Wilson Center for Science and Justice
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Wilson Center Criminal Justice Impact Grant Program


The Wilson Center Criminal Justice Impact Grant (Impact Grant) Program supports one-year research projects that further the Wilson Center’s mission of advancing criminal justice and equity through law and science across the Center’s three focus areas: accuracy of evidence, equity in criminal outcomes, and behavioral health. The program is funded by an award from the Charles Koch Foundation. Any publications ensuing from Impact Grant awards must acknowledge support from the Wilson Center.

The review process will be overseen by Wilson Center staff in consultation with a diverse group of content-area experts.

Please note that Duke University faculty and staff members are not eligible to apply for this program.

The next submission deadline is March 15, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. EST. The Impact Grant Program conducts one review/award cycle per year.

Application Process

Proposals will be evaluated by the project’s potential to advance knowledge and effectuate criminal justice reform, as well as the qualifications of the individual, team, or institution/organization to conduct the proposed activities. Research projects should be completed within one year.

Applications should be submitted in one single PDF document, sent via email to wcsj@law.duke.edu with the subject line, “Impact Grant Proposal” by March 15, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Impact Grant Program applications must include the five elements below, and must conform to the following specifications:

  • 8.5 x 11” paper size
  • Margins of at least 1” in all directions
  • Page numbers, either continuously paginated or paginated within each section
  • One of the following fonts/sizes: Arial or Courier New, at least 10-pt font size; Times New Roman, at least 11-pt font size

(1) Application Details

  • Applicant/PI Name/Co-PI Name(s) and Institution or organization (3 pp, single-spaced). A description of the host university or other institution, as well as biographical information of team members demonstrating their capacity to carry out the proposed activities.
  • Proposal Title. A straightforward, descriptive name for the project.
  • Requested Amount. Total amount of funding you are requesting, up to a maximum of $25,000 (inclusive of indirect costs if required by the receiving institution).
  • Requested Start Date. When you anticipate needing available funds to begin your project. Keep in mind that it will take approximately 3 months from the submission deadline for you to receive a decision from us; and if the decision is to make an award, several additional weeks to issue the funds. You may, of course, begin the research before hearing from us. However, you should bear in mind that any funds awarded are intended for new expenses and are not designed to reimburse you for expenses already encumbered. If an award is made, the start date will correspond to the date on which payment is issued.
  • Research involving human subjects? Answer YES or NO. If YES, you will need to provide proof of IRB submission (e.g., an IRB proposal number); and you will need to provide proof of IRB approval prior to our issuing any funds in the event of an award.

(2) Proposal Narrative

  • Project Summary (1 p, single-spaced). This is a brief description of the project and its expected contribution to advancing knowledge and effectuating criminal justice reform across one or more of the Wilson Center’s areas of focus: accuracy of evidence, equity in criminal outcomes, and behavioral health.
  • Project Description (8 pp, single-spaced, including references and citations; Bluebook, APA, MLA, or Chicago style are all acceptable). This section should include:
    • The proposed work and its relationship to present knowledge in the field(s), You may include subsections, tailored to the particular features of your project. Keep in mind that Impact Grant is an interdisciplinary program, so you should write for a broad audience of scholars (including legal scholars as well as social scientists), some of whom might not come from your own particular discipline. In addition to describing your project in detail, your project description should also include:
    • A description of data sources, methodology and research design;
    • If relevant, a description of relevant law and legal rules underlying the project;
    • A description of deliverables that would result from the work, including publications, implementation guides, and reports, and whether any of the work would be in collaboration with the Center;
    • A “Gantt” timeline chart or an Excel or other spreadsheet showing activities and milestones displayed against time.
    • of expected deliverables, activities, and deadlines broken down by quarter.
  • Impact Statement (2 pp, single-spaced). A statement regarding the project’s ultimate expected criminal justice reform impact, linking the impact to the Center’s mission of advancing criminal justice and equity through science and law, and to one or more of the Center’s three areas of focus: accuracy of evidence, equity in criminal outcomes, and behavioral health. Although grantees are not expected to implement the reform themselves, the statement should explain a feasible path and general timeline to achieve the real-world impact.

(3) Data Management Plan/Open Science Statement (2 pp, single-spaced).

Please describe how you will manage and share the products of the research, including types of data generated by the research, data and metadata format and security, preservation of human participants’ anonymity/confidentiality, period of data retention, dissemination plan, etc. In the interest of open science, the plan must provide for sharing and archiving of de-identified data, including when (normally within one year of project completion) and where archiving will occur (normally a national, publicly accessible repository, and not an institution-specific one). Sharing data on request is generally insufficient. The importance of data sharing applies to both quantitative and qualitative data; data should be de-identified and, if appropriate, may be redacted further to protect participants’ identity. Failure to share data as fully as possible could preclude the making of an award.

(4) Budget Justification (Excel spreadsheet).

Funds must be for research expenses, and not a salary or personal stipend for any of the PIs. Indirect costs are not allowed. Examples of budget categories include:

  • Personnel. Although you cannot pay yourself, you may pay others whose work is necessary for successful completion of the project, such as a computer programmer or Research Assistant. Note that hiring others to perform work could have tax implications. Please also note that Duke University will issue awards directly to the grantee institution or organization and that the institution or organization is responsible for withholding taxes on any personnel payments.
  • Fringe Benefits. Institutions normally charge these on grants awarded to them directly; they might or might not be appropriate here. You should check with your Department and/or Research Office to see if they are necessary for this kind of award.
  • Travel. This would include things like costs associated with travel to a research site or to a professional conference to present findings.
  • Participant Compensation. Payments to research participants
  • Other Direct Costs. Equipment (e.g., hardware or software), hiring a consultant, etc.

(5) Letter(s) of Collaboration.

The Project Description should note any government or community group collaborators, and letters of support from them should be provided (note: depending on the nature of the project, such letter(s) might not be appropriate). These should not be letters of recommendation, just statements to collaborate as required by the project. If your project requires others’ involvement, such as providing access to proprietary documents or data, you should include signed letter(s) indicating their agreement to provide you with what you need.