Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (NSF INCLUDES): NSF INCLUDES Alliances

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

In 2016, the National Science Foundation (NSF) unveiled a set of “Big Ideas,” 10 bold, long-term research and process ideas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering (see The Big Ideas represent unique opportunities to position our Nation at the cutting edge of global science and engineering leadership by bringing together diverse disciplinary perspectives to support convergence research. As such, when responding to this solicitation, even though proposals must be submitted to the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate/Division of Human Resource Development (HRD), once received, the proposals will be managed by a cross-disciplinary team of NSF Program Directors.

The NSF INCLUDES Big Idea is a comprehensive national initiative to enhance U.S. leadership in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) discoveries and innovations focused on NSF's commitment to diversity, inclusion, and broadening participation in these fields. The vision of NSF INCLUDES is to catalyze the STEM enterprise to work collaboratively for inclusive change, resulting in a STEM workforce that reflects the population of the Nation. More specifically, NSF INCLUDES seeks to improve collaborative efforts aimed at enhancing the preparation, increasing the participation, and ensuring the contributions of individuals from groups that have been historically underrepresented and underserved in the STEM enterprise such as African Americans, Alaska Natives, Hispanics, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Native Pacific Islanders, persons with disabilities, persons from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and women and girls. Significant advancement in the inclusion of underrepresented groups in STEM will result in a new generation of STEM talent and leadership to secure our nation’s future and long-term economic competitiveness.

The NSF INCLUDES National Network is composed of:

  • Alliances,
  • Design and Development Launch Pilots,
  • Coordination Hub,
  • Other NSF funded projects,
  • Federal Coordination in STEM (FC-STEM) agencies,
  • Scholars engaged in broadening participation research, and
  • Organizations that support the development of talent from all sectors of society to build an inclusive STEM workforce.

A hallmark of NSF INCLUDES is the focus on the five design elements of collaborative infrastructure to achieve systemic change. Collaborative infrastructure refers to the process by which partnering organizations come together to map out mutually reinforcing activities through: (1) shared vision, (2) partnerships, (3) goals and metrics, (4) leadership and communication, and (5) expansion, sustainability and scale. Through these five design elements of collaborative infrastructure, the successful implementation of NSF INCLUDES will result in substantial advances toward a diverse, innovative, and well-prepared STEM workforce to support our Nation’s economy and continued U.S. leadership in the global STEM enterprise. It is anticipated that NSF’s investment will contribute to new and improved STEM career pathways, policies, opportunities to learn, and practices for equity and inclusion. The initiative is supported by the NSF INCLUDES Coordination Hub ( that provides a framework for communication and networking, network assistance and reinforcement, and visibility and expansion for the NSF INCLUDES National Network as a whole.

Through this solicitation, NSF INCLUDES will support the establishment and growth of new Alliances that employ a collaborative infrastructure approach to address a critical broadening participation challenge in STEM at scale.

An organization may serve as a lead organization on only one proposal. Proposals that exceed the organizational limit (beyond the first submission based on timestamp) will be returned without review. No exceptions will be made.


  • Duke Internal: Aug. 27, 2021
  • Letter of Intent (required): Oct. 4, 2021
  • Full Proposal Deadline(s): Jan. 25, 2022

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

An organization may serve as a lead organization on only one proposal. Proposals that exceed the organizational limit (beyond the first submission based on timestamp) will be returned without review. No exceptions will be made.

Full proposals involving multiple organizations may be submitted two ways:

  • a single submission from a lead organization, with other collaborating organizations included as subawardees, OR
  • separate submissions from a lead organization and ONE collaborating organization, with any additional collaborating organizations included as subawardees.

See PAPPG Chapter II.D.3 for additional information on collaborative proposals.

An individual may serve as a PI or Co-PI on only one NSF INCLUDES Alliance proposal. Proposals that exceed the PI or Co-PI limit (beyond the first submission based on timestamp) will be returned without review. No exceptions will be made.



Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 1 to 3

NSF INCLUDES anticipates funding up to three Alliances with a duration of five years, contingent upon the availability of funds and receipt of competitive proposals. Awards will range from $1,000,000 - $2,000,000 per year.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $2,000,000 to $3,000,000

In FY 2021, approximately $3,000,000 is available to fund the first year of Alliance cooperative agreements. NSF INCLUDES expects to provide up to $10 million in support for each Alliance over a five-year period of performance, contingent upon the availability of funds.

Funding Type





Curriculum Development
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational
Social Sciences

Internal Nomination

Owing to the sponsor's restriction on the number of applications that may be submitted from Duke, anyone wishing to pursue nomination should submit the following materials:

  • The Letter of Intent (LOI) should include a brief synopsis (less than 2,500 characters) of:

    • the target population(s) and critical broadening participation in STEM challenge to be addressed through the Alliance,
    • the proposed collaborative infrastructure theory of action (e.g., collective impact, networked improvement community),
    • the Alliance design and activities to be undertaken, and
    • a list of potential partners.

Please submit internal materials through My Research Proposal. (Code ILN)

Instructions for creating an account (if needed) and submitting your materials:

Internal Deadline

August 27, 2021

External Deadline

October 4, 2021