The intended audience of this handbook are both potential and current English Microscholarship Program (“hereafter known as “Access” or “Access Program”) providers’ administrative staff and teachers.
The goal of this handbook is to give an overview of the Access Program, detail the process of applying to host an Access Program, and to serve as a guide that highlights important program policies and resources available to Access providers and teachers. The policies and procedures of the Access Program will be updated in this handbook on an as needed basis and providers will be notified of major changes.
If you have any questions about policies and procedures that have not been specifically addressed in this handbook or have suggestions to improve this handbook, please consult with your Regional English Language Officer (RELO)/U.S. Embassy/Consulate point of contact (POC).
HOW TO USE THIS HANDBOOK
This handbook is structured into three main sections so providers can quickly find the information they need: Before: Pre-Program Launch Information and Activities, During: Program Implementation Information and Activities, and After: Program Close Out.
In addition to giving important program information, this handbook features examples to help readers understand how the Access program works from three points of view:
Further, this handbook provides links to tutorials that offer more in-depth learning on specific topics. Each tutorial can be identified by this symbol.
Click the name of the tutorial, and it will open in a separate browser window. Also throughout the handbook, glossary terms will be underlined. Click the underlined text to see a quick definition.
WHAT IS ACCESS?
Access is a student-centered program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Embassies that provides English language skills to underserved students (primarily 13-20 years old) worldwide through extracurricular classes and activities. Access provides participants with a foundation of English language, leadership and professional skills, and exposure to U.S. culture and democratic values that may lead to better jobs and educational prospects, including future exchanges and study in the United States. The global Access Program has provided scholarships to more than 200,000 students in over 80 countries since its inception in 2004.
ACCESS GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The goal of the Access Program is to provide participants with improved English skills that may lead to better jobs and educational prospects, including future exchanges and study in the United States.
The objectives of the Access Program are to equip students with effective English language communication and critical thinking skills through meaningful interaction, cooperative and student-centered learning strategies, interest and age-appropriate activities, and real-life application.
The service learning component of the Access Program increases the students’ awareness of issues facing their respective communities, while also giving them an understanding of the ways they can positively contribute to civil society.
Access students will:
- Be given a foundation of English language skills
Equipping students with English language skills can increase their competitiveness in the job market, allow them to expand their network, build people-to-people connections, and make students more competitive for future U.S. Embassy/Consulate exchanges.
- Gain an appreciation for U.S. culture and democratic values
A key element of the Access Program is to familiarize students with important features of U.S. culture and democratic values to encourage mutual understanding between the U.S. and the host country. Students are encouraged to develop respect for and interest in other cultures, customs, and beliefs. Providers are encouraged to thoughtfully design their curriculum to integrate the following topics: global citizenship, critical thinking, human rights, U.S. democracy and government, U.S. civil society, diversity and tolerance, U.S. History, U.S. education system, U.S. family and relationship values, U.S. and global gender issues, climate and the environment, U.S. and global health, and STEM.
- Develop digital literacy skills
In addition to learning general computer skills, using and understanding a wider variety of informational technologies has become essential to a young person’s personal and academic future. Providing Access Program participants with these tools for an ever-changing digital world has become an objective for the Access Program. This will give program participants the ability to find, evaluate and critically analyze online information for its trustworthiness and accuracy, give students opportunities to connect and collaborate with others in and outside their Access group, and be able to create and share content. digital literacy activities can also be integrated into the curriculum so that the program’s learners gain the appropriate skills for helping to build a positive online identity, understand the features of a safe and secure online identity, and contribute to the global online community.
- Participate in personal development activities
The Access Program seeks to foster students’ personal development by building balanced intellectual and emotional capabilities to better prepare them for future academic and professional endeavors. Students should be introduced to topics such as: career development and employable skills, critical thinking, self-confidence, media literacy, 21st century and soft skills, leadership skills, emotional literacy and self-awareness, pursuing higher education, and applying for U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs.
- Take part in service learning activities
service learning is a teaching approach that combines specific learning objectives with service to the community to provide a learning experience in which students develop new skills and a deeper understanding of their community. Students must be actively involved in the service learning project planning process and should lead the assessment of community needs, design of the project to address the community need, and reflect before, during and after the service experience. In addition, service activities should be designed to meet specific learning objectives as well as empowering the students with the skills of researching, planning, implementing and reflecting. It is important for students to use English as much as possible while completing their service learning project.
eligibility TO HOST AN ACCESS PROGRAM
If your school, educational institution, or organization is interested in hosting an Access Program, please review the questions below to verify your eligibility. Please note that for-profit organizations are not eligible to apply. If you can respond “YES” to the following statements, you are ready to host an Access Program! If you respond “NO” to any of these statements, please consult with your U.S. Embassy/Consulate POC or RELO before continuing the process.
Can your educational institution or organization…
- …legally operate within the country where the proposed Access Program will be implemented? (“Legally operate” means the Applicant Organization is incorporated, registered, or licensed as a legal entity in the country where the Access Program will be implemented)
- …open a bank account that accepts wire transfers in U.S. Dollars?
- …follow a reporting schedule and submit program and financial reports on time?
- …fulfill the mandatory minimum of 360 program hours over 20-24 months?
- …acquire a room or space to accommodate the class?
- …retain teachers, administration, and students that can devote extended periods of time (6-8 hours) for Enhancement activities, intensive Sessions, and teacher training events (for Access teachers) that can occur on weekends?
- …acquire and use Microsoft Excel 2010 (or newer) for reporting purposes?
INTRODUCTION TO ACCESS STAKEHOLDERS
The U.S. Department of State (DOS)
- allocate program funds by region and country
- Create program guidelines and policies
- Approve the selection of Access providers
- Authorize disbursements and reporting schedules for providers
- Disburse funds to Access providers
- collaborate with DOS and RELO to evaluate trending issues and identify solutions
- Create and maintain online systems to track the lifecycle of programs
- Collect, review, and provide feedback on official program documentation
Regional English Language Officer (RELO)
- Provide guidance on program preparation, design, and implementation
- Communicate with DOS, FHI 360, U.S. Embassy/Consulate, and Access providers to resolve issues
- Review and certify proposals
- Visit and monitor Access Program sites
- collaborate with RELO to select Access providers
- Serve as the primary POC between FHI 360 and the Access providers
- Monitor and evaluate the impact of the program to meet U.S. Embassy/Consulate goals
- Review and approve official program documentation
- Plan, prepare, and implement program while following U.S. Embassy/Consulate guidelines
- Complete and submit proposal, programmatic, and financial reports
- Engage students and organize After School Instruction classes, Enhancement Activities, and (if applicable) intensive Sessions
- Inform U.S. Embassy/Consulate and RELO about significant program developments and highlights
- Select appropriate American English language materials and design and implement quality instruction and assessments according to the Access Program objectives
- Create opportunities for students to authentically use and learn English through meaningful activities using a student-centered, communicative approach
- Plan and facilitate Enhancement Activities and intensive Sessions that provide hands-on and interactive opportunities that satisfy the Access curriculum and the Program’s objectives
- Monitor student attendance and provide support for continued student engagement and learning
- Gain a foundation of English language skills by actively participating in Access classes
- Gain an understanding and appreciation of U.S. culture and democratic values
- Engage in enhancement Activities and service learning Activities
- Develop knowledge and skills through Access classes that can contribute to the socio-economic development of their countries
lifecycle OF AN ACCESS PROGRAM
Before: Pre-Program Launch Information and Activities
PLANNING A 2-YEAR ACCESS PROGRAM
To achieve the ultimate goal and objectives of the Access Program, the program is designed to take place over a 2-year period. Providers are required to provide a detailed plan for their 2-year program and list all program activities that will occur in their initial application and proposal. All programs must begin in-person. The proposal and agreement start and end dates should include any Access-related activities that occur prior to the start of instruction (recruiting teachers and students, purchasing books and supplies, etc.) and following the completion of instruction (closing ceremony, final reports, etc.). Please note that the Access Program can only reimburse costs that are incurred within the approved agreement start and end dates.
This section aims to support potential providers with strategic long-term program planning by detailing program requirements that must be included in their proposal and guidance to plan an effective 2-year Access Program. It is important to note that some providers manage only one group of Access students and some manage more groups. Each group of students must meet the requirements detailed below.
Access students must receive a minimum of 360 hours of instruction distributed over a 20-24 month period. The 360 instruction hours include all the main components of the Access Program: (1) After School Instruction, (2) Enhancement Activities, and (3) intensive Sessions, if planned in the provider’s proposal. Providers must divide 360 hours (or more with U.S. Embassy/Consulate/RELO approval) among the two (three if the provider includes intensive Sessions) activities to meet the Access goals in their context. Please note that Enhancement Activities and intensive Sessions (each) cannot exceed 30% of the total program hours. For example:
Access Program Calendar
When designing an Access program, providers should start by creating a 2-year Access Program calendar that plans a weekly schedule of instruction and estimates dates for Enhancement Activities and intensive Sessions. The program calendar should ensure that:
- Each group of students at all program sites receive a minimum of 360 program hours within 20-24 months
- Providers should aim to deliver half of the program hours (180 hours) or more in the first year of the program. If this is not possible at any point during the program, providers should consult with their U.S. Embassy POC and/or RELO
Weekly Access Schedule
Each Access Program must include weekly instruction that can occur before school, after school, or on weekends. Usually, the preferred time for teaching is after school and so we call the weekly instruction After School Instruction.
- Each After School class should be at least 60 minutes (not shorter “academic” hours) and not longer than 120 minutes
- After School classes should take place at least two days a week and ideally not more than 3 days a week
- Please note that additional justification in the proposal is needed if the program plans for students to attend the Access Program for more than 10 hours per week
- With RELO approval, online instruction can be considered as After School Instruction hours (consult your U.S. Embassy/Consulate POC or RELO for guidance on the maximum number of online hours for the program)
After School Instruction
What: After School Instruction is a fundamental and mandatory component of the Access Program and is the English language instruction students receive outside of their normal school hours.
To achieve the language and personal development goals of the Access Program, teachers are encouraged to use a student-centered approach such as the communicative language teaching (CLT) approach.
The CLT approach encourages teachers to create opportunities in the classroom for students to authentically use and learn English through interactive and meaningful activities. After School Instruction lessons should be communicative and interactive, not focused on rote memorization.
Who: Access students are taught by Access teachers. Administrators support both students and teachers.
When: Access classes normally take place after the students’ regular school hours or on the weekend.
Why: Access classes support the goals of Access.
What: Enhancement Activities are mandatory educational events and activities that happen outside (before/after class or on the weekend) of students’ After School Instruction throughout the duration of the program. Enhancement Activities are interactive opportunities for students to enhance their English language and personal skills.
Providers are expected to conduct Enhancement Activities that cover each of the four topics. For programs reporting on a quarterly basis (every three months) providers should deliver a minimum of one Enhancement Activity for each group of students. For programs reporting on a semester basis (every six months) providers should deliver a minimum of two Enhancement Activities for each group of students.
- U.S. Culture and Democratic Values
- Personal Development
- service learning
- digital literacy Skills
Who: Access teachers (in consultation with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate) plan and facilitate enhancement activities for Access students. Administrators support both students and teachers. Don’t forget to invite U.S. Embassy/Consulate representatives and/or your RELO in advance!
Where: enhancement Activities can occur within students’ After School Instruction classroom and/or they can occur outside of the classroom (in the program’s host city or nearby city/area).
Why: enhancement Activities are often the most memorable experiences for Access students as they usually occur outside the classroom and encourage the development of community. Enhancement Activities should be carefully designed to advance the students’ English skills and reinforce a topic by creating a lasting impression and memory for students.
What: intensive Sessions are an optional, but an essential component to the program. intensive Sessions occur outside of students’ After School Instruction classes and can constitute part of the total 360 hours of the program. Each session typically takes place over a more concentrated period of time, between three days to four weeks. intensive Sessions must include English language instruction and focus on one or more of the following topics: U.S. culture and democratic values, personal development, service learning, and/or digital literacy skills.
Who: Access teachers plan and facilitate intensive Sessions for all Access students. Administrators support both students and teachers. For all intensive Sessions, there should be at least one adult chaperone per ten students if the activity is outside of the After School Instruction site.
When: We recommend at least 1 intensive Session during your program. Please note that intensive Session hours should not exceed 30% of the total number of program hours. intensive Sessions take place each day for a minimum of three hours and not more than eight hours, and can be held at the beginning, middle, and/or end of the Access Program.
Why: intensive Sessions are important opportunities to practice English language skills, build teams, gain confidence, encourage closer relationships with teachers, and opportunities for mentorship and role modeling.
Important Points when planning intensive Session and enhancement Activity events:
- The provider must undertake efforts to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all participants in the Access Program and address any issues immediately
- Students must have signed consent forms from their parents/guardians before any off-site activities
- The students must have some form of medical/travel insurance for any activities that occur outside of the city/area of the Access Program (insurance is not required for activities that occur within the city/area of the Access Program, unless required locally)
- For every off-site intensive Session and Enhancement Activity event, there must be a ratio of one (1) or more adult chaperones (teacher, coordinator, parent/guardian volunteer, etc.) for every 10 Access students
- intensive Session and Enhancement Activity programming must be conducted in English and include English language learning activities
Opening and Closing Ceremonies
What: Providers must organize an official opening ceremony at the beginning and an official closing ceremony at the end of the Access Program. Students must be given a certificate signed by a U.S. Embassy/Consulate official at both the opening and closing ceremonies. It is the responsibility of the provider to request certificates from the U.S. Embassy/Consulate 30 days before the opening/closing ceremony is scheduled.
Who: Access providers organize opening and closing ceremonies for Access students. Access providers, students, teachers, U.S. Embassy/Consulate officials, and guest speakers all attend the ceremonies. A U.S. Embassy/Consulate official must be present to deliver the certificates to students.
When: The date and time of both the opening and closing ceremony must be approved by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate. The opening ceremony should occur after the agreement has been signed and either before instruction begins or within 3 months of instruction starting. The closing ceremony usually occurs after instruction has finished and must be held before the end date of the agreement. The ceremony should be between 1-2 hours.
Where: Opening/Closing ceremonies should be held at the host institution of the Access Program. If this is not possible, the ceremonies can be held at a venue at a convenient central location for all participants and guests.
Why: The opening ceremony can motivate and instill a sense of pride in students for having been chosen for and completing the Access Program. It is also motivating for students to see that representatives from the U.S. Embassy/ Consulate, the provider, and teachers are all involved in their learning process and advocating for their success.
Opening and Closing Ceremony Tips and Recommendations
- Plan the ceremony at least 3 months in advance
- Confirm in the proposal that U.S. Embassy/Consulate representatives (specify names if possible) will attend the ceremony
- Have certificates ready and signed by U.S. Embassy/Consulate representative at least 30 days before the ceremony
- Send invitations to family and guests to attend the ceremony
- Plan how you will track students’ future successes (i.e. U.S. Embassy/ Consulate exchange participants, scholarships to college, etc.) and communicate a way for program alumni to stay engaged and keep in touch
- Ceremonies cannot occur outside of the period of performance of a signed agreement
- Providers should consider making the ceremonies bilingual so all guests can celebrate the students’ accomplishments
In your Access proposal, include the following types of costs for ceremonies when necessary:
- Fees for renting a venue
- Food may be listed in the budget as cost per item or cost per person
- Transportation for teachers, students, and/or special guests if the ceremony is not being held at the host institution (Remind participants to keep and submit all receipts for bus fares, vehicle rentals, taxi fares, train tickets, etc.)
- Travel Insurance for participants traveling outside of the Access Program host city for ceremonies
- Accommodations (allowed only if multiple Access groups travel to one central location for a joint ceremony and requires an overnight stay)
- honorarium for guest speakers (government officials cannot receive honorarium)
- Supplies (invitations, paper, t-shirts, etc.)
- Banners and/or signs
These items should not be included in your Access proposal and may not be purchased with Access funds:
- Cash gifts
- Electronic gifts such as tablets and laptops
- Live bands, singers, MCs, and DJs are not allowed, unless these are Access students that would like to perform as part of their graduation ceremony
- Graduation gowns and hats
- Any expenses related to the press (i.e. Access funds cannot be used to pay for the travel expenses for a newspaper reporter to attend the ceremony)
- Cameras/technology that will only be used for the ceremony
- Flowers or plants (only modest costs for flowers and decorations are allowable)
professional development (PD) for Access Teachers
An important goal of the Access Program is to empower and develop the capacity of teacher leaders in the region. Access teachers are recommended to participate in professional development activities at least once every 6 months during the program, and more frequently when possible. These activities may be organized by the RELO or may be available at no cost through OPEN or American English. They can also be organized through the Access provider as part of the program.
APPLICATION AND PROPOSAL PROCESS
To apply to be an Access provider, interested institutions should contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate/RELO. Selected providers will be asked to complete an Access proposal using either templates or through an online system. Providers should review the entire handbook, as well as additional resources and guides sent to the provider, before completing and submitting a proposal.
Some areas covered in an Access proposal include:
- Provider’s experience
- Information on staffing (program director, program coordinator, finance manager/accountant, teachers, other instructional and administrative staff, etc.)
- Number of hours for each program component (After School, Enhancement Activities, intensive Sessions) that students will receive for the duration of the program.
- Information about the instructional approach teachers will use and the kinds of activities planned
- Information on how students will be recruited and supported during the program
- A detailed budget and explanation of estimated costs
Each submitted proposal completes a review and approval process. During the process, a provider may receive questions for clarification from reviewers and be asked to make a revision to the proposal before it is approved. Once the proposal is approved, the next step is the completion of an agreement set-up process. An Access Program may not begin until the agreement set-up process has been completed.
Throughout the proposal process, your U.S. Embassy/Consulate POC will be available to provide assistance and answer questions.
AGREEMENT SET-UP PROCESS
Once your proposal has been reviewed and approved, you will be contacted by FHI 360 to begin the agreement set-up process. This process requires the review and/or completion of several documents including:
- An Access agreement (see more information below)
- Access program requirements
- The final version of your approved proposal (a copy for your records)
- A bank information form to certify the approved bank account to receive Access funds
- A certification form required for U.S. government-sponsored programs
- A form for estimating the first advance payment and identifying the location (city and facility) of each group of Access students
The Access agreement is a legal document signed by the provider’s signatory representative. It contains the following information:
- Legal name of the Access Provider
- The period of performance (start and end dates of the agreement)
- Scope of work (number of students, number of program hours, etc.)
- An approved program budget
- A reporting and payment schedule
- Required Terms and Conditions
A signed agreement allows FHI 360 to send program funds to a provider’s bank account. The funds are sent as advance payments to cover the costs of the program activities planned for the upcoming period. All funds received must be spent on the Access program in accordance with the approved budget and the signed agreement. At the end of each period, the provider will submit a report on the completed activities and expenses and an estimate of costs for the following period (for more information see Required Reporting). Typically, a provider will submit program and financial reports 8 times (each covering 3 months of activity) and receive 8 payments for duration of the program.
Throughout the Agreement set-up process, your U.S. Embassy/Consulate and FHI 360 POC will be available to provide assistance and answer questions.
The Access Program is a U.S. Department of State program funded by the U.S. Government. The official name of the program is the “English Access Microscholarship Program.” The shortened forms “Access Program” or “Access” are acceptable. These are the only names that should be used when referring to the program. A frequent incorrect reference is ACCESS: the word “access” should never be in all capital letters, as it is not an acronym.
Providers must ensure that the Access Program’s name appears correct in all program-related documentation: “The English Access Microscholarship Program, funded by the U.S. Department of State.”
All Access Program documents, applications, banners, t-shirts, publications, etc. must feature the official Access logo that contains the U.S. Department of State seal.
SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDELINES AND SAFETY TIPS
Providers are strongly encouraged to ‘like’ and follow the Access HQ Facebook page.
Social Media Guidelines
The most important guideline Providers must follow is to have each Access student and parent sign a photo consent form at the beginning of the program. By signing this form, the student and parent agree to allow any pictures taken of the student to be published on public platforms such as social media and promotional materials.
All social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, etc.) created by providers for Access Programs must be approved by the provider’s U.S. Embassy or Consulate POC and/or RELO and branded with the official Access logo. In addition, any social media page created for the Access Program should include the following disclaimer: “This website is not an official U.S. Department of State website. The views and information presented are the author’s own and do not represent the English Access Microscholarship Program or the U.S. Department of State. The English Access Microscholarship Program is funded by the U.S. Department of State.”
Social Media Safety Tips
- Use Privacy and Security settings to limit access to your personal information and keep it private
- Do not post email addresses, phone numbers, addresses, etc. on any public and/or social media website
- If someone requests personal information, report it to the site moderator
- Ensure all your posts are appropriate and follow the terms of service
- Protect all electronic devices: Safety and security start with installing security software (such as antivirus or firewall) that is set to update automatically
- If a post is inappropriate or seems harmful, report it to the moderator and/or block the poster
ADVERTISING THE ACCESS PROGRAM AND RECRUITING STUDENTS
Example Timeline for Advertising and Recruiting Students
It is important for providers to consult with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate to determine the appropriate population to recruit for your Access program. Typically, Access programs enroll underserved students or students that do not have the means or access to English language or educational opportunities outside of their public school classes. Please note that students enrolled (or have the means to enroll) in private schools and/or classes OR are alumni of U.S. Embassy/Consulate exchange programs should not be recruited for the Access Program.
Advertising for the Access Program and recruitment for the program’s students should be well thought out, extensive in scope, and involve the U.S. Embassy/ Consulate. Providers can also reach out to the following institutions to expand the applicant pool:
- local departments of education
- schools and other educational institutions
- civic and religious organizations
- local newspapers, and radio and television stations
- the U.S. Embassy/Consulate
Advertising and recruitment should clearly indicate that the program is:
- free of charge
- sponsored by the U.S. Department of State
- designated for underserved youth
- primarily for 13-to-20-years-old students who are not younger than 13 or older than 20 years old at the beginning of the program
- working with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate
Involving Parents and the Community
Students are more successful when their entire community is behind their education. We recommend involving parents and relatives in the planning. Those in the students’ homes and neighborhoods can help make their participation in the Access Program a true success.
- Students and parents/guardians must be informed that the Access Program is intensive and both must be dedicated to students’ success
- Attendance at all classes and events is mandatory. Any absence should be justified, and providers and posts should consult RELOs to determine policies for excused absences. Students/guardians/families must be aware of attendance policies and the consequences of habitual unexcused absences, such as students who miss classes without an excuse or who misbehave regularly can be withdrawn from the Access Program. Note: Providers should identify problematic behavioral trends as soon as possible and work with the student to develop a corrective action plan to address the issue. If the student does not make progress, they can be dismissed by the provider after consultation with the RELO and/or post POC
- Providers must provide forms in the local language to both students and guardians with the Access Program rules regarding attendance, behavior, participation in enhancement activities etc. and a letter of commitment that must be signed by students and their parents/guardians
- Students and their guardians need to grant permission at the beginning of the program via a signed consent form before the provider may take and potentially share their photos (providers must keep signed copies on file throughout the duration of the program and may only take and share a photo publicly if they have a permission form for all people in the photo)
Tips for Achieving Gender Balance
1. Recruit from diverse places such as…
- Community centers
- Places of worship
- Department and/or Ministry of Health, Social Services, Parks and Recreation, etc.
- Sport or hobby clubs
- Local NGOs or organizations
- Recommendations from school officials and/or parents
Providers can also recruit students by going to the places the adults in their lives spend time such as…
- Parent’s night at school
- School events
- Community events
- Youth programs or events
2. Advertise the Benefits of the Access Program
Providers should research what the students, parents, family, and community are looking for in an English education program and promote these activities during the recruitment phase. For example…
- In addition to English, students develop important soft skills such as teamwork
- Students are empowered with digital literacy skills
- The program promotes the social-emotional development of students
- Students learn about new cultures
3. Use gender inclusive pictures and language in promotional materials.
When creating promotional or program materials (paper or digital), it is important to use inclusive and gender neutral language and show gender diversity in all pictures or graphics. Use a gender-balanced mix of current and former students’ testimonials and success stories in promotional materials. It’s easier to imagine yourself as an Access student if you see images and stories that resemble you in the promotional materials. It can be hard to imagine yourself as an Access student if you do not see representation of your gender in the advertisements.
Student Application to the Access Program
Any students applying for the program must complete an Access application form offered by the program provider and must be in the students’ first language. The application will ask information about the student applicants, their school, and their parents/guardians and/or family. As part of the application, providers can ask applicants to write an essay. The question(s) and response will be written in the applicant’s first language and can ask applicants to write about their motivation for and commitment to the program.
Interviewing and Selecting Access Students
After the recruitment and application period has ended, the next step is for the program provider to interview all potential Access students and invite a representative of the U.S. Embassy/Consulate to participate in interviews and to be a member of the final selection panel. The provider then sends the final proposed student list to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate for its final approval and must not accept students into the program until the approval is received.
Providers are required to create a gender-balanced list of replacement students in case students withdraw from the program. In order to maintain the program’s integrity, providers can only replace students who leave the program during the first three months of the program. Permission from the RELO must be given to the provider if replacements are desired more than three months after the program’s start date. Additional materials such as textbooks can be purchased at the start of the program for replacement students at 10% of the class size. auditing students are not allowed.
Organizing Access Groups
Providers are responsible for grouping their program participants in a way that serves the Access Program’s goals and its anticipated outcomes.
- By students’ English language proficiency: All students in a group should be at approximately the same level, or as close as possible
- By age: Because of interest and cognitive differences, younger students must not be placed with older students so there should be no more than a two-year age range in the students within each group (e.g. 13-15, 14-16, 17-19, or 18-20 years-old etc.)
- By gender-balance: Each group should be gender-balanced
- By diversity: Considerations should be made when organizing the program’s groups in include diverse racial, ethnic, religious, or geographic backgrounds as much as possible or is appropriate.
RECRUITING ACCESS TEACHERS
Providers must consult with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate when developing teacher recruitment plans and selecting teachers. It is recommended that the Access teacher position(s) should be advertised outside of the institution and all qualified teachers be encouraged to apply. If Access teachers are hired from within the Access provider institution, please justify this choice in the program proposal.
Access teachers are required to use a student-centered and communicative approach to teaching, and the interview can be crucial to determining if a teacher has the skill set required for the Access Program. It is recommended that the provider use multiple methods (teaching demonstration, lesson plan, portfolio, etc.) and a standardized rubric to evaluate potential Access teachers.
EXPOSURE TO AMERICANS AND U.S. RESOURCES
The Access Program seeks to prepare students for conversational English language skills with both native and non-native speakers of English through a variety of experiential learning activities. There are a number of resources available to enhance the student’s Access Program experience. Each resource varies from region to region so please make sure to contact the local U.S. Embassy/Consulate and/or RELO to see if the listed resources are available in a specific area.
If available, when planning an Access Program, the provider should try to incorporate:
EducationUSA Advising Centers: these centers offer objective and timely information about educational institutions in the United States and how to best access those opportunities. Each year, thousands of prospective students learn about opportunities to study in the United States through EducationUSA centers. This is a great resource and providers can include a trip to an advising center, inviting a speaker, or by visiting the EducationUSA website during the program.
American Spaces is a term that refers to the American Corners, International Resource Centers, and Binational Centers located in some countries. Visit the American Spaces website or contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate for more information.
In addition to visiting these places, think about how you can invite Americans to come and visit Access classes. The U.S. Embassy/Consulate and Peace Corps often have a number of American teachers in particular countries. These teachers include, but are not limited to:
English Language Fellows (Fellows) are U.S. English-language teaching professionals placed in universities, ministries of education, and other institutions for ten months. Fellows work with their hosts as well as the local and regional English language teaching community to create and implement courses, materials, curricula, and training programs that build stronger connections between the host and U.S. culture. Fellows can assist teachers with Access Program activities if/when available. Fellows cannot teach in the Access Program. Visit the English Language Programs website to learn more.
Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) are U.S. college graduates who assist teachers of English. English Teaching Assistants help teach English language in educational institutions while serving as U.S. cultural ambassadors. ETAs can assist teachers with Access Program activities. ETAs cannot teach in the Access Program. Learn more at the Fulbright ETA Program website.
Peace Corps Volunteers work in a variety of contexts and hold different responsibilities. Visit the Peace Corps website to learn more.
Ask your U.S. Embassy/Consulate POC if these programs are in your country and ask them for help inviting these teachers to the Access Program.
ACCESS PROGRAM CURRICULUM AND MATERIALS
The Access Program curriculum should be based on the main components of the program of After School Instruction, Enhancement Activities and, if applicable, intensive Sessions, and must include all four language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
The curriculum should also address the main goals of the Access Program which provide program students a foundation of English language skills, an appreciation for U.S. culture and democratic values and opportunities for students to participate in personal development activities and service learning projects. Providers should also include topics such as: global citizenship, critical thinking, human rights, U.S. democracy and government, U.S. civil society, diversity and tolerance, U.S. History, U.S. education system, U.S. and global gender issues, climate and the environment, U.S. and global health, and STEM in their program curriculum.
All After School Instruction and enhancement/intensive Session activities require a focus on the interactive and communicative use of language as a main objective, a reasonable balance of the four macro-skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing and the micro-skills of grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and spelling.
Textbook and Materials
Although decisions on the selection of the Access Program materials (curriculum and supplementary) are the choice of the Access provider, choosing from a number of textbooks successfully used in Access and using U.S. Department of State American English published materials is strongly recommended. It is also recommended that the provider consult with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate POC and RELO to select appropriate and approved textbooks for the Access Program.
Please note that each and every student in the program must receive a new (not photocopied) course book or books. The new course books belong to each student, and after the program ends the books are the property of the students. Before proposing a textbook title in the narrative proposal, please be sure that the books can be bought locally or include shipping costs in the budget.
Providers and/or staff must administer a pre-test to Access students at the program’s beginning and then give the same post-test at the program’s end. The test should holistically assess all four skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing). This test allows all program stakeholders to track the progress and evaluate the eventual success of the student’s language acquisition from the beginning to the end of the program. Tests should be based on a scale of 0-100 points.
During: Program Implementation Information and Activities
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Each Access Program can structure their staffing as needed with the exception of the coordinator position, which is mandatory. Please see below for example roles and responsibilities.
Access Provider Director
Access provider director’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Recognizing and articulating a strong need in the local community for an Access Program
- Drafting proposals that meet program requirements and submitting them for approval to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate
- Implementing, monitoring and evaluating the program and personnel according to the oral and written guidelines from the U.S. Embassy/Consulate, approved proposal and signed agreement between FHI 360 based in the United States and the program provider
- Advertising and recruiting participants for the student scholarships
- Collaborating with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate during teacher and student selection process
- Consulting with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate/RELO to select and provide the same pre and post-test to program students upon entering and exiting the program
- Ensuring the health, safety and welfare of the students during planned classes and activities
- Hiring highly-qualified personnel (i.e. Access Coordinators, Teachers, Teaching Assistants) to implement the program
- Sending invitations to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate to invite them to upcoming special events such as Enhancement Activities or intensive Sessions
- Notifying the U.S. Embassy/Consulate POC and/or RELO when there are convenient opportunities to visit and speak with Access students and coordinating and planning such visits to maximize their effectiveness
- Providing letters of congratulations and graduation certificates signed by the U.S. Ambassador (or U.S. Embassy/Consulate Officer) to each Access student at the beginning and end of the Access Program
- Submitting financial and technical reports, accompanying documentation and alumni data according to the schedule of deadlines outlined in the agreement, and when requested by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate
Each Access Program must have an Access coordinator who serves as the liaison between the Access teachers and the U.S. Embassy/Consulate. To fulfill these responsibilities the coordinator should possess qualifications for teaching English and have excellent English language skills given the importance of the coordinator’s close working relationship with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate.
Access coordinator responsibilities and qualifications include, but are not limited to:
- Liaising with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate regarding the Access Program
- Coordinating and assisting in the recruitment and selection of Access teachers, teaching assistants and students
- Providing support to the teachers and teaching assistants concerning administrative duties, curriculum and syllabus design, materials selections and class instruction
- Assisting in the selection and purchase of Access textbooks and materials
- Liaising with the appropriate people to secure access to the Access classroom and/or facility
- Assisting provider administration’s designee to write and submit financial and progress reports by the agreed deadlines
- Helping to organize the opening and closing ceremonies
- Monitoring classes to ensure the appropriate administration and instruction of the program and noting and reporting any recommendations for improvement
- Consulting with Access teachers and teaching assistants on solutions to noted recommendations for improvement
- Notifying the U.S. Embassy/Consulate of sudden changes, emergencies, or interruptions of the Access classes and program
- Assisting teachers in organizing the administration of the Pre/Post test
- Coordinating with teachers in planning, organizing and implementing guest speakers/visitors and any outside classroom Enhancement Activities and intensive Sessions
- Ensuring student portfolios are accessible and updated on a regular basis by the teachers
Access teacher responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Selecting appropriate American English materials that meet program objectives
- Developing a course syllabus that clearly outlines the topics of the classes and expectations of the students
- Creating and implementing quality lesson plans according to the Access Program objectives
- Designing and conducting regular informal and formal assessments on a regular basis to gauge each student’s progress
- Planning and conducting enhancement Activities in accordance with the schedule and curriculum approved by the Access provider
- Planning enhancement Activities and intensive Sessions (if applicable) that provide hands-on and interactive opportunities for students’ engagement to more fully satisfy demands of the Access curriculum
- Submitting progress reports according to the schedule established by the provider
- Monitoring and regularly updating portfolios of the students’ attendance and notifying the coordinator of the students’ progress through regular written reports
- Developing, planning, and implementing the enhancement Activities according to the Access Program objectives
- Seeking to improve methodical and pedagogical skills through participation in seminars, lessons of visiting experienced colleagues, and self-education and any required professional development events held by the provider or U.S. Embassy/Consulate
- Working together with the coordinator to select qualified teaching assistants, if needed
Access teacher qualifications:
- University degree(s) with an applicable qualification (i.e. BA TESOL, second language acquisition, etc.)
- minimum of three years of experience instructing students in the same age range of Access Program participants
- High-intermediate to advanced level of English
- Strong desire and motivation to work with underserved youth
- Ability to organize and participate in enhancement and out-of-class activities
- Availability for the weekly number of instructional and program activity hours (after-school, enhancement activities and intensive Sessions)
- Basic knowledge of and willingness to learn about U.S. society and culture
- Basic or better of computer, technological and digital literacy skills
Each Access group must have a qualified teacher competent in English. If any Access group contains more than 18 students a teaching assistant to provide students more personalized attention is also highly recommended. All teacher and teaching assistant duties are planned and executed in agreement with the Access coordinator. The teachers and coordinators work together to select a qualified teaching assistant, promote the program, recruit students, screen applications, conduct interviews, and notify candidates of the results.
Teaching assistants responsibilities may include but are not limited to:
- Assisting teachers in their duties and responsibilities, as required
- Providing additional assistance to lower-level students, as required
- Providing supplemental activities for higher-level students who have completed assigned tasks ahead of time
- Assisting to ensure the course runs smoothly and successfully
ACCESS STUDENT ASSESSMENT
assessing Access students communicatively is an important element of the program. Assessments offer valuable feedback to teachers on the progress of their students and whether or not students are on track to achieve the learning goals.
Access assessment Requirements
Providers are required to:
- Provide continuous assessment through graded classroom participation, student-curated portfolios, oral feedback, individualized feedback, occasional quizzes on the four skills, and/or other check ups throughout the duration of the program. Providers are also encouraged to consider performance, alternative, and peer assessment
- Collect all tests and/or rubrics and store them in students’ portfolios
- Support students and guardians if students have problems with classes/tests and work together to create an improvement plan
AMENDMENTS TO THE AGREEMENT
During the course of an Access Program, providers might need to amend their agreement to…
- Change the end date of the agreement
- Make a revision to the program budget, which would require an amendment if a change to the total award amount is required (see Budget Revisions section)
- Change the scope of work (i.e. add an intensive Session)
- Change the name of their institution or organization
amendment Request Process
amendment requests must be submitted to and approved first by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate POC and/or RELO at least two weeks before the end of the agreement end date. Requests for an amendment submitted and approved less than two weeks prior to the agreement end date will not be processed.
A Letter of Approved Budget Change must be processed if a provider needs to:
- Transfer funds between Program Costs budget line items that increases the line item by an amount that is 10% or more of the total agreement award amount
- Move funds into or out of the Administration Costs section of the budget
Budget revision Process
If the budget revisions take place before the last period of the program, a Budget revision Request Form will be used to determine the new budget for the remainder of the program. If the budget revisions occur in the last period of the program, the final program and financial report will be used to determine the revised budget.
Providers are required to submit quarterly or semester program and financial reports to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate according to the schedule in their signed agreement. The purpose of these reports is to record program activities and the spending of program funds that took place during the reporting period and to request an advance of funds for the next period. The reports will be reviewed by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate, FHI 360, and DOS. DOS has final authority to approve the reporting documents and authorize a disbursement of funds.
The Financial Report will include information about the provider’s past expenses, future planned expenses, remaining funds and current cash balance. The Program Report will include information about the program hours completed in each program component (After School, Enhancement Activities, and intensive Sessions) for each group of students at each program site, the number of active teachers, students’ attendance and performance, and detailed narrative descriptions of completed activities such as service learning.
Example Reporting Schedule and Deadlines
Program and financial reports are due on the date indicated in the signed agreement. If something beyond the provider’s control is causing delays, please contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate. Consistent late submission of reports could mean the U.S. Embassy/Consulate may not select the provider for future programming.
Program funds will be sent for the next period once accurate reports are received and approved. Late, incomplete, and/or inaccurate reports can result in delayed payments to the program. Payments will be sent only when all questions related to the report have been clarified. Misuse of funds or incomplete reporting can lead to the termination of an agreement.
Converting expenses and Cash Balances from Local Currency to U.S. Dollar
When converting expenses and cash balances from local currency to U.S. Dollar for the Financial Report, providers must use a method in a consistent way throughout their program and ensure it complies with any applicable local government regulations. Providers should have a written policy that explains 1) the person approving the exchange rate that will be used, 2) the source of the exchange rate such as their local bank, a currency exchange website (www.oanda.com or xe.com) and 3) how the exchange rate will be used- for example, an average approved exchange rate applied to all purchases/payments made that month or a daily exchange rate applied to all purchases/payment made on a given day.
On a monthly basis, the Provider should complete a bank reconciliation process. A bank reconciliation process compares the transactions on the program’s bank statements with the transactions in the program’s accounting system (general ledger). At the end of the process, the bank account and the program’s financial records should match. Any errors in the program’s financial records should be identified and resolved. The reconciliation process is an important step to complete before preparing each period’s Financial Report as it leads to accurate expense reporting and calculates the cash balance (in U.S. Dollars) that will be used to determine the amount of the next disbursement of funds needed to cover the program’s estimated costs for the next period.
Tips for Program Reporting
- When reporting program hours for After School, Enhancement Activities, and intensive Sessions, remember to report the number of hours delivered to each group of students. Program hours delivered for groups of students in the same activity (for example all groups of students attending the same intensive Session) are reported for each group.
- Keep records of each student’s attendance and missed classes. You may want to check with parents/guardians for the reason for the student’s absence. Please note that students are expected to attend 70% of classes each period to be in good standing for their Access scholarship.
Tips for Financial Reporting
- When converting expenses from local currency to U.S. Dollar, providers should use a consistent method in each report.
- Make sure that each expense is reported in the correct line item of approved program budget.
- Reported expenses should not be rounded (i.e. report $25.42 instead of $25.00).
- It is highly recommended that payments to program staff (including teachers) be based on timesheets recording actual hours worked and an hourly pay rate; however, other payment structures may be possible if exceptions need to be made to conform to local labor laws.
- All expenses paid with Access program funds should have supporting documentation that can be reviewed by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate or an auditor. Some examples of supporting documentation include:
- Receipts (must include vendor information, name and quantity of items purchased and date of purchase)
- Vendor agreement or contract
- Proof of payment (e.g. copy of a signed check, deposit slip, wire or money transfer order, memo signed by recipient, etc.)
- Original invoices
- Staff timesheets
- Staff payment document (includes hours worked, hourly pay rate, and total amount paid, date of payment, method of payment, currency of payment)
- Staff travel expense report (includes dates of travel, purpose of travel)
Please be aware that if a Financial Report includes expenses that lack proper supporting documentation or are not in line with the approved budget for the program, the U.S. Embassy/Consulate may request for the provider to remove them from their Financial Report, and result in the provider having to pay for these costs with their own non-Access funds.
Program monitoring is a critical element in ensuring that the Access Program is implemented in accordance with the official Access agreement and achieves the goals of a successful program. Note that the position titles indicated below may not match a particular title used in a provider organization. Also, not all positions may be held by different people.
The provider administrator and/or director is ultimately responsible for evaluating the program as it is implemented but will work closely with the entire staff to ensure a system of monitoring is planned and carried out throughout the program. The administrator/director:
- Ensures that program staff- coordinator, teachers, teacher assistants carry out required duties and fulfill the program’s goals and objectives
- Observes Access classes and activities to check that proper administration of the program is taking place
- Addresses challenges with any aspect of the program in a timely manner, with assistance and/or recommendations from the U.S. Embassy/Consulate, if necessary
- Provides clear and concrete evidence of monitoring efforts both financial and programmatic in quarterly or semester reports
- Establishes a system for monitoring and evaluating the progress of Access students in collaboration with coordinator and teachers (may include establishing progress benchmarks and providing feedback to students and teachers throughout the program)
In coordination with provider administrators/directors, the coordinator assists in the monitoring process and:
- Observes Access classes and notes any recommendations for instructional improvements
- consults with Access teachers on solutions to noted recommendations for improvement
- Seeks to improve Access Program teachers’ methodical and pedagogical skills through participation in professional development opportunities, consultations and observations of experienced colleagues, and self-education
- Reflects on and monitors one’s own Access Program coordinator duties and takes steps to address any areas deemed necessary for improvement
- Reflects on and monitors one’s own teaching and takes steps to address any areas deemed necessary for improvement
- Monitors teacher assistant’s (if any) performance, provides recommendations for improvements and notifies coordinator of any ongoing issues
- Monitors and submits updated student portfolios to program coordinator regarding attendance and students’ academic progress according to the schedule and benchmarks established by the provider
- Monitors student progress by conducting continuous and frequent formative and summative assessments
- collaborates with the coordinator and teacher assistants to monitor and identify students who need additional support and works with students and respective parents/guardians to design an individualized improvement plan for students who are not progressing as needed
- Reflects on and monitors one’s own performance and reaches out to lead teacher and/or coordinator to address any areas deemed necessary for improvement
- Assists the teacher in monitoring student performance and progress with formative and summative assessments
- Assists the teacher in monitoring and identifying students who need additional support and working with students and respective parents/guardians to design an individualized improvement plan for students who are not progressing as needed
Guests and Visitors:
As part of the monitoring process during program implementation, guests from the U.S. Embassy/Consulate will visit Access Program sites and engage with program participants in after-school classes and other program activities. Some visits could include meeting with provider administrators and staff and teachers, so providers are encouraged to keep their accounting updated and receipts ready for possible review. Other visits may be focused on attending program activities or being guest speakers during lessons. Keep in mind the following:
- Ensure that time and a space is available for the visitor to speak with program staff or teachers, if requested
- Adequately prepare for a guest speaker because it is an excellent opportunity for students to build confidence in practicing language skills and to learn more about U.S. life and culture
- Plan an opportunity for Access students to have authentic, meaningful, and spontaneous language exchanges with a visitor rather than putting on a “show” (limit rote memorization of songs, poetry, presentations or rehearing the lesson)
- Give the visitor a chance to share with students but don’t expect a presentation by the visitor that does not allow for student participation
- Request visitors to speak on a topic related to the students’ current unit/focus of study and beforehand brainstorm relevant vocabulary and questions for visitors about that topic
- Plan a game to play together with the guest
After: Program Close Out
After Access classes have finished and the closing ceremony has been held, providers enter the final phase of the Access Program cycle: Program Close Out.
Close Out Process
See the detailed step-by-step guide to the Close Out Process below.
To comply with auditing and U.S. Government regulations, the provider must keep the following documents for at least three years after the end of the program. These documents include but are not limited to:
- Signed agreement
- Signed agreement amendment(s) or letter(s) of approved budget change
- Close Out Letter and disbursement Report
- All Program and Financial Reports
- Original receipts and other supporting financial documentation
- Bank statements
- Recruitment materials
- Photo consent forms
- Student applications
- Student contracts
- Student interview rubrics
- Parent consent forms
- Program staff employment agreements
The U.S. Embassy/Consulate is always ready to assist with any questions or concerns throughout this process, so do not hesitate to ask sooner rather than later.
In rare situations, the U.S. Embassy/Consulate can decide that an Access Program should not continue and the program agreement will be terminated. termination may occur for a variety of reasons such as environmental (civil unrest, natural disaster, etc.), poor performance, and/or mismanagement of funds.
The English Access Microscholarship Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by FHI 360.