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Christa McAuliffe Reach for the Stars Award


Christa McAuliffe was an innovative social studies teacher who reached for the stars in an effort to make her dream of space travel a reality. She was the first classroom teacher to participate in space flight and planned to use the experience in teaching lessons from space. In 1986 the Christa McAuliffe Reach for the Stars Award was established to help classroom teachers "reach for the stars" and achieve a dream that under ordinary circumstances would not be fulfilled. The Fund for the Advancement of Social Studies Education (FASSE) was created in 1984 by the Board of Directors of the National Council for the Social Studies. The purpose of the fund is to support research and classroom application projects which improve social studies education, foster enlightened citizenship, and promote civic competence.

The purpose of the $2,500 grant is to help a social studies educator make his or her dream of innovative social studies a reality. Grants will be given to assist classroom teachers in: 1) developing and implementing imaginative, innovative, and illustrative social studies teaching strategies; and 2) supporting student implementation of innovative social studies, citizenship projects, field experiences, and community connections.

The Christa McAuliffe Reach for the Stars Award is a cash award up to $2500. Recipients of the award also present a session at the NCSS Annual Conference, and receive a commemorative award piece during the Awards Reception at the Annual Conference. The awards is sponsored by National Council for the Social Studies and Fund for the Advancement of Social Studies Education

Application Submissions:

NCSS is closely monitoring the coronavirus pandemic and advisories issued by the District of Columbia pertaining to large event gatherings. Although the situation continues to change daily, NCSS remains committed to the well-being, health, and safety of our Annual Conference attendees. We are presently in close contact with our partners at Destination DC and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Please check back on this page for updates on the opening date for award submittals.


  • NCSS membership is required.
  • Awards are available to full-time social studies teacher or social studies teacher educators currently engaged with K-12 students.
  • Consideration for "Reach for the Stars" award is given to projects that represent excellence and innovation in social studies education and have the potential of serving as a model for other teachers. Preference is given to those proposals that demonstrate the highest likelihood for enduring impact.

Criteria for Selection:

  • Project activities and teaching strategies should represent inquiry based teaching and learning.
  • Projects should be designed to encourage students to develop understanding of concepts from the social science disciplines in order to communicate their ideas in a variety of formats spoken, written, graphic, statistical, and/or electronic.
  • Projects should enable students to become involved in exploring a range of options such as information technology, primary source material, community resources and local organizations, oral histories and interpretative centers as well as traditional resources, to develop their skills.
  • Project proposals should demonstrate activities and teaching strategies that align to best pedagogical practices, inquiry based teaching and learning, and integrate College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework concepts.

Application Documents

This application requires that you upload documents. Please review the entire form before starting to fill it out to ensure you have all the required information.


Applicants must complete the online application and be prepared to upload the following documents within the application.  Links to external websites are not acceptable, and will be disregarded by the selection committee.  Max. file size to be uploaded for each non-text box item is 1MB. File types accepted are: pdf, doc, docx.

 Upload a single pdf, doc, or docx document with subject headers that identify materials according to the list of nomination requirements:

  1. Project proposal and narrative description that includes the following information (maximum of 8 pages):

    • Clear, concise statement of the project objectives.
    • Brief summary of project activities and timeline for completion.
    • Identify the population served, including relevant demographic information.
    • Include a budget that shows how you will use the $2,500 award and if you are seeking additional funding from other sources.
    • Briefly explain how the award can facilitate your project.
    • Briefly explain how you will evaluate the success of your project.
    • Describe a specific plan for sharing your project with local or state councils and with NCSS, e.g. in affiliated council newsletters and/or websites and/or an article for Social Education or Social Studies and the Young Learner.
    • Briefly explain how your project can serve as a model for other teachers. Professional resume (include current teaching assignment)
  2. Professional resume for each key person involved. (include current teaching assignment)

  3. Two letters of support including a brief statement of support from your supervisor acknowledging your teaching status and support for the project you are proposing. One letter may be from your state or local social studies council.
  4. Publicity Outreach Please provide the name, contact name, title, and e-mail for:

    • Major local/community newspaper
    • District Superintendent
    • Direct supervisor

*Note: You will have five days to access and update your form after your initial submission.

Biographic Sketch

Please prepare to submit a 200 word biographical sketch in a narrative format that includes both personal and professional information about key members of your team. Please include what motivated you and your team to develop this project and what you hope to accomplish as it relates to needs in social studies education. In addition, list any professional leadership activities and memberships and what you feel support or strengthen your work as an educator. If you are selected as the award winner, this statement will be published in publicity materials (200 word limit)

For questions, contact

Click to Apply

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