Internal Deadline
Sponsor Deadline
Posted: 4/22/2024

Scholars Program (for Early-Career Researchers)

The William T. Grant Scholars Program supports career development for promising early-career researchers. The program funds five-year research and mentoring plans that significantly expand researchers’ expertise in new disciplines, methods, and content areas.

Applicants should have a track record of conducting high-quality research and an interest in pursuing a significant shift in their trajectories as researchers. We recognize that early-career researchers are rarely given incentives or support to take measured risks in their work, so this award includes a mentoring component, as well as a supportive academic community.

Awards are based on applicants’ potential to become influential researchers, as well as their plans to expand their expertise in new and significant ways. The application should make a cohesive argument for how the applicant will expand his or her expertise. The research plan should evolve in conjunction with the development of new expertise, and the mentoring plan should describe how the proposed mentors will support applicants in acquiring that expertise. Proposed research plans must address questions that are relevant to policy and practice in the Foundation’s focus areas.

Major divisions (e.g., College of Arts and Sciences, Medical School) of an institution may nominate only one applicant each year.



  • Duke Internal: May 6, 2024
  • Mentor and Reference Letter Deadline: June 12, 2024
  • Application Deadline: July 3, 2024
Areas of Interest

Reducing Inequality

In this focus area, we fund research studies that aim to build, test, or increase understanding of programs, policies, or practices to reduce inequality in the academic, social, behavioral, or economic outcomes of young people ages 5-25 in the United States, along dimensions of race, ethnicity, economic standing, language minority status, or immigrant origins.

Our research interests in this focus area center on studies that examine ways to reduce inequality in youth outcomes. We welcome descriptive studies that clarify mechanisms for reducing inequality or elucidate how or why a specific program, policy, or practice operates to reduce inequality. We also welcome intervention studies that examine attempts to reduce inequality. Finally, we welcome studies that improve the measurement of inequality in ways that can enhance the work of researchers, practitioners, or policymakers.

Improving the Use of Research Evidence

In this focus area, we fund research studies that advance theory and build empirical knowledge on ways to improve the use of research evidence by policymakers, agency leaders, organizational managers, intermediaries, and other decision-makers that shape youth-serving systems in the United States.

While an extensive body of knowledge provides a rich understanding of specific conditions that foster the use of research evidence, we lack robust, validated strategies for cultivating them. What is required to create structural and social conditions that support research use? What infrastructure is needed, and what will it look like? What supports and incentives foster research use? And, ultimately, how do youth outcomes fare when research evidence is used? This is where new research can make a difference.

Our research interests in this focus area center on studies that examine strategies to improve the use, usefulness, and impact of evidence in ways that benefit young people ages 5-25 in the United States. We welcome impact studies that test strategies for improving research use as well as whether improving research use leads to improved youth outcomes. We also welcome descriptive studies that reveal the strategies, mechanisms, or conditions for improving research use. Finally, we welcome measurement studies that explore how to construct and implement valid and reliable measures of research use.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligible Organizations

Grants are made to organizations, not individuals. Grants are limited, without exception, to tax-exempt organizations. A copy of the Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt status determination letter is required from each applying organization.

Eligible Applicants

Applicants must be nominated by their institutions. Major divisions (e.g., College of Arts and Sciences, Medical School) of an institution may nominate only one applicant each year. In addition to the eligibility criteria below, deans and directors of those divisions should refer to the Selection Criteria (pp. 32-36) to aid them in choosing their nominees. Applicants of any discipline are eligible.

Applicants must have received their terminal degree within seven years of submitting their application. We calculate this by adding seven years to the date the doctoral degree was conferred. In medicine, the seven-year maximum is dated from the completion of the first residency.

Applicants must be employed in career-ladder positions. For many applicants, this means holding a tenure-track position in a university. Applicants in other types of organizations should be in positions in which there is a pathway to advancement in a research career at the organization and the organization is fiscally responsible for the applicant’s position. The award may not be used as a post-doctoral fellowship.

Applicants outside the United States are eligible. As with U.S. applicants, they must pursue research that has compelling policy or practice implications for youth in the United States.

Amount Description

Award recipients are designated as William T. Grant Scholars. Each year, four to six Scholars are selected and each receives up to $350,000, distributed over five years. Awards begin July 1 and are made to the applicant’s institution. The award must not replace the institution’s current support of the applicant’s research.

Duke Awardees

Carolyn Barnes
Sanford School of Public Policy

Elizabeth Ananat
Sanford School of Public Policy

Christina Gibson-Davis
Sanford School of Public Policy

Internal Nomination

Anyone interested in pursuing a nomination should submit the following materials AS ONE PDF:

  • Nominating statement by the candidate's chair
  • Candidate's full curriculum vitae
  • Draft Abstract (max one page): consists of a Five-Year Research Plan and a Five-Year Mentoring Plan  The Abstract submitted for internal review will be considered a rough draft of the document to be submitted to the Foundation. Refer to the program website for details: . (Although this document specifies more than one page, at this stage we only want a one-page draft.)

Please submit internal materials through My Research Proposal. (Code: ILN

Instructions for creating an account (if needed) and submitting your materials: