Since our inception, the William T. Grant Foundation has been interested in facilitating a better understanding of how children and youth develop and thrive. Although our mission remains the same, our research interests shift to keep pace with the changing world. Currently, we are interested in research with the potential to improve the lives of young people between the ages of 5 and 25 in the following areas:
Inequality by race, economic standing, and immigrant origin status is pervasive in the United States, and is evident across a range of domains, including the education, child welfare, mental health, and justice systems. We believe that the research community can play a critical role in reversing these trends. In 2014, the Foundation launched a ten-year research initiative to reduce inequality by identifying responses to this fundamental challenge in its many forms.
Within this focus area, we support different types of studies. We welcome descriptive studies meant to clarify the mechanisms for reducing inequality. We also seek intervention studies that improve the measurement of inequality in ways that will enhance the works of researchers, practitioners, or policy makers.
Improving the Use of Research Evidence
From 2009 through 2015, the Foundation supported research to increase understanding of how research evidence is acquired, understood, and used, as well as the circumstances that shape its use in decision making. 2016 marks a new direction for this initiative as we shift our focus from understanding how and under what conditions research is used to understanding how to create those conditions. With this new direction, we seek to build theory and empirical evidence on ways to strengthen the connections between research evidence, decision making, and youth outcomes. Our focus on improving the use of research evidence aims to identify, create, and test strategies to ensure that research reaches the hands of decision makers, answers their most pressing questions, and is used in ways that benefit youth.
Connecting Research, Policy, and Practice
In addition to awarding research, career-development, and mentoring grants in our two primary focus areas, we seek to strengthen connections between research, policy, and practice through limited communications and capacity-building activities, and through the Institutional Challenge Grant program.
The Institutional Challenge Grant encourages research institutions to build sustained research-practice partnerships with public agencies or nonprofit organizations in order to reduce inequality in youth outcomes. To do so, research institutions will need to shift their policies and practices to value collaborative research.
Improving Youth Services in New York City
The Foundation offers a limited number of small grants for community-based organizations that provide services to children and youth in the five boroughs of New York City. These $25,000 awards are designed to improve the quality of services for young people ages 5 to 25.
Between 2004 and 2014, we focused our research funding on understanding how everyday social settings—such as classrooms, neighborhoods, and families—affect child and youth development. As a subset of this initiative, we also supported research and other activities to improve the quality of after-school programs. Since understanding settings can be a critical means for reducing inequality in outcomes for young people, the studies and resources that were developed remain available on our website.