The NSF program incorporates the goal of sustainability in our guidelines.
We call it "institutionalization" defined as "ongoing support after NSF
funding for one or more major project activities from the host
budget." A recent Impact Study (1999) found that 73% of our funded
projects (based on a sample) were institutionalized. Among the projects
that demonstrated **positive** outcomes, 88% were sustained.
This rate of success is surprising in light of the fact that our larger
projects are funded for only three years. Some extend their activities
four and five years (usually completing evaluations). I have heard people
say that five years of funding is generally what is needed to achieve
Another aspect that reinforces sustainability is that our large projects
required to be collaborations. The partnerships (for example, between
universities, school districts, community groups, museums, private
etc.) continue also.
The big gap in current funding is, as Sundra points out, support for
institutionalizing best practices on a widespread basis. We are not short
on proven ideas and programs, any more. The proven gender-equity practices
(at least in science, math, technology) need to be integrated into regular
educational agendas. They need to migrate from the original pilot sites
into localities that can replicate the model. Replication costs are lower
because the evaluation does not have to meet the same standard as the
original pilot site.
Dr. Ruta Sevo
Program for Gender Equity in Science, Math, Engineering and Technology
National Science Foundation
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