Meridian International Center Call for Institute Expressions of Interest Study of the U.S. Institutes for Scholars and Student Leaders

Issuance Date: November 19, 2018
Expression of Interest Deadline: November 27, 2018

Table of Contents

Program Summary

The FY2019 Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI) for Scholars and Student Leaders are two intensive academic programs whose purpose is to provide student leaders and educators the opportunity to deepen their understanding of U.S. society, culture, values, and institutions. Both programs will incorporate four-week academic residencies, as well as study tours showcasing the geographic, demographic, ideological, and institutional diversity within the U.S. These core components will be complemented by community service, leadership development, research opportunities, and interaction with American peers.

Meridian International Center will be responsible for all activities related to the study tour component of the program; consortium partner institutions will be solely responsible for designing and implementing the four-week academic residencies.

Both options will last five weeks, including a one-week integrated educational study tour, which will be implemented by Meridian, and will be organized for groups of 20 undergraduate students from underserved communities. Institutes will start no later than June 1, 2019 and conclude no later than August 16, 2019.

It is Meridian’s intent to apply to implement up to one of these SUSI programs. Qualified U.S.-based colleges and universities that would like to be considered as a consortium partner for Meridian’s potential proposal should carefully review the information enclosed detailing proposal requirements and submit the expression of intent form, by no later than Tuesday, November 27, 5:00pm Pacific Standard Time.

Pending Meridian’s decision to move forward with a proposal, a formal application form will be disseminated to selected proposed consortium partners.

Questions regarding the RFP or intent form may be directed to with subject line “SUSI.” Please no phone calls. The full Department of State NOFOs can be accessed here (Scholars) and here (Student Leaders).

Pending successful implementation of this program and the availability of funds in subsequent fiscal years, it is ECA’s intent to renew these cooperative agreements for two additional consecutive fiscal years before openly competing them again.

Scholars Program

The Scholars program will consist of four (4) Institutes of six weeks in duration, including a two-week integrated educational study tour, for groups of 18 foreign university-level faculty or professionals, focusing on the themes of:

  1. American Culture and Values;
  2. Journalism and Media;
  3. S. Foreign Policy; and
  4. Youth, Workforce Development, and Closing the Skills Gap.

Each Study of the U.S. Institute for Scholars should be designed as an intensive, academically rigorous seminar for an experienced group of scholars and professionals from abroad.  Institutes should be organized through an integrated series of lectures, readings, seminar discussions, regional travel, and site visits, and should also include sessions that expose participants to U.S. pedagogical philosophy and practice for teaching the respective discipline.  Each Institute should also include opportunities for limited independent research and include balance and diversity in U.S. political viewpoints.

Student Leaders Program

The Student Leaders program will consist of either a seven (7)-Institute global program for student leaders from across the globe or a four (4)-Institute program for a cohort from across Europe. Institutes will begin no sooner than June 1, 2019 and conclude no later than August 16, 2019.

The global program themes are:

  1. Civic Engagement;
  2. Entrepreneurship and Economic Development;
  3. Religious Freedom and Pluralism;
  4. Youth, Education, and Closing the Skills Gap; and
  5. Rule of Law and Public Service.

The European program themes are:

  1. Civic Engagement;
  2. Entrepreneurship and Economic Development;
  3. Journalism and Media; and
  4. Youth, Education, and Closing the Skills Gap.

The academic program in the U.S. for student leaders should include group discussions, experiential learning activities, and exercises that focus on the selected theme and include aspects of leadership, teambuilding, collective problem-solving skills, effective communication, and management skills.  The program should provide participants with an in-depth examination of one of the themes outlined above in addition to developing participants’ leadership skills.

Program Timeline

  • November 27, 2018: Submissions of interest due
  • November 30, 2018: Meridian requests full proposals from selected universities
  • December 21, 2018: University Institute proposals due
  • January 11, 2019: Meridian proposal due to ECA
  • April 2019:  Prime agreement awarded
  • May 2019: Subawards issued to Institute partners
  • June – August 2019: Institutes implemented
  • Fall 2019 – Winter 2020: Follow-on alumni activities

Proposal Requirements

Selected Institute partners will be required to provide the following, via an online submission form with additional questions, by no later than Friday, December 21, 2018.  More details regarding the submission will be provided to those selected by Friday, November 30, 2018.

  1. Letter of intent on organization’s letterhead that describes your interest in hosting the institute, unique resources your university community offers, proposed staff, and cost share commitment. We will provide you with a template for this letter.
  2. An (approximately) five-page proposal for the academic institute, including plans for the workshops; leadership development sessions; theme strengths; logistics, including housing; U.S. citizen and student involvement with the program; and community service activities. Appendices should include:
    1. Calendar of proposed activities
    2. Syllabus and bibliography
    3. Proposed course presenters (faculty), with bios
  3. Budget and budget narrative: Meridian will provide budget and budget narrative guidance, but Institutes may use their own templates.
  4. Resumes of key staff: Each Institute must identify one Academic Director and one Administrative Director, as well as any additional support staff. Additional key staff participating in the program (who are known at this time) should also be included.

Summary of Roles and Responsibilities

Meridian will be responsible for the following aspects of the program:

  • Logistics: All international and domestic flights and logistics; J-1 visas; accident and health insurance; issuing M&IE and ground transportation stipend to participants;
  • Study Tour logistics, programming, and budget (in conjunction with selected academic institutions) around each study tour;
  • Monitoring and evaluation of the program, including program participants, partner organizations, and resources;
  • Follow-on/alumni activities, including creation and maintenance of an alumni database of success and impact stories (in conjunction with each institute partner);
  • Quarterly narrative and financial reporting to ECA; and
  • Overall grant compliance and consortium management.

Selected academic institutions’ roles and responsibilities will include, but are not limited to:

  • Develop 28-day intensive academic residency program focused on one of the designated themes, providing particular attention to the U.S. experience and its history, to include:
    • Experiential learning opportunities, including guest speakers, site visits, volunteer and community service activities, and cultural events to reinforce the themes;
    • Opportunities for participants to engage with American students:
      • Allowing American students to take part in the residency program (costs associated with American students cannot be covered by the grant)
      • Hosting events to encourage networking with American students
      • Providing lodging with American students, etc.
    • Hosting welcome and departure events with campus leadership and others.
  • Submit in a timely fashion course syllabi and program calendars;
  • Coordinate, in collaboration with Meridian staff, all necessary on-the-ground logistics, including any necessary lodging, ground transportation needs, group meals, meeting space, etc.;
  • Arrange and/or suggest opportunities for cultural exchange, volunteer activities, speaking engagements, civic participation, and networking opportunities;
  • Develop opportunities for sharing and reflection on visitors' experiences;
  • Garner local media coverage as possible and promote the project through social media, ensuring proper credit is given to the U.S. Department of State and Meridian International Center;
  • Maintain financial records; and
  • Maintain regular communication with SUSI program staff.

Subaward Renewal

Participation as an Institute partner may be renewed annually, based on prior performance and the availability of funding, and at the U.S. Department of State and Meridian’s sole discretion, for up to two years. Meridian reserves the right to request updated budget or program documents, negotiate changes to programming or scope of work, and decide not to renew for future years.