The US-Russia Social Expertise Exchange (SEE) is pleased to announce the Round 15 launch of its Independent Professionals Initiative. Russian and American professionals seeking to collaborate with international partner(s) in joint pursuit of solutions to issues in one of the four following socially-oriented themes are invited to apply:
- Arctic and Environmental Conservation
- Indigenous Peoples’ Empowerment
- Disability and Inclusion
- Public Health
- Open Thematic Area (OTA)
Open Thematic Area
In addition to the four thematic areas, applicants may propose a project under OTA. Projects must meet all SEE eligibility requirements and must not address political issues or suggest political reforms. Proposals submitted under OTA should explore new topics beyond the aforementioned thematic areas. Applicants cannot apply to both OTA and one of the thematic areas identified above.
After registering on EF’s grant management system, you will need to enter an access code to view the application form. Please use the following access code to access the application form: SEEINP. If you encounter any issues with accessing the form, please contact [email protected] for assistance.
Details on specific eligibility criteria, fellowship requirements, and submission instructions are specified in the official Request for Applications (RFA), which is detailed below. The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. EST on December 1, 2021.
Request for Applications
Through this Request for Applications (RFA), EF invites project applications from professionals in the U.S. and Russia seeking to establish collaboration with international partner(s) in joint pursuit of solutions to social issues of importance to both countries.
Successful applicants will travel to their counterpart country for a period of up to 21 days. While abroad, participants will be exposed to new skills, methods, and professional networks. After travel, Independent Professionals will implement activities to convey or apply their new knowledge and expertise for the benefit of their colleagues and community. These activities must be credibly shown to provide a clear and measurable benefit to at least 250 individuals. Activities may include, but are not limited to, leading training sessions on newly-learned skills, presenting about activities conducted during travel, practically applying a skill learned during travel, or distributing a product developed in collaboration with overseas partners. The travel component is tentatively scheduled to take place between May – June 2022, with the exact dates being under discussion due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing travel restrictions as well as challenges with obtaining visas for Russian citizens at the U.S. Consulates in Russia.
Beginning in February 2022 and prior to travel, participants will begin implementing their project activities by engaging in a virtual exchange with their colleagues from the counterpart country. Successful applicants will conduct virtual knowledge-exchange sessions with professionals from their host organization and other organizations in the host country to get exposure to new methods and practices, develop their skills, and expand their professional networks. Upon completion of these sessions, independent professionals will be expected to begin their knowledge-sharing activities in their home country including, but not limited to, assessing the needs of beneficiaries and target community groups, organizing workshops and roundtables, and/or conducting outreach activities and engaging with volunteers for the project. Please note that all participants are expected to make considerable progress on their projects before they travel to their host country in May-June 2022.
EF is accepting applications for projects that have a broad bilateral impact in the following thematic areas: Arctic and Environmental Conservation, Indigenous Peoples’ Empowerment, Disability and Inclusion, Public Health, and Open Thematic Area. Projects should avoid topics related to political activism or activity, public policy reform, or the influence of public opinion.
Projects submitted under Open Thematic Area (OTA) must meet all SEE eligibility requirements and must not address political issues or suggest political reforms. Proposals submitted under OTA should explore new topics beyond the aforementioned thematic areas. Applicants cannot apply to both OTA and one of the thematic areas identified above.
EF will fund innovative ideas that leverage U.S.-Russian cooperation to implement unique solutions to pressing social problems in the above thematic areas. Projects may focus on various topics, including but not limited to increasing the capacity of indigenous people to adapt to environmental changes; increasing involvement of people with disabilities in social life, employment, and sports; and creating initiatives to address community health needs.
All applications should be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST on December 1, 2021, to be considered for funding.
Candidates must meet the following criteria to be eligible:
- Be a citizen or permanent resident of the Russian Federation or the United States.
- Have a proven academic and/or professional track-record in one or more of SEE’s thematic areas (Arctic and Environmental Conservation, Indigenous Peoples’ Empowerment, Disability and Inclusion, Public Health, or Open Thematic Area).
- Be actively affiliated with organizations or institutions that relate to one or more of SEE’s thematic areas.
- Must not have a project that directly engages in political activism, public policy reform, or the influence of public opinion.
- Demonstrate professional proficiency in both the English and Russian languages or provide a plan to overcome linguistic barriers while traveling and communicating with host organization counterparts.*
- Have not previously participated as a SEE Invited Professional, Independent Professional, Special Exchange Participant, Emerging Professional, or Advanced Practitioner Fellow.
- Must not be affiliated with federal, regional, state, and local government bodies or federal academic and research institutions (except for full-time students).
*Stipends may not be used to provide linguistic assistance. For more information, consult EF’s Description of Language Proficiency levels.
USE OF FUNDS
Applicants may request a stipend of up to $1,200 for implementation of activities connected to their proposed project. Stipends may be used to procure goods and services in the U.S. and / or Russia between February 1, 2022 and July 31, 2022. Use of stipend funds must be consistent with the applicant’s proposed budget.
In addition to the $1,200 stipend, EF will also organize and fund travel and logistics for SEE Independent Professionals, including international and domestic transportation (economy class), visas, lodging, and health insurance. EF will also provide a per diem living allowance. The SEE team is closely monitoring the latest developments with the COVID-19 pandemic, changes to international travel procedures, and ongoing challenges with obtaining visas for Russian citizens at the U.S. Consulates in Russia. In the event alternative arrangements must be made (e.g. applicants will need to obtain visas from a U.S. Consulate outside of Russia), SEE staff will work with each participant on a case-by-case basis to ensure safe and successful travel to the counterpart country. We will also work closely with selected participants to help them successfully carry out their projects in accordance with health and safety regulations, and will assist implementers in any needed adjustments to projects.
Please note that due to the ongoing adjustments to the U.S. travel policy, EF cannot guarantee that unvaccinated Russian citizens will be able to travel to the U.S. in the spring of 2022. EF continues to monitor the international travel guidance of the U.S. government and will notify its program participants of the changes that may affect their in-person exchange as official information about them becomes available.
Independent professionals may supplement EF funds with additional resources (i.e. cost-share) to implement projects. All non-EF supplemental funding must be reflected in the applicant’s proposed budget.
During the implementation of their projects, independent professionals must be affiliated with a thematically-relevant host organization that would be willing to work with fellows during both virtual and in-person exchange phases. Host organizations are expected to provide organizational support in connection with the participants’ planned project activities. These support duties may include, but are not limited to, facilitating virtual exchange sessions and arranging meetings with professionals from the host country, providing relevant reading and other materials, and arranging professional networking opportunities.
In developing their project, candidates are expected to establish their own connections with appropriate host organization(s) and conceptualize how they will be incorporated into the proposed project. Application materials must include a letter of support from each host organization that reflects their willingness to serve as a base for the duration of the candidate’s stay abroad. Candidates must also demonstrate how their involvement with this particular organization will contribute to the realization of their proposed projects and to development of new skills and knowledge. Independent professionals will be expected to continue relations with their host organization(s) upon return to their home countries.
Please note that all applicants will need to provide a letter of support from their host organization at the application stage. Candidates are strongly encouraged to start their communication with potential host organizations as soon as possible as obtaining a letter of support from the interested host might take some time. Please use our support letter template available at this link and attach it to your online application form.
Applications from candidates who were unable to establish their own connections with a host organization and did not provide a letter of support at the application stage will be considered on a case-by-case basis. SEE will make the final decision regarding the selection of such applicants based on the quality of their project proposal, the applicant’s skillset and interests, and the potential of the candidate to be matched with a host organization pre-arranged by SEE. Candidates are highly encouraged to be proactive in reaching out and trying to connect with organizations in the host country before and during the implementation of their project activities. SEE may assist with but is not responsible for connecting participants with professionals outside of their host organization and expects that such connections are made by the participants themselves.
Once applicants have been matched with their host organizations, Independent Professionals will be expected to start their collaboration with the host organization in a virtual format as the SEE team is making necessary arrangements to bring selected fellows to the U.S. or Russia.
 Independent professionals may be associated with multiple host organizations during their time in the host country, depending on approved project components and the needs of host organizations.
 Candidates are encouraged to view our webinar on establishing connections with a host organization in Russia.
In addition to proposed project activities, independent professionals will organize at least one activity that will focus on social engagement in community development projects. This activity must engage at least 50 individuals. As part of this activity (e.g. online or in-person workshop, presentation or community event etc.), independent professionals will share their expertise and success stories in engaging local communities in socially oriented initiatives. This activity can be combined with one of the applicant’s main project activities on the condition that it is clearly stated that the topic of the event is different and focuses on community service and social action.
Independent professionals will be expected to submit periodic reports that capture the practical benefits achieved as a result of the collaborative activities conducted through their project. These reports will include up to four short video blogs elaborating on the project’s objectives, activities, and outcomes, one report upon competition of virtual exchange, providing a summary and analysis of activities and learning upon competition of knowledge-exchange sessions and follow-up activities in their home country. They will also be required to submit a final report that will describe the activities they have undertaken during their visit to the counterpart country and how these activities furthered the desired objective(s) of their projects. Photos and videos demonstrating this impact should also be submitted. Detailed reporting guidelines, including required formats and word counts, will be communicated to participants upon selection.
Applicants should submit a comprehensive online application form, including a budget form, resume, and project description. All application materials must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST on December 1, 2021 (7:59 a.m. Moscow Time on December 2, 2021).
The application can be accessed using EF’s grant management system. If this is the first time that an applicant has applied to an EF funding opportunity using the online grant management system, the applicant must create an account on the grant management system by following the instructions on the right of the login page linked above. If an applicant already has an account, they may simply log in without creating a new account.
Applicants will receive notification by email upon successful submission of the application. If you encounter difficulty in completing the application process, please contact [email protected] immediately for assistance. Before proceeding with this application, candidates are strongly encouraged to read the Independent Professionals section of the SEE website and the Frequently Asked Questions for Independent Professionals.
All materials and documents submitted in conjunction with this competition will be retained in confidence by Eurasia Foundation during the review process and will not be returned to the applicant. Eurasia Foundation does not use the information presented by applicants for purposes other than review and does not provide this information to any outside persons or institutions, except in such cases where it is required by U.S. or Russian law, or by donor agreements with Eurasia Foundation.
PROJECT EVALUATION AND SELECTION
Successful applications should demonstrate the following:
- Clear connection the one or more thematic area(s)
- Clear need for project and impactful project goals
- Relevant activities for achieving project goals
- Clear approach to project monitoring, evaluation and reporting
- Reasonable timeline and budget for accomplishing project activities
- 250 (or more) people impacted by project
- High quality, deep engagement by participants and beneficiaries**
- Demonstration of collaboration across both Russia and the U.S.
- Impact in both the Russian Federation and the U.S.
- Strategy for sustaining the project’s impact beyond funding period
**Please note that Russian federal, regional, state, and local government bodies; government-funded social institutions (e.g. orphanages, nature preserves); as well as federal academic and research institutions are not eligible to serve as host organizations, project participants or beneficiaries (except for student groups, which may do so).
After registering on EF’s grant management system, you will need to enter an access code to view the application form. Please use the following access code to access the application form: SEEINP.
If you encounter any issues with accessing the form, please contact [email protected] for assistance. We strongly recommend that you start working on your application as early as possible. If you encounter technical issues with your application and contact us less than 48 hours before the final deadline, we might not be able to assist you on time.