Children's Health Protection
Questions and Answers Regarding the RFP: Building Capacity to Address Environmental Health Issues During Pregnancy
Last Updated on 4/18/07
1. Are local government entities i.e. city health departments eligible to apply for the Building Capacity to Address Environmental Health Issues During Pregnancy grant opportunity?
Yes. Assistance under this funding announcement is available to U.S. state or state agencies, city or township governments, county governments, and the District of Columbia. Please refer to the full announcement for more detailed information.
2. Can EPA-AO-OCHP-09-01 proposals build capacity to address environmental health issues during the prenatal period outside the United States, in the developing world?
No. According to Section III "Who May Apply," assistance under this funding announcement is available to States or state agencies, territories, city or township governments, county governments, the District of Columbia, American Indian Tribes (federally recognized), and possessions of the United States. It is also available to public and private universities and colleges, hospitals, laboratories, other public or private nonprofit institutions, and 501(c)(3) organizations.
Nonprofit organizations described in Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying activities as defined in Section 3 of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 are not eligible to apply. For profit organizations are generally not eligible for funding. This funding announcement is for the development of United States programs.
3. Do the 5-6 pages of forms 424 and 424A count toward the 12 page limit?
No. The 12-page limit applies to the proposal narrative (including the cover page).
4. Is there a maximum amount an applicant may request?
An applicant can request from $200,000 to $300,000. However, we are hoping to award multiple applicants to promote government cost-effectiveness. For more information on the amount of funding available, please refer to section II A of the funding announcement.
5. Is this the first year this program is being offered?
Yes. This is the first grant funding opportunity we have offered related to building capacity to address environmental health issues during pregnancy.
6. Would an applicant who provides matching funds receive a competitive advantage?
No. All applicants will be evaluated based on how well their proposals meet the full criteria in the funding announcement.
7. The RFA mentions that you intend to award up to 3 grants for a total of $200,000-$300,000. I interpret this to mean that each of the 3 grants would only be a total of about $100,000. Is this correct? Or could each grant be $200,000-$300,000?
No. If we were to award 3 grants, each grant would be $100,000. The total funding amount for this grant funding opportunity is $200,000-$300,000 regardless of the amount of grants awarded.
8. Does the $200,000-$300,000 cap include indirect as well as direct costs?
9. What is involved in the completion of the final application for the successful applicants, in addition to a detailed workplan?
Successful applicants will need to complete a set of government application forms before receiving a grant. The Federal government requires all grantees to certify and assure that they will comply with all applicable Federal laws, regulations, and requirements.
10. Are letters of support or documentation of IRB human subjects approval needed for the grant application? If included, would they count towards the 12-page limit for the project narrative?
Yes, letters of support or documentation of IRB human subjects approval are needed for the grant application. If the applicant believes that an IRB approval will be required, that will be their responsibility. A statement addressing the IRB should be included in the full proposal. Further documentation is not required with the full proposal but, if the project is selected for funding, it will likely be required prior to award. A grant recipient must agree to meet all EPA requirements for studies using human subjects prior to implementing any work with these subjects. These requirements are given in 40 C.F.R. 26, referred to as the “Common Rule.” No work involving human subjects, including recruiting, may be initiated before the EPA has received a copy of the applicant’s Institutional Review Board’s (IRB) approval of the project and the EPA has also provided approval. Where human subjects are involved in the research, the recipient must provide evidence of subsequent IRB reviews, including amendments or minor changes of protocol, as part of annual reports. The statement addressing the IRB that should be included in the full proposal will count towards the 12-page limit for the project narrative.
11. On p. 11 it states "Projects should address at least two of the topic areas mentioned in Section 1A." Should this be interepreted to mean that proposed projects should cover mercury and lead, for example, or air pollutants and drinking water contaminants, as opposed to only mercury or only drinking water?
Yes. Projects should address at least TWO of the topic areas mentioned in Section 1A of the grant announcement.
12. Can these demonstration projects target preconception care (as opposed to currently pregnant women)? Most interventions to prevent structural birth defects must take place before pregnancy, as these defects occur before most women know that they are pregnant.
Yes. These demonstration projects can target preconception care.
13. In reviewing the project narrative requirements, with particular reference to environmental results past performance and programmatic capability, does this mean that if an applicant has no prior experience as an EPA grantee that might substantially decrease one's chances of writing a competitive application?
No. EPA grantee experience is not a requirement. Applicants will need to justify why their experience (whatever that happens to be) would make them qualified for this opportunity. Although an organization may have had no EPA grantee experience, they could still be considered.
Proposals must still meet all of the requirements in the RFP, including threshold criteria requirements and evaluation criteria requirements.
14. On page 2, the first outcome states "Quantify the number of health care providers who understand as a result of this project how the environment affects health of the fetus." We plan to quantify the knowledge gained by the pregnant mothers with a pre- and post- test. We would like to know if that is also required for the health care provider or will a count of the number of health care providers educated suffice?
Without having information about what you specifically plan to accomplish, I would say that unless your project can demonstrate that the knowledge or behavior change in pregnant women is a direct result of the work you have done with the health care providers, you will probably want to quantify that knowledge or behavior change in the same way.
15. Does the EPA have any policies regarding the use of focus groups?
No, there aren't any general policies on using focus groups to carry out a grant.
16. Does the EPA have any restrictions on providing small financial incentives (for example, gift cards or other) to citizens who participate in focus groups?
Incentives are an allowable grant cost as long as the costs are reasonable and with prior approval of the awarding agency. For additional information, refer to OMB Circular A-122 - Cost Principles for Non Profits under the "participant support cost" provision. To view OMB Circular A-122, link to http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars/a122/a122.html.
Participant support costs. Participant support costs are direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with meetings, conferences, symposia, or training projects. These costs are allowable with the prior approval of the awarding agency.
17. What is the criteria for determining if a project is funded for 1 or 2 years? Does the EPA make this determination, or can the applicant choose to apply for 1 or 2 year funding?
All project periods will be for two years to allow for adequate implementation and evaluation of the demonstration project.
18. Is the $300,000 available for each project year?
No. The amount funded under this announcement will be for the 2-year project period. However, according to Section II A of the funding announcement, if additional funding becomes available after the original selections are made, EPA could make additional awards.
19. On page 8 of the RFP, can you define "Federally funded assistance agreements?" Is this all other federal grants and contracts?
Federally funded assistance agreements are grants and cooperative agreements.
20. On Page 4, does the EPA have a preferred format for demonstrating goals, objectives and outcomes. (i.e.: table format, narrative, or a combination.)?
No, EPA does not have a preferred format for demonstrating goals, objectives, and outcomes.
21. What is the Maximum funding that can be requested?
Please see question #4 and question #7 above.
22. Is the cover page a separate sheet or can it be apart of the cover letter?
The required cover page is no more than 2 pages and could include a cover letter. The cover page should include all of the information detailed in Section IV B III Project Description Narrative.
23. What is included in the 12 page proposal, i.e., indirect cost information, lobbyist information, SF 424, etc?
The 12-page proposal must include the project description narrative, project narrative and the application review information/evaluation criteria (See Section IV B III, including environmental results past performance and programmatic capability, and Section V 1-9).
24. Since the EPA recommends not relying on self reports, what other measures does the EPA endorse or consider best practices, which are feasible under this budget?
Applicants could use measures such as self-reporting and/or more innovative observable techniques. Examples of more observable techniques could include, but not be limited to, home assessments, voluntary audits, or standardized patient/community case studies or simulations.
25. Do you want a separate budget detail provided with the grant?
Yes. Applicants must complete an SF-424A Budget Information for Non-Construction Programs as part of the proposal submission and a separate budget detail as part of Section V Application Review Information/Evaluation Criteria #9. More information about how to prepare a detailed budget can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ogd/recipient/tips.htm (scroll down to number 8 - budget detail).
26. If so is the budget detail to be a part of the 12-page proposal?
Yes. The budget detail is part of the 12-page proposal.
27. Do we answer the questions as set forth in Section IV.
Proposal and Submission Information, B. Proposal Materials and 2) Project
Narrative which reads as follows:
(a) Clearly defined goals of the project
(b) Scope of the project; involvement by pregnant women and health care providers
(c) Collaboration/partnerships and leveraged resources
(d) Quantifiable outputs (include a plan to track and measure environmental results)
(e) Experience in achieving expected results
(f) Programmatic capability and past performance
or should the proposal be in the order of Section V. Application Review Information/Evaluation Criteria, which is in the following order:
2. Project Activities; Methods; Materials; Timeline
3. Target Audience
4. Clearly Defined/Measurable Outcomes
5. Project Sustainability
6. Project Replicability
7. Monitoring and Evaluating
8. Organization/Programmatic Capability
9. Budget/Leveraged Resources
Proposals must address all of the elements contained in Section IV B Proposal Materials as well as address the evaluation criteria outlined in Section V. To some extent, much of the information in Section IV B (2) Project Narrative must be included in detail, where appropriate, in the Section V evaluation criteria responses.
28. In page 4, outcomes section, announcement states that, "They [outcomes] may not necessarily be achievable within the assistance agreement funding period." Could you please clarify?
In general, outcomes may be identified or grouped as short-term, intermediate, or long-term. Depending upon the applicant's work plan, some outcomes may be longer term and may span beyond the project period of the assistance agreement. The shorter term outcomes are more likely to be achievable during the project period. More information can be obtained by visiting http://www.epa.gov/ogd/grants/assistance.htm.
29. Will the EPA consider projects that propose alternatives (either instead of or in addition) to medical professionals as vehicles for educating and motivating pregnant women to take action to protect their and their baby’s health, or is funding to be used primarily for medical professional education?
Projects should be targeted toward pregnant women and the health care provider/professionals who care for them. For purposes of this grant announcement, health care providers/professionals are defined as any person, organization, government, or entity who provides medical or health services, bills for these services, or is paid for health care. Examples include hospitals, clinics, free clinics, community health centers, private practitioners, health departments, health non-governmental organizations, medical universities, etc.
30. What is the required spacing, for example single, double, etc?
Project proposals can be single-spaced.
31. What is the required font and size Arial, old english, 10 pt, 12 pt font, etc.?
Smaller font sizes are difficult to read. Font size should be no smaller than 10 pt. There is no typeface preference.
32. What are the required page margins, are headers and footers required, location of page numbers?
There is no project proposal requirement for margins, headers, footers, or page numbers. Projects must address all of the project elements in the grant announcement.
33. Top of pg. 6 "(1) A project must consist of activities authorized under one or more more of the following EPA authorities..." Can you please explain this statement? Is it simply referring to the types of projects that are appropriate and outlined throughout the RFP? Or does this refer to specific groups that can apply, etc.?
This statement refers to an applicant's activities that are outlined in their project proposal and are authorized under the EPA authorities described in Section III C (1).
34. With a relatively large amount of dollars for lead abatement and prevention already coming into the Chicago area, is the EPA looking to award this funding to regions that have, historically, received less funding?
No. All applicants will be evaluated based on how well their proposals meet the full criteria in the funding announcement.
35. In regards to printed public education material, is the EPA looking for grantees who will exclusively and or primarily utilize existing informational brochures, pamphlets, etc., for distribution, as opposed to creating new educational material?
No. EPA is looking for proposals that meet the full criteria in the funding announcement. For more information on examples of potential demonstration projects that may be proposed, please see Section I A Project Summary. Also, Section III C (1) outlines relevant information about project activities.
36. Should potential funders budget a project and outline scopes for $100,000, up to $300,000 or an amount in between the minimum and maximum award? Which amount would be considered most responsive by the EPA? What will happen if a grantee proposes a project for say $200,000, but the EPA awards 3 grantees at $100,000 each?
Potential applicants should determine what their project scope is and budget accordingly. There is no specific proposal amount that would elicit a specific response by EPA. As per Section II.A. Funds available for these projects are expected to total approximately $200,000-$300,000. EPA intends to award approximately three awards. The EPA reserves the right to reject all applications and make no awards, or make fewer awards than anticipated under this RFP.
37. Can we attach letters of support over and above the 12-page limit?
The 12-page limit applies to the proposal narrative (including the cover page) and excluding the Form 424 and 424A. Excess pages and/or attachments above the 12-page limit will not be reviewed or considered. If excess pages are submitted that are above the 12-page limit, they will be returned to the applicant. Letters of support could be included within the 12-page limit. However, all project proposals must address the proposal requirements outlined in Section IV of the announcement.