William T. Grant Foundation Awards Rapid Response Research Grants to Address Pressing Issues Facing Young People in the U.S.
The William T. Grant Foundation has awarded six Rapid Response Research Grants that will leverage research to address major challenges facing young people in the United States. These awards, the first of their kind, support reviews of existing research, conducted by researchers in collaboration with policy partners, aimed at reducing inequality in youth outcomes. Such work is especially timely as public debate grows increasingly divisive, and as young people, particularly those who are marginalized on account of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or immigration status, face increasingly exclusionary policies and unwelcome climates. As a longtime funder of high-quality, empirical research, the Foundation developed the Rapid Response awards in 2017 to foster agile uses of research to respond to the needs of young people growing up in an uncertain and turbulent social climate.
“Ordinarily research studies take months if not years to complete. But practitioners and policymakers responding to our most pressing problems cannot wait,” said Adam Gamoran, President of the Foundation. “The unique aspect of these awards is that the research-policy teams are focused in areas where the research is available and just needs to be synthesized and applied to a specific context. Further, as the policy partners are poised to act, these grants will allow them to do so on the basis of the best research we have available today.”
The cornerstone of the Rapid Response research grants is collaboration between researchers and policymakers. The funded partners have jointly constructed the goals and contours of a swift, systematic review of existing research to ensure that the questions guiding the synthesis are ones that policymakers or practitioners need answered. The researchers have committed to producing a synthesis of the relevant literature within an abbreviated timeframe of six to eight weeks, and the partners will ultimately develop an engagement plan to ensure that the research reaches targeted decision makers and leads to action.
“As a research funder, we know that valuable research exists, but it needs to be harnessed for change,” said Vivian Tseng, Senior Vice President of Program at the Foundation. “Deeper engagement between researchers and policy actors is critical for tackling the xenophobia, homophobia, racism, and class divides that foster unequal outcomes for children and youth. None of us—researchers, policymakers, practitioners, advocates, or young people themselves—can go it alone. We need to align our efforts to achieve a more just society for the next generation.”
The development of the Rapid Response grants was informed by the Foundation’s two primary focus areas: reducing inequality in youth outcomes and improving the use of research evidence in policy and practice...