For Applicants

What We're Looking For

We fund rigorously designed quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods research that expands the evidence base needed to build a Culture of Health. Our mission is to support research that yields convincing findings regarding the population health, well-being and equity impacts of specific policies, programs and partnerships. Evidence generated through E4A should aid practitioners and policymakers in setting priorities and allocating resources. While we primarily target research that directly tests the impact of an intervention on health outcomes, a smaller portfolio of grants is dedicated to the development and validation of key measures to improve the assessment of population health, well-being, and equity.


Who We're Looking For 

We are looking for applicants who represent a wide range of fields and disciplines — both within and outside the health sector. We seek to attract diversity of thought, professional background, race and ethnicity, and cultural perspective in our applicant pool. Building a Culture of Health means integrating health into all aspects of society, so we encourage multi-sector partnerships and collaboration. The Principal Investigator is not required to hold an advanced degree as long as the research team has the capacity to conduct the proposed research project. Preference is given to applicants that are public entities, institutes of higher education, or nonprofit organizations based in the U.S. or its territories.

Learn more
Join a Virtual Q&A the 3rd Thursday of Each Month

Informational Videos

An Overview of the E4A Updated Call for Proposals: The Who, What, When, How, & Why
What is Evidence for Action?
E4A Grantees Evaluate Interventions on the Social Determinants of Health
Applying to Evidence for Action, a Tutorial

Applicant FAQs


Evidence for Action funding is dedicated for research projects. Specifically, we fund rigorous research designed to assess the causal impact of programs or policies on health outcomes or of behaviors or other factors that are well-established determinants of health. For projects focused on Making Health a Shared Value (Action Area 1 of the Culture of Health Action Framework) consideration will be given to projects that measure changes in the “drivers” of shared values as primary outcomes with health measures as secondary outcomes.

Data, evidence, or metrics developed under this program should be action oriented and scalable or broadly applicable to improving population health or health equity.

Preference will be given to applicant organizations that are either institutes of higher education, public entities or nonprofit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code but other types of nonprofit and for-profit organizations are eligible to apply. Applicant organizations must be based in the United States or its territories, however; submissions from teams that include both U.S. and international members are eligible, but the lead applicant must be based in the United States.

  • Rigor – presence of a clear, data-driven research question; designed in such a manner that either positive or null findings will provide useful information; inclusion of an appropriate comparison group;
  • Actionability – results can be used in the near-term to inform priorities and decisions; generally, research that solely informs or results in needing additional research is not a good fit;
  • Relevance – clarity and importance of the research aims, hypothesis, and study population to the Culture of Health framework and goals; 
  • Contribution to the evidence base - potential to address key knowledge gaps and contribute to scientific advancement;
  • Inclusion of health outcome measure(s) – outcomes may include diverse dimensions of physical and mental health, or behaviors known to influence health; “health care access” alone is not considered a sufficient health outcome measure; 
  • Feasibility – qualifications of the team to carry out the proposed research and appropriateness of budget and project timeline.

A variety of research designs that attempt to asess causation between interventions and health outcomes can help improve the evidence base for a Culture of Health. Researchers might focus on: independent evaluations of program or policy implementation, randomized trials, quasi- or natural experiments, secondary analyses of existing data, qualitative or mixed methods, network or systems analyses, or other study designs and methods. In most cases an appropriate comparison group should be included in the study design. While randomization may be ideal, we recognize that randomized controlled trials are not always feasible. Other methods of comparison such as a wait list control or various matching techniques may also be acceptable. We also encourage applications that leverage existing programs or studies already funded through other sources.

As a research funding program, E4A does not fund programmatic implementation or operations. We have also identified some examples of research that are not a good fit with the program objectives: descriptive or exploratory science; literature reviews; needs assessments; development and validation of screening tools; basic biomedical inquiry; drug therapy or device research; animal or plant science.

Yes, applicants that have other active RWJF grants may apply. 

There are no rigid restrictions against multiple awards to the same researcher. However, RWJF values supporting a diverse grantee pool with a wide range of innovative ideas. E4A will prioritize new research over subsequent funding to extend a study after an initial award has ended. In some cases, a compelling rationale might be made for the importance of additional information that could be gained by extending research on a previously funded project, which could warrant successive funding. 

The Principal Investigator (PI) does not need to hold an advanced degree nor do they need to be one of the researchers for the project, so long as the research team as a whole has the capacity to complete the proposed research project. Two PIs may be listed in the application for a proposed research project, but the structure of the team is not limited to these two individuals.

 Applicant organizations must be based in the United States or its territories, however; submissions from teams that include both U.S. and international members (PIs, Co-PIs included) are eligible, but the lead applicant must be based in the United States. The PI does not need to be based at the lead organization, but in such a case the relationship between the PI and the organization should be described.


Under normal circumstances it takes approximately 5 months from the time of LOI submission to the release of funds by RWJF. Built into this timeline are the LOI review process, the Full Proposal development and review process, and internal RWJF processes that need to take place prior to fund release. There may be circumstances that will result in a shorter or longer time period between LOI submission and the release of funds, such as a request for revision and resubmission at the LOI or FP stage or a time sensitive project, but in general we recommend that your anticipated project start date be at least 5 months after submission.

Successful LOIs adhere to the template in the application system,, to address three major questions:

  • Rationale - What will be gained from this work? (~1/2 page)
  • Research approach and activities - What are the specific research question(s) or hypotheses that will be examined and how will this be accomplished? (>1 pg)
  • Research Team - What are the qualifications and capacity of the team to conduct the proposed research? (3-4 sentences)

LOIs should focus primarily on outlining the research approach, describing the rigor of the design, and demonstrating the importance and actionability of the outcomes. Only applicants who present clear, compelling, and innovative connections between their proposed research and creating a national Culture of Health will be invited to submit a Full Proposal.

For examples of E4A funded research projects see our Grantees Page

Letters of Intent will be reviewed by members of the NPO and RWJF.  Full proposals will also be reviewed by the NPO and the Foundation, as well as one to two external reviewers.  External reviewers will be selected for each full proposal in order to align appropriate expertise with the content of the proposal.

No, approximately 10% of applicants are invited to submit a Full Proposal.  LOIs will be evaluated on fit with the topics described in this solicitation and the Culture of Health action framework; importance of the potential contribution to our understanding of a Culture of Health and how to achieve it; and feasibility.  Only LOIs that are well aligned with these criteria will be invited to submit Full Proposals.

Generally, all applicants will receive a decision within six to nine weeks regarding whether or not they are invited to move on to the next round of review and decision making. We cannot guarantee every LOI or Full Proposal will receive detailed feedback. RWJF policy prevents us from providing proactive feedback, however, applicants are welcome to contact the NPO with specific questions about their proposal.Applicants who are invited to revise their proposal or who are referred to one of our Technical Assistance services will receive more specific feedback.

Due to significant interest in the program we are only able to advance a small proportion of the LOIs we receive to the full proposal stage. Promising projects that meet all criteria except design rigor my be referred to Technical Assistance. If you have specific questions about why your LOI was turned down you may contact the NPO.

There is no deadline for submission. The program operates on a rolling acceptance basis, so LOIs may be submitted at any time.

However, we recently updated our Call for Proposals and there have been changes to the application materials and processes. If you currently have an open application in the RWJF Applicant and Review System that was started prior to April 2nd, 2019 you will need to complete that submission by April 30, 2019 at 12pm PT/3pm ET or begin a new submission.   

Yes. Applicants may submit multiple LOIs, serve as a partner for another organization's LOI, and/or resubmit a refined or new LOI if an original submission is not accepted. While there are no rigid restrictions against multiple submissions from the same researcher, the diversity of the grantee pool will be a factor in funding decisions. Therefore, we encourage you to think critically about the relative strengths of the projects for which you are considering submitting LOIs.

Watch our archived informational webinars and other programmatic webinars on our Videos & Archived Webinars page for more information on the E4A LOI submission process.


There is no cap for an allowable research budget request. We have received a wide range of budget requests and have invited Full Proposals ranging from $35k to $1M and recommended projects for funding ranging from $46,000 to $729,500 over the maximum grant duration of 48 months, with a strong preference for projects 36 months or shorter.

In our decision making process, E4A weighs funding requested against the potential value of proposed research gains. You should request the amount of funding you will need to complete your proposed research project, and we will work with you to adjust the budget if necessary.

Funds may be used for personnel, consultant fees, data collection & analysis, meetings, supplies, project-related travel, other direct expenses, and up to 12% in overhead or indirect costs. In general, it is not appropriate to buy office equipment or office software with program funds. However, if office equipment or software essential for conducting research (i.e., collecting or analyzing data) is needed and justified in the budget narrative, and the cost does not exceed five percent of the total direct costs in the budget, it is acceptable to include such items.

Currently, between 30-40% of Full Proposals are recommended for funding.

You should request the amount of funding you will need to complete your proposed research project.  In the case of multi-year proposals, budget requests should reflect the entire grant period (up to 48 months, with a strong preference for grants 36 months or shorter), as opposed to an annual amount. When entering the budget request at the LOI stage, round up to the nearest hundred as opposed to estimating to the exact dollar amount.

Budget requests should be inclusive of both direct and indirect costs.  The Foundation’s approved rate for indirect costs is 12% of all project costs (Personnel, Other Direct Costs, and Purchased Services). However, if the Purchased Services category equals more than 33% of the total of Personnel, Other Direct Costs and Purchased Services, RWJF allows 12% indirect on Personnel and Other Direct Costs, and 4% on Purchased Services.  Keep in mind that personnel funding that leaves the Lead Applicant Organization is considered “Purchased Services”.  For further detail about permissible uses of grant funds please see the related FAQ.

We recognize the funding amount and duration could impact the type of studies that may be undertaken. We encourage applicants to consider creative ways for achieving high-impact research within the duration and budget parameters of this program.  For example, by breaking research into phases, utilizing funding to supplement an existing project, leveraging funding from multiple sources, etc.  Please contact the program office to discuss ideas for research that may fall outside the funding parameters of this program.

No, matching funds are not required, but supplemental funding is welcomed and encouraged.  The ability to leverage other funding for the proposed research project will not be a formal criterion for awarding grants, but it may be a consideration in the decision-making process.

Yes, applicants may submit a proposal that is being considered by other organizations. If your proposal is selected by both RWJF and other funding organizations you will be required to report this to RWJF and adjust or expand the activities and budget as appropriate so there is no duplication of funding. You are allowed to expand your project’s scope of work with funding from other sources, as long as you complete the project that RWJF funded you to conduct.