An Exploratory Analysis on US Government STEM Investments

Posted on Oct 18, 2016


The Question

Did you ever apply for a scholarship or grant to fund your education? If yes, did you know from the onset which person or organization to apply to? This question is often experienced by nonprofit organizations seeking to attain government based sponsorship or funding. This study explores options available to nonprofits, specifically identifying US Government federal agencies that invest at the community level.

Purpose of Analysis


This exploratory analysis will seek to answer the following questions:

- Who are the top five federal agencies by investment dollars?
- What are the top STEM investments made by these federal agencies?
- Which organizations receive the bulk of investment dollars?

These answers should provide guidance when seeking federal funding.

Who Am I


My IT experience (refer to the brain map above) spans across roles in Development, Production Support and Project Management with focus on Trading Systems in the Financial Services Industry. I have been fortunate to work with my local community, providing pro bono IT Work to nonprofits. This analysis is a result of a question raised during a Board Advisory session for the STEM Alliance of Larchmont and Mamaroneck, "how do we attain federal funding at the community level?"

The Data Source

The data source for this analysis is in Excel spreadsheet format, produced from a US Government survey first published in 2012 (latest update on 2014), covering STEM investments made by federal agencies, with a value greater than $300,000.


The word cloud identifies the word stem frequency within the survey. The words 'stem', 'funding' and 'targeted' have the highest frequency. The word “STEM” appears so frequently because, by definition, each application is for STEM funding. The words “education” and “objective” however, speak to the probability that many of these grants are for educational purposes, and they are being pitched as studies that will lead to objective findings.

Total Investment Dollars

The line chart highlights a 19.94% change between 2008 to 2009 and then a leveling off. This reflects the Obama administration decision to increase STEM funding.

STEM Investments Made by US Federal Agencies


The bar chart identifies the top ranking federal agencies by the number of investments made between 2008 - 2010. It is important to note that this number could be higher if the survey were to include investments per agencies below $300,000. NASA, NSF (National Science Foundation) and HHS (Health & Human Services) have the highest number of investments.

Investments by Dollars


However, when plotting the data with a bar chart showing a breakdown of agency investments by dollar value, the NSF is the highest ranking agency, with investment dollars exceeding $3 Billion dollars between 2008 - 2010. The next two agencies, Education and HHS, have investment values greater than $1.5 Billion. All other agencies together cap at $5 Billion dollars. Without data providing investment dollars between 2011 to current date, we are not able to determine if the dollar value of investments by agency has been maintained.

Investment Distribution and Outliers


The box plot allows us to identify the distribution of individual investments by dollar value across the federal agencies between 2008 - 2010. The most significant outlier is for Education, with a single investment of $379 million. This investment was made to SMART Grants. As per the survey primary description, STEM Grants are aimed at STEM education projects, techniques, models, resources, and/or technologies implemented at the state, regional, or national scale.

Top 5 Invesments Between 2008 - 2010


The table above identifies SMART Grants as the top ranking investment by dollar value between 2008 - 2010, with a high standard deviation, identifying high variation in dollar value between the surveyed years. The table also identifies high dollar value investments for agencies HHS and NSF.


The STEM funding budget for 2016 confirms the US GOV continues to allocate a budget of over $3 Billion to STEM investments through federal agencies such as Education, Health & Human Services and the NSF. These organizations are focused on investing into programs that are developing the US workforce of tomorrow. Nonprofits can direct grants / funding requests to these agencies as these are provisioned the lion share of government budget for STEM investments.

Next Steps

I believe the following steps would supplement this research:

  • Engage US GOV STEM Survey project representative to determine if data from 2011 to current date is attainable for a further analysis on investment trends


About Author

Jhonasttan Regalado

Jhonasttan Regalado is an established leader and technologist with domain expertise in Global Markets Trading and a Masters of Science in Management of Technology from the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Polytechnic Institute. With practical knowledge and a...
View all posts by Jhonasttan Regalado >

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