NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund Call for Proposals FAQ

The following information is for 2021 (Round 17).

Given the challenges that the COVID pandemic is posing for colleges and universities, we are seeking proposals for developing and implementing online initiatives, including instruction, advising, recruiting, mentoring, tutoring, community building, or other online techniques to support diversity in your computing program (undergraduate- and/or graduate-level). This year we are excited to be able to increase the award amount to $20,000, and we welcome applications from all types of institutions, including community colleges, minority-serving institutions, undergraduate-only institutions, and research institutions.

About the Award

The NCWIT Academic Alliance (AA) Seed Fund program provides up to $20,000 in funds to Academic Alliance member organizations to develop and implement initiatives to broaden participation in their computing programs. After 17 rounds of Seed Fund awards, we are changing the call this round to have a specific focus, so be sure to read all the details. The NCWIT Academic Alliance (AA) Seed Fund awards non-profit, U.S. (including U.S. territories) college or university AA members with funds (up to $20,000 per recipient) for projects that support inclusivity in an online environment within their postsecondary computing and information technology programs. 

Eligibility

  • Any faculty or staff member at an institution that is a member of the NCWIT Academic Alliance as listed here: www.ncwit.org/aamembers, is eligible. If your organization is not yet a member of the AA, complete the online form by November 2, 2020: www.ncwit.org/aamembershipform. Membership is free for all non-profit, accredited institutions of higher education in the United States.
  • Recipient institutions must be a non-profit, U.S. (including U.S. territories) college or university, including community colleges, minority-serving institutions, undergraduate-only institutions, and research institutions.
  • The principal investigator (PI) must be (or become) a Member Representative of record for their institution.
  • Previous seed fund recipients are eligible for this year’s call.

Strategic Focus for 2021 Seed Fund

We are seeking proposals that focus on providing inclusive student experiences in online environments, including, but not limited to, recruiting, instruction, advising, mentoring, tutoring, building student community, and belonging in the program. Proposals should utilize existing evidence-based practices or new practices that are grounded in theory or research. Proposals for programs aimed at pre-high school-age students will not be considered.

Proposal Content

All Applications

Apply online here: www.ncwit.org/Seed_Fund_Application. Be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Proposal title
  • Principal investigator’s name(s) and email(s)
  • Single point of contact name and email address
  • Institution and department name
  • Institution type
  • Proposal summary (40 words)

    Please provide us with a summary of your proposal. Examples can be found here.

  • Project description (500 words)

    Clearly explain the specifics of and rationale for the project, including relevant details about your institution, department, and the populations you serve. The project should implement either existing evidence-based practices or new practices that are grounded in theory or research. Please refer to peer-reviewed literature and/or NCWIT resources (e.g., research reports, Promising Practices, Top 10’s, etc. found at www.ncwit.org/higheredresources), or rigorously collected evaluation data.

  • Implementation plan and schedule (300 words)

    Outline the steps necessary to put your solutions into practice. It is a step-by-step list of tasks with assigned owners and due dates.

  • Evaluation plan (300 words)

    At minimum, your evaluation plan should describe how you plan to gather evaluation data from project participants. NCWIT will provide a survey to collect data important to our funders. You may collect additional data on your program. NCWIT will ask for data approximately 12 months after funding.

  • Sustainability plan (300 words)

    Describe your plan for continuation or growth of the project if it is successful. This could include a viable plan for securing additional funding to continue the project and/or for disseminating successful practices.

  • Budget justification—maximum $20,000 (300 words)

    The budget justification is your chance to tell reviewers how you are going to use the money you are asking for. Funding cannot be used for equipment purchases, alcohol, conferences, or to support lobbying.

  • References list (300 words)

    Citations should point to published research (including, if relevant, NCWIT resources) and directly support your proposed intervention.

  • Letter of support from chair or dean (submitted as a separate PDF)

    Upload a signed letter of support from the dean or department chair expressing their endorsement for the project idea, the PI’s ability to execute on it, and the way in which it fits into departmental priorities. (Note: This letter of support will be submitted on the same online form so please have it ready to upload upon beginning your proposal. The letter should be no longer than one page, be on organizational letterhead, and uploaded as a PDF.)

Award Timeline

  • Deadline for proposal submission: November 2, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. (MST)
  • Deadline for letter of recommendation from chair or dean: November 2, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. MST
  • Deadline to request NCWIT membership (if not currently a member): November 2, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. MST
  • Awardees notified: February 2021
  • Deadline for recipients to submit payment information: March 2021

Review Process and Criteria

Applications are peer-reviewed by members of the Academic Alliance and NCWIT staff. Based on those reviews, NCWIT AA Co-chairs submit recommendations to the NCWIT CEO and the NCWIT President and CTO for final approval.  

Applications are reviewed using the following criteria:

  • proposal content, including a clear focus on inclusive strategies for online instruction, advising, recruiting, mentoring, tutoring community building, or other online techniques to support diversity in your computing program. Proposals for programs aimed at pre-high school-age students will not be considered
  • draw on research-based practices for inclusivity and/or online learning
  • likelihood of successful implementation and timeline
  • suitability of evaluation plan
  • sustainability and budget justification
  • results and outcomes

Seed Fund Award Recipient Agreements

  • Acknowledgment of award sponsors is important for continued funding of the NCWIT Seed Fund. We ask award recipients to promote their programs and include mention of Microsoft Research and NCWIT with a press release or award announcement.
  • Program Reporting: Award recipients are required to provide evaluation data on project participants at the end of the project year, and annually until funds are exhausted. Award recipients will be given technical assistance to help support strong evaluation, and NCWIT will provide a survey that fund recipients can administer to participants to aid in data collection. Recipients may also be interviewed by the NCWIT Evaluation team. 

NCWIT Round 17 Seed Fund Award Application Summary

Deadline

November 2, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. MST

Submission POC

Academic Alliance Awards Manager, Kim Kalahar: academicawards@ncwit.org

Budget

Requests may be made for up to $20,000      

Format

An online application, including the upload of a one-page letter of support in PDF format, should be submitted here: www.ncwit.org/Seed_Fund_Application

Checklist

  • proposal summary
  • project description
  • implementation plan and schedule
  • evaluation plan
  • sustainability plan 
  • budget justification
  • references list (NCWIT resources or other research)
    letter of recommendation from chair or dean (submitted as a separate PDF)
  • If you or your institution is not currently a member of the NCWIT AA, submit your request for membership by November 2, 2020. 
  • for more information visit www.ncwit.org/seedfund 

NCWIT Seed Fund Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who is eligible to apply?

    Any non-profit, U.S. college or university (including U.S. territories) that is a member of the NCWIT Academic Alliance (AA). We strongly encourage applications from a variety of institutional settings, including community colleges, minority-serving institutions, undergraduate institutions, and research institutions. Previous seed fund recipients are eligible for this year’s call.

  2. What types of projects are within the scope of the fund?

    Projects should focus on anything within their computing department that has now moved to an online format as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Suggestions are online instruction, advising, recruiting, community building, mentoring, tutoring or building a community. We’d like to hear what you’re doing to continue to ensure that you’re being inclusive. Proposals aimed at pre-high school-age students will not be considered.

  3. Will multiple proposal applications be considered from the same institution?

    Yes. Potential synergies or overlaps between proposals, however, should be addressed and will be material to the review process.

  4. Are these funds subject to university overhead?

    The Seed Fund is a gift, thus NCWIT prefers that the full amount be given to the award recipient. However, if necessary a maximum of 10% can be used for university overhead/indirect costs. 

  5. Are there restrictions on how the funds can be used?

    Funding cannot be used for equipment purchases, alcohol, conferences, or to support lobbying.

  6. Can multiple institutions submit a shared proposal?

    A regional/multi-institutional project is acceptable but must remain within the stated funding limits.

  7. When will decisions be made?

    Decisions will be made within four months after the submission deadline.

  8. How will awards be decided?

    Applications are peer-reviewed by members of the Academic Alliance and NCWIT staff. Based on those reviews, NCWIT AA Co-chairs submit their recommendations to the NCWIT CEO, as well as the NCWIT President and CTO, for final approval.

  9. Is an institution outside the United States eligible to apply?

    No. Funding can only be sent to U.S. non-profit institutions (including U.S. territories).

  10. Is a for-profit institution eligible to apply?

    No. Seed Fund gifts can only be sent to non-profit institutions that submit an IRS form W-9.

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