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Self Help

Ambassador's Special Self-Help (SSH) Program

Launched in 1964, the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Program (Self-Help Program) has become one of the most successful grassroots development assistance tools in Africa. This innovative program gives U.S. Ambassadors and Mission staff the ability and resources to support small, sustainable community-based initiatives that have an immediate and dramatic impact on local communities. The Self-Help Program in Uganda supports small-scale activities that promote self-reliance and foster development through innovative community-led projects.

Program Eligibility
All Special Self-Help projects are community-based, initiated locally, administered at the local level, and include significant community contributions in cash, labor, or materials. Organizations that apply for the Self-Help Program must be registered with the Government of Uganda.

Selection Criteria

  1. Foster community self-reliance;
  2. Have significant community participation and contributions - volunteer time and labor, donated land, equipment and/or materials;
  3. Have a significant impact, benefiting the greatest number of people possible;
  4. Help improve basic economic or social conditions at the local community or village level;
  5. Be viable and sustainable in terms of finance, personnel support, and necessary expertise and services;
  6. Fall within the ability of the local community to implement;
  7. Be completed in one year or less. Priority will be given to applications that describe clearly how the project will improve the quality of life in the target community.

Limitations on the use of Ambassador's Self-Help Funds:
The Ambassador's Special Self-Help Program provides money for material and supplies only. Awards cannot be used for the following:

  • The cost of administering SSH activities;
  • Remodeling or renovating existing facilities that are in disrepair as a result of neglect or lack of money;
  • Activities with unmitigated and negative environmental consequences;
  • Religious or military activities;
  • Purchases of used equipment.
  • Please note: SSH program funds may no longer be used for construction activities.

Expenditure Reporting
While the Ambassador's Special Self-Help Program is designed to minimize paperwork, there are explicit procurement, reporting, and record-keeping requirements for the grantee. Grants are paid in increments directly to the suppliers. Grant amounts are in U.S. dollars to vendors within Uganda. The organizations given Self-Help grants are responsible for locating reliable suppliers and obtaining pro-forma invoices. The Self-Help Program prefers that projects purchase their materials from vendors located in their home areas.

How to Apply
The Ambassador's Special Self-Help Program applications must be completed fully following the format for applications. Please read the guidelines carefully, and answer each question as clearly as possible. Applications that do not follow our format and are incomplete will not be considered. Applicants should explain how the project will meet the seven program selection criteria and outline what the applicants propose to accomplish.
 The submission deadline for the Ambassador's Special Self-Help Program is February 1, 2015. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

 The Small Grants Coordinators will conduct a preliminary review of the applications received and select a shortlist of proposals that:  

  • Comply with the application submission guidelines;
  • Meet the seven primary program criteria defined above;
  • Are specific, detailed, and clear with realistic budgets;
  • Have sound technical merits;
  • Demonstrate an ability to measure the impact of the project by gender; and
  • Demonstrate minimum environmental impact.

Preliminary reviews may include a site visit. A shortlist is then presented to an internal review committee for final selection. Grant awards will be made between February and July 2015, depending on the availability of funds. The maximum grant award for any one project is $25,000 and represents a one-time U.S. Government contribution. However, due to limited available funding, most grants awarded are between $1,000 and $10,000. Grants are awarded for a one year period.

Communities or organizations with projects that fall within the Ambassador's Special Self-Help guidelines are encouraged to complete the application and send it and supporting documents to:

Small Grants Coordinator
U.S. Mission Uganda
P.O. Box 7007

In case of any questions, please contact:
Small Grants Office
U.S. Mission Uganda
Telephone: 0414-259-791 ext. 6421/6444/6141