The Research and Innovation Grants (RIG) are a new component of USAID’s Democracy Fellows Program, added in the 2012 rebid and recognized in the program name change to DFG. Grants issued under the DFG program will integrate innovative, research-driven solutions within USAID policies and programs and strengthen relationships between USAID and academic institutions and experts working in the DRG fields.
IIE will manage three categories of grants under DFG:
- Grants designed to discover and elicit ideas, knowledge, and innovation within the academic and research worlds that can inform USAID programming and policy in broadly defined DRG areas, administered through an APS.
- Grants designed to engage academic expertise and learning to produce USAID research products, toolkits, or program models or to provide input to specific USAID policies or strategies, solicited through individual RFAs.
- Grants that establish long-term partnerships between the DRG Center and leading academic institutions to support the DRG Center’s strategy and program development systematically.
Applicants are encouraged to monitor this website for grant opportunities, to be posted soon.
Join the DFG distribution list and receive regular updates about new grant opportunities .
Why is USAID’s DRG Center doing these grants?
What should I do if I have questions on a DFG grant solicitation?
What are the roles of USAID and IIE?
What are the different types of DFG grant solicitations?
What are the different types of DFG grants?
Q. Why is USAID’s DRG Center doing these grants?
The DRG Center is a global resource for evidence-based research on what works best in promoting, protecting, and deepening democracy, and the DFG Research and Innovation Grants are part of a broader effort by the DRG Center to expand its knowledge base and better link its strategic planning to academic research and data.
Through the Research and Innovation Grants, the DRG Center seeks to support research that:
- Enhances both a deep theoretical and an applied understanding of the dynamics of democracy, human rights, and good governance.
- Generates information, findings, or recommendations that can inform or be applied to USAID DRG foreign assistance projects, approaches, frameworks, and strategic planning.
The Research and Innovation Grants are one element of a much broader effort by the DRG Center to improve evaluations, expand its knowledge base, and better link its strategic planning to research and data. The centerpiece of the broader effort is an initiative to design new DRG projects that employ impact evaluations using experimental and quasi-experimental design to determine the impact of specific assistance activities. Other elements include increased use of survey data, employing a range of more rigorous evaluation methods and designs, developing better and disaggregated democracy indicators, and undertaking more case studies. IIE will assist with some, but not all, of these elements of the DRG Center’s learning agenda.
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Q. What should I do if I have questions on a DFG grant solicitation?
The DFG Research and Innovation Grants are part of the DRG Center’s efforts to develop new partnerships with the academic community, both in the US and worldwide. Interested applicants should feel free to ask questions on anything that is confusing in the grant solicitations or application processes. Each grant solicitation will state the deadline for questions, if there is one.
Send all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. To make sure that all applicants can benefit equally from answers, IIE will publish questions (without attribution) and answers on the DFG website.
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Q. What are the roles of USAID and IIE?
The DFG Research and Innovation Grants are awarded under USAID’s DFG program; DFG is a five-year program, managed from USAID’s DRG Center and implemented by IIE. As a result, DFG grantees will receive their grants from IIE, but USAID will work closely with IIE to ensure that grant goals and deliverables meet USAID needs, and USAID input may be reflected in IIE’s technical feedback.
Q. What are the different types of DFG grant solicitations?
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The title of a DFG grant solicitation will include either the letters “APS” or “RFA”, which signify the type of grant solicitation. The differences between an APS and an RFA shape both the logistics of the grant solicitation and the design of the proposed projects (see table below).
||APS: Annual Program Statement
|| RFA: Request for Applications
- Open for a year.
- Organizations can apply throughout that year.
- Presents a range of or ceiling for how much a grant could be worth, not a specific amount.
- Applications can be reviewed for funding throughout the open period; however, all available funds could be awarded during the first review.
- Funder can award as many grants as possible, within available funding.
- Firm submission deadline (generally, 30 – 60 days after RFA is published).
- Only one submission deadline.
- Specific grant amount.
- Specific project activities.
- Funder generally awards one grant per RFA, unless multiple awards are specified.
- Gives more freedom to the applicant.
- Establishes overall goals of the grant program.
- Applicant to defines and proposes the details of the project.
- Provides a way for USAID to figure out “what is out there” and tap into applicants’ ideas and innovation.
- Gives more control to the funder.
- Specifies what the grant is expected to accomplish.
- Applicant designs a project to accomplish the detailed scope of work presented in the RFA.
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Q. What are the different types of DFG grants?
IIE will use two types of USAID grants for DFG grantees: fixed obligation grants (FOGs) and standard grants. The type grant is specified in the grant solicitation.
A FOG is the simplest way to manage the disbursement of grant funds for a project that can be broken into smaller parts that have a clear result or product that can be submitted as proof that the part has been completed. Each of these parts is called a “milestone,” and the proof that it has been completed is called a “deliverable.” Grantees are paid when they complete a milestone, submit the deliverable, and receive the funder’s approval of the deliverable. FOGs allow the grantee and IIE to focus on the quality of the technical deliverable, rather than the logistics of grant management, but are only appropriate if there is a very limited risk that grant activities or associated costs will change. FOGs are limited to $150,000 (US organizations) or $500,000 (non-US organizations).
Standard grants are cost-reimbursable, and are used when project activities are more outcome- than output-based and are more likely to change, or when the grant amount is over $150,000 (US organizations) or $500,000 (non-US organizations). DFG standard grants are paid through an advance/reconciliation process, and grantees are paid on the submission and approval of a monthly invoice of incurred costs and approval of the next month’s proposed costs.
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Counter-Trafficking in Persons Campus Challenge Grantees
Texas Christian University, the University of Southern California, and Vanderbilt University—DFG’s three C-TIP Campus Challenge grantees—are designing public opinion surveys to gauge what people know or think about human trafficking, how they have acquired that knowledge, and how that knowledge can be influenced. Human trafficking is a covert crime, and many C-TIP interventions include a public education component on the assumption that, with better information and greater awareness of risks and consequences, people who are vulnerable to being trafficked would be less likely to be victimized and victims would be better supported. The DFG C-TIP Campus Challenge grantees are using their surveys—implemented in Indonesia, Moldova, Nepal, and Ukraine—to test these assumptions and develop recommendations for how best to design, package, and deliver information to change attitudes and behaviors related to human trafficking.