UNC System Challenge Grant

The North Carolina Science Festival is offering event sponsorships of up to $5,000 to UNC System schools to host community events during the 2023 NC Science Festival in April. Festival planners anticipate making 4-6 awards.

The NC Science Festival wants to showcase the scientific teaching and research that happens on UNC System campuses. The Festival is offering funds to support a select group of community events themed around STEM during the month-long celebration to strengthen our exciting suite of public programs for the people of North Carolina.

There are four major points of emphasis for Festival programming:

  1. Fun and engaging elements
  2. New or exclusive access to research areas or experts
  3. Demonstration of how aspects of STEM are connected to our daily lives
  4. Celebrating careers in STEM

Priority of event sponsorships will be given to events that:

  1. Meet one or more of the major points of emphasis listed above
  2. Engage diverse community audiences
  3. Expand the Festival’s overall footprint

Additionally for 2023, we are seeking to support events that:

  1. Connect experts to the general public
  2. Leverage new community partnerships for your university
  3. Incorporate our 2023 theme: Full STEAM Ahead


UNC System Event producers/partners with a track record of creating high-quality science education events for North Carolina audiences, inclusive of departments or individuals who have previously hosted NCSF events on UNC System campuses.

How to apply:

Complete the online application form below. Requirements for submissions are below.

  • Deadline to apply: November 30, 2022.
  • Sponsored events will be notified of awards by December 15, 2022.
  • The maximum sponsorship amount is $5,000. Please apply for only what you need.
  • Applicants must show at least a 1:1 cost match of funds requested.
  • Funds will be disbursed in February 2023.

Requirements for event funds:

  1. Event must be offered at least once in April, 2023.
  2. Event must be free of charge to attendees.
  3. If selected, finalized event details and description must be submitted by January 14, 2023, along with a signed letter of agreement.
  4. Event hosts must agree to promote the Festival, adhere to Festival branding guidelines, and to use Festival materials leading up to and during the event.
  5. Event Hosts must use Festival evaluation tools.
  6. After event: Event Hosts must submit a post-event summary including expense report, start the process to return any unspent funds, and submit evaluation results as requested by the Festival evaluator within 7 days of the event.

Submission Requirements:

  1. EVENT ORGANIZER’S STATEMENT: Brief description of your organization and its involvement with STEM education. How does the proposed event support the organization’s mission? (Limit: 250 words)
  2. EVENT PROPOSAL: Description of the proposed event. Is pre-registration required for participants? What other organizations, if any, will be involved in the event? (Limit: 500 words)
  3. INNOVATION: Describe how this event is new or innovative. If you've hosted this event before, what elements are you adding for 2023?  (Limit: 250 words)
  4. SCIENCE FOR ALL: The NCSciFest is committed to the mission of "Science for All" - how will yourevent help to achieve that mission and improve access to STEM opportunities for North Carolinians, particularly underserved and underrepresented populations. (Limit: 250 words)
  5. STATEMENT DESCRIBING HOW FUNDS WILL BE SPENT:  What is the overall cost (estimated) to present the event, and what amount is the organization requesting for the sponsorship? Please provide details about how funds will be spent. (Limit: 250 words)
  6. BRANDING PLAN: Describe how your organization will co-brand this event as part of the 2023 NC Science Festival (Limit: 250 words)

Deadline to apply is November 30, 2022.

The selection committee will look at the following criteria:

  1. Does the event occur during the Festival?
  2. Is the event free to the public or a targeted subset of the public (like teens, seniors, etc.)?
  3. Is the event a special program that occurs only during the NC Science Festival?

If yes to all three,

  1. Quality of proposed event. For example: Is the event fun and hands-on, or if not, does it provide unique access, such as behind-the-scenes tours, interaction with experts, etc.?
  2. STEM aspect of proposed event. Does the event have the potential to teach the public something exciting and/or new about STEM? Or, does the event serve to raise the awareness of how STEM is connected to our everyday lives and/or provide an opportunity to learn about stem careers?
  3. Project plan. Does organizer demonstrate ability to produce proposed event?
  4. Audience impact. Does the event have a potential to serve a large number of people?
  5. Geographic impact. Is the event in a region of the state where we'd like to have more events?

Have an idea that needs more than $5000? Call the Festival team to discuss.

Applications are now closed for 2023 mini-grants.

Questions? Please contact Erik MacIntosh, Community Engagement Manager, at 919-962-3274