The New Civics Major Grant Program
Budgets Over $50,000

Investigators of projects with budgets over $50,000 are asked to submit a preliminary proposal as the first step in the review process. If the Foundation is interested in the project, the Principal Investigator will be invited to submit a full proposal.

Eligibility and Restrictions: 

  • Principal Investigators (PIs) and Co-PIs applying for a Research Grant must have an earned doctorate in an academic discipline or professional field, or appropriate experience in an education research-related profession.
  • The PI must be affiliated with a college, university, school district, non-profit research facility,  or non-profit cultural institution that is willing to serve as the fiscal agent if the grant is awarded. The Spencer Foundation does not award grants directly to individuals.
  • Proposals are accepted from the U.S. and internationally, however all proposals must be submitted in English and budgets must be proposed in U.S. Dollars.
  • PIs and Co-PIs may only hold one active research grant from the Spencer Foundation at a time. Simultaneous submissions to the Foundation from PIs and Co-PIs are discouraged due to this policy.


Deadlines and Review Process
The final deadline for preliminary proposals is 4:00pm CST, Tuesday, April 29, 2014.   Below is a timeline for this review cycle for the Initiative on The New Civics:

Preliminary Proposal Deadline:  April 29, 2014 
Prelim Decision Notification:  late May 2014 
Invited Full Proposal Deadline:  June 30, 2014 
Final Funding Decision Notification:  February 2015

Submission Guidelines
Preliminary proposals must be submitted electronically using the Spencer Foundation’s online system. The online system is configured for the PI on the project to register and submit the proposal themselves. If someone other than the PI will be completing the online application, please reference the Detailed Application Guidelines link below for further instruction. The basic steps for submitting the proposal are:

Step 1: Registration: If the scholar serving as the PI on the project has never accessed the Spencer Foundation online system, they must register and create a profile by clicking on the link below and then clicking the “Register Here” button.

Step 2 - My Profile: After logging in, the PI should complete the information requested on the My Profile page (upper right corner of the screen) and upload their current CV (10 page limit).

Step 3 - New Proposal: To create a new draft preliminary proposal, the PI should click the New Proposal tab on the Home screen and click the Apply button for the New Civics Major Grant Preliminary Proposal  Application.

The application can be saved and then accessed through the Pending Proposals tab. Once the Submit button is clicked, the application will no longer be editable.

Detailed Online Application Guidelines
Click here for detailed guidelines for the New Civics Major Grant online application. We strongly recommend these guidelines be referenced while the application is being completed.

Online Application
Click here for access to the Spencer Foundation’s online application system.

Criteria for Review
The criteria we will use in evaluating proposals include:

  • Likelihood that answers to the research questions will advance understanding about the civic action and learning-experience connections;
  • Implications for educational improvement, including but not limited to curricula, classrooms, and schools;
  • Methodological rigor and the appropriateness of the research design to the research questions;
  • Generalizability of the study beyond the project's specific populations and research sites.

Although individual projects are not required to address or include each of the priorities below, we will strive to include in the Initiative portfolio studies that attend to the following:

  • Outcomes aligned with institutional or systemic change;
  • Populations of interest, including non-college-bound youth, less economically privileged youth, members of diverse racial and ethnic groups, and immigrant youth;
  • Attention to developmental patterns (age ranges that extend from childhood through age 30).

Click here for the Frequently Asked Questions page if you have questions about applying for a research grant from the Spencer Foundation.  Please direct any additional questions regarding the proposal submission process to Annie Brinkman, Grants Manager, at or 312-274-6511.