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Behavioral Economics (BE)

Grants to USA Scholars for Economics Research in
the Context of COVID-19 and Social Justice Issues

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Russell Sage Foundation (RSF)

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

11/19/20 2:00 PM ET / 11:00 AM PT


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Grants to USA scholars for economic research related to psychology, political science, sociology, and other social sciences. Applicants must submit an LOI prior to applying. Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and recent mass protests, funding is intended for research that addresses the political, economic, or psychological disruptions of these crises, which affect social and living conditions. Research should use insights and methods from psychology, economics, sociology, political science, and other social sciences to examine and improve social and living conditions in the United States.

RSF is especially interested in research at the intersection of behavioral economics and behavioral sciences as it relates to the core issues of: The Future of Work; Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; or Social, Political, and Economic Inequality. 

The following examples illustrate but do not exhaust, the topics and types of research the foundation would be interested in supporting:

  • Choice Architecture
  • Time Preference
  • Poverty, Inequality, and Mobility
  • Labor Markets
  • Racial and Ethnic Bias
  • Public Finance

For additional information about these topics, see the URL for Full Text, below.

Grants are available for research assistance, data acquisition, data analysis, and investigator time for conducting research and writing up results. RSF is particularly interested in analyses that make use of newly available data or demonstrate novel uses of existing data, to answer emerging or long-standing questions of interest in the foundation’s program areas and special initiatives. RSF also supports original data collection. Proposals to conduct field experiments, in-depth qualitative interviews, and ethnographies are also encouraged. 

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 174369

Estimated Size of Grant:

Trustee Grants are generally capped at $175,000, including 15% indirect costs. Presidential Grants are capped at $35,000 (no indirect costs). PIs may request up to $50,000 (no indirect costs) when the proposed research project has special needs for gathering data (e.g., qualitative research) or gaining access to restricted-use data.

Term of Contract:

Projects are limited to no more than two years; RSF may consider longer projects in exceptional circumstances.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

All applicants (both PIs and Co-PIs) must have a doctorate. In rare circumstances, RSF may consider applications from scholars who do not hold a doctorate but can demonstrate a strong career background that establishes their ability to conduct high-level, peer-reviewed scholarly research. RSF particularly encourages early career scholars to apply for Presidential grants.

All nationalities are eligible to apply and applicants do not have to reside in the U.S., but the focus of the proposed research project must be on the U.S. as per RSF's mission.

Proposals should include no more than five PIs, three of whom may receive funding (faculty and postdoctoral researchers). In rare circumstances, RSF will consider requests for salary support for additional PIs if it is crucial to the completion of the proposed research. Applicants must provide a detailed explanation in the budget justification of the tasks and time efforts of all PIs. When more than three PIs are requesting funding, the budget justification must explain the expertise those additional individuals bring to the project.

Faculty PIs or co-PIs: Only PIs or co-PIs whose academic salary is less than $300,000 are eligible to request salary support.

Students may not be applicants. RSF does not allow indirect costs on subcontracts to external vendors such as survey firms, laboratories or testing companies, or university-affiliated survey centers.

RSF does not provide funds for any of the following expenses:
- Items or equipment such as computers or software; we will consider equipment requests on a case-by-case basis. In no case can more than $5,000 be spent on equipment.
- RSF does not cover rent or other payments for office space.
- Sabbaticals or fellowships at other institutions, even if the PI will be working on an RSF project.
- Release time (course buy-outs) from teaching during the academic year.
- Pre-doctoral or doctoral research (including dissertation research) unless through a small grants competition or a targeted competition.
- Tuition remission for graduate or undergraduate students.
- Personnel or other costs related to editing or communications or dissemination or publication, including journal publication fees.
- Travel for collaboration purposes or dissemination/presentation of findings (conference travel).
- The development of the data collection instrument and sample design as part of the proposed project.
- Generic costs, such as copying, printing, mailing, phone calls, office supplies, information/computer services, etc., as these are typically considered to be a part of indirect costs.

Pre-Application Information:

The next deadline for LOIs is 2:00 PM ET/11:00 AM PT, August 5, 2020.

For the upcoming deadline, RSF will only accept letters of inquiry relevant to one of RSF's core programs that address at least one of the following issues:
1. Research on the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting recession in the US
2. Research focused on systemic racial inequality and/or the recent mass protests in the US.

For its November 11, 2020 deadline, RSF will return to accepting LOIs in its three core programs.

Timeline: All applications (LOIs and proposals) are due by 2:00 PM ET/11:00 AM PT

Letter of Inquiry Deadline: May 21, 2020
Invited Proposal Deadline: August 17, 2020
Funding Decision: November 2020

Letter of Inquiry Deadline: August 5, 2020
Invited Proposal Deadline: November 19, 2020
Funding Decision: March 2021

Letter of Inquiry Deadline: November 11, 2020
Invited Proposal Deadline: March 10, 2021
Funding Decision: June 2021


Research grants:


Budget Requirements:


COVID-19 priorities:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Submit an LOI and apply online:

Russell Sage Foundation
112 East 64th Street
New York
NY 10065

URL for Full Text (RFP):

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