Congressional Research Grants
Information about the Congressional Research Grants Sponsored by The Dirksen Congressional Center
NOTE: The next deadline for applications is April 1 of the current year. Grants will be announced by May 15.
The Dirksen Congressional Center invites applications for grants to fund research on congressional leadership and the U.S. Congress. The Center, named for the late Senate Minority Leader Everett M. Dirksen, is a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization devoted to the study of Congress. Since 1978, the Congressional Research Grants program has invested more than $1,000,000 to support over 462 projects. Applications are accepted at any time, but the deadline is April 1 for the annual selections, which are announced in May.
The Center has allocated up to $30,000 in 2017 for grants with individual awards capped at $3,500.
Who is qualified to apply?
The competition is open to individuals with a serious interest in studying Congress. Political scientists, historians, biographers, scholars of public administration or American studies, and journalists are among those eligible. The Center encourages graduate students who have successfully defended their dissertation prospectus to apply and awards a significant portion of the funds for dissertation research. Applicants must be U.S. citizens who reside in the United States.
The grants program does not fund undergraduate or pre-Ph.D. study. Organizations are not eligible. Research teams of two or more individuals are eligible. No institutional overhead or indirect costs may be claimed against a Congressional Research Grant.
What kind of research projects are eligible for consideration?
The Center’s first interest is to fund the study of the leadership in the Congress, both House and Senate. Topics could include external factors shaping the exercise of congressional leadership, institutional conditions affecting it, resources and techniques used by leaders, or the prospects for change or continuity in the patterns of leadership. In addition, The Center invites proposals about congressional procedures, such as committee operation or mechanisms for institutional change, and Congress and the electoral process.
The Center also encourages proposals that link Congress and congressional leadership with the creation, implementation, and oversight of public policy. Proposals must demonstrate that Congress, not the specific policy, is the central research interest.
The Center does NOT require grant recipients to use historical materials in its collections.
The research for which assistance is sought must be original, culminating in new findings or new interpretation, or both. The grants program was developed to support work intended for publication in some form or for application in a teaching or policy-making setting. Research produced by previous grant recipients has resulted in books, papers, articles, course lectures, videotapes, and computer software.
What could a Congressional Research Grant pay for?
Generally speaking, a grant can cover almost any aspect of a qualified research project, such as travel to conduct research, duplication of research material, purchase of data sets, and costs of clerical, secretarial, research, or transcription assistance. This list is merely illustrative. Specifically excluded from funding are the purchase of equipment, tuition support, salary support for the principal investigator(s), indirect costs or institutional overhead, travel to professional meetings, and publication subsidies.
Grants range from a few hundred dollars to $3,500. Stipends will be awarded to individuals (not organizations) on a competitive basis. Grants will normally extend for one year. In some circumstances, the Center will make more than one grant to a single individual in consecutive years, but not more than three grants to the same person in a five-year period.
The Internal Revenue Service requires The Center to report disbursements of more than $600 to individuals. Accordingly, we file a 1099-MISC reporting grant payments. If potential recipients prefer to have payments made to a university foundation on their behalf, they must submit with their proposal a letter from the responsible official stipulating that no indirect or overhead costs will be charged against the grant. In other words, the entire amount must be paid out to the individual.
How do I apply?
Download the Word document -- Congressional Research Grant Application -- and complete the required entries. You may send the application as a Word or pdf attachment to an e-mail directed to Frank Mackaman at email@example.com. Please insert the following in the Subject Line: “CRG Application [insert your surname].” Thank you.
The Congressional Research Grant Application contains the following elements:
Congressional Research Grant Project Description. A description of the project's goals, methods, and intended results demonstrating clearly its importance to the grants program priorities. This is the most essential element of the application. Be sure to explain the project's significance and relationship to existing scholarship. Recommended length: five pages.
Budget. Indicate how funds will be spent and the extent of matching funds available, if any. Recommended length: one-half page.
Curriculum Vita. The vita or resume should not exceed two pages.
Reference Letter. Graduate students (those who have successfully defended their dissertation proposal) must arrange for a letter of reference from the person directing their dissertation work. The letter should be sent on institutional letterhead as a signed pdf attachment to Frank Mackaman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Length not to exceed one page—additional pages will not be forwarded to the judges.
Overhead Waiver Letter. Upon selection, grant recipients who wish to have payments made to an institutional entity on their behalf will be required to submit a letter from the responsible official stipulating that no indirect or overhead costs will be charged against the grant. In other words, the entire amount must be paid out to the individual. The Overhead Waiver Letter should be sent on institutional letterhead as a signed pdf attachment to Frank Mackaman at email@example.com.
IMPORTANT: The entire application when printed must NOT exceed ten pages. Applications may be single-spaced. Please use fonts no smaller than 10-point. This total does NOT include the reference letter (one additional page) or the Overhead Waiver Letter (one additional page).
How are recipients selected?
Proposals are judged by the significance of the research project; the project's design, plan of work, and dissemination; the applicant's qualifications; the relationship of the project to The Center's program goals and to current work in the field; and, the appropriateness of the budget request for the project's requirements.
For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.
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