U.S. Taxpayer Money to Be Spent on Website 'Offering Messages of Hope' for Afghanistan

February 22, 2013 - 11:49 AM

kabul embassy

Memorial Day at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday, May 30, 2011. (S.K. Vemmer/Department of State)

(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. Embassy in Kabul plans to spend up to $250,000 in taxpayer money on the creation of a website that will allow people to show how "the Afghanistan of today has provided opportunities that didn’t exist before."

The stand-alone website -- or dedicated YouTube channel -- must give people in Afghanistan and around the world the ability to upload short, personally recorded videos "describing why and how the individual is contributing to the betterment of Afghanistan and/or the ways in which the Afghanistan of today has provided opportunities that didn’t exist before, and offering messages of hope for the country’s future."

The grant announcement, posted on Feb. 21 at Grants.gov, is one of at least 61 solicitations posted since Monday, and the total dollar amount is relatively small compared with some of the other "funding opportunities."

The money is available to all U.S., Afghan and international organizations or companies with direct experience in website design, video recording and editing, and media or public relations campaigns. Eligible organizations must have a successful track record of implementing projects in Afghanistan.

U.S. organizations or companies that might get the grant are required to partner with an Afghan organization or company.

Secretary of State John Kerry has spent his first few weeks on the job defending the State Department expenditures as vital for national security, business opportunities, and America's global leadership.

He's made the point that the foreign policy budget is just over one percent of the federal budget, but when difficult fiscal choices loom, foreign aid is often seen as the easiest place to point fingers.

"Let me be very clear," Kerry said in a speech this week at the University of Virginia. "Foreign assistance is not a giveaway. It’s not charity. It is an investment in a strong America and in a free world. Foreign assistance lifts other people up and then reinforces their willingness to link arms with us in common endeavors. And when we help others crack down on corruption, that makes it easier for our own compliance against corruption, and it makes it easier for our companies to do business as well."