Ambassador’s Special Self-Help (SSH) Program



  • Funding Opportunity Title:        Ambassador’s Special Self-Help (SSH) Program
  • Funding Opportunity Number:    AFPRA-20-04 – link to
  • Deadline for Applications:          Rolling
  • Maximum for Each Award:          $10,000

This notice is subject to availability of funding.

U.S. Embassy Praia welcomes the submission of project applications for funding through the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Program (SSH). If interested, please carefully review the instructions below.

Program Description

Purpose of Small Grants: 

The SSH 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 help themselves.

Projects submitted for SSH must align with one or more U.S. Embassy priorities: 

Economic diversification, including small business creation and income generation 

Projects must aim to 1) generate sustainable income and employment opportunities in local communities, 2) advance economic diversification and encourage use of local natural resources or income generation, 3) promote a culture of entrepreneurship, and/or 4) improve economic or living conditions of a community.

Women start-ups and women entrepreneurs

Eligible projects assist women who are launching a business or who are overseeing the early stages of business development (between one to two years). Such projects must promote a culture of women-led entrepreneurship and innovation that can be replicated in the community. Projects must also promote profitable businesses that generate revenue and benefit the community.

Social and economic inclusion and creation of opportunities

Projects in this category must assist youth, children, women (particularly female heads of household), and other vulnerable groups to gain access to basic services (for example water, sanitation, and primary/pre-K education). They can also assist the creation of opportunities for vulnerable groups, particularly employment for youth.

Environmental protection, sustainability, resilience to environmental vulnerabilities, and adaptation to environmental change

Eligible projects will increase the capacity of communities to cope with vulnerability to drought and other environmental changes by building resilience, increasing capacity to adapt, and promoting income-generating activities. For example, projects may involve activities to improve water management, diversify agricultural practices, or provide benefits to the environment.

Applicants and Project Eligibility

An SSH project must be submitted by an organized group that is motivated, has identified 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.

Organizational Requirements:

All applicants must be registered Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs). We welcome proposals from Community and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that work directly with communities.  Organizations must be able to demonstrate that they have adequate internal controls and financial systems in place.

In order to be eligible to receive an award, all organizations must also have a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number issued via as well as a valid registration on  Please see Section I for more information.

Project Requirements: 

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

  1. The project should help improve basic economic or social conditions at the local community level and have long-term 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 that is given to ensure the success of the project. [See the section below on “Local Community Involvement”].
  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 is a one-time-only 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 proof 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 $4,000 to $8,000.

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 community contribution of funding may be crucial to make a choice between two viable requestors.  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 can sign a statement of interest.  Community leaders include local municipal leaders, religious leaders, civil society leaders, or any governing body that has oversight over where the project will be implemented.  One community leader can sign the statement of interest; however, multiple signatures are strongly encouraged.  Community leaders may also submit letters of support for the project.

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, or 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 Cabo Verde.  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. Please contact us via email at

Elements of a Successful Project

  • 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.
  • There is strong coordination and communication among the grant recipient, local leaders, and local government representatives.
  • The project makes use of materials and supplies that can be maintained by the community, and the materials that will not harm the environment.
  • The project has a high beneficiary to budget ratio, benefiting a significant number of community members
  • The project budget is clear, complete, and well defined.
  • The project responds to a community need and is based on a well-developed proposal that is responsive to the priorities and criteria explained in this NOFO.
  • Project activities and results show long-term sustainability.

Application Documents and Procedures

  1. Applications for Special Self-Help Funds should include the following:
  2. a. Completed SSH form, which can be downloaded here.
  3. b.  Detailed building plan with dimensions (if necessary/ if small-scale construction envisioned in the project proposal).
  4. c.  Project location (include map if available).
  5. d.  Any additional information/literature you have about your organization and/or project.

The following documents are required:

Mandatory application forms

  • SF-424 (Application for Federal Assistance – organizations)
  • SF-424A (Budget Information for Non-Construction programs)

The forms can be downloaded from  Instructions are available on the Embassy website at the grant support resources toolkit

  1. Make sure that the below is addressed in your SSH form, or submit the following:

Summary Page: Cover sheet stating the applicant’s name and organization, proposal date, program title, program period proposed start and end date, and brief purpose of the program.

Proposal (3 pages maximum): The proposal should contain sufficient information that anyone not familiar with it would understand exactly what the applicant wants to do. You may use your own proposal format, but it must include all the items below.

  • Proposal Summary: Short narrative that outlines the proposed program, including program objectives and anticipated impact.
  • Introduction to the Organization or Individual applying: A description of past and present operations, showing ability to carry out the program, including information on all previous grants from the U.S. Embassy and/or U.S. government agencies.
  • Problem Statement: Clear, concise and well-supported statement of the problem to be addressed and why the proposed program is needed
  • Program Goals and Objectives:  The “goals” describe what the program is intended to achieve.  The “objectives” refer to the intermediate accomplishments on the way to the goals. These should be achievable and measurable.
  • Program Activities: Describe the program activities and how they will help achieve the objectives.
  • Program Methods and Design: A description of how the program is expected to work to solve the stated problem and achieve the goal.  Include a logic model as appropriate.
  • Proposed Program Schedule and Timeline:  The proposed timeline for the program activities.  Include the dates, times, and locations of planned activities and events.
  • Key Personnel: Names, titles, roles and experience/qualifications of key personnel involved in the program.  What proportion of their time will be used in support of this program?
  • Program Partners:  List the names and type of involvement of key partner organizations and sub-awardees.
  • Program Monitoring and Evaluation Plan: This is an important part of successful grants. Throughout the time-frame of the grant, how will the activities be monitored to ensure they are happening in a timely manner, and how will the program be evaluated to make sure it is meeting the goals of the grant?
  • Future Funding or Sustainability Applicant’s plan for continuing the program beyond the grant period, or the availability of other resources, if applicable.


  1. Budget Justification Narrative:  After filling out the SF-424A Budget (above), use a separate sheet of paper to describe each of the budget expenses in detail.  See section II. Other Information: Guidelines for Budget Submissions below for further information.

Proposals can be submitted in English or Portuguese languages.

Submit the complete application package to the U.S. Self-Help Coordinator/ Praia Grants.  Applications will be accepted in electronic format, on a rolling basis.  Email all required information to

Application Deadline

Applications received after June will be considered with the next application period or will not be considered.  Project selections will be announced by October.

Evaluation Criteria

Applications will be evaluated on the following factors:

  • Completeness:  Did the applicant submit all of the materials requested, including but not limited to requirements in the SSH forms found on U.S. Embassy Praia’s website.
  • Embassy priorities: Does the application describe how the project’s goals are related to the Embassy priorities stated in this document?
  • Sustainability:  Is the project sustainable in the long term?  Will the project be able to continue without additional investment?  Are the suggested 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?

Review and Selection Process

A review committee will evaluate all eligible applications.

Other Required Documentation/ Reporting

Groups selected for funding will subsequently need to submit several required forms, including U.S. Standard Form 424, a grants award document, and any other terms and conditions required by U.S. Embassy Praia. Performance and financial reports will be required throughout the duration of the award.

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 project site plaques that acknowledge the shared efforts of Cabo Verde and the United States.  Publicity costs should be considered in the proposed budget.


U.S. Embassy Praia is not required to fund any applications.  Submitting an application does not guarantee selection.

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Section I

All organizations applying for grants (except individuals) must obtain these registrations.  All are free of charge:

  • registration which will generate a UEI
  • NCAGE/CAGE code

Any applicant with an exclusion in the System for Award Management (SAM) is not eligible to apply for an assistance award in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 CFR 180 that implement Executive Orders 12549 (3 CFR, 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 CFR, 1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension.”

The Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) is one of the data elements mandated by Public Law 109-282, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA), for all Federal awards. is the Federal government’s primary database for complying with FFATA reporting requirements.  OMB designated as the central repository to facilitate applicant and recipient use of a single public website that consolidates data on all federal financial assistance.  Under the law, it is mandatory to register in

Starting April 2022, the UEI will be assigned when an organization registers or renews its registration in at  To access an organization is required to have a account. Organization can create an account at   As a reminder, organizations need to renew its registration annually.

U.S.-based organizations: A CAGE code will be automatically assigned when the U.S. organizations registers in  CAGE must be renewed every 5 years.  Site for CAGE: Grantees may be asked for more information to finalized and must comply.

Foreign-based organizations: Must apply for a NCAGE code before registering in Go to: to apply for a NCAGE code.  NCAGE codes must be renewed every 5 years.

It is in the organization’s best interest to check if their CAGE/or NCAGE codes are active.  Organizations are required to register/or renew their CAGE or NCAGE codes prior to registering or renewing .  Both registration and renewals for both CAGE and NCAGE can take up to 10 days.  Organization’s legal address in NCAGE/CAGE must mirror www. requires all entities to renew their registration once a year in order to maintain an active registration status in  It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure it has an active registration in

If an organization plans to issue a sub-contract or sub-award, those sub-awardees must also have a unique entity identifier (UEI number).  Those entities can register for a UEI only at

If an organization does not have an active registration in prior to submitting an application, the application will be deemed ineligible.  All organizations applying for grants (except individuals) must obtain these registrations, the latter are free of charge.

Note: As of April 2022, a DUNS number is no longer required.

To register in

Obtain an NCAGE number by visiting:

  1. Click on NCAGE request
  2. Click on “Request New”
  3. Provide the required information.
  4. For additional information:
  5. The following is a list of contacts for NCAGE that are county specific if you need assistance:

NOTE: The information provided to NCAGE must match EXACTLY with the information that will be submitted to If there is any inconsistency, no matter how minor or insignificant, there may be delays to registering in For this reason, it is highly recommended that an entity take screenshots or print out their registration information provided to NCAGE as a reference.

Register in

  1. Go to
  2. Click on “Get Started” or “Renew Entity”
  3. Follow the instructions provided.
  4. NOTES:
    1. You will need to have a account in order to register an entity.
    2. An entity will be required to undergo an “Entity Validation” process (see below).
    3. An entity will also need to provide their NCAGE number.
    4. All of the information provided must be EXACTLY the same as was provided during NCAGE registration.
  5. Upon completion of registration, an entity will receive an Unique Entity Identifier (UEI).
  6. For full registration help see information here: Quick Start Guide for International Registrants.
  7. Additional resources are available at the Help Desk, which is called the Federal Service Desk (FSD):

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Section II – Other Information

Guidelines for Budget Justification

Personnel and Fringe Benefits: Describe the wages, salaries, and benefits of temporary or permanent staff who will be working directly for the applicant on the program, and the percentage of their time that will be spent on the program.

Travel: Estimate the costs of travel and per diem for this program, for program staff, consultants or speakers, and participants/beneficiaries. If the program involves international travel, include a brief statement of justification for that travel.

Equipment: Describe any machinery, furniture, or other personal property that is required for the program, which has a useful life of more than one year (or a life longer than the duration of the program), and costs at least $5,000 per unit.

Supplies: List and describe all the items and materials, including any computer devices, that are needed for the program. If an item costs more than $5,000 per unit, then put it in the budget under Equipment.

Contractual: Describe goods and services that the applicant plans to acquire through a contract with a vendor.  Also describe any sub-awards to non-profit partners that will help carry out the program activities.

Other Direct Costs: Describe other costs directly associated with the program, which do not fit in the other categories. For example, shipping costs for materials and equipment or applicable taxes. All “Other” or “Miscellaneous” expenses must be itemized and explained.

Indirect Costs:  These are costs that cannot be linked directly to the program activities, such as overhead costs needed to help keep the organization operating.  If your organization has a Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate (NICRA) and includes NICRA charges in the budget, attach a copy of your latest NICRA. Organizations that have never had a NICRA may request indirect costs of 10% of the modified total direct costs as defined in 2 CFR 200.68.

“Cost Sharing” refers to contributions from the organization or other entities other than the U.S. Embassy.   It also includes in-kind contributions such as volunteers’ time and donated venues.

Alcoholic Beverages:  Please note that award funds cannot be used for alcoholic beverages.