William T. Grant Foundation: Research Grants on Improving the Use of Research Evidence

The Foundation’s mission is to support research to improve the lives of young people ages 5-25 in the United States. One way that we pursue this mission is by investing in high-quality field-initiated studies on improving the use of research evidence in ways that benefit youth.

Over the past decade, a growing body of research has illuminated the conditions that facilitate the use of research evidence in policy and practice. For example, studies find that when research is relevant to decision makers, deliberated over thoughtfully, and embedded in policymaking processes, routines, and tools, the findings are more likely to be used. Still, there remain many unanswered questions that are critical to understanding how to improve the production and use of research evidence. What’s more, there is a scarcity of evidence supporting the notion that research use in policy and practice will necessarily improve youth outcomes. Serious scientific inquiry is needed. We need to know the conditions under which using research evidence improves decision making, policy implementation, service delivery, and, ultimately, youth outcomes. In short, we need research on the use of research.

Toward this end, we seek studies that identify, build, and test strategies to enhance the use of research evidence in ways that benefit youth. We are particularly interested in research on improving the use of research evidence by state and local decision makers, mid-level managers, and intermediaries. Some investigators will focus on the strategies, relationships, and other supports needed for policy and practice organizations to use research more routinely and constructively. Others may investigate structures and incentives within the research community to encourage deep engagement with decision makers. Still other researchers may examine activities that help findings inform policy ideas, shape practice responses, and improve systems.

Studying ways to improve the use of research evidence will require new and innovative ideas, and we welcome creative studies that have potential to advance the field. Proposals for studies are evaluated on the basis of their fit with our interests; the strength and feasibility of their designs, methods, and analyses; their potential to inform improvements to research use; and their contribution to theory and empirical evidence.