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It's What You Do with What You Know

Lots of studies explore the best way to teach reading or run schools or prevent teenage pregnancy.

But few studies look at what people in the day-to-day world of policy and practice actually do with new research knowledge. Does it get used, or do the findings float out like soap bubbles, gleam in the sunlight for a few seconds, and then disappear? More likely the latter, but no one really knows for sure.

To find out, the William T. Grant Foundation has launched a $1.5 million-a-year grant program. The grants of $100,000 to $600,000 will go to underwrite research aimed at studying how policymakers and practitioners acquire, interpret, and make use of research evidence.

The philanthropy wants to know, for instance, whether school administrators rely more on social networks in choosing classroom curricula than they do on formal programs like the federal What Works Clearinghouse? How influential are commercial vendors, advocacy groups, or think tanks in the decisions that policymakers make?

The grants aren't just for education research. Studies focusing on youth-related research in justice, child welfare, health, family support, and other areas also qualify. Applicants have until May 12 to submit a letter of inquiry.

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