U.S. Ambassador’s Special Self Help Small Grants Program Guidelines

  1. Democracy and Human Rights Fund (DHRF)
  2. U.S. Ambassador’s Special Self Help Small Grants Program Guidelines

Available Free of Charge

Open Season: The application deadline for this funding cycle is February 28, 2021. Attached is the 2021 SSH application (pdf) or please email SelfHelpLusaka@state.gov for a Word version.

This is an annual program and is contingent on U.S. Congressional funding approval and is not guaranteed.

Guidelines and Requirements: The U.S. Ambassador’s Special Self-Help program (SSH) share the goal of providing small-scale assistance directly to Zambian community-based organizations as part of an ongoing commitment by the U.S. government to support Zambian-driven development activities at the local level. This program is highly competitive. We seek to support projects that demonstrate a high likelihood of success through their application.

In order to be considered, applicants must adhere to the following criteria:

  1. Must be a registered community-based organization (individuals and for profit businesses are not eligible).
  2. The project should be a single activity that helps improve basic economic or social conditions at the local community or village level, and have long-lived value. A successful proposal should also demonstrate the likelihood that it will be sustained over a long period.
  3. Funding is limited to one project, which, once started, must be completed within ten (10) months or less. Grantees should recognize that funding is granted (not loaned) and on a one-time basis only. (Communities may only benefit once from the SSH grant program).
  4. Projects should be high-impact, benefiting the greatest number of people possible. Projects which directly benefit only a limited number of people are discouraged.
  5. Project proposals should respect the environmental norms for small projects and not adversely affect protected or other sensitive environmental areas, threatened or endangered species and their habitat.
  6. The project must not replace or supplement activities normally supplied by the Zambian government, such as providing supplies for a district hospital, etc.
  7. Substantial community participation in activity is required. Contributions may include labor, materials (bricks, sand, gravel, seeds, etc.), land, buildings, or money to ensure the success of the project.
  8. Projects must be within the community’s ability to plan, execute, and maintain. The U.S. Embassy provides financial support only. Requests for large-scale agriculture or construction projects or for expensive equipment will not be priority projects.
  9. Managers of a project should have evidence that they are financially responsible and will be able to account for any funds disbursed to their organizations. Having a bank account or establishing credit with vendors are examples of such evidence.
  10. The requested amount for implementing activities must be reasonable; project budgets range from US$ 500 to US$15,000.
  11. Successful applicants must have the ability to send one representative to Lusaka to attend the half-day grant signing ceremony and workshop.

SSH funds cannot be used for:

  1. A project activity that is not clearly identified and described.
  2. Revolving loan projects.
  3. Projects that are partially funded by another donor or from the Government of Zambia.
  4. More than one project for any organization.
  5. Continuing former USAID or other USG projects.
  6. Religious or military activities, as well as projects related to police, prisons, or other law enforcement.

Note: The U.S. Embassy will not provide funding for the following items:

  • Any recurring operating costs such as rent, salaries, administrative, travel or operating costs, ongoing training/educational needs, etc.;
  • Research, publishing materials, projects that solely provide trainings or sensitizations
  • Creating, continuing or supplementing technical assistance programs;
  • Duplicate other U.S. Government assistance programs;
  • Pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides;
  • Personal training, education or travel, unless directly related to project;
  • Motor vehicles;
  • Surveillance equipment;
  • Office equipment or supplies, such as duplicating machines, printers and computers;
  • Expensive electronic equipment such as cameras
  • Abortion equipment or services; and
  • Luxury goods or gambling equipment.

Response to proposals: Applicants will be notified if more information is needed or if they have been selected for funding. It is imperative that contact information (addresses, names, working email addresses, and phone numbers, etc.) listed on your forms is accurate and thorough. If we cannot contact you, we cannot consider your organization for funding. Each year applications are disqualified for the sole reason that participants cannot be contacted. Application forms and materials will NOT be returned to you so please keep a copy for your own records. Do not send original documents.

Review process: The small grants coordinator conducts a preliminary review of applications and gathers any missing information for competitive applications. The coordinator works with potential grantees on finalizing the activities and budget. Please note that these exercises do not guarantee funding. Next, the coordinator presents finalist applications to the interagency panel for final review and selection. The interagency grants panel will make determinations on finalists and the Ambassador and SSH offices grant final approval.

Final stage: Successful applicants are notified. Agreements are then signed and grants awarded at a ceremony. Organizations are responsible to send the project coordinator to Lusaka. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified in writing or via email.

Last reminder: Before submitting your application, please take the time to review it thoroughly. Check your planning and your math. Do you fully explain the project and the reason for your project fully? Does the budget include all of the materials, labor costs, transportation etc. needed to be successful? Have you included all necessary attachments?

If the application form is incomplete; if all of the questions have not been answered, or if required attachments are not included, the application will not be forwarded to the review committee and your project will be rejected, regardless of merit.

Thank you for your interest in U.S. Ambassador’s Special Self Help and Community Investment small grants programs. Please contact our office with any questions or to request an application.

Self Help Small Grants Coordinator
U.S. Embassy Lusaka
P.O. Box 320065
Lusaka, Zambia

Note: If your organization seeks funds to support HIV/AIDS related activities, such as providing food to orphans and vulnerable children, training caregivers to people living with HIV/AIDS, or conduct workshops on prevention, SSH is NOT the program for you. Instead, please see the PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) Small Grants Program information on our website or contact the coordinator of that program at +(260)-211-357-391 or LusakaSmallGrants@state.gov.