Project OVERCOME FAQs

FAQs:

  • Must proposals include an innovative technology to be competitive, or could an innovative approach, partnership/financing model, etc. sufficiently elevate a proposal? Can “novel” solutions be more directed towards the application side of this grant implementation? In other words, rather than having “novel” solutions specific to deploying broadband tech, can we prioritize novel solutions on how people in the community gain access to and participate in the digital world? Click for answer
  • Will regional/multi-jurisdictional proposals be considered and/or seen as competitive? Click for answer
  • Application-based interested parties can help evaluate the benefits of online education, telehealth and “other application areas.” What “other areas?” Click for answer
  • Will the applicant and it subs be required to register with SAMS.GOV? Click for answer
  • Will this presentation be available to us on the Ignite website? Click for answer
  • What do you mean by “sustain a second year of operation?” Can you elaborate on it? Is it mandatory to include a second year budget? Click for answer
  • There was a Jan. 8, 2020 deadline on the previous slide. Is that a typo? Click for answer
  • How does cost-share work? What about in-kind donations? Would fiscally sponsored projects be eligible to apply? If the fiscal sponsor is a nonprofit? Click for answer
  • Can you send the Q&As that you have answered out after the meeting as well? Click for answer
  • Does the application have to serve a broad range of populations? Click for answer
  • With $300k, one can only go to a certain deployment to the community. Would a proposal with a strong novel solution approach with lab testing (or small-scale testing) be considered competitive? Click for answer
  • Can a single proposal include multiple sites (e.g., rural and urban)? Click for answer
  • Is it considered critical to include a research partner in the proposal to evaluate and develop research questions and outcomes for executing the proposal? Click for answer
  • Will there be any technical assistance available for applicants? Click for answer
  • For smaller nonprofits looking to take the lead, but have limited resources to manage liability, are there any protections in place that can ensure nonprofits can actually afford to participate? In terms of risk taking, novel solutions, are there any protections for communities who need digital access but are wary of taking on the liability of a project like this? Click for answer
  • What if a private company is providing more than $25k of goods. Is there a limit of only $25k? Click for answer
  • How do you expect determinants to be measured? Societal impacts may not surface in 12 months – how do you expect to measure in the long term? Click for answer
  • It appears encouraging resource contributions, including cash, is against NSF policy on cost-sharing. Can you confirm that resource contribution is indeed encouraged? Click for answer
  • Are there specific social determinants that are of particular interest to NSF/Overcome? Click for answer
  • Is there a commitment to equity that centers and gives weight to WMBEs or BIPOC-led proposals? Click for answer
  • Would costs for developing and piloting an evaluation method and data (e.g., student achievement surveys) be eligible for inclusion? Click for answer
  • We discussed the connectivity, but the truth of the matter is that many students do not have the actual machine (computer, laptop, iPhone); could the larger problem be access to the endpoints? Click for answer
  • In addition to using funds for an initial deployment, can the applicant use project award funds for ongoing operations and maintenance? Click for answer
     

     

     

    Must proposals include an innovative technology to be competitive, or could an innovative approach, partnership/financing model, etc. sufficiently elevate a proposal? Can “novel” solutions be more directed towards the application side of this grant implementation? In other words, rather than having “novel” solutions specific to deploying broadband tech, can we prioritize novel solutions on how people in the community gain access to and participate in the digital world?

    Innovation in technical design is a key criterion for selection. In some cases, the technology itself will be novel. In other cases, its method of deployment, combination with other technologies, and/or innovative use for specific purposes, will improve on well-known successful approaches.

     

     

    Will regional/multi-jurisdictional proposals be considered and/or seen as competitive?

    There must be a defined community of unserved or underserved users to be connected. Partnerships serving that defined community may well be regional or multi-jurisdictional in nature. Note the request for governmental IT leaders to provide letters of support. Multi-jurisdictional proposals may require multiple letters, depending on how the community to be served is defined and their relevant governing bodies.

     

     

    Are we allowed to subcontract with private companies?

    While for-profit companies are ineligible to lead OVERCOME projects, nonprofit organizations or academic institutions may subcontract with for-profit companies for products and services. The outline of any proposed contracts should be described in the Budget Information and Sustainability Plan. However, we also encourage for-profit organizations to contribute resources to the proposed project. 

     

     

    Application-based interested parties can help evaluate the benefits of online education, telehealth and “other application areas.” What “other areas?”

    We trust the proposers will know enough about the communities they intend to serve to identify the most critical application areas for each community and identify interested parties.

     

     

    Is there an interest in precision agriculture applications?

    The primary goal of Project OVERCOME is to connect unserved and underserved people in defined communities. Precision agriculture coverage may be an interesting extension of the service, but the main focus should be on connecting communities of people.

     

     

    Will the applicant and its subs be required to register with SAMS.GOV?

    No, proposers are not required to register with SAMS.GOV 

     

     

    Will this presentation be available to us on the Ignite website?

    Yes, the video and PowerPoint presentation will be posted on Thursday November 12, 2020.

     

     

    What do you mean by “sustain a second year of operation?” Can you elaborate on it? Is it mandatory to include a second year budget?

    The RFP calls for a simple “pro forma” operational plan for the second year so that reviewers can understand the longer-term sustainability of the project, including any potential ongoing funding sources. A detailed plan or detailed budget for the second year is not required.

     

     

    There was a Jan. 8, 2020 deadline on the previous slide. Is that a typo?

    Yes. We’ve updated the slide to reflect 2021 with a deadline of 5:00 PM Eastern Time

     

     

    How does cost-share work? What about in-kind donations? Would fiscally sponsored projects be eligible to apply? If the fiscal sponsor is a nonprofit?

    Resources that are necessary for, and available to, a project that are not included in the $300,000 cash budget and Budget Information and Sustainability Plan (including any in-kind donations) are considered voluntary uncommitted cost-sharing. Contributed resources are further discussed on page 11 of the RFP. Voluntary uncommitted cost-sharing should be described in the Supplementary Documents and Information section of the proposal.

    Contributed resources are welcome. In NSF terms, we consider these to be voluntary.

     

     

    Could you please post the NSF budget rules?

    These can be found in the June 2020 NSF PAPPG – Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide available at the NSF website.

     

     

    Can you send the Q&As that you have answered out after the meeting as well?

    The FAQs will include these questions and answers.

     

     

    Can projects currently underway be considered?

    We are looking for innovative proofs-of-concept for connecting the unserved and underserved. Novel additions to current projects will certainly be considered.

     

     

    Does the application have to serve a broad range of populations?

    We are looking for unserved and underserved communities. Overall, Project OVERCOME will look for a diverse set of communities. However, each individual proposal does not need to serve a broad range of communities.

     

     

    With $300k, one can only go to a certain deployment to the community. Would a proposal with a strong novel solution approach with lab testing (or small-scale testing) be considered competitive?

    Lab testing may be part of a solution, but deployment to an unserved or underserved community is required.

     

     

    Can a single proposal include multiple sites (e.g. rural and urban)?

    We’d like to see a focus on unserved and underserved communities; multiple sites may be included if they fit within your chosen definition of a community to be served.

     

     

    Is it considered critical to include a research partner in the proposal to evaluate and develop research questions and outcomes for executing the proposal?

    Project OVERCOME seeks to use innovative technology, partnership, and social approaches to develop and deploy highly effective proofs of concept for connecting the unserved and underserved. Depending on your approach, research-oriented partners may be appropriate. Note the requirement for a faculty member from a local institution of Higher Education to assist with the design, deployment, and assessment of the proposed approach. Research questions and outcomes may be proposed and will be further developed collaboratively between the proposers and US Ignite and its experts. See page 7 of the RFP for further information.

     

     

    Will there be any technical assistance available for applicants?

    US Ignite and its partners will be pleased to consult with winning proposers on technical decisions and trade-offs, and hope that local for-profit and academic partners will help as well. However, the RFP suggests that each applicant depend on its own technical partner(s) during the proposal development phase of the process.

     

     

    Can you give some example projects? Past projects funded?

    This is a new RFP and there are no past funded projects in this area by NSF/US Ignite. For examples of previous technical approaches in the area of connecting the unconnected, go to the Project OVERCOME web page (https://www.us-ignite.org/program/overcome/) and scroll down to “Read Further Details on Sample Network Strategies”. 

     

     

    For smaller nonprofits looking to take the lead, but have limited resources to manage liability, are there any protections in place that can ensure nonprofits can actually afford to participate? In terms of risk taking, novel solutions, are there any protections for communities who need digital access but are wary of taking on the liability of a project like this?

    Note that Section VI of your proposal should be a one-page discussion of risk and risk management. It suggests looking for partners with experience in managing risks. One possible approach is to work closely with a governmental body that may help to mitigate project risks. US Ignite is also very willing to answer questions or help a smaller nonprofit understand how it might mitigate risks and afford to participate.

     

     

    What gets more “points” novelty or scalability?

    Reviewers will consider both creative approaches and the ability to scale-up and/or replicate the proposed approach. Both aspects will be present in winning proposals.

     

     

    What does the 10% de minimis rate mean?

    It is a substitute rate for the indirect cost rate that some organizations have negotiated with federal partners, like NSF. Please review NSF PAPPG guidance for Indirect Costs at II.C.g.viii for a detailed explanation. 

     

     

    What if a private company is providing more than $25k of goods. Is there a limit of only $25k?

    No — for-profit companies may provide an unlimited amount of in-kind contributions.

     

     

    How do you expect determinants to be measured? Societal impacts may not surface in 12 months – how do you expect to measure in the long term?

    We encourage longer-term studies of social impacts. However, the present funding authority from the National Science Foundation will only support 12 months of effort, and we trust that longer term benefits will surface as well.

     

     

    How do you define scalability and replication?

    One of the goals of Project OVERCOME is to foster proofs-of-concept that can be used as guides for future efforts to connect the unserved and underserved. Replication directly refers to this concept. Scalability is the ability of the proof-of-concept to scale to larger communities or to a larger group of users within the proposing community.

     

     

    It appears encouraging resource contributions, including cash, is against NSF policy on cost-sharing. Can you confirm that resource contribution is indeed encouraged?

    Voluntary committed cost-sharing is discouraged by the NSF. However, voluntary uncommitted cost sharing is permitted. Also please read the “Contributed Resources” paragraph on page 11 of the RFP carefully. Contributed resources should be described in the Supplementary Documents and Information.

     

     

    What should be the bandwidth for a subscriber or user?

    We expect this will vary by proposal. The usefulness of the estimated bandwidth and latency proposed will be considered as part of proposal evaluation criterion 2: “Creativity and effectiveness in technical design and deployment.” [Emphasis added only for the purpose of answering this question.]

     

     

    What is considered unserved or underserved?

    Unserved or underserved means no access (unserved) or inadequate access (underserved) to the Internet for important societal purposes such as online education, telehealth, and access to government services.

     

     

    Are there specific social determinants that are of particular interest to NSF/Overcome?

    We are looking for proposals that will persuade reviewers that their proposal will address important social determinants in the applicant’s community. There is no predefined list.

     

     

    Is there a commitment to equity that centers and gives weight to WMBEs or BIPOC-led proposals?

    Consistent with the policies of NSF’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which “promote diversity and inclusion, provide equal opportunity and access and eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and retaliation in employment at NSF and in participation with NSF-funded or conducted programs,” we are interested in encouraging a diverse set of proposals. Women and Minority-Owned Businesses would be excellent leaders and partners as measured by merit criteria 3 (“Robust and meaningful partnerships…”) and 9 (“Track record and qualifications of key personnel…”). The same applies to teams led by proposers representing Black or Indigenous communities as well as People of Color. 

     

     

    Would costs for developing and piloting an evaluation method and data (e.g., student achievement surveys) be eligible for inclusion?

    Please carefully read the paragraph on page 7 of the RFP beginning with “Since this RFP…” Costs involved with the performance of these tasks consistent with NSF rules are eligible costs for inclusion in your budget.

     

     

    We discussed the connectivity, but the truth of the matter is that many students do not have the actual machine (computer, laptop, iPhone); could the larger problem be access to the endpoints?

    We recognize that successful OVERCOME projects will consider multiple factors such as motivation, connectivity, devices, training and support, etc. Project OVERCOME is looking for innovation in connectivity methods and deployment while recognizing that successful solutions will involve multiple factors addressed by partnerships, contributed resources, and the budget for NSF funds given in Section V of your proposal. Any contributed resources should be discussed in the Supplementary Documents and Information. 

     

     

    In addition to using funds for an initial deployment, can the applicant use project award funds for ongoing operations and maintenance?

    We expect that some funds will pay some operations and management costs, but we also expect that the project has an operational plan to sustain the project for a second 12 months of operation without NSF funding. 
     

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