Facilitator of Polar STEAM (Polar STEAM): Polar Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

NSF’s Office of Polar Programs (OPP) and the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) seek proposals for a Facilitator to manage a Polar Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (Polar STEAM) initiative. The successful proposal for the Facilitator of Polar STEAM will be administered as a Cooperative Agreement (CA) over a five-year period of performance, with the option for a renewal for up to five years pending review.

Polar STEAM is a new initiative, which encompasses and enriches two longstanding efforts:

  • an Antarctic Artists and Writers (AAW) program to support writing and artistic projects specifically designed to increase the public’s understanding and appreciation of the Antarctic and the human endeavors on the southernmost continent; and
  • support for educators, both formal and informal, to travel to the Antarctic and Arctic to work collaboratively with researchers (hereafter, the Polar Educators program).

These efforts have for decades provided a unique professional development opportunity that benefited not only the individual artists, writers, and educators but also the diverse communities they served.  Both programs provided unique avenues for NSF-funded researchers to enhance the Broader Impact of their work. Incorporating Art into STEM learning experiences (commonly referred to as STEAM, e.g., Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) allows students of all ages to access science concepts from different vantage points, promotes creative thinking, speaks to a broader swath of learners, and enhances engagement and understanding. Polar STEAM will promote diversity, equity and inclusion in polar science programs and allow for participation by a broader range of educators.

The Facilitator of Polar STEAM will be responsible for managing the AAW and Polar Educator program(s) as parallel but synergistic programs that promote connections and innovative partnerships between their participants. To accomplish this, the Facilitator will need to demonstrate the ability to work with the two programs’ diverse stakeholders and audiences.

The creation of a Cooperative Agreement (CA) for a new Facilitator for Polar STEAM will 1) resume the AAW program; 2) expand the reach of the educators’ program to include faculty from community colleges and Minority Serving Institutions; 3) help integrate both programs with the work of the OPP and EHR programs; 4) foster collaboration and coordination between the participants, i.e., artists, writers, educators and researchers; and 5) broaden the public impact of Polar STEAM. 

In response to this solicitation, NSF seeks proposals from a broad representation of PIs and institutions, including a geographically diverse set of institutions (including those in EPSCoR jurisdictions) and PIs who are women, early-career researchers, members of underrepresented groups, veterans, and persons with disabilities.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: 1


  • Duke Internal: Interested applicants from within Duke should contact dukeiln@duke.edu as early as possible.
  • Full Proposal Deadline: Feb. 25, 2022

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.
  • Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities.
  • For-profit organizations: U.S. commercial organizations, especially small businesses with strong capabilities in scientific or engineering research or education.
  • Other Federal Agencies and Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs): Contact the appropriate program before preparing a proposal for submission.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: 1

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or co-PI: 1

Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 1

One award for Facilitator Support Office. Amount is anticipated to be up to $700,000/year for each year of 5-year performance period. Additional, specific costs during the performance period will be considered based on essential, supplemental efforts identified in approved Annual Work Plans.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $3,500,000 to $4,000,000

Estimated award up to $3,500,000-$4,000,000 (up to $700,000 per year) over the five-year period of performance of the Cooperative Agreement, subject to the availability of funds

Funding Type





Arts & Humanities
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
International Opportunities
Social Sciences

External Deadline

February 25, 2022