Education Small Research Grants | Spencer Foundation

Closing Date: 1.5 2019. Proposals are encouraged from scholars around the world, across a variety of disciplines and methodologies, in an effort to fund field-initiated small-scale / pilot project education research of USD $50,000 or less, from early childhood to adult learning and contexts outside of school.

Traditionally, the foundation has requested that proposals be submitted within one of the following areas of inquiry:

  1. The Relation between Education and Social Opportunity: 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. Also proposals to examine the ways in which differences in social and educational experiences translate into differences including employment, earnings, and civic and academic outcomes.
  2. Teaching, Learning, and Instructional Resources: Studies that will lead to better understanding and improvements in the intellectual, material, and organizational resources that contribute to successful teaching and learning. Also research about important aspects of child and adult learning processes and contexts that hold promise for guiding informed policymaking.
  3. The New Civics: 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.
  4. 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. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Field-Initiated: Proposals that don’t appear to fit within any of the above areas.


  • 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.

Not Eligible

  • Projects with a limited or inadequate conceptual or theoretical framework.
  • Projects with a limited or inadequate discussion of research design and methods.
  • Projects where the primary purpose is not research.
  • Evaluation studies with the primary aim of assessing whether or not a given program worked.
  • Student research projects.