2025-2026 STEM Scale-Up Program Provider Request for Proposal (RFP)

The STEM Scale-Up Program of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is a signature investment of state and private funds in students and educators with ample accumulated evidence of effect. The Council’s intention is to bring top STEM education opportunities to all learners, especially those historically underserved. The intent is to seed, jumpstart or expand little-known and exemplary programs proven to inspire and educate PreK-12 students, enabling educational organizations to sustain beyond the Council’s trial investment.

The resource information associated with the buttons below may change before the 2025-2026 Request for Proposals opens in August 2024.    


Summary of important dates and deadlines:

  • August 2024: Request for Proposals posted and disseminated.
  • August 2024: Informational Webinar for Providers: Click here to watch webinar recording
  • September 2024: Proposal submission deadline.
  • September - November 2024: Review period.
  • November 2024: Proposers notified.
  • November - December 2024: Selected Program Providers collaborate with STEM Council network administrators to prepare materials for the educator application phase.
  • January 2025: Educator application opens
  • February 2025, 4:59 PM Central Standard Time: Educator application submission deadline.
  • March - April 2025: Regional STEM Advisory Boards determine awarded educators.
  • April 2025: Awardees notified.
  • May 2025: Program Providers introduced to awarded educators to begin planning.
  • Summer 2025: Professional development/training in preparation for program implementation academic year 2025-2026.

Eligible applicants

STEM programs that serve PreK-12 grade audiences in or out of school with the capacity to deliver professional development/training and materials in Iowa are eligible for the STEM Scale-Up Program. Professional development/training is appropriate for Iowa STEM Scale-Up Programs when preparing an educator to implement a student kit, curriculum, activity, lesson or new course of study in STEM.

Process Overview

The Iowa STEM Scale-Up Program process has three stages:

  1. Iowa reviewers selected and trained by the STEM Council review programs against the Iowa Scale-Up RFP Rubric to assess their readiness to go to scale in Iowa.
  2. Programs selected for scale up in Iowa are offered to educators across the state in spring of 2025. Educators apply to bring the program(s) to their students during the 2025-2026 academic year. Implementation training will occur in summer 2025. Rare exceptions may be made for training.
  3. Regional STEM Advisory Boards in each of the six STEM regions in Iowa determine which of the Scale-Up educator applications they will award in their regions. Not all eligible programs are equally implemented in all six STEM regions of Iowa.

Programs that were selected for Iowa STEM Scale-Up for the 2024-2025 or any past year must submit a complete proposal again to be considered for 2025-2026 STEM Scale-Up Program eligibility.


PreK-12 Educator

Eligible educators may be associated with organizations in Iowa such as: public and private PreK-12 schools, childcare centers, county conservation, libraries, county extension offices, home school associations and other formal and informal youth organizations that deliver STEM education programming for PreK-12 youth.

Program Provider

A Program Provider is an organization providing a high-quality STEM education program, and the program is selected to be offered to Iowa educators through the Iowa STEM Scale-Up Program.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the Iowa STEM Scale-Up Provider Request for Proposals (RFP) open?

The application period is open from August to September 2024.

How should we communicate our budget/pricing structure?

Click on the button below to download a budget template.

What is allowed for the facilities and administration (F&A) fee within the proposal budget?

Indirect costs, also known as Facilities and Administration costs (F&A) or overhead costs: we allow providers to factor in the expense of facilities operation, maintenance costs and administrative expenses, commonly categorized as indirect costs. We require that such costs be built in as a portion of the per unit cost of the program deliverable, up to 5% of the per unit cost.*

In the budget template, enter these F&A in the associated administrative costs line.

*Indirect costs are an ideal space for cost share, and many providers use F&A as their cost share component.  We acknowledge F&A beyond 5% as cost share. 

What are the program capacity and funding requirements?

It is anticipated the Iowa legislature will support the Iowa STEM Scale-Up Program at just over $3 million total for FY2026. That amount may vary year to year. Typically, funds are distributed across ten to twelve programs that are selected for scaling across Iowa every year. The funds are distributed through a cost reimbursable model. Single program provider funding through the STEM Council across six regions can reach six figures, depending upon how many educators select the program from the menu and how many educators who select the program are awarded the program by the regional STEM advisory boards. Numerous factors influence total funds to providers, including marketing effectiveness, alignment with educators' goals and standards and/or number of educator applications across programs at the regional level. There is no assurance by the STEM Council that any program will be scaled. It is market driven.

What kinds of programs are you looking for this year?

Strategic Priorities for Elementary, Middle or High School Levels unless identified below*:

  • Agricultural science
  • Applied engineering
  • Computational thinking
  • Early learning STEM (PreK-3) 
  • Ecology and energy education
  • Mathematics, especially applied and contextual to students' lives
  • STEM and arts integration
  • STEM careers (especially with local context) - ideally an element of any Scale-Up proposal
  • STEM programming that integrates into existing curriculum
  • Transdisciplinary (integrated) S-T-E-M

* These priorities are subject to change and will be finalized before August 2024. Proposals for other topical fields will also be considered.  

Can we submit proposals for multiple programs in the same cycle?

Yes. In fact, individual proposals of deliverable education programs are required, as opposed to a “blanket” proposal that covers multiple distinct, deliverable programs.

What is required for a separate proposal?

If multiple programs are being proposed, programs that require a separate training must be submitted in a separate proposal.

When may our organization begin educator training?

The ideal time frame to begin training is between July 15 – August 15. The initial training may not be scheduled earlier than July 1 and must occur by October 31.  

Are organizations (Program Providers) submitting a program through the STEM Scale-Up Program RFP required to offer educators a stipend to attend training?​

No, stipends are not required.  Note: If an organization offers a personal stipend or sub pay, how will your organization verify the educator is not being paid by their host organization to attend the training. Note: If a stipend is offered, the program provider is responsible for administration and verification of stipend payments. 

May a provider propose to cover the cost of license renewal credit(s) for educators who take part in program professional development/training? 

Any provider considering proposing to offer licensure incentives should contact the Iowa STEM Council's Scale-Up Program proposals manager Dr. Sarah Derry at Sarah.Derry@drake.edu for guidance.

Can we get some pointers on what you expect for rigorous evaluation?

The webinar will include information regarding evaluation. Essentially, the rubric contains information about what is considered for each section of the proposal. Reviewers will be looking for strong evidence that programs meet the criteria listed in the application. Show evidence, rather than telling about it, and be as clear and concise as possible.

I have more questions. Who should I contact? 

For more information on the Iowa STEM Scale-Up Program, please reach out to Dr. Sarah Derry, South Central Regional STEM Manager, at Sarah.Derry@drake.edu.

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