E2E: Ecosystem to Ecosystem Travel Mini-Grant Program

Background

A core component of the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative (Initiative) is to build out a National Community of Practice comprised of local, regional and state STEM Learning Ecosystems from across the United States and international. Because STEM Learning Ecosystems encompass such diverse members, the Initiative has focused design and implementation efforts on providing different opportunities and platforms for members of the National Community of Practice to develop a peer-to-peer professional learning community.

To help cultivate a National Community of Practice among our diverse STEM Learning Ecosystems and its members, the Initiative has implemented a number of key platforms for participating Ecosystem member to share information, seek guidance, and lend expertise to each other’s learning including:

  • National Convenings: Since 2015, the Initiative has hosted biannual National Community of Practice Convenings for up to four members of each STEM Learning Ecosystem. These in-person convenings are informed and shaped by Ecosystem members.
  • Community Website: Through a robust internal web-based platform, Ecosystem members maintain communications via a discussion board, web-based practice groups, and calendar of events.
  • Peer Developed Resources: Ecosystem members share resources through the online community.  Ecosystem members upload documents, tools and other resources to share with each other.
  • Monthly Webinars: Ecosystems will have the opportunity participate in monthly Community of Practice phone calls/web-based meetings with national, state and regional speakers (including grantmakers, STEM experts, cross-collaboration experts, education policy experts)
  • E2E (Ecosystem to Ecosystem): The Initiative collects and identifies outstanding STEM programs and practices through the E2E Aggregator. Ecosystems share lessons learned from the field via an online database that aggregates all the programs and practices submitted by Ecosystem members.

Purpose

Beginning in 2018, to further ignite interconnectivity among the National Community of Practice, the Initiative will be providing limited travel mini-grants to its STEM Learning Ecosystem Leads or their designees per the instructions below.

The STEM Learning Ecosystems E2E (Ecosystem to Ecosystem) Travel Mini-Grants Program is intended to support funding to spur planning, peer-to-peer exchange, shared learning and engagement. They are designed to build collaboration among participating STEM Learning Ecosystems by encouraging members to learn from and work together on programs, policies, and practices across STEM Learning Ecosystems.

Funding

STEM Learning Ecosystem Leads or their designee can request up to $1,000 for travel support. This program is intended to supplement travel expenses and planning and is not intended to cover the costs of all expenses related to the visit. The Travel Mini-Grant will be awarded and distributed through reimbursement.

Reimbursable Travel Expenses

  • Generally, STEM Learning Ecosystem E2E Travel Mini-Grant funds will be allowed for:
    • Transportation and travel costs, including but not limited to:
      • Airfare (lowest 30 day pre-pay, if possible)
        • Checked bag(s)
      • Train Ticket
      • Ground Transportation
        • Taxis, Uber and Lyft
      • Mileage will be reimbursed at 54.5 cents per mile
    • Lodging costs
  • Uses of Travel Mini-Grant funds that are not allowable include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Staff time
    • Meals
    • Alcoholic beverages
    • Travel support to the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative National Community of Practice Convening

Deadlines

All grant applications will be reviewed and awarded on a rolling-basis from January 9, 2018 through July 1, 2018.

  • Requests will be reviewed weekly and applicants will be notified within 14 days of submission.
  • Applications should be submitted at least thirty days (sixty for out-of-country travel) prior to travel for committee review. Approval must be obtained prior to travel. Approval will not be granted after travel is completed.
  • All travel must be completed before the end of the granting period (July 1, 2018). Reimbursement forms will be accepted until July 31, 2018.

Eligibility

  • Any STEM Learning Ecosystem Lead or their designee can apply for an E2E Travel Mini-Grant.
  • At least two members from different STEM Learning Ecosystems must collaborate as part of the E2E Travel Mini Grant.
  • Only one submission per STEM Learning Ecosystem is allowed in the granting period.

Criteria

  • Funds are available to STEM Learning Ecosystem Leads or their designee. Only one submission per STEM Learning Ecosystem is allowed in the granting period.
  • Evidence of collaboration for the visit should be included and must clearly identify STEM Learning Ecosystem plus contact information for the individual you are working with for the visit.
  • Evidence of intent on sharing of knowledge and bringing information back to your STEM Learning Ecosystem.
  • A proposed budget itemizing travel, lodging, and other travel costs must be submitted with the application. Reimbursement for the cost of meals will not be approved.
  • A brief overview or agenda of the visit must be submitted with the application.
  • Approval must be obtained prior to travel. Applications should be submitted at least thirty days (sixty for out-of-country travel) prior to travel for committee review. Approval will not be granted after travel is completed.
  • The maximum E2E Travel Mini-Grant for STEM Learning Ecosystem Leads or their designee is $1000.
  • The blogpost and pictures must be submitted with the reimbursement form upon completion of travel before funds will be dispersed.

Award Requirements

  • In an effort to share experiences with the National Community of Practice, we would like for award recipients to author a blog that will be published on the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative’s web site. In addition, the visits will be shared via social media platforms.
    • The blog must be submitted electronically no later than 30 days after the travel is completed.
  • The blog must include:
    • Three photos that can be used in the blog and/or social media
    • Narrative of at least 600 words and can address the following:
      • Why did you apply for the travel mini grant?
      • What did you learn or observe during your travel?
      • Who did you meet?
      • What new ideas or concepts did you bring back for your STEM Learning Ecosystem?
    • The Reimbursement Form and blog must be submitted electronically using the online form.

Reimbursement Form

The Reimbursement Form must be submitted electronically along with receipts after returning from your travel.

  1. Complete a Travel Reimbursement and Blog Submission Form (available online).
  2. The online form will ask for your electronic signature verifying all the information being submitted on the form.
  3. You will be able scan and upload copies of each of your receipts to the online form.
    1. Please clearly label each receipt – e.g., hotel, travel, etc.
    2. Receipts for airfare must show where a credit/debit card was charged. If your receipt does not show this information, please provide a credit card or bank statement indicating the charge.
    3. When claiming mileage, include a print out of miles driven (from MapQuest, Google Maps, etc.).
  4. Requests for post-travel reimbursement must be submitted no later than 30 days after the travel is complete (please email info@stemecosystems.org if there will be a delay – e.g., you are travelling).
  5. The Reimbursement Form and blog must be submitted electronically using the online form.
  6. Travel reimbursements will be processed by the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative each week, however, we will make every attempt to mail reimbursement checks within 30 days of receipt of the reimbursement form.

Application Process

To apply, it is a two-step process:

  1. Submit the E2E Travel Mini-Grant Application Form at least 30 days in advance of travel. Once approved, make travel arrangements and visit other STEM Learning Ecosystem
  2. Submit Travel Reimbursement and Blog Submission Form no later than 30 days after travel is complete.

Download Copy of E2E Travel Mini-Grant Application (PDF) (For reference only)
Submit E2E Travel Mini-Grant Application Form