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About the Challenge
Why is USAID’s Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment running the RISE Challenge?

USAID’s Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GenDev), in collaboration with the E3/Land and Urban and E3/Forestry and Biodiversity Offices and the U.S. Global Development Lab, missions, and implementing partners, has identified the nexus of gender-based violence (GBV) within a range of environmental sectors as a gap in international development priorities and approaches. While both GBV and environmental issues are priorities for USAID and pose some of the world’s most pressing challenges, there is little being done to test approaches and build evidence on effective interventions that can address persistent GBV issues that occur in environmental sectors.

GBV and environmental issues are interlinked; their interactions are complex, diverse, and multi-layered. In some contexts, they form a ruthless feedback loop by which gender-based attacks, harassment, and discrimination enhance the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and this environmental deterioration triggers new, more damaging forms of violence. In other contexts, preventing and responding to GBV unlocks opportunities for enhanced environmental action, as well as for women’s and community empowerment.

Because the relationship and proposed programming addressing the linkages between GBV and environmental programming is still relatively new, a challenge grant competition allows USAID and partners to explore, apply, test, and learn from new approaches that could reduce both GBV and environmental harm.

What kinds of interventions are you looking for?

USAID is looking to fund organizations to innovatively adapt and implement promising or proven approaches to address GBV in environmental programming. The challenge seeks insights and learnings from other development and humanitarian sectors which have proven or promising practices to address GBV. RISE Challenge believes that the most successful, sustainable interventions will demonstrate integration and partnership between local environmental organizations, gender-based violence organizations, women’s and girls’ organizations, indigenous people’s organizations, and community organizations. Please review the previous RISE winners for examples.

Is RISE open to proposals that build on existing RISE work, extending it into implementation?

Yes, RISE is open to proposals that build on existing RISE work provided they respond to the requirements outlined in the Request for Applications (RFA). Please note that current RISE awardees are not eligible for additional RISE funding.

What do you mean by the access, use, and control of natural resources?

We mean programming that seeks to foster the sustainable stewardship of the land and its resources, namely issues such as land tenure and use, revenue generation including extractives and fisheries, biodiversity, conservation, and the work of environmental rights defenders.

Does the project have to be related to natural resource usage? Is GBV that arises as a result of climate change, though not related to natural resource usage, also acceptable?

Yes, RISE interventions need to be directly related to natural resource usage. However, access, control, use, and availability of natural resources is deeply affected by climate change and variability.

Can an applicant address more than one environmental sector pertaining to the access or use of natural resources?


What types of gender-based violence will the RISE challenge address?

RISE encourages applications that address the following types of GBV in environmental programs: sexual, physical, psychological, economic, social, legal, institutional, and cyber abuse.

Will RISE results be used to inform policies?

Yes, a goal of the RISE Challenge is to generate new interventions, findings, and policies that inform sector-wide change with respect to the environment and gender-based violence.

Should the action necessarily be an innovation that will influence national policy on GBV?

No, projects funded by the RISE Challenge are not required to influence national policy.

Is RISE more interested in on-the ground activities or interventions that focus on policy change?

The RISE Challenge is seeking to fund projects that directly prevent or respond to gender-based violence within environmental programs. Projects should aim to improve gender and environmental outcomes in the communities and with the individuals they are working with.

Is RISE interested in tools and methodologies that have been proven in the private sector and can be applied to capacity building and other development needs?

Yes, RISE is interested in approaches from the private sector — as well as other relevant sectors, such as the humanitarian sector — that are proven or have promise to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in environmental programs.

What evidence base of tools and approaches is USAID hoping to generate through the RISE challenge?

Activities implemented through this challenge will contribute to the evidence base for strategies, policies, programs, and interventions that reduce GBV within a range of environmental sectors. Ideally, we will identify strategies and approaches that can be adapted and successfully applied in other geographic or environmental contexts.

Can the proposal include knowledge or research-based support, or is it just intervention oriented?

Yes. However the RISE Challenge will not fund interventions that are strictly research focused.

How important is it to be able to deliver this work remotely given travel restrictions with the COVID-19 crisis?

RISE encourages approaches that are flexible, adaptable, and grounded in reality.  You project needs to be implementable, and we encourage the use of variety of approaches — both remote and in-person.

What are the incentives for entering this competition?

  • $100,000-300,000 in up to three grant awards.
  • Grants management support.
  • Quarterly communications support and promotion via USAID’s, partners’, and external channels.
  • A pool of technical experts available for additional guidance upon request.
  • Membership in a learning community to disseminate promising GBV-reduction practices in the environmental sector.

What are the funding limitations on the RISE Challenge?

  • The RISE Challenge cannot make awards exceeding $100,000 to U.S. organizations.
  • The RISE Challenge can make awards up to $300,000 to organizations or a consortium led by an organization that is registered outside of the US. US-based members of the consortium are eligible to share in the requested funding up to $100,000.
  • International organizations who have locally registered offices are eligible for up to $300,000 in funding, provided that the organization meets the definition of local entity or locally established partner, the project originates from the locally registered office, the organization has a local bank account, a local DUNS number that ties to the local registration and local entity, and the project takes place in that geography.

Will the award be required to abide by the terms of Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance?

The Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) applies to USAID global health assistance funding. The RISE Challenge is not funded with  global health assistance funds, so the PLGHA clause does not apply. However, no USG funds can go towards promoting, advocating for, or providing abortions.

Will partners be given an advance on fixed awards? Many local groups won’t be able to cost cover ahead of deliverables.

The terms of the award will be negotiated with each potential awardee individually.

Is this connected to other USAID initiatives called RISE?

The Resilient, Inclusive, & Sustainable Environments (RISE): A Challenge to Address Gender-Based Violence in the Environment challenge competition is a standalone activity.

The RISE Challenge is independent, and is not connected to the initiative funded by USAID/Niger and Burkina Faso. The RISE Challenge is funded by USAID’s Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment based in Washington, DC.

Can we ask questions after the webinar – for example, a week from now?

Yes, applicants may submit questions to All new questions that are not currently answered on the FAQ will be answered. The FAQ will be updated to reflect new questions and answers periodically.

Is the RISE Challenge global?

The call for proposals is worldwide, but grant implementation must take place in a country with a USAID presence.

Are multi-country projects allowed?

The RISE Challenge does permit multi-country project proposals. The online application form allows you to list the location or locations that you are proposing your intervention to take place.

Is it mandatory to have an office in the locality that would be selected as the research field?

No, but applicants must demonstrate a presence in the communities they will be working in.

What countries will RISE operate in?

RISE operates in geographies where USAID is currently operational. For the full list, see here.

Who can enter the challenge?

The challenge is open to implementing partners, private commercial sector, civil society, university, non-profit, and community or faith-based organizations from low- and middle-income countries. You can learn more about the eligibility criteria here.

Can an organization apply for the project if that organization has not conducted a similar project?

Yes. The RISE Challenge encourages applications from organizations who have an innovative approach to address gender-based violence in environmental programs.

Can only U.S organizations apply for this?

No. The RISE Challenge encourages applications from local, U.S, and international organizations that have an innovative project to address gender-based violence in environmental programs.

Since all applicants must have a local presence or partner, does this mean the proposal should originate from the USA?

No. The RISE Challenge encourages applications from local, U.S. and international organizations that have an innovative project to address gender-based violence in environmental programs

Can those who applied last year and did not qualify apply again?


Can an organization apply individually?

No, individuals are not eligible to apply. Only legally registered organizations are eligible to apply. You can learn more about the eligibility criteria here.

Is a NGO, whose headquarters are in the U.S., considered an eligible applicant for this funding opportunity if the U.S.-based NGO targets a foreign country in which it has registration?
Yes. Legally registered U.S. and non-U.S. organizations are eligible for the RISE Challenge. We welcome applications from U.S.-based organizations with a strong presence in the country(ies) they propose implementation.

Partnerships and Past Performance

Can you confirm that three (3) support letters are required, as well as the three Past Performance Reports?

The RISE application requires three Past Performance Reports. The Past Performance Report includes information that your organization completes about the past performance, including: Referring organization Name; Point of contact; Point of contact phone number and email; Period of Performance; and Description of the Activity. There are fields to complete this information on the online application. You then need to upload a letter of recommendation for each of the three past performances described.

What supporting documentation is required to verify partnerships? 

RISE requests applicants to submit supporting documentation to verify the partnerships. Examples of supporting documentation could include, but is not limited to, a letter affirming your partnership or MOU.

Applicants should arrange the partnerships that they believe will make their proposal successful and competitive.

Are we required to apply as a consortium of two or more organizations? What is the minimum number of partnerships that are required for this application?

The RISE Challenge does not indicate a minimum number of partnerships. However, the applicant must demonstrate a partnership plan that leverages the capacity, expertise, and existing relationships across relevant environmental organizations, gender and GBV organizations/experts, indigenous people’s organizations, and/or local communities

For the letters of past performance, do they need to be from USAID projects?

No. The past performance references can be from any organization that you have received funding from or worked with in the past.

Can a U.S-based institution partner with a local organization to help them build their capacity to handle USAID grants? 

Yes. Please be aware that your partnership plan should leverage the capacity and expertise across relevant environmental, GBV, and indigenous peoples organizations, as well as local communities and individuals.

Previous grantees had partnerships with research labs – prestigious ones (MIT, Harvard). Are those types of partnerships prioritized?

No. The RISE Challenge will evaluate all applications based on the evaluation criteria  outlined in the Request for Applications on pages 14-15.

Entering the Challenge
Can I get some advice for how to best enter the competition?

We hosted a webinar on June 30, 2020 to provide guidance on our goals, the submission process, examples of approaches we find inspiring, and to resolve any questions. Please reference the webinar recording under the Resources on this page.

If you have inquiries about how to enter the competition, you may submit them via email to We will publish all questions and answers about the challenge on the application platform to ensure transparent communication.

For purposes of fairness, we will not answer any questions about application quality or whether it is a fit for the challenge.

How does applying to RISE work?

Eligible organizations can apply to the RISE Challenge for funding through this website. Please review the Eligibility Criteria here or in the Request for Applications prior to submitting an application.

Can an organization submit more than one proposal?

Yes, you can submit up to three applications to the challenge. Each application must be submitted separately and each must be different from others you have submitted.

Can an organization partner on more than one proposal?

An organization may partner on multiple proposals.

Can I submit an intervention that I have funded via other sources?

Yes, the Program Integration approach specifically encourages the incorporation of GBV into existing, funded environmental programming. Please make sure you provide relevant and specific answers to questions about your current funding. The other funder may have rules about you co-funding your intervention and it is your responsibility to check this and secure their support before you enter the competition. Should you win a Program Integration award, you will need to demonstrate and ensure that the two funding streams remain separately accounted.

Is registration in SAM and a DUNS number required?

Yes, organizations applying for the RISE Challenge must have a DUNS number and begin the process of registration in SAM. Please review Annex E in the Request for Applications for detailed guidance on how to carry out these processes.

Should all the members of a consortium be registered in SAM? Do all partners in the consortium have to have SAM and DUNS numbers? Or just the lead?

All partners in the consortium must have a DUNS number and begin the process of registration in SAM. Please review Annex E in the Request for Applications for detailed guidance on how to carry out these processes.

How can one access the application form and Budget template for action?

You can access the application, template, and resources to submit your application on this website.

How many CVs should be attached to this application?

CVs should be included for project staff that are key/essential to implementing a project. There is no minimum or maximum number.

While submitting the application, do we also include our registration certificates as attachments/appendixes?

Yes, you will be required to submit your organization’s registration certificate with your application.

For existing projects that will apply to RISE via program integration, what evidence of approval will we need to demonstrate at the time of applying to prove that the changes to the existing program are accepted by the other project donor?

Organizations applying under “Program Integration” are required to submit a letter of consent from the underwriter of their current project.

Are applicants only required to sign Annex D?

Yes. All certifications that require signature are in Annex D of the Request for Applications.

When is the deadline for entries?

Entries must be submitted by 11 a.m ET on August 5, 2020. Late entries may not be accepted.

After Entering the Challenge
How can we ensure we have applied and considered in the application process?

When you submit your application, you will receive an automatic acknowledgement from the application platform to confirm receipt.

What do I do after I enter the competition?

You do not need to do anything after you have entered the competition. The RISE Challenge team will be in touch if you are selected as one of the finalists. If so, you will have a teleconference or videoconference interview with USAID staff and partners. You will be given advanced notice to prepare for your interview.  If you are selected as an apparent winner, RISE Challenge staff will be in touch to relay next steps.

Who owns the intellectual property of the submitted ideas?

Competitors will retain the intellectual property rights to their entry to the challenge.

Can I remove my entry once I have submitted it?

Yes. If you want your entry to be removed after you have submitted it, you can send an email to and request for it to be removed.

Who will be judging entries for this prize?

The judges may include representatives from USAID and other affiliated partners. Each of the judges will have particular knowledge across natural resources access, use, and management, and gender and gender-based violence, as well as specific expertise in different regions and sectors.

What happens to entries that do not make it to the finalist stage?

Even if your solution is not selected, we will continue alerting entrants to additional funding opportunities and other types of support.

Finalists and Winners
What can I do with the grant award if I win?

The grant award must be put toward the activities delineated in the grant agreement.

How long does the grant award last?

The grant award’s period of performance is up to 18 months.

Costs, Accounting, Other Financial Considerations, and Reporting

Where can I access the budget and activity plan template?

The budget and activity plan template can be accessed through this link. Organizations must use this template when submitting their applications

What are the costs that the budget would not cover?

The applicants budget should, to the best of their ability, reflect the estimated cost to implement the proposed intervention. All proposed grant activity costs must be within the normal operating practices of the applicant and in accordance with its written policies and procedures. Lastly, all costs included in the budget must be reasonable, allowable and allocable as defined below. In preparing the budget, the following cost principles should be considered:
Allowable costs are those strictly for the achievement of the project and which are not subject to any restrictions or limitations in the award.
Allocable costs are costs which are incurred specifically for the attainment of the objective of the grant.
Reasonable costs are defined as costs which are generally recognized as ordinary and necessary and would be incurred by a prudent person in the conduct of normal business.

How will you report to USAID about the funds used? How often?
The RISE Challenge anticipates awarding Fixed Award Amount (FAA) grants. Successful applicants will be required to submit quarterly technical and cost reports in accordance with the terms negotiated and mutually agreed upon in their respective FAA grant agreement.

What is the funding limitation for a U.S-based organization who is also registered in a country outside the US, for example Cambodia? Is the U.S-based organization still restricted to the $100k?

U.S organizations who have locally registered offices, for example in Cambodia, are eligible for up to $300,000 in funding, provided the applying organization meets the following requirements:
The organization meets the USAID definition of local entity or locally established partner;The project originates from the locally registered office;The organization has a local bank account which payments will be made to;The organization has a local unique DUNS number that ties to the local registration; andThe project takes place in the country of the locally registered office.
If a U.S. and non-US organization are applying together how can the budget be split?

The applicants can submit a combined budget up to $300,000. The US organization can receive a maximum of $99,999 in funding, and in this case, the non-US organization could receive a maximum of $200,001. 

Does the $100,000 – $300,000 budget ceiling  include indirect costs? 

Yes. Please review Section D. Proposal Instructions, C. Application Costs Proposal on page 13 in the Request for Applications for additional information.

What will be the banking requirements to receive the money?
Successful applicants may be required to open a separate bank account to manage the RISE grant funds.

What is the percentage allowed for overheads that include salaries and staff benefits?

There is no minimum or maximum permitted for overheads, salaries and staff benefits. However, all costs will be reviewed to ensure they are reasonable and allowable. All costs proposed should be in line with market value and consistent with organizational processes and procedures. Please review Section D. Proposal Instructions, C. Application Costs Proposal on page 13 in the Request for Applications for additional information.

Will RISE fund field studies?

The RISE Challenge is seeking to fund promising or proven interventions that prevent and respond to gender-based violence across programs that address access, use, control, and management of natural resources. We welcome innovative interventions that utilize a variety of proven or promising methodologies. However, RISE will not fund interventions that are strictly research focused.

Will RISE fund construction?

The RISE Challenge will not fund any construction.

Will RISE fund the purchase of equipment and tools such as cars?

RISE Challenge funding should be used on activities and required resources to address GBV in environmental programs. RISE will not fund solutions that center around the provision of  equipment, construction, or building new infrastructure.

Is there a co-financing requirement from the applicant/s?

The RISE Challenge does not require co-financing, but we welcome applicants who propose co-financing.

If the project targets multiple countries, can we get more funds for each one?

No. The maximum award amount per project is $300,000.

Additional Guidance and Resources

Please kindly send templates on GBV Prevention and Response programs in order to start application.

You are encouraged to review the RISE Challenge website. If you scroll down the page, there is a Resources section with extensive examples of GBV prevention and response.

What are the basic root causes of gender based violence in societies today?
Gender-based violence (GBV) is a pervasive violation of unalienable human rights and a barrier to civic, social, political, and economic participation. It undermines not only the safety, dignity, overall health, and agency of the millions of individuals who experience it, but also the public health, economic stability, and security of nations. GBV impacts individuals across the lifespan, can take many forms, and has direct and indirect costs to families, communities, economies, global public health, and development.
The root causes of and solutions to address gender based violence are varied, complex and specific to the context in which GBV is experienced. Due to the complexity of this issue we are unable to provide a comprehensive answer here. However, we recommend that you review the resources provided on the RISE website, and suggest you pay particular attention to:

for more information please open this link

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