Understand guideline and funding cycles
MacArthur publishes program guidelines to help applicants determine whether their idea for a grant fits within a particular grantmaking strategy.
As a general rule, applicants should base this decision on three related criteria that appear in program guidelines: the topical focus addressed by the grantmaking strategy; the geographic area covered by the grantmaking strategy; and, finally, the type of funding (i.e., general operating support, research, program support, etc.) that supports the grantmaking strategy.
Like most strategic grantmaking foundations, the MacArthur Foundation considers funding only those applications that closely match the topical, geographic, and funding criteria for a specific grantmaking strategy.
Domestic policy-related activities — research, analysis, and the education of policymakers and the general public — are included in both the Policy Research program area and in every other grantmaking area. The goals of MacArthur’s grantmaking in policy research are to:
- Advance the state of knowledge in specific areas, with outcomes that benefit individuals, families and communities, and society as a whole
- Improve decision-making by policymakers at the federal, state and local levels
- Strengthen the links among research, policy and practice, with each activity informing the others and providing evidence of what works for use in decision-making
- Apply policy analysis to and foster transparency of complex political processes
Questions about this grantmaking area can be addressed to Director of Policy Research Valerie Chang.
What MacArthur Funds
Institutional Support to Key Organizations
Awarded to a small number of organizations, institutional support grants are multi-year, general operating grants to organizations that produce rigorous research and analysis on issues critical to the grantmaking strategies of the entire domestic program, and translate that work in ways that enhance its value to policymakers, the media, and the general public.
The institutional support portfolio is currently targeted toward organizations focusing on fiscal and budgetary issues.
MacArthur is not accepting unsolicited proposals for key policy organizations at this time.
Special Policy Projects
The Foundation undertakes special initiatives with broad implications for domestic policy. Currently, there are four underway. Three inter-related projects address economic, social, and demographic trends in U.S. society and more data- and evidence-driven policymaking, and a fourth is the capstone to more than a decade of grantmaking in regional policy and practice.
A motivating hypothesis of this project is that effective social policies that invest in individuals who are in need or at-risk not only improve individual life chances, but, in many instances, also benefit the larger society and generate public returns long after assistance has ended. Grants help strengthen the case for social policymaking that is more firmly grounded in evidence-of-effectiveness and with complementary benefits to recipients and society. More than 20 projects include benefit-cost studies of effective social programs, new methods to make benefit-cost analysis easier to use, and resources for organizations working with government agencies to improve decision-making.
This project is aimed at improving understanding of the country’s current fiscal situation and of the long-run implications that demographic, social and economic trends have for the nation’s fiscal future. Working at the federal, state and local levels, the Foundation supports projects to develop evidence and policy alternatives to help decision makers understand the factors contributing to the fiscal situation, the available policy options, and the consequences of various choices for achieving long-term fiscal sustainability. The Foundation is also committed to informing the American public and policymakers of the fiscal realities facing the country.
This Network is examining the effects that an increasingly-aging society will have on American institutions, policies, and social and political processes. Following our examination in the 1990s of successful aging for individuals, this project considers how the nation will be affected over the long term by the dramatic changes in the demographic profile of the American population that are underway. A key contribution of the Network is new U.S. population and mortality projections based on emerging evidence that will be compared to current government forecasts. The projections, which forecast mortality under scenarios that take account of advances in bio-gerontology with its life-extending potential and the effects of unhealthy life conditions, will have major implications for the development of social, economic, and health policy.
This project aims to develop new knowledge that can be used to make U.S. metropolitan regions more resilient. The centerpiece of this project is the MacArthur Research Network on Building Regional Resilience, which is designed to help local, regional, and state leaders understand the dynamic demographic, economic, and technological changes that are affecting major metropolitan areas, and to provide new knowledge and effective, practical strategies to address challenges arising from them.
With the exception of projects related the fiscal condition of states and localities, MacArthur is not accepting unsolicited proposals for work relating to policy research at this time. Those interested in suggesting a project in this area should submit a letter of inquiry to the Foundation.
Updated October 12, 2012