Spencer Foundation: Vision Grants in Education

The Spencer Foundation invests in research to improve education, broadly conceived. We have identified a critical need for innovative, methodologically and disciplinarily diverse, large-scale research projects to transform education systems for equity. Importantly, we believe that ambitious research must begin with the challenges, problems, and opportunities in education systems. To stimulate research that addresses this need, the Spencer Foundation seeks to provide scholars and collaborators with the time, space, resources, and support to plan a large-scale study or program of research: geared toward real-world impact on equity; drawing on research across disciplines and methods; reliant on meaningful and equitable collaboration with practitioners, policymakers, communities, and other partners; and focused on transforming educational systems.

The Vision Grants program funds the collaborative planning of innovative, methodologically diverse, interdisciplinary research on education that contributes to transforming education systems for equity. Vision Grants are research planning grants to bring together a team, for 6 to 12 months, to collaboratively develop ambitious, large-scale research projects focused on transforming educational systems toward greater equity. This program takes as core that visionary, interdisciplinary, and collaborative research projects require time, space, and thoughtfulness to incubate and plan. Vision Grants are $75,000 total and two cycles of this grant program will be held annually.

Different from many of Spencer’s other programs, the proposal does not yet need to be a fully fleshed out research plan. Instead, this is an invitation to think forward about what research we need to transform education systems toward equity and then to envision how that systems-change will happen, utilizing research evidence. Teams are encouraged to reflect on the people who need to be involved from the beginning of the research design process, and how evidence from the eventual research study/studies could be used to actually transform systems.

Vision Grant proposals should identify the system(s) targeted for transformation and the levers the team thinks need to be engaged in order to work toward systems transformation. Proposals should also explicitly identify a research topic and initial thoughts about scope of the study plan for impact, collaborative process, and a team that will lead to a fully fleshed out research plan by the end of the grant period.

PIs and Co-PIs may apply for a Vision Grant if they have another active research grant from the Spencer Foundation or if they have another Spencer grant proposal in review.

Proposals are accepted from the U.S. and internationally. All proposals must be submitted in English and budgets must be proposed in U.S. Dollars.