The COMET® Outreach Program promotes scientific advances that lead to improved forecasts by supporting collaborative applied research activities. By fostering professional interactions between environmental forecasters and university faculty and students, the Outreach Program provides the means for cooperative activities that benefit both parties. Forecasters gain access to the expertise of leading researchers, enhancing the scientific background for their work and sharpening their own research skills. The academic partners receive modest financial support for participating in projects that address some of the most pressing challenges forecasters face under “real-world” data and time constraints. Students who participate in Outreach Program research often pursue forecasting careers in the public and private sectors or continue to conduct environmental research in academic institutions.