The US-Russia Social Expertise Exchange (SEE) is pleased to announce the Round 14 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.
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 July 11, 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 21 days or longer. 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 October – December 2021, with the exact dates being under discussion due to unforeseen circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing challenges with obtaining visas for Russian citizens at the U.S. Consulates in Russia.
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.
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 July 11, 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 August 1, 2021 and March 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.
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.
While abroad, Independent Professionals will be affiliated with a thematically-relevant host organization that will serve as a venue for in-person professional collaboration. Host organizations will provide organizational support in connection with the participants’ planned project activities. These support duties may include, but are not limited to, facilitating activities and site visits, arranging workspace and relevant materials, and providing professional networking opportunities.
Upon review of initial applications, SEE will invite top applicants who have the potential to match host organization placements for an interview with SEE staff. Applicants that successfully pass the interview stage will be designated as semi-finalists. Semi-finalists and their project proposals will be reviewed by potential host organizations for placements based on their interests and skillset and the potential for their collaboration with the applicant. Semi-finalists will be invited for an interview with potential host organizations, after which the host organization may ask for additional information from the candidates. Following the interview, host organizations will make their final recommendations to SEE, and SEE will notify the selected applicants of their nomination as Independent Professionals.
In matching candidates with host organizations, SEE will pay close attention to making sure that the participant’s involvement with a particular host organization contributes in a meaningful way to the realization of their proposed projects and development of new skills and knowledge. Independent Professionals will be expected to continue relations with their host organizations upon return to their home countries. 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.
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.
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 one report upon return home, providing a summary and analysis of activities and learning in the host country. They will also be required to submit a final report that will describe the activities they have undertaken in their local communities since returning from abroad and how these activities furthered the desired objective(s) of their projects. Independent Professionals will also be asked to record up to four short video blogs to elaborate on the project’s objectives, activities, and outcomes. 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 July 11, 2021 (7:59 a.m. Moscow Time on July 12, 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.