News and analysis
December 21, 2015

Grant Foundation Shifts Childhood Research Focus to Practical Applications

The William T. Grant Foundation is shifting the strategy of its research-grants program to focus on practical applications of research as it relates to issues affecting children, such as foster care, the use of vaccines, and the allocation of money for schools.

Since 2007, the foundation, which lists $317.5 million in assets, has spent nearly $14.4 million to support research into how decision makers, including legislators, school principals, and social-service providers, use academic research.

The New York fund will begin devoting more attention to studies that meet the needs of practitioners by producing research findings that can more directly benefit kids. The grant maker said it does not know how much it will dedicate to the effort in the coming years.

Since the foundation started supporting research grants, it has concluded that the relationships between policy makers, researchers, and other "intermediary" organizations, such as advocacy groups, are sometimes filled with distrust, with the result that research results are often ignored.

To improve such relationships, the Grant foundation intends to support research into how, for instance, practitioners and researchers can work together to design studies and how universities can provide incentives for such collaborations.

"If people are isolated from information, they’re unlikely to use it," said Kim DuMont, a senior program officer at Grant. "We want to create a body of evidence that is useful."

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