Supporting transformative research projects designed to
reimagine education systems for equity.

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Announcement from Spencer President Na'ilah Nasir

Spencer is launching a new grant program to support methodologically and disciplinarily diverse, collaborative research projects designed to reimagine education systems for equity. Watch Spencer President Na'ilah Nasir announce the new program at the 2023 AERA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

New Programs

Supporting Transformative Research for Equity

We have identified a critical need for research that will transform educational systems. Fostering this kind of transformative research will require creating spaces for scholars to work in novel ways - to imagine new ways of transforming education at a systemic level; to work across methods and disciplines; and to collaborate with policymakers, practitioners, community members, and others. Our strategy is to support this work via our new (1) Vision Grants (VG), and (2) Transformative Research Grants (TRG).

Vision Grants

Building the Field Through Collaborative Work

The Vision Grants are designed for teams to plan multi-method and/or interdisciplinary, collaborative studies that address a clear opportunity or challenge whose solution could transform educational systems toward equity.

Transformative Research Grants

Reimagining Education Through Collaborative, Interdisciplinary, Impactful research

The Transformative Research Grants are open only to those who have completed a Vision Grant. They are research grants, of up to $3.5 million, which will allow teams to execute the research and impact plans outlined in their Vision Grants, with the ultimate goal of creating more equitable education systems. We intend to fund one to two of these grants annually.

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Transformative Pathways

These programs are designed to support transformative research and, to cultivate that work, the transformation of how the field conducts research for equity and impact. Indeed, we believe that working toward a Vision Grant or a Transformative Research Grant opens up a number of transformative pathways for scholars: Deeper engagement with policymakers, practitioners, and educators in envisioning new systems; more robust ties to families, communities and other groups invested in educational change; stronger connections across disciplines and methods; bold ideas for future research; and, ultimately, equitable and sustainable education systems that cultivate learning and thriving.

Vision
Grants

Building the field through collaborative work

Imagining more equitable education systems
Building on existing community strengths
Transformative Research Grants

Reimagining education through collaborative, interdisciplinary, impactful research

Engaging educators, communities, and young people
Integrating insights from across disciplines
Bold ideas for future research
Deepening community between practitioners, policymakers, and scholars
Drawing on multiple research methods
Na'ilah Conference Brightened
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What Do We Mean by Transformative Research?

We believe that visionary scholarship - conducted in generative collaboration with educators, policymakers and practitioners and drawing on insights from multiple disciplines and methods - can contribute to transforming educational systems toward equity. Therefore, we expect that Vision Grant proposals will foster collaboration, center equity, and foreground impact.

  • Fostering Collaboration

    Work across methods and disciplines and in deep engagement with practitioners, policymakers, and communities (and others).

  • Centering Equity

    Move toward equitable systems change in a way that honors and builds on the expertise and strengths of families, communities, and young people.

  • Foregrounding Impact

    Focus on key challenges and opportunities for increasing equity, with sightlines to systems change.

Fostering Collaboration

Work across methods and disciplines and in deep engagement with practitioners, policymakers, and communities (and others).

Centering Equity

Move toward equitable systems change in a way that honors and builds on the expertise and strengths of families, communities, and young people.

Transformative
Research

Foregrounding Impact

Focus on key challenges and opportunities for increasing equity, with sightlines to systems change.

How are we conceptualizing transformative research for equitable education systems?

Pamela Grossman Video Thumbnail
Pamela Grossman

Former Spencer Board Chair
Dean, Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania

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Cecilia Rios-Aguilar

Spencer Board Chair
Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
University of Calfornia, Los Angeles

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Mario Small

Former Spencer Board Member
Quetelet Professor of Social Science
Department of Sociology
Columbia University

Megan Bang video preview
Megan Bang

Senior Advisor to the Spencer Foundation
Professor of Learning Sciences and Director of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research
Northwestern University

We expect that these grants will go far beyond solely documenting inequality, to instead make significant movement toward policy, practice, or pedagogical change in a way that transforms education systems.

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Learn how to apply for a Vision Grant.

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