Sponsor Deadline
Posted: 10/25/2023

Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)

The Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) Program is committed to funding research and practice, with continued focus on investigating a range of informal STEM learning (ISL) experiences and environments that make lifelong learning a reality. This Program seeks proposals that center equity and belonging, and further the well-being of individuals and communities who have historically been and continue to be excluded, underserved, or underrepresented, due to gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability status, neurodiversity, geographic location, and economic status, among others, as well as their intersections. The current solicitation encourages proposals from institutions and organizations that serve public audiences, and specifically focus on public engagement with and understanding of STEM, including community STEM; public participation in scientific research (PPSR); science communication; intergenerational STEM engagement; and STEM media.

Projects funded by AISL should contribute to research and practice that further illuminates informal STEM learning’s role in equity and belonging in STEM; personal and educational success in STEM; advancing public engagement in scientific discovery; fostering interest in STEM careers; creating and enhancing the theoretical and empirical foundations for effective informal STEM learning; improving community vibrancy; and/or enhancing science communication and the public’s engagement in and understanding of STEM and STEM processes.

The AISL Program funds five types of projects: (1) Synthesis; (2) Conference; (3) Partnership Development and Planning; (4) Integrating Research and Practice; and (5) Research in Support of Wide-reaching Public Engagement with STEM.

NOTE: Activities primarily focused on formal educational systems or outcomes are outside the scope of work supported by this program. AISL does not fund formal elementary, middle, or high school, or undergraduate or graduate education, whether in-person or online. Similarly, AISL does not fund formal workforce training (e.g., professional certifications and degree-earning programs) that is not aimed directly at informal STEM learning professionals.


Full Proposal Deadline Date:  January 10, 2024 (Second Wednesday in January, Annually Thereafter)


Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 48 to 77

Pending availability of funds, it is anticipated that about 6-8 Synthesis awards, 10-15 Conference awards, 10-15 Partnership Development and Planning awards, 12-16 Integrating Research and Practice awards and 5-8 Research in Support of Wide-reaching Public Engagement with STEM Project awards will be made. AISL will also fund 1-3 awards made through the Research Coordination Networks (RCN) mechanism and 4-12 CAREER awards and REU supplements.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $28,382,000 to $41,000,000

Limits for funding requests and duration of AISL proposals under this solicitation are as follows: (1) Synthesis projects: $100,000 to $500,000 with a duration up to two years; (2) Conference projects: $75,000 to $250,000 with a duration up to two years; (3) Partnership Development and Planning projects: $50,000 to $150,000 with a duration of one to one and one-half years; (4) Integrating Research and Practice projects: $250,000 to $2,000,000 with a duration of two to five years; and (5) Research in Support of Wide-reaching Public Engagement with STEM projects: $1,000,000 to $3,500,000 with a duration of two to five years.

Internal Nomination