Annual Call for Proposals

OAD Call for proposals: Projects in 2016


Please read the call below (download PDF of the call text) then complete the online application form. To help prepare your proposal before completing the online application form, you can download a PDF or Word DOC with all the form’s questions.

Language/Translation: Although English is the working language of the OAD, if you need to communicate in another language, we will try to connect you with volunteers who could assist you with translations. We humbly request though that the final submission is done in English with the help of these volunteers. Please contact us at to request assistance in finding a translator.

1) Introduction

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) established the global Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) in order to fulfil the IAU’s 10 year Strategic Plan. This plan aims to realise the global developmental benefits of astronomy. Each year, the OAD coordinates a call for proposals to fund projects in three areas: (i) Astronomy for Universities and Research, (ii) Astronomy for Children and Schools, and (iii) Astronomy for the Public. More information about the OAD and its activities can be found at

2) Call for Proposals

The IAU has earmarked €110 000 for OAD projects to be selected in 2015 and implemented in 2016. This is an open call for project proposals, with individual project grants ranging from about €500 to about €15,000. Please note that application procedures have changed somewhat since previous funding rounds, with details provided below (e.g. now a single call and application form for all Task Forces).

3) Eligibility Criteria

  • The proposed project should address a problem or challenge related to sustainable development.
  • The project should use Astronomy as a tool to address this problem.
  • One or more project deliverables should be ready by end of 2016; currently, projects that run over several years can only apply for funding for a single year.
  • All distributable project resources, materials, etc. should be released to the public under an appropriate license (e.g. Creative Commons) allowing free use and adaptation.
  • Proposers should be able to provide a verified bank account through which funds can be paid if the project is selected for funding.
  • Proposals should ideally be submitted via the online Application Form. All proposals received will be acknowledged by email. However, if one is unable to submit one’s proposal online for any reason, they may contact us at least a week before the deadline to arrange for an alternative submission method.
  • Application forms should be complete, including detailed budget, and received at the OAD before the deadline.
  • Projects can be proposed by a single person or by a team of people.

4) Selection Criteria

Selection criteria (in order of priority)

  1. Clear description of the problem or challenge (and its importance) that the project will try to address.
  2. Potential risks of unintended consequences clearly considered (e.g. a bad lecturer may put people off of astronomy instead of engaging them; if a project selects applicants then there may be a risk of reducing self-confidence amongst rejected applicants; overly complex content may discourage students who are unprepared; etc.)
  3. Likelihood that the project will make a positive impact in addressing the problem/challenge
  4. Innovation and creativity, improving on what has been shown to work
  5. Feasibility of the project (from details like timeline, budget, aims, expertise, etc. what are the chances that this project will be successfully completed?)
  6. Replicability (can the project be repeated by others?)*
  7. Scaleability (does the project have potential to be expanded across the world?)*
  8. Appropriate consideration of audience diversity, especially with respect to gender, (dis)abilities and culture
  9. Level of need for proposed activities in the region/project location.
  10. Cost-effectiveness (i.e. large anticipated positive results for minimal cost where cost includes total project cost, not just costs for which OAD funding is requested).
  11. Importance of IAU funding for leveraging funding from other sources.

* As a guide, proposers should consider the OAD Project Gaps described in the next section.

5) OAD Project Gaps

Considering the response to the previous calls for proposals, the following “Gaps” have been identified by the OAD and may evolve from year to year. These represent areas of need to be considered when developing proposals that could be expanded/repeated. Note that one or more of these gaps could be incorporated into, rather than define, projects (for example, a summer school or teacher training project could incorporate the development of materials). Although not compulsory nor explicitly part of the selection criteria, these “gaps” serve as a guide to proposers to address other criteria such as replicability and scalability.

  • Material for teaching other subjects (e.g. basic mathematics, statistics, engineering, programming, etc.) using Astronomy.
  • Problem sets and assessments (e.g. short tests administered before and after a training workshop)
  • Career information, using national and/or international data.
  • Parenting and early childhood development (e.g. guidelines for parents to encourage learning in their children).
  • Literacy and numeracy using astronomy (e.g. using astronomy to improve the teaching of reading, writing and counting/basic arithmetic).
  • Resource development (e.g. open-access course materials, culturally relevant astronomy, etc.).
  • Research reviews (i.e. finding and summarising relevant research that may be available on what works and what doesn’t work for project types typically funded by the OAD).

6) Project Selection Procedures

The proposals will first be reviewed by the OAD for completeness, anonymised, and then sent to the appropriate Task Force. Task Force members will score the proposals based on the selection criteria above and make the appropriate recommendations for final funding allocation. The whole process will be overseen by the relevant OAD oversight structures.

All applicants will receive feedback and notification of whether their proposal was successful by 15 December 2015.

7) Optional Expressions of Interest

Ahead of submitting a full project proposal, the OAD invites optional Expressions of Interest. This is simply a more streamlined way for the OAD deal with queries about people’s project ideas and to offer them support/advice/assistance in a more structured manner. Expressions of Interest allow potential project proposers, including those with an undeveloped idea, to explore collaborations with other proposers and/or receive feedback from the OAD. The process is intended to assist proposers in developing their final project proposals, strengthening their project designs and minimising the duplication of ideas across projects. These Expressions of Interest are therefore strongly recommended by the OAD. Note that the Task Forces who review the final proposals will not see whether or not a particular project has made use of the optional Expressions of Interest phase.

If you wish to submit an optional Expression of Interest, please do so by completing the online form by 23:59 UTC/GMT on 15th July 2015. Feedback from the OAD will be provided via e-mail by 1st August 2015. Click here to access the Expressions of Interest Online Form.

8) Closing date for Project Proposals

The deadline for submitting full project proposals is 23:59 UTC/GMT on 15th September 2015. This deadline will be automatic and the application form will close. If you have any doubt about the exact time at your location, please contact us.

9) Summary of Timeline

  • 30 June 2015: Release call for proposals and Expressions of Interest
  • 15 July 2015 (23:59 UTC/GMT): Deadline for Expressions of Interest
  • 1 August 2015: Feedback from OAD on Expressions of Interest
  • 15 September 2015 (23:59 UTC/GMT): Deadline for full proposals
  • 15 December 2015: Notification of funding decisions and feedback on proposals

10) Enquiries:

Please direct enquiries regarding the Call for Proposals by email to Alternative contact information:

  • Telephone: +27 (0) 21 460 6297;
  • Postal address: P.O. Box 9, Observatory, 7935, South Africa;
  • Physical address: SAAO, Observatory Road, Observatory, 7925, South Africa.

11) Online Application Form

Proposals should be submitted via the online Application Form. To help prepare your proposal before completing the online form, you can download the questions in PDF or Word DOC If you are unable to submit your form online, for any reason, please contact us to arrange for an alternative submission method. Please note that all proposals received will be acknowledged by an automatically generated email containing your submission. If you do not receive this email please try again or contact us

Click here to access the Project Application Online Form or access it directly from any device at the following link: