Russell Sage Foundation—Behavioral Economics; Decision Making & Human Behavior in Context; Future of Work; Social, Political and Economic Inequality

May 04, 2021

RSF will accept letters of inquiry (LOIs) under these core programs and special initiatives: Behavioral EconomicsDecision Making and Human Behavior in ContextFuture of WorkRace, Ethnicity, and ImmigrationSocial, Political, and Economic Inequality. In addition, RSF will also accept LOIs relevant to any of its core programs that address at least one of the following issues: 

  • 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 behaviors. RSF seldom supports studies  focused on outcomes such as educational processes or curricular issues, but does prioritize analyses of inequities in educational attainment or student performance.  
  • 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. 

In response, the Russell Sage Foundation will give high priority over the next several years to rigorous social science research that investigates the immediate and long-term social, political, economic, and psychological consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. The Foundation is particularly interested in research on the effects of the crisis on vulnerable populations and how they were shaped by both the increased inequalities of the last several decades and the differential effects of federal, state, and local policies implemented in response to the pandemic. The Foundation is also interested in how the resulting circumstances and outcomes might influence governments to better anticipate and respond to future crises. 

The Foundation’s priorities do not include analyses of health outcomes or health behaviors as the dependent variable except where the research focuses on how pandemic-induced changes in health outcomes or health behaviors as independent variables had differential effects on social, political, economic and psychological outcomes. RSF seldom supports studies  focused on outcomes such as educational processes or curricular issues, but does prioritize analyses of inequities in educational attainment or student performance. 

RSF will accept research proposals related to the effects of the pandemic in all of the Foundation’s programs and special initiatives:  

RSF prioritizes high-quality research projects with strong research designs. RSF welcomes innovative methods for data collection, such as the use of cellphone-based time-use diaries, de-identified cell-phone GPS location tracking or social media data, administrative data, or other sources. Cross-sectional surveys with convenience samples will not be considered. However, RSF will consider the inclusion of well-designed coronavirus-specific modules into existing surveys. 

All letters of inquiry must explain the relevance of the proposed research to the foundation’s programmatic interests. All projects should have clear definitions and measures, sufficient sample sizes and power, evidence of the representativeness of the target population, baseline (or pre-pandemic) information, and the possibility of analyzing differential effects across various groups (e.g., by race/gender/ethnicity, social class, location, household composition, occupation, employment status, national-origin, legal-status, or other). 

Deadline: May 4 (LOI) 

Dollar Amount: Trustee Grants are generally capped at $175,000, including 15% indirect costs. Presidential Grants are capped at $35,000 (no indirect costs). PIs may request up to $50,000 (no indirect costs) for a Presidential Grant when the proposed research project has special needs for gathering data (e.g.: qualitative research) or gaining access to restricted-use data. 

RSF receives so many applications for its limited funding that it no longer considers submissions that make use of publicly-available data, such as the Current Population Survey, American Community Survey, Panel Study of Income Dynamics, National Longitudinal survey of Youth, etc. However, if the project addresses a pressing issue or uses these data in an innovative way, RSF may consider such proposals as Presidential grants with a maximum budget of $35,000. 

Eligibility: All applicants (both PIs and Co-PIs) must have a doctorate. In rare circumstances, RSF may consider applications from scholars who do not hold a doctorate but can demonstrate a strong career background that establishes their ability to conduct high-level, peer-reviewed scholarly research. Students may not be applicants. 

RSF particularly encourages early career scholars to apply for Presidential grants or our Pipeline Competition. 

Full RFP:

*Please reach out to our office for specific quesetions and guidance on submitting a LOI to this Foundation. We can be reached at [email protected]

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