Who and What we Fund | How to Apply
The Washington Center for Equitable Growth is a non-partisan organization that seeks to deepen our understanding of whether and how inequality affects economic growth and stability. Our academic grants program aims to build a portfolio of cutting-edge scholarly research that investigates the various channels through which economic inequality may (or may not) impact economic growth and stability, including both direct and indirect pathways. We consider economic inequality across wages, incomes, wealth, job quality, and benefits, though we are open to proposals that examine the effects of inequality in other ways, such as by gender, race, or ethnicity.
Equitable Growth supports inquiry utilizing many different kinds of evidence, relying on a variety of methodological approaches and cutting across academic disciplines, including economics, political science, sociology, history, and others. We are especially interested in projects using new, novel data sources.
Our 2015 Request for Proposals has closed. Equitable Growth does not accept unsolicited proposals. We expect to announce our 2015 grantees in June, 2015 and to announce our 2016 Request for Proposals in the fall. Please check back for more information on our 2015 grantees and information regarding our next round of grantmaking.
The 2015 Request for Proposals called for research in the following four areas:
Household balance sheets and macroeconomic stability
How, if at all, does economic inequality impact macroeconomic growth and stability? How does the composition and distribution of economic resources affect the consumption and savings decisions by individuals and families? What is the relationship between the health of individual household balance sheets and the health of the economy as a whole?
In other words, how do microeconomic decisions aggregate into macroeconomic outcomes? How, if at all, have policy interventions aimed at stabilizing household finances affected broader macroeconomic indicators?
We are particularly interested in projects that shed light on the role of the household unit in creating and sustaining demand, and urge applicants to think broadly in this realm.
Human capital development across the generational arc
How, if at all, does economic inequality affect the development of human capital? Do different levels or kinds of inequality impact the potential for talent to emerge across the income or wealth distribution, and, if so, how?
We are interested in proposals that investigate the myriad mechanisms through which economic inequality might work to alter the development of human potential across the generational arc, including children, young workers, prime-age workers, and older Americans, as well as the policy mechanisms through which better human capital development might work. Examples of specific human capital-related channels include cognitive and non-cognitive skills, educational attainment, family formation and stability, and labor market sorting/matching of skills.
Innovation, invention, and creativity
How, if at all, does economic inequality impact the quantity and quality of innovation? We are especially interested in proposals that investigate whether and how inequality affects the development of the next generation of inventors and entrepreneurs.
Does economic inequality influence the kind of innovation that takes place, and who benefits from that innovation? What is the relationship between economic inequality and individuals’ appetites for risk, education, and training? How does economic inequality affect future innovators’ access to credit? Has economic inequality harmed or helped innovators’ returns on investment, and, if so, how? Does economic inequality translate into social inequalities that hinder the effective dispersion of innovative ideas and products?
How, if at all, do levels and trends in economic inequality impact the governance of the economic commons? We are particularly interested in proposals that explore the relationship between economic inequality and the quality of social and political institutions contributing to economic well-being and, ultimately, economic growth.
Examples of topics of interest include, but are not limited to, political polarization, institutional capacity, civic engagement, and social trust. Other topics of particular interest include rent-seeking, anti-competitive behavior, cartelization, and anti-trust policy. Proposals investigating the dynamic relationship between corporate governance and economic inequality will also be viewed with particular interest.
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Who and What We Fund
The four topic areas above represented the primary research interests of Equitable Growth’s 2015 grantmaking. For a sense of the type and range of research we support, we encourage interested applicants to review our 2014 grantees’ project descriptions. For further information on how this research relates to Equitable Growth’s mission, review the 2014 grants announcement.
In general, we are willing to consider any exceptional proposal on issues related to inequality and economic growth based on the founding mission of our research and grantmaking organization: To accelerate cutting-edge analysis into whether and how structural changes in the U.S. economy, particularly related to economic inequality, affect economic growth.
Our grant program will support a number of lines of inquiry that examine many different types of evidence and cut across academic fields. We encourage researchers to consider the effects of public policies on both economic growth and inequality and, conversely, to consider the potential policy relevance of new research. We are particularly interested in funding data collection and projects that draw on interdisciplinary research.
For a sense of the type and range of research we support, we encourage interested applicants to review our 2014 grantees’ project descriptions.
For further information on how this research relates to Equitable Growth’s mission, review the 2014 grants announcement.
If you have questions about your project or its relevance, please email
Solicitations are open to researchers affiliated with U.S. universities. Equitable Growth has two funding streams: Academic Grants, and Doctoral Grants. Academic Grants are open to researchers affiliated with a university, and Doctoral grants are open to graduate students currently enrolled in a doctoral program.
If you are currently a graduate student you may choose to apply for either an Academic or Doctoral Grant, depending on the pool in which you would like to compete.
Academic Grants will be in the range of $25,000 to $100,000, though we will also consider proposals for larger grants for exceptional projects. Doctoral Grants are funded at the $15,000 level.
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 related to travel and conferences. Please note that our grants cannot cover indirect overhead.
How to Apply
Our 2015 Request for Proposals has closed and Equitable Growth does not accept unsolicited proposals. We expect to announce our 2016 Request for Proposals in the fall.
Equitable Growth’s funding cycle begins with submissions of Letters of Inquiry, the next round of which will likely be due in early 2016. The Equitable Growth research team reviews all letters of inquiry. We then invite full proposals from the most promising and relevant projects.
Invited full proposal are typically due in the spring. Full proposals are reviewed by our research team, external reviewers, and members of our Steering Committee. Grants are generally announced in the summer.
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