The Fundamental Freedom Fund (FFF)

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 a mechanism that will respond to evolving opportunities and threats to the protection and advancement of the fundamental freedoms of association, assembly, expression, and religion.

DRL will award a cooperative agreement to a consortium of at least four NGOs with global reach (“Consortium”), with one lead organization serving as the primary recipient/applicant (“Primary Applicant” or “Lead Organization”).  One member of the Consortium may implement one program, two or more may work on similar activities separately, or two or more may work jointly.  DRL employs this cooperative agreement mechanism in order to provide the Consortium with a pre-approved grant vehicle that allows for rapid response/disbursement of resources when the situation on the ground requires it.

The activities to be administered under the Fundamental Freedoms Fund (FFF) must promote the fundamental freedoms of association, assembly, expression, and religion in countries that routinely and systematically infringe on those freedoms.  The grantee will be expected to efficiently and effectively implement, at times within a matter of days or weeks, a wide range of program activities, including, but not limited to:  human rights and religious freedom; the legal sector and rule of law; media; electoral and political processes; citizen engagement and participation; labor; or other issues as they present themselves. Interventions will respond to “action-forcing events,” designed to counter or prevent the closing of democratic space and/or where progress in erecting democratic institutions and establishing the rule of law is in jeopardy. The grantee will also respond to rapidly evolving political environments where timely interventions could have a lasting impact in creating a positive trajectory for the development of fundamental freedoms.

The Lead Organization and Consortium members must demonstrate the ability to a) evaluate country conditions and draw on theory, experience, and lessons learned to design innovative, effective, and workable programs within their respective areas of expertise as new opportunities and challenges unfold on the ground; b) effectively and efficiently manage programs, including the capability to place them in the field quickly with all necessary support and to start program activities rapidly; c) build and maintain relationships with other organizations, including at the local levels, and key stakeholders; and d) monitor and evaluate program implementation, results, and impact, solve problems, and make course corrections when necessary.

The Consortium will work closely with DRL to design in a timely fashion targeted programs that address a myriad of issues in various ways.  DRL may approach the Consortium with an idea for a program or the Consortium may propose a program idea to DRL, but the two will work together to design the program that one or more members of the Consortium will implement.  Individual projects implemented under the mechanism will be approved based upon guidelines and processes established by DRL once the grant DRLA-DRLAQM-16-032 is awarded.   
Projects should have the potential to have an immediate impact leading to long-term sustainable reforms, and should have potential for continued funding beyond the FFF.  DRL prefers innovative and creative approaches rather than projects that simply duplicate or add to efforts by other entities.  This does not exclude projects that clearly build off existing successful projects in a new and innovative way from consideration.  DRL also strives to ensure its projects advance the rights and uphold the dignity of the most vulnerable or at-risk populations. or under the announcement title “Fundamental Freedoms Fund” funding opportunity number “DRLA-DRLAQM-16-032. 

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