The Spencer Foundation: Inviting applications for ‘Small Research Grants’ to fund academic work that will contribute to the improvement of education, broadly conceived.

Funding brief: The Small Research Grants program is intended to support education research projects with budgets of $50,000 or less. In keeping with the Spencer Foundation’s mission, this program aims to fund academic work that will contribute to the improvement of education, broadly conceived.

Historically, the work we have funded through these grants has spanned, a range of topics and disciplines, including education, psychology, sociology, economics, history, and anthropology, and they employ a wide range of research methods. The following examples of recently funded small grants illustrate the diversity of what we support:

An experimental study of how college students use visual representations in solving math problems

A study exploring the process of racial and rural identity formation among African American high-school students who attend de facto segregated schools in the rural South

A mixed-methods study focusing on the different types of knowledge novice and experienced teachers draw on in teaching for reading comprehension

The majority of small grant proposals that are funded by the Foundation are “field-initiated” in the sense that they are not submitted in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP). In the past, we have requested that proposals within the Small Grants program be submitted within one of the areas of inquiry listed below. The Foundation does not use this information in the review process, but captures it in the application to better understand the variety of research that is proposed. The areas are broadly organized as follows:

Field-Initiated: Proposals in this area are those that fall under the Spencer Foundation’s general mission of funding research on education, but don’t appear to fit in one of the areas mentioned below. Although the areas below are broad, there are many projects that don’t have a strong focus in any of them; those should be tagged with Field-Initiated as the research area in the online application.

The Relation between Education and Social Opportunity: This area would include projects that seek to shed light on the role education can play in reducing economic and social inequalities — as well as, sometimes, reinforcing them — and to find ways to more fully realize education’s potential to promote more equal opportunity. Proposals where the primary aim is to examine the ways in which differences in social and educational experiences (such as quality and character of schooling or the number of years in school) translate into differences including employment, earnings, and civic and academic outcomes would be included in this area.

Teaching, Learning, and Instructional Resources: Studies in this area would be those that will lead to better understanding and improvements in the intellectual, material, and organizational resources that contribute to successful teaching and learning. They may investigate questions that are grounded directly in teaching practice, as well as research about important aspects of child and adult learning processes and contexts that hold promise for guiding informed policymaking.

The New Civics: This area represents the broader Foundation belief that cultivating knowledge and new ideas about civic education will ultimately improve students’ lives and enrich society. The designation “new” refers to an expanded understanding of civic education and its relationship to civic action. Thus, proposals with this focus would deepen our understanding of influences on civic action, attend to social inequalities in civic education, and have the potential to shape future research and practice in these fields.

Organizational Learning in Schools, School Systems, and Higher Education Systems: Research in this area would contribute to strengthening the capacity of schools and education systems to operate as learning organizations. Because the capacity and motivation for organizational learning depend as well on the larger institutional structures within which schools and systems operate, research on, among other things, the roles of school boards, governments and unions; the role of markets and competition in the funding of schools; and the perceptions, concerns, and opportunities for voice among parents and the broader public would fall under this area.

Purposes and Values of Education: Proposals in this area would be interested in advancing analytical, historical, and empirical work that probes effectively and creatively into deeply challenging and permanently important issues which can contribute toward social decision-making that moves education along constructive paths.

Donor Name: The Spencer Foundation
Funding name: Small Research Grants

Deadline: Small Research Grant proposals are accepted 4 times per year. The next deadline is at 4:00pm CDT, August, 1st, 2018. The following deadlines will fall on November, 1st, 2018, February, 1st, 2019, and May, 1st, 2019.

Funding details link:

Funding limit: $50,000

Special Notes: Please contact with the donor directly for further clarification and understanding.

Project start date: Not found

Project duration: They leave the duration of the project up to the PI/research team to determine, with the expectation that it will be appropriate for the work being proposed.

Eligible organization: As below

● Principal Investigators (PIs) and Co-PIs applying for a research grant must have an earned doctorate in an academic discipline or professional field, or appropriate experience in an education research-related profession.
● The PI must be affiliated with a college, university, school district, non-profit research facility, or non-profit cultural institution that is willing to serve as the fiscal agent if the grant is awarded. The Spencer Foundation does not award grants directly to individuals.
● Proposals are accepted from the U.S. and internationally, however all proposals must be submitted in English and budgets must be proposed in U.S. Dollars.

● Small Research Grant budgets are limited to $50,000
● Small Research Grant budgets may not include indirect cost charges.
● PIs and Co-PIs may only hold one active research grant from the Spencer Foundation at a time. Simultaneous submissions to the Foundation from PIs and Co-PIs are discouraged due to this policy.

The Foundation funds research projects that span the life course (i.e., from early childhood to adult learning) as well as those that focus on contexts outside of school.

Eligible Country: No country bar found (Open to all regions)

Submission mail: Not found

Other important link:
● Apply:
  Registration:
  My Profile Submission:
● Guideline:
● About:
● Webinar Slides 2017 PDF:
● Webinar Recording 2017:
● My Profile Sample:
● Application Sample:
● FAQ:

How to apply:
● Interested applicant may apply through the website (
● Application materials must be submitted in English and project budgets must be in U.S. dollars.

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