About the Young Scholars Program

The Young Scholars Program (YSP) supports scholarship for early career researchers. The program funds implementation research that is policy and practice-relevant and that examines the preparation, competency, compensation, well-being, and on-going professional learning of the early care and education (ECE) workforce.

The Foundation regards diversity as an asset for building a strong and productive society and is committed to diversity and equity in scholarship and through our grantees. To increase the diversity of research perspectives, the Foundation encourages applications from:

  • Scholars who are from underrepresented groups that have historically experienced economic instability and social exclusion, including, but not limited to: researchers of color, first-generation college graduates, culturally and linguistically diverse scholars, and researchers from low-income communities
  • Scholars who represent a variety of disciplines and methodological approaches

For more information, please download the complete 2021 YSP Guidelines.

Learn about the Foundation’s COVID-19 response for prospective young scholars here.

Watch the LOI Webinar: A Review of the Process

Research Focus 

The Foundation believes that a deeper understanding of the role of ECE professionals in enhancing young children’s early learning experiences can ultimately improve the chances for all children to reach their full potential. Scholars will become part of a growing network of the next generation of researchers whose work has the potential to strengthen the ECE workforce and improve the quality of services provided to young children and their families.

All proposed research must have primary questions that are relevant to the ECE workforce. With a particular focus on the ECE workforce, all supported research questions must support scientific inquiry into the implementation of specific ECE programs, policies, or practices. Implementation research provides the opportunity to engage in meaningful exploration of what works (or not), for whom, and under what conditions. Finally, all supported research must have a clear connection to policies and practices that have the potential to result in a positive impact on the ECE workforce and on the young children in YSP’s priority populations.

For more information on YSP’s research focus, please reference Section III. Research Focus in the 2021 YSP Guidelines.


Eligible researchers must have received their doctoral degrees (e.g., Ph.D., Ed.D., Psy.D., J.D., etc.) between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2019. Physician applicants must have received their M.D. degrees between January 1, 2008 and June 30, 2019.

The affiliated private, non-profit organization must have a minimum operating budget of $2.5 million and a minimum three-year track record in conducting multi-year research projects (at least three over the last three years).

Please review Section IV. Eligibility of the 2021 YSP Guidelines for additional eligibility criteria and more information about applying to YSP.

How to Apply

The first step is to create an account by logging into the online grants management system in order to submit the Letter of Intent (LOI). Use code “2021YSP” to access the 2021 YSP LOI form. The applicant or Principal Investigator (PI) should create the account so that they can fill out the information about their background and the proposed research project. The LOI is then completed and submitted online. Please note that the system can only accommodate one username and password per proposal. YSP is an open competition; applicants need not be nominated to apply.

Additional resources to assist with the application process:

  • Applicant Checklist: The Applicant Checklist is a guide to the Letter of Intent and Full Application requirements.
  • Mentor/Mentee Checklist: The Mentor/Mentee Checklist helps applicants and mentors develop clear expectations and parameters regarding the roles and responsibilities of the mentor/mentee during the application process.


April 15, 2020: Call for Proposals for 2021 YSP opens.

May 7, 2020: LOI Review Process Webinar at 1PM - 2:30PM EST (12PM – 1:30PM CST/ 11AM – 12:30PM MST/ 10AM – 11:30AM PST). Click here to view the webinar.

June 30, 2020: LOI Deadline. Online LOI closes at 8PM EST (7PM CST/ 6PM MST/ 5PM PST).

August 2020: Latest notification date of LOI status and invitations to submit a Full Application.

October 26, 2020: Full Application Deadline. Online Full Application process will close at 8PM EST (7PM CST/ 6PM MST/ 5PM PST) for applicants with an approved LOI who have been invited to apply.

Early April 2021: Latest notification date of Full Application status.

Please note: An additional webinar is planned for applicants with approved LOIs who have been invited to submit a Full Application.