INITIATIVE FOR MINORITY STUDENTS: BRIDGES TO THE BACCALAUREATE

Release Date:  August 16, 1999

RFA:  GM-99-010

National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  September 17, 1999
Application Receipt Date:  October 21, 1999

PURPOSE

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and the Office of
Research on Minority Health (ORMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH),
reannounce two research initiatives directed at increasing the number of
underrepresented minorities entering careers in biomedical research.  The
programs target two different underrepresented minority student populations -
those in colleges and universities offering only Master of Science (M.S.) degree
programs in biomedically-related sciences and those in two-year junior or
community colleges.  These have been identified as two key transition points for
students considering careers in biomedical research.  This is the eighth year of
this program which seeks to encourage the development of new and innovative
programs and the expansion of existing programs to improve the academic
competitiveness of underrepresented minority students and facilitate their
transition into the next stage towards careers in biomedical research.

This Request for Applications (RFA) solicits new applications for partnership
programs involving two-year colleges awarding the Associate's degree and
institutions awarding the Baccalaureate degree.  A separate RFA (GM-99-011)
describes a program targeting the transition from the Master's degree granting
institutions to universities awarding the Doctoral degree.  Former applicants of
unfunded Bridge proposals are encouraged to submit revised applications that
respond to the prior concerns of the National Advisory General Medical Sciences
Council.

HEALTHY PEOPLE 2000

The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health promotion
and disease prevention objectives of "Health People 2000," a PHS-led national
activity for setting priority areas.  This Request for Applications (RFA),
Initiative for Minority Students:  Bridges to the Baccalaureate Degree, is
related to one or more of the priority areas.  Potential applicants may obtain
a copy of "Healthy People 2000" at http://www.crisny.org/health/us/health7.html.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

General

Applications may be submitted by domestic, private or public, educational
institutions.  State or local systems of higher education (also hereinafter
referred to as institutions) may submit applications as well.  An institution may
be involved as a partner institution in more than one Bridge program, but can be
the APPLICANT institution for only one Bridges to the Baccalaureate Degree and
one Bridges to the Doctoral Degree Program.  Institutions with NIGMS Bridge
Program (R25) awards ending on or before September 2000 may submit competing
continuation applications for up to five years of continued support (see RFA GM-
99-012 available from NIGMS staff listed under INQUIRIES).

An institution may submit only one application for this RFA.  Institutions that
submit applications in response to this RFA may also apply for support for a
Bridge to the Doctoral Degree (RFA GM-99-011) if they meet the eligibility
requirements.  However, a separate application for each RFA is required. 
Institutions submitting their own applications may participate in programs with
other applicant institutions so long as these interactions are consistent with
institutional resources and their institutional plans. Institutions participating
in more than one application should provide a justification for each.

Programs developed or modified under this initiative must be specifically
designed to target underrepresented minority undergraduates majoring in the
sciences, including natural, physical, and behavioral sciences, information
sciences, and mathematics.  For purposes of this RFA, underrepresented minority
students are individuals belonging to a particular ethnic or racial group that
has been determined by the grantee institution to be underrepresented in
biomedical or behavioral research.  Historically, individuals who have been found
to be underrepresented in biomedical or behavioral research include, but are not
limited to, U.S. citizens who are African American, Hispanic Americans, Native
Americans and natives of the U.S. Pacific Islands.

Applications must include a partnership between a two year institution which
offers the Associate degree as the only undergraduate degree in the sciences
within the participating departments AND has a significant enrollment of
underrepresented minorities, and a college or university offering Baccalaureate
degrees in science relevant to biomedical research disciplines.

All applications must involve a partnership of at least two colleges or
universities, but may involve a consortium of several institutions and may
include several institutions within a single state system.  One participating
institution must be designated as the applicant institution, must name the
program director and must submit the application.  Each participating institution
must name one individual to act as its program coordinator.  Proposals must
include a description of the collaborative arrangement with all participating
institutions.

Institutions offering both the Associate and Baccalaureate degrees may not use
funds from this program for graduates of their own Associate degree programs to
enter their own Baccalaureate degree programs, even if the student is moving from
one department, school, or college to another.  The program seeks to promote and
enhance partnerships BETWEEN institutions.

For additional requirements see: SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

MECHANISM OF SUPPORT

General

Awards under this RFA will use the institutional education project (R25) grant. 
Responsibility for the planning, direction, and execution of the proposed project
will be solely that of the applicant.  The total requested project period for
applications submitted in response to this RFA may not exceed two years. 
Requested direct costs are not to exceed $400,000 for the two-year period. 
Indirect costs will be paid at 8% of the direct costs, minus appropriate
exclusions.  A budget for each year must be provided.

This RFA is a one-time solicitation.  Future unsolicited competing applications
will not be accepted.

Allowable Costs

If appropriate, the budget request may be divided into two phases.

The planning phase provides funding for minor adjustment and/or refinement of the
partnership program (not intended to serve as an opportunity to make major
changes to the plan approved by peer review).  The planning phase costs should
be minimal and not exceed a period of six months.

The implementation phase may include the costs of administering and coordinating
the partnership program within and between each of the participants. Faculty
release time for planning and implementation of the program and faculty travel
related to program development may be requested.

Requests for equipment, supplies, travel, and other expenses should be limited
to those necessary for program development and must be carefully and specifically
justified.

Requests for funds to implement an evaluation plan, including salaries,
consultant fees, technical assistance, and travel are also allowable.

The budget should include travel funds for the Program Director, a grants manager
from the grantee institution, and the program coordinators from the participating
institutions to travel to the Bridges Program Meeting each budget year.

Each participating institution is responsible for data acquisition and data entry
into E-STAR each year.  E-STAR (Electronic Student Tracking and Reporting) is a
program developed by NIGMS to facilitate the administration and evaluation of
this program by the grantees and the agency.  The budget should also include
funds to defray the costs of data entry.

Access to E-STAR will be through Internet and the World Wide Web (minimum
computer needs for E-STAR: an IBM-compatible 386 with 4 meg of RAM, with
Microsoft Windows(tm) 3.1 and WIN32S or a Macintosh 68020 with 4 meg of RAM; a
14.4 kb/s modem, and internet access. Any computer with Netscape will work).

Student remuneration is limited to underrepresented minorities matriculated at
the two-year partner institution(s) and may include salary/wages and/or other
forms of compensation paid in lieu of wages for participation in research
experiences.  Tuition remission (or other forms of compensation paid in lieu of
wages) expenditures are allowable provided the following conditions are met:

o  the student is performing necessary work,

o  there is an employer-employee relationship between the student and the
institution,

o  the total compensation is reasonable for the work performed, and

o  it is the institution's practice to provide compensation for all students in
similar circumstances, regardless of the source of support for the activity.

In summary, allowable costs include, but are not limited to, tuition remission,
supplies, equipment, travel, other expenses, salary, wages, and fringe benefits
for students and faculty.

Unallowable Costs

Stipends, housing, food, tuition (unless as stated above), and fees are not
allowable costs under this program.

FUNDS AVAILABLE

An estimated total of $9.7 million will be available for the term of awards made
in response to this solicitation, RFA GM-99-011, and competing continuation
applications, RFA GM-00-012.  NIH staff anticipate making a combined total of 20
to 40 new and competing continuation awards for these RFAs, provided NIH receives
sufficient numbers of highly meritorious applications and sufficient funds for
this purpose.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

Background

This program seeks to promote the initiation and development of new transitional
programs, as well as the expansion and enhancement of existing programs between
those institutions with departments offering only the Associate's degree as the
undergraduate academic degree in the sciences, and that have significant
enrollments of underrepresented minority students, and colleges and universities
with Baccalaureate degree programs.  The objective is to facilitate the
transition of underrepresented minority undergraduate students into Baccalaureate
degree programs after obtaining their Associate's degree.  Students receiving
their Associate's degree in one field of science may pursue the Baccalaureate
degree in a different area so long as it is in a discipline related to the
biomedical sciences with a potential for research careers.

Collaborative agreements should take the form that best fits the needs and
situations of the institutions involved.  The challenge for the program director,
with the help of the participating partners, is to design a new partnership
program, or enhance an existing program, that will focus attention and adequate
resources to the associate degree-granting institution(s) to  enhance the
academic competitiveness of their degree programs and graduates in the sciences.

Additional Information

These transition programs should be developed to meet the special requirements
of underrepresented minority students interested in science.  They may include,
but are not limited to, the following elements:

o  providing laboratory research experiences at the baccalaureate institution or
other research institutions or industrial laboratories for students enrolled in
the two-year institution (students may receive compensation for these
activities);

o  establishing a mentoring program with faculty at the baccalaureate
institution;

o  providing research opportunities at the baccalaureate institution for faculty
of the two-year college;

o  enriching the curriculum at the two-year institution (e.g., special science
courses);

o  enabling students from the two-year institution to take courses and/or
participate in seminar programs at the baccalaureate college;

o  developing visiting lectureships at the two-year college by science faculty
from the baccalaureate institution;

o  developing courses at the two-year college jointly taught by faculty of both
institutions;

o  academic counseling (e.g., guidance in course selection, tracking and
providing assistance to students who express an interest or show special aptitude
for science);

o  additional enrichment activities, such as tutoring, to enhance the student's
transition to the baccalaureate college;

o  nontraditional or other professional degree-granting institutions should
describe those modifications or additions to their programs that would provide
Bridge students with the potential to enter research career training programs.

o  other innovative plans to achieve the program goals.

It is an expectation of NIGMS and ORMH that when students enter Baccalaureate
programs as a result of this enhancement program, they will receive financial aid
packages, if needed, while progressing satisfactorily in B.S. programs. 
Applicants should describe the type(s) of institutional or other financial aid
that would be available to such students.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

Applicants should describe fully the proposed transition program and explain how
its design will meet the goals of this initiative.  Applicants should describe
the criteria to be used in the selection and retention of the student
participants for this program as well as the criteria for selecting participating
faculty.  Applicants with an existing transition program should describe that
program and explain how it would be altered to meet the goals of this initiative. 
Applicants should also describe the methods and facilities available for tracking
student participants.

Evaluation

Institutions should note that evaluation is now a mandatory component of every
Bridges to the Future Program.  Each applicant institution must set its own
specific goals and measurable objectives.  The NIGMS recognizes that minority and
minority-serving institutions have diverse missions, opportunities, and
environments.  Therefore, the emphasis of the evaluation activities of the
Bridges to the Future Program will be on improvement as defined in the specific
goals and measurable objectives that the applicant institution sets for itself.

Central to each application are (1) a clear statement of program and
institutional goals and (2) a set of measurable objectives which track progress
toward those goals, (3) a plan for evaluating whether or not those objectives
have been met, and (4) a measure of the efficacy of specific interventions.

Unified Plan

If an institution is involved in more than one Bridge Program, the applicant must
describe how the various Bridge Programs interact and how they are consistent
with the overall goals of the program.  Institutions with active or pending NIH
grants for the Support for Continuous Research Excellence (SCORE), Research
Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE), or Minority Access to Research
Careers (MARC) programs  or with other sources of funds, such as the National
Science Foundation or the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, may also apply to the
Bridges to the Future program.  The application must describe how the programs
complement each other and how the students and faculty supported by each will
interact.

Consortium Agreements

Each applicant institution should delineate appropriate agreements and consortium
arrangements with other institutions consistent with its own unified
institutional plan.  The following statement, accompanied by signatures of the
appropriate administrative officials from EACH of the collaborating institutions,
must be included as part of the application:

"THE APPROPRIATE PROGRAMMATIC AND ADMINISTRATIVE PERSONNEL OF EACH INSTITUTION
INVOLVED IN THIS GRANT APPLICATION ARE AWARE OF THE NIH CONSORTIUM GRANT POLICY
AND ARE PREPARED TO ESTABLISH THE NECESSARY INTER-INSTITUTIONAL AGREEMENT(S)
CONSISTENT WITH THAT POLICY."

In addition, letters acknowledging participation in the program are required from
each participating institution and must be signed by the program coordinator and
the appropriate institutional official.

Information on NIH policy regarding consortium agreements can be found at
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps/part_iii_5.htm#Consortium.

Reporting Requirements

A progress report will be required at the end of the planning phase (if any) or
at the end of the first year, whichever is shorter.  A final report will be
required 90 days after the termination date of the award and must include
information for each student participant (E-STAR may be used to satisfy part of
these requirements) and a summary of the impact of the program.

Student Population and Career Tracking

The applicant should also describe the Associate's degree-granting institution's
success in training its students in the sciences, including information on the
numbers of minority students receiving the Associate's degree and data on
subsequent careers or education of their graduates.

The applicant should describe a system by which the program will track the
students participating in this program, including their future careers, in order
to evaluate the success of the program.  The applicant should maintain data to
be able to demonstrate the benefits of this program on retention rates,
graduation rates, transfer rates to the next higher degree program, and
graduation rates from the next higher degree programs.  These data should be
compared to those of the non-minority students and the minority students that
were not in the bridges program. E-STAR may be used to satisfy part of these
requirements.  A printout or other format of data will be needed for the renewal
application because review committees will not have access to E-STAR.

LETTER OF INTENT

Prospective applicants are requested to submit, by September 17, 1999, a letter
of intent that includes a descriptive title of the proposed plan, the name,
address, and telephone number of the program director, the identities of other
key personnel and participating institutions, and the number and title of this
RFA.  Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not
enter into the review of subsequent applications, the information that it
contains is helpful in planning for the review of applications.  It allows NIGMS
staff to estimate the potential review workload and to avoid conflict of interest
in the review.

The letter of intent is to be sent to the program director listed under
INQUIRIES.

APPLICATION PROCEDURES

The research grant application form PHS 398 (rev. 4/98) is to be used in applying
for these grants.  These forms are available at most institutional offices of
sponsored research; from the Division of Extramural Outreach and Information
Resources, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive MSC 7910,
Bethesda, MD 20892-7910, telephone (301) 435-0714; email: grantsinfo@nih.gov. 
The forms are also available at: 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html

The RFA label in the PHS 398 application form must be affixed to the bottom of
the face page of the application.  Failure to use this label could result in
delayed processing of the application such that it may not reach the review
committee in time for review.  In addition, the RFA number and title must be
typed on line 2 of the face page form, the "YES" box must be marked.

The RFA label and line 2 of the application should both indicate 
the RFA number.

The sample RFA label available at: 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/label-bk.pdf has been modified to
allow for this change.  Please note this is in pdf format.

Submit a signed, typewritten original of the application, including the
Checklist, and five photocopies of the signed application in one package to:

CENTER FOR SCIENTIFIC REVIEW
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
6701 ROCKLEDGE DRIVE, SUITE 1040, MSC 7710
BETHESDA, MD 20892-7710
BETHESDA, MD 20817 (for express/courier service)

Applications must be received by October 21, 1999.  Applications postmarked
after that date will be returned to the applicant.

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS

Upon receipt, applications will be administratively reviewed by NIH staff. 
Incomplete and/or unresponsive applications will be returned to the applicant
without further consideration.  Those applications that are complete and
responsive will be evaluated in accordance with the criteria stated below for
scientific and technical merit by appropriate peer review groups.  The second
level of review will be provided by the National Advisory General Medical
Sciences Council.

Review criteria

The goals of NIH-supported research are to advance our understanding of
biological systems, improve the control of disease, and enhance health.  In
the written comments, reviewers will be asked to discuss the following aspects
of the application in order to judge the likelihood that the proposed research
will have a substantial impact on the pursuit of these goals.  Each of these
criteria will be addressed and considered in assigning the overall score,
weighting them as appropriate for each application.  Note that the application
does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major
scientific impact and thus deserve a high priority score.  For example, an
investigator may propose to carry out important work that by its nature is not
innovative but is essential to move a field forward.

(1) Significance: If the aims of the program are achieved, what impact will
they have on the diversity of the scientific workforce? Is a thorough
evaluation plan, including specific goals and measurable objectives, in place?

(2) Approach:  Is the program adequately developed, well-integrated, and
appropriate to the aims of the project? Does the applicant acknowledge
potential problem areas and consider alternative tactics?  Does the program
make good use of the skills and resources at the participating institutions?

(3) Innovation: Does the project employ novel approaches or methods to
recruiting, retaining, training, or mentoring students?  Does the project
challenge existing paradigms or develop new methodologies or technologies?

(4) Investigator: Is the program director appropriately trained and well
suited to carry out this work? Does the program director have the necessary
leadership skills?  Do the program director and coordinators have the
qualifications and experience to carry out the proposed program?

(5) Environment: Does the scientific environment in which the work will be
done contribute to the probability of success? Is there evidence of
institutional commitment for each institution?  Is the strength of the
collaborations sufficient to foster professional training of underrepresented
minority students?

(6) Pool Size:  Are there sufficient numbers of underrepresented minority
students in the participating science departments who are interested in
studying further in biomedical science?  Is there evidence that
underrepresented minority students at the participating institutions progress
to higher education?

(7) Administration:  Is the proposed system for tracking program participants
adequate to monitor the effectiveness of the program?  Is the administrative
plan, including adequacy of space and other resources, adequate?

AWARD CRITERIA

The anticipated date of award is July 1, 2000.  Award decisions will be based
on the technical merit of the applications, the geographical distribution of
the awardee institutions, and diversity of underrepresented minority student
participants.  Awards can be made only to institutions with financial
management systems and management capabilities that are acceptable under NIH
policy.  Awards will be administered under the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Schedule

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:    September 15, 1999
Application Receipt Date:         October 21, 1999
Council Review:                   May 2000
Earliest Anticipated Start Date:  July 1, 2000

INQUIRIES

Written and telephone inquiries concerning this RFA are encouraged.  The
opportunity to clarify any issues or questions from potential applicants is
welcome.

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:

Irene Eckstrand, Ph.D.
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
45 Center Drive, Room 2AS-25K, MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD  20892-6200
Telephone:  (301) 594-0943
FAX:  (301) 480-2228
Email:  EckstraI@nigms.nih.gov

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Bryan Clark
Grants Management Specialist
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
45 Center Drive, Room 2AN.44C  MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD  20892-6200
Telephone:  301-594-3915
Fax:  301-480-3423
Email:  ClarkB@nigms.nih.gov

AUTHORITY AND REGULATIONS

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance No.
93.960, Special Minority Initiatives Program.  Awards are authorized by
sections 301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act, as amended and
administered under PHS grants policies and Federal Regulations 45 CFR Part 74
or 45 CFR Part 92.  This program is not subject to the intergovernmental
review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health Systems Agency review.

The PHS strongly encourages all grant and contract recipients to provide a
smoke-free workplace and promote the non-use of all tobacco products.  In
addition, Public Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking
in certain facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which
regular or routine education, library, day care, health care or early
childhood development services are provided to children.  This is consistent
with the PHS mission to protect and advance the physical and mental health of
the American people.


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