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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Gulf Research Program
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Capacity Building Grants: Education - Request for Applications 

Topic: Advancing Scientific and Environmental Literacy in Children and Youth 

Key Dates and Information

Total funding available: $3 million available, with a minimum request of $75,000
Award duration: Up to 24 months 

Letter of Intent (LOI)
An LOI is required for this funding opportunity.
December 13, 2017: Online LOI submission opens
February 14, 2018, 5:00 pm ET: LOIs due

Full Proposal
February 15, 2018: Online full proposal submission opens (ONLY to applicants who submitted an LOI)
April 11, 2018, 5:00pm ET: Full proposals due 

Award Selection and Notification
Summer-Fall 2018

Education RFA image
RFA Version 1.1 (Issued 12/13/2017): "Who Should Apply" was updated to provide further clarification.

PDF Version (click to download/view all information about this funding opportunity as a PDF)

Purpose:

The Gulf Research Program seeks to increase the scientific and environmental literacy and problem-solving skills of children and youth with a focus on service-, project-, or problem- based learning opportunities on topics that are relevant to the GRP’s initiatives. Proposed projects for this grant opportunity should engage children and youth in ways that can help to ensure that the next generation of informed citizens, scientists, engineers, and decision-makers understand the socio-environmental challenges and opportunities in their local communities and have the capacity to address them.

Context:
Environmental education increases student engagement in science and STEM learning, improves student achievement in core areas, and provides critical skills necessary for a 21st century workforce (Coyle, 2005). The Gulf Research Program’s work is guided by four program initiatives: Healthy Ecosystems, Thriving Communities, Safer Offshore Energy Systems, and Capacity Building. This funding opportunity seeks to increase students’ scientific and environmental literacy and problem-solving skills through service-, project-, or problem-based learning experiences related to three of those four program initiatives:
  • Healthy Ecosystems: Advance understanding of ecosystem processes and dynamics to facilitate sustainable use of natural resources
  • Thriving Communities: Enable people and coastal communities to successfully prepare for, respond, and adapt to stressors and adverse events
  • Safer Offshore Energy Systems: Foster minimization and management of risk to make offshore operations safer for both people and the environment
Examples of projects relevant to the three initiative areas are detailed in the Topic Area section below.  

Who Should Apply:
For the purpose of this grant opportunity, applications will be accepted from all nonprofit, state, and local entities, excluding federal agencies, which support educational, service, and/or coordination activities for children and youth in the K-12 grade range. Post-secondary institutions are eligible to apply but are encouraged to seek a partner with programmatic experience serving children and youth, such as a K-12 school district or community-based organization.

Because the mission of the Gulf Research Program is to catalyze advances in science, practice, and capacity to generate long-term benefits for the Gulf of Mexico region and the Nation, the following factors may be used for ranking equally meritorious proposals in award selection:
  • Programmatic activities occurring in the United States Gulf of Mexico region are strongly encouraged.
  • Preference will be given to applicants with a history of working with children and youth, particularly those who work with underrepresented or underserved populations, including but not limited to racial/ethnic minorities, tribal youth, LGBTQ+ youth, students demonstrating low socio-economic status as established by the free and reduced lunch program, children with disabilities, first-generation immigrants, students from rural or remote areas, and/or students experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

What We Are Looking For:

This grant opportunity aims to support experiences that foster the development of the scientific and environmental literacy, skills, competencies, and capabilities that are critical to cultivating a next generation of informed citizens, scientists, engineers, and decision-makers. In addition, activities should focus on service-, project-, or problem- based learning opportunities. These activities may take place in formal or informal educational settings, should target children and youth in the K-12 grade range, and be complementary to formal education standards and learning objectives. 

Proposals responsive to this funding opportunity will demonstrate BOTH Topic Area and Project Structure relevance as described in the following sections:

Topic Area:
Applicants are required to explicitly link their proposed activities to advancing the Healthy Ecosystems, Thriving Communities, or Safer Offshore Energy Systems
Initiatives of the Gulf Research Program.

  • Healthy Ecosystems: Advance understanding of ecosystem processes and dynamics to facilitate sustainable use of natural resources.
    • Example: A project relevant to advancing healthy ecosystems could include activities to increase data literacy with a focus on ecosystem function and environmental restoration.
  • Thriving Communities: Enable people and coastal communities to successfully prepare for, respond, and adapt to stressors and adverse events.
    • Example: A project relevant to advancing thriving communities could include building environmental health literacy.
  • Safer Offshore Energy Systems: Foster minimization and management of risk to make offshore operations safer for both people and the environment.
    • Example: A project relevant to advancing safer offshore energy systems could include building a culture of siuational awareness and project safety through engineering design challenges. 

Project Structure:
All proposed activities should focus on service-, project-, or problem- based learning opportunities that actively engage students in solving real-world problems relevant to the
GRP initiatives. Proposals that empower students to address chronic or emerging challenges facing their communities are encouraged.  The focus of this funding opportunity is programmatic activity with children and youth; however, proposals with complementary professional development activities for teachers and other educational professionals will be considered. In addition:

  • Applicants may propose new programs or activities based in research or experience; or propose to extend existing programming across geographic, sectoral, socioeconomic, or cultural boundaries and/or topic/discipline areas to reach a broader range of participants.
  • Applicants may propose activities that pilot or test new approaches for developing and implementing educational programs critical to advancing students’ scientific and environmental literacy, skills, and competencies. This could include new partnerships between community-based organizations and academic institutions or activities that create a structure for meaningful engagement between children, youth, and the issues and needs of their communities. 

Project Evaluation:
Although not necessary at the Letter of Intent phase, all applicants will be required to address program/project evaluation in their full proposals. The full proposal stage will require that applicants outline the design components expected to be included in the program/project evaluation. Applicants also will be required to provide evidence that a qualified program evaluator has been identified and budgeted into the project or include an in-house evaluation expert as key personnel. An education evaluation design checklist is provided to assist applicants with identifying budget and personnel requirements to fulfill their evaluation needs if awarded. Each awardee is expected to submit an evaluation plan designed per project by a relevant expert and submitted to the Gulf Research Program to review within three months of contract award date. The Gulf Research Program will also review awardees’ evaluation plans and progress at reporting periods throughout the grant period.

To be responsive to this RFA, applicants should clearly articulate:

  • How the proposed project would advance students’ scientific and environmental literacy.
  • How the project intends to use science and/or environmental education to empower students to address chronic or emerging challenges facing their communities.
  • How the proposed project aligns with one of the three identified Initiatives of the Gulf Research Program.
  • The rationale and evidence supporting the anticipated effectiveness of the proposed project. 

The Gulf Research Program will not consider funding:

  • Proposals that merely request operating costs for existing activities.
  • Proposals for political lobbying or advocacy activities. 
Award Information:
  • Total funding available: $3 million, with a minimum request of $75,000
  • Specifications for award amount: This funding opportunity is not intended for projects under $75,000. All budget requests must be commensurate with the scope of work proposed.
  • Award duration: Grants will be awarded to support projects up to 24 months in length.
  • Estimated number of awards: Resources made available under this funding opportunity will depend on the proposals received. The Gulf Research Program reserves the right to negotiate, some, one, or none of the proposals received in response to this solicitation.
  • Award notification: Summer-Fall 2018
Eligibility:
The Gulf Research Program welcomes proposals from all types of U.S. organizations, excluding federal agencies, on behalf of qualified individuals. The applying organization will be referred to as the “applicant” hereafter. The individuals who will lead the proposed project will be referred to as “project directors” hereafter. 

Project directors usually initiate proposals that are officially submitted by their employing organizations (the applicant). When initiating a proposal, the project director typically is responsible for ensuring the proposal meets all the requirements outlined by the Gulf Research Program as well as any requirements set by the employing organizations.

The Gulf Research Program requires applicants to adhere to the following:

  • This funding opportunity is for new, distinct activities only. Proposals for activities that are already underway using other funds or that are seeking supplementary funds to continue an existing activity are not eligible. Proposed activities that are part of a broader, existing effort or “project” may be eligible if the proposal clearly demonstrates that the funding request is for new, distinct activities that would not otherwise occur.
  • Activities currently under consideration for funding from other sources are also not eligible.
  • U.S. organizations (excluding federal agencies) that have a valid federal tax ID number are eligible to apply. 

The Gulf Research Program requires individuals named as project director or key personnel in an application to adhere to the following:

  • An individual may be proposed as project director in only one application. If an individual is proposed as project director in any application s/he may also be proposed as key personnel in up to two additional applications.
  • An individual not proposed as a project director in any application may be named as key personnel in up to three applications.
  • It is the responsibility of each individual being named as project director or key personnel in any application to ensure that s/he is not named in more than three total applications.