University of Southern California


NSF 20-554: ADVANCE: Organizational Change for Gender Equity in STEM Academic Professions (ADVANCE)

Slots:                               One slot TOTAL across all categories, NOT one slot each, to be Lead Organization.                               

LOI:                                     Adaptation Track: August 3, 2020

Catalyst: N/A

Institutional Transformation: Preliminary proposal due April 22, 2021

Internal Deadline:                           May 15, 2020 for all groups.

External Deadline:                          Adaptation Track: November 4, 2020

Catalyst: August 7, 2020

Institutional Transformation: October 7, 2021

Award Information:                        Type:  Standard Grant or Continuing Grant or Cooperative Agreement

Estimated Number of Awards: 18 to 36

The total number of awards to be made under this solicitation is estimated to be between 18 and 36 over two fiscal years.

In each year, NSF expects to make approximately:

NSF anticipates that two to four of the twelve Adaptation and Partnerships projects may qualify for an additional $250,000 for collaborating with a project initiated with NSF funding as described in the project description. Additionally, in FY 2021, the program anticipates making up to two Institutional Transformation awards for up to $3,000,000 for five-years. All award amounts include both direct and indirect costs.

Anticipated Amount: $29,000,000

Pending availability of funds, NSF anticipates having up to $29,000,000 available over a period of two fiscal years for support of the NSF ADVANCE portfolio. It is expected that up to $15,000,000 will be available for the FY 2021 competition and approximately $14,000,000 will be available for proposals for the FY 2022 competition.

Cost Sharing:                                     Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.

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

Materials to submit include:

(1) Single Page Proposal Summary (0.5” margins; single-spaced; font type: Arial, Helvetica, or Georgia typeface; font size: 11 pt). Page limit includes references and illustrations. Pages that exceed the 1-page limit will be excluded from review.

(2) CV of prospective Chair candidate – (5 pages maximum)

Link to Award:                        

Who May Serve as PI:                    There are no restrictions or limits.


The NSF ADVANCE program contributes to the National Science Foundation’s goal of a more diverse and capable science and engineering workforce.1 In this solicitation, the NSF ADVANCE program seeks to build on prior NSF ADVANCE work and other research and literature concerning gender, racial, and ethnic equity. The NSF ADVANCE program goal is to broaden the implementation of evidence-based systemic change strategies that promote equity for STEM2 faculty in academic workplaces and the academic profession. The NSF ADVANCE program provides grants to enhance the systemic factors that support equity and inclusion and to mitigate the systemic factors that create inequities in the academic profession and workplaces. Systemic (or organizational) inequities may exist in areas such as policy and practice as well as in organizational culture and climate. For example, practices in academic departments that result in the inequitable allocation of service or teaching assignments may impede research productivity, delay advancement, and create a culture of differential treatment and rewards. Similarly, policies and procedures that do not mitigate implicit bias in hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions could lead to women and racial and ethnic minorities being evaluated less favorably, perpetuating historical under-participation in STEM academic careers and contributing to an academic climate that is not inclusive.

All NSF ADVANCE proposals are expected to use intersectional approaches in the design of systemic change strategies in recognition that gender, race and ethnicity do not exist in isolation from each other and from other categories of social identity. The solicitation includes four funding tracks: Institutional Transformation (IT)AdaptationPartnership, and Catalyst, in support of the NSF ADVANCE program goal to broaden the implementation of systemic strategies that promote equity for STEM faculty in academic workplaces and the academic profession.

  1. The Institutional Transformation (IT) track supports the development, implementation and evaluation of innovative systemic change strategies within a single non-profit IHE with the intention that these innovative strategies could be adaptable by other IHEs and organizations. The IT project must include a rigorous research study related to the ADVANCE project that contributes to knowledge about gender equity and systemic change in STEM academics. The study may be based in the methods and theories from the social, behavioral, learning, or economic sciences. Projects that do not propose innovative strategies are more appropriate for the Adaptation track. Only IHEs that submit an IT-Preliminary proposal can submit a full IT proposal.
  2. The Adaptation* track supports the adaptation and implementation of evidence-based organizational change strategies by a single non-profit:
    • Institution of Higher Education (IHE) to address systemic inequities for STEM faculty that includes all the STEM disciplines within the IHE. Prior ADVANCE IT-Catalyst grantees are encouraged to apply for an Adaptation project;
  3. The Partnership* track supports projects designed to result in the regional or national diffusion and/or scale-up of evidence-based systemic change strategies. Partnership projects are expected to involve two or more partners. Partnership projects must be designed to have a significant reach to individuals and/or organizations with evidence-based systemic change strategies to enhance equity for STEM faculty in academic workplaces and the academic profession. Individuals and organizations may include, but are not limited to, academic administrators, academic staff in relevant positions (such as human resource officers, institutional research directors, equal opportunity officers, and Title VII and Title IX officers), STEM faculty and leaders, editors and publishers, STEM professional societies, non-profit institutions of higher education, and STEM research funders. The proposer(s) must explain the significance of the reach in the proposal. Describe the intended reach of the project in numbers and percentages as well as the impact of the project in terms of the expected systemic, cultural and/or climatic change. This will be different depending on the systemic inequity issues that are being addressed, the population(s) of interest, and the proposed strategies.

*Opportunity for ADVANCE Adaptation and Partnership Proposers to Collaborate with other Projects Initiated with NSF Funds

ADVANCE Adaptation and Partnership projects are encouraged to propose a mutually beneficial collaboration with one or more projects initiated with NSF funds (NSF-initiated projects). These NSF-initiated projects can be within or outside the institution(s) participating in the proposed ADVANCE project and must fall into one of the following categories:

    • Systemic and institutional transformation projects: the institutional change track in the Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) and the Institutional and Community Transformation track in the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE): EHR programs.
    • NSF INCLUDES National Network: The NSF INCLUDES National Network includes the Coordination Hub, Alliances, Design and Development Launch Pilots, planning grants, and conference projects.
    • STEM graduate education projects: such as Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), Innovations in Graduate Education (IGE), CyberCorps (R): Scholarship for Service (SFS), and National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT).

ADVANCE Adaptation and Partnership projects that propose a collaboration may request up to an additional $250,000 over the life of the project. The additional funds are intended to support additional work to align systemic change and institutional transformation efforts particularly those impacting STEM faculty and to share equity and intersectional perspectives with other NSF projects. The funds are not intended for direct support to students, postdoctoral trainees, or faculty to do their STEM research or educational programs. The additional funds could cover costs such as travel and staff time, implementing collaborative activities, and the participation of additional individuals in ADVANCE project activities or the activities of the partner. NSF-initiated projects eligible for collaboration must be on-going: either currently funded by NSF or sustained with non-NSF funds. Letter(s) of collaboration from the NSF-initiated project representative(s) should be included in the supplementary documents.

4. The Catalyst track supports the design and implementation of an organizational self-assessment to collect and analyze data to identify STEM faculty inequities, pilot equity strategies as appropriate, and develop a five-year equity strategic plan for STEM faculty. Only non-profit IHEs that are not, and have not been, the lead on any type of ADVANCE grant are eligible.