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Ready to build your proposal?  Before doing so, please make sure that you have read and understood the terms and requirements of the grant competition for which you are applying. You can find our current open competitions by visiting our Grants page.

Proposals should be specific, concise, and complete. They should take into account and be arranged in the order described below. Also, keep in mind the page limit for each section of the proposal. Any additional pages that exceed the page limitations will not be reviewed by the Review Committee.

Format Requirements:

  • 12-pt Times New Roman font
  • Single-spaced with one-inch margins
  • Each page numbered consecutively
  • No more than 25 pages total

Basic Contents:

The cover page should be a single page with the title of the proposed program and the name of the applying higher education institution (HEI), as well as the partner HEIs and other organizations involved in the program clearly identified. The cover page should provide a primary contact for the applying institution, including the individual’s name, his/her signature, title/position with the department/unit, institution’s address, office telephone number, and e-mail address. State whether the primary contact is the person with authority to contract for the applicant. If not, that person should also be listed with his/her contact information and signature.

In a single page, list all parts of the proposal, including attachments, with page numbers. 

  • Technical Narrative (10 pages max)
  • Budget (3 pages max)
  • Annexes (10 pages max)

Technical Narrative

Below are the required sections for your proposal. Click on the section name for more details on what each should include.

This is a summary of how the overall project will be coordinated. It should not exceed two pages.

  1. Program goals and objectives;
  2. Key activities and anticipated results, including proposed number of students traveling northbound and/or southbound; and
  3. Managerial resources of the applicant HEI, including the name of the person(s) responsible for program implementation.

This section should describe, in detail, the proposed study abroad program and  innovations, and how your institution and your partner institution(s) will work together to coordinate and implement the program and achieve its goals and objectives.

  • Present the need for the proposed program at your institution, your partner institution and/or your respective communities, and describe how the program will help meet that need.
  • Clearly state the overall program goal(s), objectives, and activities to achieve those objectives.
  • Connect the proposed program to your institution’s internationalization efforts and initiatives.
  • Describe how the program will make a significant contribution towards achieving the overall goal of 100,000 Strong in the Americas.
  • Comment on how the program will help to achieve diversity (i.e. large/small, rural/urban, non-traditional/underserved student populations, academic disciplines, geography, etc.) in study abroad, as well as within your institution and your partner institution(s).
  • Describe how the program will create additional capability for your institution and your partner institution(s) to increase study abroad between your country and partner country/ies.
  • Explain how the program will enhance the flow of inbound and/or outbound students.
  • Clearly state the number of students that will move North and/or South through your proposed program and when.
  • Describe the student activities that will take place during the program, including the abroad portion.
  • The proposed program must be credit-bearing; thus, describe the type of credit that students will receive from their home institution.
  • Describe how you and your partner institution(s) will engage students, faculty, and/or administrators in ongoing outreach to support study abroad.
  • Include any coordination activities or support from civil society, government institutions, or the private sector.

Innovation Fund grants are intended to finance the beginning of long-term partnerships between partnering institutions; therefore, proposals must provide a Sustainability Plan to assure program longevity and the capability of generating new projects and increasing capacity for student/institutional exchange over time.

  • Demonstrate institutional & financial support and commitment from your institution and partner institution(s).
  • State what the Innovation Fund grant will allow the partnering institutions to do/achieve that they could not do without the grant.  Articulate how the grant will help your institution unlock available opportunities or resources.
  • Describe the potential impact of the proposed program on your institution and partner institution(s).
  • Describe any current and/or future efforts to integrate study abroad into your institution or your partner institution’s curricula; and how the proposed program will help to make study abroad the norm, not the exception.
  • Present steps and activities to how your institution and your partner institution(s) will continue the program and/or its innovations after the grant period ends.
  • Show any additional support and resources from the institution, partner institution(s), and/or other outside partners, including the private sector.
  • Include any future partnerships or activities you may initiate with civil society, government institutions, or private organizations as innovative strategies to program sustainability.

Institutional Capacity

  • Brief summary of your current institutional capacity for managing study abroad programs. Highlight any current programs in the Western Hemisphere.
    • Institutions with minimal experience in international education programming should demonstrate a desire to increase their capacity and outline the steps to how the proposed program will address current institutional challenges to study abroad.
    • Institutions with more robust international programs should describe how they will build on their current success and explain any barriers to increasing study abroad opportunities at their campus that the proposed program will address.
  • Name the person(s) who will be ultimately responsible for program implementation and reporting. Attach the CV, résumé, or bio of the person(s) identified as an annex.

Challenges to Study Abroad

  • Provide an assessment of the specific challenges/barriers at your institution and/or your partner institution(s) for increasing study abroad in the Americas.

Opportunities for Growth

  • Identify areas for action or innovative approaches to addressing the challenges/barriers to study abroad at your institution and/or your partner institution(s).
  • Describe the opportunities that may arise from the proposed program that will help the partnering institutions address the challenges/barriers to study abroad.

The M&E Plan should describe the target goals, specific tools for the collection, analysis, and reporting of performance data, information and feedback, and how the data will be managed or utilized under the project. Click here for a basic template of the M&E Plan.

The following provides steps on how to create a plan to help you assess your program and its impact on your institution and students. Proposals that do not include the following information have been found to be less competitive.

  • Specify the party/ies from your institution and/or your partner institution that will be responsible for data collection.
  • List the program’s goals and objectives, including student learning objectives.
  • Identify the project benchmarks/indicators of program progress and success under each objective.
  • Determine and quantify the baseline information (the starting point) that will be measured and target goal.
  • List the sources of data  (i.e. methods and tools for collection).
  • Include a timeline for program implementation and assessment.
  • Include any student participation in the reporting of the educational and cultural experiences that take place before, during, and after the program.

Note: Partners reserves the right to modify the M&E plan in consultation with the applicant at the final proposal evaluation stage.


The budget does not count toward the 10-page limit of the technical narrative, but it carries its own 3-page limit. This budget will contain the two components below. Failure to present the budget summary and narrative in the requested format may render your application ineligible.

The summary is presented in the form of a table, which outlines the cost estimates for the management and implementation of the program. Use the Budget Summary Template to help you build your budget. It should present a breakdown and the calculations of program items and activities, including but not limited to:

  • Personnel, fringe, consultants
  • Travel costs (e.g., flights, hotels, transportation, meals, etc.)
  • Faculty/student stipends/scholarships
  • Communications, marketing materials, translation, etc.
  • Use, rental, or purchase of equipment, software, facilities, etc.
  • Program monitoring/evaluation tools
  • Indirect/administrative costs. We recommend that you to keep the indirect rate charged to the grant as low as possible.

This is a detailed explanation and justification of each proposed line item from the summary table.  Refer to the Budget Narrative Sample.

  • Describe programmatic relevance of items and activities.
  • Clearly identify the basis of estimate (i.e., how the costs were determined fair and reasonable) for each activity and line item.
  • Distinguish between the activities and items that the Innovation Grant will support versus what you or your partner institution will cover as cost-share.
  • Identify the sources of funding.

One form of demonstrating commitment is by providing matching resources and support (in-kind, cash contributions etc.) from your institution, as well as your partners, which contribute to the management & implementation of the program. There is no minimum or maximum percentage required; however, proposals that can match the grant 1:1 are viewed more favorably by the Review Committee. In fact, cost-sharing by winning proposals of previous Innovation Fund competitions have averaged more than 1.5 to 1.

Note that if selected for funding, you will be obligated to comply with the budget as stipulated in your proposal. That said, the cost-share should be feasible and practical for your institution and partners.

Applicants are encouraged to:

  • Demonstrate significant cost-share (Recommended: at least 1:1 match)
  • Have low indirect costs (Recommended less than 20%)
  • Provide cost-sharing from your institution, partner institution(s), and/or outside resources like the local government, community, and/or private sector

Institutional cost-sharing can be demonstrated through the following examples.
Note: Expenses covered by students do not count as cost-share.

  • Personnel/staff time or consultants
  • Honorarium
  • Equipment rental/use
  • Course materials
  • Student scholarships/stipends provided by the institution/partners/outside resources
  • Tuition/fee waivers or discounts
  • Indirect costs
  • Travel costs: flights, lodging/homestays, meals, transportation, etc.


You may attach no more than 10 pages of supporting documents as annexes, which should at least include the following:

Proposals must include convincing letters from your institution, your partner institution(s), and other outside organizations demonstrating support of the proposed program. These letters are considered to be highly important for successful proposals. No formal agreement is required between partnering institutions, but the intent to collaborate must be demonstrated in the proposal. It is also encouraged that proposals include additional letters from civil society, government, or private organizations joining or supporting you on the proposed program.

Professional background of the person(s) ultimately responsible for overall management of the proposed program.

Documents that may help to further elaborate on your program, such as agenda/itinerary, evaluation tools, marketing materials, etc.

Evaluation Criteria

The criteria outlined below, which are based on the terms of the RFP and the format described above, are used to evaluate Innovation Fund applications.

  1. Executive Summary & Program Description 40%
  2. Sustainability Plan 15%
  3. Challenges, Capacity, and Opportunities for Growth 15%
  4. Monitoring & Evaluation Plan 10%

The Cost Proposal will be evaluated as to how effective and realistic the proposed costs are and how the budget is linked to the activities, objectives, sustainability, and outputs reflected in the Technical Narrative. A strong cost proposal will include:

  1. Clear, detailed budget summary
  2. Accompanying budget narrative with detailed descriptions
  3. Low indirect rate charged to the grant
  4. Cost-sharing from partnering HEIs and outside sources

Applicants may attach no more than 10 pages of additional supporting documents, which include the CV, résumé or bio of the person(s) ultimately responsible for overall management of the proposed program and letter(s) of support from the institutions involved.