Spencer Foundation Research Grants supports education research projects that will contribute to the improvement of education, broadly conceived, with budgets up to $50,000 for projects ranging from one to five years. We accept applications three times per year.
This program is “field-initiated” in that proposal submissions are not in response to a specific request for a particular research topic, discipline, design, method, or location.
Our goal for this program is to support rigorous, intellectually ambitious and technically sound research that is relevant to the most pressing questions and compelling opportunities in education.
The Spencer Foundation was established in 1962 by Lyle M. Spencer. The foundation makes grants to support research for areas of education, widely construed.Lyle M. Spencer was the founder of The Spencer Foundation. Spencer grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin and attended college in the Pacific Northwest.
He received both an undergraduate degree and master’s degree in sociology from the University of Washington in Seattle. Lyle Spencer’s father served as president at said university from 1927-1933.
- Proposals to the Research Grants on Education program must be for academic research projects that aim to study education. Proposals for activities other than research are not eligible (e.g., program evaluations, professional development, curriculum development, scholarships, capital projects). Additionally, proposals for research studies focused on areas other than education, are not eligible.
- Principal Investigators (PIs) and Co-PIs applying for a Small Research Grant on Education must have an earned doctorate in an academic discipline or professional field, or appropriate experience in an education research-related profession. While graduate students may be part of the research team, they may not be named the PI or Co-PI on the proposal.
- The PI must be affiliated with a non-profit organization or public/governmental institution that is willing to serve as the administering organization if the grant is awarded. The Spencer Foundation does not award grants directly to individuals. Examples include non-profit or public colleges, universities, school districts, and research facilities, as well as other non-profit organizations with a 501(c)(3) determination from the IRS (or equivalent non-profit status if the organization is outside of the United States).
- 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.
The Small Research Grants Program in Education uses a peer review process for all eligible submissions. Each proposal will be reviewed by both external panel reviewers and internal staff. The review process for this program takes approximately 6-7 months from the deadline date.
The review panel for this program is made up of scholars in the field of education research with expertise across many disciplines and methodological areas. Panelist are asked to rate and comment on the following aspects of your proposal:
Significance of the Project: Reviewers will evaluate the centrality of education in the research, the importance of the topic to its field, and the quality of the research question(s) and/or direction of inquiry.
Connection to Research and Theory: Reviewers will evaluate the adequacy of the description of how other researchers have treated the same topic and how well the proposal responds to prior work and theory.
Research Design: Reviewers will evaluate the overall quality, sophistication, and appropriateness of the research design as well as its alignment with the research question(s) and/or conceptual framing.
Budget and Timeline: Reviewers will evaluate the adequacy of the budget and timeline.
Project Team: Reviewers will comment on the potential of the investigator(s) to complete the study as described and share the results or other findings.
Method of Application
The application process begins with a full proposal; there is no requirement to submit a letter of intent or intent to apply form. Full proposals for a Small Research Grant on Education are due by 12:00pm Noon central time on the deadline date.
Full Proposal Guidelines
Small Grant proposals must be submitted through an online application form following the guidelines below.
Step 1 – Registration
Note: This application is configured for the Principal Investigator (PI) on the project to register and submit the form. If someone other than the PI will be completing the online application (e.g., an administrative assistant), the PI should register as described in Step 1 below, then provide their username and password to the person assisting them with the application.
If you (the PI) have never accessed the Spencer Foundation online portal, you must register and create a profile by going to https://spencer.smartsimple.us and clicking the “Register Here” button. Follow the guidelines on the registration page to create your profile.
If you already have an account, log on to update your profile and access the application.
Step 2 – My Profile
After logging in, follow the directions to complete the information requested on the My Profile page and upload your current CV (10 page limit). The My Profile page is your online account with the Spencer Foundation whether you are applying for a grant, reviewing a proposal, or submitting a grantee report.
Note: If you will have Co-PIs on your project, they must also register and complete their profile information if they wish to be included on the application.
Step 3 – Start a Proposal
To fill out the application, go to your Workbench and click the Apply button for the Small Research Grants on Education. Your draft application can be saved so that you can return to it at a later time and continue working on it. Once you save a draft application, you can find it again on your Draft Proposals list on your Workbench.