This program supports research to build, test, or increase understanding of programs, policies, or practices to reduce inequality in the academic, social, behavioral, or economic outcomes of young people ages 5-25 in the United States.
Our research interests center on studies that examine ways to reduce inequality in youth outcomes. We welcome descriptive studies that clarify mechanisms for reducing inequality or elucidate how or why a specific program, policy, or practice operates to reduce inequality. We also welcome intervention studies that examine attempts to reduce inequality. Finally, we welcome studies that improve the measurement of inequality in ways that can enhance the work of researchers, practitioners, or policymakers.
We invite studies from a range of disciplines, fields, and methods, and we encourage investigations into various youth-serving systems, including justice, housing, child welfare, mental health, and education.
Applications for research grants on reducing inequality must:
Identify a specific inequality in youth outcomes.
We are especially interested in research to reduce inequality in academic, social, behavioral, or economic outcomes.
- Show that outcomes are unequal in a brief discussion of existing literature.
- Highlight the main explanations for the unequal outcomes that are relevant for your study.
Make a convincing case for the dimension(s) of inequality the study will address.
We are especially interested in research to reduce inequality along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, economic standing, language minority status, or immigrant origin status.
- Be very specific in naming the groups on which the study will focus. Avoid vague terms such as “at-risk youth” or “vulnerable youth.”
- Offer a well-developed conceptualization of inequality. Avoid treating dimensions of inequality (e.g., race, economic standing) as variables without providing conceptual and/or theoretical insight into why and how the identified inequality exists.
- If proposing research that focuses on a dimension other than race, ethnicity, economic standing, language minority status, or immigrant origins, make a compelling case for this focus. Please note that in addition to the dimensions listed above, we encourage research on reducing inequality for LGBTQ youth, particularly in intersection with at least one of the prioritized dimensions.
Articulate how findings from your research will help build, test, or increase understanding of a program, policy, or practice to reduce the specific inequality that you have identified.
- Draw on extant theoretical and empirical literature to provide a rationale for why the specific programs, policies, or practices under study will equalize outcomes between groups or improve outcomes of a particular group. In other words, specify your theory of change.
- Identify how the study will investigate this rationale to determine whether it holds up to empirical scrutiny.
Major Research Grants
- $100,000 to $600,000 over 2-3 years, including up to 15% indirect costs.Projects involving secondary data analysis are typically 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.
Officers’ Research Grants
- $25,000–$50,000 over 1-2 years, including up to 15% indirect costs. Studies may be stand-alone projects or may build off larger projects. The budget should be appropriate for the activities proposed.
- The Foundation makes grants only to tax-exempt organizations. We do not make grants to individuals.
- We encourage proposals from organizations that are under-represented among grantee institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Alaska Native-Serving Institutions, Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions, and Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs).
Eligible Principal Investigators
- The Foundation defers to the applying organization’s criteria for who is eligible to act as a Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator on a grant. In general, we expect that all investigators will have the experience and skills to carry out the proposed work.
- We strive to support a diverse group of researchers in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, and seniority, and we encourage research projects led by Black or African American, Indigenous, Latinx, and/or Asian or Pacific Islander American researchers.
- Only studies that 1) align with the stated research interests of this program and 2) relate to the outcomes of young people between the ages of 5 and 25 in the United States are eligible for consideration.
- We do not support non-research activities such as program implementation and operational costs, or make contributions to building funds, fundraising drives, endowment funds, general operating budgets, or scholarships. Applications for ineligible projects are screened out without further review.
All letters of inquiry are initially reviewed by internal staff with social science expertise. On occasion, internal reviewers will request more information from applicants or solicit expert opinions to better assess a project. In general, however, given the breadth of studies proposed in letters of inquiry, internal reviewers may lack deep knowledge of an applicant’s specific area of work, so avoid disciplinary jargon and use language appropriate for an educated lay audience.
We begin application reviews by looking at the importance of the research questions or hypotheses. Then we evaluate whether the proposed research designs and methods will provide strong empirical evidence on those questions.
Fit with Research Interests
- The proposed study aligns with this program’s research interests.
- The proposed study aims to build, test, or increase understanding of programs, policies, or practices to reduce inequality in the academic, social, behavioral, or economic outcomes of young people ages 5-25 in the United States.
- The study focuses on reducing inequality along the dimension(s) of race, ethnicity, economic standing, language minority status, or immigrant origins, or on another basis for which there is a compelling case.
- Studies that primarily focus on documenting the causes and consequences of inequality are not a fit with our interests.
- The letter of inquiry makes clear how findings will inform policies, practices, or programs that can or will be implemented through organizations, institutions, and/or systems.
- It is not adequate to propose a study that will document inequality and conclude with a general statement that research will be relevant for policy and practice.
- The proposed study aligns with this program’s research interests.
Conceptualization and Relevance
- The letter of inquiry reflects a mastery of relevant theory and empirical findings.
- The letter of inquiry states the theoretical and empirical contributions the study will make to the existing research base.
- The letter of inquiry discusses how the findings will be relevant to policy or practice.
- The proposed study employs rigorous methods (quantitative, qualitative, or mixed) that are commensurate to its goals.
- The study’s design, methods, and analysis plan fit the proposed research questions.
- The description of the research design makes clear how the empirical work will test, refine, or elaborate specific theoretical notions.
- Quantitative analyses might emphasize hypotheses and plans for testing them, while qualitative analyses might elaborate on how the research will illuminate processes underlying specific programs, policies, or practices.
- Plans for case selection, sampling, and measurement clearly state why they are well-suited to address the research questions or hypotheses.
- For example, samples must be appropriate in size and composition to answer the study’s questions. Qualitative case selection—whether critical, comparative, or otherwise—must also be appropriate to answer the proposed questions.
- The quantitative and/or qualitative analysis plan demonstrates awareness of the strengths and limits of the specific analytic techniques and how they will be applied in the current case.
- If proposing mixed methods, plans for integrating the methods and data are clear and compelling.
- If proposing quantitative methods, the letter of inquiry demonstrates that the study will have adequate statistical power to detect meaningful effects.
- Where relevant, the letter of inquiry discusses the potential generalizability of findings.
- The letter of inquiry demonstrates adequate consideration of the gender, ethnic, and cultural appropriateness of concepts, methods, and measures.
- The proposed methods, time frame, staffing plan, and other resources are realistic.
- The letter of inquiry assures that data will be successfully collected, describes the team’s prior experience collecting such data, and identifies strategies for maximizing response rates and access to data sources.
- Prior training and publications demonstrate that the research team has a track record of conducting strong research and communicating it successfully.
- Be sure to demonstrate that the research team is well-positioned to address the varied tasks demanded by the study’s conceptualization and research design. This might include combining expertise across disciplines or methods.
- Be specific about the value of each member’s contributions to the team. We strongly discourage teams that comprise many senior investigators for very limited time and effort or otherwise make cursory nods to multi-disciplinary or mixed-role project teams. Instead, clearly justify the unique value of each team member and the specific role each will play in different stages of the project.
Where appropriate, we value projects that:
- 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
- demonstrate significant creativity and potential to advance the field, for example by introducing new research paradigms or extending existing methods, measures and analytic tools to allow for comparison across studies.