Funding Alert! STEM Education Grants for Hispanic-Serving Institutions

National Science Foundation

Attention higher education folks! The National Science Foundation is accepting applications for its multi-track program, Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI program). The HSI program is intended to enhance the quality of undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and to increase the recruitment, retention, and graduation rates of historically underrepresented students in these fields who are working toward associates or baccalaureate degrees. Let’s take a closer look at this grant program.

Who is eligible to apply?

Eligible applicants include nonprofit, accredited institutions of higher education that offer undergraduate STEM programs that result in certificates or degrees. Applicants must meet the definition of a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) according to the Higher Education Act of 1965. Institutions proposing either PPP or IEP projects (described below) must at least offer STEM courses as part of other degree programs, if not as its own certificate or degree.

What is the program goal?

The HSI program promotes a more diverse and capable science and engineering workforce. It supports existing HSIs and prepares for the participation of emerging HSIs in the future by incentivizing institutional and community transformation. The HSI program promotes fundamental research on student learning, how to diversify and increase STEM participation among underrepresented student populations, and how to build institutional capacity at HSIs.

The five key components of HSI programs are: (1) faculty development, (2) curriculum redesign, (3) undergraduate research, (4) transitions, and (5) metrics for success.

Funding is available for three different project types:

  1. Planning or Pilot Project (PPP): funding for institutions that are new to NSF or are Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs), including community colleges. The PPP track is meant for capacity-building, either to plan and undertake the required activities for developing a future HSI program, to enhance undergraduate STEM education opportunities, or to research and gather data on student learning and participation for future HSI projects. The funder expects to award 15 to 25 PPP awards at $200,000 (single institution) or $300,000 (collaborative), plus a $100,000 incentive to partner with one or more community colleges. This is a 2-year project period.
  2. Implementation and Evaluation Project (IEP): funding to implement evidence-based, multi-departmental activities to enhance the quality of undergraduate STEM education at HSIs. IEP proposals may include research that promotes HSI program goals, as well as evaluation and dissemination to promote institutionalization and sustainability. NSF will award up to ten IEP awards at $500,000 (single institution) or $800,000 (collaborative), plus a $200,000 incentive to partner with one or more community colleges. This is a 3- to 5-year project period.
  3. Institutional Transformation Project (ITP): funding for institution-wide structural or systemic changes to enhance undergraduate STEM education. Proposals should be based on STEM education research and designed to make broad, long-term institutional changes that encourage and support faculty to work toward enhancing student outcomes in STEM. NSF encourages ITP projects to include research components aimed at gaining a better understanding of how best to build HSI capacity in STEM through this program. The funder expects to award one or two ITP awards for up to $3,000,000 with a 5-year project period.

When is the deadline?

The deadlines for this grant vary based on the project type: January 13, 2021 for PPP and IEP and February 10, 2021 for ITP.

What makes a project a good fit?

Proposed HSI program activities should be grounded in evidence-based practices, as well as generate new knowledge that improves understanding of how the components of HSI programs function across different types of institutions and departments. With this in mind, the funder considers a strong evaluation plan to be a high priority for each project.

Project teams are also encouraged to establish collaborative relationships with other HSIs, especially community colleges, and other institutions of higher education. As described above, the PPP and IEP tracks each include a funding incentive for applicants that propose to partner with one or more community colleges.

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

  • Ensure that your institution meets the eligibility criteria as an HSI and that your proposal will not exceed the allowed number of active awards. For example, an eligible institution cannot have more than two active PPP or IEP awards and may only submit one ITP proposal (previous ITP awardees are not eligible for new ITP awards).
  • Identify other institutions, especially community colleges, with which you might be able to partner.
  • Attend a virtual HSI program staff “office hours” session to ask questions and find out more information for applying.
  • Review the abstracts of previously funded HSI programs.
  • Make sure your System for Award Management (SAM) registration is active, and be sure you have agov profile. You can check your SAM status here:

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 at this time?

Start looking at the next application window. There is a second deadline on August 25, 2021 for PPP and IEP proposals. The ITP competition deadline falls annually on the second Wednesday in February.

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