Research Grants

This grants program supports theory-building and empirical research projects on reducing inequality or understanding the use of research evidence.

Next Deadline FOR LETTERS OF INQUIRY: JANUARY 12, 2016, 3:00 PM EST

William T. Grant Scholars

This career development program supports promising early-career researchers with interests in reducing inequality or understanding the use of research evidence.

Next Deadline: TBA

William T. Grant Distinguished Fellows

This mid-career fellowship enables researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to work in settings that are outside of their traditional roles. Researchers immerse themselves in policy or practice settings and policymakers and practitioners work in research settings.

Next Deadline FOR LETTERS OF INQUIRY: JANUARY 12, 2016, 3:00 PM EST

Youth Service Improvement Grants

The Youth Service Improvement Grants support community-based organizations in New York City to enhance their services for children and youth, ages 5 to 25. These grants fund specific, standalone projects that make services more effective and provide young people with better experiences.

Next Deadline: MARCH 11, 2016, 3:00 PM EST

“I suspect the greatest lessons for improving our work to bridge research with policy and practice will come from understanding life on the other side of the bridge.”
VIVIAN TSENG Vice President, Program


Application Materials and Relevant Dates


The next deadline for letters of inquiry is January 12, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. EST. The online application will open in early December. Letters of inquiry are generally received 3 times a year, in January, May, and August.

Research grants typically range from $100,000 to $600,000 and cover two to three years of support.


Review materials


Review eligibility requirements

Research project advances the Foundation's interests in understanding programs, policies, and practices that reduce inequality or understanding the use of research evidence.
Research project has compelling relevance for programs, policies, and practices affecting youth ages 5-25 in the U.S.
Funds primarily support research activities, not intervention or service costs.
Applicant is employed at a tax-exempt organization.



Download forms (Officers' Research Grants Only) 

Apply for a Grant


The online application is now closed. 

Four to six William T. Grant Scholars are selected each year, and each receives $350,000 distributed over a five-year period.


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Review eligibility requirements

Applicant received his/her terminal degree (e.g., Ph.D., M.D.) within seven years of submitting the application. For Ph.Ds this is the date the doctoral degree was conferred. In medicine, the seven-year maximum is dated from the completion of the first residency.
Fellowship advances the Foundation's interest in understanding programs, policies, and practices that reduce inequality or understanding the use of research evidence. Note: In 2014, we announced a new focus on reducing inequality, which will replace the social settings initiative. For the 2014-15 transition year, we will accept Scholars applications on all three topics: 1) reducing inequality, 2) understanding the use of research evidence, and 3) understanding social settings.
Applicant is employed at a tax-exempt organization.



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Apply for a Grant

The next deadline for letters of inquiry is January 12, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. EST. The online application will open in early December. Letters of inquiry are generally received 3 times a year, in January, May, and August.

Fellowships are up to $175,000 and range between six months and two years. In addition, fellowship sites may request up to $25,000 to defray costs associated with hosting a Fellow.


Review materials


Review eligibility requirements

Applicant is an influential and mid-career practitioner, policymaker, or researcher. Definitions of influential and mid-career can be found in the application guide.
Fellowship advances the Foundation's interest in connecting research, policy, and practice relevant to youth ages 5 to 25.
Applicant has identified tax-exempt private or governmental organization(s) willing to host and mentor him/her.
Applicant is employed at a tax-exempt organization.


Apply for a Grant


The next deadline for letters of inquiry is March 16, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. EST.

Grants are $25,000 and are awarded in the spring and fall.


Review materials


Review eligibility requirements

Applicant is a community-based organization that provides services to youth in the five boroughs of New York City. Public and private schools are not eligible.
Applicant serves youth ages 5 to 25 years.
Applicant serves youth directly.
Applicant has an operating budget between $250,000 and $5 million.
Applicant is a tax-exempt organization.



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“A single study will rarely bring about change on its own. Our hope is that these studies will contribute to a body of knowledge that will influence policy and practice and improve the lives of our country's young people."   
ADAM GAMORAN  President 

Application FAQ's

Do you fund activities other than research studies, such as research institutes or programs?

Rarely. The large majority of our funding supports investigator-initiated research that is consistent with our focus areas. We do have one funding opportunity that supports community-based organizations in New York City to enhance their services youth ages 5 to 25. Learn more about Youth Service Improvement Grants here.

Do you fund books or other writing activities outside your focus areas?


Do you fund international studies?

Rarely. Our mission focuses on supporting research to improve the lives of young people in the United States.

Do you fund pilot or feasibility studies? Do you award planning studies?

Rarely. When we do fund them, they are generally initiated by the Foundation.

Do you support scholarships, building funds, annual campaigns, fundraising drives, or endowments?


Do you fund working meetings?

Rarely. When we support working meetings, they are usually commissioned to build capacity in our focus areas.

Can study participants fall outside the age range of 5 to 25?

Yes, but the primary research questions must focus on children or youth within the 5 to 25 age range.

Do you allow/prefer applications that incorporate both research focus areas, e.g., both the use of research evidence and reducing inequality?

Applicants are welcome to study both research focus areas. However, we have found that few applicants are able to do this well. The most successful applications address a few research questions within a single area.

Do you still accept proposals on social settings?

Yes, but only if the topic relates to reducing inequality. We believe that social settings are an important vehicle for understanding and reducing inequality.


Reducing Inequality

Are there aspects of inequality in which you are particularly interested?

We are interested in inequality on the basis of race, ethnicity, economic standing, and/or immigrant origin status.

The application guide suggests specifying the dimension of inequality to be studied. What does this mean?

It means specifying the basis of the inequality. We are interested in inequality on the basis of race, ethnicity, economic standing, and/or immigrant origin status.

Will you consider proposals examining inequality on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, or other areas?

Research on disparities in other areas (e.g., gender, sexual orientation) may also be considered if applicants make a compelling case that this research will improve youth outcomes. If appropriate, we are also interested in the ways these forms of inequality intersect (e.g., race and gender, income and sexual orientation).

Are there youth outcomes in which you are particularly interested?

Yes. We are currently focused on academic, behavioral, social, and economic youth outcomes. However, we will consider research on other outcomes.

Are you interested in inequality in systems and settings other than education?

Yes. We are interested in programs, policies, and practices to reduce youth inequality across a range of systems, including child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, and employment, and in varied settings, such as neighborhoods, schools, families, and communities.

Would you fund a study that describes the nature of inequality and/or describes its causes?

We anticipate that most funded proposals will study specific programs, policies, or practices. In some areas, more formative work may be needed. In those cases, applicants should provide a compelling case that improved understanding of the nature or causes of inequality will have clear implications for identifying, building or improving policies, programs, or practices.


Studying the Use of Research Evidence

Does data “count” as research evidence?

The Foundation defines research evidence as empirical findings derived from systematic data collection and analyses. Thus data in themselves do not constitute research evidence. When data are used in a planned investigation, this more closely aligns with the Foundation’s definition. Applicants should provide their definition of research evidence and a strong rationale to support the definition proposed.

Do you have a preference for particular conceptual frameworks on use of research evidence?

No. We welcome theories and conceptual frameworks from multiple disciplines, but applicants must articulate a compelling rationale for the framework or lens they are adopting and how it will guide interpretation of the findings.

12. What is the relationship between your interest in understanding the use of research evidence and translational research, dissemination research, or implementation science?

All of these efforts—including the Foundation’s—aim to understand how to enhance the uptake of research evidence. Dissemination research, translational research, and implementation science often focus on moving research from the producer to the user (e.g., better packaging interventions, improving communication, and developing better strategies for program adoption). The Foundation is also interested in relationships between the user and other conveyors of research as well as the organizational conditions that support the productive use of research evidence.

Are you interested in studies of evidence-based programs?

It depends. We are interested in understanding the uptake and application of evidence-based programs if it tells us something about the role of research evidence in adoption, implementation, and adaptation decisions. Applicants should not simply equate the use of an evidence-based program with use of research evidence.

Are you interested in studies of research-practice partnerships?

We support studies that examine attempts to improve the use of research evidence, including research-practice partnerships. We are interested in understanding the conditions that support partnerships that positively impact the use of research evidence and thus youth outcomes.

Do you favor proposals that study research use in federal policy as opposed to the state or local level?

Applicants need to make a compelling case for the level of policy they propose to study and how it will advance theory about the use of research evidence. The rationale should support the study’s focus on a specific group of users and explain why the proposed body of research evidence is relevant to policymakers at that level.

Will the Foundation fund a strategy I developed to increase policymakers’ and practitioners’ use of research evidence?

The Foundation will not support the improvement effort itself. The Foundation does support research focused on learning from such attempts. This may involve descriptive studies that follow promising cases or studies that examine intentional attempts to improve research evidence use.


Study Designs and Methods

Do you prefer particular research designs and methods?

We do not privilege one type of research design over another. We start our reviews by looking at the research questions and the goals of the study. Next we evaluate whether the theoretical approach usefully informs the questions and whether the proposed methods and designs are well-aligned with the interests. Given the diversity of important research questions, we support studies using a wide range of designs and methods, such as field experiments, non-experimental longitudinal studies, ethnographies, and comparative case studies.

Do you fund evaluation studies?

Yes. Proposed evaluation studies should specify a theoretical basis for the program, policy, or practice and enhance understanding of its effects. This may include considering the mechanisms through which effects occur or variation in intervention effects. Thus, studies should shed light not solely on “what works,” but on what works for whom, under what conditions, and why.

Do you fund syntheses or reviews of research?

Yes. The Foundation supports high-quality research syntheses.

Letters of Inquiry

What percent of applications are awarded funding?

About 5 percent of the letters of inquiry result in funding. We typically invite about 15 percent of applicants to submit a full proposal, and about one-third of these proposals are granted an award.

Are staff members available to discuss projects prior to a letter of inquiry?

We are a small staff and, in general, are unable to discuss individual projects prior to the submission of the letter of inquiry. Due to the high volume of proposals, we are also unable to provide customized feedback to applicants.

Should I submit an application myself or through my institutional office?

The principal investigator should submit the letter of inquiry. If invited to submit a full proposal, the principal investigator must submit the application through an institutional office.

May an organization submit multiple applications?

We do not limit the number of applications by organization.

May an applicant submit more than one proposal, or apply for a major research grant and an Officers' Research grant or William T. Grant Scholar's Award at the same time?

Applicants may submit more than one letter of inquiry. However, we encourage applicants to focus their resources on developing a few ideas well and avoid compromising the quality of their work with concurrent or competing demands.

May I re-apply for a research grant?

Yes, you may resubmit a letter of inquiry.

What is the timeframe between letter of inquiry submission and funding notification?

The entire process takes between 10 and 14 months. The review process for letters of inquiry is about eight weeks and is conducted by staff. The time between an invitation for a full proposal and its submission is 3-5 months. The review process for full proposals is about six months.

Should teams involving community-based-organizations (CBOs) and researchers have all partners on board before submitting the letter of inquiry?

The letter of inquiry process is highly competitive. Thus we encourage applicants to involve their research partner to develop the strongest application possible. Conversely, if you are a researcher proposing to work with a CBO, the letter should reflect your partner’s motivation for the project and demonstrate a nuanced understanding of their context.

What expectations do you have for the career status of PIs?

Candidates at all career stages can apply, but are evaluated in terms of their abilities to successfully carry out the proposed work. Check with your home institution about their eligibility requirements.

What are your criteria for measuring a researchers' track record?

We evaluate an applicant's track record based on prior success managing a research project and peer-reviewed empirical publications. For certain proposals, we also value evidence of connections with audiences outside of the research community.

What constitutes tax-exempt status?

The IRS guidelines stipulate that an organization can receive tax-exempt donations only if it has an “exempt purpose” as defined in Section 501(c)3. The organization does not need a 501(c)(3) classification.

The Research Grant Budget and Human Subjects Approval

How much budget information is required with the letter of inquiry submission?

For grants requesting more than $25,000, the applicant is only required to provide the total amount requested in the letter of inquiry. If requesting $25,000 or less, a full budget is required.

How much of my grant may go toward indirect costs?

The indirect cost allowance may not exceed 15 percent of total direct costs.

How much of the budget may be used for the intervention?

Request for funding should primarily support research activities, not intervention or service costs.

Do I have to submit a Human Subjects Approval with my application?

Approval is not needed with submission of the letter of inquiry or full proposal.

Officers' Research Grants

What is the application process for Officers' Research grants?

The letter of inquiry serves as the proposal for Officers' Research grants. Letters are accepted three times a year. Applicants use the same application process as for larger funding requests, but must submit a budget; a full proposal is not required. Letters are reviewed internally for quality and fit with our research interests. Applicants are notified of a decision within eight weeks of the deadline.

What scope of work is appropriate for an Officer’s Research Grant?

Officers' Research Grants are a subset of our Research Grants. They are discretionary awards for $25,000 or less and do not require Board approval. The proposed projects should fit with our research interests and generate meaningful products. They do not support planning activities.


Who is eligible for the William T. Grants Scholars Program?

Investigators at all nonprofit institutions, both in the United States and abroad, are eligible. Applicants must be within seven years of receiving their doctoral degrees or completion of their first medical residencies. Applicants must be nominated by their institutions.

May I apply if I already have a career development award?

Applicants can apply for the Scholars' award if they already have a career development award (e.g., K-awards). The Scholars' award must add significant value beyond what is supported by the other career development award.

What is meant by career-ladder position?

For many applicants, this means holding a tenure-track position in a university. Applicants in other types of organizations should have a clear trajectory for advancement in a research career. The organization must be fiscally responsible for the applicant’s position.

May doctoral students apply? How about postdoctoral fellows?

This award is not intended for students or post-doctoral fellows.

May an institution nominate more than one candidate for the Scholars' Award?

An institution may nominate more than one candidate, but only one applicant may be nominated from a major division of an institution each year (e.g., College of Arts and Sciences, Medical School).

Who should submit the nominating statement?

The chairperson of the nominating college or division is responsible for submitting the nominating statement. The nominating person is usually the dean.



Is a letter of inquiry part of the Scholars' application process?

The Scholars Program does not require a letter of inquiry. Applicants must be nominated by their institutions before submitting any materials.

Are references typically from colleagues at the applicant's institution?

Reference letters can be submitted by anyone chosen by the applicant except proposed mentors.

What distinguishes a research grant from a William T. Grant Scholars award?

The William T. Grant Scholars Program is a career development award designed to enable promising early-career researchers to expand their expertise. This is a highly prestigious award and early-career scholars often seek it as their first choice. Research grants fund research projects.

What is the difference between this program and the K award?

Similar to many K awards, the Scholars Program is a career development award with a mentoring component.


Application Budget

What is the indirect cost rate?

The indirect cost rate for Scholars Awards is 7.5 percent of total direct costs.

Can the budget include support for graduate students and study participants?


Is any funding provided for the mentor?

Mentors cannot be funded with monies from the award. In exchange for their annual program reports, the Foundation pays a $500 honorarium.



How many mentors should applicants propose?

The Foundation allows Scholars applicants to propose one to two mentors for the first two years of the award. The mentoring plan for the latter years will be developed in consultation with Foundation staff after the second year of the program.

Can mentor letters and recommendation letters come from people at another institution?

Mentor and supporting letters may come from another institution. This is encouraged if it leads to mentoring relationships that would not happen without this award. Deepening a relationship with a new colleague often adds greater value than proposing a former advisor.

What does the Distinguished Fellows award support?

Award recipients receive up to $175,000 (including direct costs and indirect costs of 7.5%) for the total duration of the fellowship. Fellowships may range between six months and two years and must amount to a minimum of one-half year at the fellowship site(s) over the duration of the project. (Thus, the minimum duration is full-time for six months at the Fellowship site.)

Who is eligible to apply for the William T. Grant Distinguished Fellows Program?

Mid-career policymakers, practitioners, and researchers who are influential within their role and significantly able to affect attitudes and practices of others working in similar roles and settings are eligible. Support is restricted to researchers seeking to work in policy or practice settings, or policymakers and practitioners seeking to work in research settings.

How is someone judged to be an influential?

For this program, an influential is defined as a policymaker, practitioner, or researcher who is seen by colleagues as particularly knowledgeable and well connected to others in the role and who uses knowledge, access, and connections to influence colleagues on matters important to youth.

Is there a limit on the number of fellowship sites at which an applicant can work during the term of the grant?

We do limit the number to two sites per applicant. The Foundation will also provide small grants up to $25,000 to the fellowship site(s) to defray the costs associated with hosting a fellow.

Are there any restrictions on the number of people per institution who may apply to the program?

There are no restrictions regarding the number of applicants per institution.

Eligible Organizations

Who should apply?

We are most interested in programs that have a strong service model—that is, programs based on strong evidence from practice and/or research about which services improve youth outcomes. Organizations that have already engaged in self-assessment or service evaluation to identify areas for improvement are often best able to take advantage of service improvement funds.

If an organization is headquartered outside the five boroughs of New York, but serve youth in the targeted boroughs,  is it eligible?

Organizations must have a New York City based office as well as serve youth in the targeted boroughs to apply for funding. The organization would need to seek other funding for improvements to services outside the five boroughs of New York.

Most of the youth participating in the services that are targeted for improvement are in the eligible age range, but some children under the age of five are served. Can this organization apply?

We will use the age of the youth who are receiving the services targeted for improvement to determine eligibility. At least 80% of these youth should be within the age range of 5-25. If the relevant participants include youth outside of the Foundation’s age range, you must include a count of youth both inside and outside of the age range as part of your application.

If an organization serves both youth and adults, how should the youth budget get reported?

Multi-service agencies—organizations that serve both youth and adults—should report the direct and indirect costs of all services offered to young people under the age of 25, including services not targeted for improvement.

We find it useful to think of this as a functional allocation of expenses to youth programming, including all costs of programs dedicated to youth under the age of 25 and indirect costs from operations. For example, each year, the Foundation produces a functional allocation of expenses, dividing our spending into three categories: investing, program (i.e., grantmaking), and administration. Sometimes we allocate an entire staff person’s salary to one category; other times we allocate parts of salaries, depending on how these staff members spend their time during the year.

Please note that for this grantmaking program, organizations that serve adults as part of their strategy for serving youth are not considered multi-service agencies. We consider these organizations as youth-serving agencies, and evaluate their operating budgets accordingly. Examples of organizations that serve adults as part of a youth service strategy are organizations whose mission is to serve youth that then extend alumni services to former participants, or organizations that offer services to family members to reinforce service goals and/or practices in the home.

If an organization receives significant in-kind support, can this support be included in the organizational budget?

We do not include donations as part of the organizational budget used to determine eligibility. Donations include time, space or utilities.

If an organization has an active YSIG grant, can it re-apply for funding?

YSIG grantees must wait 18 months beyond the termination date of the active grant before re-applying to the YSIG program.


Eligible Activities

An organization is considering applying with a project to increase youth attendance and decrease drop-outs, but is concerned that the activities might be ineligible because you state that you do not fund “service expansion or growth.” How will you determine the eligibility?

We want to support efforts that will increase the effects of current services. For example, a program may have the capacity to serve a certain number of youth, but attendance or enrollment may be below the level the program can serve. We would fund activities to get attendance up to program capacity by decreasing drop-outs or improving the consistency of youth participation.

What we do not support are additional staff, hours of operation, or sites to boost the number of slots or the number of youth that could be served. That is what we mean by service “growth.” For example, a program that served seventh and eighth graders proposing to include ninth graders would be considered expansion and ineligible for funding.

Can we use the grant to fund additional staff positions?

If additional staff are required by the improvement plan, YSIG funds may be used for their salaries. However, if the additional staffing needs to continue after this project, the application must address how these additional costs will be supported after the end of the award period.

Can an organization work with consultants and intermediaries?

Organizations may choose to work with consultants and intermediary organizations to implement their improvement plans. In such cases, the application should describe the experience and expertise of the consultant or intermediary organization and explain why they are important to the success of the improvement project.


Planning and Application Process

Can you recommend a service quality assessment tool?

The William T. Grant Foundation does not recommend a specific quality assessment tool. However, the Forum for Youth Investment has released a Willliam T. Grant supported publication called “Measuring Youth Program Quality: A Guide to Assessment Tools,” which discusses and compares nine tools for assessing the quality of youth programs. This compendium provides information about the content, ease of use, and technical properties of these instruments and is available on the Forum’s website at:

What do you mean by “service potential”?

Applicants should describe their services and explain why the services should reasonably be expected to benefit the participants if the services were running optimally. We are trying to understand how the organization expects the participants to be better off than if they had never receiveis d the services.

How should I describe the program’s current services?

When describing the current services, please include information on the specific activities in which youth participate. This may include how youth are recruited and selected, how their time is structured, how they are grouped, or the choices they make in the program. Which and how many staff are involved with the services, and what is their training/experience? We often find it useful to think of this as describing a “typical day” in the program.

What are your main concerns when evaluating the assessment plan?

We are primarily interested in learning how the organization will measure its progress against its timeline. It is also useful to describe any management systems, processes, or dedicated staff members who will support adjusting or amending the improvement plan as the organization moves along.

What should an organization do if it doesn't have an electronic copy of its 501(c)(3) letter from the IRS and its most recent audited financial statement or certified public accountant’s review report?

If any of these documents is not available electronically, please upload a brief statement that the materials will be mailed to the Foundation. Please send the materials to:

YSIG Program Assistant
William T. Grant Foundation
570 Lexington Avenue, 18th Floor New York, NY 10022

All documents must be post-marked by the submission deadline.

If an organization's YSIG proposal is not approved for funding, will it receive feedback?

Unsuccessful applicants will receive copies of the reviewer forms used to evaluate the proposal.


Funding Levels

Is the maximum award $25,000 per year or $25,000 for the entire project?

Although grants may be for a period of six months to two years, the $25,000 award limit applies to the entire award, regardless of duration.

Will the YSIG program provide extra funds for evaluation?

No. Organizations that require additional funds for their improvements or evaluations should seek additional funding sources. It is possible that we will make an award contingent upon the applicant raising the additional funding needed.

“The Scholars Program increased my capacity as a researcher and mentor. The program fosters a diverse network of innovative and passionate thinkers who are important contributors to their respective disciplines."  

NIKKI JONES William T. Grant Scholar


Our current grantees are required to fill out periodic reports on their projects and finances. All forms and instructions can be found below.

Grantees are required to submit program and financial reports within three months of the end of each grant year. 

Frequently Asked Questions After a Grant is Awarded

 Financial Report Form

 Annual Program Report Form

 Final Program Report Form

Scholar program reports are due July 15. Financial reports are due October 1. Scholar mentor reports are due August 1.  

Frequently Asked Questions After a Grant is Awarded

  Financial Report Form


 Scholars Final Program Report Form


 Final Mentor Program Report Form

Scholars who receive mentoring grants and the Junior Researchers they mentor are required to submit program reports by January 15 and July 1.  Scholars must submit financial reports by October 1.

 Scholars Mentoring Grant Interim Program Report Form


Distinguished Fellows are required to submit program reports every six months. Financial reports are due within three months of the end of each grant year.

Frequently Asked Questions After a Grant is Awarded

 Financial Report Form

 Distinguished Fellows Report Form

 Distinguished Fellows Mentor Final Report Form

All grantees must submit the following forms within three months of the end of the award period.

 YSIG Program Report Form

 YSIG Financial Report Form

Grantees are required to submit program and financial reports within three months of the end of each grant year. 

Frequently Asked Questions After a Grant is Awarded

 Financial Report Form

 Annual Program Report Form

 Final Program Report Form