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I-STEM Education Initiative

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education

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Upcoming Funding Deadlines

*Grants that Accept Proposals at Anytime



Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Education and Human Resources

    Engaged Student Learning and Institutional and Community Transformation, Levels 2 and 3

    12/07/21; 12/06/22; First Tuesday in December annually thereafter

    Institutional and Community Transformation Capacity-Building

    02/01/22; 02/07/23; First Tuesday in February annually thereafter

    08/03/21; 08/02/22; First Tuesday in August annually thereafter

    Engaged Student Learning and Institutional and Community Transformation, Level 1

    02/01/22; 02/07/23; First Tuesday in February annually thereafter

    8/03/21; 08/02/22; First Tuesday in August annually thereafter

Project Description: The fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) hold much promise as sectors of the economy where we can expect to see continuous vigorous growth in the coming decades. STEM job creation is expected to outpace non-STEM job creation significantly, according to the Commerce Department, reflecting the importance of STEM knowledge to the U.S. economy.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) plays a leadership role in developing and implementing efforts to enhance and improve STEM education in the U.S.. Through NSF's Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) initiative, the agency continues to make a substantial commitment to the highest caliber undergraduate STEM education through a Foundation-wide framework of investments. The IUSE: EHR is a core NSF STEM education program that seeks to promote novel, creative, and transformative approaches to generating and using new knowledge about STEM teaching and learning to improve STEM education for undergraduate students. The program is open to application from all institutions of higher education and associated organizations. NSF places high value on educating students to be leaders and innovators in emerging and rapidly changing STEM fields as well as educating a scientifically literate public. In pursuit of this goal, IUSE: EHR supports projects that seek to bring recent advances in STEM knowledge into undergraduate education, that adapt, improve, and incorporate evidence-based practices into STEM teaching and learning, and that lay the groundwork for institutional improvement in STEM education. In addition to innovative work at the frontier of STEM education, this program also encourages replication of research studies at different types of institutions and with different student bodies to produce deeper knowledge about the effectiveness and transferability of findings.

IUSE: EHR also seeks to support projects that have high potential for broader societal impacts, including improved diversity of students and instructors participating in STEM education, professional development for instructors to ensure adoption of new and effective pedagogical techniques that meet the changing needs of students, and projects that promote institutional partnerships for collaborative research and development. IUSE: EHR especially welcomes proposals that will pair well with the efforts of NSF INCLUDES (https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/nsfincludes/index.jsp) to develop STEM talent from all sectors and groups in our society.

For all the above objectives, NSF invests primarily in evidence-based and knowledge-generating approaches to understand and improve STEM learning and learning environments, improve the diversity of STEM students and majors, and prepare STEM majors for the workforce. In addition to contributing to STEM education in the host institution(s), proposals should have the promise of adding more broadly to our understanding of effective teaching and learning practices.

The IUSE: EHR program features two tracks: (1) Engaged Student Learning and (2) Institutional and Community Transformation. Several levels of scope, scale, and funding are available within each track, as summarized in Table 1.

David & Lucile Packard Foundation

Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering

    Requests for nominations sent to university presidents: 1/31/21

    Campus Pre-Proposal Deadline: 2/7/21, via this form

    Online application system available: 2/15/21

    Sponsor Nomination Deadline: 3/15/21

    All application materials (described below) submitted: 4/20/21

    Awards announced: 10/15/21

Project Description: Candidates must be faculty members who are eligible to serve as principal investigators engaged in research in the natural and physical sciences or engineering and must be within the first three years of their faculty careers. Disciplines that will be considered include physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, astronomy, computer science, earth science, ocean science, and all branches of engineering. Candidates engaged in research in the social sciences will not be considered. The Fellowship Program provides support for highly creative researchers early in their careers; faculty members who are well established and well-funded are less likely to receive the award. Packard Fellows are inquisitive, passionate scientists and engineers who take a creative approach to their research, dare to think big, and follow new ideas wherever they lead. The foundation emphasizes support for innovative individual research that involves the Fellows, their students, and junior colleagues, rather than extensions or components of large-scale, ongoing research programs.

NSF: CS for All: RPP

Computer Science for All (CS for All: Research and Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships (RPPs)

    Full Proposal: 2/10/21; second Wednesday in February annually thereafter

Program Description: This program aims to provide all U.S. students the opportunity to participate in computer science (CS) and computational thinking (CT) education in their schools at the K-12 levels. With this solicitation, the National Science Foundation (NSF) focuses on researcher-practitioner partnerships (RPPs) that foster the research and development needed to bring CS/CT to all schools. Specifically, this solicitation aims to provide high school teachers with the preparation, professional development (PD) and ongoing support that they need to teach rigorous computer science courses, and K-8 teachers with the instructional materials and preparation they need to integrate CS/CT into their teaching.


Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) & HBCU Research Infrastructure for Science and Engineering (HBCU-RISE)

    CREST Center

    Full Proposal: 12/04/20; 12/03/21 (first Friday in December every other year thereafter)

    CREST Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

    Full Proposal: 12/04/20; 12/03/21 (first Friday in December, annually thereafter)

    CREST Partnership Supplements

    2/11/21; 2/10/22 (second Thursday in February, annually thereafter)


    Letter of Intent: 12/04/20; 12/03/21 (first Friday in December, annually thereafter)

    Full Proposal: 2/11/21; 2/10/22 (second Thursday in February, annually thereafter)

    SBIR/STTR Diversity Collaborative Supplements

    Supplement Accepted Anytime

Proect Description: The Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) program provides support to enhance the research capabilities of minority-serving institutions (MSI) through the establishment of centers that effectively integrate education and research. MSIs of higher education denote institutions that have undergraduate enrollments of 50% or more (based on total student enrollment) of members of minority groups underrepresented among those holding advanced degrees in science and engineering fields: African Americans, Alaska Natives, American Indians, Hispanic Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Native Pacific Islanders. CREST promotes the development of new knowledge, enhancements of the research productivity of individual faculty, and an expanded presence of students historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. CREST Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (PRF) awards provide research experience and training for early career scientists at active CREST Centers. HBCU-RISE awards specifically target HBCUs to support the expansion of institutional research capacity as well as the production of doctoral students, especially those from groups underrepresented in STEM, at those institutions.

 The CREST program supports the following types of projects:

CREST Center awards provide multi-year support (typically 5-years) for eligible minority-serving institutions that demonstrate a strong research and education base, a compelling vision for research infrastructure improvement, and a comprehensive plan with the necessary elements to achieve and sustain national competitiveness in a clearly defined area of national significance in science or engineering research.  Successful Center proposals will demonstrate a clear vision and synergy with the broad goals of the CREST Program and the Human Resource Development Division with respect to development of a diverse STEM workforce.  CREST Centers are expected to provide leadership in the involvement of groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM at all levels (faculty, students, and postdoctoral researchers) within the Center.  Centers are required to use either proven or innovative mechanisms to address issues such as recruitment, retention and mentorship of participants from underrepresented groups. 

CREST Partnership Supplements support the establishment or strengthening of partnerships and collaborations between active CREST Centers and nationally or internationally recognized research centers including NSF-supported research centers, and private sector research laboratories, K-12 entities including museums and science centers or schools, as appropriate to enable the CREST Centers to advance knowledge and education on a research theme of national significance. 

CREST Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (PRF) awards recognize beginning CREST Center investigators with significant potential and provide them with research experiences that broaden perspectives, facilitate interdisciplinary interactions and establish them in positions of leadership within the scientific community. Fellows conduct research on topics aligned with the research focus of the host CREST Center. The fellowships are also designed to provide active mentoring to the Fellows by the sponsoring CREST Center scientists who, in turn, will benefit from the incorporation of these talented scientists into their research groups.

HBCU Research Infrastructure for Science and Engineering (RISE) awards support the development of research capability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities that offer doctoral degrees in science and engineering disciplines. Supported projects must have a unifying research focus in one of the research areas supported by NSF, a direct connection to the long-term plans of the host department(s), institutional strategic plan and mission, and plans for expanding institutional research capacity as well as increasing the production of doctoral students, especially those underrepresented in STEM.

SBIR/STTR Phase IIa Diversity Collaboration Supplements provide an opportunity for existing SBIR/STTR Phase II projects to initiate collaborations with minority-serving institutions that have active CREST Center or HBCU-RISE awards. These supplemental proposals are administered by and co-funded with the NSF Directorate for Engineering Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (ENG/IIP).


This program provides educational opportunities for  Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Fellows. This program provides indirect funding for students at this level or focuses on educational developments for this group such as curricula development, training or retention. To inquire about possible funding opportunities not directly from NSF, please look at the active awards for this program.

Illini Science Policy Fellowship Request for Applications

    Deadline: 2/12/21

Program Description. The Illini Science Policy Program is a unique opportunity for graduate students with an interest in public service careers completing their degree from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The program matches highly motivated and qualified Scholars with hosts in Illinois public agencies or legislative offices for a 12-month paid appointment working in University of Illinois Extension’s critical issue areas – food, economy, environment, community, and health. Hosts provide an educational opportunity for Scholars to explore public research, management, and policy issues at a high level, while the Scholars provide substantial professional contributions to the office.

Hosts will supervise, mentor and provide opportunities for Scholars to be involved in critical issues that support the scholar’s professional and educational goals. Scholars work with the host office full-time, on site and with other staff and/or leadership, as appropriate. As part of their experience, Scholars will collaborate on an Extension project that aligns with their program assignments, connecting to Extension’s network of nearly 700 staff across all 102 Illinois counties.

In 2021, Extension plans to select up to 10 finalists who will be awarded appointments, depending on the size of the applicant pool and number of host offerings. The length of an appointment is 12 months, non-renewable. This year’s appointment period will begin June 1, 2021, with an expected start date between June 1 and August 31, 2021, based on agreement between the individual host, scholar, and Extension.

Eligibility. The Illini Science Policy Program is open for participation by graduate students completing an advanced degree (Masters, Doctoral, or J.D.) from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign between May of 2020 (previously 9/1/20) and Aug 31, 2021. Graduates should have interest and expertise relating to University of Illinois Extension’s critical issue areas: food, economy, environment, community, and/or health. Scholars must complete all degree requirements prior to beginning their appointment.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. Minorities, women, veterans, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

This is a security-sensitive position.  Comprehensive background checks, including but not limited to a criminal conviction information check, a CANTS check, and a review of the Registered Sex Offender list, will be conducted. The University of Illinois conducts criminal background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer.

Stipends and Expenses. Each scholar will receive a 49-week Academic Hourly appointment at a rate of $22.71 ($44,511 annually) plus reimbursement for appointment-related travel up to $1,500. Additional travel associated with the appointment may be covered by the host agency at the agency’s discretion. Participating Scholars will be eligible for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Support for the Illini Science Policy Program is provided by participating host offices, the U of I Office of the Provost Investment for Growth program, Illinois Extension, and generous donors.

Length of Assignment. The length of assignment is 12 months (non-renewable). The appointment will begin between June 1 and August 31, 2021, based on agreement between the host, scholar, and Extension.

Application. Applications must include the following: 

  1. A completed Scholar Application Template. This includes a personal education and career goal statement that emphasizes the applicant's abilities and interests and the applicant's expectations of the program (800 words or less).
  2. Personal and academic curriculum vitae (two pages or less using 12-point font).
  3. Two letters of professional recommendation, including one from the student's major professor. If no major professor exists, the faculty member who is most familiar with the applicant academically may be substituted.
  4. Copies of all undergraduate and graduate student transcripts. Unofficial copies will be accepted.

How to submit your application:

  • Submit electronic files comprising your application as PDFs to uie-connection@illinois.edu.
  • Include your last name in the file names for each section of the proposal (e.g., Smith_statement.pdf or Smith_cv.pdf).
  • IMPORTANT: To maintain confidentiality, letters of recommendation should be submitted directly from the referee to Extension at uie-connection@illinois.edu by the application deadline to be considered. Please address letters to Dr. Shelly Nickols-Richardson, Director, University of Illinois Extension.  Late submissions may lead to the rejection of incomplete applications. Candidates are encouraged to work with referees to meet the deadline. 
  • Late applications cannot be accepted.  It is your responsibility to get materials submitted before the deadline.

Selection. Finalists are selected by staff at University of Illinois Extension and participating host offices based on written application materials and interviews (in person, Skype, or phone) of a subset of applicants. Selection criteria include: academic ability, communication skills, diversity and appropriateness of academic background, career goals, additional qualifying experience, and support referrals.

Hosts will be invited to screen applicants with Extension personnel in late March and identify finalists for interview. Hosts and finalists will schedule interviews in March, with scholar matches announced April 5. Placement of a Scholar in each prospective host office is not guaranteed.

Matched Scholars will work with the program coordinator to identify Extension projects aligned with their assignments to engage with, for a total of 2 months FTE over the course of the 12-month appointment, distributed as makes sense for the project.


NSF Dynamic Language Infrastructure - NEH Documenting Endangered Languages (DLI-DEL)

Submission Deadline for Senior Research Proposals and Conferences: 9/15/21, 2/15/22; September 15 annually thereafter; February 15 annually thereafter.

Project Description: This funding partnership between the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) supports projects to develop and advance knowledge concerning dynamic language infrastructure in the context of endangered human languages—languages that are both understudied and at risk of falling out of use. Made urgent by the imminent loss of roughly half of the approximately 7000 currently used languages, this effort aims to exploit advances in information technology to build computational infrastructure for endangered language research. The program supports projects that contribute to data management and archiving, and to the development of the next generation of researchers. Funding can support fieldwork and other activities relevant to the digital recording, documentation and analysis, and archiving of endangered language data, including the preparation of lexicons, grammars, text samples, and databases. Funding will be available in the form of one- to three-year senior research grants, fellowships from six to twelve months, and conference proposals. Note: a conference proposal should generally be submitted at least a year in advance of the scheduled date of the conference. For additional information about creating and submitting conference proposals, please refer to Chapter II. D.7 of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide.


Integrative Strategies for Understanding Neural and Cognitive Systems



    • FY 2021 competition: 12/15/20 (past )
    • FY 2023 competition: 12/15/22

    Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time)

    • FY 2021 competition: 2/15/20 (past)
    • FY 2023 competition: 2/15/22


    Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

    • FY 2021 competition: 2/15/21
    • FY 2022 competition: 2/14/22
    • FY 2023 competition: 2/15/23

Project Description: The complexities of brain and behavior pose fundamental questions in many areas of science and engineering, drawing intense interest across a broad spectrum of disciplinary perspectives while eluding explanation by any one of them. Rapid advances within and across disciplines are leading to an increasingly interwoven fabric of theories, models, empirical methods and findings, and educational approaches, opening new opportunities to understand complex aspects of neural and cognitive systems through integrative multidisciplinary approaches.

This program calls for innovative, convergent, boundary-crossing proposals that can best capture those opportunities and map out new research frontiers. NSF seeks proposals that pursue high-value scientific and technical risks by transcending the perspectives and approaches typical of disciplinary research efforts. This cross-directorate program is one element of NSF’s participation in the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative (https://www.nsf.gov/brain/). NSF envisions a connected portfolio of transformative, integrative projects that create synergistic links across investigators and communities, yielding novel ways of tackling the challenges of understanding the brain in action and in context.

This solicitation extends the NCS program for three years, from FY2021 through FY2023, including biennial competitions for the FRONTIERS proposal class.

The program focuses on four aspects of neural and cognitive systems that are current targets of converging interdisciplinary interests. NCS projects must advance the foundations of one or more of these focus areas, as described further within the solicitation:

  1. Neuroengineering and Brain-Inspired Concepts and Designs
  2. Individuality and Variation
  3. Cognitive and Neural Processes in Realistic, Complex Environments
  4. Data-Intensive Neuroscience and Cognitive Science


Enabling Quantum Leap: Quantum Interconnect Challenges for Transformational Advances in Quantum Systems

    Pre-Proposal Deadline: 4/12/21

    Full Proposal Deadline: 6/14/21

Project Description: In 2016, the National Science Foundation (NSF) unveiled a set of "Big Ideas," 10 bold, long-term research and process ideas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering (see https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/big_ideas/index.jsp). The Big Ideas represent unique opportunities to position our Nation at the cutting edge of global science and engineering leadership by bringing together diverse disciplinary perspectives to support convergence research. As such, when responding to this solicitation, even though proposals must be submitted to the Directorate for Mathematical & Physical Sciences/Office of Multidisciplinary Activities (MPS/OMA), once received, the proposals will be managed by a cross-disciplinary team of NSF Program Directors.

One of these ideas was ‘Quantum Leap’ – exploiting the quantum properties to produce the next-generation quantum-enabled science and technology for sensing, information processing, communicating and computing. NSF has funded a range of programs in this area. The importance of this area has been recognized more broadly. On December 21, 2018 the National Quantum Initiative Act (https://www.congress.gov/115/plaws/publ368/PLAW-115publ368.pdf) was signed into law. The purpose of this act was in ensure the continued leadership of the United States in quantum information science and its technology applications. This provided a coordinated Federal program to accelerate research in this area. A framework for this can in found in the Quantum Frontiers report: https://www.quantum.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/QuantumFrontiers.pdf

The Quantum Interconnect Challenges for Transformational Advances in Quantum Systems (QuIC - TAQS) program is designed to support interdisciplinary teams that will explore highly innovative, original, and potentially transformative ideas for developing and applying quantum science, quantum computing, and quantum engineering in the specific area of quantum interconnects. Quantum interconnects are an integral part of all aspects of quantum information science. Proposals should have the potential to deliver new concepts, new platforms, and/or new approaches that will implement the transfer of quantum states efficiently across platforms and over large length scales. Progress in the area of quantum interconnects will enable breakthroughs in quantum sensing, quantum communications, quantum simulations, and quantum computing systems. This Quantum Interconnect Challenges solicitation will support the process of translating such ideas into reality.

This solicitation calls for proposals focused on interdisciplinary research that enhances the development of quantum interconnects (QuIC) that would allow the transfer of quantum states between different physical states and/or different physical systems. Proposals must articulate how the project leverages and/or promotes advances in quantum interconnects. Proposals should be innovative and must focus on quantum functionality and must result in experimental demonstrations and/or transformative advances towards quantum systems and/or proof-of-concept validations. Competitive proposals will come from an interdisciplinary research team led by at least three investigators who collectively contribute synergistic expertise from expertise from a subset of the following domains: engineering, mathematics, computational science, computer/information science, physical, chemical, biological, material science. Proposals will be judged on how likely the integrated effort is to lead to transformative advances in quantum interconnection.


Ethical and Responsible Research (ER2)

  • Please submit pre-proposals via this form: ER2 Pre-Proposal Form
  • Campus Pre-Prop Deadline: 12/13/20
  • Full Prop Deadline: 02/22/21

Project Description: Ethical and Responsible Research (ER2) funds research projects that identify (1) factors that are effective in the formation of ethical STEM researchers and (2) approaches to developing those factors in all STEM fields that NSF supports. ER2 solicits proposals for research that explores the following: "What constitutes responsible conduct for research (RCR), and which cultural and institutional contexts promote ethical STEM research and practice and why?" Do certain labs have a "culture of academic integrity?" What practices contribute to the establishment and maintenance of ethical cultures and how can these practices be transferred, extended to, and integrated into other research and learning settings?" Factors one might consider include: honor codes, professional ethics codes and licensing requirements, an ethic of service and/or service learning, life-long learning requirements, curricula or memberships in organizations (e.g. Engineers without Borders) that stress responsible conduct for research, institutions that serve under-represented groups, institutions where academic and research integrity are cultivated at multiple levels, institutions that cultivate ethics across the curriculum, or programs that promote group work, or do not grade. Successful proposals typically have a comparative dimension, either between or within institutional settings that differ along these or among other factors, and they specify plans for developing interventions that promote the effectiveness of identified factors.

ER2 research projects will use basic research to produce knowledge about what constitutes or promotes responsible or irresponsible conduct of research, and how to best instill this knowledge into researchers and educators at all career stages. In some cases, projects will include the development of interventions to ensure ethical and responsible research conduct.

Proposals for awards from minority-serving institutions (e.g., Tribal Colleges and Universities, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions), women's colleges, and organizations primarily serving persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged. Proposals including international collaborations are encouraged when those efforts enhance the merit of the proposed work by incorporating unique resources, expertise, facilities or sites of international partners. If possible, the U.S. team's international counterparts should obtain funding through other sources.

*Grants that Accept Proposals at Anytime