New Connections is a career development program for early-career researchers and consultants from underrepresented groups. We provide support to our funded scholars and non-funded members of our network of eligible scholars. Through grantmaking, networking opportunities, and career development, we enhance the research capacity of our funded scholars and network members.


Eligible Scholars


  • Applicants must have completed a doctoral degree within the last 10 years (obtained by September 1, 2007 or later);
  • Applicants must be early-career scholars, such as a post-doc or assistant professor;
  • Applicants must be from backgrounds that are historically disadvantaged or underrepresented in research disciplines. The term “historically disadvantaged” refers to the challenges facing individuals because of their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or similar factors. Eligible individuals include, but are not limited to, individuals from ethnic and racial groups historically underrepresented in research disciplines, first-generation college graduates and people from lower-income communities. These examples are intended to be illustrative, not exclusive. Applicants who do not fall within one of these categories but who believe they are from a historically disadvantaged or underrepresented background will have an opportunity to describe their individual circumstances as part of the online application process;
  • Applicants must have agreement from the home institution to administer and be the recipient of the grant;
  • Applicants must never have received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation;
  • Applicants must provide evidence of research skills (research fellowship or equivalent training or experience);
  • Applicants must be committed to the goals and mission of New Connections, RWJF and building a Culture of Health.
  • Applicant organizations must be either public entities or nonprofit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and are not private foundations or non-functionally integrated Type III supporting organizations. The Foundation may require additional documentation;
  • Applicant organizations must be based in the United States or its territories;
  • Individual candidates for receipt of award funds must be U.S. Citizens, permanent residents, or individuals granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the time of application and must not be receiving support from other research fellowships/traineeships at the time they begin the program.
  • Additionally, individual candidates for receipt of award funds cannot be related by blood or marriage to any Officer or Trustee of RWJF, or be a descendant of its founder, Robert Wood Johnson.


To apply for a grant with New Connections and RWJF, click here.


Supported Research


Successful New Connections applicants have focused their research on topics most relevant to RWJF’s current evaluation or research priorities and topic areas. Funded projects employ appropriate methodology given time and budget. Historically, New Connections has funded a range of evaluation and research activities including qualitative methods (e.g., focus groups or interviews), environmental scans, mixed methods, or other approaches to research and/or evaluation.

At the present time, the program’s preference is studies that employ secondary data analysis. All proposed work should reflect RWJF’s vision to build a Culture of Health for all Americans. To learn more about the Culture of Health visit


Funding Details


  • Grants of up to $50,000 each will be awarded through this program.
  • A total of up to 20 grants will be awarded. (Of the 20 grants awarded in this funding round, up to two grants will be designated for New Connections–Policies for Action awards.)
  • Grants will be 12 months in duration.
  • Grants require secondary data analysis/systematic review.

Register at to receive updates on future New Connections Call for Proposals.


Program Model


New Connections is a career development award. All funded scholars must include attendance to at least one New Connections sponsored meeting in their budgets. These required meetings include our Annual Symposia, Research and Coaching Clinic, and other meetings at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Funded scholars may also include in their budgets travel expenses to present and/or disseminate their research at up to two key national meetings. All grant awards are released to an eligible host institution, which acts as the fiscal agent. The Project Director and her or his host institution must submit regular reports to be in compliance with the award’s requirements. The scholar’s host institution must support the Junior Investigator’s attendance at annual required meetings/events. Junior Investigator’s must commit to a minimum of 25 percent of their time over the entire grant period (including any summer months).

Meet the criteria? Apply Now for a grant with New Connections & RWJF.

The Numbers

Funded scholars are part of the larger New Connections Network, which also includes scholars that have not received research funding. The Network includes over 900 scholars, who receive various career development and professional supports from the New Connections program. These professional supports include workshops, trainings, networking opportunities, leadership development, writing, and methodological consultation, access to webinars, and other regional forums and meetings. Since its founding, RWJF New Connections has invested more than $9M into the research of a diverse group of 155 early and mid-career researchers and evaluators in fields such as public health, social work, psychology, education, medicine, and urban planning.


For information on New Connections network members, visit the links below:

Scholar Stories

Funded Scholar Profiles


Healthy Eating Research

HER supports research on environmental and policy strategies with strong potential to promote healthy eating among children to prevent childhood obesity, especially among lower-income and racial and ethnic populations at highest risk for obesity. Technical assistance and direction for Healthy Eating Research are provided by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, which serves as the national program office. To learn more about the Healthy Eating Research program, please visit the program website at:


Policies for Action

Founded in 2015, Policies for Action (P4A) funds research identifying policies, laws, and other system and community levers in the public and private sectors that can support RWJF’s vision to build a Culture of Health in America. Our goal is to generate actionable evidence about how, and how well, laws and policies work to promote population health, well-being, and equity—the data and information that can guide legislators and other policymakers in their efforts. P4A is administered through the national coordinating center at the Urban Institute, in collaboration with five research hubs across the country.

Mobile Sliding Menu

Designed by blupineapple with Compass