Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) and HBCU Research Infrastructure for Science and Engineering (RISE)

Program Solicitation
NSF 14-565

Replaces Document(s):
NSF 13-533

NSF Logo

National Science Foundation

Directorate for Education & Human Resources
     Division of Human Resource Development

Directorate for Engineering


Letter of Intent Due Date(s) (required) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

     July 01, 2014

Letters of Intent are due for HBCU-RISE projects.

     October 06, 2014

Letters of Intent are due for CREST Center proposals.

     April 07, 2015

Letters of Intent are due for HBCU-RISE projects.

Preliminary Proposal Due Date(s) (required) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time): 

     November 05, 2014

Preliminary proposals are due for CREST Centers.

Supplement Due Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

     Proposals Accepted Anytime

SBIR/STTR Diversity Collaborative Supplements

     August 07, 2014

Proposals are due for CREST Partnership Supplements.

     June 05, 2015

Proposals are due for CREST Partnership Supplements.

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

     August 13, 2014

Proposals are due for HBCU-RISE and Broadening Participation Research projects.

     June 05, 2015

Full proposals are due for CREST Centers, HBCU-RISE and Broadening Participation Research projects.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND REVISION NOTES

CREST Solicitation Revision Summary

CREST Center awards under this solicitation. CREST Center awards will be made in alternate years. It is anticipated that CREST Center awards under this solicitation will be made in the fall of 2015.

Institutional collaborations are required of all CREST Centers. CREST Center institutions are expected to develop partnerships with other universities/colleges, Research Centers funded by NSF or other federal agencies or state governments, national laboratories, and private sector research laboratories, K-12 entities including museums and science centers or schools, as appropriate to enable the CREST Centers to advance knowledge and education on a research theme of national significance.

Preliminary proposals and full proposals. Submission of a brief preliminary proposal is required for CREST Centers. Full CREST Center proposals may be submitted by invitation only after the review of the preliminary proposal is completed.

Webinar. The CREST program team will host a webinar approximately one month after the release of this solicitation. In the webinar, key features and expectations of CREST Centers and HBCU-RISE awards will be discussed.

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

General Information

Program Title:

Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST)
and HBCU Research Infrastructure for Science and Engineering (HBCU-RISE)

Synopsis of Program:

The Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) program provides support to enhance the research capabilities of minority-serving institutions (MSI) through the establishment of centers that effectively integrate education and research. CREST promotes the development of new knowledge, enhancements of the research productivity of individual faculty, and an expanded presence of students historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. HBCU-RISE awards specifically target HBCUs to support the expansion of institutional research capacity as well as the production of doctoral students, especially those from groups underrepresented in STEM, at those institutions.

The CREST program supports the following types of projects:

CREST Center awards provide multi-year support (typically 5-years) for eligible minority-serving institutions that demonstrate a strong research and education base, a compelling vision for research infrastructure improvement, and a comprehensive plan with the necessary elements to achieve and sustain national competitiveness in a clearly defined area of national significance in science or engineering research. Successful Center proposals will demonstrate a clear vision and synergy with the broad goals of the CREST Program and the Human Resource Development Division with respect to development of a diverse STEM workforce. CREST Centers are expected to provide leadership in the involvement of groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM at all levels (faculty, students, and postdoctoral researchers) within the Center. Centers are required to use either proven or innovative mechanisms to address issues such as recruitment, retention and mentorship of participants from underrepresented groups.

CREST Partnership Supplements support the establishment or strengthening of partnerships and collaborations between active CREST Centers and nationally or internationally recognized research centers including NSF-supported research centers, and private sector research laboratories, K-12 entities including museums and science centers or schools, as appropriate to enable the CREST Centers to advance knowledge and education on a research theme of national significance.

HBCU Research Infrastructure for Science and Engineering (RISE) awards support the development of research capability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities that offer doctoral degrees in science and engineering disciplines. Supported projects must have a unifying research focus in one of the research areas supported by NSF, a direct connection to the long-term plans of the host department(s) and the institutional mission, and plans for expanding institutional research capacity as well as increasing the production of doctoral students, especially those underrepresented in STEM.

Broadening Participation Research (BPR) in STEM Education projects create and study new models and innovations in STEM teaching and learning; enhance the understanding of the underlying issues affecting the differential participation and success rates of students from underrepresented groups; add to the research knowledge base; and inform STEM education practices and interventions. Broadening Participation Research proposals should describe evidence-based research studies that contribute to understanding the participation of and successful outcomes for underrepresented groups in STEM. Proposals should consider new evidence-based strategies and practices and institutional structure models for broadening participation in STEM and increasing the capacity of scholars in minority-serving institutions to conduct this type of research.

SBIR/STTR Phase IIa Diversity Collaboration Supplements provide an opportunity for existing SBIR/STTR Phase II projects to initiate collaborations with minority-serving institutions that have active CREST Center or HBCU-RISE awards. These supplemental proposals are administered by and co-funded with the NSF Directorate for Engineering Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (ENG/IIP).

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

Please note that the following information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

  • Victor A. Santiago, Program Director, telephone: (703) 292-4673, fax: (703) 292-9018, email: vsantiag@nsf.gov

  • Claudia Rankins, Program Director, telephone: (703) 292-8109, fax: (703) 292-9018, email: crankins@nsf.gov

  • Nicole E. Godwin, Program Specialist, telephone: (703) 292-8378, fax: (703) 292-9018, email: ngodwin@nsf.gov

  • Glenn H. Larsen, Program Officer, ENG/IIP, SBIR/STTR, telephone: (703) 292-4607, fax: (703) 292-9057, email: glarsen@nsf.gov

Applicable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s):

  • 47.041 --- Engineering
  • 47.076 --- Education and Human Resources

Award Information

Anticipated Type of Award: Standard Grant or Continuing Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: 37

Anticipated number of awards is across fiscal years 2015 and 2016. In fiscal year 2015, up to 2 Broadening Participation Research in STEM Education standard grants, up to 8 SBIR/STTR Diversity Collaborative Supplements, up to 4 Partnership Supplements and up to 4 HBCU-RISE standard grants. In fiscal year 2016, up to 4 CREST Center continuing grants, up to 2 Broadening Paticipation Research in STEM Education standard grants, up to 8 SBIR/STTR Diversity Collaborative Supplements, up to 3 Partnership Supplements and up to 2 HBCU-RISE standard grants.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $13,100,000

Anticipated funding amount is across fiscal years 2015 and 2016 for new awards, pending the availability of funds. In fiscal year 2015, up to $600,000 for Broadening Participation Research standard grants, up to $600,000 from CREST and $600,000 from ENG/IIP for co-funded SBIR/STTR Diversity Collaborative Supplements, up to $400,000 for Partnership Supplements and up to $4 million for HBCU-RISE standard grants. In fiscal year 2016, $4,000,000 for CREST Centers, $600,000 for Broadening Participation Research standard grants, up to $600,000 from CREST and $600,000 from ENG/IIP for co-funded SBIR/STTR Diversity Collaborative Supplements, $300,000 for CREST partnership supplements and $2,000,000 for HBCU-RISE standard grants.

Eligibility Information

Who May Submit Proposals:

  • Preliminary and invited full CREST Center proposals may be submitted by minority-serving institutions of higher education in the United States. This denotes institutions that have undergraduate enrollments of 50% or more (based on total student enrollment) of members of minority groups underrepresented among those holding advanced degrees in science and engineering fields: African Americans, Alaska Natives, American Indians, Hispanic Americans, Native Hawaiian, and Native Pacific Islanders. Eligibility as a minority-serving institution will be determined by reference to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) of the US Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/). Proposals are also invited from institutions of higher education that primarily serve populations of students with disabilities (http://www.nsf.gov/od/broadeningparticipation/nsf_frameworkforaction_0808.pdf). Support may be provided to partner institutions through subawards.

    HBCU-RISE proposals are invited from Historically Black Colleges and Universities that offer doctoral degrees in science (including social, behavioral, and economic science), technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.

    SBIR /STTR diversity collaborative supplement proposals are invited from current SBIR/STTR Phase II grantees and their CREST Center or HBCU-RISE institution partners.

    BPR in STEM Education proposals are invited from institutions meeting the organizational eligibility for CREST Center or HBCU-RISE proposals.

Who May Serve as PI:

Principal Investigators for CREST Center, HBCU-RISE, BPR, and SBIR/STTR awards must be employed by a CREST Center, HBCU-RISE, BPR or SBIR/STTR-eligible institution, respectively.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

Only one preliminary CREST Center proposal may be submitted per eligible institution. Full CREST Center proposals are to be submitted only when invited by NSF. An institution may have only one active CREST Center award, irrespective of focus area. Centers that have completed two prior, consecutive 5-year CREST Center awards may recompete in disciplinary areas that are significantly different from those of the previous award(s).

Only one HBCU-RISE proposal may be submitted per eligible institution. An institution may have only one active HBCU-RISE award.

An eligible institution can submit no more than two Broadening Participation Research in STEM Education proposals per year.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI:

Eligible individuals may be listed as the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on only one CREST Center or HBCU-RISE proposal.

Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

  • Letters of Intent: Submission of Letters of Intent is required for CREST Centers & HBCU-RISE. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.
  • Preliminary Proposals: Submission of Preliminary Proposals is required. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.
  • Full Proposals:
    • Full Proposals submitted via FastLane: NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide, Part I: Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) Guidelines apply. The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg.
    • Full Proposals submitted via Grants.gov: NSF Grants.gov Application Guide: A Guide for the Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov Guidelines apply (Note: The NSF Grants.gov Application Guide is available on the Grants.gov website and on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=grantsgovguide).

B. Budgetary Information

  • Cost Sharing Requirements: Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.
  • Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations: Not Applicable
  • Other Budgetary Limitations: Not Applicable

C. Due Dates

  • Letter of Intent Due Date(s) (required) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time): 

         July 01, 2014

    Letters of Intent are due for HBCU-RISE projects.

         October 06, 2014

    Letters of Intent are due for CREST Center proposals.

         April 07, 2015

    Letters of Intent are due for HBCU-RISE projects.
  • Preliminary Proposal Due Date(s) (required) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time): 

         November 05, 2014

    Preliminary proposals are due for CREST Centers.
  • Supplement Due Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

         Proposals Accepted Anytime

    SBIR/STTR Diversity Collaborative Supplements

         August 07, 2014

    Proposals are due for CREST Partnership Supplements.

         June 05, 2015

    Proposals are due for CREST Partnership Supplements.
  • Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

         August 13, 2014

    Proposals are due for HBCU-RISE and Broadening Participation Research projects.

         June 05, 2015

    Full proposals are due for CREST Centers, HBCU-RISE and Broadening Participation Research projects.

Proposal Review Information Criteria

Merit Review Criteria: National Science Board approved criteria. Additional merit review considerations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

Award Administration Information

Award Conditions: Standard NSF award conditions apply.

Reporting Requirements: Standard NSF reporting requirements apply.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Summary of Program Requirements

  1. Introduction

  2. Program Description

  3. Award Information

  4. Eligibility Information

  5. Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions
    1. Proposal Preparation Instructions
    2. Budgetary Information
    3. Due Dates
    4. FastLane/Grants.gov Requirements

  6. NSF Proposal Processing and Review Procedures
    1. Merit Review Principles and Criteria
    2. Review and Selection Process

  7. Award Administration Information
    1. Notification of the Award
    2. Award Conditions
    3. Reporting Requirements

  8. Agency Contacts

  9. Other Information

I. INTRODUCTION

Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) is a program in the Division of Human Resource Development (HRD), which is part of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) of the National Science Foundation.

CREST Centers and HBCU-RISE projects support efforts to strengthen the science and engineering research and education capacity at institutions with strong track records producing STEM graduates from underrepresented populations. In doing so, these programs help to fulfill a core value of the NSF Strategic Plan: inclusiveness - seeking and embracing contributions from all sources, including underrepresented groups, regions and institutions (http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2014/nsf14043/nsf14043.pdf). They comprise an important element within the HRD Theory of Change framework, in that the capability of minority-serving institutions to be engaged in the global research enterprise and in the highest levels of scholarly achievement will be more fully enabled. In addition to enhancing research capacity, CREST Centers and HBCU-RISE projects also further the NSF goal of preparing tomorrow's innovation workforce that is enriched by the assets of diverse participants from a range of groups and communities. This STEM workforce will engage diverse teams that can offer new ways to solve problems and provide unique perspectives to improve performance and outcomes.

CREST Centers and HBCU-RISE projects promote faculty engagement in research activities at the highest level. An educational environment based on discovery will be vibrant, with both undergraduate and graduate students engaged in the process of discovery and innovation through modern and relevant curricula, courses, and research experiences. Students will have opportunities to become significant participants in the broader community of scholarship in their respective fields. Minority-serving institutions offer an opportunity to engage student and faculty populations from underrepresented groups in numbers that can have a significant impact, consistent with the NSF goal to broaden participation and with the NSF mission: to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense and to ensure that research is fully integrated with education so that today's revolutionary work will also be training tomorrow's top scientists and engineers.

The CREST Program is particularly interested in building knowledge in areas related to the following research questions, that are critical for the development of research capacity at minority-serving institutions and for the ultimate benefit of student and faculty populations from underrepresented groups that are served by those institutions:

  • What are the underlying issues affecting the differential participation and success rates in STEM disciplines of students, postdoctoral researchers and faculty from underrepresented groups?
  • What are the obstacles faced in promoting graduate study in STEM for students at minority-serving institutions and how may these effectively be overcome?
  • How does enhanced research capacity and active, leading-edge scholarly enterprise transform minority-serving institutions?
  • How do minority-serving institutions contribute to a diverse STEM graduate student body, postdoctoral trainee population, and faculty to impact STEM innovation and productivity?
  • How does leading-edge research activity influence the knowledge, skills, and behaviors of undergraduate and graduate students who are in STEM fields and who may be considering STEM fields for their educational experiences?

CREST Centers and HBCU-RISE project activities should be informed by the body of knowledge that surrounds these (and other) important educational research questions; and they will in turn add to that knowledge base for fundamental investigations into these topics.

NSF expects that awards made under the CREST program will catalyze institutional transformation in terms of the development of research capabilities, commensurate with the institution's mission and long term goals, and that the institutions will evaluate the impact of the award in effecting this transformation. Demonstrated leadership in the involvement of groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM is expected at all levels - students, postdoctoral researchers and faculty. The research activities supported by CREST are expected to enable full participation of faculty, graduate students and undergraduates in a nationally competitive research enterprise. Outcomes and activities - such as publications, involvement in regional, national and international research forums, patents and commercial dissemination of research results, professional development of postdoctoral research associates, training of doctoral and master's students, and involvement of undergraduates in research activities - should all occur in ways that establish the potential for national leadership. The ability of CREST Centers and HBCU-RISE awards to leverage funding from federal, state and local agencies, as well as to foster industrial and academic collaborations, as part of a sustainable research enterprise, is an important outcome. At the same time, the projects will promote synergy between education and research; develop outreach activities for pre-college students, K-12 educators, and the general public; and serve as a model for research scholarship throughout the institution. A key feature of projects will be a program strategy and plan for recruitment, mentoring, retention, and graduation of students (U.S. citizens, nationals, and permanent residents) in NSF-supported STEM fields, with specific efforts aimed at members of groups underrepresented in science and engineering.

II. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

This solicitation requests proposals for: (1) CREST Center awards; (2) partnership supplements applied to existing CREST awards; (3) HBCU Research Infrastructure for Science & Engineering (HBCU-RISE) awards; (4) supplements to existing Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase IIA awards (administered by the NSF Directorate for Engineering); and (5) CREST Broadening Participation Research in STEM Education awards.

1. CREST Centers. CREST Centers integrate education and research. CREST promotes the development of new knowledge, enhances faculty research productivity, and increases diversity in STEM disciplines. CREST provides multi-year support for eligible minority-serving institutions that demonstrate a strong research and education base, a compelling vision for research infrastructure improvement, and a comprehensive plan with the necessary elements to achieve and sustain national competitiveness in a clearly defined and focused area of science or engineering research. The Center Director must provide the leadership to develop and lead a diverse team, inclusive of women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities, to fulfill the vision of the Center. CREST Centers will engage students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty from underrepresented groups in numbers that can have a significant impact on an increasingly diverse advanced STEM workforce. CREST Center awards are typically 60-month Continuing Grants of up to $5 million. These funds are used to support science and technology infrastructure improvements identified by the institution as being critical to its future research and development competitiveness.

Full CREST Center Proposal Structure: Full CREST Center proposals consist of the Center proposal (the Project Description) and its associated research Subproject Narratives. The Center proposal includes discussion of the applicant's overall plan for improving the status of science and engineering research and training and for broadening the participation of a diverse student population in science and engineering, as codified by the Center's unifying theme or focus. This Center overview should present a clear explanation of the proposed improvement plan from a scientific, educational and administrative or fiscal point of view. The proposal Project Summary will provide an overview of the proposed activities and will clearly delineate the National Science Foundation criteria of Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts. More detailed information is provided in Section V of this solicitation.

CREST Center Research Subprojects: The Project Summary also describes the synergy anticipated by the choice of up to 3 Subprojects that are consistent with the unifying theme of the Center. Each proposed subproject may involve a subset of Center investigators, but should have a single subproject leader. The Subproject Narratives, prepared separately from the Project Description, will contain the elements of an abbreviated NSF research proposal, but will also contain a copy of the Center Project Summary described above. In addition, each Subproject Narrative will contain a one-page Subproject Relevancy Statement summarizing the subproject's importance to the overall proposal plan, including synergy with the other subprojects, and a discussion of how it supports the overall goals and objectives of the Center proposal. The Subproject Narratives will be independently evaluated following the standard NSF merit review process. Prospective PIs should refer to Section V of this solicitation for more detailed proposal preparation instructions, including specific instructions for preparing and submitting the Subproject Narratives.

Expectations for CREST Proposals and Awardees: The Project Description should include an Evaluation Plan to track progress and strengthen cooperative efforts. General information on project evaluation is provided at the end of Section II of this solicitation. In addition to progress reports required annually via the NSF FastLane system, awardees will be expected to submit reports on project participants, publications, outreach efforts, patents, proposals, leveraged funding efforts and similar data to the CREST data collection system. Awardees may also expect site visits and reverse site visits by NSF-appointed evaluators per the particular terms and conditions established in the award documentation. CREST personnel will be expected to participate in convocations of HRD activities and principal investigators meetings.

Consistent with the CREST objectives to broaden the participation of populations that are underrepresented in STEM fields, who are U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents, the proposal should clearly describe the diversity objectives of the Center and outline strategies for achieving them. The contribution/role of partner institutions in the diversity plans should also be described. Proposed activities should be presented in sufficient detail to allow assessment of their intrinsic merit and potential effectiveness. The Evaluation Plan should explain how progress will be measured and how strategies will be adapted. Proposers should demonstrate specifically how the project will integrate the research, education and outreach activities of the Center with measurable outcomes of increasing participation at the post-baccalaureate level, of U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents, especially those from underrepresented student populations that they serve. CREST Centers are expected to prepare students to compete successfully for graduate research fellowships such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) and therefore should include a description of appropriate strategies that will be utilized.

Each Center shall convene, at least annually, an external advisory group or committee (EAC). The advisors should include representatives from those served by the Center (e.g., academic institutions, industry, state and local agencies, national laboratories) and reflect the diversity of participants inherent in the citizenry of the United States. The function of the EAC is to provide guidance and advice to the Center as well as to ensure that the Center's activities are consistent with its vision, goals and objectives. Persons with a financial, institutional, or collaborative connection to the Center may not serve as members of the EAC. Each Center shall also have an Internal Steering Committee to include the PI, co-PIs and other applicable stakeholders.

Collaborations (Required): CREST Centers may be organized around the development of individual scientists or engineers, one or more science or engineering departments or equivalent units, or interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research areas. Multiple-investigator projects are encouraged. Collaborative efforts involving industry, other research universities, federally funded laboratories, K-12 entities including museums and science centers, or other national, state, or regional research and development institutions are required. Sub-awards to such collaborating institutions are permitted, subject to restrictions outlined in the Grant Proposal Guide. It is expected that CREST funding will add substantial, measurable value to the existing science and technology research capability in areas of high institutional priority. The research team will develop a strong potential to achieve national research competitiveness and to generate sustained non-CREST funding from federal, state, or private-sector sources.

Support may be requested for activities that positively impact the quality of research training and the research preparedness of graduate students, particularly women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities that are U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents. Projects should be designed to enable awardee institutions to enhance the integration of education and research. The proposal should include a component that outlines a strategy for the creative integration of NSF-funded awards at the institution that are related to the proposed project's goals and scope. In identifying the members of the research team, the proposing institution should strongly encourage participation by underrepresented minorities, women, and persons with disabilities in all organizational levels of Center activities. Whether the proposed activity is considered competitive will be determined by merit review of the appropriateness and relevance of the improvement strategies to CREST program goals, as articulated in Section I of this solicitation.

Special Considerations for CREST Phase II Proposals: A CREST Center nearing the completion of its initial five years of funding may submit a preliminary competing renewal proposal for an additional five years of support. If invited by NSF, a full renewal proposal will undergo merit review alongside proposals for new CREST Centers. Accordingly, the achievements and future plans of existing centers will be evaluated comprehensively relative to progress and direction and weighed against the competition for available program funds. The results from the Phase I broadening participation strategy consistent with the CREST goal to develop a diverse, advanced STEM workforce should be articulated clearly in parallel with the institutional transformation arising from the research accomplishments of the first 5 years. The Project Description for a Phase II award should demonstrate a clear vision for a synergistic team of investigators that should be positioned within the second five years of support to achieve a major national recognition for their accomplishments, including research that has the potential to be transformative. The Project Description as well as the Subproject Narratives should provide a systematic articulation of the research, educational, and outreach accomplishments of the Phase I project and how these will drive the future activities of the Center, especially in terms of a new vision and organization. The Phase II Center should be well positioned to demonstrate a transformation of the institutional capacity for engaging students from populations of women, persons with disabilities and underrepresented minorities, in the advanced STEM workforce. A simple continuation of the Phase I CREST Center, even if the scientific merits of the various research activities are strong, will not yield a competitive proposal.

A recommendation for a Phase II CREST Center award will be subject to availability of funds, as well as the demonstrated potential that funding as a CREST Phase II Center will lead to institutional, programmatic, and STEM workforce transformation that the CREST Program is trying to achieve. Renewed Centers will continue to be monitored by NSF. Centers that are not meeting the exceptional expectations of a Phase II Center may have their level of funding reduced or may be terminated.

2. CREST Partnership Supplements. CREST partnership supplements support the establishment or strengthening of partnerships and collaborations between CREST Centers and nationally or internationally recognized research centers including NSF supported research centers, and K-12 entities including museums and science centers. As with CREST Center proposals, CREST partnership supplements are designed to facilitate self-improvement. Support may be requested for activities that have a direct positive influence on the competitiveness of participating scientists and engineers and the quality of the institution's research and training. Supportable activities may include, but are not limited to: exploratory research projects; acquisition of materials, supplies, research equipment and instrumentation; hiring nationally competitive scientists and/or engineers; visiting scientists and engineers as short- or long-term consultants; faculty attendance at professional meetings and seminars; faculty sabbaticals and exchange programs; education activities directed toward development of a diverse, internationally competitive and globally engaged workforce of scientists, engineers, and citizens well-prepared for a broad set of career paths; undergraduate and graduate research activities; development of outreach and other enhancement programs with neighboring institutions; and strengthening technical support personnel. The benefits to all parties in the proposed collaboration must be clearly articulated.

3. Historically Black Colleges and Universities Research Infrastructure for Science and Engineering (HBCU-RISE). HBCU-RISE awards support the development of research capability at HBCUs that offer doctoral degrees in science and engineering disciplines. Activities supported by RISE include, but are not limited to: faculty release time, technical support for research, faculty professional development, acquisition or upgrading of research equipment, development of new advanced level curricula or courses, and collaborative research efforts with partner universities and national laboratories. Career development opportunities, provision for developing professional skills, fostering an international perspective, instruction in ethics and the responsible conduct of research, and training in communication of the substance and importance of research to nonscientist audiences may be part of the proposed activities. Supported projects must have a unifying research focus in one of the research areas supported by NSF, a direct connection to the long-term plans of the host department(s) and the institutional mission, and plans for expanding institutional research capacity as well as increasing the production of doctoral students, especially those from underrepresented groups who are U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents. The proposal should include a component that outlines a strategy for the creative integration of NSF-funded awards at the institution, which are related to the proposed project's goals and scope. HBCU-RISE funding may, for example, be used to support competitive levels of start-up funding for outstanding new faculty hires with research interests related to the project or to acquire key equipment and instruments, including high-performance computing and networking capabilities.

HBCU-RISE projects must offer considerably more to an institution's capacity to carry out doctoral level research than is afforded by traditional single- or multi-investigator research proposals. In this way, HBCU-RISE support should not replace other available federal, state, or institutional resources and should add significant value to the existing institutional strategic plan. Reviewers will be asked to consider the unique goals of the HBCU-RISE program in developing doctoral program capacity, in addition to supporting research activities. Each HBCU-RISE project should describe an evaluation plan to track progress and strengthen cooperative efforts. In addition, each project will be required to participate in a program-level evaluation to assess outcomes and the program's contributions to advancing the science and engineering research and education capabilities of minority-serving institutions, with special attention to increasing doctoral degree attainment among U.S. citizens, nationals, and permanent residents at those institutions.

It is not necessary for each HBCU-RISE project to convene meetings of an external advisory group or committee. However, each project shall identify an Internal Steering Committee to include the PI, co-PIs and other applicable stakeholders to review the results of the evaluation process and to ensure that the progress is consistent with departmental and institutional goals. HBCU-RISE personnel will be expected to participate in convocations of HRD activities and principal investigator meetings.

4. Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) supplemental funding for diversity collaborations. SBIR/STTR supplements seek to promote partnerships between academe and the small-business community. In particular, SBIR/STTR Phase II grantees may partner with CREST/HBCU-RISE institutions with the intent of developing the scientific or engineering underpinnings of the SBIR Phase II technology. As such, it is not important that the SBIR/STTR supplemental project be related to the research areas for which the institution is receiving CREST/HBCU-RISE support. Inquiries and proposals to this track are not submitted to CREST but directly to SBIR/STTR in the Directorate for Engineering. See, for example, Dear Colleague Letter NSF 12-069: Supplemental Opportunity for SBIR/STTR for CREST/HBCU-RISE Collaborations - Phase IIA. (http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2012/nsf12069/nsf12069.jsp) Information on SBIR/STTR may be obtained from the following link: SBIR/STTR.

5. Broadening Participation Research in STEM Education (BPR): The Broadening Participation Research in STEM Education track exists across programs in the Division of Human Resource Development and may be found in the following solicitations: Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP); Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP); Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP); and Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP). Priorities and restrictions on study populations and awardee institutions may apply depending on the HRD program to which the proposal is submitted. BPR projects have a duration of up to three years.

CREST Broadening Participation Research in STEM Education proposals should be designed to create and study new models and innovations in STEM teaching and learning; enhance the understanding of the underlying issues affecting the differential participation and success rates of students from underrepresented groups; add to the research knowledge base; and inform STEM education practices and interventions. Broadening Participation Research proposals should describe evidence-based research studies that contribute to understanding the participation of and successful outcomes for underrepresented groups in STEM. Proposals should consider new evidence-based strategies and practices and institutional structure models for broadening participation in STEM and increasing the capacity of scholars in minority-serving institutions to conduct this type of research.

Proposed research may investigate behavioral, cognitive, affective, learning and social factors as well as organizational, institutional or systemic processes that may impact participation and success in STEM education. Successful proposals will be grounded in appropriate theory and incorporate recent innovations and advances in research methodologies, conceptual frameworks, and/or data gathering and analytic techniques. Proposals should reflect relevant advances in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research and evaluation methodologies and provide a compelling argument about how the methodologies proposed are appropriately matched with the strategic research questions of the project. Additionally, proposals should demonstrate how the methods chosen will result in rigorous, cumulative, reproducible, and usable findings to merit peer-review and publication.

Broadening Participation Research proposals must include PIs with demonstrable expertise in education research and/or social science research methods and knowledge about STEM programs at Minority-Serving Institutions. Proposers are encouraged to establish collaborations to strengthen the research project and to describe in the proposal the nature of the collaboration and the anticipated benefits. As appropriate, proposals should describe mechanisms to effectively and efficiently transfer findings into educational practice for use by other researchers and policymakers.

Proposals can be driven by the fundamental programmatic research questions posed in Section I of this solicitation, or they may pose their own research questions motivated by the goals of the CREST Program. CREST-BPR proposals may be jointly reviewed as appropriate with other NSF education and social science research programs. Proposals from individual researchers as well as collaborative proposals with multiple research partners are encouraged. However, the lead institution for awards funded through the CREST-BPR track must meet the organizational eligibility criteria cited elsewhere in this solicitation. The recently issued publication entitled Common Guidelines for Education Research and Development describes six types of research studies that can generate evidence about how to increase student learning. The Guidelines publication can be found on the NSF website with the number NSF 13-126 (http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2013/nsf13126/nsf13126.pdf).

6. Other Funding Opportunities. CREST also funds Conferences, Symposia, and Workshops; EAGER and RAPID grants; and Grant Supplements for existing awards. Such proposals may be submitted as described in the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG), which is available at http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg.

For Conferences, Symposia, and Workshops, see GPG, II.D.8.

For Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER), see GPG II.D.2

For Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID), see GPG, II.D.1.

For funding opportunities in CyberLearning and Future Learning Technologies, see the following link: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf14526

For funding opportunities under the Dear Colleague Letter: Introducing Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI), see the following link: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2013/nsf13073/nsf13073.txt

Project Evaluation: All full proposals should include an evaluation section that describes how the project evaluator /evaluation team will determine the accomplishment of project goals and the impact of the project. Evaluation should be based on benchmarks, indicators, or expected outcomes related to project goals and activities. The following information serves as a general guide for developing evaluation processes. However, each project should develop an appropriate plan for the proposed activities. Not every element of an evaluation may be needed for each proposed project.

Evaluation plans should be based on a Logic Model or other tool that relates project goals to activities and to outputs, outcomes, and impact (immediate, short-term, and intermediate-term expected changes). Most evaluations are based on evaluation questions that relate to program and project goals. Evaluation plans should be appropriate to the scope of the project; this usually includes both formative and summative evaluations. Formative evaluation plans outline methods for documenting progress toward project goals and should include a feedback feature that allows for continuous improvement of the project activities. In some cases, formative evaluation may be internal to the project. Summative evaluation focuses on the influence of the project on the targeted expected outputs and outcomes, and overall impact of the project. Some projects will utilize experimental or quasi-experimental designs as the basis for their summative evaluation plans.

Evaluations are expected to include both qualitative and quantitative methodology. Expected project outputs, outcomes and impact should be included in the evaluation plan and should, when possible, rely on measures that are valid and reliable with the targeted participants. Outputs are the numbers related to project activities such as the number of faculty in pedagogical workshops, the number of students who completed Ph.D. programs in STEM, or the number of peer-reviewed publications attributed to the project. Outcomes are defined as the results of participation in project activities. Strategic impacts are lasting outcomes attributable to the project. The demonstration of project impact is the result of the overall influence of the project on the goal of the program. An example of impact is increased graduation rates of students who participated in a specific model compared to baseline or a control/comparison group.

Evaluation plans for research projects could include activities related to project integrity and usefulness / utilization / and dissemination of findings. Evaluation activities could include such activities as documenting and describing the operation of the project through all phases and oversight related to appropriate selection of participants, fidelity, and integrity of research design and measures (formative); and assessing the extent to which findings contribute to the knowledge base in the field and are disseminated to those researchers and practitioners who will utilize the findings (summative).

The budget MUST include adequate resources for project evaluation. Project evaluation should be led by an expert independent evaluation team. Evaluators are expected to adhere to the Guiding Principles for Evaluators http://www.eval.org/GPTraining and project evaluations are expected to be consistent with standards established by the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation (http://www.jcsee.org/).

The following references may be helpful in designing an evaluation plan:

III. AWARD INFORMATION

CREST award instruments, duration, and amounts vary among the CREST program components.

  • CREST Center awards will be made in alternate years. Up to 4 CREST Center awards (new Centers and Phase II competitive renewals) are anticipated in fiscal year 2016. CREST Center awards are for 60 months at up to $1,000,000 annually (i.e., a maximum of $5,000,000). Center awards are made as Continuing Grants. The progress and plans of each Center will be reviewed by NSF annually, prior to approving continued NSF support. Centers that are not meeting the expectations of a Phase II Center may have their level of funding reduced or may be terminated. Individual Centers may not receive more than 10 years of CREST support. An institution may have only one active CREST Center award.
  • Up to 4 CREST partnership supplements will be made in the fiscal year 2015 competition and up to 3 for the fiscal year 2016 competition. Partnership supplements will be made for a maximum amount of $100,000 per supplement, in amounts that vary with need and are subject to the availability of funds. A supplement will be an amendment to an existing award.
  • Up to 4 HBCU-RISE awards will be made during the fiscal year 2015 award cycle and 2 for the fiscal year 2016 competition. Awards will not exceed $1,000,000 during a three-year period. HBCU-RISE awards will be managed through standard grants. An institution may only have one active HBCU-RISE award.
  • Up to 8 CREST SBIR/STTR diversity collaborative supplements will be made during the fiscal year 2015 award cycle and up to 8 for the fiscal year 2016 cycle. These supplemental awards will be made to eligible SBIR/STTR Phase II awardees in partnership with CREST and HBCU-RISE institutions, as described in Section II.4. These supplemental awards will not exceed $150,000 in NSF support.
  • Up to 2 Broadening Participation Research in STEM Education awards will be made during the fiscal year 2015 award cycle and up to 2 for the fiscal year 2016 award cycle. Awards will not exceed $300,000 during a three-year period. Equipment costs are not normally allowed under Broadening Participation Research projects.

The estimated CREST Center, HBCU-RISE, SBIR/STTR, and CREST-BPR budgets, number of awards and award size and duration are subject to the availability of funds.

IV. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

Who May Submit Proposals:

  • Preliminary and invited full CREST Center proposals may be submitted by minority-serving institutions of higher education in the United States. This denotes institutions that have undergraduate enrollments of 50% or more (based on total student enrollment) of members of minority groups underrepresented among those holding advanced degrees in science and engineering fields: African Americans, Alaska Natives, American Indians, Hispanic Americans, Native Hawaiian, and Native Pacific Islanders. Eligibility as a minority-serving institution will be determined by reference to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) of the US Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/). Proposals are also invited from institutions of higher education that primarily serve populations of students with disabilities (http://www.nsf.gov/od/broadeningparticipation/nsf_frameworkforaction_0808.pdf). Support may be provided to partner institutions through subawards.

    HBCU-RISE proposals are invited from Historically Black Colleges and Universities that offer doctoral degrees in science (including social, behavioral, and economic science), technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.

    SBIR /STTR diversity collaborative supplement proposals are invited from current SBIR/STTR Phase II grantees and their CREST Center or HBCU-RISE institution partners.

    BPR in STEM Education proposals are invited from institutions meeting the organizational eligibility for CREST Center or HBCU-RISE proposals.

Who May Serve as PI:

Principal Investigators for CREST Center, HBCU-RISE, BPR, and SBIR/STTR awards must be employed by a CREST Center, HBCU-RISE, BPR or SBIR/STTR-eligible institution, respectively.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

Only one preliminary CREST Center proposal may be submitted per eligible institution. Full CREST Center proposals are to be submitted only when invited by NSF. An institution may have only one active CREST Center award, irrespective of focus area. Centers that have completed two prior, consecutive 5-year CREST Center awards may recompete in disciplinary areas that are significantly different from those of the previous award(s).

Only one HBCU-RISE proposal may be submitted per eligible institution. An institution may have only one active HBCU-RISE award.

An eligible institution can submit no more than two Broadening Participation Research in STEM Education proposals per year.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI:

Eligible individuals may be listed as the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on only one CREST Center or HBCU-RISE proposal.

V. PROPOSAL PREPARATION AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

Letters of Intent(required):

Letters of intent are required for preliminary CREST Center proposals and HBCU-RISE proposals but not for CREST partnership supplement proposals or for CREST Broadening Participation Research proposals. CREST partnership supplements are expected to abide fully with the information required by FastLane for supplemental proposals. SBIR/STTR diversity collaboration supplement proposals are submitted directly to the SBIR/STTR program following the guidelines of DCL NSF 12-069 (http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2012/nsf12069/nsf12069.jsp).

Letters of Intent must include a statement certifying that the submitting institution is in compliance with the organizational limits stipulated in this solicitation (Section IV: Eligibility Information).

CREST Center and HBCU-RISE letters of intent should not be considered draft proposals or pre-proposals. CREST program staff will not provide feedback on the appropriateness or quality of proposals or encourage full proposals on the basis of the letter of intent. The letter of intent should be submitted via the Letters of Intent Module in FastLane. It should specify clearly whether the proposal will be for a CREST Center or HBCU-RISE award and contain as much of the content of the FastLane letter of intent template as applicable. Further, the letter of intent should indicate the lead institution and principals of the proposed work, anticipated partner institutions, and a self certification that the lead institution complies with the program's conditions for PI and institutional eligibility detailed in the Eligibility Information section of this solicitation. The letter of intent should contain sufficient details for each research subproject (discipline, subdiscipline, specialty or focus area) to permit identification of appropriate technical reviewers, but it should not be a lengthy description of the research, education and operational plans of the proposed project. The letter of intent may also include two suggested reviewers and contact information for each research sub-project or thrust.

Eligible parties intending to submit a preliminary CREST Center proposal or a full HBCU-RISE proposal are encouraged to participate in Webinars that will be webcast after the release of this solicitation. Contact the CREST staff listed in this solicitation to register for a Webinar.

Letter of Intent Preparation Instructions:

When submitting a Letter of Intent through FastLane in response to this Program Solicitation please note the conditions outlined below:

  • Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) Submission is required when submitting Letters of Intent
  • A Minimum of 0 and Maximum of 4 Other Senior Project Personnel are allowed
  • A Minimum of 0 and Maximum of 4 Other Participating Organizations are allowed
  • CREST Center Research Areas: 3 is required when submitting Letters of Intent
  • Submission of multiple Letters of Intent is not allowed

Preliminary Proposals (required): Preliminary proposals are required and must be submitted via the NSF FastLane system, even if full proposals will be submitted via Grants.gov.

A preliminary proposal is required only for CREST Center applications to provide peer-review feedback to the proposing team. The purpose is to avoid additional full proposal preparation burden, if the proposed project is not meritorious according to the goals of the CREST program.

Submission of a Preliminary Proposal is required to be eligible for invitation for a full CREST Center proposal. Preliminary proposals that are not compliant with the guidelines may be returned without review, thus making the proposing team automatically ineligible for submitting a full CREST Center proposal. It is the submitting organization's responsibility to ensure that the preliminary proposal is compliant with all applicable guidelines.

Preliminary CREST Center proposals must contain the items listed below and adhere strictly to the specified page limitations. No additional information may be provided as an appendix or by links to Web pages. Figures and tables must be included within the applicable page limit.

Preliminary CREST Center proposals will contain an overview of the proposed vision, strategic plan, research, partnerships, education and broadening participation activities with sufficient detail to allow assessment of the intellectual merit and broader impacts of the proposed CREST Center.

Preliminary Proposal Contents

Cover Sheet: Entries on the Cover Sheet are limited to the Principal Investigator (PI) and a maximum of four co-principal investigators.

Title of Proposed Project: The title should begin with "CREST Center for (insert the rest of the title)."

Project Summary (1 page): Provide an overview of the proposed CREST Center, addressing separately the intellectual merit and broader impacts. The summary should be written in the third person, informative to those working in the same or related field(s), and understandable to a scientifically or technically literate reader. Additional instructions for preparation of the Project Summary are available in NSF GPG.

Project Description (8-pages maximum): The Project Description should articulate a vision for the proposed CREST Center that clearly outlines the research thrusts being addressed. The proposed research should be sufficiently complex, large-scale, and long-term to justify a center and flexible enough to permit change as the research proceeds. The proposed approaches must be innovative, and it must be clear how they will transform or significantly impact the research area. The Project Description must describe how the integration of research and education will advance the proposed research. A justification for the focus of the education programs and activities should be included and described in the context of current knowledge of teaching and learning. Include a description of the team members and why each is essential to the project plan (must not be more than 2 pages). In addition to an outline of research themes, some illustrative examples of specific research directions with sufficient detail to be evaluated by reviewers should be included. Results from Prior NSF Support should not be included. Links to URLs may not be used.

References Cited (2-page limit): See NSF GPG for format guidelines.

Biographical Sketches (2-page limit per person): Biographical Sketches are required for the CREST Center Director and other key personnel. See GPG for details.

Supplementary Documents: (to be entered in the Supplementary Documents section of FastLane). A letter from the provost or equivalent university official indicating a commitment to the Center should it be invited for a full proposal submission and subsequently funded. The university official should NOT include any financial commitments. Instead, the university official should make a statement as to how the proposed Center will align with the strategic directions of the university.

Identification of Partner Institution(s) and Project Personnel is required. This information provides NSF and reviewers with a comprehensive list of personnel and institutions involved in the CREST Center.

(a) List all project personnel who have a role in the management, research, education and evaluation components of the Center. Use the following format:

Project Personnel:

last name, first name, institution/organization

(b) Additionally, identify partner institution(s) and organization(s) for which there are corresponding project personnel.

Optional Information to be submitted to NSF via the FastLane Single Copy Documents Section. List of suggested reviewers or reviewers not to include (with a brief explanation or justification for why the reviewer should be excluded).

No other items or appendices are to be included. Information pertaining to "Current and Pending Support", and "Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources" is not required for preliminary proposals and should not be included. Preliminary proposals containing items other than those required above will be returned without review.

DO NOT SEND other documents, including Letters of Commitment from partner organizations; Current and Pending Support Statements; Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources; Budget and Budget Justification; Data Management Plan; Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan for preliminary CREST Center proposals.

Full Proposal Preparation Instructions: Proposers may opt to submit proposals in response to this Program Solicitation via Grants.gov or via the NSF FastLane system.

  • Full proposals submitted via FastLane: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the general guidelines contained in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg. Paper copies of the GPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov. Proposers are reminded to identify this program solicitation number in the program solicitation block on the NSF Cover Sheet For Proposal to the National Science Foundation. Compliance with this requirement is critical to determining the relevant proposal processing guidelines. Failure to submit this information may delay processing.
  • Full proposals submitted via Grants.gov: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation via Grants.gov should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide: A Guide for the Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov. The complete text of the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide is available on the Grants.gov website and on the NSF website at: (http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/docs/grantsgovguide.pdf). To obtain copies of the Application Guide and Application Forms Package, click on the Apply tab on the Grants.gov site, then click on the Apply Step 1: Download a Grant Application Package and Application Instructions link and enter the funding opportunity number, (the program solicitation number without the NSF prefix) and press the Download Package button. Paper copies of the Grants.gov Application Guide also may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov.

In determining which method to utilize in the electronic preparation and submission of the proposal, please note the following:

Collaborative Proposals. All collaborative proposals submitted as separate submissions from multiple organizations must be submitted via the NSF FastLane system. Chapter II, Section D.3 of the Grant Proposal Guide provides additional information on collaborative proposals.

Important Proposal Preparation Information: FastLane will check for required sections of the proposal, in accordance with Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) instructions described in Chapter II.C.2. The GPG requires submission of: Project Summary; Project Description; References Cited; Biographical Sketch(es); Budget; Budget Justification; Current and Pending Support; Facilities, Equipment & Other Resources; Data Management Plan; and Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan, if applicable. If a required section is missing, FastLane will not accept the proposal.

Please note that the proposal preparation instructions provided in this program solicitation may deviate from the GPG instructions. If the solicitation instructions do not require a GPG-required section to be included in the proposal, insert text or upload a document in that section of the proposal that states, "Not Applicable for this Program Solicitation." Doing so will enable FastLane to accept your proposal.

Please note that per guidance in the GPG, the Project Description must contain, as a separate section within the narrative, a discussion of the broader impacts of the proposed activities. Unless otherwise specified in this solicitation, you can decide where to include this section within the Project Description.

Proper Institutional Review Board (IRB) documentation or certification on the use of human subjects, vertebrate and invertebrate animals, and outcomes of prior NSF support, as applicable, by the principals of the proposed center should be included with the full CREST Center proposal at the time of submission, or the absence of such documentation explained. Failure to self-declare in this manner my result in the proposal's decline or return without review.

It may be helpful to proposers to note that research protocols involving human subjects are subject to review (Internal Review Board) to minimize risks and to ensure appropriate informed consent by the subject. However, there are a number of research activities involving human subjects that may be exempt from IRB review including research conducted in established or commonly accepted educational settings, involving normal educational practices such as (i) research on regular and special education instructional strategies, or (ii) research on the effectiveness of, or the comparison among instructional techniques, curricula, or classroom management methods. Whether the research involving human subjects is designated as exempt from IRB review should be determined by the appropriate institutional official who in a number of cases is the chair of the IRB.

For Full CREST Center Proposals:

The narrative of the Center Project Description is limited to 15 pages. Individual Subproject Narratives are limited to a total of 9 pages, as follows: The first page should be the Center Project Summary; the second page will be the Subproject Relevancy Statement; the remainder of the Subproject Narrative is limited to 7 pages. A list of applicable references may be appended to each Subproject Narrative. The Subproject Narratives and their reference lists are to be inserted, successively, at the beginning of the Special Information and Supplementary Documents section of the proposal. (For Grants.gov users, supplementary documents should be attached in Field 12 of the R&R Other Project Information Form.) Other supporting documents, such as letters of commitment from collaborators or from the institutional administration, should be inserted after the Subproject Narratives. The full Center proposal cover sheet, budgets, biographical information, and other supporting documentation should be provided for the proposal as a whole and not for each individual Subproject Narrative.

B. Budgetary Information

Cost Sharing: Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.

Budget Preparation Instructions: Financial support may be provided to student participants under CREST Center and HBCU-RISE projects. However, financial support may only be provided to students that are U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents. Student support should be included on the "stipends" line under the "Participant Support Costs" section of the budget. Stipends to students should not replace other need based grants and scholarships already awarded to the students.

C. Due Dates


  • Letter of Intent Due Date(s) (required) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

         July 01, 2014

    Letters of Intent are due for HBCU-RISE projects.

         October 06, 2014

    Letters of Intent are due for CREST Center proposals.

         April 07, 2015

    Letters of Intent are due for HBCU-RISE projects.
  • Preliminary Proposal Due Date(s) (required) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

         November 05, 2014

    Preliminary proposals are due for CREST Centers.
  • Supplement Due Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

         Proposals Accepted Anytime

    SBIR/STTR Diversity Collaborative Supplements

         August 07, 2014

    Proposals are due for CREST Partnership Supplements.

         June 05, 2015

    Proposals are due for CREST Partnership Supplements.
  • Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

         August 13, 2014

    Proposals are due for HBCU-RISE and Broadening Participation Research projects.

         June 05, 2015

    Full proposals are due for CREST Centers, HBCU-RISE and Broadening Participation Research projects.

D. FastLane/Grants.gov Requirements

For Proposals Submitted Via FastLane:

To prepare and submit a proposal via FastLane, see detailed technical instructions available at: https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a1/newstan.htm. For FastLane user support, call the FastLane Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 or e-mail fastlane@nsf.gov. The FastLane Help Desk answers general technical questions related to the use of the FastLane system. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this funding opportunity.

For Proposals Submitted Via Grants.gov:

    Before using Grants.gov for the first time, each organization must register to create an institutional profile. Once registered, the applicant's organization can then apply for any federal grant on the Grants.gov website. Comprehensive information about using Grants.gov is available on the Grants.gov Applicant Resources webpage: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants.html. In addition, the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide (see link in Section V.A) provides instructions regarding the technical preparation of proposals via Grants.gov. For Grants.gov user support, contact the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or by email: support@grants.gov. The Grants.gov Contact Center answers general technical questions related to the use of Grants.gov. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this solicitation.

    Submitting the Proposal: Once all documents have been completed, the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must submit the application to Grants.gov and verify the desired funding opportunity and agency to which the application is submitted. The AOR must then sign and submit the application to Grants.gov. The completed application will be transferred to the NSF FastLane system for further processing.

Proposers that submitted via FastLane are strongly encouraged to use FastLane to verify the status of their submission to NSF.  For proposers that submitted via Grants.gov, until an application has been received and validated by NSF, the Authorized Organizational Representative may check the status of an application on Grants.gov.  After proposers have received an e-mail notification from NSF, Research.gov should be used to check the status of an application.

VI. NSF PROPOSAL PROCESSING AND REVIEW PROCEDURES   

Proposals received by NSF are assigned to the appropriate NSF program for acknowledgement and, if they meet NSF requirements, for review. All proposals are carefully reviewed by a scientist, engineer, or educator serving as an NSF Program Officer, and usually by three to ten other persons outside NSF either as ad hoc reviewers, panelists, or both, who are experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with oversight of the review process. Proposers are invited to suggest names of persons they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal and/or persons they would prefer not review the proposal. These suggestions may serve as one source in the reviewer selection process at the Program Officer's discretion. Submission of such names, however, is optional. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts of interest with the proposal. In addition, Program Officers may obtain comments from site visits before recommending final action on proposals.  Senior NSF staff further review recommendations for awards.  A flowchart that depicts the entire NSF proposal and award process (and associated timeline) is included in the GPG as Exhibit III-1.

A comprehensive description of the Foundation's merit review process is available on the NSF website at: http://nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/merit_review/.

Proposers should also be aware of core strategies that are essential to the fulfillment of NSF's mission, as articulated in Investing in Science, Engineering, and Education for the Nation's Future: NSF Strategic Plan for 2014-2018.  These strategies are integrated in the program planning and implementation process, of which proposal review is one part.  NSF's mission is particularly well-implemented through the integration of research and education and broadening participation in NSF programs, projects, and activities.   

One of the strategic objectives in support of NSF’s mission is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions.  These institutions must recruit, train, and prepare a diverse STEM workforce to advance the frontiers of science and participate in the U.S. technology-based economy.  NSF's contribution to the national innovation ecosystem is to provide cutting-edge research under the guidance of the Nation’s most creative scientists and engineers.  NSF also supports development of a strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce by investing in building the knowledge that informs improvements in STEM teaching and learning. 

NSF's mission calls for the broadening of opportunities and expanding participation of groups, institutions, and geographic regions that are underrepresented in STEM disciplines, which is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering.  NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.

A. Merit Review Principles and Criteria

The National Science Foundation strives to invest in a robust and diverse portfolio of projects that creates new knowledge and enables breakthroughs in understanding across all areas of science and engineering research and education.  To identify which projects to support, NSF relies on a merit review process that incorporates consideration of both the technical aspects of a proposed project and its potential to contribute more broadly to advancing NSF's mission "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes."  NSF makes every effort to conduct a fair, competitive, transparent merit review process for the selection of projects. 

1. Merit Review Principles

These principles are to be given due diligence by PIs and organizations when preparing proposals and managing projects, by reviewers when reading and evaluating proposals, and by NSF program staff when determining whether or not to recommend proposals for funding and while overseeing awards. Given that NSF is the primary federal agency charged with nurturing and supporting excellence in basic research and education, the following three principles apply:

  • All NSF projects should be of the highest quality and have the potential to advance, if not transform, the frontiers of knowledge.
     
  • NSF projects, in the aggregate, should contribute more broadly to achieving societal goals. These "Broader Impacts" may be accomplished through the research itself, through activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project.  The project activities may be based on previously established and/or innovative methods and approaches, but in either case must be well justified.
     
  • Meaningful assessment and evaluation of NSF funded projects should be based on appropriate metrics, keeping in mind the likely correlation between the effect of broader impacts and the resources provided to implement projects. If the size of the activity is limited, evaluation of that activity in isolation is not likely to be meaningful. Thus, assessing the effectiveness of these activities may best be done at a higher, more aggregated, level than the individual project.

With respect to the third principle, even if assessment of Broader Impacts outcomes for particular projects is done at an aggregated level, PIs are expected to be accountable for carrying out the activities described in the funded project.  Thus, individual projects should include clearly stated goals, specific descriptions of the activities that the PI intends to do, and a plan in place to document the outputs of those activities.

These three merit review principles provide the basis for the merit review criteria, as well as a context within which the users of the criteria can better understand their intent.

2. Merit Review Criteria

All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board approved merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

The two merit review criteria are listed below. Both criteria are to be given full consideration during the review and decision-making processes; each criterion is necessary but neither, by itself, is sufficient.  Therefore, proposers must fully address both criteria.  (GPG Chapter II.C.2.d.i. contains additional information for use by proposers in development of the Project Description section of the proposal.)  Reviewers are strongly encouraged to review the criteria, including GPG Chapter II.C.2.d.i., prior to the review of a proposal.

When evaluating NSF proposals, reviewers will be asked to consider what the proposers want to do, why they want to do it, how they plan to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits could accrue if the project is successful.  These issues apply both to the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the project may make broader contributions.  To that end, reviewers will be asked to evaluate all proposals against two criteria:

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

The following elements should be considered in the review for both criteria:

  1. What is the potential for the proposed activity to
    1. Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (Intellectual Merit); and
    2. Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)?
  2. To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?
  3. Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale?  Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?
  4. How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities?
  5. Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?

Broader impacts may be accomplished through the research itself, through the activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project.  NSF values the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to achievement of societally relevant outcomes.  Such outcomes include, but are not limited to: full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); improved STEM education and educator development at any level; increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology; improved well-being of individuals in society; development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce; increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others; improved national security; increased economic competitiveness of the United States; and enhanced infrastructure for research and education.

Proposers are reminded that reviewers will also be asked to review the Data Management Plan and the Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan, as appropriate.

Additional Solicitation Specific Review Criteria

For CREST Centers, reviewers will be asked to consider the integrative nature of the proposed center.  Questions to be considered include:

  • How are the research, education, outreach and diversity efforts strategically embedded and integrated in the proposed Center?
  • How are the subprojects and participants meaningfully integrated into a diverse Center that is more than just the sum of the parts?
  • To what extent does the proposal include a vision and plan for leadership in broadening participation of underrepresented groups and how does it articulate a credible commitment to diversity as a means of achieving its overall goals?
  • To what extent are the educational activities innovative and how do they contribute to the unifying mission of the proposed Center?
  • To what extent does the proposed Center management have the vision, experience, and capacity to manage a complex and innovative enterprise that integrates research, education, and diversity?
  • To what extent are the institutional and other commitments appropriate to carry out the proposed research?
  • To what extent are the research activities in STEM fields that are supported by the National Science Foundation?

B. Review and Selection Process

Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be reviewed by Ad hoc Review and/or Panel Review.

Reviewers will be asked to evaluate proposals using two National Science Board approved merit review criteria and, if applicable, additional program specific criteria. A summary rating and accompanying narrative will be completed and submitted by each reviewer. The Program Officer assigned to manage the proposal's review will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation.

After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the NSF Program Officer recommends to the cognizant Division Director whether the proposal should be declined or recommended for award. NSF strives to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. Large or particularly complex proposals or proposals from new awardees may require additional review and processing time. The time interval begins on the deadline or target date, or receipt date, whichever is later.  The interval ends when the Division Director acts upon the Program Officer's recommendation.

After programmatic approval has been obtained, the proposals recommended for funding will be forwarded to the Division of Grants and Agreements for review of business, financial, and policy implications. After an administrative review has occurred, Grants and Agreements Officers perform the processing and issuance of a grant or other agreement. Proposers are cautioned that only a Grants and Agreements Officer may make commitments, obligations or awards on behalf of NSF or authorize the expenditure of funds. No commitment on the part of NSF should be inferred from technical or budgetary discussions with a NSF Program Officer. A Principal Investigator or organization that makes financial or personnel commitments in the absence of a grant or cooperative agreement signed by the NSF Grants and Agreements Officer does so at their own risk.

Once an award or declination decision has been made, Principal Investigators are provided feedback about their proposals.  In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers or any reviewer-identifying information, are sent to the Principal Investigator/Project Director by the Program Officer. In addition, the proposer will receive an explanation of the decision to award or decline funding.

VII. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

A. Notification of the Award

Notification of the award is made to the submitting organization by a Grants Officer in the Division of Grants and Agreements. Organizations whose proposals are declined will be advised as promptly as possible by the cognizant NSF Program administering the program. Verbatim copies of reviews, not including the identity of the reviewer, will be provided automatically to the Principal Investigator. (See Section VI.B. for additional information on the review process).

B. Award Conditions

An NSF award consists of: (1) the award notice, which includes any special provisions applicable to the award and any numbered amendments thereto; (2) the budget, which indicates the amounts, by categories of expense, on which NSF has based its support (or otherwise communicates any specific approvals or disapprovals of proposed expenditures); (3) the proposal referenced in the award notice; (4) the applicable award conditions, such as Grant General Conditions (GC-1)*; or Research Terms and Conditions* and (5) any announcement or other NSF issuance that may be incorporated by reference in the award notice. Cooperative agreements also are administered in accordance with NSF Cooperative Agreement Financial and Administrative Terms and Conditions (CA-FATC) and the applicable Programmatic Terms and Conditions. NSF awards are electronically signed by an NSF Grants and Agreements Officer and transmitted electronically to the organization via e-mail.

*These documents may be accessed electronically on NSF's Website at http://www.nsf.gov/awards/managing/award_conditions.jsp?org=NSF. Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov.

More comprehensive information on NSF Award Conditions and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=aag.

C. Reporting Requirements

For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the Principal Investigator must submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer at least 90 days prior to the end of the current budget period. (Some programs or awards require submission of more frequent project reports). Within 90 days following expiration of a grant, the PI also is required to submit a final project report, and a project outcomes report for the general public.

Failure to provide the required annual or final project reports, or the project outcomes report, will delay NSF review and processing of any future funding increments as well as any pending proposals for all identified PIs and co-PIs on a given award. PIs should examine the formats of the required reports in advance to assure availability of required data.

PIs are required to use NSF's electronic project-reporting system, available through Research.gov, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports.  Such reports provide information on accomplishments, project participants (individual and organizational), publications, and other specific products and impacts of the project. Submission of the report via Research.gov constitutes certification by the PI that the contents of the report are accurate and complete. The project outcomes report also must be prepared and submitted using Research.gov. This report serves as a brief summary, prepared specifically for the public, of the nature and outcomes of the project. This report will be posted on the NSF website exactly as it is submitted by the PI.

More comprehensive information on NSF Reporting Requirements and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=aag.

VIII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Please note that the program contact information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

General inquiries regarding this program should be made to:

  • Victor A. Santiago, Program Director, telephone: (703) 292-4673, fax: (703) 292-9018, email: vsantiag@nsf.gov

  • Claudia Rankins, Program Director, telephone: (703) 292-8109, fax: (703) 292-9018, email: crankins@nsf.gov

  • Nicole E. Godwin, Program Specialist, telephone: (703) 292-8378, fax: (703) 292-9018, email: ngodwin@nsf.gov

  • Glenn H. Larsen, Program Officer, ENG/IIP, SBIR/STTR, telephone: (703) 292-4607, fax: (703) 292-9057, email: glarsen@nsf.gov

For questions related to the use of FastLane, contact:

For questions relating to Grants.gov contact:

  • Grants.gov Contact Center: If the Authorized Organizational Representatives (AOR) has not received a confirmation message from Grants.gov within 48 hours of submission of application, please contact via telephone: 1-800-518-4726; e-mail: support@grants.gov.

IX. OTHER INFORMATION

The NSF website provides the most comprehensive source of information on NSF Directorates (including contact information), programs and funding opportunities. Use of this website by potential proposers is strongly encouraged. In addition, "NSF Update" is an information-delivery system designed to keep potential proposers and other interested parties apprised of new NSF funding opportunities and publications, important changes in proposal and award policies and procedures, and upcoming NSF Grants Conferences. Subscribers are informed through e-mail or the user's Web browser each time new publications are issued that match their identified interests. "NSF Update" also is available on NSF's website at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USNSF/subscriber/new?topic_id=USNSF_179.

Grants.gov provides an additional electronic capability to search for Federal government-wide grant opportunities. NSF funding opportunities may be accessed via this new mechanism. Further information on Grants.gov may be obtained at http://www.grants.gov.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent Federal agency created by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (42 USC 1861-75). The Act states the purpose of the NSF is "to promote the progress of science; [and] to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare by supporting research and education in all fields of science and engineering."

NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the US. The Foundation accounts for about one-fourth of Federal support to academic institutions for basic research.

NSF receives approximately 55,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects, of which approximately 11,000 are funded. In addition, the Foundation receives several thousand applications for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships. The agency operates no laboratories itself but does support National Research Centers, user facilities, certain oceanographic vessels and Arctic and Antarctic research stations. The Foundation also supports cooperative research between universities and industry, US participation in international scientific and engineering efforts, and educational activities at every academic level.

Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities to work on NSF-supported projects. See Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II, Section D.2 for instructions regarding preparation of these types of proposals.

The National Science Foundation has Telephonic Device for the Deaf (TDD) and Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) capabilities that enable individuals with hearing impairments to communicate with the Foundation about NSF programs, employment or general information. TDD may be accessed at (703) 292-5090 and (800) 281-8749, FIRS at (800) 877-8339.

The National Science Foundation Information Center may be reached at (703) 292-5111.

The National Science Foundation promotes and advances scientific progress in the United States by competitively awarding grants and cooperative agreements for research and education in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

To get the latest information about program deadlines, to download copies of NSF publications, and to access abstracts of awards, visit the NSF Website at http://www.nsf.gov

  • Location:

4201 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA 22230

  • For General Information
    (NSF Information Center):

(703) 292-5111

  • TDD (for the hearing-impaired):

(703) 292-5090

  • To Order Publications or Forms:
 

Send an e-mail to:

nsfpubs@nsf.gov

or telephone:

(703) 292-7827

  • To Locate NSF Employees:

(703) 292-5111


PRIVACY ACT AND PUBLIC BURDEN STATEMENTS

The information requested on proposal forms and project reports is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. The information on proposal forms will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals; and project reports submitted by awardees will be used for program evaluation and reporting within the Executive Branch and to Congress. The information requested may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the proposal review process; to proposer institutions/grantees to provide or obtain data regarding the proposal review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers and researchers and educators as necessary to complete assigned work; to other government agencies or other entities needing information regarding applicants or nominees as part of a joint application review process, or in order to coordinate programs or policy; and to another Federal agency, court, or party in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the government is a party. Information about Principal Investigators may be added to the Reviewer file and used to select potential candidates to serve as peer reviewers or advisory committee members. See Systems of Records, NSF-50, "Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004), and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004). Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of receiving an award.

An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, an information collection unless it displays a valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The OMB control number for this collection is 3145-0058. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions. Send comments regarding the burden estimate and any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to:

Suzanne H. Plimpton
Reports Clearance Officer
Office of the General Counsel
National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA 22230



Policies and Important Links

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National Science Foundation

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Last Updated:
11/07/06
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