Open to: Locally registered media outlets in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia (See specific eligibility criteria below)
Grant Amount for individual grants: $10,000 - $15,000
Duration: Up to 6 months. (Please note that the beginning of the project should be mid July 2020.)
Deadline for Applications: 10th June 2020, 12:00 (noon)
Objective of this Call
USAID’s BMAP goal is to make media in the Western Balkans more competitive in the local and regional marketplaces and strengthen the sustainability of the independent media sector across the region, particularly in the digital space. Maintaining and upgrading production quality, reaching out to new audiences, finding out what their information needs, and interests are, and building trust with them can be a time-consuming and expensive process. This kind of content production and interaction between journalists and the public is especially critical when the need for accurate, balanced, and timely information is additionally underlined by ‘external’ circumstances, such as COVID pandemic, or closing the space for a meaningful public debate.
USAID’s BMAP aims to stimulate the production of highly engaging, quality digital content that will help local media expand their audiences, inform them, and build trust with the public while reporting on public interest issues in innovative, interactive ways. To this end, we are seeking applications for Engaging Content Grants (ECG).
What do we mean by “engaging content”?
We do not just mean interesting stories that people want to read, watch, or listen to. Truly engaging content should:
- Involve audiences in a meaningful public discourse by providing information critical for making informed decisions;
- Target general audiences, but in a new and creative way
- Encourage audiences to devise potential solutions and get involved in addressing problems they see in their own communities;
- Create paths for communication between content producers and the public;
- Enable audiences to contribute to content production in some way, where and when possible;
- Address important social issues and engaging marginalized and/or less informed audience groups in the dialogue
- And/or promote diversification of the experiences and voices featured in media content.
What kinds of things will these grants support?
We want to see proposals for production of quality content in innovative digital packages or reporting projects that will use interactive formats to cover issues that both reflect audience interests and are important to the country’s (or region’s) civic, economic and social development. Grants will support recipients to launch or expand digital content initiatives with the potential to improve their core production, broaden their audience reach, solve a particular issue/problem detected in the local community, attract new types of audiences (marginalized and/or less informed audience groups) but also attract general audience in a new and creative way, facilitate interaction between journalists and audiences or between audience members themselves, and/or increase user loyalty.
This might include:
- Launch or expansion of an initiative, series, or long-term reporting project that will interactively engage broader or new audiences
- Launch or expansion of an initiative, series, or long-term reporting project that will engage general audiences, but in a new and creative way;
- Projects that will generate a meaningful public debate or propose a solution to a specific issue/problem relevant for the community;
- Audience research, surveys, focus groups, or other innovative ways to learn about the information needs and preferences of specific target groups and involve them in content production;
We encourage applicants to install Google Analytics (if you have not already) and to take Google’s online course to learn how to use the program.
Neither Internews nor FHI or USAID will have editorial control over the content produced through grants—that will rest exclusively with the editors at the recipient outlets.
What kinds of costs can grant cover?
All proposed budgets will undergo a detailed review process by Internews staff prior to approval.
Examples of eligible costs under this grant call:
- Time of staff members/consultants working the proposed project
- Applicable fringe benefits
- Income tax
- Health insurance
- Materials and supplies needed to complete the project
- Services needed to complete the project
- Travel associated with reporting or audience research for the project
Indirect costs (those necessary for running the organization but which are not directly tied to the activities proposed in the grant application) may be eligible for reimbursement.
Applicants may dedicate 10% of their proposed project budget to covering indirect costs. USAID’s BMAP staff will work with applicants whose proposals are selected for grants to determine exact eligible costs. Please email Balkans-ECGrants@internews.org if you have questions about incorporating this rate into your budget.
These costs are NOT eligible under this RFA:
- Capital expenditures
- Rental costs
- Tuition remission
- Scholarships and fellowships
- Stipends or subsistence allowances
- Meal allowances for contractors, trainees, consultants, experts, etc. They are only allowable for staff.
- Registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with conferences, or training projects
How will the applications be evaluated?
Applicants for Engaging Content Grants will be evaluated by the selection committee under the following criteria:
- Demonstrated commitment of applicant(s) to journalistic ethics and standards
- Relevance of the proposal to this grant call
- Clarity of vision for what the proposed project should achieve and how to carry it out
- Clear plan for assessing the information needs and interests of target audiences, either before or as a part of grant-supported content production
- Potential to actively engage a broader audience than your content currently reaches, including marginalized and/or less informed audience groups
- Potential to actively engage general audiences, but in a new and creative way
- Clear plan for effective use of multimedia and interactive elements in producing, disseminating and promoting the content
- Evaluation of applications from Key Partners will consider the baseline assessment findings on their current operational and content-production capacities and potential for sustainability beyond the grant period
How should we submit an application?
Application(s) must meet the following requirements:
- All applications must be submitted by the deadline (10th June 2020, at 12:00, noon)
- All applications must be complete and submitted within the designated ECG Application form. Any application submitted in a different form will be disqualified.
- Include a Detailed Budget using the provided ECG Budget Template. (Annex 1) Any applications submitted without using the designated budget form will be disqualified.
- All applicants must be registered in one of the partner countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia). Please send scanned certificate of registration as Annex 2.
Applications and additional documentation must be submitted through the Balkansmedia.org platform.
Technical difficulties with submission through the platform will not be considered an acceptable justification for late applications. We recommend that you submit your application well before the deadline so that you can troubleshoot any issues and/or ask questions if you are having difficulty submitting through the web platform. Applications submitted via email will not be considered except in exceptional circumstances with the written permission of Internews grants staff.
All questions regarding this grant call should be directed via email to Balkans-ECGrants@internews.org with the subject line “Inquiry on ECG Cycle 3.”
Reporting on Use of Grant Funds
Grants awarded as a result of this call will include programmatic and financial reporting requirements. Narrative and financial reports will be submitted at least twice during the grant duration (progress report and final report), in English.
The USAID’s “Balkan Media Assistance Program (BMAP)” aims to make media in the Western Balkans more competitive in the local and regional marketplaces and strengthen the sustainability of the independent media sector across the region, particularly in the digital space. USAID’s BMAP is implemented by Internews in Bosnia and Herzegovina in partnership with FHI360