Faculty Research Grants

Faculty Research Funding Overview

The Center for the Study of Inequality (CSI) is delighted to announce the 2020-21 Faculty Research Grant program. This program supports cutting-edge social scientific research into the patterns, causes, and consequences of social and economic inequality.

Proposals should engage contemporary social science inequality literature, demonstrate creativity and potential to advance inequality scholarship, and lead to publications in peer-reviewed social science journals and/or to successful external grant proposals. Proposals will be judged on their academic rigor, intellectual creativity, potential contributions to the inequality literature and inequality research infrastructure (e.g., collection of new and publicly available data), and social scientific merit.

The program is possible through a generous grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies. The deadline for application is April 1, 2021.

Request for Proposals

Grant Amount and Eligible Expenses

Grants will be made in amounts up to $75,000. We anticipate funding 3-4 grants at this level.

Funds should support data collection, data analysis, and write-up of the results. Eligible expenditures include undergraduate and graduate research assistance (including academic year stipends, internal tuition fees, and summer stipends), specialized research materials and equipment, survey costs, incentives for experimental subjects, and other direct costs of research.

Requests for summer salary support of up to 1/9th and for travel to meet with collaborators will be considered, but given the lowest priority in funding decisions.

Grants cannot be used to cover computer purchases; association membership fees; conference travel or registration; publication fees; support for students’ qualifying papers, masters theses, or dissertations; or expenses prohibited under University rules. Funds are also intended to support tenure-line faculty and students at Cornell University, and cannot be used to pay stipends, academic salaries, summer salaries, travel, health care expenses, or fees for collaborators outside of Cornell. If you have a question about allowable expenses, please contact Mary Newhart (mjn3@cornell.edu).

Eligible Applicants

We welcome proposals from tenure-track faculty members of any rank in the social sciences. Established researchers should show that the proposed project explores a new research question or approach, and is not an incremental addition to ongoing lines of research. Collaborative proposals are encouraged, but not required. We will accept proposals from past winners, but all else equal we would prefer to fund new recipients.

Required Output

In addition to reporting any findings generated by the supported research in traditional academic outlets, grant recipients will be asked to prepare a report on their research for non-academic audiences. This may take the form of a policy brief, white paper, op-ed, podcast, interview, or some product that will reach a non-academic audience. CSI can assist with dissemination.

We strongly encourage PIs to co-author papers off the project with their graduate student RAs, publish their papers in open access journals and pre-print servers (e.g., SocArXiv, eCommons), and follow best practices for open science (e.g., preregistration of experiments, code and data sharing via readily available replication packages).

Proposal Requirements

Eligible applicants should submit a proposal that includes the following:

  • Title, description of the research, objectives, planned activities, and expected outputs. This section of the proposal should not exceed 6 single-spaced pages.
  • A budget with an itemized list of, and justification for, expenses.
  • A timeline for the research.
  • Plans for follow-up research and, if relevant, external funding proposals.
  • Any Covid-19 adjustments to research plans – e.g. travel bans and social distancing requirements
  • Curriculum Vitae for PIs and co-PIs. CVs for RAs are not necessary.
  • It’s not necessary to secure IRB approval prior to applying, but funded projects that involve human subjects will need IRB approval before CSI can disburse the funds.

Not including the CVs, the proposal should not exceed 8 pages. Please submit it as a single PDF file by email to mjn3@cornell.edu no later than 11:59 pm EST, April 1, 2021.


We will announce awards by May and make funds available by summer of 2021.

Award winners must use the funds within 18 months of receipt or receive written permission from the Director to extend up to an additional 6 months. Unused funds will return to CSI.

Grant Administration Requirements

The grant will be administered by the PI’s department. The PI will be asked to submit a brief, mid-grant report in December of the first year, and a longer report at the completion of the project. The “Required Output” section identifies additional terms of the grant.

Requests to reallocate funds across budgeted items of more than 10% of the total grant need to be approved by the CSI Director in advance.


Are these grants only for domestic work, or can one apply to do a project on inequality in some other part of the world?

These grants may be applied toward domestic and international research.

Do applicants have to be in a clearly demarcated social science department? 

We require that the PI be a social scientist.

What is the scope of research topics that are acceptable?

Proposals must engage contemporary social science inequality literature. For a list of previously funded projects, please see our list of funded projects below.

Can the proposals be for lower amounts to fund a specific research trip or targeted data collection?

We will consider a proposal for a lower amount, although it may be better to apply to the ISS small grant program (http://socialsciences.cornell.edu/grants/).

Can the grant fund a semester of faculty salary, e.g. for off-site data collection, analysis and write-up?

Because we prioritize funding graduate or undergraduate student RAs and the direct costs of data collection, we discourage faculty members from using the grants in this way.  However, we don’t specifically disallow it; we’ve just found that some of our reviewer pools have been very opposed to using the grants to buy out faculty time.

Funded Projects

2020-21 Awards

The Interpretation, Use, and Influence of Evaluative Information in K-12 Schooling
Kendra Bischoff (Sociology)

Africa Futures Project – Socioeconomic and Geographic Mobility of Ghanaian, Kenyan, and South African Youth
Tristan D. Ivory (ILR - International and Comparative Labor)

Reducing Racial-Ethnic Inequality in Access to and Benefits of Opioid Treatments and Services
Laura Tach (Policy Analysis and Management) and Jerel Ezell (Africana Studies and Research Center)

Juggling Profit and Purpose: The Dilemma of For-Profit Affordable Housing Developers
Michael A. Tomlan (City and Regional Planning)

Inequality and the Distribution of Social Capital
Cristobal Young (Sociology), Benjamin Cornwell (Sociology), and Barum Park (Sociology)

2019-20 Awards

Criminal Record Inaccuracies and the Effects of a Criminal Record Education Intervention on Employment-Related Outcomes
Erin York Cornwell (Sociology) and Martin T. Wells (Statistics and Data Science)

Understanding Economic Elites’ Attitudes toward Democracy, Redistribution, and Racial/Ethnic Diversity in Latin America
Gustavo Flores-Macías (Government)

Promise Fulfilled? Title IX and Gender Inequality in American Higher Education
Vida Maralani (Sociology) and Celene Reynolds (Cornell Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow)

Dividing Lines: School District Boundaries and the Geography of Unequal Opportunity
Peter Rich (PAM)

Emerging Inequality in New York State Solar Energy Development
Richard C. Stedman (Natural Resources)

Spatial Inequality, Labor Protections and the Role of State and Local Government
Mildred E. Warner (City and Regional Planning)

Sick Pay Mandates as a Policy Instrument to Reduce Inequality in the U.S. Labor Market
Nicolas R. Ziebarth (PAM)

2018-2019 Awards

Exploring Behavioral and Design Constraints to Drought Insurance to Improve Socioeconomic Mobility Among A Poor Rural Population
Christopher B. Barrett (Dyson – Applied Economics & Management)
Collaborators: Dr. Joanna B. Upton, Research Associate, Dyson School; Glenn Harrison, C.V. Starr Professor of Risk Management and Insurance, and Director, Center for the Economic Analysis of Risk, Georgia State University; Dr. Nathan D. Jensen, Senior Research Scientist, International Livestock Research Institute (Kenya and Ethiopia); Karlijn Morsink, Utrecht University (Netherlands); Dr. Mark Schneider, Center for the Economic Analysis of Risk, Georgia State University

Improving Access to The Best Teachers: Two Studies of Teacher Quality
Maria Fitzpatrick (Policy Analysis and Management)

Temporary Immigration Status and Worker Precarity
Shannon Gleeson (ILR – Labor Relations, Law, and History) and Kati Griffith (ILR – Labor Relations, Law, and History)

“The Poor Build Their Homes with Sweat”: Farmworkers, Rural Poverty, and the Fight for Affordable Housing
Verónica Martínez-Matsuda (ILR – Labor Relations, Law, and History)

Pre-Marital Cohabitation and Diverging Destinies: Gender & Class Differences in Life Trajectories and Family Formation
Sharon Sassler (Policy Analysis and Management)

2017-2018 Awards

Neighborhood Context and Health Inequalities in Later Life
Erin York Cornwell (Sociology)

Assessing the Impact of Place-Based Policies on Economic Mobility
Laura Tach (Policy Analysis and Management)

The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Public Opinion and Political Engagement: Implications for Policy Sustainability and Political Inequality
Suzanne Mettler (Government)

Human Capital Inequality and Mobility in Madagascar
Christopher D. A. Boone (School of Hotel Administration), David E. Sahn (Economics), and Heidi Kaila (World Bank)

Buying Time with Children: Family Income, Mother’s Employment, and Time-Intensive Parenting across the Life Course
Vida Maralani (Sociology) and Berkay Ozcan (London School of Economics)

Racial Bias and Anti‐Immigrant Attitudes in Contemporary U.S. Politics
Peter K. Enns (Government) and Jonathon P. Schuldt (Communication)

2016-2017 Awards

The Long Run Impacts of Head Start:  Creating A New Funding Panel Dataset, and New Evidence on the Program’s Effectiveness in Promoting Equality of Opportunity
Douglas Miller (Policy Analysis and Management)

Linking NYC Administrative Data to Estimate Parental Incarceration’s Effects on Children
Chris Wildeman (Policy Analysis and Management) and Maria Fitzpatrick (Policy Analysis and Management)

Children, Gender, and Politics: A Developmental Approach to Understanding Inequalities in Democracy
Katherine D. Kinzler (Psychology and Human Development), Zachary Clopton (Cornell Law School), Andrei Cimpian (Psychology, New York University), and Melissa Ferguson (Psychology, project consultant)

The Political Causes and Consequences of Unequal Civil Legal Representation
Jamila Michener (Government, Cornell University) and Mallory SoRelle (Government and Law, Lafayette College)

Experimental Evidence on the Long-run and Intergenerational Impacts of Welfare Reform
Jordan Matsudaira (Policy Analysis and Management), Zhuan Pei (Policy Analysis and Management), and Pauline Leung (Policy Analysis and Management)