The Science for Public Good Fund

Published Jul 31, 2017 Updated May 6, 2020

The Science for Public Good Fund is a grant program for members of the Science Network at the Union of Concerned Scientists to apply for up to $1,000 of financial support for online advocacy actions, digital community building, or other efforts to advance equitable science-based policy, with an emphasis on addressing local impacts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it critical that, as a county, we support public health efforts that keep people safe and provide financial relief to the millions of people who suddenly have no income to meet their family’s economic needs. We must advocate for science-based solutions to these problems as well as to ongoing issues that still need addressed, such as climate change, political interference in science, and voter access. But we recognize the COVID-19 pandemic has changed what it means to be an active advocate, especially in a time pf physical distancing, and have changed the criteria for our funding opportunities accordingly.

Who is eligible?

Applicants must be active UCS Science Network members (or must be willing to become members) at time of application. Join the UCS Science Network.

What kind of projects and activities are eligible?

All funded projects will either advocate for equitable science-based policy, build science advocacy skills, and/or address inequities in existing policies and regulations.

As we engage in this new era of physical distancing and online social connection, we are looking to support creative new approaches for reaching people online and ensuring sure they have the information and resources they need to engage in science advocacy. Dream big—what are ways that you can reach your community on social media, on new online platforms, or on their phones?  

To minimize health risks to our communities and help reduce the spread of coronavirus, the Union of Concerned Scientists is actively discouraging in-person events and group gatherings for the foreseeable future. 

Examples for use of funds:

  • Online tools or audio/visual equipment to support virtual meetings, events, and activities. 
  • Registration fees for trainings that support learning new skills, tactics, or leadership development.  
  • Support for advertising, promotion, or recruitment of online efforts (including digital or print advertising). 
  • Honoraria for trainers, speakers, or community voices at an online event. 

Priority will be given to proposals that: 

  • are led by earlier career scientists (graduate students, post-docs or those within 3 years of graduation);
  • reach new audiences; 
  • work with impacted communities or justice-based groups;
  • feature opportunities for project organizers to grow their advocacy skills and leadership; and/or
  • come from applicants with a demonstrated financial need. 

Please review our  criteria and rubric  and the  Science Network statement on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

For resources on building community and taking action online, see our Scientist Advocacy Toolkit.

Examples of appropriate proposals

  • A letter writing, call-in, or teach-in campaign
  • Scientific support for grassroots engagement (e.g. setting up a team to support a community group’s review and participation in public comment periods)
  • Holding an online training for conducting meetings with legislators in district
  • Hosting or participating in a tele-public forum or town halls with policymakers

Read more about previous Science for Public Good Fund grant recipients.

Commitments of grant recipients

All actions and events need to be completed and reported on within four months of receiving the grant. Activities should be documented through a write-up, with the welcome addition of photos, video, social media.

Recipients will report back on the use of the funds and will share lessons learned with fellow scientists through avenues such as guest blog posts, online trainings, or other platforms 

All recipients will remain an active member of the UCS Science Network for two years (An active member is one who has taken an action online or offline within the last year, or attended a training or event, and has not opted out from UCS Science Network emails.) 

How to apply

We are no longer accepting applications for 2020. Stay connected to the UCS Science Network for other action opportunities, resources, and notifications for when the fund reopens.

We may require individuals and organizations/groups to have a fiscal sponsor with a bank account. If you have any questions on fiscal sponsorship, email Shreya Durvasula.

The Science for Public Good Fund can support individuals, informal (unincorporated), and formal (incorporated or 501c3) groups. If applying for funds on behalf of a group, we recommend using a checking account in the group’s name or having a fiscal agent. If the grant is sent to you directly, it may be considered personal income for the recipient and become taxable.

In order to open a bank account to deposit funds, the bank may request an Employee Identification Number (EIN) be assigned for identification purposes. A Community Volunteer Group can request an EIN number online by following the instructions at this IRS website.

The UCS Science Network wants to spotlight and support the valuable science advocacy work you are undertaking. Let us help you put your science into action.

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