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Public Engagement Grant Scheme FAQs

Answers to frequently asked questions about the Public Engagement Grant Scheme.


What type of projects do you fund?

The Institute of Physics is looking to fund projects that improve people’s relationship with physics in their family or community groups.

We offer grants from £500 to £4,000 to applicants from across the UK and Ireland.

For more information on the kinds of projects we fund please check our eligibility criteria. 

What type of audiences should I engage?

We are looking for projects targeted at audiences who are underrepresented in the physics community. Key audiences include women/girls, people with a disability, people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, people of Black Caribbean heritage and those that identify as LGBT+. Projects will be scored on the evidence provided about effectively reaching target audience, so it’s often advisable to focus on one or two of the underrepresented groups listed.
 

What type of science needs to be in my project?

The IOP is looking for projects which showcase physics and physicists as role models, so those from underserved and under-represented communities can see themselves reflected in those roles, see the diverse career paths provided by physics and the breadth of roles within the physics community. We can only fund projects where the physics content is presented in a clear and accurate way.

Should I involve physicists in my project?

We highly recommend working with physicists to ensure accurate scientific content.

Should I pay participating physicists?

We like to encourage the physics community to get involved with public engagement and there is mutual benefit in a physicist communicating their work to a new audience.

We would expect organisations to cover physicists’ travel and subsistence expenses associated with the project which the public engagement grant can allow for.

If you are working with professional science communicators, you may cover their fee with up to two-thirds of the total grant funding requested. For example, if your total grant request is £1,800 then you may allocate up to £1,200 to science communicators.  

When should my project start/end?

Your project will need to start in 2024 and should end by March 2025. We are prepared to consider exceptional projects that are potentially running into mid 2025 – this should be discussed with the team upon initial application.

We are unable to send funds to successful applicants until we have received their signed award agreement and appropriate bank details. It will then take up to 30 days for the fund to be transferred to the bank account. If the project timescale does not allow for this, the application will not be funded.

I’m self-employed, can I apply?

We welcome applications from individuals and organisations including self-employed and freelance science communicators, artists, and content producers. You may allocate up to two-thirds of the total requested amount to cover your fees. You must show a demand for your project. One way to do this is to work with an organisation which is already connected to your intended audience.

Who can apply to the grant scheme?

We welcome applications from individuals and organisations across the UK and Ireland.

You do not have to be a member of the IOP to apply but we will be looking to fund projects where physicists are involved.

I would like to apply for this funding as part of a larger project, is this allowed?

Your project may cost more than the amount you request from the IOP, but we will ask for evidence of how you will cover the remaining costs. 

We are more likely to fund projects where the IOP’s contribution is essential and may not fund projects which can go ahead without the IOP’s support.

What is the assessment process?

Applications to the 2024 IOP Public Engagement Grant Scheme will be assessed by a panel of reviewers from a range of backgrounds. They have strong experience of working in physics, physics engagement and outreach, engaging underserved and under-represented groups, working in the community, engaging people through remote and digital platforms, and media and events.

Each application will be judged by a mix of reviewers, and final decisions made through a joint panel to discuss the scores and outcomes. 

Can I resubmit a previously unsuccessful application?

You may resubmit an unsuccessful application. We would recommend that you contact us to request feedback on an unsuccessful application if you are planning to reapply.

The panel may recommend that you reapply to the next round of the grant scheme or in 2025 if your application was deemed not to be time restricted.

I have previously received funding from this scheme. Can I apply again?

We will accept applications from previous applicants but there must be evidence of the project’s previous positive impact on participants and ongoing commitment to evaluations and learning.  
 

What if I want to change my timeline or content after being awarded the grant?

All of our grant winners are required to sign an award agreement. It will state that an award winner must inform the IOP if the delivery date of the project changes and that the winner must complete our evaluation form one month after the completion of the project.

Any changes to the project after the grant has been awarded must be discussed and agreed with the IOP. 
 

My project has already started/already exists, can I still apply for funding?

Yes, as long as you tell us how this funding will either help you to reach a new, underserved group of people or to provide a specific activity that would otherwise not have been possible.

I would like to bring in a science communication professional/artist, can I pay for their time?

Yes.

I would like to bring in a physicist, can I pay for their time?

We are happy to pay expenses for physicists, such as for travel, or childcare. Wherever possible it is anticipated that their time might be covered by their employer, or volunteered by themselves, as a contribution to the aims of the IOP. If this isn’t possible, then we would be willing to consider it, as long as you are explicit about why this time needs to be paid for by the grant.

Is there a full list of what might be covered under expenses/resources/accommodation?

Not at this time. As we are aiming to reach underserved groups, we want to make sure you can fund the things that will make the project work. So, if you need something, as long as you can justify it, we are happy to consider it.

What level of evaluation are you looking for?

Something sensible considering the scale of your project. If you are able to carry out meaningful evaluation as part of a larger framework or using tools you already have then that is great. All successful applicants will be given an evaluation and reporting questionnaire to help capture and share the successes and challenges of your project.

We want you to keep it simple, but thoughtful. Some places you might want to look to for advice are:

We are planning to work with school-age young people, is this still eligible?

This is a grant for projects taking place with families and communities rather than in a formal education setting. 

If your project involves a formal group of school-age young people, but is set in a community or informal education setting (for example, guides, football club, local youth group), then it may well suit this grant scheme. We would want to understand more about why your approaches are right for this group, and where possible to see how you are going to involve the wider community, family groups and other influencers of those young people.

If your project is based in a school (e.g. they had rooms to hire) but is targeting an underserved group to participate, then this would be considered for this scheme.

In all cases, make sure we know why and how you have targeted this group, how you have made sure the project is right for them or collaborated with them on the design, and what impact you expect it to have.

The place where I want to run my activity has an admission fee, can I still apply?

Yes. Previous funded projects have included those with zero additional cost to the audience but hosted at festivals with entry tickets, through to theatre shows that charge entry.

However, we would like you to be thoughtful about how this works for the specific group you are trying to reach. The aims of the Limit Less campaign and these grants are to reach groups currently underserved or with limited access to physics as part of their cultural offerings.

If you already know they will be in a specific place or event, then that entry cost would not be a barrier to the grant application. If they do not normally attend that event, what steps are you taking to ensure they are not put off by the entry fee?

Your application form asks me for lots of detail, but I’m worried I’ve put it in the wrong boxes or misunderstood. Is this a problem?

We’ve done our best to balance the form. We didn’t want it to be too heavy, but also need to make sure that your projects are going to work. So, do your best.

We aren’t judging you on the quality of your writing or your understanding of forms. The panel will be judging your projects based on how effective they seem and how well they are considered for the groups involved. If you have any concerns at all about completing the form, please email [email protected].

Further information

Contact [email protected] for further information.