Funders play a critical role in the development and sustainability of research-practice partnerships. RPPs—long-term, mutually beneficial collaborations that promote the production and use of rigorous research about problems of practice—hold promise for improving the relevance of the research produced, its use, and outcomes for youth. Partnerships have the potential to build the capacity of youth-serving organizations to produce and use timely and relevant research, inform improvement efforts, while also contributing to a larger body of knowledge. But building and sustaining successful partnerships requires thoughtful investments from funders.
Grantmakers interested in supporting the work of RPPs must consider a range of issues—what aspects of the partnership to support, how to structure the support, what proposal materials and criteria are needed to reliably judge the merit and potential of partnership, how best to evaluate RPPs efforts post-funding, and how to convince their Boards and other internal stakeholders that supporting RPPs is a worthwhile investment.