Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Spencer Foundation, and William T. Grant Foundation Award Grants to Three Partnerships Addressing Social Issues

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Spencer Foundation, and William T. Grant Foundation Award Grants to Three Partnerships Addressing Social Issues

The William T. Grant Foundation, Spencer Foundation, and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation are delighted to announce the winners of the 2022 Institutional Challenge Grant competition. The Institutional Challenge Grant encourages university-based research institutes, schools, and centers to grow existing research-practice partnerships with public agencies or nonprofit organizations in order to reduce inequality in youth outcomes. Equally important, grantee institutions must shift their policies and incentives to value collaborative work and enhance the capacity of the partner organization to use evidence from research in its decision-making.

The newest grants, amounting to nearly $1,950,000, are being awarded to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Florida State University and Florida A&M University; and Georgia State University. These institutions will work in partnership with local nonprofits or public agencies to build mental health supports for Black youth in workforce development program outcomes, reduce education disparities, and reduce inequalities in post-secondary debt. The William T. Grant Foundation will also supplement a grant to the University of Colorado, Boulder, to extend its collaboration with the Denver Public Schools, which is focused on closing large achievement gaps through research that helps improve district policies that affect teachers.

Adam Gamoran, president of the William T. Grant Foundation, stated: “These grants leverage the power and networks of universities to reduce inequality in youth outcomes, a persisting challenge that has become even more severe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research to reduce inequality is most likely to be helpful when it comes not out of ivory tower isolation, but rather from deep engagement with community partners. To support this work, universities need new strategies to value and encourage partnership-oriented, engaged scholarship, a key aim of the Institutional Challenge Grant program.”

Institutional Challenge Grantees conduct rigorous research on strategies to reduce inequalities in youth outcomes, take steps to enhance an institutional infrastructure for supporting and rewarding community-engaged research, and strengthen the capacity of partner agencies to use research in their practice. The program’s nine previously funded partnerships are demonstrating success in all three areas. In one project, research uncovered a gap in culturally-relevant parenting programs available to the community and the research and partner organization are collaborating to better support Black parents in their community. Other projects have demonstrated the potential for significant institutional change, including new university leadership positions focused on encouraging and supporting community engaged research and new criteria for evaluating faculty that conduct community engaged research...