Funder’s website

The funder’s website can be found HERE.

Funding Value and Duration

$75,000 USD for 6-12 months


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 with the time, space, resources, and support to plan a large-scale study or program of research: geared toward real-world impact on equity; based on research across disciplines and methods; reliant on meaningful collaboration with practitioners, policymakers, and communities; 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. Different from many of our other programs, the proposal does not yet need to be a fully fleshed out research plan. Proposals are identifying 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 are designed for large-scale research projects that transform education systems for equity.

Excerpt from Program Statement

Full statement can be found HERE

The Vision Grants program is designed to support the field in producing  research that disrupts long-standing inequities toward more just and equitable systems. While we are in a time of major challenges in education, we are also in a moment of possibility. We believe that visionary and cross-disciplinary/multi-method scholarship, conducted in generative collaboration with stakeholders in the field, including policy-makers, practitioners, and communities, can contribute to reimagining and transforming educational systems toward equity.

Vision Grants will provide planning funds for teams to develop proposals for research projects that:

  • Are focused on key challenges and opportunities that have the potential for increasing equity in education
  • Engage across disciplines and/or research methods
  • Collaborate with practitioners, policymakers, and communities (and other stakeholders)
  • Have clear sightlines to transformational change through research at a systemic level

Eligibility Criteria

Proposals to the Vision Grant program must be for developing research projects that study education and/or learning, broadly conceived, though they can include other sectors in addition to education. Principal Investigators (PIs) and Co-PIs applying for a Vision Grant must have appropriate experience or an earned doctorate in an academic discipline or terminal degree in a professional field. While graduate students may be part of the research team, they may not be named the PI or Co-PI on the proposal.

The PI must be affiliated with a non-profit organization or public/governmental institution that is willing to serve as the administering organization if the grant is awarded. The Spencer Foundation does not award grants directly to individuals. Examples include non-profit private or public colleges, universities, school districts, and research facilities, as well as other non-profit organizations with a 501(c)(3) determination from the IRS (or equivalent non-profit status if the organization is outside of the United States).

PIs and Co-PIs may apply for a Vision Grant if they have another active research grant from the Spencer Foundation or if they have another Spencer grant proposal in review.

Proposals are accepted from the U.S. and internationally. All proposals must be submitted in English and budgets must be proposed in U.S. Dollars.

Note: All awarded Vision Grantees will have the option to apply for a Transformative Research Grant, with awards to carry out the planned research project (budgets up to $3.5M). In addition to considering the development of a proposal for the Transformative Research Grant program, Vision Grant Awardees are also eligible to submit a proposal to other Spencer Foundation grant programs or may choose to submit a proposal to another funding agency.


Proposed budgets for this program are limited to $75,000 total and may not include indirect cost charges per Spencer’s policy.

The Vision Grant may not be longer than 12 months in duration.

Internal Contacts

Potential applicants are encouraged to discuss this funding opportunity with their Faculty Research Facilitator.

VPRI Resource Contact: Heloise Emdon and Rachel Hirsch


Faculty Deadline Consult your Faculty Research Facilitator.
OVPRI Deadline (Approval Form and Application) September 7, 2023
Submission to Sponsor August 15, 2023 (NOI)

September 14, 2023 (Application)

Submitting Your Application

  • Step 1) Submit an internal Carleton Approval Form
    Submit an internal Approval Form through our central awards management database CUResearch:
    For a user’s guide on submitting an Approval Form, click HERE.
  • Step 2) Submit an external application to the granting agency
    Submit an external application to the corresponding grant or award agency. To navigate to the funder’s website, click HERE