(CLOSED) Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Creating Equitable Pathways to STEM Graduate Education

Sponsor Name: 
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Description of the Award: 

The DEI in STEM Higher Education Program at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is seeking to invest in Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and in the establishment of partnerships between MSIs and graduate programs at other colleges and universities. The Foundation’s Equity-Minded Pathways to STEM Graduate Education program will support institutional pathways from MSIs to master’s and doctoral degree programs in astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science, data science, Earth sciences, economics, engineering, marine science, mathematics, physics, and statistics. Our intent is to create and strengthen diverse, inclusive, and equitable pathways to and through STEM graduate education with the recognition that student pathways are too often disrupted by systemic racism, discrimination, and bias through prevailing institutional and departmental policy and practice. We acknowledge that some innovative work is already underway across the country, but much more work needs to be done.

With these understandings, the Sloan Foundation is soliciting Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) for projects that seek to dismantle systemic barriers and create sustainable pathways to graduate education in the above disciplines for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students. Compelling LOIs will result in the invitation of a full proposal. Proposed projects may take multiple forms, for example, planning activities on MSI campuses that set the stage for new pathways between MSIs and graduate programs at other MSIs or at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs); projects that establish mutually beneficial partnerships between undergraduate and graduate programs at two or more institutions, at least one of which must be a MSI; and reform of graduate recruitment efforts, admission policies and processes, mentoring practices, and other gatekeeping (or gateway) structures within STEM graduate programs that open doors for students from MSIs. In short, we are looking to invest in efforts that seek to change the nature of graduate pathways at multiple levels, instead of reinforcing existing systems that fail to truly serve many Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students.

PI Eligibility: Lead investigators from submitting and partner institutions should be at the full, associate, or assistant professor level, a department chair, or in an administrative role with high connectivity to academic positions. Such individuals should come from non-profit two- and/or four-year institutions, or organizations that serve higher education professionals or institutions. Submissions from diverse teams led by women and Black, Latinx, and Indigenous individuals are strongly encouraged.

Three types of grants will be funded:

  1. Planning grants to support two or more institutions to conduct internal reviews of existing barriers to student success and for analysis and planning for future systemic change partnerships/collaborations ($75,000 for 1 year);
  2. Seed grants to support work at two or more institutions that seek to formalize existing systemic change partnerships/collaborations and launch a small set of pilot initiatives ($250,000 over 1-2 years); and
  3. Implementation grants to support work at two or more institutions that allow for the creation, augmentation or scaling of significant formal systemic change partnerships/collaborations ($500,000 over 2-3 years).

Planning Grants to Two or More Institutions

Planning grants will support work at two or more institutions (one of which must be an MSI) seeking to set the stage for the establishment of a partnership or set of partnerships that yield systemic change, but which will first require an assessment of the need and time for partnership activities. Projects must demonstrate a clear roadmap to partnership through a well-defined set of planning activities.

Institutional Partnerships and Collaborations

For seed and implementation grants, institutional partnerships should consist of two or more institutions (one of which must be an MSI), to include individual colleges and universities, institutional systems, and/or organizations facilitating such partnerships (e.g., professional societies and associations). Such partnerships must demonstrate the potential, or preliminary evidence, of promoting strong and sustainable pathways from undergraduate to graduate education in one or more of the named STEM disciplines for Black, Latinx, and/or Indigenous students. More specifically, partnerships should foster relationships between undergraduate programs and master’s and/or doctoral programs. Creative partnerships, such as those that include a business or industry partner, a non-profit organization or association, or a federal research lab or other federal agency partner, are encouraged.

Limit (Number of applicants permitted per institution): 
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Jun 01, 2021
OVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

nterested applicants should upload the following documents in sequence in one PDF file (File name: Last name_SloanDEI_2021 no later than 4:00 p.m. on the internal submission deadline:

1. Cover Letter (1 page, pdf):

  • Descriptive title of proposed activity
  • PI name, departmental affiliations(s) and contact information
  • Co-PI's names and departmental affiliation(s)
  • Names of other key personnel
  • Participating institution(s)
  • Title of this funding opportunity
  • Grant type (Planning, Seed, Implementation)

2. Project Description (no more than two pages, pdf)

Submissions should address the following questions

  • Significance. What is the specific problem the project is aiming to solve?
  • Project Activities. What is the nature and scope of the planned activities for the project? (Include which individuals/institutions will be primarily responsible for which activities)
  • Project Team. How is the project team well-suited for this project? (Address how the parties are also suited for collaboration)
  • Partnerships. How will the project ensure mutual benefit across the participating institutions?
  • Measures of Success. How will you know if this project is successful?
  • Additional Sources of Support. What other sources of support can the project leverage to ensure its success?

3. 2-page CV's of Investigators

Formatting Guidelines:

Font/size: Times New Roman (11 pt.)
Document margins: 1.0” (top, bottom, left and right)
Standard paper size (8 ½” x 11)

To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
This limited submission is in downselect: 
Penn State may only submit a specific number of proposals to this funding opportunity. The number of NOIs received require that an internal competition take place, thus, a downselect process has commenced. No Penn State researchers may apply to this opportunity outside of this downselect process. To apply for this limited submission, please use this link:
OVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Tuesday, May 4, 2021 - 4:00pm
For help or questions: 

The Office of Foundation Relations is available to consult on proposal narrative elements and answer other foundation-related questions. Applicants should please contact Sophie Penney, Ph.D., Director of Foundation Relations (swp2@psu.edu) for additional support.

Reginald Hamilton (CoE)