NSF Facilitator of Polar STEAM (Polar STEAM)

Please see the full solicitation for complete information about the funding opportunity. Below is a summary assembled by the Research & Innovation Office (RIO).

Program Summary 

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.


CU Internal Deadline: 11:59pm MST November 29, 2021

Sponsor Application Deadline: 5:00pm MST February 25, 2022

Internal Application Requirements (all in PDF format)

  • Project Summary (3 pages maximum): 1) Describe the overall approach for providing a cost-effective program that will support educators who apply to work in the Arctic or Antarctic with polar researchers, educators who wish to participate virtually, and artists and writers who apply to work at NSF-supported facilities in Antarctica. 2) Detail the experience, expertise, and capability of the proposer to perform specific tasks. 3) Explain the project’s management plan to achieve project outcomes.
  • PI Curriculum Vitae
  • Budget Overview (up to 1 page): A basic budget outlining project costs is sufficient; detailed OCG budgets are not required.

To access the online application, visit: https://cuboulderovcr.secure-platform.com/a/solicitations/6656/home


Collaborations and partnerships are encouraged, however in the case of proposals involving multiple organizations, a single organization must be identified as the lead, and a single proposal describing the entire project must be submitted by that organization. Funds may be distributed among partner organizations via subawards from the lead organization. Consortia members may not submit separate proposals.

Limited Submission Guidelines

Only one proposal may be submitted by CU Boulder.

Award Information

Award Amount: Up to $3,500,000-$4,000,000 (up to $700,000 per year)

Award Duration: 5 years

Number of Awards: 1