The Sociological Initiatives Foundation supports social change by linking research to social action.  It funds research projects that investigate laws, policies, institutions, regulations, and normative practices that may limit equality in the United States.  It gives priority to projects that seek to address racism, xenophobia, classism, gender bias, exploitation, or the violation of human rights and freedoms.  It also supports research that furthers language learning and behavior and its intersection with social and policy questions.

The Foundation supports research that focuses on improving services and systems and increasing positive social and physical conditions through:

  • Policy development
  • Placement and shaping of the policy agenda
  • Policy adoption or implementation
  • Policy blocking
  • Increasing advocacy capacity and political influence
  • Shaping public sentiment

The Foundation also supports research that addresses linguistic issues including, literacy, language loss and maintenance, language policy, language and national security, bilingualism, language and gender, language and law, language disabilities, language and health, language and education, different language cultures, second language acquisition, and dialects.

In the context of social and racial inequality dating back centuries, the Foundation supports projects that address institutional rather than individual or behavioral change.  It seeks to fund research and initiatives that provide insight into sociological and linguistic issues that can help specific groups and or communities expand opportunities and challenge injustices.

Grant sizes normally range from $10,000 to $20,000. We look for projects that have an explicit research design and a concrete connection to public or community impact. It is not enough to just write a report or add a focus group to a social change project. The research should ideally build an organization or constituency’s potential to expand public knowledge, impact policy, and create social change.

Short concept proposals are due on August 15th each year.   A limited number of concept applicants are then invited to submit full proposals in November.  Applicants chosen for funding will receive 60% of the funds the following January.  They will receive the remaining 40% after 11 months, contingent upon submitting evidence that the project’s 11 month milestones have been met.  Our analysis of past grant recipients has shown that projects typically take two years, so applicants should think in terms of such a timeline.

Some examples of desired applicants are:

  • academic-community partnerships
  • advocacy or community groups that conduct research that can withstand challenge in academic and policy arenas
  • academics that organize or link to a constituency through their research

Types of Support and Limitations

  • Preference is given to providing support in areas that tend to be under-funded and for projects of a size where a Sociological Initiatives Foundation grant can make a difference.
  • For nonprofits, grants are restricted to organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Code and classified as “not a private foundation” under section 509(a).
  • The Sociological Initiatives Foundation does not make grants directly to individuals for any purposes.
  • SIF also welcomes applications from academic institutions and other qualified organizations wishing to sponsor research projects by individual scholars or practitioners.
  • No awards are made for dissertation research, honoraria or political purposes.
  • The Foundation does not provide operating support or capital grants.
  • Grant sizes normally range from $15,000 to $20,000.
  • The geographic focus is limited to the United States and its territories.

Generally, the Foundation will not consider proposals that:

  • represent the work of a lone academic without a strong relationship with a constituency or organization
  • do not demonstrate the capacity or intent to carry out bona fide research, as indicated by either a past track record or a credentialed researcher partner
  • are led by government/municipal agencies
  • result only in reports, publications, websites, gatherings, films, theatrical productions, concerts, conferences, or the like that are not part of a larger explicit social change strategy
  • only evaluate existing programs
  • request funds for operating support or capital grants

Investment Policy

The Foundation directors consider it our fiduciary responsibility to align our fiscal practices with our social mission. Therefore, we have adopted a policy of socially responsible investing.


Barbara Freed, PhD, Carnegie Mellon University
Jonathan Gayles, PhD, Georgia State University
Susan Greenbaum PhD, University of South Florida
Ramona Hernandez, PhD, The City College of New York
Glenn Jacobs, PhD, University of Massachusetts Boston

Please direct all inquiries to:

Foundation Office

The Sociological Initiatives Foundation
c/o Prentice Zinn, Administrator
GMA Foundations
2 Liberty Square
Boston, Massachusetts, 02110-1006 USA
V 617-391-3091