Feds Offer $1.5 Million Grant for Job Creation – in Belize

April 11, 2014 - 12:12 PM

Belize

Vinai Thummalapally, U.S. ambassador to Belize, and Patrick Faber, Belize minister of education, youth and sports, cut the ribbon during the New Horizons 2013 opening ceremony March 25, 2013, at Ladyville Technical High School. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. James Law)

(CNSNews.com) – On Monday, the State Department announced a $1.5 million grant opportunity for “job creations for at-risk neighborhoods” – in Belize.

The grant, under the jurisdiction of the State Department’s Mission to Belize, is available to “U.S. or overseas-based non-governmental and non-profit organizations (NGOs), Public International Organizations (PIOs) and Educational Institutions,” according to the announcement.

The State Department announced a $500,000 grant opportunity for this same purpose in 2013, but the agency did not respond to inquiries from CNSNews.com about the grants, so it is unclear if this year’s offering is a newly funded grant or a continuation of last year’s announcement.

The grant description for the 2014 $1.5 million grant is brief and does not provide much information about the kind of programs that will be funded.

Beginning with a one-word sentence “Variable,” the description states:

“The U.S. Embassy in Belize anticipates that most awards would be between 12-24 months. All award money must [be] spent by the end of the grant period. U.S. Embassy Belize expects to fund 5 to 7 proposals for a total program value not to exceed $1,500,000 in U.S. Government funding, contingent upon the availability of funds.

“Although U.S. Embassy Belmopan is unlikely to fund proposals for less than $100,000 or for more than $500,000 in U.S. Government funding (total funding for projects can and should exceed the U.S. Government funding through cost-sharing), the Embassy may make exceptions for especially compelling proposals.”

The 2013 grant announcement provided more information about that opportunity:

“The proposal will confront the root causes of violence and crime in a creative and effective way and seek to create positive cultural and social conditions, which are the foundations of a peaceful and orderly society,” the grant description stated.

“Root causes in Belize include, but are not limited to, the lack of economic development, the lack of skills and/or tradecraft, the lack of conflict resolution skills, and/or the lack of opportunity for youth.

“Marginalized youth are empowered when given a voice and opportunities,” the description stated. “Equipping marginalized youth and their communities with economic opportunities and/or business training can help them reach their true potential as entrepreneurs and improve citizen security.”

The State Department did not answer repeated requests for comment from CNSNews.com regarding what kind of job creation proposals it is seeking and whether or not the funding comes from the congressionally appropriated annual funding for the agency or some other source.

According to the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook, in 2013 Belize had an unemployment rate of 15.5 percent. That same year the percentage of workers in that Central American country was 41 percent.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall unemployment rate in the United States in March was 6.7 percent, but for 16- to 19-year-old Americans, the rate is 20.9 percent.