The Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program funds research and practice focused on the range of informal STEM learning experiences and environments that comprise life-long learning. As an NSF broadening participation emphasis program, AISL recognizes that an intentional and explicit strategy that advances equity is key to effectively building research and practice capacity in the informal STEM learning field. To that end, the National Science Foundation seeks proposals to create an AISL Equity Resource Center (AERC) to advance equity within the informal STEM learning field through community building; supporting and extending infrastructures; technical assistance; and communications. For the purposes of this solicitation, the program does not define or bound the concept of equity. Instead, this call allows the proposer to both define equity in relation to the needs of informal STEM learning field and design and deploy creative approaches that promote equity across the informal STEM learning field. Overall, the AISL program seeks an AERC that will serve public and professional communities in the informal STEM learning field through the following functions:
- Cultivate a multi-sector, diverse community dedicated to promoting equity in informal STEM learning experiences and environments.
- Raise the visibility and impact of equity-focused research and practice in the informal STEM learning field and its contributions to the overall STEM endeavor.
- Support AISL PIs, prospective PIs, and partners in enacting their commitments to equity with respect to research and practice.
- Promote equitable practices that support the AISL program.
Through these functions, the AISL program seeks to make clear that advancing equity is imperative to advancing informal STEM learning experiences and environments and their value to individuals, communities, and the nation.
The primary audiences for AERC are individuals and organizations that want to grow their ability to design and conduct equity-focused, evidence-based innovations in informal STEM research, programming, or both. The stakeholders served by the center should include, but are not limited to, AISL PIs and partners; prospective AISL PIs and partners; and additional equity-focused, evidence-based research and practice innovators in informal STEM. AERC should envision, design, and develop creative strategies for actualizing equity in the informal STEM learning field. The AERC approaches to leadership, activities, and evaluation should similarly enact commitments to equity. AISL has had a resource center since 2007. The award for the current AISL resource center expires in August 2022; this solicitation updates the existing functions for an AISL resource center.
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