Research Grants

All research grant applications must be preceded by a letter of inquiry (LOI). RSF has 3 funding cycles per year and only considers proposals that are invited following review of an initial letter of inquiry. After peer review, about 15% of those who submit an LOI will receive an invitation to submit a full proposal. RSF rarely considers projects for which the investigators have not already fully-developed the research design, the sample framework, access to data, etc. Investigators are encouraged to submit an LOI after they have developed and pre-tested survey instruments, completed preliminary data analyses if the data are publically-available or conducted some preliminary interviews for qualitative studies.

Trustee Grants are generally capped at $200,000, including 15% indirect costs. Presidential Grants are capped at $50,000 (no indirect costs). PIs may request up to $75,000 (no indirect costs) when the proposed research project has special needs for gathering data (e.g.: qualitative research) or gaining access to restricted-use data, or when the proposal budget includes salary support for multiple assistant professor PIs. Budget amounts are over a two-year period.

RSF encourages methodological variety and inter-disciplinary collaboration, but all LOIs and proposals must have well-developed conceptual frameworks and research designs. Analytical models must be well-specified and research questions and hypotheses (where applicable) must be clearly stated.

Grants are available for research assistance, data acquisition, data analysis, and investigator time for conducting research and writing up results. RSF encourages early career scholars who are new to the foundation to apply for Presidential Grants.

We are particularly interested in analyses that make use of newly available data or demonstrate novel uses of existing data, to answer emerging or long-standing questions of interest in the foundation’s program areas and special initiatives. We also support original data collection. Proposals to conduct field experiments, in-depth qualitative interviews, and ethnographies are also encouraged.

RSF receives so many applications for its limited funding that it no longer considers submissions that solely make routine use of publicly-available data, such as the Current Population Survey, American Community Survey, Panel Study of Income Dynamics, National Longitudinal survey of Youth, etc. Only novel uses of these data sets, particularly ones that link publicly-available data to new data sets or ones that use the restricted versions of these data will be considered.

To apply, an eligible PI or co-PI must:

  1. Visit our online application portal and create a new account or log into an existing account.
    • N.B.: New accounts must be created at least one week before an application deadline. Activating a new account may take up to 2 business days.
  2. Start a new “Research Grant” application.
  3. Submit all application materials, including the letter of inquiry (Note: max. 4 pages, excluding references, single-spaced, with standard 11 or 12-point font, and 1-inch margins) and an up-to-date abbreviated CV (max. 5 pages).


Further Information:

Learn more about Research Grants


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


The Russell Sage Foundation offers grants and positions in our Visiting Scholars program for research.


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