(CLOSED) WT Grant Institutional Challenge 2019

Sponsor Name: 
William T. Grant Foundation
Description of the Award: 

Please Note: While the funder does not limit the number of applications from an institution, this competition is to select the application that will receive the full endorsement and support of OVPR and Foundation Relations.

To view slides and video from the April 2019 Webinar: Applying for the Institutional Challenge Grant: Proposing Strategies to Foster Institutional Change

The Institutional Challenge Grant encourages university-based research institutes, schools, and centers to build sustained research-practice partnerships with public agencies or nonprofit organizations to reduce inequality in youth outcomes.

To do so, research institutions will need to shift their policies and practices to value collaborative research. They will also need to build the capacity of researchers to produce relevant work and the capacity of agency and nonprofit partners to use research.

Applications are welcome from partnerships in youth-serving areas such as education, justice, child welfare, mental health, immigration, and workforce development. We especially encourage proposals from teams with African American, Latino, Native American, and Asian American members in leadership roles. The partnership leadership team should include the principal investigator from the research institution and the lead from the public agency or nonprofit organization.


The award supports research institutions to build sustained research-practice partnerships with public agencies or nonprofit organizations to reduce inequality in youth outcomes. Research institutions will need to address four important goals:

  1. Build a sustained institutional partnership with a public agency or nonprofit organization that serves young people in the United States.
  2. Pursue a joint research agenda to reduce inequality in youth outcomes.
  3. Create institutional change to value the partnership and its work.
  4. Develop the capacity of the partners to collaborate and use research evidence.

The Award

The award will provide $650,000 over three years, in support of:

  1. Up to $50,000 for 6-9 months of joint planning activities (e.g., refining protocols for partnering, selecting fellows, finalizing partnership agreements, etc.).
  2. Fellowship support for the equivalent of one full-time or two half-time fellows per year, for two years. In addition, the research institution must contribute the equivalent of one full-time or two half-time fellows for the equivalent of a one-year, full-time term.
  3. Up to three years of support for the partnership to conduct research to reduce inequality in youth outcomes.
  4. Resources to develop the capacities of both partners.
  5. Indirect cost allowance of up to 15 percent of total direct costs.

Recipients of the award will have the opportunity to apply for a two-year continuation grant in order to solidify the partnership and institutional changes. At the end of a five-year grant, we expect the following results:

  1. The research institution has established a set of strategies that facilitate sustained research collaborations with public agencies or private nonprofit organizations.
  2. The public agency or private nonprofit organization has increased its capacity to use research evidence.
  3. Participating researchers have improved partnership skills.
  4. The research generated has been used in decision making and is likely to lead to improved outcomes for youth.

The funder anticipates running the competition for five years (2017- 2022), with one award made each year. Applicants not funded in a prior year are welcome to reapply.


Eligible research institutions

The award will be made to an organization, not to an individual. Organizations can include university-based research institutes, schools, or centers. Grants are limited without exception to tax-exempt organizations.

Please note that research organizations, think tanks, and other institutions that sit outside of the academy are no longer eligible to apply.

Eligible principal investigators

The principal investigator should be a leader at the research institution. S/he should have visibility, influence on institutional policies and practices, and access to the resources needed to implement and optimize the award. S/he should also possess the skills needed to cultivate trusting relationships with leaders from the partner public agency or nonprofit organization.

Eligible partnerships

Research-practice partnerships are defined as long-term, mutually beneficial collaborations that promote the production and use of rigorous and relevant research evidence. These partnerships take a long view and should extend beyond the life of any one grant, project, or leader. While the competition is open to partnerships at different stages of maturity, applicants will need to convince reviewers that the grant adds significant value to what already exists. We anticipate that it will be difficult for a well-established partnership with strong institutional support to make a convincing case that the award adds value. For younger partnerships, reviewers will seek promising initial evidence that the partners have successfully worked together in the past and have the potential to sustain a long-term collaboration.

Please read more in the Application Information on the funder’s website about the eligible public agencies or non-profit organizations, eligible leaders from the public agencies or non-profit organizations, and eligible fellows.

Limit (Number of applicants permitted per institution): 
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Sep 06, 2019
OVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

Please upload one PDF file (File name: Last name_GrantInstChall_2019) containing the following items in order no later than 4:00 p.m. on the internal submission deadline:

1. Describe the Institutional Partnership between Penn State and the public agency or nonprofit organization with which you plan to partner. (2 pages max)

2. Describe the Joint Research Agenda to reduce inequality in youth outcomes. Include a paragraph about how you plan to address changing institutional policies and practices to encourage participation in research-practice partnerships. (2 pages max)

3. Brief CV (2 pages max)

4. 1 page letter from the partnering organization supporting the research agenda.


Below are the criteria that will be used to evaluate each internal applicant's proposal:

Institutional Partnership

  1. The rationale for partnering provides compelling evidence that the research institution and the public agency or nonprofit organization can build a sustained partnership that will work together effectively.
  2. The plan for partnering demonstrates mastery of the literature on the challenges and strategies for collaborative work to promote the use of research evidence.
  3. Activities for building the partnerships will cultivate trust and deepen relationships.
  4. There is evidence that the public agency or nonprofit organization is invested in the partnership, will interact regularly with the fellows, and has strong plans for using the research.
  5. The partnership is likely to be sustained after the award ends.

Joint Research Agenda to Reduce Inequality in Youth Outcomes

  1. The long-term research agenda (including one or more research projects) aligns with the Foundation’s focus on building, testing, and improving programs, practices, and policies to reduce inequality in youth outcomes.
  2. The research questions and findings are likely to significantly advance the public agency or nonprofit organization’s efforts to reduce inequality in youth outcomes.
  3. The research plan demonstrates mastery of related theory and empirical findings and builds upon that work.
  4. The research plan reflects rigorous methods that are appropriate for the proposal’s goals.
  5. The research plan is feasible given the resources and time frame.
  6. Plans to interpret and use the research findings in policy or practice decisions are convincing and feasible given the resources and time frame.

Changing Institutional Policies & Practices

  1. The plan for institutional change is thoughtful and feasible given the resources and time frame.

Questions concerning the limited submissions process may be submitted to limitedsubs@psu.edu.

To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
This limited submission is in downselect: 
Penn State may only submit a specific number of proposals to this funding opportunity. The number of NOIs received require that an internal competition take place, thus, a downselect process has commenced. No Penn State researchers may apply to this opportunity outside of this downselect process. To apply for this limited submission, please use this link:
OVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - 4:00pm
Jenkings, Gregory (EMS, Meteorology) 7/31/19