Informal Education Grants

Application opens: August 1, 2023

Application closes: November 1, 2023


This award program is designed to increase learning, educate students, educators and the general public on specific science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) content areas. Innovative hands-on activities associated with aerospace, physics, astronomy, cosmology, or Earth system sciences are preferred.The grants are available to faculty members or educators at all ILSGC institutions in good standing with ILSGC/NASA.

Funds available

Funding requests up to $10,000 will be considered. Funding will be released incumbent upon authorization of funds by NASA. 

PLEASE NOTE: Funds will be paid through your Space Grant affiliate’s existing subaward.

Period of Performance

Funding has been allocated to these grants for the period April 10, 2024 – April 9, 2025.

You will submit a performance period based on your application timeline, which should be less than the dates above. A reasonable timeline is your project timeline plus 60 days for invoicing.  If you request the entire year, you must explain why that time is required.

Funding will be released incumbent upon authorization of funds by NASA and the established subaward.


Proposals will be accepted from faculty or staff (professorial and research) located at an ILSGC affiliate: Adler Planetarium, Bradley University, Chicago State University, City Colleges of Chicago, DePaul University, Discovery Center Museum, Illinois Institute of Technology, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, The University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Member institutions (and individuals) are not limited to one proposal. Affiliates must be in good standing with the Illinois Space Grant to apply for these funding opportunities.

Good standing means that invoices have been submitted at least quarterly, and data collection has been completed for each project upon request.

Member institutions (and individuals) are not limited to one proposal.

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals should describe the relevance of the proposed work to NASA’s currently funded research priorities and programs of the NASA Mission Directorate(s). Proposals are required to address one or more research priorities of the Mission Directorates and Centers. The current NASA mission directorates are as follows:

Aeronautics Research
NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate works to solve the challenges in our nation’s air transportation system: air traffic congestion, safety, and environmental impacts.

Space Operations Mission Directorate

Space Operations Mission Directorate will oversee mature human spaceflight programs, such as the International Space Station and commercial crew and cargo missions. The operations directorate is also in charge NASA’s efforts to commercialize low Earth orbit, an objective the agency hopes will lead to privately-owned space stations.

Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate

Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate will manage NASA’s Artemis moon program, including the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket, the Orion spacecraft, and the Human Landing System, the spacecraft that will carry astronauts to and from the lunar surface.

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and the nation’s science community use space observatories to conduct scientific studies of the Earth from space to visit and return samples from other bodies in the solar system and to peer out into our Galaxy and beyond.

Space Technology
The Space Technology Mission Directorate is responsible for developing the crosscutting, pioneering, new technologies and capabilities needed to achieve NASA’s current and future missions.

Please visit each NASA organization’s website to find detailed information about current projects and current areas of interest.

For more information detailing the five mission directorates, visit:

NASA Programs and Directorates – Scientific and Technical Information Program


  • Proposed projects should have an emphasis on aerospace, physics, astronomy, cosmology, Earth system science, and other interdisciplinary space-related science or engineering fields relevant to NASA.
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) should be a top priority when submitting proposals. Projects should encourage participation by women, underserved and underrepresented groups in STEM, and individuals with disabilities.
  • Grants must be matched (at least one-to-one) with funds from non-federal sources. Prior to the execution of a subaward agreement, the source of matching funds must be identified and confirmed by a letter from the appropriate authority. Waived indirect costs and faculty effort can qualify as matching funds.
  • Proposals can include requests for Principal Investigators (PI) who are United States citizens may include direct support funds (e.g. salary, travel etc). Principal Investigators who are non- US citizens may be selected for funding provided there is NO salary, stipend, travel, or any other form of direct support is proposed.
  • ILSGC funds cannot be used to purchase of general-purpose equipment (as defined by NASA guidelines.) Special-purpose equipment purchases (i.e., equipment that is used only for research, scientific, and technical activities directly related to the proposed research activities under $10,000) are allowed.
  • The project PI will complete the Data Collection Form(s) and return them by the due date and respond to any data requests from NASA or ILSGC.
  • The project PI will encourage significantly funded students to participate in NASA’s longitudinal tracking program. Significantly funded means receiving $3000- or 160-hours project participation.
  • The project PI will meet (virtually or in person) with the ILSGC Senior Coordinator, Heidi Bjerke, at the midpoint of the grant to discuss progress.
  • All application materials must be submitted by November 1, 2023.

Selection Criteria

Proposals will be reviewed by ILSGC Director and Affiliate Principal Investigators and selected based on adherence to the above criteria, scientific merit, and equitable distribution of resources across the Consortium. Programs targeted to women, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged. Proposal submission for this program is limited to faculty/professional staff (research and professorial) at ILSGC affiliate and lead institutions.

Proposal Requirements and Format

Applications must be submitted online

  • Use 12-pt font, 1″ margins, and single spacing. Tables and references may utilize a smaller font.
  • Abstract not to exceed 150 words
  • Purpose – include the audience, educational objectives
  • Project goal(s). Indicate explicitly how these goals are specific, measurable, aligned with NASA and Space Grant interests, realistic, and within the funding time frame.
  • Relevance to one or more NASA Mission Directorates
  • Method – what activity(ies) will take place
  • Results – anticipated enhanced benefits
  • Evaluation plan – brief self-evaluation plan and how the program will be continued after ISGC funds are no longer available
  • Timeline for the project containing information about when the effort is expected to occur – summer, academic year, or both
  • Total Page limit: 5 pages max
  • Detailed budget, a sample template is found here, if needed..
    • Budget narrative and details that substantiates costs. The proposed budget shall be adequate, appropriate, reasonable, realistic, and demonstrate the effective use of funds (both NASA and cost-shared) to align with the proposed projects.
    • Direct Labor costs shall be separated by titles (e.g. professor, graduate research assistant, etc.) with estimated rates and total amounts of each. PIs should seek to leverage other sources of support for their direct labor costs (e.g., non-federal matching funds, other grants) so as to maximize funding provided to students.  However, support for the PI is possible with strong justification, citing the absence of administrative support for the grant, and is limited to $4,000.
    • Domestic travel shall include the purpose, the number of travelers, the number of trips and expected location, duration of each trip, transportation costs, and per diem.
    • Other costs shall also be explained in reasonable detail and substantiated whenever possible. The certified negotiated indirect costs for the institution shall be included.
    • The amount and source of cost-shared funds are identified.
    • No page limit on budget.

Reporting Guidelines

  • You will receive a spreadsheet in the Fall, Spring and Summer during each year of your project. This data collection includes all the required information that NASA requires that we include with our midyear and final reports. See the example here. There is a tab for each section. Not all the tabs may be applicable to your project.
  • Student contact information. Students that receive significant awards that meet one or more of the following criteria: receive $3000 or more in financial support, 160 hours of participation or greater with direct contact, and/or some other support are considered significant. Students who are significantly funded by the project must be willing to provide their information and participate in the NASA longitudinal tracking program. Longitudinal tracking is required for all students until they take their next step. For example: if a student is a junior who receives significant funding from ILSGC, we will ask for the student’s information yearly until they enter graduate school or take a position in their career field.
  • Publications and Presentations – please provide information on any publications or presentations associated with the project.
  • Additional proposals – are you applying for additional funding for this project? Identify this information.
  • Patents – Please indicate if the project produced any patents or potential patents.
  • Participants – Identify the direct and indirect participants.
  • Outreach – Events and number of participants
  • Student proposed design solutions and products – this asked specifically for in our final yearly report.
  • Accomplishments – please provide success stories or accomplishments of the grant as a narrative.
  • Faculty/ Research Participants – other partners in your program
  • If possible: any photographs relevant to the program, involving participants, with captions. Each person with a recognizable face must have signed a photo-release form found here. (Heidi will contact the students and get the signed form if you provide their names and contact information).


  • Researchers submitting NASA-funded articles in peer-reviewed journals or papers from conferences now shall make their work accessible to the public through NASA’s PubSpace at PubSpace provides free access to NASA funded and archived scientific publications. Research papers will be available within one year of publication to download and read.
  • Papers and presentations should acknowledge ISGC funding using this statement: “The material contained in this document is based upon work supported by a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grant or cooperative agreement. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of NASA. This work was supported through a NASA grant awarded to the Illinois/NASA Space Grant Consortium.”


August 1, 2023Applications Open
October 1, 2023100% of Years 1-3 invoiced
November 1, 2023Applications Due
Mid DecemberAwards selected
Before January 23, 2024Awards announced
March 20, 2024Subaward paperwork due
April 10, 2024New grants begin
August 1, 2024Summer data forms sent
September 15, 2024Summer data forms due
December 1, 2024Fall data forms sent
January 15, 2025Fall data forms due
April 9, 2025Grant year ends
May 1, 2025Spring data forms sent
June 15, 2025Spring data forms due
  • Heidi will contact you at the midpoint of your project for a brief check based upon your timeline.

The final report, i.e., completion and submission of the final Excel data form, is due 30 days after the grant’s end based upon the specific project timeline.

Inquiries:  Send questions to Heidi Bjerke at