Funding Opportunity: NSF Innovation in Graduate Education Acceleration Hub

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently released its fiscal year (FY) 2020 solicitation for the Innovations in Graduate Education (IGE) program.  In addition to accepting regular project proposals for grants through the IGE program, NSF for this competition will also be accepting proposals for a one-time cooperative agreement award to create an IGE Innovation Acceleration Hub.  The IGE program aims to transform graduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education by supporting the development and implementation of bold new approaches to STEM graduate student training.  The hub will facilitate engagement and communication among the IGE community and with external stakeholders.

IGE Innovation Acceleration Hub

For this solicitation only, IGE is accepting proposals for a one-time award to develop and implement an IGE Innovation Acceleration Hub that will aid the IGE program in its goal of accelerating innovation in graduate education through providing a platform for IGE projects to communicate with each other and the larger stakeholder community about IGE projects and outcomes.

Proposals for the IGE Innovation Acceleration Hub must “support access to knowledge and collaborations among researchers on innovation in STEM graduate education and foster communities of practice that bridge IGE funded projects and the variety of stakeholders in the graduate education and STEM workforce communities.”  The hub would also be expected to highlight knowledge resulting from IGE projects and facilitate communications about adaptation and implementation of models resulting from IGE projects.  Preference will be given to Innovation Acceleration Hub activities that include working with the IGE community to identify needs to inform an electronic communications platform; developing a collaborative infrastructure for PIs seeking to conduct IGE-aligned research; organizing meetings among IGE-funded teams; facilitating communication about NSF IGE funding opportunities and publications; engaging in outreach and engagement with external stakeholders; encouraging broader participation in the IGE program by underrepresented groups; and helping raise awareness for IGE projects, among other items.

The Innovation Acceleration Hub should serve both current and future IGE projects and become synergistic with the existing activities of the larger graduate education stakeholder community, including professional organizations, resource hubs, and other organizations involved in workforce development.

Innovations in Graduate Education Projects

Projects funded under the IGE program should create potentially transformative models of education and workforce development for research-based STEM master’s and/or doctoral STEM students.  The IGE program supports research-based, targeted test-bed efforts to improve graduate STEM education and will not support foundational research on how graduate students learn or comprehensive training of graduate students.

Proposals submitted to the IGE program should:

  • “Design, pilot, and test new, innovative and transformative approaches for inclusive STEM graduate education;
  • Examine the potential to extend a successful approach developed in one discipline or context to other disciplines or contexts; and
  • Develop projects that are informed by learning science and the existing body of knowledge about STEM graduate education.”

Activities supported by the IGE program include (but are not limited to) mentoring, professional skill development for graduate students, career counseling, faculty training, strategic partnerships, experiences abroad, internships, and outreach.  NSF encourages projects that use evidence-based strategies to broaden participation in STEM and welcomes proposals that will complement the NSF INCLUDES initiative.  Early-career faculty are welcome to apply, and the IGE program compliments the CAREER program’s mission.

NOTE: IGE is no longer part of the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) Program, which aims to “encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, and potentially transformative models” for STEM graduate education training.  The NRT solicitation is currently being revised by NSF and is due to be available in the fall with a deadline in early 2021.  According to the President’s budget request for FY 2021, “NRT will expand to include a special focus on traineeships in artificial intelligence and artificial intelligence engineering.[1]

Due Date:  Both standard IGE project proposals and applications for the IGE Innovation Acceleration Hub are due November 4, 2020.  The IGE Acceleration Hub is a one-time award.  The next deadline for standard IGE proposals is March 25, 2022 and will be March 25 annually thereafter.

Eligibility: An organization may participate in two proposals per competition.  Participation includes serving as a lead on a non-collaborative proposal or any type of involvement in a collaborative proposal.  Individuals may only serve as Lead or Co-Principal Investigator on one proposal per annual cycle.

 Total Funding and Award Size: NSF plans to award six to ten standard IGE grants at $300,000 – $500,000 for up to three years.  NSF further intends to award one cooperative agreement for the IGE Innovation Acceleration Hub, with a maximum award amount of $1 million for up to five years.  NSF estimates a total of $5 million will be made available under this solicitation.

 Sources and additional information:

[1] NSF FY 2021 Budget Request to Congress: Major Investments in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (Stem) Graduate Students and Graduate Education:

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