What to expect from the application process

All grant proposals submitted to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—including unsolicited proposals—must be completed online. Here’s an overview of what to expect from the process:

Stage One: Submitting a brief proposal

Grant applicants must:

  • Initiate the application process by submitting a brief proposal. (Want to know what information you’ll be asked to provide? See a preview.) Please note: You do not have to have a full proposal prepared when you submit your brief proposal.

RWJF will then provide two rounds of review:

  • The Office of Proposal Management will review the proposal to ensure it addresses the strategic objectives of the Pioneer Portfolio and falls within the guidelines of what the Foundation funds.
  • If your brief proposal fits the team’s strategic objectives, RWJF staff members will then review your proposal.

Time frame: Within six weeks after we receive your brief proposal, you will receive one of the following:

  • a request to submit a full proposal
  • a request for more information
  • an email informing you that your project will not be supported at this time

If this process is delayed for any reason, a Pioneer representative will get in touch with you with a revised timeline.

Stage Two: Submitting a full proposal

If—based on the brief proposal review—RWJF believes your project is a strong candidate for funding and is interested in learning more, you will receive an email invitation to submit a full proposal.

Grant applicants must provide a full proposal that includes more detailed information, including:

  • a detailed proposal narrative
  • budget and budget narrative
  • other necessary information

After you have submitted a full proposal, RWJF will:

  • Assign the appropriate decision-making groups at RWJF to review it.
  • Ensure fairness and rigor in evaluating proposals, which may include sending your proposal to an outside expert or experts for review.

Time frame: Within six weeks from the time the Foundation receives your full proposal, you can expect to receive a response on whether this project is likely to be funded by the Pioneer Portfolio.

Stage Three: The decision

  • If RWJF decides not to fund your full proposal, you will be contacted by email or by phone.
  • If RWJF decides to fund your full proposal, you will receive formal written notification; RWJF will need an additional two to three weeks for processing before your grant is released.

Due to the volume of proposals we receive, many excellent projects that meet our criteria still do not receive funding. Historically, RWJF has funded approximately 10 percent of the unsolicited proposals we have received; funded projects generally fit squarely within our strategic objectives.

We don’t provide critiques of proposals. If we decline your proposal, it is not a reflection of our opinion of the merit of your idea, nor is it a rejection of you, the grant applicant. In fact, many current grantees have had earlier proposals turned down.