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The Franklin Institute Recognized For Leadership And Innovation With Awards For A Series Of Highly-Competitive Federal Grants

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Franklin Institute has been awarded seven highly-competitive federal grants totaling over $9 million, reaffirming the Institute as a national leader in innovative approaches to science education and community outreach.  The Institute's nationally-recognized track record of producing effective informal science education programs, many of which are collaborative efforts, has earned it a position as a longtime recipient of important and competitive federal funding.  The latest round of multi-million dollar projects range from urban climate change awareness to science and literacy learning for early childhood and families.  These opportunities bring a significant amount of federal funding to the museum and the City of Philadelphia and reinforce The Franklin Institute's dedication to science education, research and collaboration. 


The recently awarded grants include five National Science Foundation (NSF) funded projects, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grant and a federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) award.  

The NSF-funded grants consist of:

  • $5.8 million for Climate and Urban Systems Partnership, designed to promote climate change education among urban residents.
  • $1.9 million ($330,346 to The Franklin Institute) for Broad Implementation of Science Festival Alliance, a collaborative effort to expand upon and sustain science festivals nationwide.
  • $993,705 for Integrating Science into Afterschool, which will engage underserved children in a variety of city-wide afterschool science programs.
  • $815,123 for LEAP into Science: Engaging Diverse Community Partners in Science and Literacy, which will leverage partnerships and collaborations to augment an existing program that connects children's literature and hands-on science in out-of-school environments.
  • $499,873 ($82,860 to The Franklin Institute) for Transforming STEM Competitions into Collaboratives, a project that engages students in technology-rich collaborative environments that are alternatives to other types of science fairs and robotic competitions. 

Additionally, NASA has awarded $799,546 to The Franklin Institute for City Skies, a project which will incorporate newly-formed Franklin Institute astronomy programs with NASA's existing resources to spark an interest in astronomy among urban populations in Philadelphia.  Lastly, IMLS has awarded a $249,534 grant, LEAP into Science: Cultivating Early Learning in Science and Literacy, which will enhance an existing program and incorporate children's literature and hands-on science into early childhood learning.

"The established success rate of The Franklin Institute in this highly-competitive arena, where only a very small number of grants are awarded to major institutions, recognizes the Institute's excellence in developing effective and innovative educational programs," explains Dr. Dennis M. Wint, President and CEO of The Franklin Institute. "This funding will allow the Institute to broaden its reach nationally through partnership collaborations, engage the community in meaningful science learning opportunities, and reinforce Philadelphia's position as a leader in STEM education."

The following are more detailed descriptions of these recently awarded grants:

CCEP-II: Climate and Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP) – The National Science Foundation has awarded a $5.8 million grant to The Franklin Institute for a five-year, multi-city project focused on engaging urban residents in community-based learning about climate, climate-change science, and the prospects for enhancing urban quality of life through informed responses to a changing Earth.  Led by The Franklin Institute, and working through networks of community-based organizations in four urban centers—Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York City, and Washington, DC—CUSP will deliver coordinated programs and messages through interlinked community platforms that reach city residents in neighborhoods, online, and at city festivals.  This collaborative project is supported by the National Science Foundation's Climate Change Education Partnership Program (CCEP), which aims to increase public understanding of global climate change and prepare the next generation of scientists and educators.   The CUSP project was 1 of only 6 funded nationally in this round of competition.   Dr. Steve Snyder is The Franklin Institute's Principal Investigator.
Grant total: $5,882,653

Broad Implementation of Science Festival Alliance – This three-year collaborative effort between four key partners—Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The Franklin Institute, University of California at San Francisco, and University of North Carolina/Morehead Planetarium and Science Center—builds on the findings of the National Science Foundation-funded National Science Festival Network to establish, support and develop new science festivals, create online tools and educational resources, and craft an overall long-term sustainability plan.  The Franklin Institute will focus on, among other things, identifying Science Festival programming that engages new audiences.   Dr. Steve Snyder is The Franklin Institute's Principal Investigator.
Grant total:  $1,999,904 ($330,346 to The Franklin Institute)

Integrating Science into Afterschool:  A Three-Dimensional Approach to Engaging Underserved Populations in Science – In an ongoing effort to transform the role of science in the lives of underserved youth and families in Philadelphia, Integrating Science into Afterschool will engage underserved minority children in grades 3-5 in city-wide out-of-school time programs through collaboration with the Philadelphia Out-of-School Time (OST) Program, funded through the City of Philadelphia's Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC). This three-year project, funded by the ITEST program of the National Science Foundation, will engage participants in year-round project-based science learning and exposure to careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through multiple access points to demonstrate a three-dimensional model of science learning afterschool, at home, and in community.  Dr. Dale McCreedy is The Franklin Institute's Principal Investigator.
Grant total: $993,705

LEAP into Science: Engaging Diverse Community Partners in Science and Literacy is an elaboration of the LEAP into Science model funded by the National Science Foundation and developed by The Franklin Institute in collaboration with The Free Library of Philadelphia. The LEAP into Science program has successfully promoted student and family engagement in science and literacy in Philadelphia for over five years, and more recently in ten collaborations nationwide.  This new three-year effort will leverage components of that pilot program to engage new community audiences, offer enhanced professional development, and, through partnerships with the University of Washington and the University of Delaware, study the efficacy of the program in different out-of-school time contexts and populations.   Dr. Dale McCreedy is The Franklin Institute's Principal Investigator.
Grant total: $815,123

Transforming STEM Competitions into Collaboratives: Developing eCrafting Collabs for Learning with Electronic Textiles – Led by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, this two-year project supports the development of technological fluency and understanding of STEM concepts by implementing design collaboratives that use eCrafting Collabs to work with middle and high school students, parents and the community.  eCrafting projects involve the incorporation of embedded computers, sensors, and actuators into soft materials such as fabric and felt in order to create an e-textile. The activity merges principles of electrical engineering with craft skills such as sewing and quilting. eCrafting Collabs are a modern interpretation of the traditional sewing circle where eCrafters work side-by-side and share their resources and knowledge. Dr. Karen Elinich is The Franklin Institute's Principal Investigator.
Grant total: $499,873 ($82,860 to The Franklin Institute)

City Skies: Linking Neighborhoods with NASA through Urban Astronomy – Funded through support from NASA and led by The Franklin Institute's Chief Astronomer and NASA Solar System Ambassador Derrick Pitts, City Skies is a four-year, city-wide astronomical observing program designed to stimulate interest and engagement in NASA's missions and resources among residents of Philadelphia's inner-city neighborhoods. Developed by The Franklin Institute, the program engages 30 community-based organizations in neighborhoods across Philadelphia, and all School District of Philadelphia middle schools, to introduce students, families and neighborhoods to observing astronomical objects in day and night skies, and to NASA's online resources and citizen scientist research opportunities.   
Grant total: $799,546

LEAP into Science: Cultivating Early Learning in Science and Literacy – Extending The Franklin Institute's ongoing work to engage underserved children and families in science and literacy through an existing program called LEAP into Science, this project will enhance program resources for early childhood audiences.  Funded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as a National Leadership Grant, this project supports the goals of IMLS's national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. To reach underserved populations with this innovative program, The Franklin Institute will partner with the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC), The Free Library of Philadelphia, and 10 national sites that include partnerships with public libraries, science museums, children's museums, school districts, afterschool providers, and public television.  Dr. Dale McCreedy is The Franklin Institute's Principal Investigator.
Grant total:  $249,534

The Franklin Institute
Founded in honor of America's first scientist, Benjamin Franklin, The Franklin Institute is one of America's oldest and premier centers of science education and development in the country.  Today, the Institute continues its dedication to public education and creating a passion for science by offering new and exciting access to science and technology in ways that would dazzle and delight its namesake. For more information please visit

SOURCE The Franklin Institute