Funding opportunity - Apply to NASA MPLAN - MUREP Partnership Learning Annual Notification 2024

Funding opportunity - NASA invites Principal Investigators from Minority Serving Institutions to apply for NASA MPLAN 2024 with awards up to $50,000 per PI.

Mar 13, 2024 - 18:26
Mar 13, 2024 - 18:40
Funding opportunity - Apply to NASA MPLAN - MUREP Partnership Learning Annual Notification 2024
Funding opportunity - MPLAN Awards provide resources to MSIs to further develop ideas, facilitate research and development, and engage stakeholders.
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MUREP Partnership Learning Annual Notification (MPLAN) awards provide resources to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to further develop ideas, facilitate research and development, and engage stakeholders.


NASA invites Principal Investigators (PIs) from Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to apply for an exciting program with awards up to $50,000 per PI to engage in research and work with NASA to prepare for larger funding opportunities.

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This program consists of 2 phases:

  • Phase 1: MSIs submit proposals based on various topics provided by NASA MUREP and the Mission Directorates.
  • Phase 2: Awarded MSIs are invited to meet with NASA researchers and MUREP representatives. The meetings will focus on fostering collaboration, enhancing technical skills, and providing insights into future NASA opportunities.

The NASA MUREP Partnership Learning Annual Notification (NASA MPLAN) will offer PIs the opportunity to:

  • Engage in a research project directly with NASA
  • Participate in monthly virtual workshops on fostering collaboration, enhancing technical skills, proposal writing, and preparing for future NASA opportunities.
  • Gain insight into NASA priorities for future proposals.
  • Attend a two day in-person workshop to network with NASA and other institutions

By the end of the program, PIs will be better prepared for future funding opportunities such as:

The overarching goal of NASA MPLAN is to stimulate creative engagements for MSI researchers, leading to increased participation from MSIs in the development of new technologies that support NASA's mission and commercial market development. Ultimately, NASA MPLAN establishes viable partnerships that can compete in other NASA funding opportunities and open doors to new possibilities and growth.


What institutions are eligible? NASA MPLAN awards are available to PIs from approved Minority Serving Institutions, as listed on the NASA MSI Exchange. They include:

  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Predominantly Black Institutions
  • Hispanic-Serving Institutions
  • Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions
  • Alaska Native-Serving and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions
  • American Indian Tribally-Controlled Colleges and Universities
  • Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions

Who is sponsoring NASA MPLAN?

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NASA MPLAN is administered by the Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) through NASA's Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM).


NASA is soliciting research proposals that fall within the 2024 topic areas that represent a subset of pertinent mission areas for NASA.

  • In Phase 1, PIs submit a proposal to one of the topic areas by April 15, 2024. 
  • In Phase 2, NASA facilitates communication and meetings between Phase 1 awardees, Mission Directorate representatives, and subject matter experts. Selected PIs and their partners (if applicable) will have the opportunity to participate in a kickoff meeting, a two-day in-person workshop, engage monthly with NASA researchers, identify opportunities with NASA, and network with other PIs. These sessions are expected to occur between June and December 2024. 


It is highly encouraged that awardees participate in Phase 2 meetings to exchange information and receive the full benefits of this program.



NASA MPLAN Awards provide resources to MSIs to further develop ideas, facilitate research and development, and engage stakeholders. Successful proposals result in awards with a maximum amount of $50,000.

NASA intends for winning solvers to utilize their prize funds for various purposes such as staff support, student experiences, professional development, travel, meetings, focus groups, research, evaluation, consultants, specialized resources, technical expertise, and support needed to develop and implement proposed strategies and approaches. 

NASA MPLAN Awards are prizes, not grants or cooperative agreements. There are no formal reporting requirements on the use of funds, no restrictions on how the funds can be used and no period of performance by which they must be used by. However, NASA will provide support in Phase 2 up to December, 2024.

Awards are anticipated to be dispersed to MSIs within 45 days of the winner announcement, pending the on time submission of the award documents by the MSI.

MSIs may submit to any of the topics found here


Roles and Responsibilities

Each recipient appoints a Principal Investigator (PI) in support of its award. It is suggested that PIs assume primary responsibility for implementing, operating, and managing the project as described in their original proposal. The PI may want to consider taking on some or all of the following tasks:

  • Leading, administering, and evaluating the project and its activities;
  • Collaborating with university leadership to promote Underrepresented Minority (URM) advancement in engineering;
  • Supervising project staff and ensuring compliance with policies and laws;
  • Using research-based best practices for the project;
  • Managing project budgets and complying with funding guidelines;
  • Participating in meetings and delivering progress reports in a timely manner;
  • Participating in performance assessment and evaluation activities aligned with federal government's priorities.


Each proposal must include a completed submission form and budget.

Proposals should not include any proprietary information. Proposals should only include information that can be made publicly available without compromising any intellectual property or proprietary rights.

NASA MPLAN proposals are intended to be short, concise, and lower effort than grant applications.

Submission Form

Award proposals should be written at a conceptual big picture level, focusing on the overall goals and objectives of the award as detailed in the submission form:

  1.  MSI Information:
    1. Name of institution
    2. Address of primary campus of institution
    3. Name and email of Principal Investigator and their role at the institution
    4. Optional: Name and role of any other key participants from the MSI, including their level of support in the planning effort.
    5. Zip folder containing the CVs of the Principal Investigator and, if applicable, CVs of any other key participants from the MSI.

  2. Team Members and Partners
    You may provide information for up to 5 additional team members and/or partners, beyond the Principal Investigator. Submitters may have more than 5 additional team members/partners, but will only be able to provide information for up to 5. 

    Team members and partners are optional, except for topic areas under the MUREP Small Business Technology Transfer (mSTTR) topic in the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), which require a small business partner.
    1. For each team member:
      1. Role: select one of Co-Principal Investigator, Small Business Concern/Partner, Other University Team Member, or Other Partner (not small business)
      2. Name and email
      3. Partner capabilities (CV, slick sheet, capabilities statement, etc. PDF upload)

  3. The Proposal:
    1. Topic selection: select one topic from the list here 
    2. Intended or desired start date of the proposed project or activity (after June 1, 2024)
    3. Intended or desired start date of the proposed project or activity (there is no set period of performance for the funds; however, we recommend a proposal end date on or around December 2024 to correspond with the end date of NASA support)
    4. Total amount of funds needed for the proposed project or activity, including all anticipated expenses and costs.
    5. Executive summary: High level overview of the proposed technology or activity, including the problem being addressed. (max 1200 characters)
    6. Project objectives: What are the desired outcomes of your project or activity? (max 1200 characters)
    7. Approach to Research/Technical Innovation: A description of the proposed technology or activity, the degree of innovativeness, potential approaches to developing the technology, and key risks and mitigation strategies. (max 2700 characters)
    8. Potential Applications to NASA: Potential NASA applications or missions which might benefit from developed technology, potential commercialization opportunities. (max 1300 characters)
    9. Attach a completed budget for your proposed project or activity, using the budget template provided here.
    10. Optional: Background and Literature Review: A review of the work done in the field, emphasizing the problem and attempts to tackle it. (max 2000 characters)



Applicants submit a budget using the budget template (view a sample budget here). Budget details are provided to allow for assessment of the type of skills/expertise engaged in this effort and the number of hours committed.


  • Use of Government facilities or contracted technical support should not be included in the budget submission. 
  • At least 50% of the budget must go to the MSI.
  • Proposed projects should not begin until June 1, 2024.
  • The budget requested for this award cannot exceed $50,000.


  • Budget proposals should cover activities up to December 2024. 
  • Consider allocating funds for travel for up to two in-person meetings within the United States, as there may be opportunities to engage with your Mission Directorate cohort.
  • As this is a prize and not a grant, we recommend that no indirect costs be included in the budget.
  • Materials and supplies budget not exceed 10% of the total funding.


  • Open for submissions: February 12, 2024 
  • Pre-proposal information session: February 22, 2024 at 2:00 pm ET
  • Submission deadline: April 15, 2024 at 5:00 pm ET
  • Selection Announcement: May 17, 2024
  • Round 2: June 2024 - December 2024 (6 months)
    • Kickoff Meeting: July 11, 2024, 2 pm ET
    • Week of August 5 2024: In-Person Workshop (two days)
    • Cohort meeting/ SME session 1: September 5, 2024, 2pm ET
    • Cohort meeting/SME session 2: October 10, 2024, 2pm ET
    • Cohort meeting/SME session 3: November 7, 2024, 2pm ET
    • Cohort meeting/Close out session: December 5, 2024, 2pm ET

Judging Criteria

NASA selects proposals for award that offer the most advantageous research and development (R&D), deliver technological innovation that contributes to NASA’s missions, provides societal benefit, and grows the U.S. economy. In evaluating proposals, NASA prioritizes the scientific and technical merit of the proposal, as well as its feasibility and potential benefit to NASA's interests (as described in the judging criteria below). NASA strives for a balanced project award portfolio that takes into account diverse factors, including but not limited to, different types of institutional representation, participation by individuals traditionally underrepresented in STEM studies and careers, and geographic diversity.

Each proposal is evaluated and scored on its own merits using the evaluation factors for award described below:

Section  Description Overall Weight
Scientific/Technical Merit 
  • Evaluation of proposed R&D effort on innovative and feasible technical approach to NASA problem area;
  • Demonstration of relevance to one or more NASA missions and/or programmatic needs;
  • Clear presentation of specific objectives, approaches, and plans for developing and verifying innovation;
  • Demonstration of clear understanding of the problem and current state of the art;
  • Assessment of understanding and significance of risks involved in the proposed innovation.
Experience, Qualifications, and Facilities
  • Evaluation of technical capabilities and experience of Principal Investigator (PI), project manager, key personnel, staff, consultants, and subcontractors;
  • Assessment of consistency between research effort and level of support from involved parties;
  • Demonstration of adequate instrumentation or facilities required for the project;
  • Detailed consideration of any reliance on external sources, such as Government-furnished equipment or facilities.
Feasibility & Reasonableness
  • Evaluation of whether the proposed plan, schedule, and budget is appropriate for the project/activity
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