Transforming Academia for Equity

2021 Call for Proposals

    Release Date: November 1, 2021 | Application Deadline: Mon, 6 Dec 2021

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supports research to identify and address the root causes of health inequities in the United States that are strongly linked to structural and systemic racism and other forms of oppression. We believe a diverse academic workforce that encompasses varied perspectives and lived experiences can best advance this research agenda. However, systemic racism creates unfair obstacles in academia that limit support and advancement opportunities for many qualified scholars—especially indigenous and racially excluded groups, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ persons, and others. Adequate support with equitable methods of assessment and evaluation criteria for tenure are needed to challenge biased conventions in research and academia, promote innovation, and train future generations of diverse scholars.


Academic institutions have evolved over time based upon historical priorities and interests. The result has been to continue promotion and reward structures that disproportionately advantage faculty from mainstream backgrounds who often propose traditional research approaches and topics. While institutional racism started a very long time ago, the structures and policies and their impacts have evolved and remain. Current institutional leaders play a critical role in identifying and dismantling racist, exclusionary practices and policies that ultimately impact the type and quality of health equity research produced by historically underrepresented researchers and its subsequent impact on communities and society. This initiative is designed to unpack, understand, and shape the contextual and intervening conditions necessary for underrepresented scholars to thrive professionally and personally—and in turn, be better able to contribute to and expand health equity-related research and evidence that can help build a Culture of Health.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

An RWJF Transforming Academia for Equity applicant must:

  • be a member in good standing of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health with accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health;
  • be a school of public health or public health program that has been established for a minimum of five years and is currently admitting students;
  • have a minimum of 25 public health degrees conferred per year; and
  • have a faculty-student ratio of 18 students per faculty member (or fewer) with a minimum of 20 percent of teaching faculty in tenure track positions.

Key Dates

November 8, 2021 (3:00 - 4:30 p.m. ET)
The program held an optional applicant webinar to review the requirements.

The slides can be found here
The recording can be found here

December 6, 2021
Full proposals due.

Mid-December 2021
Review of proposals and interviews take place.

January 12, 2022
Selection of grantees.

March 15, 2022
Grants begin.

Total Awards

There will be seven awards up to $300,000 per award over 18 months.

Application is Now Closed

Application closed as of:
December 06, 2021, 3:00 p.m. ET

Key Contacts

Sheldon Oliver Watts, MPH, PhD, program officer
Phone: (609) 627-5846

Achieving Health Equity

As health disparities in the United States continue to grow, RWJF's health equity toolkit provides resources, data, and examples of communities working to achieve better health for all.