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How to Apply

Project & Presidential Awards

Application Process and Deadlines
Deadlines for both letters of inquiry and project proposals are oriented around the Foundation’s regularly-scheduled Board meetings. All Project Awards with budget requests greater than $35,000 must be approved by the Foundation's Board of Trustees; all budget requests up to $35,000 are treated as Presidential Awards and may be approved without prior Board review.

Questions and requests pertaining to applications for project or presidential awards must be received at least 2 weeks before an application deadline. Please email us at programs [at] rsage [dot] org and one of the Foundation's program staff will contact you.

All potential projects must be preceded by a letter of inquiry. We encourage interested applicants to submit letters of inquiry in advance of the deadline to allow adequate time for program staff to respond to the letter and, if invited, for investigators to prepare a well-developed proposal. Deadlines for submission are strict (RFP deadlines may differ):

For a funding decision in: Letter of Inquiry Deadline: Invited Proposal Deadline:
November 2015 June 1 (2PM EST) July 31 (2PM EST)
February 2016 September 14 (2PM EST) November 13 (2PM EST)
June 2016 January 15, 2016 (2PM EST) March 14, 2016 (2PM EST)
*Presidential Awards (≤ $35,000) are peer-reviewed but do not have to be approved by the Board of Trustees. In rare circumstances, the Foundation may make decisions about applications outside of its regular funding cycles if the proposed project is time constrained and is submitted in between deadlines. A special request must be made outlining the reasons for the time-constraint, which the Foundation will evaluate on a case-by-case basis. This is subject to the availability of time and funds.

Submit a letter of inquiry (LOI) or project proposal here.
Click here for detailed information about eligibility and application requirements.
Click here for detailed information about budget guidelines.
Click here for a list of frequently asked questions about applying for an award.

What We Support
The Russell Sage Foundation was established by Mrs. Margaret Olivia Sage in 1907 for “the improvement of social and living conditions in the United States.” RSF now carries out that mission by sponsoring rigorous social scientific research as a means of diagnosing social problems and improving social policies. In sponsoring this research, the Foundation is dedicated to strengthening the methods, data, and theoretical core of the social sciences. The Foundation’s awards are restricted to support for social science research within the following program areas:

  • Behavioral Economics – This focuses on research that incorporates insights of psychology and other social sciences into the study of economic behavior. [Current Funding Opportunity]
  • Future of Work – This program is concerned primarily with examining the causes and consequences of the declining quality of jobs for less- and moderately-educated workers in the U.S. economy and the role of changes in employer practices. The program is also concerned with the nature of the labor market and public policies on the employment, earnings, and job quality of American workers.[Current Funding Opportunity]
  • Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration – This program focuses on the social, economic, and political effects of the changing racial and ethnic composition of the U.S. population, including the transformation of communities and ideas about what it means to be American. [Current Funding Opportunity]
  • Social Inequality – This program is focused on how rising economic inequality is related to social, political, and economic institutions in the U.S., and the extent to which increased inequality has affected equality of opportunity, social mobility, and the intergenerational transmission of advantage. [Current Funding Opportunity]

The links above connect to descriptions of these program areas and recently sponsored research, and our publications illustrate the research we have supported in the past.

The Foundation typically makes awards up to $150,000. Any requests up to $35,000 are processed as Presidential Award applications and cannot include any overhead or indirect costs. We provide support primarily for analyzing data and writing up results. We are particularly interested in innovative projects that collect or analyze new data to illuminate issues that are highly relevant to the Foundation's program goals.

The Foundation is launching its own peer-reviewed, open-access journal RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences in 2015. As a result, the Foundation is moving away from publishing edited volumes and potential applicants may consider proposing a journal issue instead of an edited volume. We actively encourage projects with an interdisciplinary perspective.

Visiting Scholars Program

The Russell Sage Foundation’s Visiting Scholar Program provides a unique opportunity for select scholars in the social, economic and behavioral sciences to pursue their research and writing while in residence at the Foundation’s New York headquarters. Research carried out by Visiting Scholars constitutes an important part of the Foundation’s ongoing effort to analyze and understand the complex and shifting nature of social and economic life in the United States. While Visiting Scholars typically work on projects related to the Foundation’s current programs, a few scholars whose research falls outside the Foundation’s active programs are also invited each year. Descriptions of our prior visiting scholar classes along with summaries of their projects attest to the diversity of scholars, disciplines and projects selected.

The Foundation annually awards up to 17 residential fellowships to select scholars in the social sciences who are at least several years beyond the Ph.D. Visiting Scholar positions begin September 1st and ordinarily run through June 30th. Scholars are provided with an office at the Foundation, research assistance, computer and library facilities, and supplemental salary support of up to 50 percent of their academic year salary when unavailable from other sources (up to a maximum of $110,000). Scholars who reside outside the greater New York City area are also provided with a partially-subsidized apartment near the Foundation offices. Because this is a residential fellowship that requires significant Foundation resources, scholars are expected to be in residence at the Foundation throughout the scholar year.

Application Process and Deadlines
Application to the program is relatively simple:

  1. Complete the online submission form.
  2. Submit a letter describing the project to be undertaken while in residence at the Foundation [No more than 5 pages, single spaced, with standard 11 or 12-point font and 1 inch margins - excluding up to 2 pages of references and figures/tables].
  3. Submit an up-to-date abbreviated CV (5 pages maximum).

We do not accept supplementary materials such as papers and recommendations.

Visiting Scholar (VS) applications for the 2017-18 academic year will be accepted between April 15th and June 30th, 2016 (at 11:59pm Eastern Time) of the year prior to the desired year of residence. Decisions will be announced in December, 2016. All applications are reviewed by outside experts selected by the Foundation and the final selection decisions are made by a sub-committee of the Russell Sage Board of Trustees. Acceptances cannot be deferred to subsequent years.

The Visiting Scholar application portal is now closed. Applications for the 2017-2018 year will open on April 15th, 2016 and will be accepted until 11:59pm, Eastern Standard Time (EST) on June 30, 2016.

Click here for detailed information about eligibility requirements and guidelines.
Click here for a list of frequently asked questions about applying for the Visiting Scholars program.

Unfunded Visiting Researchers

Occasionally the Foundation has unfilled office space and makes it available for unfunded short-term fellowships to visiting researchers who are conducting social science research in the Foundation’s priority areas. These are available on an irregular basis, for visits of one to three months. Inquiries should be directed to no later than June 30 for a visit between September and February and no later than October 30, for a visit between February and June.

Visiting Journalist Fellowship Program

“For the improvement of social and living conditions in the United States.”
– From the Letter of Gift by Margaret Olivia Sage establishing the Russell Sage Foundation, April 19, 1907

There is a long, rich history of journalists writing and reporting compellingly about topics - centrally expressed in the Russell Sage Foundation's (RSF) motto - related to the "improvement of social and living conditions in the United States." The growth of economic inequality and its consequences, inequities in educational achievement and attainment, the impact of modern immigration, and recent racial tensions over urban policing, are all examples of topics addressed by journalists that are central to RSF programs, and which have been the subject of study by RSF scholars and grantees. In conducting original research on a wide range of social, political, and economic conditions in the U.S. and presenting those findings to the public, journalists are critical to our understanding of Americans' lives and lived experiences.

Because journalists report on issues of relevance to RSF, the Foundation has established a Visiting Journalist Fellowship that has two goals. First, we intend to provide journalists an opportunity to carry out their projects while interacting with resident visiting scholars who might help inform the development of these projects. We expect to foster relationships between social scientists and journalists interested in topics related to the Foundation's core programs: Behavioral Economics; Future of Work; Race, Ethnicity and Immigration; and Social Inequality.

Second, the fellowship can fill a need that journalism's own institutions are not set up to fulfill - to facilitate access to the most-recent social science research and policy analysis on the journalist's topic and to help put their specific reporting into broader context. The fellowship will also provide journalists the time and resources needed to carry out an original project while interacting with RSF staff, scholars and trustees.

Through its Visiting Scholar program, RSF has a long history of providing a unique interdisciplinary environment for distinguished social scientists to work on their own research projects while engaging with other scholars in ways that mutually enhance their work. Thus, RSF is ideally equipped to provide an environment where journalists and social scientists can interact with the goal of making journalistic work more informed and social science research more valuable and accessible to the public.

About the Fellowship
RSF will pay visiting journalists an honorarium of $8,000 per month for full-time visits of one to three months. Fellows are provided with an office at the Foundation, computers and software, library access, and limited research assistance. Applicants who reside outside of the greater New York City area will be provided with a partially-subsidized apartment near RSF.

Journalists who are interested in a full-year fellowship to complete a book or other major project that would necessitate a longer stay are eligible to apply to the Foundation's Visiting Scholars Program.

Applications will be considered twice a year with some flexibility in start and end dates:

  • September 1 deadline: with an anticipated residence between January 1 and June 30 (start date between January 1 and April 1)
  • March 1 deadline: with an anticipated residence between September 1 and January 30 (start date between September 1 and November 1)

Application for the fellowship is relatively simple:

  1. Visit our on-line application portal, create an online account, and complete the application form;
  2. Submit a letter describing the project to be undertaken while in residence at the Foundation. [No more than 5 pages describing the project, single-spaced, with standard 11 or 12-point font, and 1 inch margins]
  3. Your letter should include an appendix of up to 20 pages that illustrates or include example(s) of prior work; you may also submit a short appendix with links to examples.
  4. Submit an up-to-date abbreviated CV (maximum of 5 pages).

The application letter should outline the basics of the project to be carried out while in residence, how the project is relevant to RSF's program areas, how the fellowship and interactions with the Foundation's Visiting Scholars and staff would be beneficial to the project, and the expected publication or reporting outcome of the work.

Letters of recommendation are not required. All applications will be reviewed by a committee of journalistic peers. Selected applicants are typically contacted within 45 days of the application deadline; acceptances cannot be deferred.

Applicants should be journalists with a minimum of 5-7 years of experience who write or report on social, economic, or political conditions in the United States.

If you have questions about the program or the application process, please contact Senior Program Officer James Wilson (

The Visiting Journalist application portal is now open. (Applications for the 2016-17 year will be accepted until 11:59pm, Eastern Standard Time (EST) on September 1, 2015) Click here to apply.
Click here for a list of frequently asked questions about applying for the Visiting Journalist Fellowship program.

Small Grants Program in Behavioral Economics

The Russell Sage Behavioral Economics Roundtable supports a small grants research program to support high quality research in behavioral economics and to encourage young investigators to enter this developing field. The program is administered under the auspices of the Behavioral Economics Roundtable, a group of researchers in behavioral economics formed by the Russell Sage Foundation to encourage interdisciplinary research in behavioral economics.

There are no limitations on the disciplinary background of the principal investigator, and the proposed research may address any topic in behavioral economics. However, projects must contribute to the Foundation's mission to improve the social and living conditions in the U.S. Appropriate projects will demonstrate explicit use of psychological concepts in the motivation of the research design and the preparation of the results. Experimental projects which do not have substantial behavioral content (such as market experiments testing neoclassical ideas) or substantial economic content (such as psychology experiments with no economic choices or strategic or market implications) will not be funded. There is a $7,500 lifetime limit for these small grants.

Application Process and Deadlines
Applications can be submitted directly through the “BE Small Grants” online application portal. There is no deadline for the Small Grants Program in Behavioral Economics; applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Click here to submit your online application.
Click here for detailed information about eligibility requirements and guidelines.
Click here for a list of frequently asked questions about applying for a small grant in behavioral economics.

RSF Journal

RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research by both established and emerging scholars. It is designed to promote cross-disciplinary collaborations on timely topical issues of interest to academics, policymakers, and the public at large. Each issue is thematic in nature and focuses on a specific research question or area of interest. The introduction to each issue will begin with an accessible, broad and synthetic overview of the research question under consideration and the current thinking from various fields.

The first issue of the RSF Journal will be published in 2015. For more information, please contact Suzanne Nichols, Director of Publications, at

What We Do Not Fund

The Russell Sage Foundation funds only social science research that seeks to "improve social and living conditions in the US." As such, we do not fund research based in other countries. The Foundation may occasionally consider cross-national research that has clear implications for the US.

As an operating foundation carrying out our own programs of social science research, we are in a position to publish only those books deriving from the research that we support.

Our guidelines restrict us from giving grants for pre-doctoral study or research, and we do not award scholarships or other types of grants for support of college funding.

One of the Foundation’s most successful endeavors over time has been our Visiting Scholar Program – as a result, we do not fund residential fellowships elsewhere.

As a general rule, we do not provide support for the development or maintenance of websites.

We are enjoined by IRS code from making general support grants to other institutions. Only specific project grants that further our declared program goals are permitted.

The Russell Sage Foundation seeks to promote diversity through all of its program activity. The Foundation does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender and/or gender identity, pregnancy or parental status, marital or domestic partner status, national origin, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.