October 21, 2020 webinar on the Call for concept notes - Canadian International Development Scholarships Program 2021-2029
GAC Representative 1: Vaughn Lantz, Director of the Business Intelligence and Process Division, Partnerships for Development Innovation Branch, Global Affairs Canada (English).
SUBJECT: Global Affairs Canada webcast - Call for concept notes - Canadian International Development Scholarships Program 2021 – 2029.
Vaughn Lantz: Thank you for joining us here today for the information webinar for organizations interested in applying to the Call for concept note for the Canadian International Development Scholarships Program.
My name is Vaughn Lantz and I'm the Director of Business Intelligence and Process for the Partnerships for Development Innovation Branch of Global Affairs Canada. Today's webinar will be presented in both English and French. My colleague Nathalie O'Neil will present the French portion of the webinar.
Vaughn Lantz: Today's webinar will cover the objectives of the call, the process for submitting your concept note and the steps we will take to assess your concept note. We will also respond to questions you have submitted in advance. You are welcome to submit additional questions during and after this webinar.
We will respond to those questions on the call page of the Global Affairs Canada website in the coming days. A copy of this presentation will also be made available on the Global Affairs Canada website. Please note there are many reference documents that will assist you in developing your concept note. Links to those documents are provided in this presentation and on the call page of the Global Affairs Canada website.
Vaughn Lantz: How to submit your concept note. The first step is to ensure you read the call page. It is very important that you carefully read the information on the call page on the Global Affairs Canada website, both the call documents and the questions and answers.
Every time we conduct a call process we receive some applications that contain errors that could easily have been avoided by reading the call page. The second step is to ensure you consult the available resources. As already stated a number of resources are available online to help you to develop your application package.
We strongly encourage you to read all of these tools and guidance before beginning your application process. The third step is the portal registration and please note it may take up to ten business days to register your organization. If you encounter technical difficulties while registering or trying to submit a concept note, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a link in this presentation for that.
Please note during the last two weeks before the call closes, the service standard for replying to your inquiry is three business days, and technical support for the portal is only available from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday to Friday. Every call, we receive messages from applicants requesting extensions because they started the process of submitting their application too late.
In some cases, we have seen organizations start the process of applying less than one hour before the deadline. Do not be one of those organizations. All organizations have been given sufficient lead time to prepare and submit their concept notes. To be fair to all applicants, we will not extend the deadline.
Step four is the question and answer. If you have questions about this call, please send them to email@example.com by October 30, 2020, 12:00 noon Eastern Standard Time. We will not respond to questions received after this deadline or questions on specific organizational circumstances or specific project concept notes.
Applicants who submit questions will not receive emails with responses to their questions. Instead, answers will appear on the Q&A page for this call which will be posted online before the call closes. This is to ensure that all applicants have access to the same information at the same time. Please note that Global Affairs Canada may redraft questions from applicants in order to protect their identities as well as to ensure the questions and answers are broadly applicable to all applicants.
A link to the Q&A page is on the call page. Please note the Q&A page is updated regularly, so we encourage you to consult it frequently. Each question will have the publication date next to it so it is easy to find.
Steps five and six, completing and submitting your forms. Your application package must include all of the following documents and be submitted by the deadline.
First, the concept note application form must be completed with validated label showing on the first page. Only the application form needs to be validated. A form is validated when the validated label appears on the first page in the upper right corner.
Second, you need to submit two separate financial statements for the most recent fiscal years from each signatory. Audited statements are preferred. If these are not available, the statements must be signed by a member of the board of directors of each signatory, by the board's delegate or by the owner or owners. Note also that since financial statements usually provide comparative information from the previous year, these statements will be used to do a three-year trend analysis.
Third, you must submit an organization attestation form dated and signed by the organization's Chief Financial Officer, Financial Director or President. Separate forms for each organization that would sign the funding agreement with Global Affairs Canada are required, if applicable.
The fourth step is that you must submit a Local Partners - Information Form.
Fifth, the software – use only Adobe reader, Adobe Acrobat and Internet Explorer to work on the standardized PDFs to be submitted with your application package. If you use other software, you may not be able to validate the form or submit it, or the data you enter may not appear when submitted to the Department and the application will be considered ineligible.
The final step and this is important, do not try to register or submit at the last minute. As already noted, we will not accept any late submissions. Please read the portal instructions carefully and plan to submit your application at least three business days in advance of the call deadline to ensure that technical difficulties do not prevent you from submitting your concept note by the November 19, 2020 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time deadline.
Vaughn Lantz: We will not accept any late submissions. Please read the portal instructions carefully and plan to submit your application at least three business days in advance of the call deadline to ensure that technical difficulties do not prevent you from submitting your concept note by November 19, 2020 at 12 p.m. noon Eastern Standard Time.
The submission of a concept note is the first step of a two-stage application process. Funding will not be provided on the basis of the concept note. At the second stage we will invite a limited number of organizations to submit a full proposal. Selection and funding decisions will be made based on an assessment of a full application package only. An invitation to submit a full proposal is not a guarantee of funding.
Vaughn Lantz: The envelope size is up to $80 million over eight years. The program will provide scholars access to the widest range and variety of Canadian post-secondary institutions. More details with respect to the objectives of the call are outlined on this slide and on the call page. Global Affairs Canada plans to select one proposal either submitted by one sole Canadian organization or one group of Canadian organizations to implement the initiative in its entirety. Global Affairs Canada may also decide not to fund any of the proposals.
Vaughn Lantz: The overall objective of this call will support a scholarship program that is fully aligned with Canada's Feminist International Assistance Policy. For this reason, proposed projects must align with at least one of the action areas outlined in Canada's Feminist International Assistance Policy, which seeks to reduce poverty and vulnerability and build a more peaceful inclusive and prosperous world.
Those action areas are as follow: action area one, and this is the core action area, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Action area two: human dignity. Please note that concept notes for humanitarian assistance projects will not be considered under this call. Action area three: growth that works for everyone. Action area four: environment and climate action. Action area five: inclusive governance and action area six: peace and security. With respect to gender equality, this policy recognizes that promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls is the most effective approach to achieving its objectives.
For that reason, 95% of Canada's bilateral international development assistance initiatives target or integrate gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. In this call, priority will be given to concept notes that show strong potential to meet the requirement of fully integrating gender equality and women's and girls' empowerment.
Fully integrating means that there is at least one intermediate gender equality outcome which will achieve observable changes in behavior practice or performance that will contribute to gender equality. For further information, please consult the Feminist International Assistance Gender Equality Toolkit for Projects. This toolkit provides guidance on how to plan for, implement, monitor and report on gender equality outcomes within the feminist approach objective.
Vaughn Lantz: You may refine the call’s ultimate and intermediate outcome statements to ensure they are grounded in the reality of your project design, making them more specific in terms of the who, what and where of your project. Please refer to the Results-Based Management How to Guide to ensure that your outcome statements respect Global Affairs Canada's definition for intermediate and ultimate outcomes.
This is a comprehensive guide that can assist you in outlining your theory of change which is one of the most important parts of your concept note and an area that many applicants struggle to get right. This slide and the call page outline a number of design elements that should be included in your concept note
Vaughn Lantz: Organization eligibility -- important to note here, if your organization is submitting a concept note on behalf of a group of organizations, each organization, in other words including co-signatories, must meet the eligibility requirements and provide required documentation.
Going through the steps and the criteria, the first important thing that we'll be looking at is what we call organization eligibility and this is really important for you to have a very close look at because one of the things that we have seen in some of the recent calls is that some organizations missed either filling out some forms or filling out key elements of the form and ultimately that was not to their benefit.
So it is really important for you to invest the time in reading carefully what is on the call page because the Department establishes specific eligibility criteria for each call and you must meet each requirement. In other words, if you have applied to a call with us before, do not expect that the criteria that you are seeing for this call will be the same criteria as what you have seen before. To be eligible, you must meet each requirement and where stipulated, provide supporting documentation.
If your organization is submitting a concept note on behalf of a group of organizations that would sign the financial instrument with Global Affairs Canada, each organization and each co-signatory must meet the requirements and provide proper documentation.
For this call there are five eligibility requirements. These requirements must be met by the organization or organizations that will sign the agreement with Global Affairs Canada.
For the purpose of this call, your organization must be legally incorporated in Canada, which means established with an office and employees in Canada and can provide proof of legal status. In other words, a letter of incorporation along with a Canada Revenue Agency business number must be provided.
As a second requirement, please provide two separate financial statements for the most recent fiscal years from each signatory. Audited statements are preferred. If these are not available, statements must be signed by a member of the board of directors of each signatory, by the board's delegate or by the owner or owners. These must be provided for each organization that will sign the agreement with Global Affairs Canada.
As the third eligibility requirement, you must be registered in the Partners@International Portal. If you are applying on behalf of a group of organizations that would sign the financial instrument with Global Affairs Canada, please ensure that each organization is registered in the Partners@International Portal and has uploaded all required documents.
Registering to the portal can take up to 10 business days, so please do so as soon as possible.
As the fourth requirement, you must provide an organization attestation form signed by the organization's Chief Financial Officer or a duly authorized board member. One of these must be provided for each organization that will sign the financial instrument with Global Affairs Canada.
As the fifth and final requirement, only one application per organization can be submitted. If your organization submits more than one application under this call, either on your own or as a co-signatory to a funding agreement, we will only consider the one with the earliest submission time stamp.
Vaughn Lantz: About the required project parameters, carefully review the following parameters of this call and judge whether your project idea will fit. We will not respond to questions about the eligibility of your project idea. You must be able to answer yes to all of the following statements in order for your application to be considered for funding under this call. Otherwise it will not be assessed.
First, value: you are requesting Global Affairs Canada funding of up to $80 million. Second, duration: your proposed project will last 8 years. Third, alignment with Canada's feminist international assistance policy: your proposed project is aligned with Canada's feminist international assistance policy.
Please indicate the estimated percentage breakdown of requested Global Affairs Canada funding for each identified action area in the alignment with the feminist international assistance policy section of the concept note application form.
Fourth, geographic alignment. Your project focuses on ODA eligible countries in la Francophonie, Commonwealth countries as well as other small island developing states and selected countries. Please see the list of ODA eligible countries for this call. Approximately 90% of the funding from this call will be allocated to projects that include activities taking place in Sub-Saharan Africa.
At least 75% of the overall funding will be allocated to ODA eligible member countries of la Francophonie and the remaining 25% will target ODA eligible Commonwealth countries, other small island states and other selected countries. Please indicate the estimated percentage breakdown of requested Global Affairs Canada funding for each proposed country in the project information section of the application form.
Every call we find some application with the wrong project parameters such as the wrong duration or the wrong financial request or the inclusion of ineligible countries. These types of errors will result in your application being rejected and they are easily avoidable.
The fifth required project parameter is the language of the concept note. Your application package documents must be completed and presented in either English or French or a combination of these two languages.
Not-for-profit project is the sixth requirement. Your proposed project will not generate a profit for you or any other implementing organization in the project. Please see section 15 of the terms and conditions of the International Development Assistance Program. You are asked to verify that your project will not generate a profit for your organization or any other organizations participating in the project in the concept note form.
The sixth requirement is cost share. Your organization will provide at least 5% of the total eligible direct project costs over the life of the project in cash and or in-kind in accordance with Global Affairs Canada's policy on cost-sharing or grant and non-repayable contribution agreements.
Your organization and any other organization involved in signing the agreement with Global Affairs Canada must attest to meeting this requirement in the organization attestation form. These forms must be submitted by the organization's Chief Financial Officer, Financial Director or President and submitted as part of your application package.
So you might be asking a question at this point in time, such as can the Canadian and non-signatory partner organization, in other words Canadian, international or otherwise, contribute to the cost share requirement and if so, do these funds need to be sent to the Canadian organization in order to be included in the amount required for the cost share.
The answer to that question is yes. The cost share contribution can indeed be provided by the signatory party or other sources. So the sources of funds do not have to be the signatory partner or the Canadian organization. Foreign partners, other donors, local partners can all be sources of funding of cost-share.
However, eligible cash contributions coming from other sources must flow through the accounts of the signatory to the agreement, in other words the cost share portion from another partner does in fact have to be provided to you and come through your account.
So that is a really important clause. Basically what that allows is an audit assurance with respect to the cost share. For further details, please consult the provided link to Global Affairs Canada's policy on cost-sharing. If your proposed project does not conform to the above statements, it will not be assessed because it cannot be considered for funding under this call.
Vaughn Lantz: Your concept note must demonstrate the required experience as described to be considered under this call. The concept note must provide two examples of projects in section 2.1 of the application form. If you have previous or current programming with Global Affairs Canada, do not assume that we will take this experience into account if you have not mentioned it. To be fair to all applicants, we will only consider the experience information that you outline in your application.
Vaughn Lantz: How we assess your concept note. First the eligibility check is to verify the proposals meet all the organization eligibility requirements and project parameters. It's really a question of yes or no. It's not a question of scoring, it's simply do you meet or do you not.
Concept notes that meet these requirements will proceed to the merit assessment stage. During the merit assessment stage, concept notes will be evaluated based on the following assessment criteria. First the rationale for the initiative -- this outlines the development challenges and human rights issues that the project is planning to address.
They must be clearly described along with the expected impact on poverty reduction. In this area, we are also looking as to whether the gender equality is placed at the center of poverty reduction efforts and the project is aligned with Canada's Feminist International Assistance Policy.
We also want to look at whether the project is aligned with the priorities, including the sustainable development goals, strategies and plans of Global Affairs Canada and regional, institutional or local countries. A second area that we are assessing is gender equality.
Here, we look at whether the design response to the preliminary gender equality analysis, whether the project design is based on an assessment of significant gender equality impacts and the theory of change including risks and response strategies, addresses gender equality barriers and inequalities.
We also look at whether gender equality best practices are applied in the project design and whether the gender equality gaps, inequalities and barriers relevant to this project are identified. Finally, we look at whether the concept note demonstrates an understanding of power dynamics at the local or subnational level and how best to close the identified gender gaps and considers the intersectional dimensions of inequality and discrimination.
The next area we look at is human rights. Here we look at whether it is clear which human rights are being advanced by the project, whether there is evidence of a preliminary human rights analysis reflected in the project design and theory of change and whether the project will strengthen the capacity of actors to fulfill, promote and claim rights.
The next area for assessment is environmental sustainability. Here we assess whether appropriate environmental measures have been incorporated into the project's design and planning to mitigate negative environmental effects and promote positive environmental effects.
The next area is managing for results. This is a key area. It looks at the theory of change guiding the project design from ultimate outcome to activities including associated assumptions, risks and contributing factors whether these are clear, realistic and logical.
We also look at whether there is evidence that the applicant has incorporated Lessons Learned and best practices into the project design and whether there is a description of how the intermediaries, beneficiaries – in other words rights holders and other stakeholders such as Canadian academic institutions and local authorities and institutions - will be meaningfully engaged in the design, development and implementation of the project.
We also assess the description of strategies and efforts, including flexibility and program design for ensuring sustainability of results are practical, realistic and comprehensive. Finally, we assess any innovative elements in project design, whether they are identified and whether an explanation is provided regarding what the innovation is, how it differs from existing approaches and why the innovative element should lead to better results or effectiveness than an existing approach.
The next area for assessment is responding to risks. Here we assess whether there is a clear description of the risks that could have the greatest impact on the achievement of the expected results, taking into consideration human rights, safety and security of beneficiaries, environmental sustainability and gender equality, with special attention to the impact of COVID-19, local sensitivities and threats, including the possibility of a backlash against working on the gender equality barriers that have been identified.
We also look at whether the proposed response measures and mitigations are comprehensive, appropriate and well designed to reduce the impact and or likelihood of the identified risks. The final area we look at during merit assessment is organization ability relevant to the initiative. This includes past project examples and whether they demonstrate significant and relevant technical experience, success in delivering results and ability, for example expertise and experience, to carry out a project of the proposed size and nature.
Vaughn Lantz: Additional guidance: the information in the slide contains additional guidance related to elements that may be used to screen applications. Public engagement is one of these elements.
However, please note the following activities are not considered public engagement for the purpose of this call and are not eligible for funding: fundraising, annual general meetings, partisan political activities or lobbying, activities used to promote an organization including online and social media activities for this purpose and activities that take place outside of Canada
Vaughn Lantz: Next steps: after we assess eligible concept notes for merit, we will invite a limited number of organizations whose concept notes align best with the objectives and parameters of the call to submit a full proposal. Selection and funding decisions will be made based on an assessment of a full application package only.
An invitation to submit a full proposal is not a guarantee of funding. Invited applicants will have approximately eight weeks after they receive an invitation letter from Global Affairs Canada to submit a full proposal. We will not fund the preparation of full proposals.
The main point here is this is a comparative process with a set budget allocation. We're looking to get as many strong proposals as possible and we look forward to approving one proposal. As I said it is a comparative process and ultimately not all applications will be invited to submit a full proposal
Vaughn Lantz: Available resources: before you begin we encourage you to consult the many online resources that are available to help you develop your application package. Links to these resources are all available at the bottom of the call page. It's a long list, there's a lot of resources. Please do go through them, it will very much help you
Vaughn Lantz: Okay folks, that was a lot of information for us to convey and for you to receive but it's really important information for you with respect to preparing your concept notes. We are now going to proceed to the question-and-answer session of this webinar.
Normally we would do this live but because of all of us working at home we've asked you for information in advance in terms of your question. In the email you received upon confirmation of the webinar registration, we invited attendees to submit as many questions as possible before the webinar so that we could answer them now, and we received many questions.
Giver our new work-from-home context, we appreciate your understanding as we try this new format of answering questions. If you have questions now, you are welcome to send them as well in the chat box. We will record those and we will answer them later on the call page. Please do check the call page frequently, the Q&A portion, as we will be posting responses to the questions, not only the ones that we are talking about today but any other ones we do not get to or that we receive later.
Vaughn Lantz: Questions and answers: the first question we received related to the application process and eligibility. Should partner universities attach a letter of engagement and also register on the partners in international portal? The answer is, an engagement letter is not required. Only signatories and co-signatories are required to register to the partners at international portal.
Vaughn Lantz: Note that in the call description, it states that “the total amount of funding available under this call is valued at up to $80 million over eight years. Global Affairs Canada plans to select one proposal”. So for the question: do we understand correctly that only one proposal will be selected for this call for concept notes? The answer is we will invite a limited number of organizations whose concept notes align best with the objectives and parameters of the call to submit a full proposal. Global Affairs Canada plans to select one proposal either submitted by one sole Canadian organization or one group of Canadian organizations to implement the initiative in its entirety. However, Global Affairs Canada may also decide not to fund any of the proposals.
Vaughn Lantz: Will this call for concept notes support a scholarship program for both undergraduate and graduate students? The answer is the program will provide scholars access to the widest range and variety of Canadian post-secondary institutions. This call supports higher education, research, professional and technical training.
Vaughn Lantz: Can Global Affairs Canada confirm that a full range of short and long-term scholarship opportunities will be eligible? The answer is yes.
Vaughn Lantz: Can skills training programs not recognized by local education authorities be considered? The answer is no.
Vaughn Lantz: Do all scholarship activities offered need to take place exclusively in Canada? The answer is also no, but the program should provide scholars access to the widest range and variety of Canadian post-secondary institutions.
Vaughn Lantz: Can Global Affairs Canada confirm if and how they will play a role in the allocation of scholarship placements between countries or institutions or in the selection of individual scholars? The response is, the allocation of scholarship placements between countries or institutions will depend on the proposed design.
Global Affairs Canada will ensure that approximately 90% of the funding from this call is allocated to projects that include activities taking place in sub-Saharan Africa. At least 75% of overall funding is allocated to eligible official development assistance member countries of la Francophonie and that the remaining 25% targets ODA eligible Commonwealth countries, small island states and selected countries.
At the project implementation plan stage, Global Affairs Canada will discuss a consultative mechanism with the selected organization to assess priorities from year to year. This is a standard practice for most Global Affairs Canada funded initiatives.
Vaughn Lantz: Next question: will this program fall under the terms and conditions that apply to government of Canada funded students or trainees? The answer is no. The terms and conditions of the Global Affairs Canada scholarship programs are governed by the technical assistance regulations.
Vaughn Lantz: Next question: what role will the government to participate in countries play in the identification of priorities, the promotion of the program and the preselection of candidates from their countries?
The answer is, the role of the government's participating countries will depend on the proposed design and the capacity-building approach incorporated in the proposed design of the project.
Vaughn Lantz: Next question: is it sufficient for my organization to have a Canadian tax number? The response is no. For the purpose of this call a Canadian organization is an organization that is legally incorporated in Canada, established with an office and employees in Canada and can provide proof of legal status such as a letter of incorporation along with a Canada Revenue Agency business number.
Vaughn Lantz: What do I do if I cannot download my application? The answer is if you cannot download your application, send an email to Partnersfirstname.lastname@example.org. For more technical support please refer to the questions on using the partners international portal section of the call page
Vaughn Lantz: Do I need to hold local consultations to prepare this concept note? The answer is: your organization must include information about local partners in the local partners’ information form.
Preference may be given to concept notes that enable new or improved locally driven solutions for better results and greater impact that benefits and empowers the poorest and most vulnerable, especially women and girls. It is expected that applicants will conduct consultations with local stakeholders during the proposal stage and reflect input from stakeholders in their proposals, in other words, not at the concept stage but at the proposal stage.
Vaughn Lantz: Can you give me examples of good proposals that were approved in the past? The answer is no. We cannot respond to questions on specific organizational circumstances or provide specific project concept notes or proposals.
Vaughn Lantz: What do you want to see for risk management and where do I include this? Answer: please refer to how we assess your concept note responding to risks section of the call page as well as section 1.3 -- expected outcomes and theory of change section of the concept note form
Vaughn Lantz: The list of eligible countries is different under the required project parameter section versus the required project experience section. What is the difference between these two lists?
Response: your concept note must propose project activities in the list of ODA eligible countries specified under the required project parameters section. Meanwhile your application must demonstrate past project experience in the countries listed under the required project experience section.
Vaughn Lantz: What happens if I choose a different financial amount or time frame? Answer: to be eligible for this call your proposed project must last eight years and request Global Affairs Canada funding of up to $80 million. Otherwise, it will not be assessed because it cannot be considered for funding under this call.
Vaughn Lantz: Is my organization's cost-share part of the $80 million financial amount? The answer is no.
Vaughn Lantz: Can Global Affairs Canada waive the 5% cost-share required in cash and/or in-kind during the life of the project? The answer is no. As indicated under the required project parameters section of the call page, you and your co-signatories must provide at least 5% of the total eligible direct project costs over the life of the project in cash and/or in-kind in accordance with Global Affairs Canada's policy on cost-sharing for grant and non-repayable contribution agreements.
Vaughn Lantz: Are there situations in which you will grant an extension to the deadline for receiving applications? The answer is extensions will not be granted to individual organizations. If an issue arises that affects all applicants, we will provide a call page update to all applicants.
Vaughn Lantz: Will you accept concept notes as Word documents instead of in the template that you have provided? The answer is no. Organizations must submit their completed concept note form with validated label showing on the first page using the format indicated on the call page.
Vaughn Lantz: So the final question we will cover today -- again other questions will be provided and answered on the call page.
The final question is: under the required project experience how do you define within the last 15 years? Do my experience examples have to be related to completed projects or can they include ongoing projects? The answer to that is at the closing date of the call, the project examples must meet the requirements as indicated under the required project experience section. Any project activities that took place on or after November 19, 2005 inclusive will count towards the required project experience on this application. However, future experience does not count towards the experience criteria
Vaughn Lantz: Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes today's webinar for the scholarships proposal. We hope that you found this to be very helpful and informative. Thank you for joining us today. Please stay healthy and safe and we wish you all the best in terms of your participation in this call for concept notes.
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