The Spencer Foundation has launched the Conference Grant Program to provide support to scholars to organize small research conferences, focused symposia, or other forms of convening are around important issues in education.
This program is intended to bring together researchers, practitioners, policymakers and other important collaborators whose expertise, substantive knowledge and practice, theoretical insight, or methodological expertise can be engaged in ways that help to build upon and advance education research.
They encourage applicants to think expansively about how convening’s can expand the substantive work and impact of educational research on advancing racial equity.
They invite proposals that aim to grow the current scope of research on racial equity, develop new knowledge through interdisciplinary scholarly engagement, or as a way to collaborate to increase the impact of educational research. Importantly, they welcome proposals that advance conceptualizations of strength- and resiliency-based perspectives.
Successful proposals will bring together researchers to approach the proposed topic from multiple perspectives. They also encourage applicants proposing conferences to consider ways of bridging the substantive, theoretical, and methodological expertise of participants. While not a requirement, successful proposals in previous rounds have also included other attendees outside of the academy such as teachers, policymakers, families, artists, or journalists if the convening called for such expertise.
- This grant program supports proposals with budgets of $50,000 or less.
They recommend conference proposals are explicit in explaining the framework or structure of their proposed convening. The proposed conference should address one approach or may include aspects from multiple structures, with the overarching goal of influencing the public discourse, practice, or policy of education.
- Engage in mutualistic and interdisciplinary knowledge development in order to push the boundaries of a given topic.
- Synthesize existing knowledge within a topical area so as to collectively reflect on what the field already understands and about where it may go next.
- Collaborate with non-researchers in a format that centers the engagement of practitioners, journalists, communities, and/or policymakers (among others) as a way to create avenues for communication and take up of education research.
Conference Grant Proposal Elements
Within the online application, there are detailed guidelines for each section. There is an overview of the elements you’ll be expected to complete.
- Project Personnel – As the person creating the draft application, you will automatically be assigned to the proposal as the Principal Investigator. If there are Co-PIs on the proposal, they can be added to the application in this section. They must first follow Steps 1 and 2 mentioned in the guideline before being added to the application.
- Proposal Summary – Information about the project is requested, such as the project title, start and end dates, the central research question(s), and a 200 word project summary.
- Budget and Budget Justification – The budget form is divided into the following categories and each category has a pulldown menu of the line item choices listed in parentheses:
- Salaries (PI, Co-PI, Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Graduate Student, Researcher, Undergraduate Researcher, Other Research Staff, Other Staff);
- Benefits (PI Benefits, Co-PI Benefits, Researcher Benefits, Other Staff, Benefits, Tuition/Fees);
Other Collaborator (Speaker/Participant Honoraria, Independent Consultant, Advisor);
- Travel (Conference);
- Equipment and Software (Equipment, Software);
- Project Expenses (Conference Space Rental, Conference Meals, Supplies, Communication, Transcription);
- Other (This should only be used for expenses not covered in the choices);
- Subcontracts (Information is pulled from the subcontract budget forms.
- Subcontracts: If your project will have subcontracts, a separate subcontract budget form will need to be completed for each. The subcontract form has the same categories and line item choices.
- Accommodations for people with disabilities: Please include a plan for how you will accommodate people with disabilities who attend your conference in the planning phase of your project. When budgeting for your convening you may include costs associated with accommodating people with disabilities. For example, you might need to allot funds for a sign language interpreter, assistive listening devices, video captioning, or printed media in an alternate format. The Spencer Foundation will consider such accommodations an allowable conference expense.
- Proposals to the Conference Grant program must be for small research conferences, focused symposia, or convening’s that will explore critical issues in advancing racial equity in education research as specified in the Program Statement.
- Principal Investigators (PIs) and Co-PIs applying for a Conference grant must have an earned doctorate in an academic discipline or professional field, or appropriate experience in an education research-related profession. While graduate students may be part of the proposal, they may not be named the PI or Co-PI.
- The PI must be affiliated with a non-profit organization that is willing to serve as the administering organization if the grant is awarded. The Spencer Foundation does not award grants directly to individuals. Examples include non-profit colleges, universities, school districts, and research facilities, as well as other non-profit organizations with a 501(c)(3) determination from the IRS.
- Proposals are accepted from the U.S. and internationally, however all proposals must be submitted in English and budgets must be proposed in U.S. Dollars.
- An uploaded timeline should indicate the proposed start and end dates of the funding as well as the planned dates for the proposed conference (even if tentative). The timeline should list the schedule of the major activities leading up to and, if appropriate, after the conference. The project timeline may not exceed 1 page and the text should be in 12-point font.
- Proposals to support annual ongoing conferences or meetings are not eligible for this program. Relatedly, requests to fund travel to existing annual conferences or meetings are also not eligible.
- Proposed budgets for this program are limited to $50,000 total and may not include indirect cost charges per Spencer’s policy.
- PIs and Co-PIs may not submit more than one application for a given deadline in this program.
How to Apply
- Step 1 – Registration
- Note: This application is configured for the Principal Investigator (PI) on the project to register and submit the form. If someone other than the PI will be completing the online application (e.g., an administrative assistant), the PI should register as described in Step 1 below, then provide their username and password to the person assisting them with the application.
- If you (the PI) have never accessed the Spencer Foundation online portal, you must register and create a profile by going to the address given on the website and clicking the “Register Here” button. Follow the guidelines on the registration page to create your profile. If you already have an account, log on to update your profile.
- Step 2 – My Profile
- After logging in, follow the directions to complete the information requested on the My Profile page and upload your current CV (10-page limit). The My Profile page is your online account with the Spencer Foundation whether you are applying for a grant, reviewing a proposal, or submitting a grantee report.
- Note: If you will have Co-PIs on your project, they must also register and complete their profile information if they wish to be included on the application.
- Step 3 – Start a Proposal
- To fill out the application, go to your Workbench and click the Apply button for the Conference Grants program. Your draft application can be saved and returned to so that you may continue work on it at a later time and can be found on your Draft Proposals list on your Workbench.
The Conference Grants Program in Education uses a peer review process for all eligible submissions. Each proposal will be reviewed by both external panel reviewers and internal staff. The review process for this program takes approximately 5 months from the deadline date.
The review panel for this program is made up of scholars in the field of education research with expertise across many disciplines and methodological areas. Panelist are asked to rate and comment on the following aspects of your proposal:
- Significance of the Conference: Reviewers will evaluate the importance and timeliness of the topic and its alignment to the program statement.
- Adequacy of Conference Curriculum: Reviewers will comment on the overall adequacy of the conference curriculum.
- Background of the Conference Organizers and Participants: Reviewers will comment on how well the backgrounds of the conference organizers and potential participants are appropriate, comprehensive of the relevant areas in the field, and provide an overall goodness-of-fit for the convening’s goals.
- Deliverables of the Proposed Convening: Reviewers will evaluate the appropriateness of the deliverables discussed in the proposal and their alignment to the conference goals.
- Budget and Timeline: Reviewers will evaluate the adequacy of the budget and timeline.
For more information, visit https://www.spencer.org/grant_types/conference-grants