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?


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 $50,000, the applicant is only required to provide the total amount requested in the letter of inquiry. If requesting $50,000 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 $50,000 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.