Initiative on Philosophy in Educational Policy and Practice RFP


As of May 31, 2015, the Spencer Foundation will no longer be accepting proposals for this initiative. The Spencer Foundation will continue to support work in philosophy of education through a grant program to be administered by the Center for Ethics and Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and in collaboration with the University of Illinois Chicago. Details about the new grant program are expected to be released by the end of June, 2015. Please check back then for further information. If you have any questions about the Center for Ethics and Education, you may contact Paula McAvoy at

This initiative will make several awards of up to $40,000 for research projects in Philosophy as it relates to educational policy and practice. We encourage applicants to understand educational policy and practice in broad terms, including issues that directly relate to K-12 schools and higher education institutions, but also concerning policies that influence children’s growth and development in the family and in other areas of social life including children’s upbringings, educational issues in family life and in the workplace, the educational effects of welfare policy. We also encourage diverse kinds of philosophical research ranging from the highly abstract to the highly applied. Proposals might concern any of the following topics:


  • the proper content of moral education and of the rights of parents to constrain it
  • the place of religion in schools
  • justice and efficiency in the allocation of public funds across schools and school districts
  • the content of the curriculum
  • assessment of competing conceptions of equality in educational resources and outcomes
  • the commercialization of schools and childhoods generally
  • the obligations to students with special educational needs
  • the proper content of sex education in particular and “education for living” more generally (concerning,
  • eg, parenting, financial self-management, etc) and the extent to which it is right for schools to defer to
  • parental preferences regarding these matters
  • the moral rights of school students to privacy, to freedom of expression, to freedom of association, etc
  • the rights and obligations of teachers with respect to abusive or violent children
  • the distribution and content of higher education

We emphasize that this list is illustrative, and not exhaustive. Proposals are accepted at any time; there are no deadlines. The proposal will be reviewed and a funding decision will be made within four to five months from the date of submission. Please follow the guidelines below when submitting a proposal with a budget of $40,000 or less.

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.

Proposals are accepted at any time; however as of May 31, 2015, this initiative will no longer be accepting proposals. See announcement at the top of this page.

Submission Guidelines

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 proposal, the PI should click the New Proposal tab on the Home screen and click the Apply button for the Philosophy in Educational Practice and Policy Small Grant Application.

The Small Grant 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 Small Grants 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.


Click here for our Research FAQ page where you will find answers to frequently asked questions about applying for a research grant from the Spencer Foundation. If you have any additional questions regarding the proposal submission process, please feel free to contact Kathryn Gray, Program Administrator, at or 312-274-6509.