William T. Grant Foundation: Grants for Mental Health

OVERVIEW: The William T. Grant Foundation awards mental health research grants for studies focusing on disadvantaged and vulnerable kids and young adults, ages five to 25.

IP TAKE: Grant is an approachable foundation, but it warns that only a small percentage of applicants are invited back to submit a full proposal. So grantseekers may do well to tie their research into one of the foundation’s other fields of support.

PROFILE: William T. Grant, owner of the once-booming W.T. Grant and Company department store chain, established the William T. Grant Foundation in 1936. Grant's stores would eventually shutter in what is often referred to as one of the largest retailer bankruptcies in history. However, the foundation carries on Grant’s original giving priorities of “helping people or peoples to live more contentedly and peacefully and well in body and mind.”

The foundation’s grantmaking approach mirrors its original strategy of supporting research to increase the “knowledge of how to use and enjoy all the good things the world has to offer them (people).” This strategy is admittedly quite vague and broad. And the foundation did support some seemingly disjointed research studies in those early days.

In the 1950s, the Grant Foundation refocused its grantmaking, with child rearing, parent education and child mental health as its top giving priorities. Since then, the foundation has supported efforts to increase information resources in the fields of education, social services and advocacy for disadvantaged kids. Of course, increasing information resources begins with increasing information levels. So the William T. Grant Foundation’s mental health related giving revolves around research.

The foundation's grantmaking operates primarily through two initiatives, Reducing Inequality and Improving the Use of Research Evidence:

  • Reducing Inequality - This initiative supports studies that both seek to understand inequality and that develop interventions to reduce it. These grants typically range from $100,000 to $600,000 over two to three years. For this initiative grantseekers should consider how inequality can affect mental health, with reference to pathologies, diagnosis, and access to services, for example.
  • Improving the Use of Research Evidence - This initiative supports projects that capitalize on existing research to improve the lives of young people. These grants typically range from $100,000 to $1,000,000 over two to four years. This initiative is a good choice for anyone interested in using data to address mental health in young people.

The foundation also offers Youth Services Improvement Grants, which award $25,000 to organizations in New York City that provide services to young people, including those relating to mental health.

Research funded by the foundation must be focused on youth populations ages five to 25. Unsolicited letters of inquiry are accepted three times annually in January, May and August.

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