Lyle Spencer Research Awards
Letter of Intent Eligibility and Application Guidelines

The first stage in applying to the Lyle Spencer Research Awards program is to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) through the Spencer Foundation online system. LOIs are due at 4:00pm Central Time, July 9, 2015. If the Foundation is interested in learning more about the project, the investigator(s) will be invited to submit an essay explaining the aims, the context, and the rationale for the proposed project, with particular emphasis on its contribution to improved educational practice. More information on this second stage of the application process can be found by clicking here.

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. (This restriction does not apply to the administering organization; organizations may submit as many proposals as they like as long as they are for different projects and have different research teams.

Deadlines and Review Process
The Lyle Spencer Research Awards program will have one application cycle per year. Below is an overview of the application and review process for 2015, with the deadlines for each stage noted.

4:00pm CDT, July 9, 2015
Deadline for LOI submissions (originally scheduled for May 4th, now July 9th).

Early September 2015
PIs will be notified of their application status. Those invited to continue will be asked to submit a 2,500- to 3,000-word essay (click here for more information about this stage of the proposal process).

4:00pm CDT, October 12, 2015
Deadline for invited essay submissions.

Late November 2015
PIs will be notified of their application status. Those invited to continue will be asked to submit a 5,000-word full proposal.

4:00pm CST, January 13, 2016
Deadline for invited full proposals.

May-June 2016
PIs remaining in the review process may be asked to respond to reviewer’s concerns.

Late July 2016
PIs who have advanced to this stage will be notified of final funding decisions.

Informational Calls

Prior to the deadline for LOI applications, Spencer staff will hold two informational conference calls on May 4, 2015 at 11:00 am CDT and June 2, 2015 at 2:00pm CDT. (Participation in these calls is not required in order to submit an LOI; calls are optional for those who have questions not addressed in the Program Statement.) During the calls, we will go over key aspects of the program and respond to questions about the submission and review process. If you would like to join one of those calls, please register to have your name added to the call, and we will send you the dial-in number in response. To register, send an email to with a subject line of “Info Call on [date of call you wish to join]” and include within the message your name and organization. If you have any specific questions in advance of the call, please include those as well.

Online Submission Process Overview

Letters of Intent 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 Letter of Intent. If someone other than the PI will be completing the LOI application, please reference the Detailed Application Guidelines link below for further instruction. The basic steps for submitting the LOI application 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 LOI application, click the New Proposal tab on the Home screen and click the Apply button for the Lyle Spencer Research Awards Program.

The LOI application can be saved and then accessed again by logging in and clicking the Edit button on the Pending Proposals tab. Once the Submit button is clicked on the application, it will no longer be editable.

Detailed Online Application Guidelines

Click here for detailed guidelines for the Letter of Intent online application. We strongly recommend referencing these guidelines while the application is being completed.

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

Click here for the Frequently Asked Questions page if you have questions about applying to the Lyle Spencer Research Awards program. If you don’t find your answer there, you may contact Annie Brinkman, Grants Manager, at or 312-274-6511.