RSF President Sheldon Danziger on the Foundation's Current Funding Priorities in Response to the Crises of 2020

June 23, 2020

The Russell Sage Foundation (RSF) has long supported social science research with the aim of improving social and living conditions in the United States. In response to the crises of 2020, the foundation is dedicating its next funding cycle exclusively to research that seeks to improve our understanding of these extraordinary times. The severe consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, including its economic disruptions, and the recent mass protests to combat systemic racial inequality in policing and other institutions have reaffirmed the importance of social science research examining economic, political, racial, ethnic, generational, and social inequalities relevant to public policy and social change.

For its August 5, 2020, deadline, RSF will only accept letters of inquiry relevant to one of RSF’s core programs and which address at least one of the following issues:

  1. Research on the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting recession in the U.S. Specifically, research that assesses the social, political, economic, and psychological causes and consequences of the pandemic, especially its effects on marginalized individuals and groups and on trust in government and other institutions. Our priorities do not include analyses of health outcomes or health behavior. Read more here.
  2. Research focused on systemic racial inequality and/or the recent mass protests in the U.S. Specifically, research that investigates the prevalence of racial disparities in policing and criminal justice and their social, political, economic, and psychological causes and consequences; the effects of the current social protest movement and mass mobilization against systemic discrimination; the nature of public attitudes and public policies regarding policing, criminal justice, and social welfare; and the effects of those attitudes in the current political environment.

For its subsequent, November 11, 2020, letter of inquiry deadline, RSF will return to accepting letters of inquiry in its three core programs, which have and will continue to focus on many of the causes and consequences of the crises of 2020. The Future of Work program focuses on the causes and consequences of the declining economic prospects of low- and moderately skilled workers and the role of labor market institutions on job quality. The Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration program focuses on the effects of systemic discrimination on immigrants and ethnic minorities, the effects of increasing diversity in the population on social identity, and the effects of rising xenophobia on immigrants and ethnic minorities. The Social, Political and Economic Inequality program focuses on a broad range of inequalities and their consequences for social, psychological, political, and economic outcomes, as well as the transmission of advantage and disadvantage within and across generations.

In 2019, in partnership with the Economic Mobility and Opportunity program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, RSF launched the Pipeline Grants Competition for scholars who are underrepresented in the social sciences. The deadline for the second round of funding is November 4, 2020.

RSF was established by Mrs. Margaret Olivia Sage in 1907 for “the improvement of social and living conditions in the United States.”It seeks to strengthen the methods, data, and theoretical core of the social sciences in order to better understand societal problems and develop informed responses. RSF supports visiting scholars in residence and publishes books and a journal under its own imprint. It also funds researchers at other institutions and supports training and small grants programs intended to develop a new, more diverse, generation of social scientists.

Read more about how to apply for funding from RSF.


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.


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