What We Do and Do Not Fund

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. Proposals to study the effects of an intervention administered outside of this age range are not eligible for consideration.

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 research grants 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.

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. We focus our support on empirical studies for which applicants have already performed a literature review, have identified specific research questions and/or hypotheses, and possess sufficiently detailed research methods and data analysis plans so that reviewers can evaluate their rigor. Intervention studies should be beyond the pilot phase.

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.

Research Interests: Reducing Inequality

What does the Foundation mean by its interest in research to combat systemic racism and the structural foundations of inequality?

Recognizing that findings about programs and practices that reduce inequality will have limited societal impact until the structures that create inequality in the first place have been transformed, the Foundation encourages research that shifts the focal point of change from individuals to social institutions. We continue to fund research on programs, practices, and policies to reduce inequality; this new development encourages innovative research that examines how mechanisms such as federal policies, social movements, and shifts in governance structures help reduce inequality in youth outcomes by disrupting power hierarchies that maintain inequality at the institutional level.

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

We are interested in research to reduce inequality on the basis of race, ethnicity, economic standing, language minority status, and/or immigrant origin. We refer to these categories as dimensions of inequality, or the lines along which youth outcomes are unequal.

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

Yes. However, applications for research on reducing inequality on dimensions outside of race, ethnicity, economic standing, or immigrant origin status must make a compelling case that this research will improve youth outcomes. We especially encourage research on reducing inequality for LGBTQ youth, particularly in intersection with at least one of these prioritized dimensions. Studies of other dimensions of inequality not listed here are encouraged to focus on the ways in which prioritized dimensions of inequality intersect with other factors (e.g., race and gender or immigrant youth with a disability).

Are there youth outcomes in which you are particularly interested?

Yes. We are particularly interested in 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?

While we value research on the nature, causes, and consequences of inequality, we are interested in supporting research that will inform or examine a policy, program, or practice response that can be implemented through an organization, institution, or system.

Why does the Foundation use the terminology “reducing inequality” rather than “creating equity”?

First, “reducing inequality” is a straightforward, measurable concept. It allows us to see what progress we are making, whether with respect to a specific program or policy or in society at large. Creating equity is harder to pin down. Second, reducing inequality keeps the focus on youth outcomes. A long history of social science evidence shows that equalizing opportunities are not enough to reduce inequality, and a focus on outcomes keeps the pressure where it needs to be.

The Letter of Inquiry

What percent of applications are awarded funding?

About 5 percent of major grants letters of inquiry result in funding. We typically invite about 15 percent of applicants to submit a full proposal, and about 20 percent of these proposals are granted an award.

About 8-10 percent of letters of inquiry for Officers’ research grants are awarded funding

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

We are a small staff and generally do not have capacity for conversations about individual project ideas prior to the submission of the letter of inquiry. We highly encourage you to review the Resources for Applicants webpage (particularly the resources highlighted under the “Applicant Guidance” section), annotated excerpts from successful proposals, and examples of our recent grants before submitting your letter of inquiry for consideration. Please note that, due to the high volume of proposals, we are also unable to provide customized feedback to applicants whose proposals do not advance in the review process.

Who should submit the letter of inquiry?

The principal investigator should submit the letter of inquiry. Our application system is configured in such a way that the principal investigator must be the applicant for purposes of submitting the letter of inquiry. An office of sponsored programs or development representative who wishes to submit a letter of inquiry on behalf of the principal investigator should be sure to use the principal investigator’s SmartSimple account to submit the application.

May an organization submit multiple applications?

We do not limit the number of research grant applications by organization. We will certainly accept letters of inquiry from multiple principal investigators at the same 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 or applications to multiple funding opportunities, provided the applicant meets the eligibility requirements for each individual funding opportunity. 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 15 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 2-5 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 letter of inquiry possible. Conversely, if you are a researcher proposing to work with a CBO, the letter of inquiry should reflect your partner’s motivation for the project and demonstrate a nuanced understanding of their context.

Are letters of support encouraged at the letter of inquiry stage?

In general, applicants are welcome, though not required, to submit letters of support with the letter of inquiry. For applicants interested in major research grants, we encourage applicants to wait until they are invited to submit a full proposal to submit their letters of support. For applicants interested in Officers’ research grants, we recommend that you submit letters of support when you submit your letter of inquiry. Please bundle any letters of support that you wish to submit in the same file as your project narrative and reference list.

Is it possible to submit figures and appendices with the letter of inquiry?

You are welcome to submit appendices to the five-page letter of inquiry narrative, bundled into the same upload as the narrative document, although we cannot guarantee that reviewers will consider materials submitted in excess of the five-page narrative limit.

Does the Foundation have formatting requirements for the one-page curricula vitae, biographical sketches, or resumes?

No. Applicants are encouraged to include details about their education and training, relevant peer-reviewed publications, and grants in their one-page curricula vitae, biographical sketches, and resumes, but may otherwise format these documents at their own discretion.

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.

Is a for-profit organization eligible to serve as a subcontractor on a grant?

The Foundation does not have any eligibility requirements for subcontractors on research grants. Check with your home institution about their eligibility requirements.

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 (major research grants), the applicant is only required to provide an estimate of the total amount requested. Applicants who are invited to submit a full proposal will be required to complete a budget and budget justification form at that stage.

For grants requesting $50,000 or less (Officers’ research grants), a full budget, budget justification form, and institutional endorsement are required at the letter of inquiry stage.

How much of my grant may go toward indirect costs?

For both major and Officers’ research grants, 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 twice a year and share the same January and August deadlines as the major research grants program. 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 Officers’ 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.

What is the expected duration of the Officers’ research grant?

Officers’ research grants typically range between one and two years long. The duration of the proposed project should reflect the amount of time necessary to complete the proposed work.