Education and Human Resources

To provide leadership and ensure the vitality of the Nation's science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education enterprise.

The Education and Human Resources (EHR) component of the National Science Foundation sponsors programs that support the development of models and strategies
for providing all students with access to high-quality STEM education.

The portfolio of EHR programs in STEM education is comprised of efforts spanning pre-K to 12 (with special emphasis on projects that join institutions of higher education with K-12 education units), undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral levels, as well as informal education and life-long learning.

Long-term goals include: Supporting infrastructure (especially broad-based collaborative partnerships) that will enable development of high-quality educational experiences for all students; ensuring that our educational pathways yield an adequately educated and diverse corps of individuals for both the highly technical workplace and the professional STEM community; developing a cadre of professionally educated and well-trained teachers and faculty; and providing the research necessary to inform educational practice.

The strength of EHR programming resides in its ability to integrate research and education, combining the expertise of the research and education communities.

Its programs include support for STEM workforce development; educational materials, including use of learning technologies, effective in increasing student achievement; research on learning and teaching that informs education practice; strategies for developing deep content knowledge and teaching skills for K-12 teachers; and informal science education.

The EHR activity also sponsors projects under the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program, which builds the capacity of participating states to compete successfully for Federal research funding.

EHR programs are subject to continuous improvements based on program reviews, evaluation, dissemination of best practices, and educational research.
Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

1) In a study conducted under a grant to the Educational Testing Service supported by EHR's Research on Learning and Education (ROLE) program, researchers and educators have successfully demonstrated a computer-based learning system for mathematics that can accommodate both visually impaired and sighted students.

The system uses text enlargement on normal displays for low vision students, a Talking Tactile Tablet for blind students, and normal displays for fully sighted students.

In addition, the system develops a model for each student's understanding of mathematical concepts, and then uses those models to provide problem-solving advice to students regardless of their visually acuity.

The student models have been validated in a pilot test of 50 students, and the system is now being tested with over 300 blind, visually impaired, and fully sighted students.

2) Funded by EHR's Information Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program, an innovative effort to demonstrate its capabilities is being developed by the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing Education (CENSei) at the University of California-Los Angeles.

CENSei's web-supported curricular materials allow middle school students to explore scientific data collected from embedded sensor networks deployed in Southern California ecosystems.

CENSei draws on the expertise of education researchers, natural scientists, information scientists, and teachers to overcome the challenges students face in using scientifically rich data.

Their efforts investigate how a data rich sensor environment can become a learning environment with an appropriate interface and supports for student inquiry.

CENSei capitalizes on NSF's investment in the Center for Embedded Network Sensing, a Science and Technology Center.

3) EHR's Informal Science Education (ISE) program supports Peep and the Big Wide World (PEEP), a daily, half-hour television series with accompanying web and outreach activities for 3- to 5-year-olds.

PEEP gives wings to the innovative idea of teaching science to preschoolers.

Airing on TLC and the Discovery Kids Channel, the TV series is tied for the top-rated program for children 2-5 in the weekday morning time block.

The series is also reaching parents, providing them with information on how to extend their children's science learning in everyday situations.

And PEEP is impacting the field of informal science education, as well, by giving preschool educators resources and training in how to nurture young children's science learning.

PEEP is achieving this impact in part through its community of collaborators.

Partners include educational organizations (e.g., 4-H, the National Education Association, Parents as Teachers), libraries (American Library Association), museums (via the Boston Children's Museum), and promotional media outlets.

4) The NSF Graduate Teaching Fellowships in K-12 Education (GK-12) program supports graduate students in STEM fields while providing them an opportunity to serve as resources in K-12 schools.

Graduate Fellows at the University of Colorado Boulder taught engineering to more than 1,600 girls and boys through its integrated teaching and learning program.

In the Denver School of Science and Technology, a high needs school, GK-12 Fellows initiated an engineering technical elective course.

During fall 2005 engineering lessons were developed on several topics, including weather, biodomes, dams, states of matter, the human body and natural disasters.

5) With a grant from the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeships (IGERT) program, IGERT students at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, are assessing the sustainability of high-latitude regions, and working to discover how to reduce the vulnerability of these regions to both ecological and social change.

One of the students contributed to the polar chapter of the UNESCO-sponsored Millennium Assessment, which isinvestigating the impacts of global change on human well-being.

Four students worked with Native village councils or with the Alaska Native Science Commission to develop plans to assess changes in the subsistence resource base for Native Alaskans.

6) In December 2005, the National Science Digital Library (NSDL), in partnership with the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE), offered free online professional development workshops to K-12 science and math teachers in hurricane-impacted schools, as well as to those teaching hurricane-displaced students.

The workshops provided practical ideas for finding and using digital library resources, with a particular emphasis on strategies that are easy to implement in storm-stressed classrooms and in distance learning courses being offered to displaced students.

7) The state of North Carolina has experienced an increase in new STEM graduates as a result of EHR's Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program.

Led by North Carolina A&T State University, the NC-LSAMP is a partnership of eight North Carolina colleges and universities.

The project increases the quantity and quality of underrepresented minority students receiving bachelor's degrees in STEM disciplines.

The newly instituted "Bridge to the Doctorate" initiative is in high gear supporting graduate students in a broad range of science and engineering disciplines.

8) Improving teacher quality in mathematics and science education, K-12, is a key goal of the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program.

Graduates of the Florida Atlantic University Teacher Institute, for example, will receive a master's degree that includes a newly developed strand for middle school mathematics teaching.

MSP Summer Institutes respond to the differentiated needs of the teachers they serve.

In its work with inservice teachers in central Appalachia, the Appalachian Mathematics and Science Partnership (AMSP), a Comprehensive Partnership, reports significant gains with teachers in the project's innovative 2005 summer Algebra Institutes.

9) Building on an earlier NSF-supported project at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (which was funded by NSF's Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) program), educators at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, have developed the Computational Laboratory for Information and Computer Security, or CLICS.

Funded by NSF's Federal Cyber Service: Scholarship for Service (SFS) program, CLICS is a two day "cyber-war exercise" that gives undergraduate students hands-on experience with the issues, strategies, and tools involved in computer security and information assurance.

The Cyber-war exercises involve students in real-world, team-based efforts to harden their systems, detect intrusions and respond in real time - without threatening the wider campus network.

10) With funding from EHR's Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) the Florida International University CREST Center has created TerraFly (, a Web-enabled system developed to aid in the visualization of spatial imagery, the first step toward building geospatial skills.

The system allows Web surfers to "fly" over the Earth's surface and explore spatial data such as aerial photography, satellite imagery, street maps, and locale information.

The web site is designed for users of all levels, from grade school to university researchers.

Unlike other geographic information systems, TerraFly runs via standard Web browsers, with no need to download software or data prior to visualization.

This ease of use and accessibility is evidenced by the most recent user statistics that report over 10,000 hits a day.

11) The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) is funding the Quarked project which creates an entertaining multimedia experience about quarks aimed at children ages 7-12, but accessible to all ages.

The educational goals of the project areto introduce quarks and the people who work with them into the common language of kids; investigate how young people are introduced to and grasp the scientific world of the unseen and abstract; and to demystify subatomic physics, while changing the perception that science is difficult and inaccessible.

Developments include a half-hour animated TV series, an interactive web site (, museum programs, and educational outreach activities.

12) With support from NSF's Robert Noyce Scholarship Program, Drexel University recruits science, engineering, and mathematics majors who are committed to teaching mathematics and science in the School District of Philadelphia.

The program provides strong teacher preparation addressing content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, learner knowledge and technology integration.

Mentoring and induction activities provide support to the new teachers.

To broaden the exposure of students to teaching, the Noyce Seminar Series provides a venue for Noyce Scholars to interact with teacher leaders, teacher scientists, and experts who are leaders in pedagogy, science and mathematics teaching or scientists with a penchant for teaching.

Agency - National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation is an independent Federal agency created to promote the progress of science, to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare and to secure the national defense. The NSF annually funds approximately 20 percent of basic, Federally-supported college and university research.

Relevant Nonprofit Program Categories

Program Accomplishments

In fiscal year 2007, 4,249 proposals were received, and 904 awards were made. In fiscal year 2008, it is anticipated that approximately 4,550 proposals will be received and about 910 awards will be made. In addition, H-1B Nonimmigrant Petitioner scholarship activity made 133 awards to institutions in fiscal year 2006, resulting in over 9,700 scholarship opportunities.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Grant funds may be used for costs necessary to conduct research, educational activities or studies, including salaries and expenses, permanent equipment, expendable materials and supplies, travel, publication costs, and other direct and indirect costs.

Some programs provide funds for undergraduate scholarships managed by the awardee institution.

Primary responsibility for general supervision of all grant activities rests with the grantee institution.

Funds may not be used for purposes other than those specified in the award.

Graduate fellowships provide for stipends and allowances to be paid to the awardee through his/her institution; a fixed cost-of-education allowance is paid directly to the institution.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Graduate students, public and private colleges (2-year and 4-year) and universities, State and local education agencies, tribal entities, nonprofit and private organizations, professional societies, science academies and centers, science museums and zoological parks, other informal science education institutions, research laboratories, and other institutions with an educational mission may apply.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Elementary, secondary and undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics teachers and faculty; preK-12, undergraduate and graduate students; public and private colleges (2-year and 4-year) and universities; State and local educational agencies; tribal entities, nonprofit and private organizations; professional societies; science academies and centers; science museums and zoological parks; other informal science education institutions, research laboratories, and other institutions with an educational mission.


Proposals must be signed electronically by an official authorized to commit the institution or organization in business and financial affairs and who can commit the organization to certain proposal certifications. Costs will be determined in accordance with OMB Circular No. A-21 for colleges and universities, No. A-87 for State and local governments, and No. A-122 for nonprofit organizations. Applicants for fellowship support must show evidence of ability such as academic records, letters of recommendation, graduate record examination scores, and grade point average.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

In selected areas, discussion with NSF program staff is strongly recommended and/or submission of a preliminary proposal is required before submitting formal proposals.

Other areas are eligible for coverage under E.O.

12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." A proposer should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her state for more information on the process that the state requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the state has selected the program for review.

Application Procedures

By electronic submission via FastLane of a formal proposal, and, in some programs, a preliminary proposal, describing the planned project and the proposed amount of the grant. For guidelines, see specific funding opportunities and the "Grant Proposal Guide."

Award Procedures

NSF staff members review and evaluate all proposals based on a set of criteria established by the National Science Board. In most cases reviews are undertaken with the advice of scientists, engineers, educators and other appropriate persons who are specialists in the fields covered by the proposals. External reviewers, who are conversant with the fields covered by the applications, review and evaluate all graduate fellowship applications. NSF makes awards on a competitive basis.


Many NSF programs accept proposals at any time. Other programs, however, establish due dates for submission of proposals. NSF utilizes Target Dates, Deadline Dates, and Submission Windows. Consult the Grant Proposal Guide, Section I.F. for a further description of these types of due dates.


National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, Public Law 107-368, 42 U.S.C 1861 et seq.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

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


The principal investigator may request, in writing within 90 days of a declination or return, that the Foundation reconsider its action in declining or returning any proposal or application.


Contact NSF program staff for specific renewal policies and procedures.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Programs vary with regard to the required level of institutional contribution or cost-sharing; requirements are provided in program announcements and solicitations. The Grant Proposal Guide (GPG)(Chapter II) and the Grant Policy Manual (Sec. 330) provide additional information.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Up to 5 years. For NSF Graduate Fellowships, up to 3 years of support. Assistance is disbursed to the institution for monthly stipend allotment to the fellow.

Post Assistance Requirements


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

Within 90 days after the expiration of a grant, the PI is required to submit a final project report.

Quarterly Federal Cash Transaction Reports are required.

Other reporting requirements may be imposed via the grant instrument.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.


Grantees are expected to maintain separate records for each grant to ensure that funds are used for the general purpose for which the grant was made. Records are subject to inspection during the life of the grant and for three years thereafter. Special record keeping requirements apply to fellowships.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) (Excludes H-1B Nonimmigrant Petitioner Fees, EPSCoR) FY 07 $695,650,000; FY 08 est $725,600,000; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$3,000 to $15,000,000; $255,472.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

45 CFR Chapter VI; 48 CFR Chapter 25; "2004 NSF Guide to Programs," NSF 04-009 (; "Grant Proposal Guide," (

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

Assistant Director, Education and Human Resources, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Room 805 Arlington, VA 22230. Telephone: (703) 292-8600. NSF World Wide Web site URL: .

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

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 judgments. What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity? How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of the prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources? What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity? How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society? NSF staff will give careful consideration to the following in making funding decisions: Integration of Research and Education. One of the principal strategies in support of NSF's goals is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions provide abundant opportunities where individuals may concurrently assume responsibilities as researchers, educators, and students and where all can engage in joint efforts that infuse education with the excitement of discovery andenrich research through the diversity of learning perspectives. Integrating Diversity into NSF Programs, Projects, and Activities. Broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens - women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities --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.

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