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. 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.

Applications should limit budget requests to a maximum of $175,000 (including overhead) over no more than a two-year period. All requests above $50,000 are processed as Trustee Grants and RSF's Board of Trustees make the final funding decision. All requests up to $35,000 (up to $50,000 if collecting data or paying for restricted data) are processed as Presidential Grants and cannot include any indirect costs. The main difference between these two categories is the budget requirements. 

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 especially interested in novel uses of existing data, as well as analyses of new or under-utilized data, to answer emerging or long-standing questions of interest in the foundation’s program areas and special initiatives. Proposals to conduct laboratory or field experiments, in-depth qualitative interviews, and ethnographies are also encouraged. Smaller projects might consist of exploratory fieldwork, a pilot study, or the analysis of existing data.

Projects that use newly-available data or make new linkages across data sources have a higher priority than projects that analyze only public use data from widely available data sets. For projects that use publicly available data from any Census or Current Population Survey or American Community Survey, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey and many other publicly available data sets, the budget request should total no more than $75,000 (including overhead).

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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