Midcareer Grant Program

The Spencer Foundation is pleased to announce the second round of its grant program to enrich the work of academic midcareer scholars who are seven to twenty 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. Applicants will also be asked to map the “outer edges” of what they have come to know through their earlier research and then articulate how they will move into what they do not yet know but hope to learn through a targeted midcareer program of study.  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.

In this second year of the two-year pilot grant program, the Foundation will fund up to five Midcareer awards to be undertaken during the 2016-2017 academic years.


Candidates will be faculty members or research scholars who were awarded doctorates within the last seven to twenty 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, or from other responsibilities as appropriate in other settings.



Important Dates
  • Informational Call: June 3, 2015 at 3:30 p.m. Central Time

Participation in this call is not required in order to submit a proposal; it is optional for those who have questions not addressed in the program description. During the call, 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 the call, 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 midcareer@spencer.org with a subject line of “Info Call on June 3, 2015” and include within the message your name, organization, and where you will be calling from. If you have any specific questions in advance of the call, please include those as well.

  • Proposals due: September 10, 2015 by 4:00 p.m. Central Time.

Proposals should be submitted electronically through the Spencer Foundation online system. We recommend referencing the Midcareer Grant Proposal Submission Guidelines as you complete your application.

  • Final funding decisions will be made in early February 2016, with awards available for a start date between June 1, 2016 and October 1, 2016.

Midcareer Grant Proposal Submission Guidelines – click here.

Midcareer Grant Selection Process – click here.

Midcareer Grant Program FAQs - click here.

Midcareer Grant Program Review Panel - click here.


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