On 12/9/2021, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released solicitation 22-536 for the new EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program: Bridging EPSCoR Communities (RII-BEC). UM faculty and staff who are interested in exploring the possibility to either lead or participate in/contribute to an institutional proposal to this non-limited funding opportunity are invited to submit a very short Notice of Interest (NOI) no later than January 7 via the UM InfoReady Review Portal. Before the spring semester starts, ORSP will invite interested parties (NOI submitters) to participate in an IDRUM Discovery Circle to discuss ideas, interests, and capabilities for developing a an institutional RII-BEC proposal. Proposals are due to NSF on April 4, 2022. Mississippi is an EPSCoR jurisdiction.
From the solicitation (bolding added by ORSP):
“The RII-BEC initiative seeks to … set up bridge programs to facilitate the transitions of Affected Groups (e.g., women, underrepresented groups, research trainees, and graduate fellows) from one stage of … STEM training to the next, with particular focus on providing support for individuals from groups underrepresented in STEM and those transitioning from or to minority-serving institutions (MSIs) within EPSCoR jurisdictions.
The RII-BEC initiative will accept proposals that support those individuals most strongly affected by the pandemic at vulnerable career transition points (e.g., first two years of college, or preparation for entry into graduate programs and/or the STEM workforce) within EPSCoR jurisdictions. The RII-BEC initiative will provide up to $1,000,000 total per award for [spread over] up to 5 years to support the strategic goal of reducing student attrition at these key junctures to improve future R&D competitiveness of EPSCoR jurisdictions. Proposals may include partnerships within and/or across two-year and four-year institutions (including community colleges). 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 underrepresented groups in STEM.