ASCB is seeking to expand leadership in science outreach, including science literacy for the public and advocacy/public policy by providing funding and support for scientists with bold ideas to engage their communities in the process of science.

ASCB is seeking to:

  • Help scientists reach public audiences to build trust in scientists and increase appreciation and understanding of science.
  • Enable scientists to undertake a significant pilot/case study to become competitive for funding from other sources to sustain and even expand their project.
  • Support scientists who may want to transition to a career in public engagement or increase the professionalism of their approach to engaging the public.
  • Provide mentoring and networking opportunities to scientists who want to expand their public engagement work.

 

Applications will open in January.

 

 

Project DescriptionApplication Process/SelectionTimeline

The ASCB Simons Foundation Outreach Grant Program will provide funding, mentoring, and project assessment to ASCB members interested in engaging with their community and gaining experience in public outreach. At the core of the program are grants of up to $35,000 to pay for materials and supplies, marketing, and salary for public engagement projects. We expect most grants to be in the $10,000 – $35,000 range. We selected this amount as being large enough to support the time and materials necessary to create significant pilot projects that in turn could become competitive for even more substantial funding. These grants can be thought of as bridge funds to help individuals move from completely homegrown efforts to fully funded efforts.

In addition to grant funding, ASCB will provide all grantees with a suite of benefits that will help them be successful in their projects. One of the challenges for scientists entering the public engagement sphere is lack of support and knowledge. As a scientific society, ASCB has experience in providing networking and professional development opportunities for our members. We will use this experience to build a program that will help the grantees by providing assessment, mentoring, networking, and professional development.

First, we will provide access to evaluators who can help the grantees evaluate the impact of their project. When seeking funds from federal sources and many foundations, projects are more competitive if they demonstrate a measureable impact. We anticipate that the impact for many of these projects will be modest because we will only be able to measure a short-term impact. Pilot data can serve as foundation for future experiments in informal science education that are publishable and can add to the literature. The outcomes of each project will be varied; we anticipate it will likely focus on changes in knowledge or attitude. For scientists who may have never evaluated a project of this type it can be challenging to identify appropriate measurable outcomes and appropriate methods. Therefore ASCB will provide grantees access to a centralized evaluator, the Lifelong Learning Group (LLG) to help advise them as they develop their evaluation approach. We then anticipate the grantees will execute the evaluation protocols. The ASCB will require grantees to assess the impact of their programs and provide a summary of the evaluation approach and findings in a written report.

Second, we will provide mentoring for the grantees. Scientists starting public engagement activities are often unaware of similar projects. They also can benefit from learning about best practices in the field. Because the informal science education area has a nascent publication record, much of the knowledge in the field is exchanged through on-the-job training, meetings, and mentoring. To help grantees further their public engagement knowledge and practice ASCB will identify and connect them with mentors who have expertise in a relevant public engagement modality and can provide advice and guidance. The mentoring will occur through phone calls and face-to-face meetings. Once we have connected the grantees with their mentors we will provide travel funds to enable them to meet in person.

Third, we will provide opportunities for networking. Scientists who work in public engagement can feel isolated in their local communities. We will help them network both within the scientific community and in their interest area in science engagement. We will provide travel funds to attend both the ASCB Annual Meeting and a science communications meeting or training program (e.g., International Public Science Events Conference (IPSEC), the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), or the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers, as well as others). At the ASCB meeting we will provide a networking reception with a featured speaker to bring together the awardees of the COMPASS outreach grants, ASCB Simons Foundation Outreach grants, and members of COMPASS and our Public Information Committee to build a community that values public engagement in ASCB. We will also encourage the awardees to present their plans and progress as part of the career enhancement programming at the meeting.

We will connect the aforementioned groups via a private group on LinkedIn, which will also be used to disseminate information relevant to the group.

Applicants will submit a short, less than 5-page proposal outlining your target audience, project plan, proposed impact, timeline, budget, and career goals. The proposal should also include a short bio, CV, or resume that lists your relevant public outreach experience. The application site will be open from January through March.

 

A review panel will select grantees on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Prior work and experience (Does the grantee have a track record of accomplishing a related project at a smaller scale?)
  • Impact on audiences with a preference for with underserved audiences (Will the project have a positive impact on the community it is trying to reach?)
  • Innovation (Is the project novel?)
  • Engagement approach (Has the grantee thought about how to work with the community rather than involving the community only as an audience?) –
  • Likelihood of success (Do the project and budget seem realistic? Is the grantee prepared to accomplish the project they describe?).

Priority will be given to graduate students and postdocs. Applicants must be or become ASCB members.

January – March 2018

  • Application open on ASCB website

April – June 2018

  • Applications close
  • Applicant review, selection, and notification of successful grantees
  • Identification and recruitment of mentors
  • Grantees start projects

July – November 2018

  • Grantees continue work on projects
  • Grantees identify and potentially attend science communication conference or course.
  • Grantees visit with mentors

December 2018

  • Grantees attend 2018 ASCB|EMBO Meeting in San Diego, CA
    • Networking reception and lecture
    • Grantees present their work

January – March 2019

  • Grantees complete projects

April – June 2019

  • Grantees submit final report

Funded by Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation

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