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Refugee Individual Development Accounts (IDA) Program

Grants to USA Nonprofits, Agencies, and IHEs to
Promote Economic Independence for Refugees

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - Administration for Children and Families (ACF) - Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)

Deadline Date:

05/15/18 4:30 PM ET Hard Copy Receipt; or 11:59 PM ET Electronic Receipt


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Grants to USA and territories nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and IHEs for projects to help low-income refugees establish and maintain financial assets. Applicants are advised to create or verify the required registrations well in advance of the deadline date.

Purpose and Objectives:

The Refugee IDA Program represents an anti-poverty strategy built on asset accumulation for low-income refugee individuals and families with the goal of promoting refugee economic independence.

IDAs are leveraged or matched savings accounts. In the Refugee IDA Program, IDAs are matched with federal funds that have been allocated as "match funds" from at least 65 percent of the annual federal grant award. IDAs are established in insured accounts in qualified financial institutions. The funds are intended for the Asset Goals specified in this announcement. Although the refugee participant maintains control of all funds that the participant deposits in the IDA, including all interest that may accrue on the funds, the participant must sign a Savings Plan Agreement that specifies the funds in the account will be used only for the participant's qualified Asset Goal(s) or for an emergency withdrawal.

The objectives of the Refugee IDA Program are to help participants:
1. Establish IDAs;
2. Maintain regular saving habits;
3. Participate in the financial institutions of this country;
4. Acquire assets to build individual, family, and community resources;
5. Increase their knowledge of financial and monetary topics, including developing a household budget;
6. Advancing the education;
7. Buy homes;
8. Gain access to capital; and
9. Increase the socio-economic development of their communities.

These new projects will accomplish these objectives by establishing programs that combine the provision of matched savings accounts with financial training and counseling.

Eligible Clients:

To be eligible to participate in the Refugee IDA Program, individuals must have the following statuses (see 45 CFR § 400.43(a) (1)-(6)) or statutory provisions cited below:

1. Individuals paroled as refugees or asylees under § 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

2. Refugees admitted under § 207 of the INA.

3. Asylees whose status was granted under § 208 of the INA.

4. Cuban and Haitian entrants, in accordance with the requirements in 45 CFR § 401.2
a. Any individual granted parole status as a Cuban/Haitian Entrant (Status Pending) or granted any other special status subsequently established under the immigration laws for nationals of Cuba or Haiti, regardless of the status of the individual at the time assistance or services are provided;
b. A national of Cuba or Haiti who was paroled into the United States and has not acquired any other status under the INA and with respect to whom a final, non- appealable, and legally enforceable order of removal, deportation, or exclusion has not been entered;
c. A national of Cuba or Haiti who is the subject of removal, deportation, or exclusion proceedings under the INA and with respect to whom a final, non-appealable, and legally enforceable order of removal, deportation, or exclusion has not been entered;
d. A national of Cuba or Haiti who has an application for asylum pending with the Department of Homeland Security/United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or Department of Justice/Executive Office for Immigration Review and with respect to whom a final, non-appealable, and legally enforceable order of removal, deportation or exclusion has not been entered

5. Lawful permanent residents provided the individuals previously held one of the statuses identified above. (Note that this does not refer to Amerasians who are admitted as lawful permanent residents. See #6 below.)

6. Certain Amerasians from Vietnam who are admitted to the United States as immigrants pursuant to § 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1988 (as contained in § 101(e) of Pub. L. 100-202), as amended (8 U.S.C. § 1101 note).

7. Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants per section 1244(g) of Div. A of Pub. L. 110-181, as amended (8 U.S.C. § 1157 note) and section 602(b) (8) of Div. F of Pub. L. 118-8, as amended (8 U.S.C. § 1101 note).

8. Victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons per the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, Pub. L. 106-386, as amended, 22 U.S.C. § 7105(b) (1) (A) and (C).

ORR assistance and services must be provided to refugees without regard to race, religion, nationality, sex, or political opinion.

A Form I-94 showing admission into the United States as a refugee, or an Asylum Grant Letter are acceptable documents to prove eligibility status. A United States Permanent Resident Card (USCIS Form I-551) also known as a green card, or an Employment Authorization Document are also acceptable documents to prove eligibility only if they contain codes that show the applicant is in one of the eligible statuses.

Intake information must include the client's name, status under which client arrived in the U.S, date of eligibility, date of enrollment, date of projected Program service termination, documentation of eligibility for Refugee IDA Program services, alien number, birth date, and current address.

Among eligible clients, enrollment in the Refugee IDA Program is limited to eligible individuals:
-Who are not yet citizens and who have been in the U.S. for not more than 5 years at the time of enrollment for Home Purchase, Education and Vocational Training, and Microenterprise Capitalization goals, or not more than 3 years for Vehicle goals;
-Who have earned income;
-Whose gross household earned income at the time of enrollment does not exceed 200
percent of the federal poverty level;
-Whose assets at the time of enrollment do not exceed $10,000, excluding the value of a
primary residence and one vehicle; and
-Who have not already received IDA match funds from an ORR-funded IDA program.

Asset Goals:

IDAs are established for refugee participants at a qualified financial institution. Refugee participants will systematically contribute to the IDAs out of earned income to purchase specified Asset Goals. The primary focus of the Asset Goals in their Refugee IDA Program is limited to the following areas:

-Primary Residence Home Purchase;
-Vocational Training, Professional Recertification, and Education (limited to postsecondary education costs, college entrance exam fees, and TOEFL and GED preparation and test fees) as required for employment, certification, or education purposes;
-Microenterprise Capitalization, including home-based child care services; and
-Vehicle Purchase.

Please see Definition and Explanation of Terms in this section for further detail. In cases of documented necessity, the purchase of an automobile is allowable for the purposes of employment or education. The purpose of an automobile purchase must be thoroughly justified and well documented. Justification can include, but is not limited to, lack or high cost of public transportation, or long distances to work, school, or business.


In order to ensure a high quality of service to refugee participants, ORR values the importance of the development of strategic partnerships with community organizations that offer expertise in the separate areas of the Refugee IDA Program. Examples of new partnerships could include, but are not limited to, the following: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved housing counseling agencies, Small Business Administration (SBA) Microloan offices, Assets for Independence (AFI) grantees, Community Development Financial Institutions, as well as other private and public institutions.

Program Requirements:

Savings Plan Agreement and Documentation:

A Savings Plan Agreement must be established with each refugee participant. The Savings Plan Agreement must include:
(1) A proposed schedule of savings deposits by the participant;
(2) The rate at which the participant's savings will be matched by federal funds allocated as "match funds";
(3) The Asset Goal(s) for which the account is maintained;
(4) Any training or counseling that the participant agrees to attend;
(5) An agreement that the participant will not withdraw funds except for the specified Asset Goal or for an emergency and only after notification and approval;
(6) A statement by the participant that they have not received the maximum allowable match from any other ORR-funded IDA program;
(7) A procedure for amending the Agreement;
(8) A date by which assets must be purchased or the date on which the program will end;
(9) A designation of beneficiary;
(10) An individualized statement by the organization on which partners will be engaged during the clients' enrollment and how the partners will contribute; and
(11) If saving for a vehicle, a statement by the participant that the vehicle will be used for the purposes of maintaining or upgrading employment or for the purpose of transportation for education, vocational training, recertification, or small business use.

Appropriate documentation for the usage of an automobile could include a calculation of long distances from the participant's home to their place of employment or educational institution, public transportation schedules showing unreasonable time tables and connections, the anticipation of increased wages due to more time on the job or access to better wages or employment due to reduced commuting time, and school transcripts showing current enrollment.

Additional provisions may be proposed to be included in the Savings Plan Agreement. In addition to the Savings Plan Agreement, grantees must document confirmation of the client's eligibility, which may include household budget, assets and liabilities, and earned income (this can be in the form of pay stubs, tax returns, etc.). Grantees must ensure that each participant provide an overall household budget plan describing how their IDA savings will derive from their discretionary income.

If the Refugee IDA Program is using an electronic case file system, then safeguards such as limiting access to the data and encryption must be in place to protect participant information. Paper files must be kept confidential--ideally in a file cabinet that is kept locked and can be accessed only by authorized staff.

Training and Technical Assistance:

Specialized training must be provided for refugee participants for each Asset Goal provided through the program. These trainings may be provided directly by the grantee or through other providers who specialize in the asset goals (e.g., HUD Housing Counselors, bank partners that provide car loans, SBA Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs partners, etc.).

Training must include, but is not limited to, the following topics: budgeting, cash management, savings, investment, and credit counseling. Due to the diverse nature of the refugee population, training must be culturally and linguistically appropriate.

At minimum, the client listed on the Savings Plan Agreement must attend all required trainings; however, the entire household should be encouraged to participate. While ORR recognizes that the industry standards for financial literacy and specialized asset trainings usually span 6 to 8 hours, sufficient trainings must be provided for the client so that it best meets their needs. Clients are ineligible to make asset purchases until all training requirements are met.

Technical assistance must be provided for refugee participants for each Asset Goal provided through the program. Technical assistance can include, but is not limited to, setting up IDAs at participating banks, developing business plans, and assisting with home purchase closing process.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 153104

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

Expected Number of Awards: 8

Estimated Size of Grant:

-Award Ceiling: $250,000 Per Budget Period
-Award Floor: $100,000 Per Budget Period
-Average Projected Award Amount: $250,000 Per Budget Period

Term of Contract:

The anticipated project start date is September 30, 2018.

Grants will support a 36-month project period with three 12-month budget periods.

Awards for the second and third 12-month budget periods will be made subsequent to approval of non-competing continuation applications and will be subject to the availability of funds, satisfactory progress by the grantee, and a determination that continued funding would be in the best interest of the federal government.


  • City or township governments
  • County governments
  • Independent school districts
  • Indian housing authorities
  • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
  • Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Nonprofits that do not have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Private institutions of higher education
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
  • Public housing authorities
  • See RFP and/or Grant Guidelines for full eligibility
  • Special district governments
  • State governments

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

This FOA is open to the following entities:
-State governments
-County governments
-City or township governments
-Special district governments
-Independent school districts
-Public and State-controlled institutions of higher education
-Native American tribal governments (federally recognized)
-Public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities
-Native American tribal organizations (other than federally recognized tribal governments)
-Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
-Nonprofits that do not have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
-Private institutions of higher education

Public or private nonprofit agencies are eligible for awards under this announcement.

Refugee IDA Program grantees awarded ORR funding prior to or in 2015, with the project period ending before, or on September 29, 2018, are eligible to compete for funding and propose servicing the existing population and/or geographic location under this announcement provided all eligibility criteria are met.

ORR Refugee IDA grantees that were awarded in FY 2016 are eligible to apply under this FOA, but must propose servicing a distinctively different geographic location from their existing location. The proposed geographic location must be served throughout the project period.

Applications from individuals (including sole proprietorships) and foreign entities are not eligible and will be disqualified from competitive review and from funding under this announcement.

Faith-based and community organizations that meet the eligibility requirements are eligible to receive awards under this funding opportunity announcement.

Pre-Application Information:

All applicants must have a DUNS Number and an active registration with the System for Award Management.

Obtaining a DUNS Number may take 1 to 2 days.

All applicants are required to maintain an active SAM registration until the application process is complete. If a grant is awarded, registration at SAM must be active throughout the life of the award.
Plan ahead. Allow at least 10 business days after you submit your registration for it to become active in SAM and at least an additional 24 hours before that registration information is available in other government systems, i.e.

The deadline for electronic application submission is 11:59 PM, ET, on May 15, 2018.

The deadline for receipt of paper applications is 4:30 PM, ET on May 15, 2018. Paper applications received after 4:30 PM, ET, on the due date will be disqualified from competitive review and from funding under this announcement. Paper applications received from applicants that have not received approval of an exemption from required electronic submission will be disqualified from competitive review and from funding under this announcement.

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Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Yimeem Vu
P: (202) 401-4825
F: (202) 401-5772

Administration for Children and Families
Office of Refugee Resettlement
Division of Refugee Services
330 C Street SW
Washington, DC 20201

CFDA Number:


Funding or Pin Number:


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)