Q1. How is the Foundation being responsive to COVID-19?

Given the potential impact of the COVID-19 crisis on prospective young scholars, we are sharing how the Foundation is being responsive during the current 2021 Young Scholars Program application. Initially, the Foundation extended the YSP deadlines for both the Letter of Intent (LOI) and the Full Application stages to provide additional time for applicants to work on their submissions.

The Foundation will also provide temporary flexibility related to the eligibility requirement for full-time employment during the application process. At the time of the LOI submission deadline and, if invited, at the Full Application deadline, applicants whose full-time employment has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis may still submit research proposals for YSP.

  • The Foundation will accept submissions from scholars who have experienced a loss of employment and/or who are navigating a challenging market for employment.
  • Full-time employment at an eligible host institution must be secured by January 2021 when YSP semifinalists are determined.

Due to our own federal oversight for YSP, the Foundation is not able to waive the employment and host institution requirements in perpetuity. This temporary flexibility allows additional time for potential applicants to obtain employment during the YSP 2021 application process.

Q2. How do I complete the LOI questions related to employment and the host institution if I am not currently employed?
If such a situation applies, please send an email to ysp@​fcd-​us.​org to request instructions on how to complete the LOI.

Q3. Given all of the school closures due to COVID-19, can I still submit a proposal that requires in-person data collection?
The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, shelter-in place, or distance learning polices might affect your research questions and design. Please keep in mind that YSP research grants awarded will have an April/May 2021 start date. Given the unclear future context, it is the applicant’s choice to submit a research design which assumes that schools, centers, family child-care providers, etc. will be open or closed at the time data collection starts, or the design may consider both contingencies. Contingency planning is always encouraged, but not required. In all scenarios, how the design and methods are appropriate must be explained. Please note that if awarded, any constraints to implementing the proposed research that arises as a result of this ongoing crisis will be handled on an individual basis.

Q4. Are COVID-19 related ECE policy and program changes and their impact on the ECE workforce of interest to the Foundation?
Yes, these are appropriate YSP proposal topics, as long as the research questions are related to the ECE workforce and an implementation research design is used.


Q1. How do I set up an account to submit a LOI? 
The first step is to create an account by logging in to the online grants management system. Use code “2021YSP” to access the 2021 YSP LOI form.

Q2. Who should set up the account to submit an LOI?
Applicants should create the account so that they can fill out the information about their background and the proposed research project. The LOI is then completed and submitted online. (The system can only accommodate one username and password per proposal.)

Q3. How do I know that my affiliated organization/institution meets the eligibility requirements for YSP?
You must enter the 501(c)(3) entity information when you create an account. Please enter your organization/institution’s Tax ID number. The Foundation will use the Tax ID Number to verify IRS status. The format is “xx-xxxxxxx.” Government agencies and departments, including public universities, must apply through a non-profit partner that will receive, process, and support the funded research project if awarded (e.g., ABC University Foundation). If you are unsure of your Tax ID Number, those in a university setting should check with your Office of Sponsored Projects, while others should check with your Development Office.

If the organization’s/institution’s name is different from the name of the 501(c)(3) entity, please provide the name of the organization that you are employed by that is served by the 501(c)(3) entity.

Q4. Do I have to be nominated to apply for YSP?
YSP is an open competition; applicants need not be nominated to apply.

Q5. How long is the LOI?
Once the account is created, the Principal Investigator (PI) will then be asked to answer questions about the nature of the proposed research. Based on the character limits for the responses for the five questions/sections below, the actual length of the LOI narrative is up to 10-12 pages.

  • Brief project description. (3,200 character max)
  • What are the research questions? (9,600 character max)
  • Describe the sample population(s) in the proposed research. (6,400 character max)
  • What are the proposed data sources, methodologies, and measures? (9,600 character max)
  • What are the proposed data analysis approaches? (9,600 character max)

Q6. What is helpful for submitting a strong LOI?

In general, we strongly encourage applicants to work with mentors and/or senior scholars to develop a strong LOI. Please see the mentor/mentee checklist for additional information on the this relationship.

Q7. There are two letters of recommendation, does this mean you need to have two mentors?
Letters of recommendation are only required at the Full Application stage. There is no requirement that a mentor must also write a letter of recommendation. One of the letters of recommendation may be written by your mentor if you so choose. The Foundation strongly recommends applicants working with a mentor while developing YSP proposals. Yet, an applicant may choose to engage more mentors as they feel appropriate.

Q8. What is the process to submit a Full Application?
If the Foundation approves your LOI, you will be invited to submit a Full Application and will be given access to the online application form.

Q9. How long is the Full Application?
Based on the character limits for responses to the sections below (not including the budget, required/optional attachments, etc.), the maximum length of the application narrative is approximately 21 pages. Please note that some responses from your approved LOI will be preloaded into the Full Application online, where you will be able to expand and revise your responses.

  • Executive Summary (6,400 character max)
  • Research Project Basis and Questions (9,600 character max)
  • Current State of Knowledge and the Significance of the Present Study (9,600 character max)
  • Policy- and/or Practice Relevance (6,400 character max)
  • Research Type and Sample (6,400 character max)
  • Data Sources (3,200 character max)
  • Methodology and Measurement Procedures (9,600 character max)
  • Data Analysis Approach (9,600 character max)
  • Applicant’s Response to Advisory Committee Comments (6,400 character max)
  • Budget Template
  • Relevant Experience (3,200 character max)

Q10. Will my application still be considered if my Letters of Recommendation are submitted after the submission deadline?
No. All Full Application requirements, including recommendation letters, must be submitted on time in order to be considered.

Q11. What are the review criteria for the LOI and Full Application?
Please see Section VI. Criteria for Selection in the 2021 YSP Guidelines. As well, please view our LOI Webinar: A Review of the Process for examples of questions that the Advisory Committee will use to evaluate LOIs and Full Applications.

Q12. Will written evaluator reviews of the LOI and Full Application be shared with applicants (both those who were successful and unsuccessful) once the Young Scholars have been selected?
Feedback will be shared with applicants who are invited to submit a Full Application to further enhance their proposals.

Q13. Is Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval required before LOI or Full Application? 
It is not expected that your IRB application should be completed and approved before you submit your YSP proposal at the LOI or Full Application stage. However, it is required that you begin the process before you submit your Full Application. You will be required to upload a confirmation email or document from your IRB committee stating that they have received your application for IRB review.

Q14. Are there particular national datasets that the Foundation requires for secondary data-analysis proposals?
No. The Foundation does not require the use of particular national datasets. Secondary data from previous or extant research projects or state databases are also allowed. The Foundation does caution PIs to think of the relevance and timing of information available in datasets when proposing research questions and projects.

Q15. Are sole Principal Investigators allowed to propose a collaboration with another investigator? 
As the sole PI, you must have complete control/decision-making authority over every aspect of your project. If you are unable to complete your project independently of another investigator, then you will not be considered a sole PI and will not be eligible for YSP.

Q16. Are professionals in early elementary education included in YSP’s definition of the ECE Workforce?
Yes. We define the ECE workforce as the professionals who educate and care for young children and families across a variety of settings (including both center and home-based settings) and systems (including both regulated and informal systems), as well as the people who provide ECE professionals with leadership, support, and professional development. This includes professionals working with children on the birth through third grade (age 8) continuum.

Q17. What does the Foundation mean by implementation research?
Implementation research provides the opportunity to engage in meaningful exploration of what works (or not), for whom, and under what conditions using a variety of methodological approaches and research designs. Examples of lines of inquiry within implementation research include:

  • Assessing the fidelity and quality of the implementation of a program, policy, or practice;
  • Identifying the effectiveness of the specific program, policy, or practice components, and their impact on a range of outcomes for children and specific subgroups of children;
  • Understanding the conditions, mechanisms, processes, and supports necessary to maintain and promote the sustainability of a program, policy, or practice;
  • Determining how programs, policies, and practices can be effectively brought to scale and maintained at scale; and,
  • Informing continuous program, policy, or practice improvement.

Q18: Are letters of collaboration allowed? For example, if a state agency is supporting your work, should you include a letter detailing this?
Letters of support from partners are required at the Full Application stage, if applicable. Letters of support from partners must confirm their cooperation and support of the proposed research project, including access to individuals to participate in the study.

Q19. If I applied in the past, can I resubmit the same LOI but revised?
Yes. YSP encourages applicants to reapply if they were not previously awarded and if they continue to meet all of the eligibility requirements, including institutional eligibility. Previously proposed studies or new research proposals may be submitted.

For more information, please see Section III. Research Focus, B. Supporting Implementation Research on the ECE Workforce in the 2021 YSP Guidelines.


Q1. What are the earliest and latest possible dates to have received a doctoral degree and still be eligible? 
Interested applicants must have received their doctoral degrees (e.g., Ph.D., Ed.D., Psy.D., J.D., etc.) between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2019. For applicants with medical degrees, applicants must have received their M.D. degrees between January 1, 2008 and June 30, 2019.

For additional information, please see Section IV. Eligibility in the 2021 YSP Guidelines.

Q2. What are the eligibility requirements of my host institution?
The affiliated non-profit organization must have a minimum operating budget of $2.5 million and a minimum three-year track record in conducting multi-year research projects (at least three over the last three years). For additional information, please see Section IV. Eligibility in the 2021 YSP Guidelines.

Q3. What are the requirements of my host institution that I should be aware of at the LOI stage?
If your LOI is approved and you are invited to submit a Full Application, your host institution will be required to submit a letter of support. For “Research Universities or Other Higher Education Institutions,” the letter is usually written from the Dean/Chair of the department where the PI holds their position.

For all organizations, the letter of support will:

  • Confirm the PI is a full-time employee of the host organization that can receive and administer the funds. Please note that if funded, the host organization will be asked to confirm the PI’s full-time status for the duration of the two- or three-year grant period.
  • Confirm the organization’s commitment to the PI’s proposed percentage of paid time as stated in the Full Application.
  • Describe the capacity/plans of the host organization to support (e.g., expertise, material, in-kind, etc.) the applicant and project including its attendant public policy outreach. Letters that describe more than the basic supports provided to all employees will be favorably considered.

Q4. Is there an expectation that the awardees be relieved of teaching at any point during this award?
There is no expectation that the awardees be relieved of teaching, but if the LOI is approved, applicants will need to explain their time commitments (e.g., teaching, research, service to the field, etc.) for the duration of the grant period in the application. The Advisory Committee will evaluate whether the described amount of time dedicated to the project is appropriate and reasonable, especially in relation to other applicant responsibilities.

Q5. Are individuals from private universities eligible to apply?
Applicants whose host institution is a non-profit, private university with a 501 © (3) status, and that meet all the other institutional requirements, are eligible to apply.


April 15, 2020: Call for Proposals for 2021 YSP opens.

May 7, 2020: LOI Webinar: A Review of the Process

June 30, 2020: LOI Deadline. Online LOI closes at 8PM EST (7PM CST/ 6PM MST/ 5PM PST).

August 2020: Latest notification date of LOI status and invitations to submit a Full Application.

An additional webinar is planned for those with approved LOIs who have been invited to apply through the Full Application process. Recordings of these webinars will be posted. In the interim, please view a previous YSP Full Application webinar below for reference:

October 26, 2020: Full Application Deadline. Online Full Application process will close at 8PM EST (7PM CST/ 6PM MST/ 5PM PST) for applicants with an approved LOI who have been invited to apply.

Early April 2021: Latest notification date of Full Application status.


Q1. What is the maximum grant award?
For proposed research projects involving either primary data collection or a combination of primary data collection and secondary data analysis, the maximum grant award, including indirect costs, is $225,000 to be used over a two- to three-year period. Grant funds are intended to support the Principal Investigator’s salary, research assistance, and direct research expenses.

For proposed research projects solely focused on secondary data analysis, the maximum grant award, including indirect costs, is $180,000 to be used over a two- to three-year period. Grant funds are intended to support the Principal Investigator’s salary and direct research expenses.

Q2. Can you apply for a smaller grant (less than the full $225,000) if you anticipate a smaller budget being appropriate for your research?
Yes. The proposed budget may be less than $225,000 for primary data collection and less than $180,000 for secondary data analysis, if appropriate. 

Q3. Is there a maximum overhead or indirect rate stipulation?
For all proposed research projects, the indirect and overhead costs are limited to 15% of the total personnel costs (salary and fringe).

Q4. What are other budget stipulations that I should be aware of?
The maximum grant award is to be used over a two- to three-year period. Grant funds are intended to support the PI’s salary and direct research expenses. In general, up to 10% of direct personnel costs may be used towards senior advisors and consultants.

Q5. How do I submit the Full Application budget?
The required Excel budget template can be downloaded from the online Full Application form. Please complete the template, including the narrative for each line-item, and then upload the budget as part of your Full Application.

Q6. Should I receive a grant award, will the funds be provided upfront or will they be reimbursed after expenses have occurred?
In the event that the PI is awarded a grant, the first payment is provided upfront based on the approved budget. Subsequent grant payments are also made up front after review and approval of interim narrative and financial reports and if at least 75% of the previous installments have been expended.


Q.1 How can I get additional information?
Please send all questions about the application including technical questions about the online system to ysp@​fcd-​us.​org.