We recognize that as good as a program might be, in tough financial times funding is very tight. Our expectation has been that school districts would not and could not underwrite the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) with internal funds. From the launch of the SSEP we have therefore made a commitment to assisting communities identify multiple funding sources, customize a program pitch to those sources, and help them brief grant officers in these funding organizations. We can also help by quickly providing substantial content for any needed proposals.
We have now gone through this process with a significant number of individuals wanting to make SSEP a reality in their community. These are folks that understand what we are trying to accomplish in STEM education with SSEP, find SSEP to be a seamless strategic fit to their community’s objectives in science and STEM education, yet often feel that just identifying potential funders is daunting. After we’ve walked them through the funding databases, they are energized and as one science supervisor put it ‘”I now feel empowered” to rapidly move forward with calls to potential funders.
Let us help. Here’s how—
The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, which oversees the SSEP, has a diverse array of national programs, many of which are leveraged into SSEP (e.g. Journey through the Universe for the week-long National Team visit to your community). One of the Center’s initiatives, the Voyage National Program, is permanently installing in communities across the nation a replica of the Voyage one to 10-billion scale model solar system on the National Mall in Washington, DC, located in front of the Smithsonian Institution. Voyage is more than an educational experience. It is also sculpture, and requires a fund-raising effort by interested communities. We therefore put together a funding resource page at the Voyage National Program website. We have been using this page for SSEP, walking interested communities through the links to various funding databases, and providing very straightforward recipes for how to use those databases most effectively. CONTACT US (be sure to leave your phone number), and we can do this for your community! Don’t feel that funding is stopping you cold from bringing this historic opportunity to hundreds, even thousands of students in your community.
In addition, we spoke to the National Space Grant Foundation yesterday. They support the Space Grant Consortia, a national network of 52 lead institutions, one for each state (as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico). Each lead institution oversees a consortium in their state “made up of colleges, universities, businesses, and other private and public sector institutions – all working to further aerospace education and career training …” (Read their ABOUT page). These organizations provide underwriting for space science education programs, and many may likely find underwriting of SSEP compelling. Those that do would most likely not underwrite the entire program, but might serve as a funding anchor, where a commitment of funding from your state’s space grant consortium lead institution could then be used to leverage other local area funders which you can find through the databases addressed above. Many of these lead institutions also have the ability to take short proposals on an ongoing basis and can rapidly turn around a decision—which is perfect for SSEP. So it doesn’t hurt to give your state’s Space Grant lead institution a call. It is an additional opportunity for potential funding. HERE is the list of contacts.
ALSO—if you represent a small school district, you might consider seeing if your state’s Space Grant lead institution might want to be the lead institution on a single SSEP initiative that bridges across multiple school districts, including yours. In general, if you represent a small school district, consider partnering with other school districts in your area.