Information

The Center accepts applications for Congressional Research Grants at any time and makes awards throughout the year.

The Dirksen Congressional Center invites applications for grants to fund research on congressional leadership and the U.S. Congress. The Center, named for the late Senate Minority Leader Everett M. Dirksen, is a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization devoted to the study of Congress. Since 1978, the Congressional Research Grants program has invested more than $1,100,000 to support over 500 projects. Applications are accepted at any time.

Applications are accepted at any time, but awards are announced quarterly in January, April, July, and October. The corresponding application deadlines are December 15, March 15, June 15, and September 15. Proposals received after a deadline will be carried over to the next quarter automatically.

The Center has allocated up to $50,000 in 2020 for grants with individual awards capped at $3,500.

Who is qualified to apply?

The competition is open to individuals with a serious interest in studying Congress. Political scientists, historians, biographers, scholars of public administration or American studies, and journalists are among those eligible. The Center encourages graduate students who have successfully defended their dissertation prospectus to apply and awards a significant portion of the funds for dissertation research. Applicants must be U.S. citizens who reside in the United States.

The grants program does not fund undergraduate or pre-Ph.D. study. Organizations are not eligible. Research teams of two or more individuals are eligible. No institutional overhead or indirect costs may be claimed against a Congressional Research Grant.

What kind of research projects are eligible for consideration?

The Center’s first interest is to fund the study of the leadership in the Congress, both House and Senate. Topics could include external factors shaping the exercise of congressional leadership, institutional conditions affecting it, resources and techniques used by leaders, or the prospects for change or continuity in the patterns of leadership. In addition, The Center invites proposals about congressional procedures, such as committee operation or mechanisms for institutional change, and Congress and the electoral process.

The Center also encourages proposals that link Congress and congressional leadership with the creation, implementation, and oversight of public policy. Proposals must demonstrate that Congress, not the specific policy, is the central research interest.

The Center does NOT require grant recipients to use historical materials in its collections. For persons interested in such research, however, please visit our Historical Collections for information about our holdings.

The research for which assistance is sought must be original, culminating in new findings or new interpretation, or both. The grants program was developed to support work intended for publication in some form or for application in a teaching or policy-making setting. Research produced by previous grant recipients has resulted in books, papers, articles, course lectures, videotapes, and computer software.

What could a Congressional Research Grant pay for?

Generally speaking, a grant can cover almost any aspect of a qualified research project, such as travel to conduct research, duplication of research material, purchase of data sets, and costs of clerical, secretarial, research, or transcription assistance. This list is merely illustrative. Specifically excluded from funding are the purchase of equipment, tuition support, salary support for the principal investigator(s), indirect costs or institutional overhead, travel to professional meetings, and publication subsidies.

Grants range from a few hundred dollars to $3,500. Stipends will be awarded to individuals (not organizations) on a competitive basis. Grants will normally extend for one year. In some circumstances, the Center will make more than one grant to a single individual in consecutive years, but not more than three grants to the same person in a five-year period.

The Internal Revenue Service requires The Center to report disbursements of more than $600 to individuals. Accordingly, we file a 1099-MISC reporting grant payments. If potential recipients prefer to have payments made to a university foundation on their behalf, they must submit with their proposal a letter from the responsible official stipulating that no indirect or overhead costs will be charged against the grant. In other words, the entire amount must be paid out to the individual.