Collaborative Activity Awards


The Foundation offers Collaborative Activity Awards to initiate interdisciplinary discussions on problems or issues, to help launch interdisciplinary research networks, or to fund communities of researchers/practitioners dedicated to developing new methods, tools, and applications of basic research to applied problems. In each case the focus of the collaborative activity must meet the program guidelines for one of the following program areas:

With the Collaborative Activity Awards, JSMF continues and formalizes a funding mechanism the Foundation has used since 1987. Over the past decade or so, the Foundation has from time to time provided grants to support study panels and research networks. This has proven to be an effective way to encourage cross-disciplinary thinking and research on fundamental questions. Furthermore, these activities have contributed to the development of programs both at the Foundation and at other funding agencies. Collaborative Activity Awards developed from questions or topics discussed at JSMF-sponsored meetings may be initiated by JSMF Advisory Panel members, particularly when the outcome of collaborative discussions assists with Foundation program planning.

NOTE: Collaborative awards will not be awarded in support of large, program-project style research proposals.

Important Notes:

Collaborative activity awards are foundation initiated.



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James S. McDonnell Foundation
1034 S. Brentwood Blvd., Ste. 1850
St. Louis, MO 63117


JSMF Collaborative Activity Award applications are accepted via invitation only. The 21st Century Collaborative Activity Awards are awards for multidisciplinary and multi-participant projects that address questions and topics relevant to the Foundation's core and complementary program areas.

  • Strong preference will be given to applications involving multi-institutional collaboration.
  • There are no geographic restrictions on these awards and the Foundation encourages international applications.
  • The lead applicant must be sponsored by a non-profit institution as defined by Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. Read More
  • The grantee institution must agree to administer the award and to waive all indirect and administrative costs.


Budget guidelines will be provided if a full proposal is requested.

Application Process

Upon invitation from the Foundation, applicants for Collaborative Activity Awards should submit a letter of inquiry. Letters of inquiry can be submitted at any time during the year, and must be submitted electronically to: There are no application deadlines for these grants. Applicants can expect an initial response to their letters within 2-3 weeks of receipt. The letter of inquiry must include:

  1. A brief description of the proposed activity and an explanation of its scientific importance or practical significance (not to exceed 1000 words in length).
  2. A listing of representative or possible participants
  3. An estimate of the proposed activity's duration and budget
  4. The lead applicant’s current short-form curriculum vitae.
    • Maximum 2 pages

Collaborative Activity Award letters of inquiry are subject to the "Once-Every-Three-Years" Eligibility Policy.

Foundation staff, in consultation with its Advisory Panels, will review the letters of inquiry for their relevance to the Foundation's program interests, the significance and importance of the activity, and likelihood that the Foundation could provide the necessary funding for the proposed duration of the project.

Foundation staff will contact applicants whose initial inquiries receive favorable review to request additional information and to provide guidance on the preparation of a full proposal. Staff and Advisory Panels will also review the full proposals. Full proposals that receive a favorable review will be presented to the Foundation's board for consideration.

Funding Policies

Interested in applying for a JSMF grant? Review and understand these policies before applying for a grant.

Documentation of Tax Status / Affidavit of Grantee

"Once-Every-Three-Years" Eligibility Policy

Indirect Costs Policy

Tuition Policy

Frequently Asked Questions