Solicitation of UM Pre-Proposals for Limited Submission Opportunity
NSF Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)NSF Program Solicitation: NSF-573


Limitations: An institution may serve as lead on no more than three (3) proposals submitted to the November deadline. However, an institution or organization may partner as a subaward on other proposals submitted. In addition, an individual may be included as a Principal Investigator (PI) /Co-PI on no more than three (3) proposals submitted to the November deadline.

Purpose:  The AISL program seeks to advance new approaches to evidence-based understanding of the design and development of STEM learning opportunities for the public in informal environments; provide multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences; advance innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments; and engage the public of all ages in learning STEM in informal environments.

Types: Six project types are supported, with the given funding and duration limits.

  1. Pilots and Feasibility Studies:            $300K, 2 years
  2. Research in Service to Practice:         $300K to $1M, 2-5 years
  3. Innovations in Development:            $500K to $3M, 2-5 years
  4. Broad Implementation:                     $1M to $3M, 3-5 years
  5. Literature Reviews, Syntheses,
    or Meta-Analyses:                              $250K, 2 years
  6. Conferences:                                      $250K, 2 years


Priorities: The six program priorities are:

  • Maximizing Strategic Impact
  • Enhancing Knowledge-Building
  • Promoting Innovation
  • Advancing Collaboration
  • Strengthening Infrastructure and Building Capacity
  • Broadening Participation

Audiences: AISL projects may focus on public audiences, professional audiences, or both, and should be clear about their target audience(s) and how the project’s design and STEM learning component(s) are relevant and appropriate for the proposed target audiences and age levels.

UM Limited Submission Selection Process: To be considered as one of UM’s three proposals, prospective applicants should submit an internal Pre-Proposal to ORSP Research Development, who will coordinate the selection of the winning pre-proposals, each of whose PD/PI will then be invited to develop a full proposal to NSF. Pre-proposals should be submitted via the Ole Miss InfoReady Review portal at https://olemiss.infoready4.com, by the date given below.

ORSP will convene a team of reviewers, potentially including internal faculty, researchers, and/or administrators, and/or non-conflicted external consultants, to score and provide comments on the internal pre-preproposals received. Based on these scores and recommendations, the winning internal proposals will be selected by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Sponsored Programs, and the selection announced no later than 9/16/19.

In addition to the standard pre-award services offered for all UM proposals, the internally chosen PD/PI/team will be offered a choice of review services, ranging from a no-charge ORSP enhanced proposal review, to a set of ORSP-mediated external non-technical and technical review services with an associated charge (see http://research.olemiss.edu/EnhancedReview). These enhanced reviews are subject to having draft (if rough) narratives complete by 10/07/19.

Key Dates

07/17/2019      ORSP Request for Notices of Intent issued in UM Today
08/13/2019      This announcement w/competition Instructions issued via UM Today
08/27/2019      Internal Pre-Proposals due to ORSP via InfoReady Review Portal.[1]
09/16/2019      ORSP announces which UM Pre-Proposals to move forward
10/07/2019      First of narrative due to ORSP if requesting enhanced review
10/30/2019      Transmittal due to ORSP for review & routing
11/06/2019      Full proposal due to NSF (based on PAPPG 19-1)

Instructions for UM Internal Pre-Proposal

Pre-Proposals must include the following components, combined into one PDF for upload to the InfoReady Review Portal.

  1. Project Summary: One-page NSF-style Project Summary in exactly the format described in the solicitation, including the Project Type in the first page of the Overview. In addition to the instructions in the solicitation and PAPPG, the Summary should also explicitly state which of the six AISL priorities will be a primary focus of this proposal, which of the priorities will be a secondary focus, who the target audience will be, what STEM content area(s) will be focused on, and the rationale why the project is primarily informal.
  2. Abbreviated Project Description: Up to 5 pages following the guidelines in the solicitation and PAPPG, to include the following labeled sections (in any order):
    1. Intellectual Meri
    2. Broader Impacts
    3. Project Rationale
    4. Project Design
    5. Communications Plan
    6. Evaluation
    7. Project Management
    8. Results of Prior NSF Support

Given the limited space provided in the pre-proposal, you are not expected to have each of these sections and plans fully fleshed out, but you should provide enough information to convince pre-proposal reviewers that, if selected, you understand the requirements for, and will be able to produce a compelling Project Description that fully and adequately addresses, each of these components.

  1. Preliminary Letter(s) of Endorsement.  This does not have to be the final, complete letter that would be submitted with the proposal to NSF, but should make it clear to UM internal reviewers that all external collaborators and internal named participants with roles mentioned on the Project Description not only explicitly understand what that role will be, but also intend to fulfill that role if an award results. E-mails are sufficient at this stage. Whether as an e-mail or a signed letter, these letters should not be written as letters of support, but rather simple statements of the letter writer’s role on the proposed project, and a willingness to serve in that role.
  2. References Cited. Any literature cited should be specifically related to the proposed project, and the Project Description should make clear how each reference has played a role in the motivation for, or design of, the project. The References section is distinct from, and in addition to, the Project Description section, and does not count against the Project Description page limit. At this internal pre-proposal stage, since the Project Description itself is very abbreviated, the References Cited section will naturally be abbreviated as well. Internal pre-proposers are encouraged by ORSP to read all off, and where appropriate to the proposed work, cite some of, the references listed in page 9 of the of the solicitation.
  3. NSF Biographical Sketch of PI/PD and any named co-PIs (up to 4) Should be compliant and largely complete.

Review Criteria

The Review Criteria used in the internal competition will reflect the Review Criteria posted in the solicitation, namely:

  • Standard NSF Review Criteria:
    • Intellectual Merit: the potential to advance knowledge
    • Broader Impacts: the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired outcomes
    • In both IM and BI, the following elements will be considered (see solicitation):
      • Creativity/originality
      • Soundness of Plan
      • Qualifications of Proposer/Team
      • Adequacy of Resources to Carry Out the Project
  • Solicitation-Specific Review Criteria
    • Does the proposal identify the characteristic and needs of the targeted underrepresented groups (public or professional) to be served?
    • Does the proposal include specific plans for addressing or accommodating the specific interests, community, or cultural perspectives, and/or educational needs of participants of the identified underrepresented groups

In addition, the following UM-specific factor(s) may be considered:

  • The track record of the PI in delivering on-time, compliant, competitive institutional proposals to previous limited submission competitions.

Key Links:

PAPPG NSF 19-1: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappg19_1/index.jsp