Pre-application Proposal for Creating a Research Action Cluster (RAC)

The purpose of the Research Actions Clusters is to seed work that has the potential to transform undergraduate STEM education by leveraging the unique capacities of centers or a network of centers. Each selected RAC can apply for up to $15,000 for the activities of the RAC for one year, and may apply for additional funding in following years. For this round, funded RAC activities are to begin fall 2017.

The NSEC seeks to support 1-3 RACs for the AY 2017-2018 cycle.

Applications for RACs must meet these criteria

  • span multiple campuses (university system/s) and include evidence of institutional buy-in
  • solve a problem that is hard to address as single campuses
  • benefit the broader community (NSEC or nationally)
  • focused enough that it can be conducted by a RAC
  • leverages the unique capacities of centers or a network of centers
  • come from participating NSEC institutions by completing a center profile.

Guidance on drafting a proposal

We welcome proposals that will lead to future work, such as collaborative proposals to NSF or other funders.

To see what we have funded in the past, the 2016 RACs are here: CARET, cross-DBER, and inventory of state-wide STEM networks.

The NSEC community over the last two years has identified themes of interest. It is not necessary that you address one of these themes, but we provide them to you as reference.

  • Retention and Success: what are roles of Centers, effective practices and systemic that can be taken to scale?
  • Quality Education: how do we enhance undergraduate education by defining 'quality education'?
  • Research and Assessment: how can centers promote unique research questions, discipline-based (and interdisciplinary) education research and assessments?
  • Partnerships Beyond the University (K-12 schools, 2 and 4-year colleges and universities, state networks, and/or industry): is there a new model of coordinated education that is possible?
  • Engaging Campus Members in the Change Process (Faculty, Administrators, Students): what approaches can systematically and sustainability coordinate our change efforts?
  • Broadening Participation: what are the unique capacities and levers of centers and NSEC for broadening access, inclusion, participation, and success in STEM fields?

Required pre-application materials

2 page pre-application proposal that outlines:
  • the individuals and institutions in the RAC
  • problem to be addressed
  • proposed intervention or activities
  • anticipated outcomes and/or deliverable
  • and a budget narrative


  • 2 page pre-application proposal is due March 17, 2017. Submit to Kacy Redd at
  • Those programs that are selected to submit a full proposal will be notified by Apr 17, 2017.
  • Participants will be invited to join the NSEC National Conference, Jun 23-24, 2017, to continue working on their proposals with NSEC leadership.
  • Full proposals (5pp) will be due July 17, 2017.
    • Pre-application proposals are required. We will not accept a full application without first reviewing the pre-proposals
    • You can view the full application here.


Selected applicants will be eligible for travel funds to the NSEC National Conference (June 2017) for development of the full application.