Institutional Challenge Grant

William T. Grant Foundation

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Grant amount: US $650,000

Anticipated deadline: Sep 6, 2020 12:00pm PDT

Applicant type: Indigenous Group Nonprofit Government Entity

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: United States

Location of residency: United States

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About this funder:



The Institutional Challenge Grant encourages university-based research institutes, schools, and centers to build sustained research-practice partnerships with public agencies or nonprofit organizations in order to reduce inequality in youth outcomes.

To do so, research institutions will need to shift their policies and practices to value collaborative research. They will also need to build the capacity of researchers to produce relevant work and the capacity of agency and nonprofit partners to use research.

Applications are welcome from partnerships in youth-serving areas such as education, justice, child welfare, mental health, immigration, and workforce development. We especially encourage proposals from teams with African American, Latino, Native American, and Asian American members in leadership roles. The partnership leadership team should include the principal investigator from the research institution and the lead from the public agency or nonprofit organization.


The award supports research institutions to build sustained research-practice partnerships with public agencies or nonprofit organizations in order to reduce inequality in youth outcomes. Research institutions will need to address four important goals:

  • Build a sustained institutional partnership with a public agency or nonprofit organization that serves young people in the United States.
  • Pursue a joint research agenda to reduce inequality in youth outcomes.
  • Create institutional change to value the partnership and its work.
  • Develop the capacity of the partners to collaborate and use research evidence.

The Award

The award will provide $650,000 over three years, in support of:

  • Up to $50,000 for 6-9 months of joint planning activities (e.g., refining protocols for partnering, selecting fellows, finalizing partnership agreements, etc.).
  • Fellowship support for the equivalent of one full-time or two half-time fellows per year, for two years. In addition, the research institution must contribute the equivalent of one full-time or two half-time fellows for the equivalent of a one-year, full-time term.
  • Up to three years of support for the partnership to conduct research to reduce inequality in youth outcomes.
  • Resources to develop the capacities of both partners.
  • Indirect cost allowance of up to 15 percent of total direct costs.

Recipients of the award will have the opportunity to apply for a two-year continuation grant in order to solidify the partnership and institutional changes. At the end of a five-year grant, we expect the following results:

  • The research institution has established a set of strategies that facilitate sustained research collaborations with public agencies or private nonprofit organizations.
  • The public agency or private nonprofit organization has increased its capacity to use research evidence.
  • Participating researchers have improved partnership skills.
  • The research generated has been used in decision making and is likely to lead to improved outcomes for youth.

We anticipate running the competition for five years (2017- 2022), with one award made each year. Applicants not funded in a prior year arwe welcome to reapply. We plan to gather grantees and fellows to learn from one another, and we also hope that lessons from these grants radiate beyond the funded institutions and fellows.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Eligible research institutions
    • The award will be made to an organization, not to an individual.
    • Organizations can include university-based research institutes, schools, or centers.
    • Grants are limited without exception to tax-exempt organizations.
    • Please note that research organizations, think tanks, and other institutions that sit outside of the academy are no longer eligible to apply.
  • Eligible principal investigators
    • The principal investigator should be a leader at the research institution.
    • S/he should have visibility, influence on institutional policies and practices, and access to the resources needed to optimize and implement the award.
    • S/he should also possess the skills needed to cultivate trusting relationships with leaders from the partner public agency or nonprofit organization.
  • Eligible public agencies or nonprofit organizations
    • Eligible public agencies include state or local agencies and their departments and divisions.
    • Nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations are eligible if they are open to the general public and provide services for youth ages 5 to 25 in the United States.
    • Eligible agencies and organizations engage in work relevant to youth in the areas of education, justice, child welfare, mental health, immigration, or workforce development and have the resources needed to implement and optimize the award.
  • Eligible leaders from the public agency or nonprofit organization
    • Leaders from the public agency or nonprofit organization should have the authority and influence required to successfully institutionalize the partnership and the use of research evidence in the agency or organization’s work.
  • Eligible partnerships
    • Research-practice partnerships are defined as long-term, mutually beneficial collaborations that promote the production and use of rigorous and relevant research evidence.
    • These partnerships take a long view and should extend beyond the life of any one grant, project, or leader.
    • While the competition is open to partnerships at different stages of maturity, applicants will need to convince reviewers that the grant adds significant value to what already exists.
    • We anticipate that it will be difficult for a well-established partnership with strong institutional support to make a convincing case that the award adds value.
    • For younger partnerships, reviewers will seek promising initial evidence that the partners have successfully worked together in the past and have the potential to sustain a long-term collaboration.
  • Eligible fellows
    • All fellows must be mid-career.
      • For researchers, we define mid-career as having received the terminal degree within 8 to 20 years of the date that the application is submitted. (This should be calculated by adding 8 and 20 years to the date the doctoral degree was conferred. For medicine, an institution should use the date from the completion of the first residency.)
      • The fellow does not need to be an employee of the research institution, and can be recruited from another institution.
    • Applicants may choose to appoint one mid-career fellow from the public agency or nonprofit organization.
      • This should be a mid-career professional at the agency or organization who will be called on to facilitate the use of research.
      • A midcareer professional has 8 to 20 years of cumulative experience in his/her current role.