New Connections: Increasing Diversity of RWJF Programming

Field of Work: Building a diverse network of researchers from historically disadvantaged and underrepresented communities.

Problem Synopsis: Talented researchers from historically disadvantaged and underrepresented communities can often be professionally isolated in their early- or mid-careers and overlooked for funding. RWJF senior staff sought to attract scholars from these communities to lead projects in the Foundation’s programming areas.

Synopsis of the Work: New Connections provides funding for research projects of interest to the Foundation and for skills development to junior investigators and mid-career consultants. The program also offers training and mentoring opportunities at annual symposia and workshops, and supports the growth of a diverse network of applicants, researchers, and alumni.

Key Results to Date

  • The first five cohorts of New Connections researchers (2006 to 2010) included a total of 67 junior investigators and 11 mid-career consultants. The newest (2011) cohort includes 15 junior investigators and two mid-career consultants, bringing the total grantee group to 82 junior investigators and 13 mid-career consultants.

    Scholars and advisers report significant benefit from the networking opportunities provided by the program, exposure to senior researchers and RWJF staff, and from training received at annual meetings. As of November 2011, the network of scholars fostered by New Connections includes more than 1,200 people.