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Computer Science for All

Grants to USA Nonprofits, For-Profits, IHEs, and Agencies
to Promote PreK-12 Computer Science Education

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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National Science Foundation (NSF)

Deadline Date:

02/01/19 5:00 PM (Submitter's Local Time)


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Grants to USA nonprofits, for-profits, IHEs, and government agencies to promote computer science and computational thinking educational opportunities for PreK-12 students. Proposals are invited for researcher-practitioner partnerships that aim to increase participation in CS and CT formal STEM learning all all grade levels.


A key goal of this program is to provide all U.S. students the opportunity to participate in computer science (CS) and computational thinking (CT) education in their schools at the preK-12 levels. CT refers to the thought processes involved in formulating problems and their solutions in such a way that the solutions can be effectively carried out by an information-processing agent (usually a computer).

CT activities do not require the presence of a computing tool, but involve the requisite reasoning needed to capitalize on the use of computational tools. CS, as used in this solicitation, includes CT but also the broad range of understandings, competencies, and skills needed to apply computation in the digital world. It includes topics of problem specification and representation; algorithm development; software design, programming, and debugging; the Internet and networking; big data; cybersecurity; and application across a wide range of disciplines, including the associated societal impact and ethical considerations. This solicitation focuses on CS and CT instruction, as distinct from the mere use of computers or the use of common computational tools such as word processors or video editing or presentation software. The ability to use such tools is often referred to as computational literacy. This solicitation supports education beyond computational literacy.

As the lead Federal agency for building the research knowledge base for CS and CT education, NSF aims to build upon past and ongoing efforts to enable rigorous and engaging CS and CT education in schools across the Nation, including over $20 million spent in FY 2017 in support of these efforts.

Program Description:

This program supports researcher-practitioner partnerships (RPPs) with the goal of building knowledge from research and development to support efforts that aim to provide opportunities for all students to participate in CS and CT formal STEM learning at the elementary, middle, and high school grade levels. Proposals will be funded in three “strands” that foster design, implementation at scale, and research:

-For the high school strand, the focus is on preparing and supporting teachers to teach rigorous CS courses;
-For the preK-8 strand, the focus is on designing, developing, and piloting instructional materials that integrate CS and CT into preK-8 classrooms; and
-For preK-12 or preK-14 pathways strand, the focus is on designing pathways that support school districts in developing policies and supports for incorporating CS and CT across all grades and potentially into introductory levels at community or four-year colleges and universities.

A proposal can be submitted to only one strand and that strand must be designated in the first line of the Project Summary.

In order to ensure that advances in computing education are inclusive of diverse student populations (the “for All” part of “CS for All”), proposals on any strand must address, in a significant manner, longstanding underrepresentation in computing. Groups traditionally underrepresented or underserved in computing include women, persons with disabilities, African Americans/Blacks, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Native Pacific Islanders, and persons from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. All proposals will be evaluated on the two additional Broadening Participation Criteria specific to this solicitation (see Section V.A, Project Description, below).

Proposals in any strand must come from RPPs, defined in the literature as “long-term, mutualistic collaborations between practitioners and researchers that are intentionally organized to investigate problems of practice and solutions for improving district [and school] outcomes". RPPs require well-organized teams of academic researchers and preK-12 practitioners (teachers, administrators, and counselors), possibly augmented with other community, foundation, policy, and industry partners. Members of these teams work together to iteratively define and refine common goals, research questions, metrics, and implementations. There are a variety of ways in which these RPPs can be organized. Examples include Research Alliances, Design-Based Implementation Research, and Networked Improvement Communities as described in the implementation and improvement science literature.

RPPs aim to strengthen the capacity of an organization to reliably produce valued CS and CT education outcomes for diverse groups of students, educated by different teachers in varied organizational contexts. The focus is on building efforts that can succeed when implemented at scale. These studies have less prescriptive research designs and methods, with research occurring in rapid, iterative, and context-expanding cycles. They require the deep engagement of researchers and practitioners during the collaborative research on problems of practice that are co-defined and of value to researchers and education agencies, such as a school district or community of schools.

These types of projects seek to:
-Study implementation in the local context;
-Employ rapid changes in implementation with short-cycle methods;
-Capitalize on variation in educational contexts to address the sources of variability in outcomes to understand what works, for whom, and under what conditions;
-Address organizational structures and processes and their relation to innovation;
-Employ measurement of change ideas, key drivers, and outcomes to continuously test working theories and to learn whether specific changes actually produce improvement; and
-Reform the system in which the approach is being implemented as opposed to overlaying a specific approach on an existing system.

Proposal Strands:

High School Strand. As schools attempt to respond to the increasing demand for CS and CT in their curricula, they are often faced with a critical shortage of teachers. Proposals in this strand should address key issues in the preparation, professional development (PD), and ongoing support of teachers of high school CS, recognizing the need for quickly scaling effective efforts to reach thousands of teachers, many of whom have had little or no formal CS preparation. Additional issues include but are not limited to:

-Recruitment of teachers;
-Differential PD based on prior experiences;
-Creating robust PD materials for teachers and facilitators; establishing online and hybrid PD approaches;
-Assessing the effectiveness of PD models with respect to content knowledge, pedagogy, classroom equity, and student
-Adapting and scaling PD models for greater impact, especially with respect to inclusion and equity; establishing certification programs and pre-service paths for teacher PD;
-Undertaking studies to inform state or local policy about CS requirements; or
-Designing, piloting and assessing scalable mechanisms for ongoing support of classroom teachers.

While the focus of the high school strand is RPPs conducting implementation and improvement research on teacher preparation and support, it is possible within a project to adapt or enhance instructional materials for high school students. However, PIs are encouraged to focus their RPPs on studying supports for teachers who are interested in using instructional materials that already have been developed and piloted and are now scaling nationally, such as Exploring Computer Science (ECS), curricula based on the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Principles (CSP) framework, or Bootstrap. Strong proposals will document the wide use of the proposed instructional materials and include any available results about their effectiveness as part of the argument for focusing on the materials of choice, and they will address how findings from the research will inform practitioners' choices about CS and CT materials.

PreK-8 Strand. Thus far, there has been less attention paid to teaching CS and CT in preK-8 than in high school. RPPs proposed in this strand may address a wide range of topics on the teaching and learning of CS and CT in preK-8 grades, including but not limited to:

-Development and study of prototype instructional materials for preK-8 both for stand-alone CS and CT courses or modules as well as teaching and testing of CS and CT concepts with other content;
-Creation of developmentally-appropriate learning progressions that underlie the design of instructional materials;
-Design of classroom-based assessments to inform teaching and learning along the way; or
-Development of PD and teacher support—including face-to-face and online learning communities, coaching, and mentoring— as needed for piloting of instructional materials, along with research about their use and effectiveness.

While RPPs focused on innovation in research and development of instructional materials for preK-8 are allowed, the investigators must make a clear case that curricula and materials do not currently exist to address the teaching and learning of CS and CT in the relevant grade levels or cannot be adapted to those contexts. Strong proposals must document how the new curricula or instructional materials differ in significant ways from already available materials and tools.

PreK-12/PreK-14 Pathways Strand. Many districts have begun to make progress at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, but need to coordinate the overall efforts, particularly to address articulation across the years of schooling. RPPs proposed in this strand may address the creation of pathways, including but not limited to:

-Research and development of school district course pathways and alignment tools for students for preK-12;
-Research and development on articulation from preK-12 to community or four-year colleges in preparation for entry into university CS or computationally intensive majors; or
-Design and development of school, district, and/or state systems to assess and track student progress on pathways.

High-quality proposals in any strand will:
-Delineate clearly the CS/CT content to be taught;
-Address working with underrepresented or underserved communities, demonstrating knowledge of the relevant literature on working with the identified communities, and providing concrete plans of action and clear metrics for documenting outcomes;
-Document the extent to which the approach has already scaled and its potential for further scaling;
-Specify jointly-developed research questions and document the investment of the partners in those questions;
-Provide work plans for implementation, improvement, data collection, analysis, and use; and
-Draw from RPP literature on assessing/evaluating the quality of the partnership to articulate plans for assessing the success of the work of the RPP.

All projects should provide research results or findings on one or more of the following:
-Strategies for improvement or implementation that address the shared goal of the researcher/practitioner collaborators; conceptual frameworks that address issues of scale, human capacity, and technical support for implementation and improvement in educational systems;
-Measures of organizational learning that assess the progress of implementation and improvement;
-Sustainable communities that can support implementation and improvement in the identified educational system; or documented practices with an ongoing forum for continued engagement of collaborators from various levels of the educational system.

Proposals may be submitted in the following size classes:
-Small proposals are designed to support the initial steps in establishing a strong and well-integrated RPP team that could successfully compete for a Medium or Large proposal in the near future;
-Medium proposals are designed to support the modest scaling of a promising approach by a well-defined RPP team; and
-Large proposals are designed to support the widespread scaling of an evidence-based approach by a RPP team that builds on prior collaborations.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 183161

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

Estimated Number of Awards: 24 approximately, including 10 small, 11 medium, and 3 large awards.

Estimated Size of Grant:

-Small Proposals: Maximum of $300,000
-Medium Proposals: Maximum of $1,000,000
-Large Proposals: Maximum of $2,000,000

Term of Contract:

Small Proposals may be for up to 2 years.

Medium Proposals may be for up to 3 years.

Large Proposals may be for up to 4 years.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

The categories of proposers eligible to submit proposals to the National Science Foundation are identified in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), Chapter I.E.

Who May Submit Proposals:

NSF welcomes proposals on behalf of all qualified scientists, engineers and educators. The Foundation strongly encourages women, minorities and persons with disabilities to participate fully in its programs. In accordance with Federal statutes, regulations and NSF policies, no person on grounds of race, color, age, sex, national origin or disability shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under, any program or activity receiving financial assistance from NSF, although some programs may have special requirements that limit eligibility.

Scientists, engineers and educators usually initiate proposals that are officially submitted by their employing organization. Before formal submission, the proposal may be discussed with appropriate NSF program staff. Graduate students are not encouraged to submit research proposals, but should arrange to serve as research assistants to faculty members. Some NSF divisions accept proposals for Doctoral Dissertation Research Grants when submitted by a faculty member on behalf of the graduate student.

Categories of Proposers:

Except where a program solicitation establishes more restrictive eligibility criteria, individuals and organizations in the following categories may submit proposals:

1. Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. IHEs located outside the US fall under paragraph 6. below.

Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs:
If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.

2. Nonprofit, Non-academic Organizations - Independent museums, observatories, research laboratories, professional societies and similar organizations located in the US that are directly associated with educational or research activities.

3. For-profit Organizations - US commercial organizations, especially small businesses with strong capabilities in scientific or engineering research or education. An unsolicited proposal from a commercial organization may be funded when the project is of special concern from a national point of view, special resources are available for the work, or the proposed project is especially meritorious. NSF is interested in supporting projects that couple industrial research resources and perspectives with those of universities; therefore, it especially welcomes proposals for cooperative projects involving both universities and the private commercial sector.

4. State and Local Governments - State educational offices or organizations and local school districts may submit proposals intended to broaden the impact, accelerate the pace, and increase the effectiveness of improvements in science, mathematics and engineering education in both K-12 and post- secondary levels.

5. Unaffiliated Individuals - Unaffiliated individuals in the US and US citizens rarely receive direct funding support from NSF. Recipients of Federal funds must be able to demonstrate their ability to fully comply with the requirements specified in 2 CFR § 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. As such, unaffiliated individuals are strongly encouraged to affiliate with an organization that is able to meet the requirements specified in 2 CFR § 200.

Unaffiliated individuals must contact the cognizant Program Officer prior to preparing and submitting a proposal to NSF.

6. Foreign Organizations - NSF rarely provides funding support to foreign organizations. NSF will consider proposals for cooperative projects involving US and foreign organizations, provided support is requested only for the US portion of the collaborative effort. In cases however, where the proposer considers the foreign organization’s involvement to be essential to the project (e.g., through subawards or consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain why local support is not feasible and why the foreign organization can carry out the activity more effectively. In addition, the proposed activity must demonstrate how one or more of the following conditions have been met:

-The foreign organization contributes a unique organization, facilities, geographic location and/or access to unique data resources not generally available to US investigators (or which would require significant effort or time to duplicate) or other resources that are essential to the success of the proposed project; and/or
-The foreign organization to be supported offers significant science and engineering education, training or research opportunities to the US.

7. Other Federal Agencies - NSF does not normally support research or education activities by scientists, engineers or educators employed by Federal agencies or FFRDCs. Under unusual circumstances, other Federal agencies and FFRDCs may submit proposals directly to NSF. A proposed project is only eligible for support if it meets one or more of the following exceptions, as determined by a cognizant NSF Program Officer:

-Special Projects. Under exceptional circumstances, research or education projects at other Federal agencies or FFRDCs that can make unique contributions to the needs of researchers elsewhere or to other specific NSF objectives may receive NSF support.
-National and International Programs. The Foundation may fund research and logistical support activities of other Government agencies or FFRDCs directed at meeting the goals of special national and international research programs for which the Foundation bears special responsibility, such as the US Antarctic Research Program.
-International Travel Awards. In order to ensure appropriate representation or availability of a particular expertise at an international conference, staff researchers of other Federal agencies may receive NSF international travel awards.

Proposers who think their project may meet one of the exceptions listed above must contact a cognizant NSF Program Officer before preparing a proposal for submission. In addition, a scientist, engineer or educator who has a joint appointment with a university and a Federal agency (such as a Veterans Administration Hospital, or with a university and a FFRDC) may submit proposals through the university and may receive support if he/she is a faculty member (or equivalent) of the university, although part of his/her salary may be provided by the Federal agency. Preliminary inquiry must be made to the appropriate program before preparing a proposal for submission.

Pre-Application Information:

The deadline for full proposals is May 9, 2018 .

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):
-May 9, 2018
-February 12, 2019
-Second Tuesday in February, Annually Thereafter

Full proposals may be submitted via FastLane or

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Contact Information:

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

Janice Cuny, Program Officer, CISE/CNS
(703) 292-8489

Karen King, Program Director, EHR/DRL
(703) 292-5124

CFDA Number:

47.070 --- Computer and Information Science and Engineering 47.076 --- Education and Human Resources

Funding or Pin Number:

NSF 18-537

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

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