University of Southern California


NSF-20-516: Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Pathways into the Earth, Ocean, Polar and Atmospheric & Geospace Sciences (IUSE:GEOPAths)

Slots:                                                     An organization may serve as sole submitting organization or as lead organization of a collaborative project on only one submission per competition, regardless of track, but may serve as the non-lead organization of a collaborative project more than once per competition. Additional eligibility requirements are described later in the solicitation.

Internal Deadline:                           Contact Office of Research if interested.

LOI:                                                        December 20, 2019

External Deadline:                          February 14, 2020

Award Information:                        Type: Standard Grant or Continuing Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: 18 with 6 awards between 3 tracks.

Anticipated Amount: NSF anticipates available funding for the IUSE:GEOPAths program to be approximately $6 million total for new awards per fiscal year.

Budgetary Requirements:           Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.

Submission Process:                     PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Office of Research Application Portal:

Materials to submit:

Link to Award:                        


The IUSE:GEOPAths funding opportunity invites creative proposals to identify, broaden, strengthen and sustain the pathways that will engage and retain diverse students in pre-college, undergraduate and graduate geoscience degree programs. Additionally, skill and competency building for a variety of career pathways is of interest. IUSE:GEOPAths projects are expected to utilize effective, evidence-based strategies for improving student engagement, support and retention, and to expose students to meaningful experiences through creation of geoscience learning ecosystems (GLEs) that leverage STEM stakeholder networks, academic and/or non-academic research activities and instrumentation infrastructure. The underlying hypothesis for this solicitation is that novel, authentic, career-relevant geoscience experiences for broader student populations will augment existing curricula and increase students’ identification with the geosciences that will ultimately increase the students’ desire to pursue degrees and geoscience-related careers.

The overarching questions being addressed through this solicitation are:

IUSE:GEOPAths projects also offer an opportunity to tap the nation’s diverse student talent pool and broaden participation in science and engineering. NSF is particularly interested in increasing the numbers of persons who have been historically excluded due to race, gender or ability in professional experiences related to the geosciences. IUSE:GEOPAths projects are strongly encouraged to involve students who are members of the following communities that have been underrepresented in STEM: African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders. When designing recruitment plans, IUSE:GEOPAths projects are also encouraged to consider students who have disabilities as well as veterans of the U.S. Armed Services. Proposers seeking to engage students at MSIs and two-year institutions through IUSE:GEOPAths are reminded of some of the specific barriers to attainment that these students must confront [e.g., References 5192022232728]. These include: limited knowledge about college navigation; financial concerns; insufficient academic preparation, especially in math; misalignment of core courses across community colleges and four-year schools; limited advising, orientation, and mentoring; constraints affecting the academic and social integration of working students; and lack of self-efficacy.

This solicitation seeks to adapt the STEM Ecosystem concept outlined in the current White House STEM Strategic Plan to a geoscience learning ecosystem model for education, training and workforce development (GLEs). GLEs are formed through the relationships, collaborations and connections of various institutions, entities and groups with an eye towards creating supportive and fertile educational environments for students. All IUSE:GEOPAths projects are expected to include a GLE framework with clearly defined goals and activities. For further guidance on the development of learning ecosystem models, please reference the following section of the current White House STEM Strategic Plan (Pathways to Success – Develop and Enrich Strategic Partnerships and Foster STEM Ecosystems that Unite Communities).

This solicitation offers three funding tracks that focus on Geoscience Learning Ecosystems (GLEs).

  1. GEOPAths: Informal Networks (IN). Collaborative projects in this track will support geoscience learning and experiences in informal settings for teachers, pre-college or community college students.
  2. GEOPAths: Undergraduate Preparation (UP)Projects in this track will engage students in extracurricular research experiences and training in the geosciences with a focus on service learning and workplace skill building.
  3. GEOPAths: Graduate Opportunities (GO). Projects in this track will improve research and career-related pathways into the geosciences for undergraduate and graduate students through institutional and employer collaborations with a focus on workplace learning and workforce skill building.

More information about each track is available at the award link.

Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for updates and other announcements.

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