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Special Initiatives Program

Announcement of Opportunity


2024 Programs

Academic Year
2024-2025 Programs

APPLICATIONS OPEN: August 11, 2023 November 1, 2023
APPLICATION DEADLINE: October 9, 2023 February 5, 2024
AWARD ANNOUNCEMENT: December 1, 2023 May 4, 2024
AWARD CYCLE: January 1 - August 31, 2024 July 1, 2024 - May 31, 2025

Special Initiatives Program Announcement of Opportunity 


Up to $5,000*
* Subject to availability of funds.


To provide planning and supplemental grants for new or on-going informal education projects that contain STEM-related content that supports NASA Mission Directorates and are intended to encourage, attract, or retain underrepresented groups in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematical fields, especially women, minorities, and persons with disabilities.

Proposed Projects Should

Meet the following objectives for members of underrepresented groups:

    1. Raise the level of exposure and interest of K-12 teachers, students, and the general public in space, aerospace, and space-related science, design, or technology and its potential benefits; and/or increase interest, recruitment, experience and training of underrepresented pre-college students in the pursuit of space- or aerospace-related science, design, or technology.
    2. Demonstrate self-sustaining and/or replicable capabilities.
    3. Improve the STEM pipeline by creating a program/project designed to include primarily underserved and/or underrepresented students or the teachers who specifically teach federally recognized underrepresented communities.

To Apply:

    (applicants will be required to update profile information annually).
  • CREATE a WSGC account
    (applicants will be required to update profile information annually).
  • Sign into your WSGC account and submit an application and supporting documents to SPECIAL INITIATIVES PROGRAM
    (applicants may apply to multiple funding programs)

Application Requirements:

To apply for SPECIAL INITIATIVES PROGRAM funding, the organization shall meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Completed/updated NASA STEM GATEWAY registration
  • Completed WSGC application online (see Supporting Materials Required with Application below)
  • Represent an established organization (e.g. K-12 and higher education schools, aerospace industries, government agencies, non-profit aerospace associations, etc.)
  • Minimum 50 % cost-share contribution

Current & Past Award Recipients

Supporting Materials Required with Application:

The proposal must address each of the categories listed below. Be sure to clearly number and label each category within the proposal.

  1. Sponsoring Organization Information: Provide demographic information for the sponsoring organization.
  2. Project Description: In 1-2 pages, clearly describe the goals of the new project or the enhancement of an existing project, how it fits into the organization’s scope, and the value of the project to the participants/recipients. State how the project’s goals align with the goals of the SPECIAL INITIATIVES PROGRAM. Specifically state how the project will:
  • Provide a rationale for the anticipated effectiveness of the project in recruiting/retaining promising students in STEM fields.
  • Support STEM education innovation that embraces the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and/or Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards for Science, by raising the level of exposure and interest of K-12 teachers, students, and the general public in space, aerospace, and space-related science, design, or technology and its potential benefits; increase interest, recruitment, experience and training of pre-college students in the pursuit of space- or aerospace-related science, design, or technology.
  • Demonstrate self-sustaining and/or replicable capabilities. (If this is or will be an on-going project, describe whether and how it might become self-sustaining. How can this project be shared with others interested in starting a like project?)
  • Demonstrate how the project will improve the STEM pipeline by including underserved and/or underrepresented students in the project or by including the teachers who specifically teach these populations.
  • Detail how this project aligns with the goals of one or more NASA Directorates or Centers. Please be specific. Because the WSGC is required to demonstrate the alignment of each of our projects with NASA Directorate or Center goals, proposals that do not demonstrate such alignment will not be funded. If this proposal focuses on pre-college education, state how the proposal relates to national or state education standards for science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics.
  1. Description of Anticipated Participants: In 500 words or less, please address the number of anticipated direct and indirect participants, education level break out, how they will be selected, and provide available demographic and numeric information on underrepresented minorities, women, and people with disabilities (Describe explicitly the split among women, underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities).
  2. Discussion of the Project: In less than three pages, discuss the proposed project in sufficient detail that the reviewers may ascertain its chance of success. The following should be noted specifically:
    1. Work plan
    2. Project classification: Identify project as NASA Pre-College Education Program or NASA Informal Education Program
    3. Schedule: Please include teacher, student, and/or community engagement dates when applicable.
    4. # of handouts, hands-on activities, events
    5. Self-evaluation criteria, including data on any resulting student interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) careers. Long-term data is preferred, especially for programs that have received previous funding.
    6. Types of presentations and/or papers that will be a by-product of this project.
    7. A list special facilities needed, and special supporting personnel or organizations.
    8. Include any history or prior results on the project and the planning status to date.
  3. Budget/Use of Funds: Provide a budget summary using the Grant Budget Proposal and Invoice Reporting Template Form. The proposal shall include a budget detail explaining the use of allowable funds for the proposed project including labor (Name/position, number of hours, hourly rate, and fringe calculation rates), travel (location, transportation costs, hotel costs, meal costs), participant support costs, materials and supplies, and any other costs (with equivalent detail).
    1. Budget proposals shall include a quarterly spend-down plan to demonstrate grant funds will be fully expended within the Summer or Academic Year Award Cycle.
    2. WSGC financially supports travel to and from the Wisconsin Space Conference if expenses are included in the budget proposal. Travel details should include purpose, location and duration.
      (*NOTE: A conference presentation is required for this award).
    3. A minimum 50% cost-share commitment is required.
    4. WSGC will not fund overhead; however, the organization’s 50% project match may include overhead cost-share.
    5. NASA (WSGC is a NASA-funded organization) does not accept the purchase of capital items as reasonable use of funds for this program. Consult the applicant’s institutional policies on what constitutes a capital purchase.
    6. Visits by active astronauts cannot be funded, as these visits are generally arranged through the Astronaut Office and are typically free of charge to the requesting organization.
    7. Field trips will only be considered as a minor component of a project, and only if they are necessary to the project goals.
    8. Laptops require pre-approval and must demonstrate use solely for the funded grant.
    9. Foreign travel is generally not allowable.

Award Acceptance Components:

As part of the award acceptance, awardees will present their project at the Annual Wisconsin Space Conference as outlined in the award agreement and submit the following documents on the WSGC application website under Program Applications/Your Applications:

  • Award Agreement Letter
  • Institution W9
  • Media Release Form
  • One-Paragraph Biography
  • PI Professional Photo
  • Quarterly Invoices/Cost Share Reports with Supporting Documentation
  • Office of Education Survey
  • Interim Report (if period of performance is greater than 6 months)
  • Summary Report
  • Present project at the Annual Wisconsin Space Conference
  • 2-3 Project Photos Featuring Program Participants
  • Outreach Story


Please direct questions about the Special Initiatives Program to:

Bojan Ljubenko, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Special Initiatives
Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium
Phone: 414-229-3951

Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium
Carthage College
2001 Alford Park Drive, Kenosha WI 53140
Phone: 262-551-6054

This funding opportunity is made available for the pursuit of space-related research and/or activities through the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program: NASA Educational Cooperative Agreement #80NSSC20M0123. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number for this award is 43.008. Award recipients are subject to the terms of this award.

All awards are fully competitive awards of opportunity in which applications are reviewed by the WSGC Technical Advisory Panel and other experts as needed. Awards are made by the Assistant Director based on recommendations from the Associate Director.

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