NIST is pleased to announce funding on behalf of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) for the NICE K12 Cybersecurity Education Outreach Program. NIST is soliciting applications from U.S.-located, non-Federal entities to assist NICE in its outreach efforts to build a K12 community that inspires cybersecurity career awareness with students in elementary school, stimulates cybersecurity career exploration in middle school, and enables cybersecurity career preparedness in high school.
NICE seeks to provide financial assistance to an organization engaged with stakeholders involved in helping K12 students pursue cybersecurity education and work-based learning opportunities through a year-round communication and engagement strategy that culminates in the annual NICE K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference. See the full Notice of Funding Opportunity here.
The deadline to apply is Monday, June 1, 2020, by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. See the Grants.gov announcement and the full details of the Notice of Funding Opportunity for more information. For programmatic or technical questions, contact the NICE Program Office at nice.nist [at] nist.govtitle="mailto:nice.nist [at] nist.gov".
NIST held a webinar for interested applicants to provide general information regarding this funding opportunity, offer general guidance on preparing applications, and answer questions on Friday, April 17 at 2:00pm EDT.
Where can I go to learn more about this Federal Funding Opportunity?
Am I eligible to apply?
Eligibility for the program listed in this NOFO is open to any U.S.-located non-Federal entities. Eligible applicants include institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, for-profit organizations, state and local governments, Indian tribes, hospitals, and foreign organizations. Please note that individuals and unincorporated sole proprietors are not considered “non-Federal entities” and are not eligible to apply under this NOFO. Although Federal entities are not eligible to receive funding under this NOFO, they may participate as unfunded collaborators.
If I currently receive funding from another federal agency or from NIST, am I still eligible to apply?
Yes. Funding does not affect eligibility of an entity. Please see the question above to determine entity eligibility.
If a legally formed non-profit is waiting for its exempt status can it still apply?
Are LLC’s that file taxes as a sole proprietor eligible to apply for this grant?
A Limited Liability Company (LLC) that has been registered with a state is not considered a sole proprietorship; therefore, an LLC is eligible to apply under this NOFO. Tax treatment of the entity is not relevant to eligibility for this competition.
Are joint ventures allowable?
One organization must be the lead, but subawardees and contracts are permitted. Each contract or subaward should be treated as a separate item. Identify the cost and describe the services to be provided and the necessity of the subaward or contract to the successful performance of the proposed project. Contracts are for obtaining normal goods and services. Subawardees perform part of the project scope of work.
Is it allowable to subcontract to a university or community college to assist with local engagement, without knowing the location of the conferences at the time of application? In other words, can we put an amount in our budget to pay a university or community college, “To be determined”, for a subcontract to assist with local outreach, planning efforts taking into consideration the unique needs and assets of that particular community?
Yes, the proposed budget that is submitted with the application may include costs for TBD subcontracts but should include sufficient justification for these costs in the budget narrative.
Can you provide any insight about my ideas in relation to the outreach program?
Proprietary technical discussions about specific project ideas with NIST staff are not permitted at any time before submitting an application to NIST. Also, NIST staff will not critique or provide feedback on specific project ideas while they are being developed by an applicant.
What do you specifically mean by program outreach? Can you give past examples of program outreach?
The outreach strategy should outline how the applicant will seek out and engage with stakeholders on cybersecurity K12 education on a continuing basis. The applicant should describe activities and platforms, outside of the annual conference, that will be used to engage with the public on cybersecurity K12 education. For example, see National K12 Cyber Signing Day.
Is there a current incumbent? Is the past conference available?
Yes. The NICE K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference is currently supported by NICE, a program of NIST, under financial assistance award #60NANB16D302. Learn more and view past conference information at https://www.nist.gov/itl/applied-cybersecurity/nice/events/nice-k12-cybersecurity-education-conference.
Will records of previous events be transferred to the award recipient, including lists of past event attendees, speakers, and planning members?
Publicly available data from the current NICE K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference will be made available to the award recipient. This includes several years of past speakers and presentation slides and information on the current conference year planning committee. Select past conference metrics may also be made available, including past conference attendance, registration rates, and locations. Personally identifiable information such as email addresses of mailing list subscribers and attendees will not be provided.
Is the recipient required to be involved with planning the 2020 conference?
No, participating in the current 2020 conference planning is not required nor expected.
Does the proposal need to include an in-person conference or can there be other formats eg virtual opportunities for stakeholders to come together?
Conferences must be in-person and the locations must change from year to year within the continental United States. However, applicant should reflect in their proposal if they plan to offer virtual opportunities to attendees.
Are international conference locations desired/required/not allowed?
Conference locations must be within the continental United States.
Should the Conference Planning section of the Project narrative include five difference locations?
Specific venues do not need to be identified, but the proposal must include how conference locations will be identified. The proposal should describe the approach to how the applicant will ensure that regionally diverse locations within the U.S. will be selected each year for five years.
Do you expect registration fees to fall into a certain price range for future conferences?
We expect the conference to be kept affordable to a wide range of participants. Registration costs for the 2020 conference are as follows: Early bird $290, Regular reg $350, Government $290 (optional food $60), Student $150.
Is the grant recipient responsible for accepting direct payment of registration fees?
Yes. As part of the Resources section of the Project Narrative (See Section IV.2.a.(6).(d) of the NOFO), applicants should provide a description of the tools, technology, and human capital that will be utilized for the full scope of the outreach program. For organizations, this includes existing infrastructure (e.g., websites, conference registration systems, channels for promotion), qualifications, and proposed roles, of the participating organization(s) including proposed subawardees and contractors.
Would the conference be allowed to collect sponsorships or gifts (i.e. conference shirts or bags) to help underwrite the costs?
The applicant must clearly identify in its proposal whether the applicant anticipates generating program income pursuant to the proposed project (e.g., registration fees, etc.). Program income means gross income earned by the non-Federal entity that is directly generated by a supported activity or earned as a result of the Federal award. The costs of organized fund raising, including solicitation of gifts and bequests, and similar expenses incurred to raise capital or obtain contributions are unallowable. Promotional items such as memorabilia, models, gifts, and souvenirs are also unallowable.
How many people are expected at the annual conference?
Applicants should plan for annual conferences of 200 to 500 attendees.
Can the conference be combined with another K12 conference or must it be its own stand alone conference?
The conference may be co-located with other conferences, but must a separate event.
Is this a single award or multiple?
In Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20), NIST anticipates funding one award for approximately $150,000 per year for up to five (5) years with the possibility of converting this award to an institutional award at the conclusion of the award period.
How are the applications going to be reviewed?
Applications will be reviewed against a set of evaluation criteria. Please see section V. of the NOFO for a detailed description of the application review process.
How should I address Letters of Support for my application? And where should I send them?
All submissions must be provided electronically through Grants.gov. Paper and mailed submissions or attachments will not be accepted. To address the electronic copy of any letters of support, you may use the following:
National Initiative for Cybersecurity Program Office
National Institute of Standards and Technology
U.S. Department of Commerce
Is the funding intended to include just the conference or can the award funds be used to conduct summer camps, teacher training, and other activities?
Funding is intended to include a year-round communication and engagement strategy and leading the NICE K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference planning and execution efforts.
The award is for 150k per year for up to 5 years. Will NIST award one organization for a portion of the 5 years and another organization for another portion of the 5 years?
NIST will be making one award for up to five years, to a single entity. Funding for subsequent years will be contingent upon the availability of funding and other factors.
Do the grant funds need to cover the conference cost, such as the venue for the conference? Or is the intention for those types of costs to be covered by registration fees?
Costs related to organizing the conference must be included in the budget, but do not need to be limited to the federal funds available for this award. Program income is allowable, though applicants must clearly identify they anticipate generating program income pursuant to the proposed project (e.g., registration fees, etc.). All program income must be expended in furtherance of the purposes of the award.
Can grant funds be used to hire a program coordinator?
Yes. Personnel is a category of the budget. The budget justification for all personnel should include the following: job title, commitment of effort on the proposed project in terms of average number of hours per week or percentage of time, salary rate, total personnel charges for each identified position on the proposed project, description of the role of the individual on the proposed project and the work to be performed.
Is there any maximum percentage of direct costs that can be devoted to the personnel category in the budget?
There is no maximum percentage of direct costs that can be devoted to the personnel category.
Is travel a cost in addition to the award budget?
Travel costs related to implementing the proposed outreach strategy and conference planning activities may be included in the project budget. This award will not cover the costs of conference participants' travel.
What is the expected start date for this award?
The start date for this award is targeted for August 2020 so that the award recipient can begin planning and announce the 2021 conference dates and location at this year's conference, which will take place on November 16-18, 2020.