NSF addresses the growing needs for innovative, effective network infrastructures on campuses through the Campus Cyberinfrastructure program.

Funding Alert! FY 2021 Campus Cyberinfrastructure Grants

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has recently opened to proposals its Campus Cyberinfrastructure (CC) program. Given the data-driven nature of scientific research and education, institutions of higher education face many challenges regarding cyberinfrastructure, including computing, data services, security, information-sharing, and more. NSF addresses the growing needs for innovative, effective network infrastructures on campuses through the CC program. Let’s take a closer look at this opportunity.

Who is eligible to apply?

Potential applicants include 2- and 4-year institutions of higher education (IHEs), including community colleges, that are accredited in and have a campus located in the U.S., acting on behalf of their faculty members. Non-profit, non-academic organizations such as independent museums, observatories, and research labs that are associated with educational or research activities in the U.S. may also be eligible for this program.

What are the program details?

The overall goal of the CC program is to invest in coordinated campus-level and cyberinfrastructure improvements, innovation, integration, and engineering for science applications and distributed research projects. Proposed projects should be motivated by science-driven needs. The CC program funds five different program areas:

  1. Data-Driven Networking Infrastructure for the Campus and Researcher: up to $500,000 total for up to a 2-year project period. These projects present complete technical solutions for improving a campus-level network infrastructure, to enable high-performance access to network services that allow the rapid movement of scientific data sets and advanced computing. This includes upgrades to or re-designing of campus networks to support scientific data flows (including building a Science DMZ), or network connection upgrades or aggregation to support research and education. Only IHEs may apply to this program area, and current and previous awardees in this area are not eligible.
  2. Regional Connectivity for Small Institutions of Higher Education: up to $1,000,000 total for up to 2 years. These projects are particularly geared toward smaller institutions that face challenges in networking infrastructure and resources related to research and education (R&E) connectivity. Proposals must address campus networking needs that span multiple under-resourced institutions. Eligible applicants for this program area are IHEs, as well as non-profit, non-academic organizations.
  3. Network Integration and Applied Innovation: up to $1,000,000 total for up to 2 years. These projects are meant to leverage new or existing investments in network infrastructure, services, and tools by combining or extending these technologies through network innovation. The emphasis in these projects is on development and integration of innovative software and activities, rather than purchasing new equipment to establish an infrastructure. Only IHEs are eligible for this program area.
  4. Campus Computing and the Computing Continuum: up to $400,000 total for up to 2 years. Proposed projects should promote a coordinated approach in building capacity for scientific computing (such as computer/software clusters) across multiple campuses, as well as national-level resource sharing. Only IHEs are eligible for this program area.
  5. Planning Grants and CI-Research Alignment: up to $200,000 total for up to 2 years. This program area allows teams the additional resources and time needed to coordinate and develop an appropriate approach to CC-related activities. Funding for this area will not support equipment costs; rather, grant awards will support coordination and planning activities that build toward specific goals and objectives. Eligible applicants for this program area are IHEs and nonprofit, non-academic organizations.

To view detailed descriptions of the goals and allowable activities for each of these program areas, please see the program solicitation, pages 4-10, available for download here.

The funder expects to award 24 to 46 total grants across the five program areas, for a total of $13,000,000 to $15,000,000. The first round of proposals is due March 1, 2021.

What makes a project a good fit?

When evaluating NSF proposals, reviewers consider two primary criteria:

  • Intellectual Merit: the potential to advance knowledge; and
  • Broader Impacts: the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.

The funder will also evaluate proposals on the strength of the science that the proposed cyberinfrastructure design and improvements will enable. Proposals should be motivated by the organization’s needs for effectively supporting scientific research and education.

What if I am ready to apply? To move your project forward, take the following action steps as soon as possible:

What if I need help with this application?

Contact Assel Grant Services today! Our team can help with all aspects of preparing the application and managing the grant if you are awarded. If you would like to discuss this possibility, please contact AGS as soon as possible. Rosie Brennan, Community Engagement Specialist, will be happy to talk with you about this opportunity and provide you a quote for grant services.

What if I am not ready to apply this spring?

If you need more time, the second round of proposals for this program is due October 11, 2021. You can also find information about related funding programs and opportunities through NSF’s Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure.

How do I learn more about federal grant opportunities?

AGS is excited to offer a new Federal Grants Training Series coming in 2021! The series is designed to support nonprofit professionals before and during their first federal grant. AGS also offers several on demand webinars on a variety of topics to support the full grant cycle. Check out our website to learn more and sign up for our training newsletter.

AGS blogs, funding alerts, and trainings are aligned with the Grant Professional Certification Institute’s Competencies and Skills

Competency #1: Knowledge of how to research, identify, and match funding resources to meet specific needs

Skill 1.2: Identify major trends in public funding and public policy

Skill 1.6: Identify fundable programs and projects for specific organization

Skill 1.7: Determine best matches between funders and specific programs