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Health Policy Research Scholars (HPRS)

Opportunity for USA Doctoral Students to Participate
in a Public Health Leadership Development Program

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

03/14/18 3:00 PM ET Receipt


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An opportunity providing a stipend of $30,000 per year and a dissertation grant of up to $10,000 is available to USA and territories second-year doctoral students from disadvantaged backgrounds and underrepresented populations to participate in a public health leadership development program. Applications are invited from diverse doctoral students representing a broad range of research-oriented disciplines.


Health Policy Research Scholars (HPRS) is a four-year national leadership development program for full-time doctoral students (a fifth year, without stipend, is optional). The program seeks students from any academic discipline who are interested in translating their research into evidence-informed health policy. The Foundation seeks students who want to use their skills to become change agents.

The Foundation strongly encourages applications from students from diverse fields of study that are not health sciences. The Foundation seeks applications from full-time students who are from underrepresented populations and/or disadvantaged backgrounds whose racial, socioeconomic, ability status, and personal factors allow them to bring unique and diverse perspectives to their research. Applicants must be entering the second year of their doctoral program at the time of enrollment in the program (September 2018).

While completing their doctoral program, Health Policy Research Scholars participants will:
-Learn how to apply discipline-based research training to health policy related work in new ways to meet the pressing needs of communities;
-Engage in interdisciplinary collaborations to create a healthier, more equitable future for all people; and
-Develop leadership skills to advance a Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) recognizes that the increasing diversity in the country’s population can best be served where research and researchers also reflect that diversity. Diverse perspectives are needed as the nation identifies key health policy questions and evaluates the impact of proposed policy solutions in the nation. The disproportionate burden of poor health (and the disproportionate exposure to environmental and socioeconomic conditions that lead to poor health) is borne by individuals disadvantaged because of their race or ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or other factors. That is why increasing the number of doctoral scholars from disadvantaged backgrounds and populations underrepresented in doctoral programs is an essential step in building a Culture of Health.


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is committed to working and collaborating with all to build a Culture of Health. As a country, we face critical health challenges—challenges that demand new and different solutions, challenges that require us all to work together more than ever before. Life expectancy varies widely based on where people grow up, live, work, and play. As a nation, we spend more for our health care than any other developed nation, yet the quality of our health care and our overall health status don’t reflect that investment. Our population is increasingly diverse, yet inequities in health care and health persist.

That’s why the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is committed to working and collaborating with all to build a Culture of Health to enable all in our diverse society to lead healthier lives, now and for generations to come. RWJF believes health should be a fundamental and guiding social value—and that America should become a nation in which promoting health is as important as treating illness.

Our nation’s ability to tackle these health challenges depends on the skills and creativity of our leaders. However, many people in leadership roles have not had the benefit of formal leadership training, the opportunity to work with skilled mentors and coaches, the chance to network with and learn from others who are faced with similar challenges, and the opportunity to build and contribute to a network of leaders advancing health, well-being and equity.

The Foundation recognizes that a new kind of leader is needed to build a Culture of Health. The nation needs leaders who refuse to be siloed, leaders who refuse to do things the way they have always been done, leaders from all walks of life who reflect the marvelous diversity of our nation. The Foundation has been investing in leadership from its earliest days, and its current programs are built on the solid foundation laid by those programs.

The four newest programs, which include the Health Policy Research Scholars program, as well as Culture of Health Leaders, Clinical Scholars, and Interdisciplinary Research Leaders, are designed to equip just that kind of leader—leaders with the skills they need to create and sustain a Culture of Health. These programs aim to connect people across sectors as well as disciplines, capitalize on technology to promote collaboration and mentoring, and reach and support more people. The Foundation believes participation in these programs will lead to enriching and lifelong partnerships with other participants and the Foundation as agencies work together to build and strengthen healthy practices. The Foundation also expects that alumni of these new programs will serve as valuable role models and mentors for future participants.

These programs are part of a broader spectrum of leadership programs that RWJF offers to leaders across sectors at varying stages of their careers.

The Foundation’s other leadership programs include:
-Summer Health Professions Education Program is a free summer enrichment program focused on improving access to information and resources for college students interested in the health professions.
-ASTHO Leadership Institute aims to accelerate the leadership development of new state/territorial health officials as policymakers, administrators, and advocates for the health of the public.
-Harold Amos Faculty Development Program is designed to increase the number of faculty from historically disadvantaged backgrounds who can achieve senior rank in academic medicine, dentistry, or nursing.
-New Connections aims to provide networking and skill-building opportunities to early- and mid- career scholars who are from underrepresented or historically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Foundation’s goal is to help build the next generations of leaders—leaders who will collaborate across sectors to upend the status quo, address health disparities, and take bold steps to achieve greater equity in communities across the country.

The Program:

The goal of Health Policy Research Scholars is to create a large cadre of diverse doctoral students from a wide variety of research-focused disciplines—students whose research, connections, and leadership will inform and influence policy toward a Culture of Health. Specifically, the Foundation aims to recruit doctoral students from a variety of fields/disciplines (e.g., urban planning, political science, economics, ethnography, education, social work, sociology) who are training to be researchers. For the 2018 cohort, the Health Policy Research Scholars program will enroll up to 40 scholars interested in learning to translate their research into health policy and who are from underrepresented populations and/or disadvantaged backgrounds. Examples of eligible individuals include, but are not limited to, first-generation college graduates; individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds; individuals from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in doctoral programs; and individuals with disabilities. Scholars in this program—which is designed to enhance and enrich the doctoral program—will complete the Health Policy Research Scholars program concurrently with their doctoral program.

Home Institution Mentor:

At the time of application, applicants must identify a faculty mentor (or a provisional mentor) at their home institution. The applicant’s home institution is the doctoral-degree-granting institution. The applicant’s home institution mentor will be asked to confirm serving in this role in a written agreement.

The home institution mentor will:
-Be responsible for academic support and career guidance at the scholar’s home institution, where the scholar is completing his or her doctoral program;
-Have periodic meetings with the scholar;
-Be REQUIRED to participate in-person at the HPRS Fall Institute, October 5–7, 2018;
-Receive reimbursement for reasonable expenses to attend the Mentor Scholar Institute; and,
-Receive a yearly honorarium for mentoring the scholar through the academic year.

Program Activities:

Scholars will attend in-person and online learning seminars and courses, participate in research, attend research presentations, and contribute to publications, concurrently with their doctoral program. These activities are designed to support and enrich the doctoral program.

Participants should anticipate spending up to one-half day per week during the academic year and from two to four weeks during summers in years 1 through 3 on program-related activities.

Scholars will also become members of the nationwide RWJF Leadership Network, a community of thousands of leaders committed to building a Culture of Health.

Program Goals:

After Health Policy Research Scholars program completion, the scholar should:
-Have extensive knowledge of the multiple determinants of health.
-Be able to apply research and interdisciplinary collaboration skills to engage multiple sectors (e.g., policy, education, business, communities, institutions, and agencies) to effectively translate research findings that will inform health policies leading to health equity.
-Use strategies to leverage diverse interdisciplinary networks of researchers.
-Have the opportunity to establish meaningful and sustained relationships and collaborations with other RWJF change leaders and programs.
-Have the opportunity to contribute to research and a national dialogue on health policy and equity leading to a Culture of Health.

Scholars will work with their home institutions to determine how the grant funds will be used to support the participants’ successful completion of the program. Examples of appropriate use of funds include paying for expenses such as: living or child care expenses; research expenses or statistical software; registration fees for relevant conferences, workshops, or professional associations; conference, professional development, or research-related travel; equipment such as laptops, tablets, audio recorders or other devices needed for research or other program requirements; and supplies including books and other education-related materials. Grant funding is not intended to support the participant’s tuition, fees, or other education-related charges, but it may be used for that purpose if needed by the HPRS participant. Grant funding is also not intended to support indirect expenses of the home institution.

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

The Foundation strongly encourages home institutions to waive indirect/overhead so the full amount of the stipend is available to the participant. If indirect/overhead charges must be applied, they may not exceed 12 percent of the total stipend amount and will be a reduction of the amount available to the participant.

Grant funding is not intended to replace existing funding such as teaching assistantships, research assistantships, grants, or other education-related support. However, the Foundation strongly encourages applicants to discuss the impact that receiving this award may have on other assistance with their home institutions prior to submitting an application.

Scholars will only receive payments if they continue to be in good standing according to their home institution’s criteria, maintain full-time student status, have a 3.0 grade point average (if the doctoral program uses grade point averages), and have satisfactory participation in program-related activities.

In the event that the scholar changes home institutions during the grant period, the stipend will follow the scholar to the new home institution if the scholar continues to meet the eligibility requirements and the new home institution meets the above requirements. In such a case, additional documentation will be required.

The grant opportunity outlined in this call for applications is contingent upon final funding confirmation from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for such grants.

Selection Criteria:

RWJF, in collaboration with the Health Policy Research Scholars national program center and national advisory committee, will select scholars.

The selection criteria will include:
-The eligibility criteria described below;
-A commitment to use discipline-based research training to affect health policy and leadership to improve population health;
-Commitment to leadership in Culture of Health activities;
-Readiness to engage with different sectors (e.g., health, education, policy, business);
-Interest in and willingness to use interdisciplinary research approaches;
-Evidence of support and commitment from home institution faculty member and/or department; and,
-Potential to become a change leader and contribute to the broader vision of building a Culture of Health.

Consideration will also be given to the number of individuals from one home institution within a selected cohort.

Diversity Statement:

Consistent with RWJF values, this program embraces diversity and inclusion across multiple dimensions, such as race, ethnicity, gender, disability, age and socioeconomic status. The Foundation strongly encourages applications in support of individual candidates who will help expand the perspectives and experiences. The Foundation believes that the more it includes diverse perspectives and experiences in its work, the more successful it will be in building a Culture of Health.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 179179

Number of Grants:

The Health Policy Research Scholars program will award stipends for up to 40 scholars for the 2018 cohort.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Each scholar will receive an annual stipend of $30,000 for up to four years. Scholars will also be eligible for dissertation grants of up to $10,000 if the proposed dissertation is related to health policy research.

Term of Contract:

Each scholar will receive an annual stipend for up to four years. Participants may continue in the Health Policy Research Scholars program, without the annual stipend, for a fifth year, or until they complete their doctoral program, whichever occurs first.

The program begins September 1, 2018.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

The Health Policy Research Scholars program is open to full-time, second-year (as of September 2018) doctoral students from underrepresented populations and/or disadvantaged backgrounds, from any research-focused discipline.

Eligible second-year students must have at least three years remaining in their doctoral program, and must not be expecting to graduate before September 1, 2021. Students must be interested in learning to apply their discipline-based research to affect health policy research.

Prior experience or knowledge in health policy is not required or expected. Health Policy Research Scholars is not intended for students pursuing a clinical doctorate without a research focus. Rather, the program is designed for doctoral students from any academic discipline (e.g., urban planning, political science, economics, ethnography, education, social work, sociology) in a research-focused program.

Examples of eligible individuals include, but are not limited to, first-generation college graduates; individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds; individuals from racial or ethnic groups that are underrepresented in doctoral programs; and individuals with disabilities.

Additional eligibility criteria include:
-Applicants must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or individuals granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the time of application. Changes in federal policy or law may necessitate that we consider adjustments in eligibility and grant terms.
-Applicants must be at least 21 years old as of September 1, 2018.
-Federal, state, tribal or local government employees who are not considered government officials1 under Section 4946 of the Internal Revenue Code are eligible to apply.
-Applicants cannot be 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.

All participant stipends will be paid to the scholar’s degree-granting institution (“home institution”). Home institutions must be based in the United States or its territories and be willing to receive the funds from RWJF. Home institutions should have the administrative and financial capacity and experience to accept the award and to be able to distribute funds in a manner consistent with the permitted use of funds

Pre-proposal Conference:

A webinar for potential applicants of all four leadership programs will be held January 23, 2018.

Interested applicants are encouraged to participate in an optional applicant webinar scheduled for February 1, 2018 (12:00 - 1:00 PM ET). You must register in advance. The webinar will be recorded and made available to those who are not able to participate.

Pre-Application Information:

Applications are due March 14, 2018, 3:00 PM ET.

Applicants will submit an initial application and be selected based on the eligibility criteria and review of supporting materials. A committee made up of representatives from the national program center, the national advisory committee, and RWJF staff members review each application based on the eligibility criteria.

Semifinalists may be required to complete an additional assessment—which will measure additional skills related to successful HPRS potential—and will be invited for online web conference interviews.

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 provide additional “Supplemental Application” information, including a form completed by each individual’s home institution documenting that the organization is willing to fulfill the requirements as a home institution.

Both home institution mentors and finalists will be required to sign an agreement with the HPRS national program center documenting their willingness to participate in HPRS program activities.

Key Dates:
-January 23, 2018: Webinar for potential applicants of all four leadership programs
-February 1, 2018: Webinar for interested applicants for the Health Policy Research Scholars program
-March 14, 2018 (3:00 PM ET): Deadline for receipt of full applications.
-April 30–May 25, 2018: Semifinalist applicant interviews.
-Mid-June 2018: Finalists notified of funding recommendations.
-July 11, 2018: Deadline for receipt of finalist supplemental applications.
-September 1, 2018: Program begins. Stipend funding initiated for program participants.
-October 5–7, 2018: HPRS Fall Institute for mentors and scholars (in-person participation required).
-January 11–15, 2019: HPRS scholar meeting and RWJF Annual Leadership Institute, Indianapolis. (in-person participation required).


Contact Information:

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

Register for the January 23 webinar:

Register for the February 1 webinar:

Apply Online:

Health Policy Research Scholars
Milken Institute School of Public Health
The George Washington University
2175 K Street, N.W., Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20037

(202) 994-4369

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)