Request for Applications: DRL Scholar Rescue Fund

Deadline Date: March 22, 2024

 Donor Name: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL)

 Grant Size: More than $1 million

The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announces an open competition for organizations interested in submitting applications for projects that strengthen democracy and civil society through the protection of free speech and diverse voices in civil society, which are threatened when scholars in closing societies face harassment, detention, torture, and other forms of persecution.

DRL will award an overarching cooperative agreement to a consortium of no fewer than three organizations and/or institutions with global reach and well-established placement networks for scholars at risk (the “Scholar Rescue Consortium”).  The Scholar Rescue Consortium will seek to ​preserve freedom of expression by protecting scholars at risk through placements and or fellowship opportunities abroad.  Potential program beneficiaries include professors, researchers, and public/independent intellectuals, as well as writers, artists, thinkers, and others who pursue scholarly work (even if not employed by an academic institution).  The strongest applications will include both non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academic institutions as consortium members, with existing infrastructure and networks (both inside and outside of the United States) to immediately place identified scholars in need.  Within the Consortium, one organization must serve as the lead organization and the primary applicant (“Primary Applicant” or “Lead Organization”).

The Consortium should be global in reach; however, priority countries will include Burma, Ethiopia, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Yemen.  Priority should also be given to scholars who are from communities facing multiple discriminations such as women, persons with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQI+ community.  All programs should aim to have impact that leads to reforms and have the potential for sustainability beyond DRL resources.  DRL’s preference is to avoid duplicating past efforts by supporting new and creative approaches.  This does not exclude from consideration projects that improve upon or expand existing successful projects in a new and complementary way.

DRL is committed to advancing equity and support for underserved and underrepresented communities.  In accordance with the Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Underserved Communities, programs should implement strategies for integration and inclusion of individuals/organizations/beneficiaries that can bring perspectives based on their religion, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex characteristics, national origin, age, genetic information, marital status, parental status, pregnancy, political affiliation, or veteran’s status.  Programs should be demand-driven and locally led to the extent possible.

Funding Information

  • Total Funding Floor: $5,500,000
    • Economic Support Funds (ESF): $4,500,000
    • Assistance to Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia (AEECA): $1,000,000
  • Total Funding Ceiling: $5,500,000
    • Economic Support Funds (ESF): $4,500,000
    • Assistance to Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia (AEECA): $1,000,000
  • Anticipated Number of Awards: 1
  • Period of Performance: 36 months
  • Anticipated Time to Award, Pending Availability of Funds: Immediately

Eligibility Criteria

  • DRL welcomes applications from U.S.-based and foreign-based non-profit organizations/nongovernmental organizations (NGO) and public international organizations; private, public, or state institutions of higher education; and for-profit organizations or businesses.  DRL’s preference is to work with non-profit entities; however, there may be some occasions when a for-profit entity is best suited.
  • Applications submitted by for-profit entities may be subject to additional review following the panel selection process.  Additionally, the Department of State prohibits profit to for-profit or commercial organizations under its assistance awards. 

For more information, visit DRL.

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