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Spencer's Small Research Grants Criteria - Last date 1st Aug 2017

Funds for NGOs

Activities: Others

Review Criteria

The review process for small grant proposals is thorough and careful. After an initial staff review, the strongest proposals are sent to successful established external reviewers. Based on their ratings and staff recommendations, a limited number of proposals are funded. We currently receive over 800 proposals per year, and have been able to fund roughly 10% of them.

Common reasons for declining proposals prior to external review include the following:

The project has a limited or inadequate conceptual or theoretical framework. Because the Foundation’s goal in supporting research is to advance understanding of education as a means of improvement, it is essential that proposals make clear the ways in which the proposed research will contribute to or challenge current understandings of education, and the possible connections of findings to educational improvement.

The project has a limited or inadequate discussion of research design and methods.  The kinds of details needed in a proposal depend on the type of research involved, but without sufficient information about research setting, data collection, sample size and characteristics, and analytic  methods, reviewers cannot judge the probability that a study will yield valuable findings. It is important to provide a clear and strong connection between the research design, the study's conceptual framework and research questions. 

The primary purpose of the proposed project is not research. Because the Foundation’s mission is to support educational research, we do not fund projects that do not have research as their central purpose. This means that we do not fund, among other types of projects, projects that primarily involve writing a book based on data-gathering and analysis that would be largely completed at the start of the grant or projects that are primarily devoted to developing and/or implementing a particular educational program or curriculum.

The proposed research is an evaluation study with the primary aim of assessing whether or not a given program worked.  Successful program evaluation projects at Spencer are those designed to explore the processes, mechanisms, and conditions that lead to particular outcomes, so that researchers not primarily interested in the given program could still benefit from the study’s findings.
External reviews weigh heavily in our decision to fund or not fund a given proposal. However, given large numbers of proposals in each application cycle, we often have to make choices, based on the expected quality and contribution of proposed studies, within a pool of promising submissions. Reviewers are expected to comment on the following:

significance of research questions
appropriateness of research design
adequacy of budget and time-line
potential of the principal investigator(s) to conduct a study of high quality
overall recommendation

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.

Review Process: The review process for the Small Research Grants program takes approximately 4 months following the deadline date. PIs will be notified via email of the final decision regarding their proposal. We receive over 500 proposal submissions per year and are able to fund 5-10% of those received. Information on the criteria used to review proposals can be found in the Program Statement.

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