Pipeline Grants Competition

RSF/BMGF Pipeline Grants Competition RFP, Round 5

Proposals Due: November 1, 2023

The Pipeline Grants Competition seeks to support early- career scholars (Assistant Professors, Lecturers and Adjunct Assistant Professors) and promote diversity by prioritizing applications from scholars who are underrepresented in the social sciences. This includes racial, ethnic, gender, disciplinary, institutional, and geographic diversity.

Funding & Eligibility

Only faculty who have not previously received a research grant or a visiting fellowship from RSF are eligible to apply. RSF expects to fund about 20 one-year projects by assistant professors, lecturers, and adjunct assistant professors. Proposals are due on November 1, 2023, for funding starting in summer 2024. Applicants can apply for either the Pipeline Grants Competition or the November 7, deadline for LOIs for presidential and trustee grants, but not both. Individual applicants can apply for grants of up to $35,000, and teams of eligible applicants can apply for grants of up to $50,000. Full professors, associate professors, and assistant professors who have previously received RSF funding are eligible to be co-PI’s on projects, but cannot receive funding, and such teams are limited to the $35,000 budget limit. RSF will pair grantees with mentors working in the same field and provide an honorarium for the mentors. On occasion, RSF will deem a project or applicant more appropriate for its regular research grants review process and review a Pipeline Grants proposal as a letter of inquiry for its next Presidential Grants competition.

Research Conference

Grantees are expected to present their findings at a conference during summer 2025. Grantees, mentors, and other social scientists will participate. The conference will focus on providing feedback on the research ahead of publication and foster collaboration among researchers. RSF will reimburse1 participants for reasonable travel expenses to attend the conference.

Application Guidelines

Proposals are limited to seven single-spaced pages and should include a very brief literature review (no more than one page), and detailed information on the research question, hypotheses, research methods and data, analytic plan, and project timeline. Also required are an abbreviated CV (5 pages max), and a brief description of the budgeted items. A detailed budget, budget justification (1-2 pages), and a letter from your institution stating that it will act as the fiscal agent for the project will only be expected from those whose proposals are accepted.

Applications must be submitted via our portal. Click on “Apply for a Pipeline Grant.” You can find out more about RSF’s grant writing guidelines, example proposals, and an instructional video on applying to RSF through Fluxx here.

Areas of Interest

The Pipeline Grants Competition seeks to advance innovative research on economic mobility and access to opportunity in the United States. We are interested in research focused on structural barriers to economic mobility and how individuals, communities and state entities understand, navigate and challenge systemic inequalities.

Below we provide some examples of topics and questions that are relevant to this competition. This list is not all-encompassing. Please find short descriptions of previously funded projects on our website.

Our priorities generally do not include analyses of health​ or mental health outcomes or health behaviors ​as these are priorities for other funders. ​For the same reason, RSF seldom supports studies focused on educational processes or curricular issues but does prioritize analyses of inequities in student achievement or educational attainment.

RSF has a long-standing goal of encouraging methodological diversity and inter-disciplinary collaboration. We are interested in novel uses of new or under-utilized data, and creative uses of administrative data or new data linkages across systems (e.g., in and across criminal justice, safety net, labor markets). Applicants might propose exploratory fieldwork, a pilot study, field or survey experiments, in-depth qualitative interviews, and/or ethnographies.

Applicants can also learn more about application requirements and the competition by participating in a webinar on October 4th at 2:00pm EST or can speak to a member of our program staff by emailing programs@rsage.org. Sign up for our mailing list to get updates and sign up for the webinar here.

Policy Impacts and Interventions

  • How did the various federal policy changes in recent years such as enhanced unemployment benefits, economic stimulus payments, the refundable child tax credit, or increased spending on infrastructure, affect groups differently?
  • What policy interventions might reduce wealth inequality by race/ethnicity and social class? For example, how would reparations, baby bonds, and other policies alleviate historical injustice, discrimination, and inequality?
  • To what extent were the moratoria on evictions during the pandemic successful? How did disparities in eviction rates and in housing conditions change during the pandemic?

Neighborhood Characteristics, Gentrification and Segregation

  • What are the legacies of redlining and exclusionary housing zoning ordinances for the opportunity and mobility of African Americans and other groups?
  • How does segregation shape individuals' inter-group interactions and civic engagement?
  • How has gentrification affected the opportunities and outcomes of low-income Americans?

Income & Wealth

  • What policies are effective at breaking the link between family background (i.e., income levels, wealth accumulation, etc.) and future economic outcomes, and how do their effects vary by race, ethnicity, gender, geography, and social class?
  • What are the determinants and consequences of racial disparities in income and wealth? What is the relationship between wealth and political participation and civic engagement?
  • What are the consequences of income and wealth inequalities, and material hardship for child development?

Climate Change & Natural Disasters

  • How do the effects of disasters like wildfires, floods, drought, hurricanes and their recoveries vary by race, ethnicity, gender, geography, and social class?
  • How do attitudes and rhetoric around climate change affect political participation and how do the effects vary by age, race, ethnicity, gender, geography, and social class?
  • What are the immediate and long-term consequences of migration instigated by shifts in climate or increases in extreme weather?

Criminal Justice & the Legal System

  • How do individuals' experiences of policing, courts, incarceration, or immigration detention affect their immediate and long-term opportunities in housing, employment, education, income?
  • To what extent have recent criminal justice reforms impacted opportunities for mobility, and for whom?
  • How do changes in public investments and the relative local and state budgets for police and public schools interact to influence both public safety and the opportunities and wellbeing of children, particularly those from high-poverty minority communities?

Young Adults of Color, Social Movements, and Democracy

  • How do young people’s experiences with social movements, such as Black Lives Matter, the Dreamers, the Sunrise Movement, or with voluntary civic organizations influence their opportunities for educational and economic advancement, and their civic and political engagement?
  • What factors are associated with the participation and leadership of young people, especially young people of color, in collective action in general, and political protests in response to systemic racism in particular?

Accessing the Safety Net

  • How has differential access to the social safety net, affordable housing, family assistance and legal aid shaped socio-economic outcomes for disadvantaged groups?  
  • What barriers limit access and uptake of public benefits and how have they changed over time? How do access and uptake vary by race, ethnicity, gender, and region?

Labor Markets

  • How do labor market intermediaries (e.g., job training programs, temporary employment agencies, or labor unions) affect economic mobility and opportunity, and for whom?
  • To what extent do labor market shocks generated by artificial intelligence, robotics, or automation affect labor market opportunities of lower-paid workers?
  • To what extent have alternative labor organizing strategies allowed workers to have a voice in improving working conditions and promoting labor market opportunities and mobility?

Immigrants, Immigration, and Immigrant Integration Policies

  • To what extent have intensified apprehension and deportation programs affected the socio-economic outcomes of immigrant children, youth and young adults?  How has immigration enforcement shaped individuals' civic and political engagement?
  • Whether and to what extent does the hardening of the border and immigration enforcement affect participation in the safety net of those eligible for those benefits?
  • What are the social, political, economic, or psychological consequences from the rise of nativism or xenophobia on the mobility of immigrants and ethnoracial minorities?


  • To what extent might institutional responses to shifting state and federal policies regarding race-conscious admissions promote diversity in college attendance and completion?
  • How do student debt/student loans, or concerns about them, influence choice of college majors, degree completion, and career choices, particularly for first-generation students and under-represented minorities?
  • What are the effects of the introduction of policies to restrict teaching on issues of race, gender, and sexuality on educational attainment?

 1This reimbursement is separate from the grant and should not be included in the budget.