Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership
Call for Proposals: Research Grant Application
(Spring 2018)

Frequently Asked Questions


The Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership takes as its mission promoting effective  and bipartisan leadership. The Center funds faculty research that will advance public leadership and help leaders to address pressing challenges. Grants are intended to help UW-Madison faculty and researchers advance evidence-based decision-making in Wisconsin and beyond.

“Tommy G. Thompson Research Grants” will fund five basic activities:

  • Collection of original data;
  • Analysis of existing data;
  • Hiring of student assistants;
  • June 2018 summer salary support for faculty members who devote significant time in the month (before the fiscal year end date of June 30) toward the completion of their research projects; and
  • Funds to further the “impact” of the research with the public and/or public decision-makers.

Eligible Applicants

All faculty members (tenured or tenure-track) and researchers affiliated with UW-Madison are eligible to apply. Applications from research teams are allowed. Professors from any discipline at UW-Madison are welcome to propose projects, as long as they address or have clear implications for public leadership and make important contributions to the study of American politics and policy.

Award Amounts

The Thompson Center has allocated a sizable amount of money for grants. Grant awards may range from $5,000-$400,000.

Award Period

Due to the compressed nature of the budget cycle, award recipients must present a plan for, and spend all funds by June 30, 2018. Thompson Center research grants need to be expended by this date because it marks the end of the fiscal year.

Due Date

Applications must be submitted via email to Assistant Director Anna Fosdick by Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 5:00 PM.

Application Process

Applications must be no longer than three-pages, single-spaced (which includes a proposed budget that addresses how applicants will expend funds by June 30, 2018). The Center reserves the right to seek additional information, to hold in-person interviews with applicants, and to modify proposed budgets.

Research Priorities

Tommy G. Thompson Research Grants will support innovative research that addresses today’s toughest public leadership challenges. Applicants must clearly explain how the proposed funding will positively influence public leadership and leadership issues in Wisconsin and beyond.

The Center is interested in research projects that examine ways to enhance public leadership, to get more citizens involved in public leadership, and other projects that involve public leadership. Projects may be quantitative, qualitative, contemporary, or historical. They may address substantive topics that involve public leadership, or they may focus on leadership skills themselves. The Center prioritizes research on leadership in American political and legal institutions, public policy making, and program implementation that exemplify cutting-edge legal, government, and political solutions. So long as the project involves ways to enhance public leadership in the current political world, broadly defined, it is relevant.

Proposals for research awards must explain how the applicants will share the research findings with a larger audience than typical academic research. Creativity in achieving this goal is encouraged and will assessed by the awards committee. Research must be important the academic community and to the broader public.

Award criteria

The Faculty Advisory Board (or its designated subcommittee) will judge applications on the relevance, importance, and expected impact of the research.

Awardee Responsibilities

Awardees must agree to work with Thompson Center staff to perform the following tasks:

  • promote the findings and implications of the funded work;
  • to post summaries of their research findings on the Center’s website;
  • to provide a public presentation of their results, either on the UW-Madison campus or at an alternative location, which must be a reasonable distance away; and
  • to evaluate her/his success in achieving impact in a short report and/or presentation to the Center.

Award Notifications

The Center will notify grant recipients in writing after the committee finalizes its decisions (which we expect will occur in March). The Center will disperse funds shortly thereafter.


Recipients cannot use funds to buy out courses or to support work by non-UW-Madison students.


Direct all questions to:

Anna Fosdick, Ph.D.
Assistant Director, Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership
University of Wisconsin – Madison
North Hall, Room 402
1050 Bascom Mall
Office: 608-263-2277

Frequently Asked Questions