This document has been archived and replaced by NSF 03-587.

Program for Persons with Disabilities (PPD)

Program Solicitation

NSF 02-177


LETTER OF INTENT DUE DATE(S) (optional): February 3, 2003

April 18, 2003 by 5:00 p.m. proposer's local time


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Program Title: Program for Persons with Disabilities (PPD)

Synopsis of Program:

The Program for Persons with Disabilities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education (PPD) is dedicated to increasing the number of people with disabilities employed in the Nation's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) work force. To accomplish this, PPD supports projects designed to:

- bring about needed changes in academic and professional climates;
- increase the awareness and recognition of the needs and capabilities of students with disabilities;
- promote the accessibility and appropriateness of instructional materials, media, and educational technologies; and
- increase the availability of student enrichment resources, including mentoring activities.

In short, efforts are dedicated to changing the factors that historically have restricted the study of science and mathematics by students with disabilities, and impeded the advancement of these individuals as they prepared themselves for careers in STEM fields. In support of these goals, PPD is continuing support for: Regional Alliances for Persons with Disabilities in STEM Education (PPD-RAD); Demonstration, Enrichment, and Information Dissemination of effective products and practices (PPD-DEI); and Focused-Research Initiatives (PPD-FRI).

See Program Description for details of these program tracks.

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

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




A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

B. Budgetary Information

C. Deadline/Target Dates

D. FastLane Requirements





    1. Proposal Preparation Instructions
    2. Budgetary Information
    3. Deadline/Target Dates
    4. FastLane Requirements
    1. NSF Proposal Review Process
    2. Review Protocol and Associated Customer Service Standard
    1. Notification of the Award
    2. Award Conditions
    3. Reporting Requirements


The National Science Foundation (NSF) has a mandate to ensure the vitality of the United States in the scientific and technical enterprise. The goals of the Division of Human Resource Development (HRD), located in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR), are directed toward this end by promoting activities to increase the participation of traditionally underrepresented communities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and careers.

Within HRD, the Program for Persons with Disabilities (PPD) is committed to increasing the number of persons with disabilities engaged in STEM careers by bringing about needed change in academic and professional climates; increasing the awareness and recognition of the needs and capabilities of persons with disabilities; promoting the accessibility and appropriateness of instructional materials, media, and educational technologies; and increasing the availability of student-enrichment resources, including mentoring activities. In short, efforts are dedicated to changing the factors that historically have restricted the study of STEM disciplines available to students with disabilities, and that impeded the advancement of these individuals as they prepared themselves for careers in STEM fields.

For Fiscal Year (FY) 2003, PPD will support the design and operation of comprehensive Regional Alliances in STEM education (PPD-RAD) as well as awards for Demonstration, Enrichment, and Information Dissemination (PPD-DEI) and Focused-Research Initiatives (PPD-FRI).


Results from previously funded PPD projects designed to recruit, train, and retain students with disabilities in STEM activities consistently identify project elements that succeed in bringing increased numbers of students with disabilities into full participation in STEM education and careers.

Key among these activities are:

  1. Hands-on science experiences in pre-college science education environments,
  2. Formal research experiences as undergraduates,
  3. Preparation of faculty for inclusion and full participation of students with disabilities in STEM curricula,
  4. Bridge programs between academic levels, and
  5. Mentoring by successful STEM professionals and students who have disabilities.

Further, research results have demonstrated that comprehensive projects that are able to implement most or all of these elements are far more successful in the goal of recruiting, training, and retaining students with disabilities in STEM education. Such projects have demonstrated success in graduating students with disabilities with baccalaureate degrees leading directly to graduate training or to employment in the students' desired STEM fields.

Regional Alliances for Persons with Disabilities in STEM Education (PPD-RAD)

The Foundation will support the design and operation of comprehensive Regional Alliances in STEM education (PPD-RAD) that will emphasize implementation of elements that have proven successful in prior PPD-supported projects. These Regional Alliances are networks established by universities and colleges throughout academia, industry, government, and national research laboratories. Academic partnerships should include four-year and two-year institutions and pre-college educational entities. The Alliances must be comprehensive, multidisciplinary programs designed to increase the quantity and quality of students with disabilities receiving associate and baccalaureate degrees in STEM disciplines. Subsequently, the Regional Alliances must work to increase the number of these graduates who enter careers in STEM disciplines and the number who enter graduate school training in pursuit of doctorate degrees in STEM disciplines.

To achieve these goals, PPD Regional Alliances need to provide comprehensive educational and research experiences and the support services needed to recruit students with disabilities into STEM education and career development activities throughout their academic training. They will also need to develop strategies to reduce the barriers that inhibit the interest, participation, retention, and advancement in STEM education and careers for persons with disabilities.

In their project design, proposers are strongly encouraged to give specific attention to the critical issues that hinder the inclusion and participation in STEM education of students with disabilities, and provision of activities that have been successful in retaining these students in their pursuit of STEM careers. These activities include, but are not limited to:

- inclusion and participation in elementary, secondary, and undergraduate-level mathematics and science courses;

- availability of, and participation in, science-enrichment activities through intra- and extra-curricular, hands-on research experiences;

- availability of, and access to, appropriate mathematics and science instructional materials, media, educational technologies, and laboratory experiences;

- interaction with role models and mentors;

- positive attitudes of pre-college teachers, counselors, and higher education faculty;

- career guidance;

- establishment of bridging programs between one academic level and the next;

- provision of drop-in STEM tutorial centers for students with disabilities in undergraduate institutions; and

- relevant STEM summer internships and research experiences for high school and undergraduate students with disabilities.

PPD Regional Alliances should also conduct appropriate formative and summative evaluation and research activities to improve and assess the effectiveness of strategies that improve participation of students with disabilities in STEM education. Examples of activities that are appropriate in this category include, but are not limited to:

- examination of effective methods for teaching science or mathematics so that students with disabilities perform competitively with other students on their education level;

- adaptation of existing science or mathematics curricular materials so that they are appropriate for all students including those with disabilities (to be conducted collaboratively with the publisher or other disseminators to ensure rapid dissemination of the new products);

- development or adaptation of educational technology or media to ensure independent use by students with disabilities;

- efforts to overcome stereotyping of persons with disabilities among parents, teachers, peers, and co-workers;

- provision of science enrichment activities for students with disabilities; and

- exploration of the maximum use of scientists with disabilities as mentors to improve the interest, performance, and retention of students with disabilities in STEM education.

Awards for Demonstration, Enrichment, and Information Dissemination (PPD-DEI)

The goals of the PPD Awards in Demonstration, Enrichment, and Information Dissemination (PPD-DEI) are to:

- further institutionalize products and other educational materials that promote accessibility to STEM disciplines and career experiences by students with disabilities;

- enhance the STEM learning experience for students with disabilities; and

- disseminate information about model programs, exceptional products, successful research methods, and proven education practices to a broad national audience.

Awards for Focused-Research Initiatives (PPD-FRI) 

The goals of the PPD Awards for Focused Research Initiatives (PPD-FRI) are to:

- encourage research and development in the domain of highly focused assistive technologies that will help persons with disabilities pursue careers in    STEM;

- build tools that can quickly be put into the educational environment; and

- add value to the instructional cycle in the education of persons with disabilities in the domain of STEM.

Proposals to the PPD-FRI track will be evaluated on their potential for solving specific problems in a short period of time with a limited budget. There is a potential of cost-sharing these awards with other NSF Directorates, which may enable the program to make more awards. As in previous years, awards will be made based on the merits of proposals received and the final availability of program funds. Awards will not necessarily be made in all program categories detailed in this solicitation.


All proposals submitted to the Program for Persons with Disabilities under any competition must identify the project outcomes to be targeted for each year of the proposed award. Techniques and/or instruments to be used for measuring these outcomes must be described in the Project Description as a part of the Evaluation Plan.

Awardees will be required to participate in a program-level evaluation by which NSF can assess quantitative gains in relevant measures for students with disabilities and make qualitative assessments of the process of change. Projects are expected to have the capability of collecting and analyzing data derived from program evaluation activities. In addition, it is expected that each project will complement this effort with its own formative evaluation.


The effort required for developing a research and evaluation plan and collecting, measuring, and reporting appropriate outcome data should be supported in the proposed budget. The program will formulate common outcome measures in the coming year. These measures will be refined in collaboration with the recipients of the cooperative agreements.

The following are illustrative of outcome measures to be reported: number of students with disabilities enrolled in STEM courses, accommodations used, and their level of success; number of these students obtaining degrees in a STEM discipline; and the number entering graduate school or careers in STEM fields. Similar outcome measures must be reported for participants in faculty enhancement activities.


Only universities and colleges are eligible to submit proposals to the Regional Alliances for Persons with Disabilities in STEM Education track of this program (PPD-RAD). Only one university or college in the Regional Alliance may submit the proposal. The proposal should describe clearly the role to be played by the other organizations, and should specify the managerial arrangements contemplated. If all or part of the project will be performed off-campus or away from organizational headquarters, a rationale should be provided. The categories of proposers identified in the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) are eligible to submit proposals under the PPD-DEI and PPD-FRI program tracks.


PPD-RAD projects may be Cooperative Agreements of up to five years in length. A budget request of up to $700,000 for Year 1 is allowed, with budget requests increasing by increments of an additional $50,000 for each of the subsequent four years (Year 2: $750,000, Year 3: $800,000, Year 4: $850,000, and Year 5: $900,000), pending the availability of funds.

PPD-DEI and PPD-FRI awards are expected to be shorter duration (1-2 year) standard or continuing grants of a lesser amount (up to $100,000 per year).

Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.


A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

Full Proposal:

Proposals submitted in response to this program announcement/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 Web Site at: Paper copies of the GPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (301) 947-2722 or by
e-mail from

Proposers are reminded to identify the program solicitation number (NSF 02-177) in the program announcement/solicitation block on the 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.

B. Budgetary Information

Cost sharing is not required in proposals submitted under this Program Solicitation.

Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations: Not applicable.

Other Budgetary Limitations: Other budgetary limitations apply. Please see IV. Award Information of this Solicitation for details.

C. Deadline/Target Dates

Proposals must be submitted by the following date(s):

Letters of Intent (optional): February 3, 2003
Full Proposals by 5:00 PM local time:
April 18, 2003 by 5:00 p.m. proposer's local time

D. FastLane Requirements

Proposers are required to prepare and submit all proposals for this Program Solicitation through the FastLane system. Detailed instructions for proposal preparation and submission via FastLane are available at: For FastLane user support, call the FastLane Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 or e-mail 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 announcement/solicitation.

Submission of Electronically Signed Cover Sheets. The Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must electronically sign the proposal Cover Sheet to submit the required proposal certifications (see Chapter II, Section C of the Grant Proposal Guide for a listing of the certifications). The AOR must provide the required electronic certifications within five working days following the electronic submission of the proposal. Proposers are no longer required to provide a paper copy of the signed Proposal Cover Sheet to NSF. Further instructions regarding this process are available on the FastLane website at:


A. NSF Proposal Review Process

Reviews of proposals submitted to NSF are solicited from peers with expertise in the substantive area of the proposed research or education project. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with the oversight of the review process. NSF invites the proposer to suggest, at the time of submission, the names of appropriate or inappropriate reviewers. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts with the proposer. Special efforts are made to recruit reviewers from non-academic institutions, minority-serving institutions, or adjacent disciplines to that principally addressed in the proposal.

The National Science Board approved revised criteria for evaluating proposals at its meeting on March 28, 1997 (NSB 97-72). All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

On July 8, 2002, the NSF Director issued Important Notice 127, Implementation of new Grant Proposal Guide Requirements Related to the Broader Impacts Criterion. This Important Notice reinforces the importance of addressing both criteria in the preparation and review of all proposals submitted to NSF. NSF continues to strengthen its internal processes to ensure that both of the merit review criteria are addressed when making funding decisions.

In an effort to increase compliance with these requirements, the January 2002 issuance of the GPG incorporated revised proposal preparation guidelines relating to the development of the Project Summary and Project Description. Chapter II of the GPG specifies that Principal Investigators (PIs) must address both merit review criteria in separate statements within the one-page Project Summary. This chapter also reiterates that broader impacts resulting from the proposed project must be addressed in the Project Description and described as an integral part of the narrative.

Effective October 1, 2002, NSF will return without review proposals that do not separately address both merit review criteria within the Project Summary. It is believed that these changes to NSF proposal preparation and processing guidelines will more clearly articulate the importance of broader impacts to NSF-funded projects.

The two National Science Board approved merit review criteria are listed below (see the Grant Proposal Guide Chapter III.A for further information). The criteria include considerations that help define them. These considerations are suggestions and not all will apply to any given proposal. While proposers must address both merit review criteria, reviewers will be asked to address only those considerations that are relevant to the proposal being considered and for which he/she is qualified to make judgements.

NSF staff will give careful consideration to the following in making funding decisions:

B. Review Protocol and Associated Customer Service Standard

All proposals are carefully reviewed by at least three other persons outside NSF who are experts in the particular field represented by the proposal. Proposals submitted in response to this announcement/solicitation will be reviewed by Mail and/or Panel Review.

Reviewers will be asked to formulate a recommendation to either support or decline each proposal. The Program Officer assigned to manage the proposal's review will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation.

A summary rating and accompanying narrative will be completed and submitted by each reviewer. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the identities of reviewers, are sent to the Principal Investigator/Project Director by the Program Director. In addition, the proposer will receive an explanation of the decision to award or decline funding.

NSF is striving to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. The time interval begins on the closing date of an announcement/solicitation or the date of proposal receipt (whichever is later). The interval ends when the Division Director accepts the Program Officer's recommendation.

In all cases, 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 and 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.


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 Division 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.A. for additional information on the review process.)

B. Award Conditions

An NSF award consists of: (1) the award letter, 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 letter; (4) the applicable award conditions, such as Grant General Conditions (NSF-GC-1)* or Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) Terms and Conditions;* and (5) any announcement or other NSF issuance that may be incorporated by reference in the award letter. Cooperative agreement awards also are administered in accordance with NSF Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions (CA-1). Electronic mail notification is the preferred way to transmit NSF awards to organizations that have electronic mail capabilities and have requested such notification from the Division of Grants and Agreements.

*These documents may be accessed electronically on NSF's Web site at Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (301) 947-2722 or by e-mail from

More comprehensive information on NSF Award Conditions is contained in the NSF Grant Policy Manual (GPM) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Web site at The GPM is also for sale through the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office (GPO), Washington, DC 20402. The telephone number at GPO for subscription information is (202) 512-1800. The GPM may be ordered through the GPO Web site at

C. Reporting Requirements

For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the PI must submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer at least 90 days before the end of the current budget period.

Within 90 days after the expiration of an award, the PI also is required to submit a final project report. Failure to provide final technical reports delays NSF review and processing of pending proposals for that PI. 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 FastLane, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports. This system permits electronic submission and updating of project reports, including information on project participants (individual and organizational), activities and findings, publications, and other specific products and contributions. PIs will not be required to re-enter information previously provided, either with a proposal or in earlier updates using the electronic system.


General inquiries regarding  Program for Persons with Disabilities (PPD) should be made to: For questions related to the use of FastLane, contact:


The NSF Guide to Programs is a compilation of funding for research and education in science, mathematics, and engineering. The NSF Guide to Programs is available electronically at General descriptions of NSF programs, research areas, and eligibility information for proposal submission are provided in each chapter.

Many NSF programs offer announcements or solicitations concerning specific proposal requirements. To obtain additional information about these requirements, contact the appropriate NSF program offices. Any changes in NSF's fiscal year programs occurring after press time for the Guide to Programs will be announced in the NSF E-Bulletin, which is updated daily on the NSF web site at, and in individual program announcements/solicitations. Subscribers can also sign up for NSF's Custom News Service ( to be notified of new funding opportunities that become available.


The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. Awardees are wholly responsible for conducting their project activities and preparing the results for publication. Thus, the Foundation does not assume responsibility for such findings or their interpretation.

NSF welcomes proposals from all qualified scientists, engineers and educators. The Foundation strongly encourages women, minorities and persons with disabilities to compete fully in its programs. In accordance with Federal statutes, regulations and NSF policies, no person on grounds of race, color, age, sex, national origin or disability shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving financial assistance from NSF, although some programs may have special requirements that limit eligibility.

Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED) provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities (investigators and other staff, including student research assistants) to work on NSF-supported projects. See the GPG Chapter 11, 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, FIRS at 1-800-877-8339.


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; 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 applicant 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 needing information as part of the review process or in order to coordinate programs; 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," 63 Federal Register 267 (January 5, 1998), and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records," 63 Federal Register 268 (January 5, 1998). 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 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 this burden estimate and any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to: Suzanne Plimpton, Reports Clearance Officer, Division of Administrative Services, National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA 22230.

OMB control number: 3145-0058.