Self-Help: Notification of Funding Opportunity

Notification of Funding Opportunity

The U.S. Embassy announces an open competition for local organizations to submit applications to carry out projects addressing Mali’s economic growth that prioritize environmental protection, education, market gardening and youth entrepreneurship.

The Ambassador’s Special Self-Help (SSH) program is a grass-roots grant assistance program that allows U.S. Ambassadors to support local requests for small community-based development projects.  The purpose of the Special Self-Help Program is to support communities through modest grants that will positively impact local communities.  The SSH philosophy is to help communities ready to help themselves.

Self-Help Program Application Schedule

Application Period: June 29- August 28

Selection Period: August 28 – September 4

Grant Award Approximate Date: October

This notice is subject to funding availability

Applicant Criteria:

All citizens of MALI representing a civilian, religious, social, community development, special interest, disability, or advocacy group or organization may request funding for a community activity.  Groups must be registered with the proper authorities.

The project must be written in English and submitted by an organized group who is motivated, has a real need and has already successfully implemented projects in the community.  The project should be feasible and based on the socio-economic context of the local community.

To be eligible for funding your project must meet the following criteria:

  1. The project should help improve basic economic or social conditions at the local community or village level, and have long-lived value.
  2. The project should be high-impact, benefiting the greatest number of people possible.
  3. Substantial community participation in the activity is required.  Contributions may include labor, materials (bricks, sand, gravel, seeds, etc.), land, buildings, or money to ensure the success of the project.
  4. Funding is limited to one project, which must be completed within twelve (12) months or less.
  5. Projects must be self-sustaining upon completion.  The U.S. Embassy’s support for the project must be a one-time-only/one grant contribution.
  6. Projects must be within the community’s ability to maintain and operate.  Requests for large-scale agriculture or construction projects or for expensive equipment are not considered priority projects.
  7. Managers of a project should have evidence that they are financially responsible and will be able to account for funds sent to them.  Having a bank account, or establishing credit with vendors, are examples of such evidence.
  8. The requested amount for implementing activities cannot exceed $10,000.  Project budgets generally range from $2,000 to $10,000.

Limitations/Exclusions from Eligibility

The Self Help Program may only pay for items and technical assistance that are absolutely necessary for the completion of the project.  The Self Help Program cannot be used for administrative costs, salaries, costs associated with the project manager, travel to and from the Embassy, or items that are not permanent in nature.  Costs incurred prior to the actual award of a grant will be reimbursed only by pre-approval of the grants officer at the sole discretion of the Embassy.

Additionally, the Special Self Help Program does not fund:

  1. Requests to buy equipment like vehicles, office equipment, copiers, stereos.
  2. Proposals that have a purely police, military, or cultural emphasis.
  3. Religious projects unless they genuinely assist the whole community without regard to religious affiliation.
  4. Personal businesses.
  5. Scholarships, donations, or honorariums.
  6. Payment for pesticides, herbicides, labor, salaries, operating costs, printing material, fuel, or land.
  7. To remodel or renovate an existing facility that is in disrepair as a result of neglect or lack of money.
  8. Office supplies such as pencils, paper, forms and folders.
  9. Projects that are partially funded by another donor or from the government of your country.  Funds cannot be commingled with funds from other donors, international organization or other U.S. government programs.
  10. Projects that focus on refugees or displaced persons.  There are specific U.S. bilateral or multilateral assistance programs designed to address their needs.
  11. SSH, funds may not be used to buy previously owned equipment, luxury goods, or gambling equipment.
  12. Salaries or supervision costs for the supervising organization.  Contingency estimates also do not qualify.

Please note:  We encourage you to contact us with questions as you develop your proposal, as applications that include ineligible items may be disqualified.

Elements of Successful Projects

  • The project is initiated by the community.
  • The project plan contains pre-established long-term goals and a coherent plan to keep the project running in the future.
  • A capable project manager who is a long-term resident in the community is responsible for the project.
  • The project is assisted by a non-biased umbrella organization, such as a religious mission or a local NGO that provides guidance and arbitration on issues when necessary.
  • There is strong coordination and communication amongst the grant-recipient group, local leaders, and local government representatives.
  • The project makes use of materials and supplies that can be maintained by the community, and the use of materials that will not harm the environment.

Sample Projects Include:

  1. Water Supply and Sanitation:
  2. Safe Water Access – Increase access to water (e.g., well drilling and spring capping); and expansion of water supply infrastructure, such as pumps and distribution systems.
  3. Basic Sanitation – Increase access to and use of sanitation services for safe human waste disposal to protect human health and environmental quality.
  4. Social Services:
  5. Assist vulnerable and at-risk populations.  These groups include the disabled; orphans, children and youth; victims of gender-based violence; ethnic minorities or other socially excluded groups; the elderly; and female heads of household.
  6. Projects for vulnerable groups could include, but are not limited to classrooms construction, school equipment, health centers, storehouses, income-generating activities, local infrastructures, and assistance for education.

Local Community Involvement

Local involvement of the organization or group must be at least 10% in cash or in kind of the total project costs.  The personal contribution of funding may be crucial to make a choice between two viable requestors.  The local contributions can be in cash or in kind.  In-kind contributions could be:  labor (wages of masons and workers), food, accommodation for qualified labor, carts of sand or gravel, bricks for construction, sand, fence, water supply, transportation costs, donations of materials etc.

Additionally, community leaders must also sign the statement of interest.  Community leaders include local municipal leaders, religious leaders, tribal or clan leaders, or any governing body that has oversight over where the project will be implemented.  At least one community leader must sign the statement of interest; however, multiple signatures are strongly encouraged.  Community leaders may also submit letters of support for the project, so long as they specifically mention the project by title.

Application Procedures

  1. Applications for Special Self-Help Funds should include the following:
  2. Completed Statement of Interest form (example including in manual)
  3. A Comprehensive Budget
  4. Detailed Building Plan with Dimensions (if necessary)
  5. Copies of a Bank Statement and/or Invoices (if available)
  6. Map of the Project Location
  7. Any additional information/literature you have about your organization and/or project.
  8. Submit the complete application package to the U.S. Self-Help Coordinator by August 28

Applications will be accepted in the following formats:

Electronic:  Email all required information to or call +223 66744860

Paper form:  Post or deliver all required information to: U.S. Embassy mail section

PERSON: Neneh Tabara Diallo, Grants Coordinator

ADDRESS: Political and Economic Section

United States Embassy

Applications received after August 28 will be considered with the next application period or will not be considered.

  1. Project selections will be announced September 5, 2018

This application will be evaluated on the following factors:

  • Completeness:  Did the applicant submit all of the materials requested, including but not limited to:
    • Complete responses to the Statement of Interest
    • Attachments A and B to the Statement of Interest
    • Applicable licenses, and ownership documents
    • Bank details and accounting procedures
    • Signatures
    • Pro forma invoices
  • Sustainability:  Is the project as described sustainable in the long term?  Will the project continue without additional investment?  Are measurements of success adequate?
  • Need:  Does the project adequately fulfill a stated need within a community?
  • Budget:  Is the budget complete, and well defined? Is the budget reasonable?
  • Completion within one year:  Can the project be completed in a single year?
  • Community support:  Does the project show strong community support?
  • Impact:  Does the project benefit the broadest numbers of beneficiaries possible?  Is there a substantial impact on the affected community?
  • Contribution and Group Capabilities:  Does the group provide adequate resources and show commitment to the project?  Is the group capable of administering the project as designed?

Other Required Documentation

The U.S. Embassy will require several forms to be filled out by groups selected for funding including US Standard Form 424, grants award document and its attachments, and any other terms and conditions required by the Embassy.

Publicity Campaign

It is expected that publicity will be given to the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help program and its projects, including press and radio releases, photographs, and plaques at project sites to acknowledge the shared efforts of the Malian and American people.


The U.S. Embassy can choose not to fund any applications.  Submitting an application for this funding opportunity does not guarantee selection.