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EHR/Covid-19 Challenge


Covid-19 Challenge


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Taking Action: COVID-19 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Challenge FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS)

General Topics

What are the goals of the Taking Action: COVID-19 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Challenge?

The Taking Action: COVID-19 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Challenge has two goals: 1. Encourage IHEs to think deeply about the long-term, potentially negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM and develop systemic solutions and actions to mitigate the impacts on STEM students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty; and 2. Create a repository of the actions of the prize-winning and honorable mention submissions that can be shared broadly highlighting the importance of these actions to DEI in STEM and to provide information for other IHEs to adapt these actions.

How can the winning institutions spend the cash awards?

The challenge is meant to be a public acknowledgment of the current or planned efforts by the winning IHEs with the overall goal of sharing the actions that have been or will be implemented. The cash prize does not have to, but can, fund the actions submitted to the challenge. NSF has no restrictions on how cash prizes are spent except that institutional policies must be followed.

Will winners and honorable mention designees have to submit annual reports to NSF?

No, winners and honorable mention designees are neither expected nor required to submit progress reports to NSF.

Will there be another Taking Action: COVID-19 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Challenge?

No, this is the one-time challenge to help IHEs identify and plan for the negative long-term impacts of COVID-19.


Does my institution have to be a current or past grantee of the NSF to submit to this Challenge?

No. Having a previous or current NSF grant award is not required to participate in this challenge.

Can my STEM professional society, non-academic organization, company, research lab, museum, or observatory submit to this challenge?

No. The challenge focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on IHEs and will only accept entries from eligible IHEs.

Can campuses that are part of one system submit separate entries?

Yes. Each campus that is part of a system may be considered as a separate institution for submission purposes if the campus is geographically separate from the other campus(es), and if the campus has its own chief academic officer.

Can a higher education system with multiple campuses submit a system-wide entry?

Yes. A system with multiple IHEs may submit an entry describing system-wide actions to any of the four challenge categories for which the system’s IHEs are eligible. If the actions in the challenge submission are not system-wide, then the IHE that will be implementing or has implemented the actions should submit to the challenge rather than the system. Note that IHEs within a system would not be eligible to submit separate entries to the challenge within the same category that the system submitted an entry.

Can two or more IHEs collaborate on a submission?

No. For this challenge, submissions should be focused on what the IHE (or higher education system) is doing within its organizations to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on DEI in STEM. Everyone is encouraged to visit the challenge website after the competition has closed and winners have been selected to see the winning ideas that could be adapted and implemented by others.

Can my IHE submit an entry for the work that I am doing in my research lab or my classroom for my undergraduate or graduate students or postdoctoral researchers?

No. Submissions must describe institutional actions such as policy and procedure changes that will impact at least one whole department within the institution. The work individuals do to support their students throughout the pandemic is of course also very important for ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM, but that work is not what this challenge seeks to recognize.

Is this a fellowship or scholarship program to get a STEM degree?

No. Federal undergraduate STEM opportunities can be found at and graduate STEM opportunities at In addition, the NSF offers graduate level fellowships please review deadlines and instructions at this website:

Limits on Entries

Can my IHE submit more than one entry in the same challenge category?

No. Each IHE is limited to one entry within each of the four challenge categories. The submission is meant to be inclusive of all the efforts being implemented by the IHE, therefore multiple submissions within one category are not allowed. Multiple submissions from the same IHE within one challenge category will result in automatic disqualification of all submissions from that IHE in that challenge category.

Can my IHE submit an entry in more than one challenge category?

Yes. An IHE can submit an entry to each of the challenge categories for which they are eligible. Review the Participant’s Guide section on “Eligibility” closely.

Submission Process

Our IHE is planning on implementing actions in the future, but what if something happens that prevents the full implementation?

Submissions should be made in good faith by the IHE with full intentions of following through with the actions described in the challenge submission. However, NSF does not require progress reports for challenge winners. If implementation does not happen as planned, the NSF will not reverse award decisions or require the return of the prize funds as the goals of the challenge will have been met by the sharing of the winning ideas.


Will feedback be provided on the submissions?

No. NSF will not provide written or verbal feedback on the content of the entries. Please do not contact the NSF to inquire about feedback on the submission. Email notifications to winners, honorable mention designees, and those not selected for an award will be sent in April 2022.

Submission Contents

Can my IHE submit an entry that describes actions being taken at the college or department level?

Yes. A submission may describe actions that are not institution-wide, such as actions taken by a college or single academic unit within the institution, but the institution is still limited to one submission per challenge category.

What if we are doing or plan on doing a lot of different things at our institution?

Within a challenge category, each submission is expected to include all the actions that have been or will be implemented at the institution focused on DEI issues for the population of focus for that challenge category. IHEs may want to highlight the most impactful or most unique actions in their submission due to page limitations.

Can I include links to websites with additional information?

Yes, however the information contained on websites that are provided in the entry will not be reviewed by the judges to determine their scores for the entries. IHEs may still want to include links to additional information to assist others who may want to learn from the work of the IHE and replicate the actions as well as demonstrate institutional commitment to the action(s) that are described in the entry.

Are references or citations required?

References are required if there are citations in the submission and not required if there are no citations in the submission. The one page for references cannot be used to provide other information to support the submission.

What kind of evidence can be used as support information for the entry?

Evidence to support how IHEs identified the long-term systemic DEI issues should be cited in the entry as well as evidence to support the selection of the actions that IHEs have or will implement to address those issues. Evidence may be published or unpublished and might include internal policy and data analysis, interviews or focus groups, surveys, the related research literature, state and national reports, etc.

What will NSF do with the Taking Action: COVID-19 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion ideas it receives through this competition?

The goal of this competition is to share the strategies of the prize-winning and honorable mention submissions broadly, including via social media and other means, thereby highlighting the importance of these actions and providing information for others to implement these actions.

Does the IHE retain its intellectual property rights over submission content?

All original ideas submitted will remain the intellectual property of the submitting IHE. All submissions will be publicly available information, allowing for the exchange of ideas between participants and non-participants. All entries, even those not selected for a prize or honorable mention, may be used in part or in whole by NSF in publications and social media and shared by NSF for research and education purposes. No commercialization of challenge submissions can be conducted without prior authorization and consent from the submitters.

Process and Timeline

Will status updates be given during the eligibility review and judging process?

No. NSF will not be able to provide updates during the process. Please do not contact the NSF to inquire about the status updates until April 2022. Email notifications to winners, honorable mention designees, and those not selected for an award will be sent in April 2022.

Will IHEs be required to participate in the presentation webinar if selected as a winner?

Challenge winners, and some honorable mention designees, in all four categories will be invited to present their ideas at an NSF-hosted virtual event that will be open to the public and recorded for sharing. Although strongly encouraged, it is not a requirement that winning IHEs present at this virtual event.

Will I be required to submit a report if I win?

No. The challenge is a public acknowledgment of the current and planned efforts by IHEs with the overall goal of knowledge sharing. The cash prize is not to fund the proposed ideas but to serve as a recognition of current and planned actions.