Program Status: Open
Program type(s): Competition, Team Challenge,


NC Space Grant awards funding to student teams (undergraduate and graduate) led by faculty Principal Investigators (PIs) to help them participate in national competitions either sponsored or sanctioned by NASA or another science technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related organization or industry. Examples of such competitions are NASA Student Launch Initiative, NASA Human Robotics Competition, NASA Lunabotics, NASA BIG Idea Challenge, First Nations Launch, Spaceport America Cup, etc. Competitions should be in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) and complement the academic studies of team members.

Six young adults are standing in front of a building and carrying a long rocket together.
Above: The UNC Pembroke Rocket Team with the rocket they designed and constructed for the First Nations Launch. The team finished 3rd place overall for the Mars Engineering Challenge division.


Competitions should be in the fields of engineering, science, technology and/or mathematics (STEM), and complement the academic studies of the team members. Competitions must provide students with hands-on experiential learning opportunities related to one or more of NASA’s Mission Directorates.

NASA Mission Directorates include:

NC Space Grant invites faculty Principal Investigators (PIs) to propose collaborative team work experiences toward a challenge or competition, which must be named in the proposal and take place within the period-of-performance of this award. NC Space Grant recognizes that some competitions may be modified (i.e., virtual or remote competition) due to the impacts of COVID-19. All proposers must adhere to state and college/university COVID-19 policies and to classwork, teamwork, labs, travel and any other competition/challenge guidelines. NC Space Grant should be notified of any impacts and changes in the proposed scope of work due to COVID impacts.

Teams should be interdisciplinary in composition. Team members within different majors, departments, and/or with skills such as business and marketing, communications and social media, and education and outreach are encouraged to participate. NC Space Grant strongly encourages teams to recruit and include members with diverse backgrounds and perspectives in alignment with our values of diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and accessibility (DEIJA). NC Space Grant strongly encourages proposals from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).

Award Details

How to Apply

Online Proposal Submission System Link

Proposal Guidelines

All proposals must include the following information in the order noted below.  Proposals not meeting these requirements may not be considered.

Project Content (not to exceed 10 pages). Please note that guidelines have been updated.

1. Summary of the Team Competition.

Proposers shall state the defined goal or objective of the competition/challenge. Proposers must provide an active web link to the competition/challenge that will take place during the award period-of-performance (POP). NC Space Grant understands that some competition dates may extend slightly beyond the POP (e.g., into late August), this must be noted in the proposal.

2. Project Description.

Proposers shall provide a description of their project and how it meets the goal or objective of the competition/challenge.

Proposers shall describe significant tasks, milestones, requirement check-ins and competition dates. Images and tables are allowed to support the narrative.

3. Description of Team Goals and Learning Objectives.

Proposers shall provide one of the following:

A. For returning teams, a summary of the team’s past participation, lessons learned and planned adjustments, modifications, etc. for this cycle.

B. For new teams, a description of why a competition/challenge was selected and what the team hopes to learn and accomplish.

4. Alignment to a NASA Mission Objective.

Proposers must describe how their project is aligned to a NASA Mission Directorate:

5. Summary of Team Composition and/or Member Recruitment.

A narrative description and/or a table with student team information, e.g., names, majors and/or skills sets (e.g., electrical engineering, computer programming, biology, atmosphere science, etc.) and/or team roles and responsibilities (e.g., club president, team leader, task lead, documentation lead, social media lead, public outreach coordinator, etc.) is required. Teams are encouraged to consider roles for non-STEM team members, such as fundraising, outreach and education, communications and social media, etc.

If the composition of the team is unknown at the time of proposal submission, the proposer MUST describe plans for student recruitment. NC Space Grant values diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and accessibility (DEIJA) for team members. Teams with diverse compositions will be more favorably reviewed.

Refer to the section below, Required Reporting, for student data table and other reporting requirements. Please note that student data tables containing demographics and other information is required for all NASA funding and reporting under this grant.

6. Outreach Plan.

Outreach is not required in all competition/challenge guidelines; however, it is the mission of NC Space Grant to engage and inspire the next generation of explorers. Therefore, teams that include an outreach component to pre-college and/or public audiences will be more favorably reviewed. Proposers should include a description of in-person outreach and/or online/remote learning tools (proposers must strictly adhere to COVID-19 policies at their institutions and for targeted outreach). This is an opportunity for teams to be creative, such as using an authorized YouTube channel, an online demo or launch, shared open-source materials, etc.

Additional Required Content (no page limit unless otherwise noted):

7. Curriculum Vitae of the Faculty Principal Investigator (PI) (2 pages max).

8. Letter of Support from the Department Chair/Head that outlines the importance of the proposed project to the department and/or the direction of the university.

From the Department Chair/Head that outlines the importance of the proposed project to the department and/or the direction of the university.

9. Budget and Budget Narrative that includes a required one-to-one (1:1) cost match (use budget template in Appendix A). Funds can be used to purchase supplies and materials to support the team project, cover registration, and/or pay travel expenses. NASA grant funds cannot be used to purchase equipment. NC Space Grant does not allow facilities and administrative (F&A) costs. Unrecovered F&A costs may be used for required cost-matching. We strongly recommend that cost-match not exceed the $5,000 award since proposers will be obligated to report all proposed cost-match. PIs are responsible for following all internal institutional guidelines for committing to cost-share, including necessary approvals.  No-cost extensions are not allowed. All funds must be expended within the competition year.     


Required Reporting

Please note that reporting requirements have been changed from previously released RFPs due to changes within NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement reporting requirements, which NC Space Grant is obligated to meet.

1.  Student participant data tables are required by NASA. Data tables with student demographic and other information must be submitted in accordance with NASA reporting guidelines and due dates. Student data tables must be submitted to NC Space Grant in accordance with this request. NASA typically issues three requests for student data per year according to the following calendar: November, February, and July. Awardees must submit student data tables with all required fields completed at these times. NASA may request data at other times, in which case we are required to respond. During these data calls, on behalf of NASA NC Space Grant may also request information on publications, presentations, papers, patents, etc.

NOTE: The collection and submission of student data is a REQUIREMENT of the NASA Office of STEM Engagement in order for NC Space Grant to receive annual funding. As a result, all NC Space Grant-funded projects MUST report student participant data (e.g., name, date of birth, gender, race, ethnicity, email address, contact hours, and field of study, etc.). To protect Personally Identifiable Information (PII), NC Space Grant utilizes reporting systems that are FERPA compliant and meet or exceed the United States Department of Education Privacy Technical Assistance Center and the Student Privacy Policy Office data security recommendations.

2.  A final report is due no more than 30 days after completion of the period of performance (i.e., no later than Aug. 15, 2023). This report should include a description of progress toward significant tasks, milestones, requirement check-ins, etc. This report will also request information about presentations, publications, patents, etc. under this award. If the competition has taken place, results should be reported, as well as feedback from students (e.g., quotes) about their experience. The report shall also note any changes to the student participant data table. Please note that some competition dates will take place after the grant period of performance. In those cases, teams MUST submit an amendment to their final report following the challenge or competition posted results, student data tables, and presentations, publications, patents, etc. under this award. NC Space Grant should be notified of any impacts and changes in the proposed scope of work due to COVID or other unforeseen impacts.

Awardee Expectations

Full Request for Proposals (PDF)

Link to the full RFP.


For questions related to this solicitation, please contact:

Sandy Canfield
Assistant Director