National Outreach Coordinators (NOCs) Funding Scheme 2020-2021


The 2020-2021 National Outreach Coordinators Funding Scheme is a dedicated grant system to support worthy outreach initiatives lead by IAU National Outreach Coordinators (NOCs). This grant system, administered by the IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach (OAO), will provide funding (a maximum of 4000 EUR per proposal) to projects presented as a joint activity between countries, with the goal of bolstering international cooperation.


In 2020, with the unprecedented times we live in due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have turned online to stay connected to our communities and found new ways of engagement while maintaining our safety and the safety of those around us. In this edition, we encourage our NOCs to reflect on the difficulties the current situation has brought us as astronomy outreach professionals and practitioners and to brainstorm together on ways to carry our programmes while keeping our communities safe.

While the 2019-2020 edition focused on We must preserve Earth, our only home in the Universe, on this second edition we extend the theme of the funding scheme to other “Big Ideas in Astronomy”. You can find the latest version of the “Big Ideas in Astronomy: A Proposed Definition of Astronomy Literacy” booklet here.




The IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach (OAO) is primarily responsible to support the international network of IAU National Outreach Coordinators (NOCs) present in more than 100 countries, a network composed by some of the most active and driven practitioners making a difference in astronomy internationally: the astronomers producing cutting-edge science and the outreach professionals taking astronomy to their local communities. 


To provide continuous support to its outreach network and to cement international relations between national coordinators, the OAO will implement an annual Funding Scheme solely dedicated to its NOCs and under the theme “Big Ideas in Astronomy”.


Update: IAU OAO-SKA Partnership


In this edition, the OAO is teaming up with the SKA Organisation - which leads the delivery of the international Square Kilometre Array radio telescope - to provide an additional funding of 5000€ for joint radio astronomy outreach projects (maximum of 2500€ per project) with the SKA’s Communication & Outreach Network (SKACON). With this partnership, we intend to go one step further and promote international collaborations between the IAU and international astronomical institutions and their outreach networks.


The driving principle of this partnership is to support international collaboration in radio astronomy outreach. Therefore:

  • Only multi-country collaborations will be eligible.
  • Collaboration between a NOC & SKACON representative is required.
  • If there is a SKACON representative in your country or country of delivery they must be involved in the proposal.
  • You are welcome to contact relevant SKACON representatives to discuss joint proposals.
  • The eligible proposals should be focused on educating about and promoting radio astronomy.
  • You can use existing radio astronomy outreach resources or develop new ones.

If you wish to be placed in contact with a SKACON representative or if you have further questions regarding the submission process under the OAO-SKA Partnership, please email lina.canas[at]


How to Apply 

  1. Identify a challenge you are facing and/or a problem you wish to solve;
  2. Team up with fellow(s) NOCs (a team of two or three NOCs are advisable) and jointly search for a solution;
  3. Applications:

Phase 1: Submit a 400-word summary that will be reviewed by a committee (upon request);

Phase 2: Selected submissions will be asked to submit a more detailed proposal with a provided form for final selection by a jury/committee.



  • Submissions are open to entries submitted by the NOCs;
  • Submissions are judged on:
    • (1) creativity (Is your project original, or has an original component to it? Does it build on successful existing outreach programmes or resources?),
    • (2) impact (How will affect the communities it will be implemented in? Could it serve as an example for others to implement?), 
    • (3) pertinence (How is the project linked to the designated theme(s)?),  
    • (4) sustainability (Will the project continue beyond the funding period? Does it present an alternative implementation (in case confinement measures are in place)?), 
    • (5) collaboration (Are all the NOCs involved in the proposal actively engaged with each other? Are the NOCs involved in the communities?); 
  • The decision of the appointed jury is final, and all NOCs (and SKACON representatives) must accept the final decision, whether their proposal has been accepted or not;
  • Each NOC can participate in more than one proposal;
  • The deadline for Phase 1 submissions is 1 October 2020. Submit your proposal to lina.canas [at]



Total funding for the program is 20 000€, with a maximum of 4000€ per project.

The funding will be transferred to the designated bank account(s) stated in the "Agreement" signed between all the NOCs involved in the proposal and the OAO.


Update: Under the IAU OAO-SKA Partnership, an additional funding of 5000€ for radio astronomy outreach projects (maximum of 2500€ per project) will be allocated.



Implementation Timeline

  1. Phase 1. submissions accepted until 1 October 2020;
  2. Phase 1 results announced to the submitters, by 20 October 2020;
  3. Phase 2 submissions delivered by 20 November 2020;
  4. Selected projects announced by 20 January 2021;
  5. Implementation of the project from April 2021-December 2021;
  6. Delivery of a final report*;

*Additionally, selected projects during the implementation phase must stay in contact with the OAO, informing the OAO of the implementation of the project activities through short reports, photographs and/or videos.


  1. The English language brings us closer, but can sometimes be a barrier. Please feel free to send us your proposal beforehand if you need help with the translation;
  2. If you want to contact other NOCs and you are experiencing problems reaching out to them, please let us know so we may support you;
  3. International collaborations are often supported by funding schemes. Please feel free to seek other potential funding and align your proposal with other funding programmes. Just make sure you clarify what can be done with the IAU amount requested, independently, of the third-party funding.
  4. The scope of the proposed programme must be astronomy outreach but can encompass activities under outreach for development and formal education for society.
  5. Face-to-face activities are acceptable, but a remote "Plan B" needs to be incorporated into the proposal in case confinement measures are in place during the implementation phase.
  6. With the hard economic crisis ahead, we encourage you to think of ways how our outreach initiatives can do to provide additional support to the community (e.g. masks, sanitizers, guides with safety measures, food support, stable internet connection, etc.)
  7. We encourage you, while brainstorming, to reflect on the importance of internet connectivity, its benefits and challenges in shaping communications, building your community, and implementing your project, limiting engagement of underserved communities that do not have access to online tools to stay connected.
  8. Personnel costs (e.g. salaries, daily allowance) and/or travel costs (e.g. air tickets, accommodation, meals, etc.) if part of the proposal, need to be thoroughly justified, and relevant for the successful implementation of the project.
  9. You can find examples of selected proposals for the first edition 2019-2020 here: