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During the closing plenary of the Broadening Impact: NSF-Funded Projects at Two-Year Colleges Conference, Celeste Carter addressed several issues that surfaced during small-group discussions about grant funding.
The groups were asked to identify the challenges community college educators face when submitting proposals to the National Science Foundation and programmatic areas the NSF should consider funding.
Carter is the lead program director of the Advanced Technological Education program, which this year awarded $60 million in competitive grants to technician education initiatives led by community colleges.
She clarified that the NSF does not require principal investigators to have doctorates. Some grantees are adjunct faculty members or individuals with bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Whatever an applicant’s academic credentials, he or she should clearly explain what qualifies them to lead the proposed initiative, Carter said.
Carter also pointed out that the agency does not have specific diversity requirements. Its broad definition of diversity goes beyond ethnicity and race to encompass low-income students, individuals with disabilities, and women in fields where they have been historically underrepresented.
She noted that the NSF does fund equipment purchases when applicants can justify the expenditures as critical to overall project success.
In response to suggestions that the NSF simply create new programs or increase funding, Carter warned, “It is not really an easy process to start any programs.” New NSF programs typically begin in the president’s budget proposal, and are subject to the same negotiations with Congress as the rest of the federal budget.
To prepare exemplary NSF grant applications, Carter recommends the following steps.
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