Research Grants

RRF funds research that seeks to identify interventions, policies and practices to improve the well-being of older adults and/or their caregivers. Preference is given to projects aimed at generating practical knowledge and guidance that can be used by advocates, policy-makers, providers, and the aging network. Of particular interest are:

  • Interventional trials; translational studies; and health services and policy research

  • Projects that build on the investigator’s past studies

  • Proposals that include robust dissemination plans, if appropriate, to assure that findings reach audiences positioned to act on them

Research Grants are provided to nonprofit organizations that are:

  • Proposing applied research projects that have immediate and direct implications on the  adult population, ages 65 and older
  • Proposing a project that will have national relevance across the U.S. or regional relevance within the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, or Florida.

Please review our general grant exclusions before applying for a grant.

Please review the Foundation’s eligibility requirements and exclusions before beginning the application process.

RRF has three deadlines for optional Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) and three deadlines for grant applications.

Organizations may submit only one proposal or Letter of Inquiry per grant cycle. Common exceptions include proposals submitted by separate departments of large universities.

Proposals and LOIs will be accepted no later than 11:59 PM (CT) of the deadline day. If the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, proposals and LOIs will be accepted as late as 5:00 PM (CT) the following workday.

We recommend you review and complete the required application components outlined in the Apply section before beginning an online application form.

RRF 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 offers valuable one-time feedback as you prepare a full proposal.

The LOI should be submitted online as a Word or PDF attachment using this link:

Kindly use a 12-point Arial font. Please submit your LOIs according to these deadlines:

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

When a deadline falls on a weekend or federal holiday, the due date is moved to 5 p.m. CT the following work day.

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

  • Organization name and location
  • Identify which of RRF’s priority areas your project addresses (if any). Select only the primary area. If your project does not address a priority area, indicate why your project presents a promising opportunity to improve the quality of life of older people
  • Timeframe
  • Estimated project cost, amount of funding already secured (if applicable), and amount requested from RRF
  • 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
  • Why the applicant (and partner organizations, if any) are qualified to lead the effort

RRF requests that all proposals include the components outlined below. You will upload each of these documents as individual files via our online application.

Formatting Guidelines: 

  • Kindly use a 12-point Arial font
  • Word documents should be single-spaced with 1” margins
  • References are to be cited in APA format
  • The Executive Summary, Proposal Narrative, Budget Narrative, and Timeline are to be uploaded as Microsoft Office documents (.doc/.docx or .xls files)
  • The Budget should be uploaded as a Microsoft Excel file
  • 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 cost, and the 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
    • Preliminary Studies
      • Describe work you or your team has completed to date and how what is proposed builds on it; if none, state this
    • Project Goals and Objectives
      • Provide clear, concise, and complete goals and objectives
      • State the study’s hypotheses or specific research questions
    • Proposed Methods 
      • Research design
        • Discuss the type of research design, rationale for choosing that design, and information on control groups, if applicable
      • Sequence of the investigation
      • Sampling Plan
        • Discuss how samples will be identified and/or recruited, inclusion/exclusion criteria, sample sizes and, if possible, provide a statistical power calculation
      • Measurement
        • Discuss measurement, including operational definitions for all dependent, antecedent, and intervening variables
        • If existing scales are to be used, cite the references for each
        • If new measures are to be used, describe the process by which they are/will be developed and tested
      • Data collection plan
        • Explain who will collect each set of data, how they will do so, and when the data will be collected
        • Address how you will handle problems such as missing data or non-response to surveys
      • Data analysis plan
        • Discuss the stages you will use to analyze your data and what statistics you will run
        • Discuss different potential findings that might emerge, what conclusions you would draw from each, and what additional data analyses you would run as a result
        • Please name any statistical consultants you will rely on and include their resumes with your proposal
      • Ethical issues (if applicable)
        • Discuss how you will address issues of confidentiality, informed consent, and other human subject concerns
    • Dissemination
      • Share products, tools, reports, briefs, policy research papers, professional journals, etc., that will be developed (include samples, if applicable)
      • Describe target audiences that findings will be disseminated to, including groups, meetings, symposiums, etc., where the outcomes will be discussed, if appropriate
    • Plans for Continued Support
      • Clarify what you hope to know and will not be able to ascertain with the proposed research and future steps you would take as a function of different patterns of outcomes from your work
      • 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.
      • Include job descriptions for any staff to be hired.
  3. The Budget, Budget Narrative, and Timeline will be uploaded as three individual Microsoft Office 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% of the funds requested from RRF may be allocated 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, explaining how the request amount was computed. 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. See RRF's Authorized Signatures Page
    • Resumes of no more than 2-3 pages for the Project Director and other key project staff. Include job descriptions for positions to be filled. 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
    • Letters of commitment from collaborators, if applicable. Upload in one file
    • IRS 501(c)(3) designation letter or other evidence of federal nonprofit status
    • Most recent audited financial report (preferred) or IRS 990
    • Most recent annual report (an optional item)

RRF has an online process to submit grant requests.

Please read the following instructions carefully before beginning a new online application. RRF recommends printing or saving these instructions for reference when continuing work on an application.

A. How to Create an RRF Online Application Account and Start an Application:

  1. Google Chrome will not work properly with RRF’s grant portal. You must use another Internet Browser to prevent issues while applying, such as Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, or Microsoft Edge.
  2. Only click on this button ONCE to login or create your RRF Online Application Account and create a form for a new application. Clicking on this button more than once will result in multiple blank application forms.
  3. Select Continue an Application in the sidebar if you want to continue working on an in-progress application.
  4. The first time you apply, you will need to click on the New Applicant? button located below the E-mail field to create your account.
  5. Once you sign in or create an account, a new online application form will be created. When you finish a section of the form, click on the Next button displayed at the bottom of the screen to continue to the next section.  If you need to stop working on the form before it is complete, click on the Save & Finish Later button, so that you can return to the application at a later date. We recommend saving your application regularly (every thirty minutes) to avoid timeout errors.

B. Tips for Continuing to Work on an RRF Online Application:

Please note inactive applications will be purged from our system following 120 days of inactivity.

To continue working on an RRF online application form, click on the Continue an Application button.

If you have multiple application forms listed, please delete each blank, unneeded form by clicking on the garbage can icon displayed to the right of the application form’s listing in your online account.

If you encounter issues or have any unanswered questions, please contact RRF Foundation for Aging at 773-714-8080 or via

The due dates for all grant reports are listed on page four of the RRF Grant Award Letters sent to applicants who are awarded grants.

The need for both interim reports and a final report is at the discretion of the RRF Program Officer assigned to a grant. Therefore, interim reports may be required for some grants, but not for others.

Grantees will submit their reports electronically via the applicable report form(s) uploaded into the grantees’ RRF Online Applications and Requirements accounts. Grantees will receive an email notifying them when the applicable report form(s) have been uploaded into their account. In addition, they will receive instructions about how to access the forms via an RRF Online Applications and Requirements Account.

Documents describing the information to be included in the grant report(s) may be accessed via the links below:

Interim Reporting Requirements For RRF Grantees

Final Reporting Requirements For RRF Grantees

Things to Know

Learn about general grant exclusions, search our FAQs, read evaluation guidelines and learn how to develop SMART objectives.

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