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Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL)

Grants to USA Nonprofits and Agencies to Support
Research Teams Addressing Health Disparities

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

05/05/21 3:00 PM ET


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Grants to USA and territories nonprofit organizations and public agencies representing teams of researchers and community partners for research addressing health equity throughout the nation. Teams will work together to provide action-oriented, community-relevant research to improve the health and wellbeing of communities, and to promote health equity. The aim for the 2021 IRL program is to generate high-quality, community-engaged research useful for dismantling structural racism and improving health and health equity.

Applicants should focus on one of the two subthemes:

  1. Structural racism in health care
  2. Structural racism and community health and well-being
The broad goal of the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL) program is to produce diverse interdisciplinary leaders who conduct and apply high-quality, community-engaged, action-oriented research in order to drive improvements and promote equity in the health of their communities. The IRL fellowship emphasizes a shared leadership approach to research and seeks to enhance existing networks in both the academic and community settings. Central to the IRL goal is a commitment to deep community collaboration in order to build relevant, credible evidence that drives equitable change to improve health.

Accordingly, the program will recruit and select teams of three people—two researchers and one community leader—to become IRL program fellows. These IRL teams will join together as a diverse cohort of fellows who will participate in a three-year program. During this time, fellows will receive:

  • Leadership training
  • Opportunities for community-academic partnerships
  • Mentoring
  • Extensive opportunities to develop and grow networks
  • Expert consultations for research methods
  • Both fellowship and research funds

With these resources, IRL fellows, both researchers and community leaders, will be better equipped to effect change and become leaders in action-oriented research.

Program Activities can be found at

More about the themes can be found at

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 179183

Number of Grants:

Number of fellows in the 2021 cohort: up to 45 fellows (15 teams)

Estimated Size of Grant:

Stipend: $25,000 per fellow for each year of the three-year program, $75,000 in total. These funds are meant to support time for participation in the IRL program, including completing the program curriculum, national meetings, and dissemination activities, and will be paid to the sponsoring institution(s) as described below. An optional administrative fee of $1,000 per year, $3,000 in total, to cover the sponsoring organization’s administrative costs of managing the grant will be available. No other indirect costs will be allowed.

Research project grant: $125,000 for the specific research project that each team will carry out. The team will apply for the research project grant after the fellowship begins and, at that time, will select the organization that will receive and manage the research project grant. It is anticipated that the total 24- to 30-month budget, including indirect costs/overhead for the project will be up to $125,000. The research component of IRL will support research activities only; it is not intended to support program development or implementation. Research grant funds can be used to: cover additional effort as needed; purchase data or supplies; cover support staff; collect data; or pay for travel necessary for the project’s execution.

Travel expenses for all required program meetings and trainings will be paid directly by the national leadership program center or RWJF.

After the fellowship begins, funds of up to $15,000 per year will be available from the national program center to the community partner’s employer, sponsoring institution, or another community organization directly involved in the research project. This will generally be limited to Section 501(c)(3) public charities and government entities.

Term of Contract:

The program is three years in duration.

April–May 2022: Research grant funding initiated for teams.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligibility and Selection Criteria
- Be at least 21 years old as of September 1, 2021.
- Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or individual granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the time of application. As federal policy or laws change, we may need to consider adjustments in eligibility and grant terms.

The following individuals are not eligible to apply or be part of an Interdisciplinary Research Leaders team:
- Federal, state, tribal and local government employees who are considered government officials under Section 4946 of the Internal Revenue Code.
- Individual candidates who are related by blood or marriage to any Officer or Trustee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, or be a descendant of its founder, Robert Wood Johnson.
- Individuals who are receiving support from other research fellowships/traineeships; this includes NIH K award.

Funds will be available to the community partner’s employer, sponsoring institution, or another community organization directly involved in the research project. This will generally be limited to Section 501(c)(3) public charities and government entities. More about sponsoring institutions can be found at

Specific requirements for teams, community partners, and research partners can be found at

Pre-proposal Conference:

Informational Webinar - 2021 Call for Applications for the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Program

Please join staff at an Information Webinar for the 2021 Call for Applications for the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL) Program. During this webinar, you will learn about the 2021 IRL funding opportunity, application process, and will be able to ask questions

Mar 18, 2021 02:00 PM in Central Time (US and Canada)

Register at:

Pre-Application Information:

Key Dates:

- March 18, 2021 (3 p.m. ET or 2 p.m. CT): Informational webinar for prospective Interdisciplinary Research Leaders applicants. This informational webinar will provide more details and answer questions about the program. The webinar is optional, but please register in advance. The webinar will be recorded and available on the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders website, so you can view it on your own schedule.
- May 5, 2021 (3 p.m. ET): Deadline for receipt of fellowship application.
- June 29–July 20, 2021: Semifinalist team interviews (virtual).
- Late August 2021: Finalist teams notified of recommendation for fellowship program.
- September 15, 2021: Deadline for receipt of finalist supplemental applications.
- November 1, 2021: Fellowships begin. Grant funding initiated.
- Winter 2021–2022 (date TBD): Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program meeting (on-site attendance required unless there are public health concerns).
- April 7, 2022: Last date for revised research proposals from teams are due.
- 2022 (date TBD by RWJF): RWJF Annual Leadership Institute (in-person attendance required unless there are public health concerns), date and location TBD.
- April–May 2022: Research grant funding initiated for teams.

A committee made up of representatives from the national program center, the program’s national advisory committee (NAC), and RWJF staff members, will review applications based on the criteria described in this call for applications.

Semifinalists will be invited for online (e.g., Skype) interviews, and all team members must participate in the interviews to be eligible for selection. After the semifinalist interviews are completed, the NAC and the national program center will make recommendations to RWJF, and RWJF will make the final decisions.

Finalists will be required to submit additional information about the organization and, if any team member is employed full-time by another organization, finalists will be required to submit a form completed by the individual’s employer acknowledging the employee’s potential participation in the program.

Once selected, and with the help of IRL mentors, each team will have approximately four months to refine and submit its particular research proposal for review and approval by the national program center. Research funds will be released upon approval of the research proposal.


Watch the March 18, 2021 informational webinar recording:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply Online:

IRL National Program Center
Phone: (844) 210-9072 (toll-free)

Interdisciplinary Research Leaders
University of Minnesota School of Public Health
1300 South 2nd Street, Suite 300
Minneapolis, MN 55454

(844) 210-9072

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

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