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Cultivating Community Science Stipends

Program Goals 

ASTC’s Community Science Initiative is offering stipends to support established teams of science center/museum- and community-based partners in using one or more community science approaches to achieve clear, shared community science objectives that make demonstrable progress on community priorities. Cultivating Community Science Stipends are intended to support 15-month collaborative projects with long-term visions. Through these stipends, ASTC aims to support and scale promising approaches to community science among its members and their partners. Applicants should have broad support for community science within their institution, as well as an established relationship with a community-based partner.

Join our informational webinar on Tuesday, October 17 from 2:00-2:30 pm Eastern!

Program Funding & Structure

The Cultivating Community Science Stipends program will distribute approximately $250,000 across 5-10 teams to support ASTC members and their partners in implementing small- to large-scale community science projects. These funds may be used for needs including (but not limited to) museum and community partner staff time, participating community members stipends, external consultants (e.g., facilitators, translators, childcare providers, evaluators), communication/marketing needs (e.g., advertising, design, printing), and/or producing resources or reference materials. The stipend period will run from March 2024 to May 2025.

Requirements for awardees will include:

  • Kick-off webinar. All team members will attend a kick-off webinar in early 2024 (to be offered at multiple times).
  • Quarterly updates. Teams will submit quarterly project updates to ASTC. These streamlined reports will be collected via a brief survey and are intended to identify ways ASTC can provide additional support.
  • Progress meetings. Teams will participate in two progress review meetings with the ASTC team 6 months and 12 months into their project implementation.
  • Evaluation. Teams will participate in evaluation activities with ASTC’s external evaluator (e.g., responding to surveys, interviews with evaluator, etc.).
  • Building the professional community. At least one project team member will attend ASTC’s series of virtual, bi-monthly Community Science Clinics during the project period. These virtual calls will take place on the third Tuesday of every other month at 2:00 pm Eastern starting in February 2024. These networking calls are for community science practitioners at all levels to talk with their peers and seek advice from colleagues working on community science efforts.
  • Field dissemination. Teams will participate in at least one promotional activity to share their work (e.g., speaking on a webinar, presenting at a conference, authoring a blog, contributing to promotional materials, etc.).
  • Final report. Teams will submit a final project report by 11:59 PM Eastern on Monday, June 30, 2025.

Application, Decision, and Program Timelines

Applications due

by 11:59 pm Eastern on Monday, December 4, 2023

Awardees notified

Mid-January 2024

Project activities take place

March 1, 2024 – May 30, 2025

Quarterly project updates due

June 2024, September 2024, December 2024, and March 2025

Progress review meetings with ASTC

September 2024 and March 2025

Final reports due

June 30, 2025


Eligibility Requirements

For ASTC members
This opportunity is open to ASTC science center and museum members as well as allied members in North America, South America, Hawaii, and the Caribbean and their community-based partners. All programming and materials will be conducted in English and in western hemisphere time zones. You are eligible to submit a proposal regardless of whether you have received past support from ASTC for community science work.

For the community-based partner
Community-based partners can include (but are not limited to) Tribal organizations, community development nonprofits, public libraries, regional planning commissions, neighborhood civic associations, faith-based organizations, youth-focused nonprofits, environmental advocacy organizations, or parent-teacher associations. A community-based partner is a public or private organization, entity, or group that represents the community, provides community-centered services, and centers community needs, priorities, and/or goals.

Teams will consist of individuals from both the ASTC member institution and community-based partner. This stipend program is intended to support established partnerships that have clear long-term visions for continued collaboration.



Project Topics and Approaches

We are interested in supporting teams advancing community priorities on a wide range of issues, including but not limited to public health, land use, climate and environmental hazards, food and nutrition, air and water quality, and other community priorities existing at the intersection of science and society. The strongest applications will use multiple community science approaches.

Please note: While ASTC has recently significantly invested in supporting Dialogue & Deliberation efforts, in the interest of scaling other promising approaches, Cultivating Community Science Stipends will not be awarded to projects that solely use Dialogue & Deliberation as an approach to community science.


Application Instructions

For their proposal, teams must submit:

Narrative Questions
Responses to the following essay questions:

  1. Four-sentence project summary (Suggested 100-150 words max; one sentence per question below).
    1. What is the issue/question your community faces?
    2. What will you do in partnership to address the issue/answer the question?
    3. How will your work make a difference with respect to the issue/question?
    4. How will your work provide long-term community benefits?
  2. Project narrative description – In this section, describe what you plan to do in your project. Strong proposals will reference the community science approaches you will use as described in ASTC’s Community Science Framework. (Suggested 250-500 words max).
    1. What is the community priority you’re focusing on?
    2. How have you determined that this is a community priority?
    3. Which approach(es) are best suited to your goals?
    4. What strategies and activities will you undertake to address the community priority? How will you achieve an impact?
    5. Is there any other information you’d like to share that would help us understand your project?
  3. Project goals – In this section, describe how you plan to work with your partner(s). Strong proposals will reference the attributes and outcomes from ASTC’s Community Science Framework. (Suggested 250-500 words max).
    1. Why have your organizations partnered together?
    2. How will leadership and decision making be shared?
    3. If successful, what impact will your project achieve?
    4. What are the goals for the partnership beyond this project?
    5. What do you expect each of your organizations to gain from this experience?

Timeline and Milestones
Applicants must upload a timeline of project milestones (PDF format preferred). Timelines should clearly outline anticipated milestones (e.g., events/engagements, decision points) over the course of your project. For each milestone, please include:

  1. Activities: What are the major project activities? When do you expect each activity to occur, and for how long?
  2. Resources: Who will be involved as a participant, collaborator, and/or leader of each milestone? What resources will be necessary?
  3. Considerations: Community science is a process that is necessarily responsive to ideas and realities that emerge as a partnership evolves. Explain how you plan to adapt to new information during the process by including key considerations for each milestone.

See the example project milestone below for our required format.

The following is an example milestone to guide you in the development of your application:

Milestone: Develop working group for community-led citizen science effort (April 2024 – June 2024)

  • Activities:
    • Establish initial objectives for working group, based on outcomes of community input gathering
    • Recruit community leaders to join working group
    • Host introductory meeting for working group
    • Working group organizes first community event
  • Resources:
    • Staff time to coordinate with volunteers and attend meetings
    • Supplies for community event – water/snacks, protective equipment, scientific equipment
    • Honorariums for community participants
    • Consultant funds for external evaluation team
  • Considerations:
    • Required resources will depend on the type of activity the working group determines is most suitable (i.e., species survey, tree planting, trail maintenance)
    • We may need to recruit additional, specific-disciplinary expertise depending on the scientific question prioritized by the community

Applicants will be required to upload a project budget. You may follow ASTC’s budget template or submit your project budget in your preferred format. Project budgets must include:

  1. Your full project cost
  2. Funding requested from ASTC
  3. Additional sources of funding (if any)
  4. Museum staff time
  5. Amount to be paid to community partner
  6. Detailed descriptions of all other expenses such as consultants, materials, etc.

Allowable expenses include but are not limited to indirect charges/administrative overhead (not to exceed 12.5% of the overall budget), materials, consultant services, production costs, and staff time. Stipend funds may not be used for capital expenditures or alcoholic beverages.

Your budget should reflect your project’s estimated real/expected total costs. Clearly indicate any additional sources of funding you have secured or are seeking to support your work. (NOTE: Having additional sources of funding WILL NOT impact the assessment of your application. We are interested in understanding the total cost of your effort as part of our ongoing effort to understand the full scope of resources required to do community science effectively.)


Strong Applications and Review Criteria

We highly recommend discussing your intended application with the ASTC team before submitting. Please reach out to Laura Bartock (Manager of Community Science and Special Projects) to schedule a meeting.

In order to prepare a strong application, your team should be familiar with ASTC’s Community Science Framework. Consider watching ASTC’s brief introductory videos, “What is Community Science?” and “Community Science Framework Overview”.

Applications will be reviewed by a committee of community science practitioners and ASTC staff. Awards will be selected based on the merit of the projects proposed and the amount of funding available for distribution. Reviewers will use our “Project Evaluation Rubric” (included in the PDF application instructions below) to assess project plans. This is a draft rubric, developed with J. Sickler Consulting, that we are using for the purpose of reviewing applications. This rubric will be further developed into a publicly available tool at a later date. Review the rubric to understand how we will assess whether project plans align with the attributes described in ASTC’s Community Science Framework. Funds will only be awarded to projects that meet either the “Successful” or “Exceeding Expectations” levels across all four community science attributes and at least partially meet the requirements of the related “Equity Dimensions.”

Download a PDF overview and application instructions for this award.