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Research — Overview

The Retirement Research Foundation funds research projects that have a regional or national impact on older Americans.  Of particular interest are projects that:

  • Seek causes and solutions to significant problems facing older adults, ages 65 and older, through support of applied and policy research for which federal funding is not available

Research — Eligibility

Research Grants are provided to organizations that are:

  • Tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; OR non-profit organizations that are not required to have a 501(c)(3) designation, such as state-funded universities
  • Nonprofit organizations, including but not limited to institutions of higher education


RRF does not fund the following:

  • Biomedical, theory development, or dissertation research
  • Research that is not specifically focused on aging
  • Conferences or fundraising events
  • Governmental agencies, except for state universities, area agencies on aging, and programs of the Veterans Administration

First Step – A Letter of Inquiry

The Retirement Research Foundation acknowledges the time and effort needed to submit a proposal and invites interested applicants to submit a brief Letter of Inquiry (LOI).

This step is optional, but may offer valuable feedback as you prepare a full proposal.

An LOI may be emailed to as a Word or PDF attachment. Please submit LOIs according to these deadlines:

Submit LOI by:           For the Following Proposal Deadline:
December 1                  February 1
March 15                       May 1
June 15                         August 1

Include the following information in your two-page Letter of Inquiry:

  • The issue the study will address
  • Why this research is needed at the present time
  • Potential regional or national impact of the research findings
  • Outline of research questions, study design, and study methods
  • Timeframe
  • Why the applicant (and partner organizations, if any) are qualified to lead the effort
  • Estimated cost of the project, the amount of funding already secured (if applicable), and the amount requested from RRF


Additional search words for this web page:

letter of intent

Research — Apply

For applicants from universities or hospital organizations, please note that RRF prefers that the applicant is the university or the hospital, rather than a foundation affiliated with the university or hospital.  If you have questions about this, please contact RRF directly before you submit your application.

The Foundation has an online application form to guide organizations in preparing and presenting their proposals.


A. Tips For Opening An Online Application Account:

  1. Use either Internet Explorer or Firefox as your Internet Browser to minimize issues while working on your application.  Google’s Chrome will not work properly with our online application form.
  2. Only use the HERE choice below or the APPLY ONLINE button (displayed in the right-hand column) ONCE to initially set up your account for access to our online application form.
  3. Use of the HERE choice or the APPLY ONLINE button more than once will result in you having multiple blank copies of the application form which may cause confusion.

B. Tips For Working On An Online Application Form:

  1. Once you have created your online application account, save the following web address to your Favorites in your Internet Browser so that you can easily re-open the application form to continue working on it:
  2. Name the web address in your Favorites with a name such as “RRF Application Access”.
  3. Upon opening your online application account, notice that the application form has a five digit ID number.  Record that ID number to make it easy to return to that application form every time you re-open your online application account.
  4. If you have multiple blank copies of the application form in your account, please delete each duplicate form by clicking on the garbage can icon displayed at the right-hand end of an application form’s listing in your online account.  Their deletion will help avoid confusion about which application form you are working on.

The Responsive Grant Online Application form is available by clicking HERE.

RRF requests that all proposals include the following components as outlined in 1-4.  After you have completed the online application form, you will be asked to upload each of these documents as individual Microsoft Word or PDF files. Budgets may be uploaded as Microsoft Excel or PDF files.  Please note that, except for the Executive Summary and Bios/Resumes, there is no page or length restriction.

  1. The Executive Summary is a separate two-to three-page summary that concisely describes the project. The Executive Summary offers a succinct overview of your project and allows RRF to better understand what you are trying to accomplish. Include brief information about the project’s need, objectives, methods, total project cost, and amount requested from RRF. If the proposed study is technical in nature, please use lay terminology in the Executive Summary.
  2. The Proposal Narrative provides an opportunity for you to describe your project thoroughly to RRF by addressing the following:
    • Applicant Organization – Include a brief history of your organization, recent accomplishments, and the organization’s qualifications to lead this project.
    • Project Significance
      • Importance and relevance of the proposed project
      • Literature review, describing existing knowledge related to the study’s aims and methods
      • How the project complements or extends existing knowledge in the field
      • Anticipated contribution to the field
    • Project Objectives
      • Provide clear, concise, and complete objectives
      • State the study’s hypotheses or specific research questions
    • Proposed Methods
      • Research design
      • Study hypotheses, if relevant
      • Sequence of the investigation
      • Sample size and how samples will be identified and/or recruited
      • Eligibility and exclusion criteria
      • Types of data to be obtained
      • Data analyses planned
      • Data interpretation planned
      • Ethical issues regarding the use of human subjects (if applicable)
    • Dissemination
      • Products, tools, reports, briefs, policy research papers, professional journals, etc., that will be developed (include samples, if applicable)
      • Target audiences that findings will be disseminated to, including groups, meetings, symposiums, etc., where the outcomes will be discussed
    • Plans for Continued Support
      • Describe plans to fund any next phases of the research
    • Personnel
      • Provide information about project director or principal investigator, co-investigators, and other key personnel and their qualifications to lead this project
  3. The Budget, Budget Narrative, and Timeline will be uploaded as three individual Microsoft Office or PDF documents.  While RRF does not require a standard form for these documents, samples are provided for illustrative purposes.  You may use more than one page for each document.
    • The Line Item Budget includes all expenses and income, including grant funds requested from RRF and funds received and/or requested from other sources for this project, if any. Please include the percentage of time allocated for project staff.  Up to 10 percent of the budget may be requested from RRF for indirect project costs. See RRF’s Budget Sample.
    • The Budget Narrative describes how the budget relates to the proposed project activities. Budget narratives generally contain a description for each line item identified in the budget. If the project director and/or principal investigator are engaged in other projects, identify the percentage of time and compensation from these projects. See RRF’s Budget Narrative Sample.
    • The Timeline corresponds directly to the activities that are described in the proposal. See RRF’s Timeline Sample.
  4. In addition to the documents listed above, you will also be asked to upload: 
    • The Signature Page to provide proof of who in your organization has authorized this project
    • Bios or resumes of no more than 2-3 pages for the Project Director and other key personnel. Upload in one file.
    • Current Board of Directors roster with affiliations. Upload in one file.
    • Signed letters of support, if appropriate. Upload in one file.
    • Signed letters of commitment from collaborators, if applicable. Upload in one file.
    • IRS 501(c)(3) designation letter or other evidence of federal non-profit status
    • Most recent audited financial report (preferred) or IRS 990
    • Most recent annual report (an optional item)