Academic grants

Academic grants are open to researchers affiliated with a U.S. university. The affiliated university must administer the grant. Academic grants are typically in the $25,000 to $100,000 range over 1 to 3 years. We frequently partner with other foundations to support projects jointly or to share proposals that are not a fit for our grant program, but which may be of interest to other funders. The annual Request for Proposals is released in the fall of each year. Prospective applicants should review the RFP carefully prior to submitting a Letter of Inquiry via the online form provided. Please reach out to or call (202) 545-3343 with any questions.

Funding interests

The Washington Center for Equitable Growth seeks to deepen our understanding of how inequality affects economic growth and stability. To do so, we support research investigating the various channels through which economic inequality, in all its forms, impacts economic growth and stability.

Equitable Growth promotes efforts to increase diversity in the economics profession and across the social sciences. We recognize the importance of diverse perspectives in broadening and deepening research on inequality and growth.

Equitable Growth supports research inquiry using many different types of evidence, relying on a variety of methodological approaches and cutting across academic disciplines.

Our request for proposals is organized around four channels of growth: Macroeconomics, Human Capital & Well-being, Market Structure, and The Labor Market.

Click here to read our most recent Request for Proposals.

How to apply

Equitable Growth has one annual grant cycle. Applications are only accepted in response to our annual request for proposals, which is released in the fall of each year.

To apply for an academic grant, submit a letter of inquiry and abbreviated curriculum vitae (max. five pages) using the online application portal.

Letters of inquiry are short descriptions of a research project. They should be approximately two to three pages (about 1,000 to 1,500 words) in length. Letters of inquiry that are more than 1,500 words will not be considered. While we do not want to be overly prescriptive, the word limit is designed to encourage concision and clarity.

Letters of inquiry must include:

  • Problem addressed by the research
  • Engagement with and expected contribution to the literature
  • Methodological approach, including data sources and research design
  • Status of data access
  • Timeline for completion

We encourage applicants to consider policy implications. Development of new data sources is also of interest.

If tables, graphs, or other images are helpful in explaining your project, they can be included. While they will not count against the word limit, we encourage you to limit the use of images to one or two.

Citations can be included as endnotes and do not count against the word limit.

The application form requires the submission of a preliminary budget in the form of a brief narrative (approximately 150 words). A budget section is not required in the body of the LOI. At this stage, we are interested in the total expected cost of the project and a general breakdown of those costs (such as salary, research assistance, costs associated with data collection, travel, or conference fees). If applicable, please include a brief description of other secured or anticipated funding sources for the proposed work. A detailed project budget will be required for applicants who are invited to submit a full proposal.

The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. EST on January 23, 2023.

Select projects will be invited to submit a full proposal. Full proposals are by invitation only and are due in May. Funding decisions are announced in July, and funding is typically dispersed at the start of the academic year.

Evaluation criteria

Academic letters of inquiry and full proposals are evaluated by Equitable Growth staff, external review committees, and our Steering Committee. External review committees consist of subject-matter and methodological experts ranging from early-career to established researchers. Committees are created with a commitment to diversity of race, gender, discipline, area of study, and university affiliation. 

All applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Relevance to Equitable Growth’s mission
  • Proposed research questions are appropriately framed within the existing literature
  • Proposed research has the potential to advance the literature
  • Methodological soundness of the research design, including appropriate data
  • Relevance to policy and potential to make a contribution to evidence-backed policy solutions

Preference is given to projects creating new data that can be made publicly available, to studies that center race, and to studies that engage with relevant literature across disciplines.

Applicants may choose to use this suggested template when drafting their letter of inquiry.

If you have questions regarding your potential grant application to Equitable Growth, please reach out to us via

Budget guidelines

Letter of Inquiry

At the Letter of Inquiry stage of application, a preliminary budget is required and should be submitted as a brief narrative on the application form (approximately 150 words). At this stage, we are interested in the total expected cost of the project and a general breakdown of those costs (such as salary, research assistance, costs associated with data collection, travel, or conference fees). If applicable, please include a brief description of other secured or anticipated funding sources for the proposed work. A detailed project budget will be required for applicants who are invited to submit a full proposal. 

Full Proposals

Full proposal packages must include a detailed budget using the Equitable Growth budget template. Budgets must be uploaded in Excel format.

Applicants invited to submit a full proposal will be asked to submit a separate budget narrative justification via the online application form. This narrative should be approximately 250 words and must include a breakdown of costs to support the budget, including a detailed justification of all line items.

Academic grants generally range from $25,000 to $100,000 over 1 to 3 years.

Allowable costs

Equitable Growth is willing to fund a wide range of activities, including researcher salary and benefits, research assistance, data purchase, and costs associated with conducting experiments or participating in professional conferences. Our grants cannot cover indirect overhead.

Equitable Growth will consider requests for salary support for principal and/or co-principal investigators at a maximum contribution of $20,000 per academic year, not including fringe costs. Up to 1 month of summer salary is considered an allowable cost, as well as course buyouts. Salary requests exceeding $20,000 may be considered for course buyouts if need can be justified. Applicants must provide a detailed explanation in the budget justification of the tasks and time efforts of all principal investigators. Equitable Growth has limited available funds for grants and does not guarantee that projects will be awarded at the full requested amount. 

Fringe/benefit costs are allowable up to a maximum rate of 35 percent.

Tuition and related fees are an allowable cost if student research assistants are included in the budget request.

Requests for support of project staff, including research assistants, graduate assistants, and postdoctoral researchers, are encouraged by Equitable Growth. While Equitable Growth will support up to 100 percent of full-time salaries for project/research staff, applicants are strongly encouraged to align their budget requests with the percentage of time project staff are expected to spend on the project. Budgets must include the number of positions supported and the percentage of staff time that will be devoted to work on the grant. 

Co-funding and/or cost-sharing by the grantee university or organization is encouraged and should be reported in the budget narrative. This includes approved or pending funding. Requested Equitable Growth funds must be allocated to budget items that are not covered by other funders.

Project length

Projects are limited to no more than 36 months. Most Equitable Growth grants are projects between 12 months and 24 months. Grantees are encouraged to notify Equitable Growth staff at least 30 days prior to the grant end-date if there is a need to request a no-cost extension.

Additional information

Prospective applicants can read an example of a successful Letter of Inquiry for an academic grant by following this link.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to apply for an academic grant?

Academic grants are open to researchers affiliated with a U.S. university. The affiliated university must be willing to administer the grant. Researchers who are the Principal Investigator for an open Equitable Growth grant with an end date beyond July 1, 2023 are not eligible to apply. Co-Principal Investigators/Collaborators with open grants are eligible to apply.

I’m not sure if my research is a good fit. How can I get feedback?

Please review our 2023 RFP for a general sense of our funding priorities. If you still have questions or would like feedback about whether your research project may be of interest, please email with a brief description of your research and the question(s) you have.

Is it acceptable for the same researcher to be a co-PI on multiple projects? Would this affect either team’s eligibility?

Each proposal is considered on its own merits, so involvement as a co-PI would not affect either team’s eligibility or the assessment of the proposed research.

Is it possible to submit two Letters of Inquiry for different research projects?

Yes, applicants may submit more than one Letter of Inquiry. Equitable Growth is unlikely to invite more than one full proposal from the same scholar/team, but each proposed research project will be considered on its own merits.

I am affiliated with a university outside of the United States. Am I eligible to apply?

Scholars at non-U.S. colleges and universities can be part of a research team and can receive support via funded research. However, the Principal Investigator must be affiliated with a U.S. college or university, and the grant must be administered by the U.S. institution.

I have multiple affiliations, including at a U.S. university. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes, so long as the college or university you are affiliated with agrees to administer the grant. Equitable Growth does not award grants to think tanks or other research organizations.

Universities in Puerto Rico are accredited by the Middle States Association. Does the Washington Center for Equitable Growth fund researchers located in Puerto Rico?

Universities in Puerto Rico are generally eligible for funding.

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