Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Small Grants

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Who is eligible to apply?

Applicants must be advanced doctoral students, post-doctoral fellows, or non-tenured junior faculty members who are no more than two years beyond the receipt of their Ph.D. (or equivalent graduate degree). There are no limitations on the disciplinary background of the researcher. The Foundation encourages applications from scholars who are traditionally underrepresented in the scientific disciplines and RSF’s application pool.

What do we support?

Projects must contribute to RSF's mission to improve social and living conditions in the United States. Appropriate projects will demonstrate use of relevant theory, data, methods and measures in the research design. In all cases, proposed projects must address research issues that are relevant to the Foundation’s core programs in Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Behavioral Economics; Future of Work; or Race, Ethnicity and Immigration.

Do you fund projects in other countries?

No. In line with the foundation’s mission, all projects must focus on the United States. In some exceptional cases, RSF may consider data collected outside the U.S. (e.g., experimental data, survey data, etc.) if the researcher can demonstrate that the data needed for the project is not available in the U.S., and that the data has direct and strong relevance to understanding social and living conditions in the U.S.

Do I have to submit a letter of inquiry before submitting an application?

No, applications do not require an initial letter of inquiry.

Are there deadlines for submitting an application?

Each small grant program is different. Please see our webpage Upcoming Deadlines for the most up-to-date information.

What should my application include?

Applications must be submitted via the RSF online application portal, Fluxx.

  1. Create an account or log in to your existing account. **Allow up to 48 hours for a new account to be approved**
  2. Start a new “Small Grants” application and select the appropriate program (BE or CSS) option.
  3. Submit the following documents:
    • A concise single-spaced proposal (4 pages maximum) describing the proposed work;
    • A detailed Excel budget using the Foundation’s budget template;
    • A budget narrative;
    • An up-to-date abbreviated CV (maximum of 5 pages per CV);
    • An organization confirmation letter – a letter from your home institution stating that it will manage the funds for the project should a grant be made;
  4. Doctoral students must also submit:
    • One letter of recommendation from faculty advisor;
    • Official transcripts.

How long should my proposal be?

The maximum length for the text of a proposal is four single-spaced pages, excluding the bibliography (with standard 11 or 12-point font, and 1-inch margins).

What should my proposal substantively include?

Proposals should outline the rationale of the research, clearly state the question(s) under study and the methods and analytic approach to be employed. The proposal should briefly discuss the project’s relevance to the foundation’s programs and how it would contribute to RSF's mission to improve social and living conditions in the U.S.

What are the budget restrictions?

There are lifetime limits of support for small grants ($8,500 for BE; $10,000 for CSS). RSF does not allow indirect costs on small grants and restricts the project period to one year.

Representative categories of expenditure that should be described in the budget narrative include:

  • Data acquisition, data access fees or the purchase of data sets;
  • Laboratory costs;
  • Research assistance;
  • Subject payments;
  • Travel (for data collection or access only)
  • Other research expenses considered only on a case-by-case basis.

No funds may be used to support (1) salary or conference travel for the investigator or co-authors, or (2) the purchase of computer hardware or software. A budget that appears to be excessive will be grounds for rejecting a proposal. For detailed information about what can and cannot be included in the budgets, as well as the budget template, see the RSF Budget Guidelines at:

How long does the application review take?

To be guaranteed full consideration, all application materials, including letters of recommendations, must be submitted by the application deadline. Applications are generally reviewed within 8 weeks.

If my application gets rejected, can I revise and resubmit?

No, applications will be accepted or rejected with no possibility of subsequent negotiation.

Do I have to use the online application system?

Yes. If you have any questions or problems with Fluxx, please contact

Is there a time limit in which I must submit my proposal once I start an application online?

Yes. If a new application is not electronically submitted within 6 months, the application will automatically be deleted from the online system and you will need to restart the process.


Return to Small Grant Eligibility and Application Guidelines


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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