Health Equity Scholars for Action 2023

  • Special Funding
  • Remote
  • 05/31/2023

Website RWJF Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supports research that identifies the systemic root causes of U.S. health inequities, which have strong links to structural racism and other forms of oppression. We believe a diverse academic workforce that encompasses varied perspectives and lived experiences will best advance this research agenda. Yet the scholarship of individuals from certain communities, especially Black individuals; Indigenous people; people of color; individuals from low-income communities; individuals with disabilities; LGBTQIA+ individuals; non-native English speakers; first generation college graduates—and individuals who identify with more than one of these groups—has not been adequately supported in academia.

Structural racism and discrimination have created obstacles for many qualified individuals when starting or advancing an academic career path. The goal of Health Equity Scholars for Action (HES4A) is to enhance the supports, resources, and community necessary for participants with historically underrepresented backgrounds (HURs) to thrive professionally and personally. In turn, researchers will be better able to contribute to and expand health equity-related research and evidence that dismantle systemic and structural barriers to health and wellbeing.

Grants will be awarded to address the challenges that HURs typically experience and help them overcome obstacles to earning tenure. Studies funded through this 2023 call for proposals will need to be completed within a two-year time frame and those involving community centered/engaged approaches are welcome. Research may be conducted as standalone projects or as part of larger studies or trials already underway.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

To be eligible for HES4A, the individual applicant must:

  • Be from a systematically marginalized group that has historically been underrepresented in research disciplines. The term “systematically marginalized” refers to the challenges facing individuals because of their race, ethnicity, gender expression or sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or similar factors. Eligible individuals include, but are not limited to:
    • Individuals from ethnically and racially minoritized groups underrepresented in research disciplines;
    • First-generation college graduates;
    • People for whom English is not a native language;
    • People from low-income communities;
    • LGBTQIA+ individuals;
    • Individuals with disabilities.

These examples are intended to be illustrative, not exclusive. Applicants who do not fall within one of these categories, but who believe they meet this eligibility criteria, will have an opportunity to describe their individual circumstances as part of the online application process.

  • Have completed a terminal degree within the last five years. The degree can be in any field and is not limited to public health or health sciences.
  • Be a junior faculty member in an accredited school in the U.S. or its territories (“home institution”), with a full-time academic position that could lead to tenure, or a postdoctoral fellow poised to be in such a position by the start of the grant.
  • Have a home institution that agrees to administer and receive the grant. The home institution must be an accredited academic institution. Applicants from any universities classified among the R2-M3 by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • Have never served as a project director or principal investigator on any grant since receiving their doctoral degree. Individuals who have been awarded grants to support predoctoral training or have received a predoctoral fellowship grant are eligible to apply. See frequently asked questions for further clarification.
  • Not have received support from other post-graduate research fellowships/traineeships (e.g., research career development award or equivalent). Investigators are not discouraged or prevented from applying to other fellowships/traineeships while participating in the program.
  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the time of application. As federal policy or laws change, we may need to consider adjustments in eligibility and grant terms.
  • Not be related by blood or marriage to any Officer or Trustee of RWJF, or be a descendant of its founder, Robert Wood Johnson.
  • Federal, state, tribal, and local government employees are eligible to apply unless they are considered government officials under Section 4946 of the Internal Revenue Code.

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