Greater Good Parenting: Request for Proposals

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Request for Proposals Overview

The GGSC is pleased to announce a request for proposals (RFP) to help parents nurture generosity, gratitude, forgiveness, and related “prosocial” skills in themselves and their children. With funding from the John Templeton Foundation, the GGSC is offering awards of between $25,000 to $150,000 to organizations that serve parents, particularly education programs run through schools, houses of worship, community centers, or other community-based organizations. The programs must develop or expand innovative ways to educate parents on the research-based keys to guiding children toward choices that place the long-term good of their communities ahead of their immediate self-interest.

Most awards will range from a total of $25,000 to $50,000. However, we will also award 3-4 grants of up to $150,000 to programs with wide, national reach.

The submission window opens October 2, 2017 and the application deadline is December 11, 2017. The funding period is from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2020.

Submit Your Proposal


What is the purpose of this RFP?

Parents want to raise kind, caring, courageous children—kids of high character who treat others with compassion and respect—but few feel like they know precisely how to do that. When they search for effective strategies online, many feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they find, and it can be very difficult for them to identify the most credible resources or make sense of conflicting advice. That can leave them feeling frustrated and skeptical. What do they do in these situations? They turn to people they trust. Often, that means trusted members of their social networks, including school, religious, and other community networks.


The goal of this project is to equip community-based organizations with research-based knowledge and resources that can help parents guide their children toward choices that place the long-term good of their communities ahead of their immediate self-interest. It seeks to bridge the divide between research and practice, making parents and parent educators more aware of important insights that have grown out of research published over the last two decades.


Awards of between $25,000 and $150,000 will support parenting education programs that teach research-based skills and insights to parents. While the programs do not explicitly need to teach parents the science behind their programs, the programs themselves should be committed to incorporating recent scientific findings. Specifically, in addition to providing funding, this initiative will point awardees toward relevant research that can enhance their work, and connect them with scientific advisors who will consult on the development and evaluation of their programs. Each awardee will have the chance to work with a team of experts who can help them tease out the practical implications of relevant research, use this research to make their work stronger, and consider how to evaluate the impact of their programs more effectively.

What does it mean to “raise caring, courageous kids”?

We are specifically interested in proposals that would nurture in children the beliefs or behaviors that place the long-term good of one’s communities ahead of one’s immediate self-interest; this encompasses ethical behavior toward others, skills that support strong relationships, and a general commitment to the greater good. More specific examples of “prosocial” skills—ones that motivate children to act for the benefit of others rather than their own personal gain or immediate self-interest—include:


  • Forgiveness: A conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed us, giving up the desire or power to punish. It does not mean forgetting, condoning, or excusing offenses. Nor does it require the forgiver to reconcile with the person who harmed him or her. Instead, it brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger. 
  • Generosity: Not simply giving but giving more than is expected in a situation, incurring a cost to promote someone else’s welfare.
  • Gratitude: Acknowledging the gifts and benefits we’ve received and recognizing that the sources of this goodness come from outside of ourselves. That means recognizing how other people, or even higher powers, have given us gifts to help us achieve the good things in our lives, and feeling thankful to them for those gifts.
  • Honesty: Behaving or expressing yourself in a way that is fair, free of deceit, and morally correct. It provides the foundation for trust, which is a key component of thriving relationships, families, and society.
  • Humility: Being able to see and accept one’s own strengths and limitations without defensiveness or judgment. According to researchers Joseph Chancellor and Sonja Lyubomirsky, humility involves having “a calm, accepting self-concept that is not hypersensitive to ego-threats,” the ability to perceive oneself and others clearly (without the need to exaggerate or debase), being open to new information, being focused on others, and believing that you are generally no better (or worse) than others.
  • Love: Service to others without expectation of reward or repayment, not limited to romantic relationships. 
  • Purpose: According to researcher William Damon, this is an “intention to accomplish something that is at the same time meaningful to the self and consequential for the world beyond the self.” In other words, a drive to do something that feels personally meaningful but is also directed toward improving the lives of others.
  • Reliability: Being consistently good in quality or performance; behaving responsibly, by actually doing what we pledge to do. 

Programs can zero in on how to develop specific qualities from this list (e.g., how do we help children build gratitude?) and/or can be focused more generally on creating home environments that nurture a range of interpersonal strengths. While the final programs do not necessarily need to explicitly cite research on prosocial skills to parents, the proposals for funding should make clear what kind of research will inform the program development and explain in general terms how this research will be incorporated into the program design.


To learn more about research on these qualities, please refer to the Resource Appendix. The Resource Appendix includes a collection of (a) relevant articles on Greater Good, the online magazine published by the Greater Good Science Center; (b) links to other organizations that feature relevant science; and (c) brief summaries of research studies.

Who should apply?

Schools, school networks, religious organizations (including religious schools), and any other organization with an established connection to a parent population and an interest in producing resources that help parents nurture caring children are welcome to apply. Up to half—and at least a quarter—of the funding will be awarded to faith-based organizations.


Applicants should demonstrate a willingness to tailor scientific resources to the unique needs of the parent community that they serve. This can range from highlighting relevant research findings in a series of evening talks for elementary school parents to integrating empirical evidence into teachings of religious scripture to developing a series of research-based parenting seminars geared toward an underserved minority population.


This project is focusing on parents of children ages 4 to 13, roughly from pre-K through 8th grade. Because research suggests that parents who model prosocial skills help to promote those skills in their children, we will be open to supporting programs that target the behavior of parents, including programs that focus on strengthening the relationship between co-parents, as long as they can make clear how they will measure the connection between parents’ and children’s prosocial skills.


As mentioned above, a portion of the funding in this initiative is designated for faith-based organizations in order to help catalyze dialogue and connections between scientific findings and religious practices. Many of the findings from the science of prosocial development align with and complement teachings from various faith traditions; indeed, they both share a deep focus on nurturing caring, moral children and helping them grow into caring, moral adults. By connecting faith-based organizations with relevant scientific resources, this initiative aims to help these organizations tailor their work to meet the needs of parents and families, give these organizations support from researchers with relevant expertise, enable important new research findings to reach an even wider audience, and highlight the resonance between contemporary science and timeless wisdom.

How may I apply?

Organizations that would like to apply for funding should complete the online submission form by December 11, 2017. Project descriptions should be a maximum of 20,000 characters. Other supporting documentation (e.g., logic model and budget) should be included separately. See below for further information.

What should I include in the project description?

Project descriptions should include the following sections and address these questions:

  1. Overview of your organization (2,000 characters)
    • What is your organization’s mission, year of founding, core activities, and the nature of your work with parents? Is it part of a larger organization through which the grant would be directed for this program?
  2. Goals of proposed program (2,000 characters)

    • What do you hope to achieve through the proposed parenting education program?
  3. Proposed activities (10,000 characters)

    • Is this a new program or an enhancement to an existing program?
    • To achieve your stated goals, what types of information will you share with parents?
    • What will be the format of this program—through what medium or platform will you reach parents?
    • Who will your program serve, and is your audience of particularly high need?
    • What are the core needs of this audience, and how have you identified these needs?
    • How will you recruit parents to participate and/or disseminate your materials to them, and what is the size of your expected audience?
    • Please note: Within the Proposed Activities section, we are especially interested in the medium through which you will deliver your content and resources to parents. How will you reach parents in a manner that is innovative and effective, so that they will absorb your information and put it into practice? Examples could include a series of parenting seminars or a set of multimedia resources available via a portal on your organization’s website.
  1. Relevance to research (4,000 characters)
    • What scientific findings or concepts—including those identified in the Resource Appendix provided with this RFP—will inform your work?
    • Why are you focusing on these findings/concepts, and how will you introduce them to parents?
    • Please note: You do not need to demonstrate expert knowledge of this research, only a basic familiarity with key concepts or findings that you plan to cover, and a willingness to partner with scientific experts to ground more of your work in current research. Again, we suggest that you refer to the resources listed in the Resource Appendix for more guidance on relevant research.
  1. Impact measurement (2,000 characters)
    • How will you measure your program’s impact and its success in achieving your stated goals?
    • What data are you already collecting in your organization that might support the evaluation of your program—for instance, data on children’s behavior or well-being—and what data would you be able to collect in the future?
    • Do you have a process in place to gather and review feedback from parents, along with other data to help you measure your program’s success and impact?
    • Please note: While you will receive support during the project to develop a more robust evaluation plan, for now we are interested in your general ideas and capability to measure your impact.

What other documents should I include as part of my application?

In addition to your project description, please provide the following documents:

  1. Budget: A budget that lists your expenses and your total requested award amount. (1 page)
  2. Resumes: The resumes of the key staff directly involved with the program.
  3. Letter of support:  Provide one letter from a member of your organization’s leadership team or a relevant community leader that speaks to the likelihood of achieving your project’s goals and desired impact.
  4. Other funding: Provide a list of other contributions and sources of support (if any) for this proposed parenting education program. (1 page)
  5. Profit & Loss statement: Provide an Income Statement or Statement of Activities from your organization’s most recent audited financial statements. Please do not send the entire audited financial statements. (1 page)
  6. Logic model:  A logic model presents the main components of a program and an explanation of the program’s expected results. (1 page)
    • Basic features include: (1) the resources that go into a program, (2) the program’s main activities, (3) outcomes that are believed to result from the program, (4) a description of the beliefs about how and why the program is expected to bring about those results, and (5) the environment or history in which the program will take place. 
    • You will work with evaluation advisors to finalize your logic models and other components of your program evaluation during the project. For the purpose of the application, we would like you to use this draft logic model template to create a first draft of your logic model, indicating your program’s goals, the steps you will take to achieve those goals, and the short-term and long-term outcomes that you expect to result from your activities.

What are the evaluation criteria?

Awardees will be selected based on the following criteria:

  1. Clarity of the project idea: Do they clearly explain what they plan to do? Is there a logical progression from their proposed activities to their intended outcomes?
  2. Novelty of the idea: Are they proposing an innovative approach to parenting education, particularly in terms of the medium through which they will deliver resources to parents?
  3. Connection to relevant research: Have they identified relevant research and considered how it might inform their work?
  4. Relevance to target audience: Do they seem to understand the needs of their audience, perhaps based on formal or informal surveys or past experience?
  5. Audience need and impact: Does the project target a population with a particularly high need, one currently not met or overlooked by other programs? Could it have a substantial impact by meeting that need?
  6. Potential reach of the project: How big is their target audience? Have they demonstrated a potential to grow their reach even if it is not currently large? Might there be lessons, insights, or practices from this project that could spread to other programs?
  7. Likelihood of success: Do they seem capable of achieving the project’s goals and desired impact? Do they have a track record of similar success? Do they have the buy-in and support of their leadership?
  8. Evaluation planning: Do they have a system for collecting and reviewing data, or do they have a plan for devising such a system? Do they demonstrate that they have given serious thought to how they can measure the impact of their program—and make modifications to it based on what they learn?
  9. Plans for sustainability: Does it seem like they can sustain their work beyond the grant period?
  10. Cost effectiveness: Does the proposed reach and impact of this project seem commensurate with its cost?

What is the budget range?

Most awards will range from a total of $25,000 to $50,000.  However, we will also award 3-4 grants of up to $150,000 to programs with larger, national reach.

Still, the majority of the awards will be for less than $50,000; only in rare circumstances will grants to more local organizations exceed $50,000. We will assess these requests for more than $50,000 on a case-by-case basis, considering their strengths against the criteria listed above—the following criteria in particular: Those that have the potential for greater reach and scale, propose an especially innovative model, can demonstrate very high likelihood of success and impact, and have strong cost effectiveness stand a greater chance of receiving awards above $50,000.

What are the project terms?

There will be a two-year grant term for all awards. While the projects or programs that organizations support with their grant can extend beyond the grant period, proposals must define a discrete set of activities that will be performed during that two-year period.


Toward the start of that two-year grant period, all awardees will receive support from expert scientific advisors to develop an evaluation plan to assess the impact of their work. They will be expected to have that evaluation plan in place within the first year of the grant period, and will be expected to launch their program’s activities under the grant by the start of the second year, if not before.


Every organization that wins an award is expected to send 1-2 members of its team to two separate convenings that will be hosted by the GGSC in the San Francisco Bay Area, one toward the start of the two-year grant period and one toward the end. The convenings will provide an opportunity for the awardees to learn from the other organizations and scientific experts, work on their evaluation plan, and share insights and “lessons learned” from their project. The GGSC will cover all of the awardees’ travel expenses (i.e., airfare within the United States, hotel accommodations, ground transportation, and meals) for these convenings, so these expenses should not be included in applicants’ project budgets.


At the end of the two years, all awardees will be required to submit a final report that describes their successes, challenges, and lessons learned from their project, and share findings from the data they collected as part of their evaluation plan.

What is the timeline?

October 2, 2017

Application window opens

December 11, 2017

Applications due

February 1, 2018

Application review process completed, grantees notified

April 1, 2018

Project period begins

March 31, 2020

Project period ends

How can I learn about relevant research?

Please review the Resource Appendix for links to articles and organizations that shed light on relevant research, and for brief summaries of relevant research studies.

Who may I contact if I have further questions?

Please direct any questions about this project to the GGSC’s Parenting Program Director, Maryam Abdullah, Ph.D., at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).