Public diplomacy or interference?


The U.S. Embassy in Havana plans to award grants to NGOs, institutions and individuals that would strengthen Cuba’s independent civil society’s “professional ties” with the United States.
The embassy stated:

The Embassy has particular interest in projects that highlight democratic values and increased access to information, benefit underserved populations, promote entrepreneurial skills development, and promote the exchange of ideas with a strong link to the United States and increased understanding of U.S. policy.

The expected application due date is July 30, 2020. The embassy plans to award the grants – worth at least $10,000 each – as part of the State Department’s public diplomacy programs. Cuban officials object to such grants and say they amount interference with the country’s internal affairs, not diplomacy.
The grant announcement does not disclose the total amount of funding or the number of grants to be awarded. The announcement is below.

The Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Havana is pleased to announce funding availability through its Public Diplomacy Small Grants Program. This program supports projects proposed by non-governmental organizations, individuals, and other institutions, as appropriate, that strengthen professional ties of the United States with Cuba’s independent civil society.

The Embassy has particular interest in projects that highlight democratic values and increased access to information, benefit underserved populations, promote entrepreneurial skills development, and promote the exchange of ideas with a strong link to the United States and increased understanding of U.S. policy. Applicants may propose project activities in a variety of areas, but applications must demonstrate current knowledge of Cuba, and applicants must be prepared to detail existing partnerships with non-state actors in Cuba.

Grants cannot be used to fund religious or partisan political activity or for: fundraising campaigns; commercial projects or for-profit ventures; individual academic or scientific research projects; construction projects; or projects whose primary objective is an organization’s institutional development or an individual’s personal enrichment or career development.

Proposals will be accepted and considered on a rolling basis. Typically, though not exclusively, grants are awarded of no less than $10,000. The Public Affairs Section in Havana reserves the right to award less or more than the funds requested as it deems to be in the best interest of the U.S. government. Once a project is approved, the administrative process to receive funds could take up to two months. As such, proposals tied to a specific date or event should account for this timeline.

How to Apply

Proposals must be submitted in English to:

Project proposals should include the following elements:

  • Descriptive project title
  • Applicant information: Organization and title of the CEO as well as of the person drafting the proposal
    Address, phone number (office and cell number), email address.
  • A CV or brief bio of the principal people who will be engaged in the project.
  • Previous U.S. government funding: year and project title of all previous grants from the U.S. Embassy and/or U.S. government agencies.
  • Background of the applicant (limit 150 words): year founded, mission, achievements
  • Problem Statement: Clear, concise and well-supported statement of the problem to be addressed and why the proposed program is needed.
  • Proposal Summary: Short narrative that outlines the proposed program, including program objectives and anticipated impact.
  • Project Justification (limit of 200 words): identified need, urgency, beneficiary geographic and demographic statistics, quantitative impact, sustainability.
  • Program Goal and Objectives: The “goal” describes what the program is intended to achieve. The “objectives” refer to the intermediate accomplishments on the way to the final goal. These should be achievable and measurable.
  • Program Activities: Describe the program activities and how they will help achieve the objectives.

Prospective grantees will receive an e-mail confirming that we have received your application. Proposals can be submitted at any time and will be reviewed periodically throughout the year as funds become available. Inquiries should be submitted to

The Public Affairs Section encourages applications from non-governmental organizations, individuals, and other institutions, as appropriate, with substantive current knowledge about the Cuban landscape.

Each application submitted will be evaluated and rated on the basis of the following evaluation criteria: completeness, coherence, clarity, relevance to the priority themes listed above, the project’s link to the United States, and soundness of the project’s budget. The criteria are designed to assess the quality of the proposed project, and to determine the likelihood of its success.

If a project is selected, the prospective grantee must obtain:

  • A Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number from Dun & Bradstreet, which is a unique nine-digit identifier for an organization. Please note that the Embassy cannot apply for a DUNS number on behalf of an organization. Note: Information on how to apply for a DUNS number can be found at the link: Dun & Bradstreet. Individual recipients do not need a DUNS number.
  • An NCAGE code designation on the NSPA website.
  • A valid registration on for organizations. Please see Section D.3 for information on how to obtain these registrations. Individuals are not required to be registered in

Applicants are unable to receive grant funding until these steps have been completed.

Reporting Requirements
Recipients of the Embassy’s Public Affairs grants are required to submit a Federal Financial Report (SF-425) and a Narrative Report (SF-PPR) within 90 calendar days of the end of the period of performance delineated in the award.

Some grants may also require quarterly reports. Grantees will be informed of their reporting responsibilities when the grant is awarded. Failure to comply with the reporting responsibilities may jeopardize eligibility for future awards or will result in suspension of any future payments under this award until this obligation has been met.

Thank you for your interest in the Embassy’s Public Affairs Grants Program.

Name of Federal Agency: Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy Havana, Department of State
Catalog of Federal Assistance Number: 19.040 – Public Diplomacy Programs
Funding Opportunity Title: U.S. Embassy Havana Public Affairs Grants Program
Deadline for Applications: The U.S. Embassy Havana accept proposals throughout the year and reviews proposals as funding becomes available.
Funding Opportunity Number: PAS-HAVANA-FY20-01

2 thoughts on “Public diplomacy or interference?”

  1. The Embassy’s programs could be productive if they were offered in partnership with the Cuban government in a spirit of mutual respect. However, that would only become possible after the end of economic warfare of unilateral embargo.

    They should consider the non-rhetorical ways US embassies function productively in Vietnam, China, Laos, Cambodia, etc.

    Otherwise the pool of applicants will be limited to marginal people alienated from their government and local authority who will be correctly mistrusted as potential agents of a hostile foreign power.

    Assuming the State Department is interested in success rather than provocation, the US should reflect on the McCarthy era attack on people and organizations in our country that had relations or suspected relations with the Soviet Union and the current effort to roll back Beijing funded Confucius Institutes on US university campuses.


Leave a Reply to John McAuliff Cancel reply