We seek research that builds stronger theory and empirical evidence in our focus areas:
- programs, policies, and practices that reduce inequality in youth outcomes, and
- strategies to improve the use of research evidence in ways that benefit youth.
We intend for the research we support to inform change. While we do not expect that any one study will create that change, the research should contribute to a body of useful knowledge to improve the lives of young people.
Research grants about reducing inequality typically range between $100,000 and $600,000 and cover two to three years of support. Research grants about improving the use of research initiative will range between $100,000 and $1,000,000 and cover two to four years of support. This shift to a million dollar ceiling reflects our renewed commitment to this focus area and our interest in funding bold, large-scale studies to significantly advance the field. Projects involving secondary data analysis are at the lower end of the budget range, whereas projects involving new data collection and sample recruitment can be at the higher end. Proposals to launch experiments in which settings (e.g., classrooms, schools, youth programs) are randomly assigned to conditions sometimes have higher awards.
For smaller projects, we have a separate funding mechanism, Officers’ Research grants. These awards cover budgets up to $25,000. Some are stand-alone projects that fit our research focus areas; others build off of larger projects. Junior scholars of color are encouraged to apply for these grants as a way to build their research programs.
The Foundation invests significant time and resources in capacity-building for grantees. We provide opportunities for connections with other scholars, policymakers, and practitioners. We also organize targeted learning communities, such as our annual meeting for grantees working on the use of research evidence. Such meetings allow grantees to discuss challenges, seek advice from peers and colleagues, and collaborate across projects. To strengthen our grantees’ capacities to conduct and implement strong qualitative and mixed-methods work, the Foundation provides a consultation service through the University of California, Los Angeles’s Semel Institute, Center for Culture and Health, Fieldwork and Qualitative Data Research Laboratory. Services range from phone conversations and email exchanges to meetings or training sessions, depending on the needs of the grantee.
The Foundation does not have a preference for a particular research design or method. We begin application reviews by looking at the research questions or hypotheses. Then we evaluate whether the proposed research designs and methods will provide strong data and empirical evidence on those questions. The strongest proposals incorporate data from multiple sources and often involve multi-disciplinary teams.
The Foundation also strives to create a diverse group of researchers in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, and seniority. We especially encourage high-quality research projects led by African American, Latino, Native American, and Asian American researchers.
Grants are made to organizations, not individuals. Grants are limited, without exception, to tax-exempt organizations. A copy of the Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt status determination letter is required from each applying organization. We do not support or make contributions to building funds, fundraising drives, endowment funds, general operating budgets, or scholarships.
Eligible Principal Investigators
Institutions usually have their own eligibility criteria regarding who can act as Principal Investigator (PI) on a grant. This often excludes graduate students. Graduate students can, however, be listed as Co-Principal Investigators.
The application process for all research grants begins with a letter of inquiry (LOI). Letters of inquiry for research grants and Officers’ Research grants are accepted three times per year (in the winter, spring, and summer).
Letters of inquiry for research grants must include the following:
Including your project title (120 characters maximum), brief description (see below), start and end dates, and total requested amount, which includes the combined direct and indirect costs for the full grant period)
Brief Description of the Project (1,500 characters MAXIMUM)
- Start with the major research questions.
- Briefly summarize the project’s rationale and background.
- Describe the intervention (if applicable), research methods, and data analysis plan.
- Language should be appropriate for an educated lay audience.
Project Narrative (five pages maximum)
Your narrative should be formatted as follows: 12-point font, single-spaced text with a line between each paragraph, and 1-inch margins on all sides.
- State the major research questions or aims guiding the proposal.
- Provide a strong rationale, including:
- a brief literature review indicating how the project complements and extends prior and concurrent research,
- a clear description of the theories providing the foundation or organizing frame for the work, how the project advances theory, and
- the project’s relevance for policy or practice.
- Sample/case definition and selection procedures; research design;
- key constructs, measures and data sources; and procedures for data collection intervention (if applicable).
- Identify the key measures;
- If you are using qualitative data, you should provide some detail about coding processes and the plan for establishing that the coding is reliable;
- If you are proposing to develop or improve measures, you should discuss how you will show that the measures are valid and reliable.
- If you have a reference page, include it in this upload. It will not be counted toward the five-page maximum.
Curriculum Vitae, Biographical Sketch, or Resume (one page maximum)
Include a one-page curriculum vitae, biographical sketch, or resume for each Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigator. Be sure to include education and training, peer-reviewed publications, and grants. Do not send full curricula vitae or resumes. There are no specific formatting requirements for curricula vitae, biographical sketches, or resumes.
In addition to the above requirements, letters of inquiry for Officers’ research grants must include the following:
The template for the Budget can be found within the Budget tab of your online application. Applicants may take an indirect cost allowance of up to 15 percent of total direct costs.
Budget Justification Form
The template of this form can be found within the Uploads tab of your online application.
IRS Tax-Exempt Status Determination Letter
You will be required to submit a copy of your institution’s IRS tax-exempt status determination letter.
The William T. Grant Foundation accepts applications only through our online application system. We encourage applicants to begin the LOI as early as possible to review the online application and allow sufficient time to resolve any technical issues that may arise.
- Log in (or register if you are a new user).
- Click “LOG IN” at the top right of any page on our website. If you forgot your password, click the link to reset your password.
- If you are the principal investigator (PI), and do not have an account, register on our website to create one. If you are not the PI, obtain the account login information from that person or help the PI create an account.
- Once you have completed the eligibility quiz, return to your Easygrants homepage and click on the “Letter of Inquiry” link to enter the application.
- Refer to the Application Materials section for more information.
- Review the application PDF to make sure that your materials are in order. Once the application is submitted, you will not be able to make any changes.
Letters of inquiry will be reviewed internally. Investigators will receive an email notification of staff’s decision within eight weeks of the LOI submission date.
Having problems? For questions about application instructions and procedures, contact our research assistant, Cristina Fernandez. If you encounter technical difficulties while completing your application, please submit a support request through Easygrants.
The letter of inquiry functions as a mini-proposal, and should meet the following criteria:
- Projects must be aligned with one of the Foundation’s current research focus areas.
- Research questions should inform programs, policies, and practices to reduce inequalities in youth development or study how to improve the use of research evidence in ways that benefit youth.
- Proposals must reflect a mastery of relevant theory and empirical findings, and clearly state the theoretical and empirical contributions they will make to existing knowledge.
- Projects may focus on either generating or testing theory, depending on the state of knowledge about a topic.
- Although we do not expect that any one project will or should impact policy or practice, all proposals should discuss how the findings will be relevant to policy or practice.
- The research design should describe how the empirical work will test, refine, or elaborate specific theoretical notions.
- The study’s design, methods, and analysis plan should fit the research questions.
- The sampling and measurement plans should clearly state why they are well-suited to address the research questions or hypotheses. For example, samples should be appropriate in size and composition to answer the study’s questions.
- The quantitative and/or qualitative analysis plan should demonstrate awareness of the strengths and limits of the specific analytic techniques.
- If proposing mixed methods, plans for integrating the methods and data should be clear.
- Where relevant, attention should be paid to the generalizability of findings and to statistical power to detect meaningful effects.
- The proposal must demonstrate adequate consideration of the gender, ethnic, and cultural appropriateness of concepts, methods, and measures.
- The methods, time frame, staffing plan, and other resources must be realistic.
- Prior training and publications should demonstrate that the applicant has a track record of conducting strong research and communicating it successfully.
- harness the learning potential of mixed methods and interdisciplinary work;
- involve practitioners or policymakers in meaningful ways to shape the research questions, interpret preliminary and final results, and communicate their implications for policy and practice;
- combine senior and junior staff in ways that facilitate mentoring of junior staff;
- are led by members of racial or ethnic groups underrepresented in academic fields;
- generate data useful to other researchers and make such data available for public use.
Application Review Process
Letters of inquiry are reviewed internally by staff with social science expertise. Given the breadth of work presented in LOIs, internal reviewers may lack deep knowledge of an applicant’s specific area of work, so applications should be written with this in mind. On occasion, internal reviewers will request more information from applicants or solicit expert opinions in order to more adequately assess a project.
There are three application cycles for letters of inquiry each year. For specific deadlines, please visit our website. The review process for a successful application, beginning with the submission of a letter of inquiry and ending with approval by our Board of Trustees, is 10 to 15 months.
After internal review of a letter of inquiry, the Foundation will decide whether to decline the LOI or invite a full proposal for further consideration. The investigator will be notified of this decision within eight weeks of the LOI deadline. In recent years, about fifteen percent of the letters received for major grants have been invited to submit a full proposal. Typically, applicants are offered two deadlines for full proposals, ranging from approximately six weeks to six months from the time of the invitation. We do not accept unsolicited full proposals.
The full proposal follows a format similar to that of the letter of inquiry, and includes a proposal narrative of about 25 pages, a budget and budget justification, and full curriculum vitae or resumes for key staff and investigators. (Institutional Review Board Approval is not required at the time of the proposal’s submission, but is required before issuing grant funds.) Full proposals are reviewed using a scientific peer review process involving two or more external reviewers. The Foundation chooses reviewers with content, methodological, and disciplinary expertise in the proposed work. The Foundation’s Senior Program Team then reviews promising proposals and offers additional feedback. Applicants who receive positive reviews with critiques that can be addressed within a short time frame are given an opportunity to provide written responses to reviewers’ comments. Full proposals, external reviews, and applicants’ responses to external reviews are then further reviewed by the Senior Program Team. The Team makes funding recommendations to the Program Committee and Board of Trustees. Approved awards are made available shortly after Board meetings, which occur in late March, June, and October.
Applications for Officers’ research grants are accepted three times per year, and share the same deadlines as the larger research grants program. These grants are awarded on the merit of the letter of inquiry alone and the review process is usually eight weeks from the corresponding deadline. Awards are made available after internal review.