2021 Media Professionalization Assistance Program



Notice of Funding Opportunity


Funding Opportunity Title:             2021 Media Professionalization Assistance Program

Deadline for Applications:               May 20, 2021, at 17:00 local time

CFDA Number:                                19.900

Award Floor:                                     $30,000

Award Ceiling:                                  $70,000

Total Program Amount:                   $300,000

Anticipated Number of Awards:     5-10 (depending on the amount of each award)

Priority Region:                                Montenegro




The United States Embassy in Montenegro, acting through the Public Affairs Section, is pleased to announce an open competition for assistance awards, subject to the availability of funds, through this Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Media Professionalization Assistance Program.

The Embassy plans to support specific projects and initiatives that facilitate the development of media freedom and journalistic professional standards in Montenegro through grant awards ranging from $30,000 – $70,000.  Grants will be awarded to media or civil society/non-governmental organizations registered in Montenegro that adhere to high professional standards in their reporting and/or activities and have a record of trustworthiness and success.  Proposals will be evaluated according to the ability of the applying organization to carry out a project with clearly formulated goals that benefits the intended beneficiaries and has the greatest positive impact.

Project proposals should address the following priority areas:

  1. Support for the practice of high-quality, professional journalism through projects designed to support independent and fact-based journalism, as well as through initiatives involving practicing journalists and students aspiring to a career in media.
  2. Support for media literacy and critical thinking through projects designed to help citizens of all ages recognize, analyze, and ultimately reject disinformation.
  3. Support for investigative journalism through projects that support Montenegro’s continued Euro-Atlantic integration. Areas of focus include (but are not limited to) the following topics:
    1. The rule of law (e.g., corruption, organized crime, etc.)
    2. The strengthening of democratic institutions
    3. Human and minority rights (e.g. ethnic minorities, LGBTQI, etc.)
    4. Gender equality
    5. Sustainable development

Applicants should clearly define project goals that advance one or more of the priority areas, as well as define tangible outcomes that can be measured after the project’s completion. 

All application materials must be submitted by email to PodgoricaGrants@state.gov by 17:00 local time on Monday, May 20, 2021.  Please send all supporting documents via email attachments or in a zipped folder (RAR files/zipped folders won’t be accepted).  Do not send application materials via WeTransfer links or Dropbox.

Upon submission, if you haven’t received an automatic reply that your application has been received, please request a confirmation of the receipt of your application in a follow-up email.

Please email any questions about this Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to PodgoricaGrants@state.gov.

Issuance of this NOFO does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the U.S. government, nor does it commit the U.S. government to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of proposals. Further, the U.S. government reserves the right to reject any or all proposals received.



Length of performance period: 12 months

Anticipated program start date: October 2021

Funding Instrument Type:  Grant

Please note that the precise timeframe in which grant money will be disbursed cannot be guaranteed.  Grantees should design projects that can be implemented if grant is awarded and money disbursed after October 2021.



1. Eligible Applicants

The following organizations are eligible to apply:

  • Montenegrin media or civil society/non-governmental organizations registered in Montenegro that adhere to high professional standards in their reporting and/or activities and have a record of trustworthiness and success. 

American and third-country organizations and individuals are not eligible for grants under this program.

Applicants are only allowed to submit one proposal per organization. If more than one proposal is submitted from an organization, all proposals from that institution will be considered ineligible for funding.

Organizations that have received a grant from the Media Professionalization Assistance Program in a previous cycle may apply, however, preference will be given to organizations which do not have ongoing Embassy grants at the time when the merit review panel convenes.

Incomplete application packages won’t be considered for funding.

2. Other Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible to receive an award, all organizations must have a unique entity identifier (Data Universal Numbering System/DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet), as well as a valid registration on www.SAM.gov. Please see Section D.3 for information on how to obtain these registrations.



Proposals that do not meet the requirements of this announcement or fail to comply with the requirements stated below will be ineligible.

Please read Application Guidelines carefully.  Proposals that do not meet the requirements listed here will not be considered for funding. 

Mandatory application forms:

  • Project proposal using the Application Form and in line with Application Guidelines.
  • Detailed budget in USD amounts and a budget narrative using format of your choice (see Application Guidelines for information about eligible and ineligible costs).
  • SF 424, SF 424A, and SF 424B forms filled in line with guidelines and signed.
  • 1-page CV or resume in English of key personnel who are proposed for the program.
  • Organization’s registration papers (in local language).
  • Documentation to show that the applicant has, at a minimum started SAM.gov registration process (a screenshot from SAM.gov confirming whether the applying organization is fully registered or has just commenced the SAM.gov registration process).

Important note: Special consideration will be given to project proposals that use a methodological approach to outline a clear evaluation plan for measuring the impact of project activities (during, and/or immediately after, and/or six months to a year after the project’s completion).  For example, the impact of the project could be measured by the number or type of actions project participants took in their communities, as a result of their participation in the project.  Please note that impact should be measured by outcomes (the level of performance and achievement that came as a result of the completed project), rather than direct outputs (number of articles produced, number of people trained or activities implemented as part of the project).  Simply put, outcomes mean what happened because of the program.



Any applicant listed on the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS) in the System for Award Management (SAM) is not eligible to apply for an assistance award in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 CFR 180 that implement Executive Orders 12549 (3 CFR, 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 CFR, 1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension.” Additionally, no entity listed on the EPLS can participate in any activities under an award.  All applicants are strongly encouraged to review the EPLS in SAM to ensure that no ineligible entity is included.

In order to be eligible to receive an award, all organizations must have a unique entity identifier (UEI – currently a Data Universal Numbering System/DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet), applicants should be fully registered in www.SAM.gov at the time of application, or include documentation to show it has, at a minimum started the process of registration on www.SAM.gov at the time of application. ​The SAM.gov registration process should be fully completed before results are announced.

All mandatory registrations are free of charge:

  • Unique Entity Identifier from Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS number)
  • NCAGE code
  • SAM registration

Step 1: Apply for a DUNS number and a NCAGE number (these can be completed simultaneously)

DUNS application: Organizations must have a DUNS number (also known as Unique Entity Identifier – UEI) from Dun & Bradstreet. If your organization does not have one already, you may obtain one by calling 1-866-705-5711 or visiting http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform

NCAGE application: Application page here: https://eportal.nspa.nato.int/AC135Public/scage/CageList.aspx

Instructions for the NCAGE application process:


Step 2: After receiving the NCAGE Code, proceed to register in SAM.gov by logging onto: www.SAM.gov.  SAM registration must be renewed annually.

  • Please read the Quick Guide for International Entity Registration which is the part of the Application Package you can find on the top of this page.
  • SAM registration must be renewed annually, so even if you are already registered in SAM from a previous grant, please check to see if your registration is still valid.
  • Entities registering in SAM must submit a letter appointing their authorized Entity Administrator. Please check the template of the letter which is included in the application package.
  • If you experience any problem in registering in SAM.gov use the following link to register for live chat, so the SAM administrators can answer your questions. Working hours for this service are from Monday through Friday after 14:00.



  1. Criteria

Each application will be evaluated and rated on the basis of the evaluation criteria outlined below.

Quality and Feasibility of the Program Idea – 20 points:  The program idea is well developed, with detail about how program activities will be carried out. The proposal includes a reasonable implementation timeline.

Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives – 20 points: Goals and objectives are clearly stated and program approach is likely to provide maximum impact in achieving the proposed results.

Budget – 15 points: The budget justification is detailed.  Costs are reasonable in relation to the proposed activities and anticipated results. The budget is realistic, accounting for all necessary expenses to achieve proposed activities.

Credibility and Capability of Applicant – 15 points: The applying media/NGO has a proven track record of dealing with the subject matter.  The media/NGO has the capacity to fully perform the proposed activity.

Evaluation plan – 10 points: The quality of an applicant’s evaluation plan will be judged on how well it: 1) specifies intended outcomes; 2) gives clear descriptions of how each outcome will be measured; 3) identifies when particular outcomes will be measured; and 4) provides a clear description of the data collection strategies for each outcome (i.e., surveys, interviews, or focus groups).

Sustainability – 10 points: Program activities will continue after the project dates and funding expire, the project will continue to have positive impact after the end of the program.

Impact10 points: The extent to which the project will produce a positive impact on society, including in the area of media freedom and other areas where reforms are needed.

2. Review and Selection Process

The merit review panel will evaluate all eligible applications and will contact the applicants in case of any follow up questions.

As soon as the results of this open competition are available, applicants will receive e-mail notification noting if they’ve been declined for award in this funding cycle or selected for the final review.



  1. Federal Award Notices

The grant award will be written, signed, awarded, and administered by the Grants Officer. The assistance award agreement is the authorizing document, and it will be provided to the recipient for review and signature by email. The recipient may only start incurring program expenses beginning on the start date shown on the grant award document signed by the Grants Officer.

If a proposal is selected for funding, the Department of State has no obligation to provide any additional future funding. Renewal of an award to increase funding or extend the period of performance is at the discretion of the Department of State.

Issuance of this NOFO does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the U.S. government, nor does it commit the U.S. government to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of proposals. Further, the U.S. government reserves the right to reject any or all proposals received.

Payment Method: Dynamics of grant payments would be discussed with grant recipients individually, and once agreed upon they will be stated in the award document.

  1. Reporting

Reporting Requirements: Award recipients will be required to submit financial reports and program reports.  The award document will specify how often these reports must be submitted.



If you have any questions about the grant application process, please contact: PodgoricaGrants@state.gov.


Cost sharing is not required.  However, if the Recipient includes cost sharing in the project proposal, then the Recipient is accountable for providing additional funds and justifying the costs.

If your organization has a NICRA and includes NICRA charges in the budget, your latest NICRA should be included as a PDF file.


Relevant Documents