The Society for the
Study of Social Issues



SPSSI is now accepting applications for the Spring 2017 award cycle.

EXTENDED DEADLINE: Proposals are due by June 1, 2017. 

Please submit proposals to the SPSSI Policy Director Sarah Mancoll.  

The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) is pleased to invite proposals for grants to local- and state-level research/policy groups. SPSSI will fund up to three groups, at up to $2000 each, for each award cycle. If you are interested in this initiative but are not familiar with potential collaborators, please contact SPSSI Policy Director Sarah Mancoll, who can provide you with a list of SPSSI members in your area.

This initiative has three goals: 1) to influence policy at the local and state levels through applied research, 2) to increase the availability of policy opportunities for SPSSI members who are interested in applied research, and 3) to encourage younger scholars to become more involved in SPSSI. 

These groups will review existing research at the local and/or state levels on policy-relevant topics, conduct additional research as needed, and ultimately use this work to assist policy makers in making data-driven decisions about local- and/or state-level issues.

Research/policy groups outside of the United States who are looking at local and/or regional issues within their countries are also encouraged to apply for this award. 

To be eligible for an award, a group must meet the following criteria:

  • At least one member of the group must be a current SPSSI member. 
  • The group must consist of a minimum of 3 social scientists who live in the same state or similar regionally-based jurisdiction outside of the United States.
    • The members must live or be employed in the same regional jurisdiction so that they face common policy issues.
    • SPSSI will give preference to groups that can meet in person but will consider groups that rely only on electronic communication (including virtual conferencing).
  • The group members must be working on the same issue, broadly defined.
  • The group must compellingly demonstrate that the members are interested in the policy applications of psychological science and other social science research.
    • SPSSI will give preference to groups that demonstrate either existing policy expertise or the willingness to learn more about policy work at the local and/or state levels—i.e., members should have experience working with local and/or state agencies in helping to advance empirically-based decision-making or have a plan for how at least one member of the group will obtain this experience.

To apply for funding, the group should submit a short (3- to 5-page) proposal that:

  • Addresses the criteria delineated above.
  • Explains outcomes/deliverables (e.g., conduct policy related research, attend meetings with local policy makers, write a “white paper” on the policy issue, plan to testify at legislative hearings).
  • Provides a budget for the year (acceptable expenses include: funding for meetings, funding to conduct research to answer a policy question, funding to support students to conduct policy work, limited funding for materials and equipment).
  • Specifies agreement to submit a presentation on the work for the 2018 SPSSI Conference.
  • Delivers a summary of the work completed at the end of the grant period (July1, 2017 – June 30, 2018). Such a document may take the form of a 5-10 page summary of the work completed, a policy paper, a research report, or another suitable report.

Proposals will be evaluated by members of the SPSSI Policy Committee in collaboration with SPSSI's Secretary/Treasurer, who initiated this grant program. 

The Spring 2017 round of proposals for this grant program are due by June 1, 2017.

Applicants will be notified of their proposal status by June 15, 2017. 

Please submit proposals to the SPSSI Policy Director Sarah Mancoll.  


Grants awarded in the Fall of 2016 include:

LGBT+ Mental Health Services Seeking and Tennessee’s “Counseling Discrimination Law” (Patrick Grzanka, Joseph Miles, Leticia Flores, Elliot Spengler, Keri Frantell, and Elliot Devore, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

In April of 2016, the Tennessee Governor allowed HB1840/SB1556 to become law. The legislation mandates that “No counselor or therapist providing counseling or therapy services shall be required to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the counselor or therapist.” Research has long shown that LGBT+ individuals typically access mental health services at a rate disproportionately higher than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. This mixed-methods study includes a large, internet-based survey along with follow-up interviews from a subsample of internet respondents. Through a partnership with the Tennessee Equality Project, the research team aims to use these data to inform legal challenges to the law, and to lobby legislators to reverse the law or pass other bills that will negate it.

Can Institutional Signals Improve Opinion toward LGBTI People in Slovakia? (Matej Hruška, Andrej Findor, and Veronika Valkovicová, Comenius University)

This research project focuses on the effect of institutional signals on public opinion toward LGBTI-identified people in Slovakia. The aim of the project is to test whether messages about equal opportunity employment for LGBTI people would make respondents more strongly believe that positive attitudes toward LGBTI people are typical and desirable behavior. The researchers hope to create evidence that can be used by Slovak policy makers, NGOs, and corporations that are interested in promoting equal opportunity (anti-discrimination) policies.

Racial/ethnic disparities in Uptake of Paid Sick Leave in Chicago (Yamile Molina, Kristine Molina, and Ariel Thomas, University of Illinois at Chicago)

This project examines the psychological factors that may affect the success of local paid sick leave policies in Chicago, a city with striking racial/ethnic disparities. In April of 2016, the City of Chicago established and passed a paid sick leave ordinance. The ordinance grants earned sick time to more than 450,000 Chicago workers. On the one hand, this policy could reduce disparities, given racial/ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in occupations that did not previously receive paid sick leave. On the other hand, this policy could maintain or increase disparities due to low adoption of the enactments. In this study, the research team will use a mixed-methods approach to examine racial/ethnic disparities post-ordinance (specifically between 7/1/2017 and 12/1/2017) among City of Chicago employees who are eligible for the program.

This grant program was begun in 2015. Grants awarded in the Fall of 2015 include: 

Community Policing Reform Project (Michele Wittig, California State University, Northridge; Gino Galvez, California State University, Long Beach; Michael Giang, Mt. St. Mary’s University; Gabriel Weinberger, Pardee RAND Graduate School of Public Policy) 

This project uses oral histories to show that segments of the population experience interactions with the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) as discriminatory practices based on race, which in turn has led to distrust of the SMPD.  The project will suggest additions to, and analyses of, SMPD public data so as to 1) bring SMPD into conformity with new California laws on racial profiling and use of force, 2) promote greater transparency and accountability and 3) build trust among all segments of the community.

Understanding Policy Implementation: National Survey of Domestic Violence Intervention Program Standards (Eric Mankowski, Rachel Smith, and Kate Sackett, Portland State University).

This project applies social and community psychology principles to describe and understand how regulatory standards that govern the practices of domestic violence intervention programs are implemented across the United States. The project will document the history of program standards across the U.S., describe the composition and structure of program regulatory bodies, and identify facilitators and barriers to policy implementation, program monitoring and evaluation practices, repercussions for non-compliant programs, and funding issues that impact implementation. Findings will inform best practices for successful implementation of laws regulating intervention programs and can be used to improve the effectiveness of programs in preventing domestic violence, a social problem with significant negative impacts on individual and community health and well-being.

Shared Worlds 2015 (Achu Johnson Alexander, Clark University; Anita Fabos, Clark University; Cheryl Hamilton, International Institute of New England).

Using 100 focus groups with the aim to reach 1000 residents, the research team will examine the relationships between refugees and their U.S.-born neighbors in Worcester, Massachusetts. Specifically, the goal of this project is to look at the effect of these relationships on individual’s sense of belonging and well-being. While the central focus of the study is to better understand refugee integration in the city, marketing the conversation more broadly will increase community participation and lead to recommendations for the city to help develop policies that strengthen relationships across diverse populations (

Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice.
                                                                                                                    - Kurt Lewin