NOFO: Tunisia: Design and Implementation of the English Access Microscholarship Program, 2018-2020

Notice of Funding Opportunity


Funding Opportunity Title:  Tunisia: Design and Implementation of the English Access Microscholarship Program, 2018-2020
Deadline for Applications:   October 24, 2018 at 11:59 pm local time in Tunisia (10:59 pm UTC)
Total Amount Available:       Up to $ 360,000


Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy
Les Berges du Lac 1053 Tunis


In order to build stronger cultural links between the U.S. and host countries around the globe, the U.S. Department of State created the English Access Microscholarship Program (Access) in 2004.  Access provides youth from economically disadvantaged communities with English language and other global citizenship skills that improve educational and employment prospects, build stronger self-esteem, and provide a deeper multi-cultural understanding.  The program serves as a viable educational model for communities with leadership, creative and critical thinking, information technology, and civic outreach components.  Participants, all ages 13-20, are expected to play active roles in their country’s socio-economic development and have greater opportunities to engage in a dialogue to resolve local and global challenges.  Since its inception in 2004, approximately 110,000 students in more than 80 countries have participated in the Access Program.  In Tunisia there are almost 2,000 Access alumni, many of who are studying at, or have graduated from, top-tier universities throughout the country.

Project description:

The goal of the Access Program is to equip bright, talented, economically deserving high school students who possess a minimal knowledge of English with effective communication and critical thinking skills and a stronger Tunisian-U.S. cross-cultural understanding.  Additionally, Access seeks to prepare students for real-world interaction with native and non-native speakers of American English through a variety of experiential learning activities that give students greater appreciation for U.S. culture and democratic values and enhance global citizenship skills such as critical and creative thinking, leadership, information technology, civic outreach, and media literacy.  Overall, the Access Program aims to foster individuals with stronger self-esteem and a keen sense of public service in an increasingly globalized world.

The English language component should break from traditional models to deliver a more meaningful, interactive language-learning experience centered on the learner.  Project-based and task-based approaches should be employed in order to help the learner use English to understand, discuss, and resolve authentic local and global challenges.  Enhancement and off-site immersion activities should help extend the language-learning experience beyond the classroom walls.

Access classrooms should serve as strong educational models for a community.  Programs should, where possible, share new and relevant practices with English teachers in other schools, especially those from which the Access students are chosen.  Other members of the community, including interested administrators, content teachers, and future educators studying at nearby universities, can also be included in outreach efforts.  The participants’ parents should also be made aware of what and how the students are learning, and appraised of what can be done at home to encourage further learning.  Civic outreach activities should further cement the connection between the Access program and community.

The core components of the Access Program are:

After-School Instruction

The Access Program must deliver a minimum of 360 hours of face-to-face instruction, reasonably distributed over the program period.  This in-class instruction should occur at least weekly, and can occur before school, after school, or on weekends, depending on student schedules.  Successful programs include classes meeting at least twice per week, and as often as four times per week, typically lasting from 1.5 to 3 hours.  Programs are expected to begin instruction in January/February 2019, and finish in summer/fall 2020.  It is the responsibility of the Provider to consider the schedule of the students, especially during the initial recruitment and selection phase, to ensure that Access classes do not interfere with students’ regular school schedule.  The most effective Access programs in Tunisia target students in years 7 and 8 of middle school (“collège”) and years 1 and 2 of high school (“lycée”), who are not yet overly burdened with high school and university entrance exam preparation.

Access Programs, whenever possible, should include computer instruction to complement English language instruction and enhancement activities.

Enhancement Activities

Enhancement activities aimed at fostering Tunisian-U.S. cross-cultural understanding, as well as at developing other key global citizenship skills, are required throughout the program.  These activities should be seen as an opportunity for educators and students to be creative and to extend the learning experience beyond the classroom walls.  English must be a component in all enhancement activities, whether as part of the activity itself or in a follow up classroom activity.  Examples of enhancement activities include trips to museums, workplaces, or American establishments such as the U.S. Embassy; civic outreach activities such as volunteering at a nearby orphanage or home for the elderly, tutoring primary school students in English, or organizing the cleaning of a nearby park or forest.  In-school activity possibilities include filming role-plays, hosting a visiting English Language Fellow or Specialist, creating a web page in the computer lab, creating a program newspaper, celebrating a key U.S. holiday such as Martin Luther King Day, or running a Model United Nations activity.  If a Provider is using a centralized approach, the central office could incentivize creativity by allowing Access sites to draft proposals for more elaborate enhancement activities.

The incorporation of guest speakers linked to the curriculum is encouraged.  Examples of appropriate speakers include U.S. Fellows or Specialists that are visiting or living in or near the Access site, Access alumni, U.S. exchange program alumni, key civic leaders, U.S. Embassy visitors, and local businesspeople and community leaders.  Sites should approach the selection of such speakers creatively and carefully.  .  At least one enhancement activity per month is recommended; the hours used for such activities will be counted as part of the total number of hours of instruction.  Providers are encouraged to submit monthly highlights (see “Functional Requirements” below); the most successful enhancement activities are often the best highlights.

Intensive Sessions

Intensive Sessions are important opportunities to practice English language skills, build teams, gain confidence, and learn in a threat-free environment. They also are the place where the strongest memories of the Access Program are made and friendships are cultivated.  Enjoy this opportunity to take the classrooms and learning outside of the confines of the schoolroom for experiential learning.  The Provider must undertake efforts to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all participants in the Access Program and address any issues immediately.

Providers are encouraged to include Intensive Sessions in addition to the mandatory After School Instruction.  These sessions are often one to four-week long summer programs but may also occur over consecutive weekends or between semesters.  They should include more instruction hours per week than the After School Instruction the students receive throughout the program.  Intensive Sessions can supplement, initiate, or conclude a student’s English language programming.  The aim of these sessions is to provide students with time to fully experience an English-medium environment outside of the classroom for a sustained period of time.  A typical day could consist of a variety of team-building, challenge-solving, and creative activities that allow the students to gain confidence in English and to consolidate the global citizenship skills that they learn during the program.  As with the time used for enhancement activities, these sessions are counted toward the total number of hours of instruction.

Staffing off-site immersion sessions requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, and the Provider is encouraged to find partners to implement these sessions.  Several entities in Tunisia and the United States already have extensive experience with “summer camps” and other educational off-site programs and could be considered as potential sub-grantees.  Another approach is to hire or contract out an external expert to develop the program in conjunction with the Provider’s staff.  It is also possible to recruit the support of an English Language Fellow or Specialist to help, as well as alumni of other U.S. Embassy programs, including the Access program itself.  Where possible, including students at local university English Language Teaching departments can involve young, talented individuals who are also looking for an opportunity to extend their understanding of language instruction beyond the classroom walls.

In-Country Educational Service Provider: Roles and Responsibilities

Proposal Eligibility Requirements:

Proposals may be submitted by Tunisian or U.S. based organizations.

Number of providers:

The U.S. Embassy reserves the right to split the project between two or more providers.

Program Implementation Location:

The Embassy prefers that the Provider oversee multiple implementation locations.  The proposal should cover the sites where the Provider is confident it can deliver a safe space, with a qualified administrative and teaching staff, over the duration of the program.  Each site could have one to four classes of up to 15 students per class.  Clean and safe premises for high school aged students is a non-negotiable requirement.

The Provider should consider the Embassy’s goal of extending the Access program to as diverse an audience as possible.  While any economically marginalized community in Tunisia could be a possible Access audience, priority will be given to programs that attract communities in the governorates falling within the bottom ranks of achievement on nationwide English language tests.  These locations include: Beja, El Kef, Gabes, Gafsa, Jendouba, Kabili, Kairouan, Manouba, Mehdia, Silliana, Tataouine, Tozeur, Zaghouan.

Program Calendar:

The start date of the program will depend largely on the length of the negotiation, contract finalization, and student selection phases.  The program could begin as early as late fall 2018 or as late as spring 2019.  The program is to last no longer than 24 months, but could be as short as 15 months, and must end by December 2020.  The participating students should be ideally in years 7 and 8 of middle school (“collège”) and/or years 1 and 2 of high school (“lycée”), aged primarily 13-18 years, so as to avoid timing conflicts related to 9th year and baccalaureate exam preparation.  Providers must prepare themselves to be as flexible as possible with regard to start dates due to delays that may occur before an agreement is signed and during student recruitment.

Technical and infrastructure requirements:

The provider must specify the location(s) of the Access program and space that will be used for the classes and activities. The provider must either provide verification that the space belongs to the grantee or a written agreement with the holder of the space. The space must have seating for at least 15 students; it must have a blackboard/whiteboard, power outlet, heating (for the winter months), and sanitary requisites. The space should also have a computer class with internet capability (or the grantee should consider providing for this separately).  Providers are also encouraged to share any other unique learning spaces on the premises that are accessible to the program and that add to the overall experience (theater, garden, sports facility, etc.). 

Functional requirements:

  • The provider is responsible for setting criteria for and identifying “economically disadvantaged youth” to be enrolled in the program.
  • The provider is responsible for creating a highly effective and innovative method for identifying and, if necessary, recruiting highly competent Access teachers.
  • The provider is required to produce quarterly reports and a substantial final performance report. The provider should monitor students’ attendance and performance.
  • The provider should submit regular highlights (recommended monthly) of any notable or particularly successful program activities.
  • The provider will be expected to communicate progress frequently to their points of contact at U.S. Embassy Tunis, including submitting program highlights, photos, and notification of any challenges.
  • Maintain records on graduates that will be added to the U.S. Embassy’s Alumni database in order to include in follow-on programming.

Assumptions and agreements:

The Provider should craft a proposal that can serve a group of as few as 40 students and up to 240 students, depending on the Provider’s capability, infrastructure, and geographic spread.  The budget per student must be no higher than $1,500.  The Embassy recommends that the interested Provider find creative ways of extending the quality and quantity of the students’ learning experience for this amount as opposed to compete based on a lower cost per student.  The total of the proposal should not exceed $360,000.  All possible costs for parents – including tuition (overhead, teachers’ salaries, and administration), materials, enhancement activities, off-site immersion sessions and, where relevant, and transportation for the students – should be covered.

Instructors for this program should have a minimum of three years and maximum of 15 years teaching full-time in any institution, though preferably at a K-12 level.  The instructors should be comfortable and fluent in English, with at least a C1 (CEFR) or equivalent level, and have some cross-cultural experience, preferably with U.S. culture (familiarity with the culture is stressed over actually having visited the United States).  The instructors should have progressive views about methodology, employing learning-centered approaches that focus on tasks and projects that lead to interactive classes.  The instructors should be adept at integrating modern technology into the classroom, and at creating a linguistic risk-taking atmosphere that allows students to learn in a comfortable and encouraging environment.

Submission information:

The proposals should be submitted to the Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy Tunis electronically to  The deadline for submission is midnight, October 24, 2018.

Basis for award of the grant:

The grantee should be an established non-profit institution or a non-governmental organization (NGO) with at least 3 years of experience in administering educational programs and/or teaching English, preferably to the target age group. The grantee must have access to an established core of English instructors willing to commit their time to this project. The grantee must identify the location(s) and venue(s) that will be used for this program (verified with a document/preliminary agreement) and will be responsible for recruiting students and, in consultation with the English Language Teaching Team at the U.S. Embassy, developing the curriculum. Organizations with previous experience and a capacity of working with educational institutions on a national level will be given priority.

Format of the proposal:

To be considered for this opportunity, applicants must use the following template, downloadable here: FY-17 Access Proposal Template.  To be eligible, applicants must fully complete all nine tabs of the Proposal Template.  No substitutions or other versions will be accepted.  Applicants are encouraged to provide detailed descriptions of: 1) the grantee organization; 2) teacher qualifications and plans for teacher professional development; 3) proposed curriculum (including afterschool classes, enhancement activities, and off-site immersion sessions; 4) public outreach, student recruitment plan, and selection process; and 5) detailed budget including all program costs indicated in the proper budget category.

Additional information:

For additional information or clarification, please contact the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section by writing to the English Language Teaching Team at


Issuance of the NOFO does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the U.S. government. The PAS reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the program and the availability of funds. Awards made will be subject to periodic reporting and evaluation requirements.