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Grants to USA Nonprofits, For-Profits, IHEs, and Agencies to Strengthen the Quality of STEM Education

Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)

GrantWatch ID# 154919
Agency: Federal

Funding Source
National Science Foundation (NSF)
CFDA Number: 47.076
Funding or PIN Number: NSF 22-626
Array ( )

Geographic Focus

Important Dates
Conference Date: 11/30/22
Deadline: 01/11/23 5:00 PM Submitter's Local Time

Grant Description
Grants to USA nonprofit organizations, for-profits, IHEs, and government agencies to strengthen the quality of STEM education for the general public. Applicants are advised that required registrations take several weeks to finalize. Funding is intended for a broad range of projects that provide the public with access to STEM learning. The current solicitation encourages proposals from institutions and organizations that serve public audiences, and specifically focus on public engagement with an understanding of STEM, including community STEM; public participation in scientific research (PPSR); science communication; intergenerational STEM engagement; and STEM media.

The Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) Program is committed to funding research and practice, with continued focus on investigating a range of informal STEM learning (ISL) experiences and environments that make lifelong learning a reality. This Program seeks proposals that center equity and belonging, and further the well-being of individuals and communities who have historically been and continue to be excluded, under-served, or underrepresented, due to gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability status, neurodiversity, geographic location, and economic status, among others, as well as their intersections. 

Projects funded by AISL should contribute to research and practice that further illuminates informal STEM learning's role in equity and belonging in STEM; personal and educational success in STEM; advancing public engagement in scientific discovery; fostering interest in STEM careers; creating and enhancing the theoretical and empirical foundations for effective informal STEM learning; improving community vibrancy; and/or enhancing science communication and the public's engagement in and understanding of STEM and STEM processes.

The AISL Program funds five types of projects: (1) Synthesis; (2) Conference; (3) Partnership Development and Planning; (4) Integrating Research and Practice; and (5) Research in Support of Wide-reaching Public Engagement with STEM.

Program Description and Goals can be found at

More information about project types can be found at


  • Others (see text field entitled "Additional Eligibility Criteria" for clarification)

Additional Criteria for Eligibility
The categories of proposers eligible to submit proposals to the National Science Foundation are identified in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), Chapter I.E. Unaffiliated individuals are not eligible to submit proposals in response to this solicitation.

Categories of Proposers

Except where a program solicitation establishes more restrictive eligibility criteria, organizations in the following categories may submit proposals:

1. Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the U.S., acting on behalf of their faculty members. IHEs located outside the U.S. fall under paragraph 6. below. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of U.S. IHEs. If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a U.S. institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the U.S. campus. Such information must be included in the project description. The box for "Funding of an International Branch Campus of a U.S. IHE" must be checked on the Cover Sheet if the proposal includes funding for an international branch campus of a U.S. IHE.

2. Non-profit, Non-academic Organizations - Independent museums, observatories, research laboratories, professional societies and similar organizations located in the U.S. that are directly associated with educational or research activities.

3. For-profit Organizations - U.S. commercial organizations, especially small businesses with strong capabilities in scientific or engineering research or education. An unsolicited proposal from a commercial organization may be funded when the project is of special concern from a national point of view, special resources are available for the work, or the proposed project is especially meritorious. NSF is interested in supporting projects that couple industrial research resources and perspectives with those of IHEs; therefore, it especially welcomes proposals for cooperative projects involving both IHEs and the private commercial sector.

4. State and Local Governments - State educational offices or organizations and local school districts may submit proposals intended to broaden the impact, accelerate the pace, and increase the effectiveness of improvements in science, mathematics and engineering education in both K-12 and post-secondary levels.

5. Unaffiliated individuals are not eligible to submit proposals in response to this solicitation.

6. Foreign organizations - NSF rarely provides direct funding support to foreign organizations. NSF will consider proposals for cooperative projects involving U.S. and foreign organizations, provided support is requested only for the U.S. portion of the collaborative effort.

In cases however, where the proposer considers the foreign organization or foreign individual's involvement to be essential to the project and proposes to provide funding through the NSF budget (through a subaward or consultant arrangement), the proposer must explain why support from the foreign counterpart's local sources is not feasible and why the foreign organization or foreign individual can carry out the activity more effectively than a U.S. organization or U.S. individual. In addition, the proposed activity must demonstrate how one or more of the following conditions have been met:

- The foreign organization or foreign individual contributes unique expertise, organizational capability, facilities, data resources, and/or access to a geographic location not generally available to U.S. investigators (or which would require significant effort or time to duplicate); and/or
- The foreign organization or foreign individual offers significant science and engineering education, training, or research opportunities to the U.S.

Such information must be included in any proposal to NSF, including new and renewal proposals. The information must be included in the project description section of the proposal. The box for "Funding of a Foreign Organization or Foreign Individual" must be checked on the Cover Sheet if the proposal includes funding for a foreign organization or foreign individual.

7. Other Federal Agencies - NSF does not normally support research or education activities by scientists, engineers or educators employed by Federal agencies or FFRDCs. Under unusual circumstances, other Federal agencies and FFRDCs may submit proposals directly to NSF. A proposed project is only eligible for support if it meets one or more of the following exceptions, as determined by a cognizant NSF Program Officer:
- Special Projects. Under exceptional circumstances, research, or education projects at other Federal agencies or FFRDCs that can make unique contributions to the needs of researchers elsewhere or to other specific NSF objectives may receive NSF support.
- National and International Programs. The Foundation may fund research and logistical support activities of other Government agencies or FFRDCs directed at meeting the goals of special national and international research programs for which the Foundation bears special responsibility, such as the U.S. Antarctic Research Program.
- International Travel Awards. To help ensure appropriate representation or availability of a particular expertise at an international conference, staff researchers of other Federal agencies may receive NSF international travel awards.

Proposers who think their project may meet one of the exceptions listed above must contact a cognizant NSF Program Officer before preparing a proposal for submission. In addition, a scientist, engineer or educator who has a joint appointment with an IHE and a Federal agency (such as a Veterans Administration Hospital, or with an IHE and a FFRDC) may submit proposals through the IHE and may receive support if he/she is a faculty member (or equivalent) of the IHE, although part of his/her salary may be provided by the Federal agency. Preliminary inquiry must be made to the appropriate program before preparing a proposal for submission.

NOTE: Activities primarily focused on formal educational systems or outcomes are outside the scope of work supported by this program. AISL does not fund formal elementary, middle, or high school, or undergraduate or graduate education, whether in-person or online. Similarly, AISL does not fund formal workforce training (e.g., professional certifications and degree-earning programs) that is not aimed directly at informal STEM learning professionals.

Pre-Proposal Conference
The AISL program team has put together a series of live webinars and recorded presentations that highlight recent changes to the AISL solicitation (NSF 22-626) as well as other proposal preparation aspects submitters will find helpful. There are six “topic focused” live webinars plus three open sessions for questions and answers. The structure for each live webinar includes a presentation plus Q&A.

Please note: These webinars and resources do not replace the need for all submitters to read the AISL Solicitation (NSF 22-626) and the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG).

Live webinars:
Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022: AISL Proposal Goals: This presentation will give an overview of the six new program goals with a deeper focus on Goals 1-3 which are required of all proposals.
- 3:00-4:15pm ET - Register at:

Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022: AISL Project Types: Staff will take a walk through the proposal types, some of which have been revised.
- 3:30-4:30pm ET – Register at:

Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022: Open – Questions & Answers session: This is an open “office hours” where you come and ask questions, especially about the topics covered in the first two webinars.
- 3:30-4:30pm ET – Register at:

Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022: Proposal Budgets: Staff will cover what goes into a budget (high level) as well as impact of the recent legislation on allowable costs.
- 2:00-3:30pm ET - Register at:

Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022: Budget Questions & Answers session: A second open “office hours” for your questions. The focus is on budgets.
- 2:00-3:00pm ET - Register at:

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022: Final Open Questions & Answers session: A final open “office hours” for your questions. All types of questions will be addressed.
- 3:00-4:00pm ET- Register at:

Pre-Application Information
Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):
- January 11, 2023
- Second Wednesday in January, Annually Thereafter

SAM is the primary registrant database for the U.S. Government. SAM collects, validates, stores, and disseminates data in support of agency acquisition missions, including Federal agency contract and assistance awards. This SAM registration must be maintained with current information at all times during which an organization has an active award or a proposal under consideration by NSF. Failure to comply with SAM registration requirement prior to proposal submission may impact the processing of the proposal. To register in SAM, go to: Proposers are advised that entity registration will become active after three to five days when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) validates the Tax ID Number.

Innovating and migrating proposal preparation and submission capabilities from FastLane to is part of the ongoing NSF information technology modernization efforts, as described in Important Notice No. 147. In support of these efforts, research proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation must be prepared and submitted via or via, and may not be prepared or submitted via FastLane.

Any proposal submitted in response to this solicitation should be submitted in accordance with the revised NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 22-1), which is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after October 4, 2021.

Full Proposals:
- Full Proposals submitted via NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) guidelines apply. The complete text of the PAPPG is available electronically on the NSF website at:
- Full Proposals submitted via NSF Application Guide: A Guide for the Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via guidelines apply (Note: The NSF Application Guide is available on the website and on the NSF website at:

HTML of Program Solicitation:

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Additional Funding Information

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants
Estimated Number of Awards: 48 to 77 Pending availability of funds, it is anticipated that about 6-8 Synthesis awards, 10-15 Conference awards, 10-15 Partnership Development and Planning awards, 12-16 Integrating Research and Practice awards and 5-8 Research in Support of Wide-reaching Public Engagement with STEM Project awards will be made. AISL will also fund 1-3 awards made through the Research Coordination Networks (RCN) mechanism and 4-12 CAREER awards and REU supplements.

Estimated Size of Grant
Limits for funding requests and duration of AISL proposals under this solicitation are as follows:
(1) Synthesis projects: $100,000 to $500,000;
(2) Conference projects: $75,000 to $250,000;
(3) Partnership Development and Planning projects: $50,000 to $150,000;
(4) Integrating Research and Practice projects: $250,000 to $2,000,000; and
(5) Research in Support of Wide-reaching Public Engagement with STEM projects: $1,000,000 to $3,500,000.

Term of Contract
(1) Synthesis projects: A duration up to three years;
(2) Conference projects: A duration up to two years;
(3) Partnership Development and Planning projects: A duration of one to one and one-half years;
(4) Integrating Research and Practice projects: A duration of two to five years; and
(5) Research in Support of Wide-reaching Public Engagement with STEM projects: A duration of two to five years.

Contact Information
Proposers may opt to submit proposals in response to this Program Solicitation via or

Address Questions to the Program, telephone: (703)292-8616, email:

National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (703) 292-5111

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