in either budget.
How are applications evaluated?
All applications are evaluated for eligibility and all eligible applications are then reviewed using a 100-point scale by review panels. When grants are being awarded in the EPA Regions, each respective Regional Office will establish a panel of experts to review the eligible applications for projects to be conducted in that Region. When grants are being awarded from the Headquarters Office of Environmental Education, that office will establish a panel of experts to review eligible applications. Each panel will include reviewers knowledgeable in the field of environmental education and relevant environmental and conservation fields. Each panel will be comprised of EPA staff and/or external peer reviewers approved by the EPA. Applications will be reviewed and scored based on specific criteria established for each section of the application, and then will be ranked based on the reviewers' scores, and the scores and rankings will be provided to the EPA Headquarters or Regional Selection Official(s) for final funding decisions. More information can be found in Section V of the solicitation notice.
Who makes the selection for grants?
A Selection Official in each of the EPA's Regional Offices will make the final selections for grants awarded from the solicitation when it is specified in the solicitation notice that EPA is seeking to fund regional or local grant projects. A Selection Official in the Headquarters Office of Environmental Education will make the final selections when the solicitation notice specifies that EPA seeks to fund national, multi-state, or large model grants. More information can be found in Section V of the solicitation notice.
Will my application be penalized if I don't have any past performance or experience with federal funding?
No. Applicants who do not have any relevant or available past performance or past reporting information must indicate this in the appropriate section of their application and will receive a neutral score for these sub-factors. However, if you do not provide any response about past performance or experience with federal funding, you may receive a score of 0 for these factors.
What is the length of a project period?
EPA will accept applications for one or two-year project periods or any timeframe between one and two years. The application must demonstrate clearly how the project will be completed in the time frame proposed.
If my project period is two years, instead of one, will I receive additional funding?
No. EPA total funding will be the same regardless of project period (e.g., If a two-year project is proposed for $91,000, the award amount is $91,000 for the two-year period. No additional funding will be issued for the second year.)
Is this grant intended for projects that can be fully completed through the use of the EPA grant? In other words, at the end of the grant period, will EPA expect to see a project fully completed through the use of its funds or can EPA funding be one source among many, to produce a project whose costs exceed the amount requested from EPA and may take more than 2 years to complete?
Regardless of how much a project costs or how long it takes, the portion of the project that is funded by EPA must be completed in the given time associated with the grant funds; i.e., 1 or 2 years, or a timeframe between one and two years, whatever is requested in the application.
Are there any circumstances where awardees will receive only partial funding for projects?
Yes. In appropriate circumstances, EPA reserves the right to partially fund applications by funding discrete portions or phases of a proposed project. If EPA decides to partially fund an application, it will do so in a manner that does not prejudice any applicants or affect the basis upon which the application or portion thereof, was evaluated or selected for award, and therefore maintains the integrity of the competition and selection process.
Post Award Information
Is there more emphasis on reporting quantitative outputs (number of workshops or number of people educated) than on measurable outcomes (project participants becoming environmental stewards in the way they live their lives)?
No. EPA values both quantitative outputs and measurable outcomes. Both should be included in the Logic Model in a grant application and reported in the semi-annual and final reports.
Do I need to report on outputs and outcomes to the EPA during the project period?
Yes. Outputs and short-term outcomes must be reported to EPA within the project period. Appendix D in the solicitation notice includes more detailed information on expected outputs and outcomes from environmental education grants.
What are the general reporting requirements for an EE grant?
Grantees are required to provide quarterly reports that give a brief summary of the progress, semi-annual reports that give more detailed indices of progress (including budget), and a final report that is very detailed and includes discussion of outputs, outcomes and budget. Grantees will be given Programmatic Terms and Conditions upon award of the grant; details about EPA’s expectations for the format and content of final reports will be included in those Terms and Conditions.