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Frequently Asked Questions about MEPI

HOW DOES MEPI WORK?

HOW DO MEPI PROJECTS SUPPORT U.S. FOREIGN POLICY GOALS?

HOW IS MEPI DIFFERENT FROM OTHER U.S. ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS THAT WORK IN THE MIDDLE EAST?

DOES MEPI WORK WITH GOVERNMENTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA?

WITH WHAT ORGANIZATIONS DOES MEPI WORK?

WHO BENEFITS FROM MEPI's WORK?

HOW CAN I FIND OUT ABOUT FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES WITH MEPI?

IN WHAT COUNTRIES DOES MEPI OPERATE?

WHERE CAN I FIND OUT WHICH ORGANIZATIONS RECEIVE MEPI FUNDING?

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HOW DOES MEPI WORK?

MEPI works in partnership with civil society organizations, the private sector, and governments in the MENA region on a wide variety of issues. Through grants and cooperative agreements, MEPI forges partnerships between civil society organizations in the United States and the Middle East, and provides financial support for activities in education, advocacy, civic engagement, technical training and organizational development. MEPI programs provide direct support to the work of local partners, and helps them to network with like-minded colleagues region-wide. MEPI’s programs also bring US and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), universities, businesses, and other partners together with their colleagues from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to pursue joint endeavors.

MEPI uses three principal mechanisms to carry out its mission: 
• region-wide and multi-country projects;
• local civil society grants; and
• country-specific projects

MEPI is not a government-to-government assistance program. Although some of MEPI’s projects engage government participants or government institutions, MEPI works primarily with civil society, through implementing partners based in the United States and in the region. MEPI does not provide funds to foreign governments, and does not negotiate bilateral assistance agreements.

MEPI solicits project proposals via our posts in the region, Internet postings on grants.gov, mepi.state.gov and our regional offices in Abu Dhabi and Tunis.  MEPI’s implementers are selected through open competitions, limited solicitations, and, occasionally, sole source awards.  Solicitations are reviewed by panels comprised of area and subject matter experts drawn from both inside the State Department, NGOs, and the private sector.  MEPI also supports some projects implemented by other US Government agencies. 

Region-wide & Multi-country Programming

Our regional programming builds networks of partners to learn from and support one another, and to catalyze progressive change in the region. MEPI’s Washington, D.C. office supports region-wide and multi-country projects across the MENA region, including flagship projects like the annual Leaders for Democracy Fellowships, which provide a cadre of early- and mid-career professionals with training in democracy studies, conflict resolution, and political mobilization along with mentorships at US non-governmental organizations.  

Other region-wide projects include the MEPI Student Leaders program, which brings a select group of students from the region to the U.S. for intensive civic engagement courses at American universities, and the MEPI Alumni Network, which links past MEPI program participants together for joint endeavor in their home countries, in areas from community service to advocacy. 

Local Civil Society Grants

MEPI offers assistance, training, and support to groups and individuals striving to bring change to the Middle East and North Africa.  MEPI supports projects in 18 countries and territories, partnering with civil society organizations (CSOs), community leaders, youth and women activists, and private sector groups to advance their efforts to create positive change in their societies. The Local Grants program serves as MEPI’s most direct means of supporting local organizations. MEPI’s Med Region and Arabian Peninsula Regional Offices, located in Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates, manage the program.  These grants are designed to promote positive change, advocacy, and civic activism; strengthen civil society; support citizens’ efforts at economic, social, and political empowerment; expand opportunities for women and youth; strengthen the rule of law; develop independent media; and help communities work alongside governments in shaping their own futures. Funding is available for projects that relate to the above principles.  More information about MEPI’s Regional Offices can be found at: www.medregion.mepi.state.gov  or www.arabianpeninsula.mepi.state.gov.

Country-Specific Projects

Our country-specific projects are designed to be responsive to local developments and local needs, as identified by local partners, our embassies, and our own field analysis.  Political, social, and economic developments in a country may produce new opportunities or challenges for U.S. policy goals.


HOW DO MEPI PROJECTS SUPPORT U.S. FOREIGN POLICY GOALS?

MEPI is the primary US Government tool for civil society support in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). MEPI supports civil society through training, organizational development, networking, and direct grants that expand the impact of local activists. MEPI also supports civil society participation in the G8 Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) Forum for the Future, which brings governments, civil society, and the private sector together to discuss, develop, and advance shared goals.

Through partnerships with local organizations, MEPI fosters progress led by the people of the region, to increase opportunity for all and to expand fundamental human rights.  MEPI achieves this by supporting projects that protect and advance civil liberties, empower women and youth, strengthen the rule of law, support citizens’ right to have a say in how they are governed, develop independent and fair media, foster economic opportunity especially for women and youth, and educate active and responsible citizens.


HOW IS MEPI DIFFERENT FROM OTHER U.S. ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS THAT WORK IN THE MIDDLE EAST?

MEPI’s emphasis is on supporting citizen empowerment. The uniqueness of MEPI lies in its ability to work directly and cooperatively with Middle East and North Africa-based (MENA) civil society organizations to create local and sustainable partnerships. MEPI works ithroughout the MENA region, but does not set aside funds for specific countries, or negotiate bilateral agreements with governments in the region. This region-wide scope and flexibility allows MEPI to respond to changing needs on the ground, to react to emerging challenges and opportunities, and to respond promptly with projects to address time-sensitive and evolving issues.

MEPI’s integration into the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA Bureau) allows the US Government to build an integrated strategy of policy and programming to support regional civil society and advance political, social, and economic reforms that empower people. MEPI’s unique Local Grants program engages US embassies and Foreign Service Officers directly with civil society, building the skills and experience for 21st Century diplomacy. MEPI’s capacity to work with NEA’s missions in the field, and through our two regional offices, and our tightly integrated operations, allow MEPI to set up new projects in a matter of weeks when the need presents.


DOES MEPI WORK WITH GOVERNMENTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA?

Yes, MEPI does work with governments in the region where we can leverage local support for reforms that will improve government performance and accountability and empower citizens. 
For example, MEPI works with Omani financial institutions to support the development of small-to-medium sized enterprises, advances legal reform in Bahrain through projects that engage the country’s government, supports a government-non-governmental organization (NGO) partnership to serve victims of domestic violence in Jordan, and works in cooperation with civil society and government to combat money laundering in Yemen.


WITH WHAT ORGANIZATIONS DOES MEPI WORK?

MEPI works with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private sectors, academic institutions, and government institutions, both in the US and abroad, to accomplish its mission and goals. 


WHO BENEFITS FROM MEPI's WORK?

MEPI’s projects support the citizens of the Middle East in their efforts at political, social, and economic empowerment. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region faces unique socio-economic challenges, including an unprecedented rising generation of young people with aspirations to contribute to and improve their communities in their own ways. By helping educate, inform, energize and mobilize active citizens, MEPI supports people across the region who transform common interests into common actions that serve the common good.

American citizens also benefit from MEPI’s work, in two ways.  First, increased people-to-people engagement through civil society partnerships helps realize universal respect for human rights, advances global human development, improves mutual understanding, and builds a supportive framework for international cooperation on a host of shared goals. In addition, American citizens benefit from the increased stability of a more pluralistic, participatory, and prosperous Middle East for US interests. As President Obama said in his speech to the United Nations, “We stand up for universal values because it’s the right thing to do.  But we also know from experience that those who defend these values for their people have been our closest friends and allies, while those who have denied those rights -- whether terrorist groups or tyrannical governments -- have chosen to be our adversaries.”


HOW CAN I FIND OUT ABOUT FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES WITH MEPI?

Please visit our “Funding Opportunities” section to find out more about opportunities to apply for support from MEPI.


IN WHAT COUNTRIES DOES MEPI OPERATE?

Please visit our “Where We Work” section to find out more about where MEPI works.


WHERE CAN I FIND OUT WHICH ORGANIZATIONS RECEIVE MEPI FUNDING?

This information can be found at www.usaspending.gov.  This searchable website, established and managed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and mandated by the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA) of 2006, provides publicly accessible information about Federal awards, including those made by MEPI.  Information on the website includes the: award name; entity receiving the award; amount of the award; transaction type; funding agency; location of the entity receiving the award, and a unique identifier of the entity receiving the award.