Midcareer Grant Program

The Spencer Foundation is pleased to announce a new grant program to enrich the work of academic midcareer scholars who are seven to fourteen years post doctorate. This targeted program provides support for those who are interested in advancing their understanding of a compelling problem of education by acquiring new skills, substantive knowledge, theoretical perspectives or methodological tools. It is not intended to encourage researchers to abandon their existing area of expertise, but rather to build on, enrich, and extend that training with the acquisition of new methodological tools and/or perspectives about a subject to which they have been deeply committed throughout their academic career. In developing this program of additive scholarly learning, the Foundation intends to heighten the potential for midcareer productivity and contribution by operationalizing through its grant making an understanding about scholarship that we believe has merit: that reaching beyond familiar ways of thinking about education puzzles and problems has the potential to bring innovative ideas to the work and, by extension, to lines of inquiry in the field.

Applicants will be asked to center their request around the clear articulation and exploration of an important problem, or set of problems, of education that is well-aligned with their core interests and past scholarship. In addition, applicants will be asked to fully describe how the acquisition of new tools or perspectives enriches their understanding of that problem and to present a well-thought out plan for acquiring them.

Grant awards will not be confined to proposals to learn a new discipline, although in a number of cases that would fit. A psychologist studying techniques for promoting positive character development in children might spend a year studying philosophical work bearing on character development and the proper role of families and schools in shaping children’s character. A historian of American education might spend a year studying some aspect of the history of education in Brazil or France. A scholar who works on the teaching of writing in colleges might have reason to acquire a deeper understanding of early literacy.

Selection Information and Process

The selection process will be conducted by Spencer staff and a committee of distinguished scholars. Primary criteria for evaluating proposals will include the overall significance of the education problem they are pursuing; the case for the importance of bringing new knowledge to bear on the problem; the likely ability of the candidate to benefit from the proposed program, based on past scholarship and letter of recommendation; and the feasibility of the proposed plan.

In this initial pilot phase of the program, the Foundation is planning for two award cycles for projects to be undertaken during the 2015-16 and 2016-2017 academic years. Up to five awards will be made in each cycle. For the 2015-16 cycle, applications through the Foundation’s online system will be accepted beginning in early August 2014. The deadline for applying will be October 15, 2014. Awards will be announced in late January 2015.

Eligibility and Application Information

Candidates will be faculty members who were awarded doctorates within the last seven to fourteen years.

This program is intended to provide support for a year-long program of study during which time the recipient will be released from teaching and from committee service and governance responsibilities on his or her home campus.

Applicants will be required to provide a strong rationale for the intended program.

Letters of endorsement from the applicant’s Dean and one additional letter of recommendation will be required. The additional letter may but need not be from colleagues at the scholar’s home institution. Letter writers should be in a position to endorse the applicant’s ability to work outside their area of expertise and/or to comment on the value of the proposed ideas.

Applicants must identify a location or locations where the work will be undertaken (which may be the home institution) and provide written assurance from the receiving organization that the applicant will be welcome.

Budget Guidelines

Grants are for one year with budgets of up to $150,000. We expect the primary budget cost will be salary support but other project-related expenses, such as travel, may also be included. Budget items should be clearly aligned with the proposed work plan. University sign-off is required.

Grants funds may not be used to cover tuition or related charges from the receiving institution.

Indirect costs are not permitted as part of this program.

Application Guidelines and FAQs

Midcareer Grant Program Application Guidelines will be available August 2014
Midcareer Grant Program FAQs - click here.


If you have questions about the program, please email them to mgarcia@spencer.org.