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Grants to USA Nonprofits to Conduct Research
Related to Online Higher Education Programs

Building Rigorous Evidence on Effective Student Support Strategies in Online Postsecondary Education

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Arnold Ventures (AV)

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Grants to USA nonprofit organizations for research projects related to online higher education. Interested applicants are required to submit a letter of interest prior to applying. Funding is intended to support studies that evaluate postsecondary online programs, leading to expanded access and improved outcomes for students. Eligible projects include feasibility studies, rapid-cycle evaluations, quasi-experimental design studies, and pilot randomized controlled trials.

The core mission of Arnold Ventures (AV) is to invest in evidence‐based solutions that maximize opportunity and minimize injustice. This program seeks grant applications to build the evidence base on effective student support strategies for students enrolled in online postsecondary programs, either fully‐online or in hybrid modalities.

The ultimate goal of this program is to build a base of credible evidence about “what works” for students enrolled in online higher education programs. If done effectively, online options could expand access for students who require flexible scheduling or lack in‐person options, such as adult students and rural students. 

AV has committed funding for research studies that identify and hone promising student success interventions for students enrolled in online education to set the stage for larger‐scale, rigorous randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluations. AV is primarily interested in innovative student supports that promote success among online students, such as novel advising or coaching strategies. This program is intended to support efforts to refine or adapt programs to support students enrolled in online in advance of rigorous evaluation, as opposed to foundational research to study online learning patterns or to design interventions from the ground up. 

Project types:

  • Feasibility studies that set up a prospective evaluation and consider whether it would be productive (e.g., assessing program maturity and variation in implementation, identifying potential sites to participate, refining research methodology) 
  • Rapid‐cycle evaluations that refine program models and provide preliminary evidence of impact 
  • Well‐conducted quasi‐experimental design (QED) studies that can provide a reliable assessment of the program’s impact at lower cost before conducting a full‐scale RCT3
  • Pilot randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that provide a test run for a fully‐powered RCT—for instance, the pilot study might have a lower sample size or only produce short‐term results—by laying important groundwork (e.g., testing data collection, assessing program fidelity) and offering preliminary evidence of impact 

AV will prioritize research that adapts the most effective in‐person comprehensive support and advising interventions, as well as particularly promising new practices specific to online education, with a focus on solutions that have the potential to scale up quickly. Particular attention will be paid to models that promise to improve outcomes among historically underserved populations across both 2‐ and 4‐year settings, including low‐income students, students of color, and adult students. AV seeks to prioritize support for research, so they are only open to funding a limited proportion of direct program delivery costs. 

Promoting diversity and equity in research practice is a key facet of AV’s mission of maximizing opportunity and minimizing injustice. AV is committed to funding work conducted by research teams that are diverse.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 198431

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Term of Contract:

Projects funded are expected to start, at earliest, on May 1, 2022; the funding source is open to start dates through the end of 2022.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

AV supports 501(c)3 organizations that are focused on criminal justice, education, health, public finance, research, and evidence-based policy.

AV is committed to funding work conducted by research teams that are diverse. Applicants should propose teams that include early‐career researchers and scholars with meaningful and active roles in the work.

Direct and indirect costs awarded to grantees may only be used for charitable, educational, and/or scientific purposes as such purposes are generally defined by those authorities interpreting the provisions of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and may not be used to carry on propaganda, influence legislation, fund any political campaign, influence the outcome of any election, carry on any voter registration drives, or violate any applicable local, state, federal, or foreign law.

Pre-Application Information:

- Deadline for applicants to submit letter of interest: October 11, 2021
- AV notifies applicants on a rolling basis whether they are invited to submit a full proposal*: By November 17, 2021
- Deadline for invited applicants to submit a full proposal: December 20, 2021
- AV notifies applicants whether they have been selected for an award: March 2022
- Grants are awarded: April ‐ May 2022

*AV does not accept unsolicited grant proposals.

Guidelines for Investments in Research:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Please submit the letter of intent and any attachments by email to

For any questions, please contact Chase Sackett, AV Manager of Higher Education (

Arnold Ventures contact form:

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

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