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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research
Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Program

CLOSED - FOR REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY

Fall 2006 Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Undergraduate Student Fellowships

Sorting Codes: (See “Sort Codes” for descriptions)

EPA-F2006-GRO-P1 Natural and Life Sciences
EPA-F2006-GRO-P2 Environmental Science
EPA-F2006-GRO-P3 Engineering
EPA-F2006-GRO-P4 Social Sciences
EPA-F2006-GRO-Q1 Physical Sciences
EPA-F2006-GRO-Q2 Mathematics and Computer Science
EPA-F2006-GRO-Q3 Economics

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s): 66.513

Solicitation Opening Date: August 2, 2005
Solicitation Closing Date: November 3, 2005, 4:00p.m. Eastern Time

Contact Person: Georgette Boddie, 703-347-8049, boddie.georgette@epa.gov

Table of Contents:
SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
  Synopsis of Program
  Award Information
  Eligibility Information
Pre-Application Materials
  Agency Contacts
I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION
  Introduction
  Background
  Authorities and Regulations
II. AWARD INFORMATION
III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION
  Eligible Applicants
  Cost Sharing
Other
IV. Pre-APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION
  Internet Address to Request a Pre-Application Package
  Content and Form of a Pre-applications
  Submission Dates and Time
  Funding Restrictions
Other Submission Requirements
V. PRE-APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION
  Criteria
  Review and Selection Process
VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION
  Award Notices
  Disputes
  Administrative and National Policy Requirements
  Reporting
VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Access Standard Application Forms (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/)

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

Synopsis of Program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) program, is offering Undergraduate Fellowships for bachelor level students in environmentally related fields of study. The deadline for receipt of pre-applications is November 3, 2005. Subject to availability of funding, the Agency plans to award approximately 15 new fellowships by July 21, 2006. Eligible students will receive support for their junior and senior years of undergraduate study and for an internship at an EPA facility during the summer between their junior and senior years. The fellowship provides up to $17,000 per year of academic support and up to $7,500 of internship support for a three-month summer period.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Fellowship
Estimated Number of Awards: Approximately 15 awards
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $622,500 for all awards
Potential Funding per Fellowship: $41,500

Eligibility Information:
Applicants must attend a fully accredited U.S. college or university (located in the U.S. or its territories). Applicants must be citizens of the United States or its territories or possessions, or be lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence. Resident aliens must include their green card number in their pre-application. EPA may verify this number with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service of the Department of Homeland Security. Applicants must be attending a U.S. institution that receives less than $35 million in Federal Research and Development expenditures. For purposes of this solicitation, EPA will use the data found in column two of the National Science Foundation's report "Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions: Fiscal Year 2002," Table B-15. These data can be accessed at (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf05309/pdf/b15.pdf) exit EPA.

Pre-Application Materials:
You may submit either a paper pre-application or an electronic pre-application but not both for this announcement. The necessary forms for submitting a GRO paper pre-application will be found on the NCER web site, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. To apply electronically, you must use the pre-application package available at https://apply.grants.gov/forms_apps_idx.html exit EPA (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Pre-Applications").

Agency Contacts:
Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA/NCER resources listed below. To obtain information most quickly, consult the "Guidance & FAQs." If your question is not covered, then call the toll-free telephone number or send a query through the web-based query form. You will receive a personal response through a return telephone call or email. Information regarding this RFA obtained from sources other than those indicated below may not be accurate.

Contact Person: Georgette Boddie, 703-347-8049, boddie.georgette@epa.gov
Guidance & FAQs: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/faqs.html
Toll-free telephone number: 1-800-490-9194
Web-based query form: http://www.epa.gov/cgi-bin/ncerqamail.pl

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

Introduction

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), invites pre-applications for the Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowships for undergraduate environmental study for bachelor level students. The deadline for receipt of pre-applications is November 3, 2005. Subject to availability of funding, the Agency plans to award approximately 15 new fellowships by July 21, 2006.

Background

The GRO Undergraduate Fellowship program, like its predecessor (the Minority Academic Institution or MAI program), is intended to strengthen the environmental research capacity of institutions of higher education that receive limited funding to build such capacity, including in particular institutions with substantial minority enrollment. The program supports quality environmental education for undergraduate students, thereby encouraging them to pursue careers in environmentally related fields and to continue their education beyond the baccalaureate level. This goal is consistent with the mission of EPA, which is to provide leadership in the nation's environmental science, research, education, assessment, restoration, and preservation efforts. This program will benefit both the public and private sectors which will need a steady stream of well-trained and diverse environmental specialists if our society is to meet the environmental challenges of the future.

The specific Strategic Goal, Objective and Sub-objective from EPA's Strategic Plan that relates to this solicitation is: Goal 4: Healthy Communities and Ecosystems, Objective 4.5: Enhance Science and Research, Sub-objective 4.5.2: Conduct Relevant Research

Authorities and Regulations

The authority for this RFA and resulting awards is contained in the Safe Drinking Water Act, Section 1442, 42 U.S.C. 300j-1; Toxic Substances Control Act, Section 10, 15 U.S.C. 2609; Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, Section 20, 7 U.S.C. 136r; Clean Air Act, Section 103, 42 U.S.C. 7403; Clean Water Act, Section 104, 33 U.S.C.; and Solid Waste Disposal Act, Section 8001, 42 U.S.C. 6901.

II. AWARD INFORMATION

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $622,500 will be awarded under this announcement, depending on the availability of funds. The EPA anticipates funding approximately 15 fellowships under this RFA. The projected award per fellowship is $17,000 per year total costs, for up to 2 years. The EPA reserves the right to reject all pre-applications and make no awards under this RFA. The EPA reserves the right to make additional awards under this RFA if additional funding becomes available. Any additional selections for awards will be made no later than 4 months after the original selection.

The fellowship provides up to $17,000 per year of academic support and $7,500 for internship support for a combined total of up to $41,500 over the life of the fellowship. A more detailed breakout of the funding which covers stipend, tuition, and expenses is as follows:

  1. Stipends: During the nine-month academic year, a $500 stipend will be paid to the Fellow each month, for a total annual stipend of $4,500. Stipends are paid directly to the Fellow. Each fellowship institution may choose to supplement a Fellow's stipend from institutional funds in accordance with the supplementation policy of the institution.
  2. Tuition and Academic Fees: Up to $10,000 per year will be paid directly to the institution for allowable tuition and fees. For the purposes of this fellowship, health insurance is not considered to be an academic fee even if it is required by the institution. Health insurance costs may, however, be paid from the expense allowance.
  3. Expense Allowance: Up to $2,500 will be provided to pay for items and activities for the direct benefit of the student's education, such as for health insurance, books, supplies, equipment, and travel to technical and scientific meetings. Specific instructions regarding the disbursement and management of the expense allowance will be provided during the award process.
  4. Internship Allowance: During the summer internship, the fellow will receive a total of $7,500 for the three-month period. This amount includes $1,000 for travel to and from the summer internship site, $500 for travel while at the site, and a stipend of $6,000 for living expenses.
  5. Annual Conference: Fellows are expected to attend a technical/scientific conference each year they are members of the GRO program. Resources to support this travel are to be taken from the expense allowance.
  6. Summer Internship: The fellow must agree in writing to participate for up to 12 weeks at an EPA facility as a Summer Intern in the EPA GRO Summer Intern Program, after the first year of EPA-supported academic training. Each Intern must complete a summer project that is designed to complement and enhance the training received under the fellowship program. EPA will provide support for temporary relocation and provide a living stipend during the summer Internship. Fellows will be contacted during their first year to arrange for this Internship.

III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

Eligible Applicants

Applicants must attend a fully accredited U.S. college or university (located in the U.S. or its territories). Individuals must be citizens of the United States or its territories or possessions, or be lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence. Resident aliens must include their green card number in their pre-application (you must have your green card at the time of application to be eligible for this Fellowship opportunity). EPA may verify this number with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service of the Department of Homeland Security. Applicants must be attending a U.S. institution that receives less than $35 million in Federal Research and Development expenditures. For purposes of this solicitation, EPA will use the data found in column two of the National Science Foundation's report "Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions: Fiscal Year 2002," Table B-15. These data can be accessed at (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf05309/pdf/b15.pdf) exit EPA.

The EPA recognizes the need for scientists from diverse backgrounds. Students at schools that have substantial minority enrollment are particularly encouraged to apply. Examples of such schools are those that the U.S. Department of Education lists as "Accredited Post-secondary Minority Institutions" consistent with Executive Orders 13125 (Increasing Participation of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders), 13230 (Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans), 13256 (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), and 13270 (Tribal Colleges and Universities), which encourage building the capacity of minority serving institutions to provide high quality education, and other measures to improve minority education. Note however, that not all of these schools receive less then $35 million annually in Federal Research and Development expenditures. See "The Extent of Federal S&E Funding to Minority-Serving Institutions", at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf04325/. exit EPA

Regarding applicants who are attending community college, note that only those that are either four-year baccalaureate-granting institutions with degree programs in one or more eligible academic fields, or two year institutions that grant associate degrees and participate in Articulation Agreements with four-year institutions, are eligible to participate in this fellowship program. An Articulation Agreement is a signed contract between a community or technical college and a four-year college or university that guarantees that a student who earns an associate degree at a participating two-year institution can transfer all of the general education core credits to the four-year institution toward the completion of baccalaureate degree requirements.)

Students must be pursuing a bachelor's degree in an environmentally related field of specialization. Students must have two academic years remaining as of Fall 2006 before receiving a bachelor's degree. Students must have at least a "B" average overall.

Acceptance of this fellowship does not necessarily preclude acceptance of another scholarship, fellowship, traineeship, or grant aid. However, this fellowship does preclude receiving other federal fellowships.

The term of the undergraduate fellowship is negotiated with the student and covers a period of nine months for each fellowship year. Students seeking a bachelor's degree may be supported for a maximum of two years.

Employees of the U.S. government must be able to prove separation from Federal service before accepting this fellowship.

Cost-Sharing

Cost-sharing is not required.

Other

Pre-applications that do not substantially comply with the pre-application submission instructions and requirements set forth in Section IV of this announcement will be rejected. In addition, where a page limit is expressed in Section IV with respect to parts of the pre-application, pages in excess of the page limitation will not be reviewed. Pre-applications must be received by the EPA on or before the solicitation closing date published in Section IV of this announcement. Pre-applications received after the published closing date will be returned to the sender without further consideration.

IV. PRE-APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

You may submit either a paper pre-application or an electronic pre-application (but not both) for this announcement. Instructions for both forms of submission follow.

Internet Address to Request a Pre-Application Package

For paper pre-applications, forms can be found on the NCER web site: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. Instructions for these forms follow (do not use the instructions provided on the NCER web site).

For electronic pre-applications, use the pre-application package available at https://apply.grants.gov/forms_apps_idx.html exit EPA(see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Pre-Applications"). Instructions for the forms follow.

Content and Form of Pre-Application Submission

The pre-application is made by submitting the materials described below. It is essential that the pre-application contain all information requested and be submitted in the formats described.

A. Standard Form 424

The applicant must complete form SF424. This form will be the first page of the pre-application. Do not use the instructions provided on the NCER web site. Instead, use the customized instructions below.

For electronic pre-applications, this form is found in the electronic pre-application package available at grants.gov. See "Submission Instructions for Electronic Pre-Applications."

Instructions for Completing the SF 424 for Paper or Electronic Submissions

  1. Enter Pre-application "Non-Construction."
  2. Leave blank.
  3. Leave blank.
  4. Leave blank.
  5. Legal Name: Enter your legal name as last name, first name, then middle initial/name.
    Organizational DUNS: Pre-entered for electronic submissions, leave blank for paper copy submissions.
    Organizational Unit: Leave blank.
    Address: Enter the address (including street, city, state, and zip code) you are currently using to receive United States Postal Service mail.
    Name and telephone number of person to be contacted: Enter your name, email address, and telephone number. Your middle name, suffix, and fax number are optional.
  6. Enter "12-3456789" for electronic submissions, leave blank for paper copy submissions.
  7. Enter "L-Individual."
  8. Enter "New."
  9. Pre-entered for electronic submissions. For paper copy submissions, enter "Environmental Protection Agency."
  10. Pre-entered for electronic submissions. For paper copy submissions, enter the title of the solicitation followed by the appropriate sort code (e.g., Greater Research Opportunities Fellowship Program, sort code XX). Sort codes are listed below. Be sure the sort code in this box corresponds with the appropriate sort code for your pre-application. Failure to do so could result in an inappropriate peer review assignment.
  11. Provide a descriptive title for your environmental research project. If the specific topic has not been selected, enter your research area of interest.
  12. List only the largest political entities affected (e.g., State, counties, cities).
  13. Enter a Start Date of 09/01/2006 and an End Date up to 2 academic years for bachelor's degree support. If necessary, these dates can be modified if you receive a fellowship.
  14. List your Congressional District and any District(s) affected by the program or project. For help finding the appropriate Congressional District, see http://www.house.gov/ exit EPA.
  15. Enter 17,000 for each year of requested support (see item 13). Unless you have other sources of funding, enter 0.00 in b through f.
  16. Enter "b. Program is not covered by E.O. 12372."
  17. Self-explanatory.
  18. Enter your name, title, telephone number and email address. "Undergraduate Student" or "Student" is an appropriate title. If you are submitting a paper copy, sign the pre-application.

Select a single Sort Code for your pre-application. Failure to select a proper sort code could result in an inappropriate reviewer assignment. If your pre-application seems to fit under more than one sort code, choose the most appropriate one. Each application can be submitted to one, and only one, sort code. For electronic submissions, you must use the appropriate electronic pre-application package (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Pre-Applications") for the chosen sort code. Note: Your planned course of study MUST focus on one or more issues of environmental significance.

EPA-F2006-GRO-P1 Natural and Life Sciences
EPA-F2006-GRO-P2 Environmental Sciences
EPA-F2006-GRO-P3 Engineering
EPA-F2006-GRO-P4 Social Sciences
EPA-F2006-GRO-Q1 Physical Sciences
EPA-F2006-GRO-Q2 Mathematics and Computer Sciences
EPA-F2006-GRO-Q3 Economics

B. Key Contacts

The applicant must complete the "Key Contacts" form as the second page of the pre-application. Please make certain that all contact information is accurate. For both paper and electronic pre-applications, an email will be sent by NCER to the applicant to acknowledge receipt of the pre-application and transmit other important information. The email will be sent from receipt.application@epa.gov; email to this address will not be accepted. If you do not receive an email acknowledgment within 30 days of the submission closing date, immediately call 1-800-490-9194 (the EPA/NCER toll-free telephone number). Failure to do so may result in your pre-application not being reviewed. See "Submission Instructions for Electronic Pre-Applications" for additional information regarding acknowledgment of receipt of electronically submitted pre-applications. Please note: Due to often lengthy delays in delivery, it is especially important that you monitor NCER's confirmation of receipt of your pre-application when using US Postal Service mail.

For electronic pre-applications, this form is found in the electronic pre-application package available at grants.gov exit EPA. See "Submission Instructions for Electronic Pre-Applications."

Key Contacts Form Instructions

Authorized Representative: Enter your current address information.
Payee: Enter your permanent address information.
Administrative Contact: Enter the business information for your advisor. Leave blank if you have not identified an advisor.
Project Manager: Leave blank.

C. Citizenship Status, Degree Sought, Educational Level, and Optional Information (1 page)

The third page of the pre-application must contain the following information. Please begin each item on a separate line using the appropriate numbered heading.

  1. Your name: Last name, first name, middle initial/name.
  2. Citizenship Status: State whether you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If you are a U.S. citizen, give the city and state of your birth. If you are a resident alien, provide your green card number.
  3. Certification of Institute GRO Eligibility: You must certify that your school or intended school is GRO eligible. These data can be accessed at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf05309/pdf/b15.pdf exit EPA. The full NSF report is available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf05309/ exit EPA. Multiply the figure in the second column by 1000. Then complete the following statement:

    "According to the National Science Foundation's report "Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions: Fiscal Year 2002," Table B-15, column two, received less than $_____ million in Federal Research and Development expenditures in fiscal year 2002. Since this is less than $35 Million, my university is GRO eligible." EPA will verify student eligibility before awards are made. Only students who attend GRO eligible institutions will be awarded these fellowships.

  4. College/University, School or Department: Name and location of the college/university, school or department from which your degree will be obtained. NOTE: If you are undecided about the school you will attend, leave blank. If you are considering multiple institutions, list your top two choices.
  5. Degree Sought: Bachelor. Include the month and year you expect the degree to be awarded.
  6. Voluntary Information: For statistical recordkeeping purposes only, and on a voluntary basis only, please include your gender and race, ethnicity, or national origin (e.g., African-American, Caucasian, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian, or Pacific Islander), and whether you are a person with a disability. If provided, this information will be kept completely separate from your application. It will be used only in aggregate statistical form (without individual identification) to assess the effectiveness of ORD's diversity efforts. Maintenance of the information, and access to individual information, will governed by the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552a.

D. Statement of Objectives

These items must be single-spaced and completed using a 12-point or equivalent typeface on 8-1/2 x 11-inch paper with one-inch margins all around. Page limitations for individual components are specified below. You may use figures and tables, but do not deviate from the format requirements and page limits.

Statement of Objectives (1 Page)

This item will be of paramount importance in evaluating your request for a fellowship. Your answer, therefore, should be well thought out and expressed in a clear and detailed but concise manner. Please give enough details so you may be adequately evaluated, noting the one-page limit. The statement should be in the following format:

  1. Introduction: Include any background information you believe is pertinent and provides insight into why you have chosen the goals you are pursuing.
  2. Personal Statement: Explain your academic and career goals and how your proposed course of study or research will help you to achieve these goals. Include any background information you believe is relevant and that indicates why you have chosen the goals you are pursuing. You will be evaluated on your dedication to your studies and to an environmentally oriented career. This statement will also provide insight into your organizational, analytical, and written communication skills.
  3. Previous Environmentally Related Experience: Describe how work/volunteer and academic experience gained will relate to your career goals.
  4. Conclusion Statement: Explain what scientific or other benefits are expected from your academic and career goals.

E. Education, Experience, Publication, and Transcript Information

Education and Experience (1 Page)

List the academic degrees you have received or expect to receive in the near future, including the dates, discipline, and the institution. Include your current grade point average (GPA). Also list relevant experience, including paid employment, military service, research assistantship, internships, special studies, volunteer work, etc. Give dates and a short description of your duties in each position, listing most recent first. Give names and addresses of employers. List only relevant experience.

Course Work Information (use as many pages as are necessary)

Provide, in tabular form, the following information from your transcripts: identify the institutions at which the credits were earned; dates, names and catalog numbers of courses taken; credit hours; grades received and cumulative GPA for each degree level. If possible, course titles should not exceed the space available. Abbreviations are allowed. If courses were audited or not completed, note this information. Do not submit narrative grades. If any institution you attended had a grading system different from the traditional "A, B, C" system, explain the system in a succinct footnote to Item 12. Do not leave anything out. Include data from your entire college career. DO NOT INCLUDE COPIES OF YOUR TRANSCRIPTS. Top-ranked applicants will be required to submit official copies of transcripts for validation prior to the award of the fellowship.

F. Letters of Recommendation

Each application package MUST include three (3) current reference letters, written in English, from individuals who have knowledge of your academic record. If you have a sponsor or advisor in the program, one of these letters should come from that individual. Letters of recommendation are critical components of the pre-application. Select your references carefully and urge them to write unique letters specifically about you. Do not write the letters yourself. Letters that appear to be mass produced will not be ranked highly by reviewers. At a minimum, the letters should address your academic performance and potential, enthusiasm, thoughtfulness, and motivation in your chosen field. It is always useful if the writer also conveys a sense of who you are as an individual. The name of the applicant and the appropriate sort code should be clearly marked on the outside of the envelop prior to sending it to EPA (see "Other Submission Requirements" below).

Submission Dates and Times

For paper copy submissions, the original and two (2) copies of the complete pre-application (3 in all) including letters of recommendation must be received by EPA no later than 4:00p.m. Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date, November 3, 2005. Electronic applications must be transferred to grants.gov no later than 4:00p.m. Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date. It should be noted that this schedule may be changed without prior notification because of factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement. In the case of a change in the required application closing date, a new date will be posted on the NCER web site (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/) and a modification posted on www.grants.gov. Applications received after the closing date will be returned to the sender without further consideration.

Solicitation Closing Date: November 3, 2005, 4:00p.m. Eastern Time
Earliest Anticipated Start Date: September 1, 2006

Funding Restrictions

The funding mechanism for all awards issued under GRO solicitations will consist of assistance agreements from the EPA. All award decisions are subject to the availability of funds. In accordance with the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act, 31 U.S.C. 6301 et seq., the primary purpose of a grant is to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by federal statute, rather than acquisition for the direct benefit or use of the Agency. In issuing a grant agreement, the EPA anticipates that there will be no substantial EPA involvement in the design, implementation, or conduct of the research. However, the EPA will monitor research progress through annual reports provided by Fellows and other contacts with the Fellow.

You may not submit a pre-application to more than one GRO Fellowships Funding Opportunity.

Other Submission Requirements

You may submit either a paper pre-application or an electronic pre-application but not both for this announcement.

Submission Instructions for Paper Pre-Applications

Pre-applications MUST be received by EPA no later than 4:00p.m., EST, on November 3, 2005. NOTE: Letters of Recommendation MUST be received by EPA no later than 4:00p.m., EST, on November 3, 2005. Allow sufficient time to assure delivery by 4:00p.m. EST on November 3, 2005. Because of security concerns, pre-applications cannot be personally delivered. They must be sent through regular mail, express mail, or a major courier. Due to uncertainties associated with timely delivery of regular mail, it is especially important to provide an e-mail address to which an acknowledgment of receipt notification can be sent (see Key Contacts above).

The following address must be used for regular mail:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8725F)
Sort Code: EPA-F2006-GRO-XX (replace the "XX" with the appropriate code)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

The following address must be used for express mail and couriers:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8725F)
Sorting Code: EPA-F2006-GRO-XX (replace the "XX" with the appropriate code)
1025 F Street, NW (Room 3500)
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: (202) 233-0686

Submission Instructions for Electronic Pre-Applications

Grants.gov requires an individual registration to submit to this solicitation; however, registration is not required to view the pre-application package. To register, go to http://www.grants.gov/, exit EPA click on "Get Started," click on "Individual" and "Go." Follow the registration guidance and also see "Registration Checklists." Allow approximately one day for the registration to be activated. This registration is temporary and can only be used for the specified Funding Opportunity Number.

The electronic pre-application package available through the http://www.grants.gov/ web site must be used for electronic submissions. In order to view the pre-application package, download the PureEdge viewer (hyperlink available under "Apply for Grants" then "Apply Step 1"). The pre-application package may be quickly accessed from https://apply.grants.gov/forms_apps_idx.html exit EPA using CFDA number 66.513. Be sure to download the electronic pre-application package for the appropriate sort code. It is recommended that you "Register to Receive Notification" of announcement updates. Both a tutorial and training demonstration are available at http://www.grants.gov/, exit EPA click on "Customer Support," then "Tutorial" or "Training Demonstration."

The complete pre-application must be transferred to grants.gov no later than 4:00p.m. Eastern Time on November 3, 2005. NOTE: Letters of Recommendation MUST received at EPA no later than 4:00p.m., EST, on November 3, 2005. Allow sufficient time to assure delivery by 4:00p.m. November 3, 2005. An e-mail will be sent by NCER to the applicant to acknowledge receipt of the pre-application and to transmit other important information. The email will be sent from receipt.application@epa.gov; email to this address will not be accepted. If an email acknowledgment from NCER (not support@grants.gov) has not been received within 30 days of the submission closing date, immediately contact the technical contact us using either the toll-free telephone number or web-based query form listed in Agency Contacts. Failure to do so may result in your pre-application not being reviewed. Please note: Due to the high volume of pre-applications, voice and e-mail requests to verify pre-application receipt will not responded to unless they are placed after December 3, 2005.

Documents must be submitted in Adobe Acrobat PDF format to maintain format integrity. Prior to submitting your electronic pre-application package, we suggest you view your converted documents for conversion errors. Submit the required documents as described below.

On the electronic "Grant Application Package" page, enter your name, starting with last name, in the "Application Filing Name" field.

  1. Application for Federal Assistance (SF-424, see "Instructions for Completing the SF 424" for specific instructions) Complete the form using the instructions provided above. There are no attachments.
  2. EPA Key Contacts Form 5700-54 (see "Key Contacts Form Instructions" for specific instructions) Complete the form using the instructions provided above. There are no attachments.
  3. Project Objective Attachment Form
    1. Compile the Statement of Objectives into a document labeled Objectives and submit it as the "Add Mandatory Project Narrative File."
    2. Prepare one document that contains Education and Experience, Publications, and Transcript Information and label it Background. Submit it as an "Add Optional Project Narrative File."
    3. Prepare one document that contains Your Name, Citizenship Status, GRO Eligibility Certification, Degree Sought, Project Title, Educational Level, and Optional Information and label it AddInfo. Submit it as an "Add Optional Project Narrative File."

    Once the pre-application package has been completed, the "Submit" button will become active. Save your completed pre-application package with two different names before submission to avoid having to re-create the package should you experience submission problems. Close all other software before attempting to submit the pre-application package.

    If you experience submission problems, reboot your computer (turning the power off may be necessary) and re-attempt the submission. If you continue to experience submission problems, contact grants.gov for assistance (Phone: 1-800-518-4726, Email: support@grants.gov).

  4. Letters of Recommendation MUST be received at EPA no later than 4:00p.m., EST, on November 3, 2005. The original and two (2) copies of each letter must be contained in an individual envelope sealed by the writer. Place all letters of recommendation in one envelope and mail to the address given for Paper Pre-Applications (follow guidance below). Include your full name and the appropriate sort code in the return address area of the envelope to enable quick matching with your electronic pre-application. Letters will be scanned and distributed to reviewers electronically.

V. PRE-APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

Criteria

Each student will be evaluated on his or her potential for success in an undergraduate study program, based on the information provided in the pre-application as described above under "Content and Form of Pre-Application Submission." The reviewers will consider academic records, career goals, objectives, and letters of recommendation. The reviewers will use this information to judge the merit of all applicants as well as their ability to organize their thoughts and the clarity of their writing. Criteria 1-3 are listed in increasing order of importance.

  1. Course work information
  2. Reference Letters
  3. Goals and Objectives
    1. Comment on clarity of the applicant's stated research goals and objectives.
    2. Comment on the applicant's organizational, analytical, and written skills.

Review and Selection Process

All Fellowship pre-applications are reviewed by an appropriate external merit review panel using the criteria above. In general, each review group is composed of non-EPA scientists, engineers, social scientists, and/or economists who are experts in their respective disciplines and proficient in the technical subjects they are reviewing. Reviewers are asked to assign a summary score of either excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor for each pre-application. This review is designed to evaluate each student on his or her potential for success in an environmental undergraduate study program based on the information provided in the pre-application.

Pre-applications receiving a score of excellent or very good as a result of the external merit review process will undergo further review within EPA. All other applications are automatically declined. The purpose of the internal review is to assure a balanced research portfolio for the Agency and determine which pre-applications to recommend for award.

Finalists will be recommended for award of a fellowship based on: the availability of funds; reviewers' evaluations; program goals, such as distribution of awards across disciplines, institutions and geography; degree level being sought; and other possible indicators of program balance.

Final funding decisions are made by the NCER Director based on the results of the external and internal reviews. Applicants selected for funding will be required to provide additional information, listed under "Award Notices." The application will then be forwarded to EPA's Grants Administration Office for award in accordance with the EPA's procedures.

VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION

Award Notices

If selected to receive a fellowship, you will be contacted no later than May 30, 2006 and should subsequently receive your official notification of award by July 21, 2006, for the fall term. Please note that this schedule may be changed without notification due to factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement.

You are advised to retain this announcement for future reference.

The official notification of an award will be made by the EPA's Grants Administration Division. Selected applicants will be required to provide the following information to complete the application process:

  1. EPA Form 5770-2, "Fellowship Application*"
  2. EPA Form 5700-49, "Certification Regarding Debarment, Suspension, and Other Responsibility Matters*"
  3. Sealed official transcripts from all institutions (if so instructed by EPA).

* Forms are available on the NCER web page (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/fellow/).

Disputes

Disputes related to this assistance agreement competition will be resolved in accordance with the dispute resolution procedures set forth in 70 FR 3629, 3630 (January 26, 2005) which can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ogd/competition/resolution.htm. Questions regarding disputes may be referred to the Eligibility Contact, see http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/faqs.html.

Administrative and Policy Requirements

Terms and conditions associated with this award can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance.

  1. Reporting: In order to retain their funding, fellowship recipients much provide their EPA project officer with an annual, written statement from their advisor stating that they are maintaining the same criteria under which they were selected (i.e., acceptable grade point average, full-time student, and still in the same discipline). Fellows must also provide a final transcript that states that they have completed their studies. Fellows must agree to maintain contact with the Agency for at least five years after graduation.
  2. Acknowledgment of EPA Support: EPA's full or partial support must be acknowledged in journal articles, oral or poster presentations, news releases, interviews with reporters and other communications. Any documents developed under the agreement for distribution to the public or inclusion in a scientific, technical, or other journal shall include the following statement:
    This publication [article] was developed under a GRO Research Assistance Agreement No. awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It has not been formally reviewed by the EPA. The views expressed in this document are solely those of [name of recipient] and the EPA does not endorse any products or commercial services mentioned in this publication.

    A graphic that can be converted to a slide or used in other ways, such as on a poster, is located at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/star_images.html. EPA expects recipients to use this graphic in oral and poster presentations.

  3. Annual Conference: Fellows are expected to attend a technical/scientific conference each year they are members of the GRO program. Resources to support this travel are to be taken from the expense allowance.

VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA official indicated below. E-mail inquiries are preferred.

For additional information or assistance in preparing your pre-application, use the EPA/NCER resources listed below. To obtain information most quickly, consult the "Guidance & FAQs." If your question is not covered, then call the toll-free telephone number or send a query through the web-based query form. You will receive a personal response through a return telephone call or email. Information regarding this RFA obtained from sources other than those indicated may not be accurate.

Agency Contact: Georgette Boddie, phone: 703-347-8049, email: boddie.georgette@epa.gov
Guidance & FAQs: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/faqs.html
Toll-free telephone number: 1-800-490-9194
Web-based query form: http://www.epa.gov/cgi-bin/ncerqamail.pl

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