(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 Creating Equitable 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 facilitate the creation and strengthening of 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. This is our second year announcing this call, inspired by the innovative work underway across the country and with the recognition that much more work needs to be done.

We invite Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) for projects that seek to dismantle systemic barriers and create sustainable pathways to graduate education in the stated disciplines for domestic Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o students. Compelling LOIs will result in the invitation of a full proposal.

Proposed projects may take multiple forms, including, 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) and projects that establish or scale existing mutually beneficial partnerships between undergraduate and graduate programs at two or more institutions, at least one of which must be a MSI. In addition to establishing seamless pathways, projects need to include efforts to address policies and practices that reinforce existing systems that act as barriers to access and success in graduate education for domestic Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o students. These could include efforts to examine and/or redesign graduate recruitment, admission policies and processes, mentoring practices, departmental climate, and other gatekeeping (or gateway) structures to and through STEM graduate education. Since the barriers to equitable pathways don’t end once students are admitted to graduate programs, the Foundation is looking for evidence that projects will promote and enhance existing efforts to reduce and eliminate policies, procedures, and institutional climates and cultures that prevent students from successfully navigating the pathways to attaining a graduate degree.

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, Indigenous, and Latina/o 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 domestic Black, Indigenous, and/or Latina/o students. More specifically, partnerships should foster relationships between undergraduate programs and master’s and/or doctoral programs.

Limit (Number of applicants permitted per institution): 
Sponsor LOI Deadline: 
May 01, 2022
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Jul 31, 2022
OSVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

Interested applicants should upload the following documents in sequence in one PDF file (File name: Last name_SloanDEI_2022) 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:
OSVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Thursday, March 17, 2022 - 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.

Christina Grozinger (AgSci)