Find Nonprofit and Small Business Grants

Advance Search

Only Available for Paid Subscribers
Clear Filters
Search Filters

Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI Program)

Grants to USA Hispanic-Serving IHEs to
Enhance Undergraduate STEM Programs

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

Add to My Calendar 

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Deadline Date:

03/06/18 5:00 PM Submitter's Local Time


Request a Grant Writer

Grants to USA hispanic-serving institutions of higher education to enhance the quality of undergraduate STEM education. The goal of this program is to promote the graduate and retention of college-level students pursuing bachelors or associates degrees in the STEM fields.


The National Science Foundation (NSF) established the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI Program), in response to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (P.L. 115-31) and the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (P.L. 114-329). The HSI Program seeks to enhance the quality of undergraduate STEM education at Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) [see Reference 1] and to increase retention and graduation rates of undergraduate students pursuing degrees in STEM fields at HSIs. In addition, the HSI Program seeks to build capacity at HSIs that typically do not receive high-levels of NSF grant funding.

By improving the quality of the undergraduate experience, the HSI Program expects to produce a more qualified and diverse STEM workforce.

In designing the HSI Program, NSF has sought community input in a variety of ways that included releasing a Dear Colleague Letter, awarding conference grants to seek stakeholder input, establishing and holding a meeting of the Building Capacity at Hispanic-Serving Institutions Subcommittee (HSI Subcommittee) of the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Advisory Committee, and conducting three virtual listening sessions that invited commentary from members of the HSI community. To focus the comments from the three virtual meetings, five priority areas identified in listening session that the Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network conducted in 2009 were used: (1) Student support; (2) Faculty support; (3) STEM curricula enhancement and alignment; (4) Integration of research and education; and (5) Partnerships. Based on the feedback from these listening sessions and from the HSI Subcommittee report, NSF developed a program solicitation to guide the initial focus of the HSI Program. NSF will continue to gather community input from funded HSI conferences to inform future components of, or modifications to, the HSI Program.

The Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program is a foundation-wide effort to accelerate improvements in the quality and effectiveness of the education of undergraduates in all STEM fields. The importance of the undergraduate experience for preparing both a diverse STEM workforce and a STEM-literate public ready to support and benefit from the progress of science is well established. The IUSE initiative underpins the agency’s commitment to the highest caliber undergraduate STEM education through a Foundation-wide framework of investments. By improving the quality and effectiveness of the education of undergraduates in all STEM fields, these investments enable NSF to lead progress nationally toward a diverse and innovative workforce and a STEM- literate public. Through the IUSE framework, NSF coordinates its investments in undergraduate programs and undergraduate STEM education to enhance coherence and impact, and to use shared metrics and program evaluation approaches where appropriate. These investments are made across all directorates and address both general trends and specific disciplinary needs. Examples of general trends include the use of active learning approaches in undergraduate instruction, the increase of undergraduate research courses, and attention to undergraduate degree completion. IUSE also seeks to broaden participation in STEM fields from all sectors and groups in society, and proposers are especially encouraged to establish linkages, as appropriate, with components of the national network of NSF INCLUDES projects. Collaborations are encouraged between HSI Program proposals and existing NSF INCLUDES projects, provided the collaboration strengthens both projects.


Projects supported by the HSI Program are expected to generate new knowledge about how to enhance undergraduate STEM education that results in an increase in retention and graduation rates of undergraduate students pursuing degrees in STEM fields at HSIs. The HSI Program is particularly interested in developing new knowledge about successful advancement of undergraduates at HSIs through critical transitions, including the transition from lower-division to upper-division coursework. The HSI Program also encourages projects that develop mutually beneficial partnerships that build faculty capacity and student opportunities to conduct research or STEM education research at HSIs. These partnerships can be between academic institutions and/or between academic institutions and national laboratories, industry, or non-profit organizations. In addition, the HSI Program seeks to build capacity at HSIs that typically do not receive high levels of NSF grant funding.

The HSI Program will fund one Resource Hub. The Resource Hub is expected to support the needs of HSIs with little or no prior NSF funding, such as assistance with proposal writing and financial compliance. In addition, the Resource Hub will facilitate networking and professional development that build and strengthen collaborations among HSIs.

As a key component of NSF’s overall Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) initiative, the HSI Program will support activities that improve STEM learning and learning environments, broaden participation and institutional capacity for STEM learning, and/or build the professional STEM workforce of tomorrow. Investments may include foundational and exploratory research, design and development research, and impact research.

The HSI Program supports standard and continuing grants that will:
-Develop, implement, and test models for the retention of students advancing from lower-division courses to upper-division STEM coursework, including those transferring from a two-year to a four-year institution.
-Create evidence-based and evidence-generating approaches that increase the graduation rates of students pursuing STEM associate or baccalaureate degrees at HSIs.
-Enhance research that improves understanding of how to build faculty capacity and student opportunities to conduct STEM research or STEM educational research at HSIs through partnerships with other HSIs and organizations (e.g., federal laboratories, research centers, industrial or business organizations, nonprofit entities, etc.).
-Increase knowledge about evidence-based approaches to engaged student learning and how to broaden the participation of undergraduate students majoring in STEM disciplines at HSIs.

Program Tracks:

Proposals should include the question(s) to be investigated, explain the significance of answering the proposed question(s), and discuss the evidence or theory that motivates the question(s). Proposals may combine research with practice, but should be based on current literature and proven practices. Each proposal should have clear project goals, measurable objectives, and evaluative activities aligned to the goals and objectives. It is expected that proposals should explain how the project will generate knowledge to better understand issues in the recruitment, retention, degree attainment, and entry into the STEM workforce of undergraduate students. As appropriate, HSI Program proposals should also describe mechanisms to effectively and efficiently transfer findings into educational practice for use by other educators, researchers, and policymakers. Sustainability beyond the funding period should be addressed. Through these projects, PIs are encouraged to identify areas that may have potential for forming collaborative efforts with existing NSF INCLUDES projects.

1. Track 1: Building Capacity

There are three priority areas within this track: Critical Transitions, Innovative Cross-Sector Partnerships, and Research on Broadening Participation in STEM. Proposals should focus on one or more of the priority areas as appropriate to their institutions’ goals, capabilities and resources.

Priority Area 1: Critical Transitions

Critical transitions on the way to degree attainment include i) the transition from lower- to upper-division coursework at individual HSIs and ii) the transfer of students from two-year institutions to four-year institutions. Priority Area 1 supports projects that address the retention of undergraduate students in the first two years of undergraduate studies, which are critical to student retention in STEM majors.

Many students struggle to pass introductory courses or “gateway” classes, and many require remediation or supplemental instructions. It is important to understand the factors that affect student learning, and proposals that plan to explore these factors should explain the use of a particular strategy, the theory or basis for such strategy, and the potential outcomes.

Proposals that address the transition of students from two-year to four-year institutions should include institutional partnerships among two-year institutions and four-year institutions. These institutional partnerships should have in place or plan to develop articulation agreements for the transfer of students from one institution to another that lead to STEM baccalaureate degree attainment. These multi- institutional partnerships and agreements should fit the needs and situations of the institutions involved. The proposed projects should identify and investigate factors, such as self-efficacy or identity, that affect transfer student success and subsequent graduation. In addition, a mechanism should be described to track student outcomes, including outcomes following the students’ completion of their programs. Projects are encouraged to establish processes that support/manage project activities across the partner institutions. Existing activities between collaborating institutions should not be included as proposed activities to be supported by the project.

For all Critical Transitions proposals, successful leadership/management teams will typically include current faculty members who teach undergraduate STEM courses, STEM administrators, and researchers who specialize in higher education issues and processes. The leadership/management teams should have representation from all institutional partners with explicit roles and responsibilities.

Projects that address this transition could have both research and applied or developmental components, and may be carried out by individual PIs or institutions, as long as they have the necessary expertise to carry out the proposed projects. These projects could also be done as collaborative projects that may involve several PIs and institutions, but such collaboration should be justified and be commensurate to the problem being addressed and resources available.

Examples of potential project strategies to address the Critical Transitions priority area include but are not limited to:
-Development of new curricular materials and methods of instruction that have the potential to improve student learning in STEM.
-Alignment of STEM curriculum between two-year and four-year institutions, to support student transitions.
-Development of innovative assessment tools to measure student learning.
-Opportunities for faculty to gain experiences with innovative, culturally relevant, and evidence-based teaching approaches. Academic support and activities that help students complete their degree programs.

Priority Area 2: Innovative Cross-Sector Partnerships

Today’s research problems are complex and their solutions often require interdisciplinary teams and cross-sector partnerships. This priority area supports mutually beneficial partnerships that yield research projects with long-term benefits to society, enhance the capacity for research at partner intuitions, and facilitate knowledge transfer between researchers and practitioners. Partners may include industry, government, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and local communities. Projects should support innovative research and education projects that contribute to the Nation's future through discovery, learning, and innovation. Partnerships of academic institutions with organizations such as national laboratories, industrial organizations, and/or other public/private organizations should create new and meaningful knowledge and long-term benefit to society. Partnerships should generate new knowledge of effective ways to engage and retain undergraduate students in STEM, enhance skills and knowledge content of HSI faculty, and foster communication to encourage the formation and dissemination of new ideas, values, and learning.

The role of each partner should be explicitly described in the proposal. The involvement of two-year colleges or HSIs that have received little or no funding from NSF for research is strongly encouraged. Projects may involve any field of research supported by NSF, as well as formal and informal education. NSF encourages the participation of as many entities as needed to build effective relationships necessary for developing and sustaining a team that is capable of conducting research in STEM and/or STEM education research.

Examples of potential project strategies to address the Innovative Cross-Sector Partnerships priority area include, but are not limited to:
-Improving grants management infrastructure at HSIs.
-Developing mentoring partnerships that enhance the research capabilities at HSIs.
-Enhancing the quality of the undergraduate STEM experience in a culturally relevant manner, including support for student research experiences, especially among members of underrepresented groups.
-Strengthening faculty capabilities to conduct research.
-Fostering faculty exchange opportunities that enhance research collaborations, curriculum redesign and alignment, and/or new pedagogies.

Priority Area 3: Research on Broadening Participation in STEM

The HSI Program will support projects that investigate factors affecting the recruitment, retention, and graduation rates of undergraduate STEM students at HSIs. Investigators may consider behavioral, cognitive, affective, learning, and social differences as well as organizational, institutional, or systemic processes that may affect the participation and success of students at HSIs. Successful proposals should be grounded in appropriate theory and incorporate recent advances in research methodologies, conceptual frameworks, and/or data gathering and analytics. Proposals should include descriptions of research and evaluation methodologies, as well as a compelling argument about how proposed methodologies align with the research questions of the project. Additionally, proposals should demonstrate how the chosen methodologies will result in rigorous, cumulative, reproducible, and usable findings that will support peer-reviewed publication. It is expected that projects in this priority area include investigators with demonstrated expertise in education research and/or social science research methods, as well as knowledge about STEM programs at HSIs.

Investigators who include this priority area in their proposals should propose institutional, academic, and programmatic activities to improve the retention of STEM students at HSIs, leading to increases in associate and/or baccalaureate degree attainment in STEM. Proposals should include evidence to support the potential of the proposed activities to achieve the desired goals. Institutions may request funds to support the adaptation and implementation of existing evidence-based academic and student support activities; to investigate the effectiveness of evidence-based academic and student support activities in recruiting, retaining, and graduating students in STEM; and for the management and evaluation of the project. Participating institutions should place attention to ensuring the competitiveness of STEM graduates for the next stage of their careers.

Examples of potential project strategies to address Research on Broadening Participation in STEM priority area include but are not limited to the following examples:
-Examining the institutional relevance of curricular redesign and/or alignment efforts.
-Evaluating the efficacy of near-peer student mentoring.
Implementing evidence-based active learning strategies and interventions.
-Examining interventions aimed at improving enrollment in undergraduate STEM programs or increasing persistence and graduation rates.
-Partnering with experts and practitioners, particularly those with social science background, to develop evidence-based methods to broaden participation of undergraduate students majoring in STEM at HSIs.

2. Track 2: HSIs New to NSF

This track seeks to improve the research and development capacity of HSIs that are either an institution that has never received NSF funding or an institution that has not received funding from NSF in the five years prior to the proposal deadline. This grant opportunity is designed to stimulate implementation, adaptation, and innovation in one or more of the three priority areas identified in Track 1, and to broaden the number of HSIs participating in NSF programs. Prospective investigators are encouraged to provide sufficient detail to clearly inform both reviewers and NSF staff about what is being proposed. It is expected that some of the funded Track 2 projects will serve as a pilot for an idea that may be expanded in a future proposal for an NSF project.

Proposers are strongly encouraged to use resources developed by other NSF awardees and to consult with people from these projects and centers. Track 2 proposals should be commensurate with available resources. If some resources needed to complete the proposed activities are not available at the proposing institution, the needed resources may be obtained via partnerships with other institutions. Such partnerships will support development and capacity of the proposing institution. In such partnerships, the Lead Principal Investigators must be employed by an eligible Track 2 institution. The HSI Program is particularly interested in Track 2 projects that address retention and graduation rates of students pursuing associate or baccalaureate degrees in STEM.

Only eligible institutions that have never received an NSF award or those that have not had an award within the past five years may be the “performing organization” on a Track 2 proposal. The “performing organization” is the organization that leads and implements a funded project. The PI of the project will be employed by the “performing organization.” It is acceptable for a system administrative office or other governing organization to submit the proposal and be the "awardee organization," even if that organization has received a previous NSF award. However, the campus that is the "performing organization" must not have been the performing organization on an NSF award within the past five years and must be geographically distinct and have its own chief academic officer.

3. Resource Hub

The Resource Hub will have a major role in supporting HSIs that have received little or no prior NSF support. The Resource Hub is also expected to facilitate development of partnerships that encourage the sharing of resources and facilities among HSIs and other institutions. The Resource Hub’s efforts are expected to enhance the capability of student, faculty, and administrative leaders to take advantage of opportunities and develop solutions that improve the quality of undergraduate STEM education at their institutions. NSF expects the Resource Hub to demonstrate leadership and to coordinate community action towards improving undergraduate STEM education with special attention given to the involvement of HSIs with little or no previous experience with NSF programs, in particular, institutions eligible to submit Track 2 proposals.

Proposals for the Resource Hub should describe the evidence-based activities that will be implemented in full detail. Each activity to be implemented should have measurable objectives and outcomes. The proposal should describe the support that will be developed and/or implemented, the expertise available to carry out or lead the activities, and a detailed timeline. For planned activities that will have selected participants, the proposal should describe the strategies that will be used to identify and select participants. An external advisory committee (EAC) that includes representatives from those served by the Resource Hub (e.g., academic institutions, industry, state and local agencies, national laboratories) is required. The function of the EAC is to provide guidance and advice to the Resource Hub, as well as to ensure that the Resource Hub's activities are consistent with its vision, goals, and objectives. The proposal should describe how the proposed activities will engage different HSIs, and how the needs of Track 2 grantees will be identified, prioritized, and supported.

A plan to evaluate the success of the Resource Hub should be provided. In addition, the Resource Hub proposal should describe project outputs that will be monitored and tracked to determine how Resource Hub support has contributed to building of capacity at HSIs, especially those with little or no funding from NSF. Examples of potential project strategies of a Resource Hub include but are not limited to:

-Facilitating partnerships between well-established HSIs and other HSIs that either need offices of sponsored programs or need to improve their grants management infrastructure.
-Creating a mechanism to help established HSIs serve as mentors for other HSIs.
-Organizing leadership institutes to help faculty at HSIs write competitive grants, enhance pedagogical and mentoring skills, and enrich professional networks that are important in building collaborative research projects.
-Supporting prospective PIs who wish to start or improve STEM educational programs.

Project Evaluation:

It is expected that all HSI Program proposals will include a project evaluation plan that includes metrics and milestones toward achievement of project goals. The project evaluation plan should include indicators of success as defined by the project, as well as qualitative and quantitative measures that inform the reviewers about how the goals and specific objectives will be achieved. The expected outcomes and contributions should be relevant to the research knowledge base and/or educational practice. Meaningful evaluation of the project should be based on culturally appropriate metrics and include a logic model or other tools that connect the project goals to the specific activities, outputs, and outcomes.

Project evaluation plans should be appropriate to the size and scope of the project, and usually include both formative and summative components aligned with the evaluation questions of interest. A proposed timeline for the evaluation components should be included. The purpose of a formative evaluation is to provide information for project improvement. The purpose of a summative evaluation is to assess the quality and impact of a fully implemented project. Formative evaluation plans outline methods for documenting progress toward project goals and should include a feedback feature that allows for continuous improvement of the project activities. In some cases, formative evaluation may be internal to the project. A summative evaluation collects information about outcomes and related processes, strategies, and activities that have led to the demonstrated outcomes.

The budget must include adequate resources for the project evaluation. Project evaluation should be led by an expert independent evaluator or evaluation team, depending on the size and scope of the project. Evaluators are expected to adhere to the American Evaluation Association’s Guiding Principles for Evaluators, and project evaluations are expected to be consistent with standards established by the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 182939

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

The 43 awards are expected to be made as follows in FY 2018: up to 25 Building Capacity (Track 1), up to 18 HSIs New to NSF (Track 2), and one Resource Hub.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Track 1 Projects: $500,000 to $1,500,000

Track 2 Projects: Up to $250,000

Resource Hub: Up to $3,000,000

Term of Contract:

Track 1 Projects may have a duration of up to five years.

Track 2 projects may have a duration of up to three years.

The Resource Hub award will have a duration of up to five years.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:
-Eligible organizations for the HSI Program must be accredited and offer undergraduate educational programs in STEM, and satisfy the HSI definition as specified in section 502 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1101a), i.e., a) be an eligible institution; and b) have an enrollment of undergraduate full- time equivalent students that is at least 25 percent Hispanic students.
-Certification of eligibility is required with submission of a proposal to the HSI Program.

Who May Serve as PI:
-The Lead Principal investigator (PI) for a Track 1 proposal must be employed by the eligible institution submitting the proposal.
-The Lead PI for a Track 2 proposal must be employed by the eligible institution submitting the proposal and the institution must be either be an institution that has never received NSF funding or an institution that has not received NSF funding in the five years prior to the proposal deadline.
-The Lead PI for a Resource Hub proposal must be employed by the eligible institution submitting the proposal. The Lead PI and co-Principal Investigators (co-PIs) must include at least one member from a two- year eligible institution and at least one member from a four-year eligible institution.
-Co-PIs for any proposal are not restricted to employees of eligible institutions except for the requirement for Resource Hub proposals discussed above.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:
-An eligible institution can submit only one Track 1 or Track 2 proposal per year. However, eligible institutions submitting a proposal to Track 1 or Track 2 may also submit a Resource Hub proposal.
-An eligible institution can submit only one Resource Hub proposal.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI:
-An individual may serve as the Lead PI on only one Track 1 or Track 2 proposal.
-An individual may serve as the Lead PI on only one Resource Hub proposal.
-There is no limit on the number of proposals that a co-PI may be listed on for Track 1, Track 2, or a Resource Hub. The Lead PI must be employed by an eligible institution but co-PIs are not restricted to employees of eligible institutions.

Pre-proposal Conference:

The Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI Program) hosted 2 technical assistance webinars - on January 4th and 17th - for interested parties. For those who were unable to attend the webinar sessions, the webinar presentation slides may be viewed in the Supporting Documents.

More information regarding the webinars may be found here:

Pre-Application Information:

Full proposals are due March 6, 2018, 5:00 PM (submitter’s local time).

Full proposals may be submitted via FastLane or

View this opportunity on

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

For general inquiries, contact:

Andrea Johnson, Program Director
(703) 292-5164

Talitha M. Washington, Program Director
(703) 292-8670

Joan M. Walker, Program Director
(703) 292-7016

Ellen Carpenter, Program Director
(703) 292-5104

Toni Edquist, Program Specialist
(703) 292-4649

CFDA Number:


Funding or Pin Number:

NSF 18-524

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming