The Spencer Foundation invests in research to improve education, broadly conceived. We have identified a critical need for innovative, methodologically and disciplinarily diverse, large-scale research projects to transform education systems for equity. Importantly, we believe that ambitious research must begin with the challenges, problems, and opportunities in education systems. To stimulate research that addresses this need, the Spencer Foundation is investing in a new program designed to provide scholars and collaborators with the time, space, resources, and support to plan a large-scale study or program of research: geared toward real-world impact on equity; drawing on research across disciplines and methods; reliant on meaningful and equitable collaboration with practitioners, policymakers, communities, and other stakeholders; and focused on transforming educational systems.
Toward this end, the Vision Grants program funds the collaborative planning of innovative, methodologically diverse, interdisciplinary research on education that contributes to transforming education systems for equity. Vision Grants are research planning grants to bring together a team, for 6 to 12 months, to collaboratively develop ambitious, large-scale research projects focused on transforming educational systems toward greater equity. This program takes as core that visionary, interdisciplinary, and collaborative research projects require time, space, and thoughtfulness to incubate and plan. Vision Grants are $75,000 total and two cycles of this grant program will be held annually. Unlike many of our other programs, the proposal does not yet need to be a fully fleshed out research plan. Instead, this is an invitation to dream about what education-related research we need to transform systems toward equity and then to envision how that could happen. Teams are encouraged to reflect on the people who need to be involved, the initial potential design of the research, and how evidence from the research could be used to actually transform systems. Vision Grant proposals identify a research topic, scope for impact, process, and a team that will lead to a fully fleshed out research plan by the end of the grant period.
While the Vision Grant program stands on its own to spark research ideas and collaborations, being awarded a Vision Grant is also a prerequisite for applying to our Transformative Research Grant program (TRG, $3.5 million), which is designed for large-scale research projects that transform education systems for equity.