Ambassador’s Special Self Help Program Frequently Asked Questions

What is Self-Help? Self-Help is a special program of the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia.  It provides support to communities, villages, neighborhoods and groups that are doing something to help themselves.  Most often, the projects are implemented by locally-registered NGOs (or NGOs with a work permit to operate in Ethiopia), community- and faith-based groups, and civic associations that apply for funding on behalf of local beneficiaries.

Fine, my community is working very hard. Can we have some money? Self-Help funds are given for specific projects. The money must be used to build or purchase something without which the project wouldn’t get started or can’t be completed. If you have a plan, labor and funds for a specific project, but need some supplementary help, the U.S. Embassy may be able to help you.

The women in my community earn money by selling injera but are very short on teff. Will you buy some for them?No. Self-Help funds cannot be used to buy the things you use every day such as teff for injera, paper for a school, or fertilizer for a farm. Self-Help funds must be used for things that will last and things that are needed to get a project started or completed.

Can you give me examples of projects you will assist?  Perhaps you already built a class room, laboratory, or library but do not have enough money to buy books or furniture.  You need desks, chairs and finishing materials. Maybe your village constructed a water reservoir and needs water pipes for distribution. The people have agreed to complete the construction on their own. We might be able to help purchase of water pipes, but payment for construction workers is not allowed under the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help program.

Can you give me examples of projects you will NOT assist? Yes. We do not provide fund for items that are consumed including food, paper or fertilizer.  The self-help program does not fund purely construction projects under current year. We also cannot be involved in a project that is being financed by the Government of Ethiopia, but we are willing to support locally-organized projects that may be sponsored in part by government organizations. Self-Help funds cannot be used for administration, salaries, sports equipment, computers and other office equipment, vehicles, training or transportation costs.  We also cannot support religious, military or police activities.

So, the community has to do a lot of the work itself? Exactly, the Self-Help program will try to get you a few things you can’t otherwise get, but you have to do a significant amount of the work, and you have to get as many things as you can.

The community has always wanted a bridge for the creek. Can you help? Perhaps. But the village will have to decide what it will do for itself. The U.S. Embassy will help you but it will not do the project for you. If the village wants the bridge enough to contribute a significant amount of what is needed to build it, the U.S. Embassy will be happy to talk with you about helping with the things you can’t get.

How much money will you give us? That depends on how much it costs to implement your project. The maximum award is $ 12,000 and most Self-Help grants are between $ 2,000 and 12,000. All grants are one-time only.

What do we do first? Talk to people. Find out what they will contribute. Some may have money, others may have a bag or two of cement, and others may have timber or planks. Others may be willing to donate their labor. If you are a legally-registered NGO, community- or faith-based organization, or civic association applying for funds on the community’s behalf, you will need a letter from the community members verifying their support and detailing their contribution.

We talked to the people in our community. Everyone really wants the bridge but we have no way of getting reinforcing rods. Can you help us now? Now is the time to fill out the U.S. Embassy application for Self-Help funds. Please answer each question as carefully and as fully as you can.  Tell us why you need the project, what the community will contribute, what is the plan, who is the organizer, and what you want the U.S. Embassy to give you.  When finished, mail, fax or email the application to the U.S. Embassy.

What will you do with the application? The U.S. Embassy will consider your application along with those submitted by other projects across Ethiopia. Because the amount of Self-Help funds is limited, only the best projects – those that will benefit people most substantially, involve significant community contributions, and have the best chance of success – will be selected.

We got a letter from the U.S. Embassy. It says that our request is approved. What do we do now? The person in charge of your project should make an appointment to meet with us. Your representative and the Ambassador will sign an agreement that states exactly what the U.S. Embassy will give your project and how the money must be used.

Can we start work?  By all means, get started as soon as possible. Be sure to use the equipment or supplies only for the proposed activity. If there are any materials left over, you must tell us. If you use things provided by the U.S. Embassy for any purpose other than the one stated in the agreement signed with the Embassy, you risk having to repay the funds. From time to time, a representative of the U.S. Embassy will stop by to see how the project is going. Most importantly, you will be required to provide semi-annual or annual reports on your progress and results.

The bridge is finished, the community is having an inaugural ceremony, and we’d like someone from the U.S. Embassy to come.  We would be delighted to attend, but make sure you give us enough time to make the arrangements.

Thank you for your interest in the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Program and best of luck with your project!

I have questions on the application for Federal Assistance SF-424 form as follows:

  1. under Type of Submission: should I choose from Preparation, Application & Change/Corrected Application? Application
  2. Under Type of Application: should I choose from New, continuation and Revision? New
  3. What is Application Identifier? No need to fill
  4. What is Federal Entity Identifier? No need to fill
  5. What is Federal Award Identifier? New applicants leave blank
  6. Is State Use Only: Number 6 &7? No need to fill
  7. What is Employer/Taxpayer Identification Number ( EITIN)? Is it Registration Number by Ethiopian Agency? No need to fill
  8. Under Number 9 Type of Applicant 1, 2 & 3 what should be written here? #1 other. No need to fill #2 & #3
  9. What is Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number ? No need to fill
  10. What is CFDA Title? what should I write here? No need to fill
  11. Under Number 12 Funding Opportunity Number, what is Title? what should I write here? Title of Notice of Funding opportunity you are applying for
  12. What is Competition Identification Number? No need to fill
  13. Under Number 13, what is Title? what should I write here?
  14. What should I write under Number 15, ” Descriptive Title of Application’s Project” Is it name/Title of the project?   Write the title of your projects
  15. What supporting documents should I attach specifically? Registration number, bios of project personnel, most recent bank statement
  16. What are Congressional Districts of? Do you mean the names of Project districts and District where our Head Office is? 00-000
  17. What should I write under Number 19? Is it a choice question? C.

Questions from BUDGET INFORMATION-Non-Construction programs format


  1. What is Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number? No need to fill
  2. What is Estimated Unobligated Funds? What to write here? 0


  1. What should be written on from Numbers 8-11 under Grant Program? Place amounts contributing to project activities by the grant and by your organization.


  1. What should be written on from Numbers 16-19? 0 there will not be future funding period as this is only a 1 year grant.