As one of the five focus areas within Overdeck Family Foundation, the Inspired Minds portfolio aims to improve access to out-of-school (OST) STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) opportunities, allowing children to unlock their curiosity and explore mind-expanding challenges. Below, we provide more information about a call for Letters of Interest (LOI) to help us understand which OST STEM programs have scaled and why.

Problem Statement

Children spend 80% of their waking hours outside of school, but the way they spend that time differs, and that impacts their academic and socio-emotional development. By the time they reach sixth grade, middle-income children have spent 6,000 more hours learning than their lower-income peers, primarily due to differences in afterschool and summer learning opportunities. We see the time students spend out of school as a rich and underutilized opportunity to allow students to discover new interests and pursue their passions.

Many OST STEM programs are being implemented across the country. We seek to uncover those that have expanded while also having evidence of effectiveness. We know some programs/interventions scale despite having limited evidence of effectiveness, which is why it is important to gain insights to understand which OST STEM programs reach the most students and how they do it.

Summary of Project

We seek LOIs from researchers to help us understand which OST STEM programs have scaled. The Foundation uses Coburn’s (2003) definition of scale that extends beyond replication and reach and includes the following four dimensions:

  • Spread: the expansion of practices to new sites
  • Depth: the extent to which practice is transformed in a meaningful way
  • Sustainability: the creation and adaption of policy and infrastructure system to sustain a practice
  • Ownership: the transfer of knowledge and authority to sustain the reform to the actors at the ground level

The project aims to answer two research questions:

1. Which OST STEM programs have successfully “scaled”?

  • We are interested in a landscape analysis of OST STEM programs in the U.S. that have a minimum dosage of 20 hours aimed at children ages 5-18. Although we are interested in national scale, we will also consider state and local scale.
  • We are interested in learning what type of OST STEM program scale (e.g. afterschool, summer, weekend etc.), how many students are reached by the program, the strength of the evidence base of the program, where the program is located including number of sites and/or schools, and whether the program serves diverse student populations.

2. How have OST STEM programs successfully “scaled”? 

  • We want to understand contextual conditions necessary to achieve scale. Analysis of successful scaling should address barriers and enabling conditions faced by the programs. Examples include, but are not limited to, access to capital, cost-effectiveness, organizational leadership, favorable policy environment, and/or growth channels.

Through our grantmaking, we have learned that it is easier to scale components of programs rather than whole-models. We seek to uncover program components (e.g. setting, funding mechanism, activities, curriculum, staffing) that can be codified for scale, and are especially interested if program components have evidence of effectiveness. We define effective programs/interventions as those that meet Every Student Succeeds ACT (ESSA) Tier 1, 2,  3, or 4 for academic and non-academic outcomes.

Potential Approaches

At minimum, we seek a systematic review of the landscape of existing scaled OST STEM programs with attention to those that are effective as defined by ESSA and serve diverse student populations. Proposals with additional mixed method approaches are strongly encouraged.


At the end of the project, we are looking for a white-paper report of publishable quality detailing insights and findings uncovered during the analysis. The white paper should address enabling factors or barriers to scale that will inform both Overdeck Family Foundation grantmaking and strengthen OST STEM programs in the field.

In addition, we ask for a PowerPoint deck that can be used to communicate findings with external audiences.


  • Up to $100,000 for 4 to 6 months
  • Allocation of up to 15% is allowable for development and dissemination of the public report
  • Indirect costs may not exceed 10% of project expenses

Submission Guidelines

Please complete the LOI form by July 17. Please send any questions to

The LOI form requests the following information:

  • Brief description of your organization’s mission and focus areas
  • Staff area expertise and skills in education research, STEM, quantitative/causal methods, serving diverse student populations, and any other relevant personal/ professional experience
  • A list of at least three OST STEM programs and a justification of why each is a good candidate
  • Study approach/design and rationale
  • Short budget outline


Submission deadline for LOIJuly 17, 2019
Notification for selected applicants to complete full proposalAugust 16, 2019
Submission deadline for full proposalSeptember 16, 2019
Finalist(s) virtual interviewSeptember 16-30, 2019
Notification of grant approvalNovember 1, 2019


We welcome you to forward this LOI to your network if this is a project you think would interest others. Thank you in advance for your interest and support.