1. Importance and/or relevance and applicability of proposal to the program goals (35 points)
For all Priorities
- Issue definition and background research (3 points)-
Will the students/teachers focus on an environmental question, problem, or issue requiring background research and investigation? Do they learn about the issue through classroom instruction, the collection of data, conducting experiments, talking to experts and reviewing credible publications? Is the issue age appropriate with practices growing in complexity and sophistication across the grades, starting with educator guided investigation and progressing to student-led inquiry?
- Outdoor field activities (3 points)-
Do students/teachers participate in multiple (more than two) outdoor field activities sufficient to collect the data or make observations required for answering the research questions and informing student actions? Are the students/teachers actively involved?
- Stewardship action projects (3 points)-
Do students/teachers participate in a grade level appropriate project during which they take action to address environmental issues at the personal or societal level. Does the stewardship action project result in a positive impact on the environment?
- Synthesis and conclusions (3 points)-
Do students/teachers analyze and evaluate the results of projects and investigations. Do students/teachers synthesize and communicate results and conclusions to an external audience such as their peers, schools, parents, the community, or at conferences?
- NOAA assets (3 points)-
Does the applicant incorporate NOAA assets into the program that will heighten the impact of environmental instruction in both the classroom and field?
Priority 1 - MWEE Implementation in School Districts
Does the project have a plan to reach all students and relevant teachers at a school district (6 points)? Does the proposal ensure that the teachers of these students receive high quality professional development to give them the content knowledge and pedagogical skills for outdoor learning to support all aspects of the MWEE (6 points)? Do the applicants demonstrate how trained teachers will implement student MWEEs (3 points)? Does the applicant clearly document that the proposed project is a part of building or supporting a broader systemic program in a school district (5 points)?
Priority 2 - Student MWEE
Are the experiences for the students a set of activities over a period of time (8 points)? Does the project include adequate teacher involvement, meaning that the teacher is engaged along with the students from beginning to the end (5 points)? Is there a driving question that the students are focused on that is a locally relevant environmental issue, problem, or phenomenon (7 points)?
Priority 3 - Teacher MWEE
Does the proposal clearly document how it will ultimately result in student MWEEs (6 points)? Does the project increase teacher knowledge and awareness of environmental issues (5 points)? Does the project allow for adequate instructional time (2 points)? Does the project provide ongoing teacher support and appropriate incentives (3 points)? Does the project include more than 24 hours of professional development time (2 points)? Are more than 10 hours of professional development time spent outdoors (2 points)?
2. Technical merit (35 points)
For all Priority Areas:
- Does the applicant target the priority audience outlined in the funding announcement and provide specific demographics (6 points)?
- Does the applicant make a clear connection to the marine/estuarine environment and a national marine sanctuary or the National Marine Sanctuary System (3 points)?
- Does the applicant explain the concept of a watershed (3 points)?
- Does the project include the topic of climate change; specifically does it include one of the areas and one of the key messages outlined in outlined in Section I.A.3 (3 points)?
- Does the applicant follow the technical requirements (3 points)?
- Does the project include partners and include letters from each of the partners (5 points)?
- Does the applicant demonstrate that the objectives are realistic and can be reached within the proposed project period (3 points)?
- Does the logic model show good understanding of desired outputs and outcomes for the project (3 points)?
- Does the applicant provide an effective evaluation strategy to determine if project objectives and outcomes are being met (6 points)?
3. Overall qualifications of applicants (10 points)
For all Priority Areas:
- Does the applicant demonstrate an understanding of the target community, including in-depth understanding of schools and school systems? (5 points)
- Does the applicant demonstrate the capability and experience to successfully complete similar projects? (5 points)
4. Project costs (10 points)
For all Priority Areas:
- Is there sufficient detail to verify that the budget request is reasonable for the number of participants and/or target audience to be reached? (5 points)
-- Are the requested funds for salaries and fringe benefits realistic and only for those personnel who are directly involved in the implementation of the proposed project? (5 points)
5. Outreach and education (10 points)
For all Priority Areas:
- Does the project involve mechanisms for significant external sharing and communication about the project by students, teachers, or project staff (4 points)?
- Does the project propose community events that engage parents, other community members, etc. (2 points)?
- Does the project propose peer to peer sharing for teacher and/or student (e.g., in-service days, school assemblies) (2 points)?
- Will the project be publicized at conferences and to the media/social media, etc. (2 points)?
Review and Selection Process
- Initial Evaluation of the Application
- Merit Review
Once a full application has been received by the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, an initial administrative review is conducted to determine compliance with requirements and priorities of the application. If applications do not comply, they will be returned without further review.
Applications meeting the requirements of this solicitation will be evaluated and scored by independent reviewers in three review panels. Reviewers serving on these panels may be Federal or non-Federal experts in areas relevant to the priorities under consideration. Each proposal will be reviewed by a minimum of three reviewers. The B-WET Program Manager will neither vote nor score applications as part of the review panels. Before the panels convene, each reviewer will individually evaluate and score proposals using the evaluation criteria provided in Section V.A. above. Scores and comments will be submitted to the Federal Program Officer and the individual reviewers' rating will be averaged for each application to establish a preliminary rank order for each panel. New proposals and proposals considered for continuation will be scored using the same criteria as outlined above, but continuation proposals will not be ranked with the new proposals and given priority over new proposals.
The panel will convene to review the ranking and comments and discuss the proposals as a group. Continuation proposals will be considered for continuation based on the comments and feedback from the panel meeting and will independently recommended with either a yes- continue/fund, or a no- do not continue/fund.
During the panel meeting, reviewers can revise their scores and comments. Reviewers must individually submit final ranking to the B-WET Program Manager by the end of the panel meeting. No consensus advice will be given by the review panel members. The reviewers' final ranking will be averaged for each application to produce a rank order of the proposals for each of the panels.
The B-WET Program Manager will make the recommendations for funding to the Selecting Official based on rank order of each panel and the selection factors listed below.
The B-WET Program Manager will review the ranking of the proposals and recommendations of the review panel. The average numerical ranking from the review panel will be the primary consideration in deciding which of the proposals will be recommended for funding to the Selecting Official.
The Selecting Official shall award in rank order unless the proposal is justified to be selected out of rank order based upon one or more of the following factors:
- Availability of funding;
- Balance/distribution of funds;
- By type of institutions
- By type of partners
- By research areas
- By project types
- Whether this project duplicates other projects funded or considered for funding by NOAA or other federal agencies;
- Program priorities and policy factors as set out in Section I.B.1-5 and Section III.B. of the Full Funding Opportunity;
- Applicant's prior award performance;
- Partnerships and/or participation of targeted groups;
- Adequacy of information necessary for NOAA staff to make a NEPA determination and draft necessary documentation before recommendation for funding are made to the Grants Officer.
Selected applicants may be asked to modify objectives, project plans or budgets, and provide supplemental information required by the agency prior to the award. When a decision has been made (whether an award or declination), verbatim anonymous copies of reviews and summaries of review panel deliberations, if any, will be made available to the applicant.