A scientist works late to finish up yet another proposal for research funding. Time is short—the proposal is due in only a week. The research description is well in hand, compelling and at the forefront of the field. But the scientist is less confident of what to propose for a “broader impacts” component that will actually be meaningful. What does it mean to have a broader impact? What can be proposed that will make a difference but will not divert too much time from conducting research, searching for funding, or writing papers? For many scientists, particularly those who rely on soft money for research funding, the above scenario is a familiar story. These days, research solicitations from funding agencies consistently require that in addition to proposing innovative and cutting-edge research, scientists must also include elements in their proposals that provide meaningful broader impacts to their research programs—in essence, they must show how their research will benefit society and spread knowledge.