National Science Foundation “Dear Colleague” Letters

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In addition to program descriptions, announcements, and solicitations, “Dear Colleague” letters (DCLs) are an important category of funding opportunities made available by the National Science Foundation (NSF). According to the most recent Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide, “DCLs are intended to provide general information to the community, clarify or amend an existing policy or document, or inform the NSF community about upcoming opportunities or special competitions for supplements to existing awards.” DCLs are often issued in response to major natural or man-made events, such as recent requests for rapid response research proposals in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also are issued to bring attention to focal areas of research or specific types of proposals.

For members of the ATE community, paying attention to DCLs can be a useful way to find new funding or supplement existing research funds. The NSF will issue such letters throughout the year to highlight areas of science or types of proposals that are of particular interest. 

Currently, there are several DCLs that will be relevant to members of the ATE community:

NSF 21-076: Dear Colleague Letter: A New Supplemental Funding Opportunity for Skills Training in Advanced Research & Technology (START)

This letter announces a new supplemental funding opportunity for awardees of the ATE Program and the Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers (IUCRC) Program. This supplemental funding opportunity provides students, faculty, and student/faculty teams in two-year Institutions of Higher Education (2-yr IHEs) with experiential learning opportunities through research internships that involve IUCRC Centers and associated Center research projects. 

NSF 19-057: Dear Colleague Letter: International Training and Education in Advanced Technologies (ATE-I)

This letter invites grantees with an active ATE award to participate in international training and education opportunities. ATE grantees can apply for supplemental funding to support international short-term visits by U.S. faculty and students at two-year Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) to vocational/technical schools and industrial institutions in Austria, France, Germany, Netherlands, and Spain. 

NSF 20-054: Dear Colleague Letter: Undergraduate Research Experiences in Advanced Technological Education (ATE-URE)

This letter invites grantees with an active ATE award to submit a request for supplemental funding that supports undergraduate research experiences (UREs). The requests can be for wide-ranging, high-impact undergraduate research experiences, ranging from traditional independent student research experiences to experiential learning applied research experiences.

NSF 21-110: Dear Colleague Letter: Persons with Disabilities – STEM Engagement and Access (PWD-SEA)

With this letter, the NSF seeks to increase the engagement of persons with disabilities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields and STEM education. As such, it encourages submission of new proposals, or requests for supplemental funding to existing awards, to support existing or new access to and engagement in STEM learning, research, and workforce development at proposing or awardee organizations for students, postdoctoral scholars, or faculty and staff with disabilities. 

To learn more about DCLs, members of the ATE community are encouraged to join ATE Central and ATE program officers at our upcoming Office Hours, to be held on Friday, January 28, from noon-1:00 pm (CST). This event will provide an overview of some of the current offerings mentioned above and provide an opportunity for discussion. This is a great chance to hear from community members about their experiences with this type of funding and to get questions answered by NSF program officers. Interested readers can register for the ‘Dear Colleague’ Letters Office Hours or contact the relevant NSF Program Officers for questions about specific DCLs. 

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