What We're Looking For
We fund rigorously designed 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 racial equity impacts of specific policies, programs, and practices, acknowledging an urgent need for this research to also be centered on achieving racial 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 field and academic sector. We seek to attract diversity of thought, personal and professional backgrounds, and cultural perspectives in our applicant pool. Building a Culture of Health means integrating health and racial equity into all aspects of society, so we encourage multi-sector partnerships and collaboration.
What does it mean for research to be centered on achieving racial equity?
We recognize that health equity cannot be achieved without first addressing the underlying causes of health disparities - namely, the manifestation of structural racism in policies, programs, and practices that allow racial inequities to persist. E4A has reaffirmed our commitment to health and racial equity research by requiring that all applicants clearly state the ways in which their research advances racial equity. This means applicants should be explicit about how the research topic itself and the ways in which the research will be designed, conducted, and disseminated will contribute to dismantling racism and advancing racial equity.
What types of research designs are a good fit for E4A?
A variety of research designs that attempt to assess causal relationships between interventions and health outcomes can help improve the evidence base to advance health and racial equity. 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.
Regardless of the specific design, RWJF views evaluation as a tool to advance racial equity by applying principles of the Equitable Evaluation Framework, which stresses the importance of attention to historical and structural contexts; differential effects on subgroups; and effects on the underlying drivers of inequity. Moreover, evaluative work should be designed and implemented to reflect multi-cultural validity and participant ownership. Research that is a good fit for E4A will integrate these principles into the research approach and activities.
What types of projects are NOT a good fit for E4A?
As a research funding program, E4A does not fund activities associated with implementing or carrying out interventions or general organizational operations. We have also identified some examples of research that are not a good fit with the program objectives: descriptive or exploratory science (i.e., research into an issue that has not yet been extensively studied with the intention of identifying priorities, developing operational definitions, and improving future research around the issue); literature reviews; needs assessments; development and validation of screening tools; basic biomedical inquiry; drug therapy or device research; animal or plant science. Finally, research that does not acknowledge or address underlying causes of health and racial inequities in society, such as structural racism or other forms of discrimination, is not a good fit.
What selection criteria will be used to evaluate proposals?
- 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 – findings can be translated to practice through programs, initiatives, or policies that influence individual or institutional decision-making and behavior;
- 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) – studies must include measures of health outcomes, which may represent 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. 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;
- Feasibility – access to study populations or needed data, qualifications of the team to carry out the proposed research, and appropriateness of budget and project timeline.
Who may serve as a Principal Investigator?
Anyone may be designated as the Principal Investigator (PI). The PI does not need to hold an advanced degree nor need to be one of the researchers for the project, provided the research team as a whole has the capacity to complete the proposed research. Two PIs may be listed in the application, but the team is not limited to these two individuals. For ease of administration, it is preferable, but not required, for the PI to be based at the lead organization.
What types of organizations are eligible to apply for funding?
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; submissions from teams that include both U.S. and international members are eligible, but the lead applicant must be based in the United States.
What types of projects are eligible for funding under the Call for Proposals?
Evidence for Action funding is dedicated for research projects evaluating the health outcomes of interventions. Specifically, we fund rigorous research designed to assess the causal impact(s) of programs, policies, or practices on health outcomes or of behaviors or other factors that are well-established determinants of health. When evaluating programs, comparative effectiveness trials should be considered when possible. Findings from the evaluation of individual programs should be scalable or generalizable to similar initiatives.
Data, evidence, or metrics developed should be action-oriented and scalable or broadly applicable to improving population health, well-being, or health equity.
May I receive more than one grant from E4A?
There are no rigid restrictions against multiple awards to the same researcher or applicant organization. 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.
May I apply for this funding opportunity even if I am already funded by RWJF?
Yes, applicants who have other active RWJF grants may apply.
If I am not chosen for this funding opportunity, will I still be eligible for other RWJF grant opportunities?
Yes, interested applicants may apply to E4A again or to other RWJF solicitations.
What elements should a successful LOI include?
Successful LOIs adhere to the template in the application system, My.RWJF.org, to address three major questions:
- Rationale - Describe the intervention being evaluated and why the research (not the issue) is important. (Less than 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? Specify the health outcome(s) and any other primary or secondary outcomes being measured. (>1 pg)
- Research Team - Describe any unique partnerships or characteristics of the research team. (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.
Who will review my proposal?
Letters of Intent will be reviewed by members of the E4A Leadership Team and RWJF. Full proposals will also be reviewed by the Leadership Team and RWJF, as well as one to two external reviewers – typically members of the E4A National Advisory Committee. External reviewers are selected to align relevant expertise with the content of each full proposal.
What is the deadline for submitting my Letter of Intent (LOI)?
There is no deadline for submission. The program operates on a rolling acceptance basis, so LOIs may be submitted at any time.
Are there tips or tutorials available regarding the LOI submission process?
Yes, watch our archived informational webinars and other programmatic webinars on our Videos & Archived Webinars page for more information on the E4A LOI submission process.
Our Applicant Resources page also has materials that should be helpful in developing a Letter of Intent and understanding the process, that include an Applicant Guide and Annotate Letter of Intent Excerpts.
Is there a preference for which organization should act as the lead?
No, applicants should determine the lead organization based on which has the capacity to administer the grant.
Why was my LOI turned down?
Due to significant interest in the program we are only able to advance a small proportion of LOIs we receive to the full proposal stage. LOIs are turned down for a variety of reasons: lack of a clear research question or hypothesis; inclusion of research questions that will not yield actionable outcomes; insufficient or unclear explanation of the intervention being evaluated; lack of appropriate health or other outcomes; study populations or topics that are unlikely to produce results that are broadly applicable to population health outcomes; and insufficient rigor of the proposed research design.
Promising projects that meet all criteria except rigor or feasibility may be referred to Technical Assistance. If you have specific questions about why your LOI was turned down you may contact the NPO.
Will I receive feedback on my LOI or Full Proposal?
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. 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.
Will every applicant who submits an LOI be invited to submit a Full Proposal?
No, approximately 8% of applicants are invited to submit a Full Proposal. Only LOIs that meet the review criteria are invited to submit Full Proposals.
What is the general timeline from Letter of Intent submission to grant award date?
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 a formal budget and legal review. There may be circumstances that will result in a shorter or longer timelines, such as time sensitive projects or requests for revisions at the LOI or FP stage, but in general we recommend that your anticipated project start date be at least 5 months after submission.
May I submit more than one LOI?
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.
What are examples of appropriate or non-appropriate uses of grant funds?
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 for colleges/universities and hospitals or health systems and up to 20% in indirect costs for non-profit organizations. 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.
How much funding is available per grant?
There is no cap for the 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.
How should I estimate my budget?
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. Please do not provide a detailed budget breakdown at the LOI stage. When entering the budget request at the LOI stage, round up to the nearest $10,000.
Budget requests should be inclusive of both direct and indirect costs. The Foundation’s maximum approved rate for indirect costs is 12% of all project costs (Personnel, Other Direct Costs, and Purchased Services) for colleges/universities and hospitals or health systems and up to 20% in indirect costs for non-profit organizations. More detailed guidance and exceptions are provided in the Budget Preparation Guidelines available at the Full Proposal stage. For further detail about permissible uses of grant funds please see the related FAQ.
What is the likelihood I will be funded if invited to submit a Full Proposal?
Currently, between 40-45% of Full Proposals are recommended for funding.
What expectations does E4A have of grantees?
- Attendance at an Annual Grantee Meeting (dates and locations vary). Funds for up to two individuals to attend this meeting for each year of the grant should be included in the proposed budget.
- Participation in peer networking activities with other E4A and RWJF grantees. These activities typically take place via virtual or online convenings.
- Pre-registration of study—including research questions, hypotheses, main variables, and analysis plan—on Open Science Framework (OSF) at the start of the grant period.
- Grantees who publish findings in peer-reviewed publications must do so in open access journals and/or must include funds in their budgets to cover the cost of making the resulting publications open-access (typically $2,000-$5,000 per manuscript).
- Participation in periodic progress check-ins throughout the grant period with E4A national program office (NPO) staff.
- During the grant period, coordination with E4A to develop and implement a plan to share findings with stakeholders beyond the research community, including policymakers and other decision-makers, when findings are available and as other timely opportunities arise.
- Appropriate timelines and budgets built into the project plan for conferences, meetings, and other forms of dissemination, including after analyses are complete.
What if I need more money or time to conduct my study?
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.
Are matching funds, or research funds from other outside sources, required for this funding opportunity?
No, matching funds are not required, but supplemental funding is welcomed and encouraged. The ability to leverage other funding for the proposed research project is not a criterion for awarding grants, but it may be a consideration in the decision-making process.
May I submit a proposal that is also being considered for funding by other organizations (government funding agency, foundation, etc.)?
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.
Where can I learn more about other funding opportunities from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation?