Outreach Kit, Section 1: Overview
Overview | Outreach Inventory | Branding & Messaging | Outreach Planning | Final Thoughts & Further Reading
Download Outreach Template & Planning Table
Whether you’ve already received funding from NSF’s ATE program (that’s the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program), or you’re in the process of writing your first grant proposal, outreach and dissemination activities are critical to the work of your project or center.
NSF requires grantees to demonstrate the broader impacts of their work in an effort to ensure their mission: "To promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes." Outreach and dissemination can play an important role in fulfilling these broader impact requirements and in achieving the specific goals of your ATE grant.
In education-based communities such as the ATE program, the terms "outreach" and "dissemination" are often used interchangeably to describe activities that support knowledge sharing, community building, recruitment, and knowledge transfer. Much like marketing, the most effective outreach plans incorporate and integrate multiple audiences, pathways, and resources – but no matter what form they take, outreach and dissemination activities should be designed thoughtfully and should ultimately serve the goals and objectives of your project and center.
Most ATE projects and centers share some basic objectives related to outreach and dissemination, which could include:
- Promoting the project or center's work to peer groups, educators, students, and the public.
- Sharing and growing interest in science and technology with the project or center's institution's body of administrators, faculty, and students, as well as industry and other key stakeholders.
- Fostering discussions and interest in important educational and technological issues addressed or introduced by the project or center.
- Connecting and communicating with industry partners and others about strategies for creating a skilled technical workforce.
These types of overarching goals, along with the specific goals of your own project or center, can help you build a set of targeted outreach and dissemination objectives that will lay the foundation for your outreach plan.
How to Use the Outreach Kit, Template, and Planning Table
This Outreach Kit and the accompanying Template are designed to walk you through a process that helps you consider the core ideas of your project or center, your primary audiences and stakeholders, the partners and resources that can support your work, and also begin to consider issues like branding and messaging.
As you work through the sections of the online kit, you can record specific information on the template. The sections of the online kit align with the template and encourage you explore specific topics more deeply as well as referring you to other helpful resources. You can work through the sections in any order that make sense to you – or you can work through them in the order they are listed in the kit and template.
Here are the sections included in the kit (use the navigation bar above to explore each section):
- Overview – this is where you are now! This section provides a summary of the Outreach Kit.
- Outreach Inventory – this section helps you bring together information about the overarching goals of your work, your audiences, outreach pathways, partners, and resources.
- Branding & Messaging – this portion of the kit helps you clarify the look and feel of your resources as well as thinking through how to communicate with your audiences.
- Outreach Planning – this section focuses on planning – setting up objectives and activities that align with the larger goals you’ve outlined.
- Final Thoughts & Further Reading – this section provides you with an array of helpful resources so you and your team can learn even more about topics mentioned throughout the kit.
By utilizing the kit and template you’ll be well on your way to developing a plan that helps you meet the goals of your grant, share out your outcomes and impacts, and promote the valuable work of your project or center to a diverse set of stakeholders.