Research–practice partnerships build districts’ capacity to connect research evidence to the decisions they make every day. The value of this work can be compelling to funders interested in research-informed approaches.

Developing relationships with funders is essential to successfully managing an RPP. These relationships mirror those with partners—time needs to be set aside to develop trust, refine and articulate common goals, clarify assumptions, and negotiate between two or more professional cultures.

Guiding Tips and Questions

“As philanthropy emphasizes research-informed and data-driven practices, researchers can make a compelling case for investments in partnerships that increase the capacity for evidence use and build bridges over the gulf between research and practice.”

Chris Tebben Philanthropy Consultant


  • Working in the Near and Long Term: Operating Principles for Building Sustainable Partnerships

    This article discusses the effort and challenges of sustaining a partnership over time, raising issues related to capacity-building and funding over the long-range.

  • Spencer Foundation RFP for Research-Practice Partnerships

    In May 2015, the Spencer Foundation will begin accepting proposals to support Research-Practice Partnerships, including but not limited to place-based research alliances, design-based research teams, and networked improvement communities. The foundation seeks to provide intermediate-term stability to existing RPPs by supporting a range of activities vital to their operation. Through this program, Spencer will provide grants of up to $400,000 for up to three years to support each funded partnership. Proposals for this program are accepted once a year.

  • How Far Have we Come? Foundation CEOs on Progress and Impact

    The Center for Effective Philanthropy tracks the effectiveness of foundations’ grantmaking activities. While geared toward philanthropists, this particular report again highlights the importance of having more evidence about what does and does not work. RPPs may be particularly positioned to be in dialogue with foundations about how RPPs contribute to a growing evidence base.

  • General Operating Support Action Guide

    This publication from Grantmakers for Effective Organizations makes the case to funders to provide general operating support. While written for funders, it provides a framework for RPPs to make the case for core support.

  • How to Fund Your Collective Impact Effort

    RPPs share many of the same funding challenges and opportunities as collective impact efforts, which are also enabled by partnerships. The slide deck provides an overview of ten traditional and promising strategies for funding collective impact partnerships, plus tips for making case statements.

  • Research-Practice Partnerships: A Strategy for Leveraging Research for Educational Improvement in School Districts

    While this resource provides an overview of research-practice partnerships, it homes in on specific advice for funders seeking to support RPP work. That advice provides guidance for both funders and RPPs in strategies to strengthen the field.

  • The Smarter Grantmaking Playbook

    This interactive resource provides guidance to grantmakers for achieving better results among their grantees. The section on collaboration makes the case for why and how to support collaborative efforts through grantmaking.

  • Working Better Together: Building Nonprofit Collaborative Capacity

    This document, by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, makes the case to funders to support collaborative work. The “Approaches for Funders” section offers some suggestions about how funders can support collaboratives, and discusses the importance of offering core support (see pages 23-25).