Key Evaluation Findings: New Connections Program

About the Program

Since 2005, the New Connections Program has provided research grants, skills training, professional development and networking opportunities and mentoring to researchers from historically disadvantaged and underrepresented communities. Individual researchers receive funding over a 12 to 24 month period.

The program also supports a larger network of researchers and consultants from these same communities who have not received individual grants, to increase a diversity of perspectives and help scholars accelerate their careers. As of January 2013, New Connections has supported the career development of 100 scholars, and over 1,200 scholars have participated in the larger network.

About the Evaluation

Evaluators conducted interviews and surveys with New Connections Program grantees, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) staff, the larger network of scholars, the fields of health and health care research, and grantees’ research institutions. Data from participating researchers and research institutions was also collected.

Knowledge and Impact

  • Grantees’ confidence increased significantly after participating in New Connections, specifically in connecting with peers, applying for funding, and overcoming challenges.
  • New Connections helped junior investigators significantly more than midcareer consultants to develop skills in obtaining grants and in navigating their institutions and systems for professional advancement.
  • About half of the grantees interviewed said that the connections made with other scholars were major benefits of New Connections.
  • Nearly two-thirds of grantees interviewed said they did not know whether their research was useful to RWJF; 44.0 percent felt that their research was not useful to RWJF or did not have an impact.
  • There were no significant differences between the average number of publications and presentations that grantees listed on their CVs before and after participating in the one- or two-year New Connections program.
  • Members of the larger network cited professional development opportunities, greater interaction with RWJF and the ability to meet other historically-underrepresented scholars as the key benefits of their network participation.

This connection has allowed me to collaborate with grantees and allowed me to navigate through academia with sanity since I can connect with people going through the same thing.

- Grantee Interview


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