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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 2007 EPA Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowships for Undergraduate Environmental Study

Frequently asked questions and answers have been compiled to make the application process easier. Please print out the FAQ's and browse through them as you go through the application.

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Number: (See “Funding Opportunity Numbers” for descriptions)

EPA-F2007-GRO-P1
EPA-F2007-GRO-P2
EPA-F2007-GRO-P3
EPA-F2007-GRO-P4
EPA-F2007-GRO-Q1
EPA-F2007-GRO-Q2
EPA-F2007-GRO-Q3

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.513

Solicitation Opening Date: August 25, 2006
Solicitation Closing Date: November 29, 2006, 4:00 pm Eastern Time

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
Electronic Submissions Contact: Bronda Harrison (harrison.bronda@epa.gov); phone: 202-564-1790
Technical Contact: Georgette Boddie (boddie.georgette@epa.gov); phone, 703-347-8049

Table of Contents:
SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
Synopsis of Program
Award Information
Eligibility Information
Pre-Application Materials
Contact Person(s)
I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION
A. Introduction
B. Background
C. Authority and Regulations
D. Specific Areas of Interest
E. References
F. Special Requirements
II. AWARD INFORMATION
III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION
A. Eligible Applicants
B. Cost Sharing
C. Threshold Criteria
D. Other
IV. PRE-APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION
A. Internet Address to Request Pre-Application Package
B. Content and Form of Pre-Application Submission
C. Submission Dates and Times
D. Funding Restrictions
E. Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements
V. PRE-APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION
A. Peer Review
B. Programmatic Review
C. Funding Decisions
VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION
A. Award Notices
B. Disputes
C. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Access Standard STAR Forms (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/)
View research awarded under previous solicitations (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/archive/fellow/)

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 environmental fields of study. The deadline for receipt of pre-applications is November 29, 2006. Subject to availability of funding, the Agency plans to award approximately 15 new fellowships by July 20, 2007. 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 up to a total of: $41,500. Fellows 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. Cost sharing is not required.

Eligibility Information:
Applicants must attend a fully accredited U.S. college or university (located in the U.S. or its territories). Applicants must also 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 06-306: "Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions: Fiscal Year 2003 (June 2006)", Table B-15. These data can be accessed at (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf06309/pdf/tab15.pdf (PDF, 26pp., 100KB, about PDF).

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 can 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 Grants.gov (see "Submission Instruction for Electronic Pre-Application"). See Section IV for further information on pre-application submission procedures.

Contact Person(s):
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.

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
Electronic Submissions Contact: Bronda Harrison (harrison.bronda@epa.gov); phone: 202-564-1790
Technical Contact: Georgette Boddie (boddie.georgette@epa.gov); phone, 703-347-8049

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

A. 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 29, 2006. Subject to availability of funding, the Agency plans to award approximately 15 new fellowships by July 20, 2007. 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. 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.

B. Background
The GRO Undergraduate Fellowship program, like its predecessor (the Minority Academic Institution or MAI program), is part of the national effort to help 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 immediate and long-term mission of EPA, to protect public health, environment science, research, education, assessment, restoration, and preservation efforts.

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. The EPA's Strategic Plan can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/plan/plan.htm

C. Authority 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.

D. Specific Areas of Interest
This RFA solicits pre-applications from students performing research in a variety of environmentally-related areas (see Section IVB, Item 1 for specific areas of interest). By providing financial support across disciplines, EPA expects to continue to assist in increasing the nation's ability to produce leading edge research, and advancing the nation's research enterprise. The GRO Fellowship program has benefited both public and private sectors by consistently providing the nation with well-trained environmental specialists to meet society's environmental challenges. GRO supported fellows have provided new environmental research in the physical, biological, health, and social sciences as well as engineering.

E. References

Environmental Careers Organization. Creating Lasting Value: A Survey of EPA Minority Academic Institutions (MAI), Fellows from 1990-2003. Available at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/fellow/ (2003)

Environmental Protection Agency. EPA Strategic Plan, 2003-2008. Available at http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/plan/plan.htm (2003) Jackson, Shirley Ann. The Quiet Crisis: Falling Short in Producing American Scientific and Technical Talent, Building Engineering and Science Talent (2002)

National Science Foundation. Science and Engineering Indicators. National Science Foundation. Available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind06/. (2006)

The National Science and Technology Council, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Science for the 21st Century. Available at http://www.ostp.gov/nstc/21stCentury. (2004)

F. Special Requirements
Agency policy prevents EPA technical staff and managers from providing individual applicants information that may create an unfair competitive advantage. Consequently, EPA employees will not review, comment, advise, provide technical assistance to applicants preparing applications in response to EPA RFAs, endorse a pre-application or discuss in any manner how the Agency will apply the published evaluation criteria for this competition.

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 and quality of applicants received. 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 plus $7,500 for internship support. The EPA reserves the right to reject all pre-applications and make no awards or make fewer awards than anticipated under this RFA. The EPA reserves the right, consistent with Agency policy and without further competitions, to make additional awards under this RFA if additional funding becomes available. Any additional selections for awards will be made no later than four months after the original selection decisions.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

Summer Internship - The fellow must agree in writing to participate for up to 12 weeks at an EPA facility (located in the U.S. or its territories). As a Summer Intern in the EPA GRO Summer Intern Program, after the first year of EPA fellowship support. 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.

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

Diversity: EPA recognizes the need for scientists from diverse cultural backgrounds. Broadening opportunities for and enabling participation of all individuals, including women, men, minorities and persons with disabilities, are essential to the health and vitality of science. For this reason, EPA strongly encourages women, minorities, and persons with disabilities to apply.

III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

A. 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 Foundations report Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions: Fiscal Year 2003, Table 15. These data can be accessed at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf06309/pdf/tab15.pdf (PDF, 26pp., 100KB, about PDF). Table 15 is a broad representation of institutions, and includes schools that receive $35 million or more in Federal research assistance.

Students attending eligible institutions with substantial minority enrollment are particularly encouraged to apply. Some of the schools on Table 15 are recognized by 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. For specific information regarding Federal funding to minority-serving institutions, see The Extent of Federal S&E Funding to Minority-Serving Institutions, at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf04325/ .

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 2007 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.

B. Cost-Sharing
Cost sharing is not required.

C. Threshold Criteria
In addition, to be eligible for funding consideration, a project's focus must consist of activities within the statutory terms of EPA's financial assistance authorities; specifically, the statute(s) listed above. Generally, a project must address the causes, effects, extent, prevention, reduction, and elimination of air pollution, water pollution, solid/hazardous waste pollution; toxic substances control; or pesticide control. These activities should relate to the gathering or transferring of information or advancing the state of knowledge. Proposals should emphasize this "learning" concept, as opposed to "fixing" an environmental problem via a well-established method. Proposals relating to other topics which are sometimes included within the term "environment" such as recreation, conservation, restoration, protection of wildlife habitats, etc., must describe the relationship of these topics to the statutorily required purpose of pollution prevention and/or control.

Note: The applicant's planned course of study must focus on one or more of the areas of environmental significance identified in Section IV.B. Item 1.

D. Other
Pre-applications must 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 or grants.gov, on or before the solicitation closing date and time in Section IV of this announcement or they will be returned to the sender without further consideration. Further, pre-application that fail to demonstrate a public purpose of support or stimulation (e.g., by proposing research which primarily benefits a Federal program or provides a service for a Federal Agency) will not be funded.

Pre-applications deemed ineligible for funding consideration will be notified within fifteen calendar days of the ineligibility determination.

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. If not otherwise marked, instructions apply to both types of submissions as follows.

A. Internet Address to Request Pre-Application Package
For paper pre-applications, fellowship forms can be found on the NCER web site: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. Instructions for completing these forms follow.

For electronic pre-applications, use the pre-application package available at Grants.gov (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Pre-Applications"). Instructions for completing these forms follow.

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. 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 January 3, 2007. 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.

B. 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. It is also essential that all contact information be that of the applicant unless specifically requested otherwise.

Item 1. Standard Form 424 and 424i

The applicant must complete Standard Form 424 (for electronic submissions) or 424i (for written submissions). This form will be the first page of the pre-application. For paper submissions, use the 424i form identified for Fellowships available at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. For help finding the appropriate Congressional District, see http://www.house.gov/. If you cannot locate a Congressional District (e.g., Puerto Rico), please enter "00". For Start Date and End Date, enter a Start Date of 09/01/2007 and an End Date up to 2 years later for a bachelor's degree support. If necessary, these dates can be modified if you receive a fellowship.

For electronic submissions, use the Standard Form 424 in the electronic pre-application package. See "Submission Instructions for Electronic Pre-Applications"

Funding Opportunity Numbers

Select a single Funding Opportunity Number for your pre-application. Failure to select a proper Funding Opportunity Number could result in an inappropriate reviewer assignment. If your pre-application seems to fit under more than one Funding Opportunity Number, choose the most appropriate one. Each pre-application can be submitted to one, and only one, Funding Opportunity Number. For electronic submissions, you must use the appropriate electronic pre-application package (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Pre-Applications") for the chosen funding opportunity number. Note: Your planned course of study MUST focus on one or more of the following areas of environmental significance and MUST describe the relationship of these topic areas to the statutorily required purpose of pollution prevention and/or control.

EPA-F2007-GRO-P1 Natural and Life Sciences
EPA-F2007-GRO-P2 Environmental Science
EPA-F2007-GRO-P3 Engineering
EPA-F2007-GRO-P4 Social Sciences
EPA-F2007-GRO-Q1 Physical Sciences
EPA-F2007-GRO-Q2 Mathematics and Computer Science
EPA-F2007-GRO-Q3 Economics

Item 2. 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.

Key Contacts Form Instructions

Authorized Representative: Enter the applicant's current address information.

Payee: Enter the applicant's permanent address information. This is the address NCER will use for any U.S.P.S. correspondence.

Administrative Contact: Enter the business information for the applicant's advisor. Leave blank if the applicant has not identified an advisor.

Project Manager: Leave blank or, if the applicant has a second advisor, please enter the second advisor's information here.

Item 3. Citizenship Status, Degree Sought, Educational Level (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. 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.
  4. 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/nsf06309/pdf/tab15.pdf (PDF, 26pp., 100KB, about PDF). The full NSF report is available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf06309/. 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 2003", Table 15, column two, received less than $___________ million in Federal Research and Development expenditures in fiscal year 2003. 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.
  5. Degree Sought: Bachelor. Include the month and year you expect the degree to be awarded.

Item 4. 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. Note: Your planned course of study must focus on one or more of the areas of environmental significance identified in Section IV.B. Item 1.
  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.

Item 5. Education and 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.

Publications (1 Page)

If you have published in the technical/scientific literature, provide a bibliography here. If you have not yet published, write "NA." Also include information on presentations you have given at professional meetings.

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.

Item 6. Voluntary Information (1 page)

Voluntary Information: For EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD) programmatic assessment purposes only, include your gender and race, ethnicity, or national origin (e.g., Black or African-American, White, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander), and whether you are a person with a disability. This information is requested pursuant to Executive Orders 13125, as amended, (Increasing Opportunity and Improving Quality of Life of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders), 13230 (President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans), 13256 (President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities), and 13270 (Tribal Colleges and Universities), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, 29 U.S.C. 794; and in compliance with the Office of Management and Budget's 1997 Revision to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. Providing this information is voluntary and has no impact on the Agency's evaluation of your application. If provided, this information will be kept completely separate from your pre-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 be governed by the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552a, and the information will be handled in accordance with EPA Privacy Act System EPA-36.

Item 7. Letters of Recommendation

Each applicant MUST arrange for three (3) current letters of recommendation on official letterhead from individuals who have knowledge of your academic record. Letters of recommendation are critical components of the pre application. These letters may be submitted either in paper copy or electronically (via e-mail) per the instructions below. All letters of recommendation must be received by EPA no later than 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date, November 29, 2006. If you have a sponsor or advisor in the program, one of these letters of recommendation should come from that individual. Select your references carefully and urge them to write letters specifically about you. Do not write the letters yourself. Letters of recommendation that appear to be mass produced are generally not ranked highly by the reviewers. At a minimum, the letters of recommendation 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.

Paper-copy submitted letters of recommendation must have the name of the applicant and the appropriate funding opportunity number clearly marked on both the letter and on the outside of the envelope prior to sending it to EPA (see "Other Submission Requirements" below for the mailing address).

Electronically submitted letters of recommendation must have the name of the applicant and the appropriate funding opportunity number in the "subject" line as well as in the letter of recommendation itself. In addition, the letter must be submitted as a PDF attachment with a filename containing the last 7 digits of the Funding Opportunity Number and the applicant's last name. Email letters to 2007NCERFellowLetters@epa.gov. This email address is for letter of recommendation submission only; emails sent to this address will not receive a response. Any pre-applications emailed to this address will be rejected.

NCER cannot guarantee that letters of recommendation not containing the applicant's name and funding opportunity number will be matched with the appropriate pre-application.

C. Submission Dates and Times
For paper copy submissions, the original and two (2) copies of the pre-application (3 in all) must be received by EPA no later than 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date, November 29, 2006. Electronic pre-applications must be transferred to Grants.gov no later than 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date. Letters of recommendation (see IV.B. Item 7. above) must also be received by EPA no later than 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date, November 29, 2006.

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 pre-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. Pre-applications received after the closing date will be returned to the sender without further consideration.

Solicitation Closing Date: November 29, 2006, 4:00 pm Eastern Time
Earliest Anticipated Start Date: September 1, 2007

D. 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 fellowship 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 Fellows.

E. Submission Instructions and 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

Three (3) copies of the pre-application must be submitted: 1) an original, signed copy that includes the Voluntary Information described in Section IV.B., Item 6. above (this is the only copy that needs to include the Voluntary Information); 2) a single sided copy on plain white paper without the voluntary information for scanning (please label this copy as "FOR SCANNING AND REVIEW USE"); and 3) another photocopy of version 2 for administrative purposes. Do not permanently bind or staple any of these copies; please use either binder or paper clips to secure them.

Because of security concerns, paper pre-applications cannot be personally delivered. They must be sent through regular mail, express mail, or a major courier.

The following address must be used for regular mail:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8725F)
Funding Opportunity Number: (applicant: place the appropriate funding opportunity number here)
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)
Funding Opportunity Number: (applicant: place the appropriate funding opportunity number here)
1025 F Street, NW (Room 3500)
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: (202) 233 0686

Pre applications MUST be received by EPA no later than 4:00 p.m., EST, on November 29, 2006. NOTE: Letters of Recommendation MUST also be received by EPA no later than 4:00 pm EST, on November 29, 2006 (see IV.B., item 7, above for further instructions). Allow sufficient time to assure delivery by 4:00 pm EST on November 29, 2006. 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 IV.A. above).

Submission Instructions for Electronic Pre-Applications

Please read this entire section before attempting an electronic submission through Grants.gov.

START EARLY! Do not delay submission of your pre-application past 10:00am on the deadline day. Due to the potentially high volume of applications submitted as the deadline time approaches, it is possible that the Grants.gov electronic submission and telephone assistance systems may become overwhelmed.

Grants.gov requires an individual registration to submit a pre-application for this solicitation; however, registration is not required to view the pre-application package. To register, go to http://www.grants.gov/, click on "Get Registered", click on "Individual Registration". Allow at least one day for the registration to be activated.

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 "Step 1"). Note: This is a computer program; many institutions will not allow it to be downloaded into the institutional system. The pre-application package may be quickly accessed from https://apply.grants.gov/forms_apps_idx.html using the appropriate Funding Opportunity Number. Please register for announcement change notification emails. The Grants.gov training demonstration, "How to Complete a Grant Application Package", is available at: http://www.grants.gov/images/Application_Package.swf. The Grants.gov "Applicant's User Guide" is available at http://www.grants.gov/help/user_guides.jsp.

Note: Grants.gov is not compatible with all internet browsers. To avoid fatal submission problems, please check the compatibility of the computer system you intend to use prior to attempting to submit an electronic pre-application. The Grants.gov system requirements are: Windows 98, ME, NT 4.0, 2000, XP; 500 MHz processor; 128 MB of RAM; 40 MB disk space; Web browser: Internet Explorer 5.01 or higher, Netscape Communicator 4.5 - 4.8, Netscape 6.1, 6.2 or 7.

The complete pre-application must be transferred to Grants.gov no later than 4:00 pm Eastern Time on November 29, 2006. NOTE: Letters of Recommendation MUST be received by EPA no later than 4:00 p.m., EST, on November 29, 2006 (see section IV.B. Item 7 above for further information). Allow sufficient time to assure delivery by November 29, 2006. 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 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 be responded to unless they are placed after January 3, 2007.

Pre-Application Package Preparation. The pre-application package consists of 1 though 5 below.

  1. On the initial electronic Grant Application Package page, complete the "Application Filing Name" field by entering the Applicant's name, starting with the last name. Note: Applicants do not need to complete the "Competition ID" field.
  2. Application for Federal Assistance (SF 424): This is item 1 in section IV. B above. Do not follow the instructions provided with the form. Instead, follow the instructions below for items that may cause difficulty. Only the yellow highlighted fields need to be completed.
    8.a. The applicant is the student submitting the pre-application.
    8.b. Enter your the applicant's social security number.
    8.f. The contact person is the applicant (see 8.a.).
    9. enter "P: individual"
    15. Provide a descriptive title for your environmental research project. The title must be brief yet represent the major thrust of the project. Because the title will be used by those not familiar with the project, strike a balance between highly technical words and phrases and more commonly understood terminology. Do not use general phrases such as "research on".. If the specific topic has not been selected, enter your research area of interest.
    16.a. For help finding the appropriate Congressional District, see http://www.house.gov/. If you cannot locate a Congressional District (e.g., Puerto Rico), please enter "00".
    16.b. Enter "00".
    17.a. Enter a Start Date of 9/01/2007.
    17.b. Enter the End Date up to 2 academic years for bachelor's degree support. If necessary, these dates can be modified if you receive a fellowship.
    18.a. Enter the amount of funding you are requesting (up to $17,000 per year for a bachelor's degree).
    18.b.-f. Enter "0"
    19. Enter "c" Program is not covered.
    The Authorized Representative is the applicant (see 8.a.). You may enter "student" as the title. "Close Form" will save and close the form.
  3. EPA Key Contacts Form 5700 54: Complete the form as described in Section IV.B. Item 2, above.
  4. Project Narrative Attachment Form (click on "Add Mandatory Project Narrative"): Attach a single electronic file labeled
    "MandatoryApplicationInfo" that contains the items described in Section IV.B., items 3, 4, and 5, above. This file must be submitted in Adobe Acrobat PDF. Please review the PDF file for conversion errors prior to including it in the electronic pre-application package; requests to rectify conversion errors will not be accepted if made after the solicitation closing date and time.
  5. Voluntary Information (Click on "Add Optional Project Narrative File"): Attach a single electronic file labeled "Confidential" that contains information described in Section IV.B. Item 6. above. Submit this file in Adobe Acrobat PDF. This file must also be submitted in the Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

    Letters of Recommendation cannot be submitted electronically through Grants.gov; see Section IV.B. Item 7. above for instructions. Letters of Recommendation MUST be received by EPA no later than 4:00 p.m., EST, on November 29, 2006.

    Once the pre-application package has been completed, the "Submit" button should be enabled (you may need to "Check Package for Errors" as well as save the file before this occurs). If the "Submit" button is not active, please contact Grants.gov for assistance (Telephone: 1 800 518 4726). Applicants should save the completed pre-application package with two different file names to avoid having to re key the forms should submission problems be experienced.

    Close all other software before attempting to submit the electronic pre-application package. Click the "submit" button of the pre-application pack age. Your internet browser will launch and a sign in page will appear. Enter the username and password chosen for your individual registration. Note: Minor problems are not uncommon with transfers to Grants.gov. It is essential to begin the electronic submission process by 10am on November 29, 2006 to allow sufficient time for trouble shooting the process.

    A successful transfer will end with an on screen acknowledgement. "Print Screen" this acknowledgement for documentation purposes. If you experience submission problems, reboot the computer -- turning the power off may be necessary -- and re attempt the submission. If submission problems continue, contact Grants.gov for assistance (Telephone: 1 800 518 4726).

    Transmission Difficulties. If transmission difficulties that result in a late transmission, no transmission, or rejection of the transmitted application are experienced, follow the guidance below. NCER may decide to review the application if it is clearly demonstrated that the transfer to Grants.gov was begun in a timely fashion and that the transmission difficulties were due solely as a result of problems associated with the transfer to Grants.gov. The decision regarding acceptance of the application for review will be made by NCER management and provided to the applicant within ten working days of the request. All e-mails, as described below, are to be sent to Bronda Harrison (Harrison.Bronda@EPA.gov) with the FON in the subject line.

    1. Late transfer due to electronic submission problems: Should electronic submission problems result in the application being transferred to Grants.gov after 4:00 pm but before 5:00pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date, send an e-mail documenting the problem and include the Grants.gov "case number".
    2. Unsuccessful transfer of application package: If a successful transfer of the application cannot be accomplished due to electronic submission issues, send an e-mail before 5:00pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date. Document the problem, include the Grants.gov "case number," and attach the entire application.
    3. Grants.gov rejection of application: If a notification is received from Grants.gov stating that the application has been rejected for reasons other than late submittal, immediately send an email which includes any materials provided by Grants.gov with the entire application attached.

V. PRE-APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

A. Peer Review:
All eligible fellowship pre-applications are reviewed by an appropriate external technical peer review panel comprised of individual experts using the criteria below. 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. Each peer review panel includes non-EPA scientists, engineers, social scientists, and/or economists who are accomplished in their respective disciplines and proficient in the technical subjects they are reviewing. Reviewers are asked to individually assign a score of excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor to each pre-application. EPA translates the average of these individual scores into the final panel review score.

Criteria 1-3 are listed in descending order of importance

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

B. Programmatic Review
Pre-applications receiving scores of excellent or very good as a result of the peer review process will then undergo an internal programmatic review, conducted by NCER scientists/engineers All other pre-applications are automatically declined.

The purpose of the programmatic review is to assure an integrated, balanced research portfolio for the Agency and help determine which pre-applications to recommend for award. Finalists will be recommended for award of a fellowship based on the following factors: 1) the availability of funds; 2) program goals, such as distribution of awards across disciplines, institutions and geography; 3) the NCER internal reviewer evaluations; 4) degree level being sought; and 5) other possible indicators of program balance.

C. Funding Decisions
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

A. Award Notices
Either a summary statement or multiple individual reviews provided by the external merit review panel will be provided to each applicant with an award or declination letter. If selected to receive a fellowship, you will be contacted no later than May 31, 2007 and should subsequently receive your official notification of award by July 20, 2007, 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 Agency'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" This form is available on the NCER web page (www.epa.gov/ncer/fellow/).
  2. Additional information and documentation about your educational status and tuition/other costs.
  3. Sealed official transcripts from all institutions.

B. 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. Also see http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/faqs.html.

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

  1. Meetings: 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 (STAR) 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.

VII. 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 R.F.A. obtained from sources other than those indicated may not be accurate.

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
Electronic Submissions Contact: Bronda Harrison (harrison.bronda@epa.gov); phone: 202-564-1790
Technical Contact: Georgette Boddie (boddie.georgette@epa.gov); phone, 703-347-8049

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