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Call for Proposals: 2023 Free Inquiry Grant program

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The 2023 Free Inquiry Grant cycle has closed. The 2024 cycle will tentatively open in May 2024. Please check back for updates.

Summary: The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization, seeks research proposals related to freedom of expression and academic freedom.

Grant information: A total pool of $200,000 will be available in 2023, with a maximum amount of $65,000 per grant and no minimum amount.

Applicant eligibility: Applicants must currently be one of the following: 

  • Faculty — tenured, tenure-track, adjunct or otherwise — at an accredited institution of higher education. 
  • A Ph.D. student at an accredited institution of higher education. 
  • A postdoctoral researcher at an accredited institution of higher education. 
  • A researcher or fellow at a governmental or independent scholarly institution such as a laboratory or think tank. 

All grant recipients must sign a Grant Agreement as a condition of receiving grant funds. Previous applicants are eligible to apply.

Lightbulb alongside the words "Free Inquiry Grant 2023"

FIRE launches expanded 2023 Free Inquiry Grant program, offering $200,000 to support research on free speech


FIRE is proud to announce that we have expanded the program to $200,000, with a maximum grant size of $65,000, to fund proposals supporting research that advances the understanding of free speech and academic freedom.

Read More

International eligibility: We accept grant applications from outside of the United States. However, FIRE does not distribute grant funds to individuals or organizations in countries subject to sanctions administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of Treasury (OFAC) or that are listed on the Specially Designated Nationals And Blocked Persons List maintained by OFAC.

Eligible fields: We currently have the capacity to evaluate grant applications related to freedom of expression and academic freedom in the following fields: economics, education, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology. 

We are open to proposals in other fields and, should we receive them, will seek evaluators for that field. If we are unable to find evaluators in said field, you will unfortunately not be eligible to receive a grant. Projects with an output consisting of a discrete piece of art — such as a film, painting, or poem — will not be eligible for funding through this grant program.

Eligible uses of grant funds: Research expenses, paid access to polling and datasets, interviews and data collection, software, travel for the purpose of interviewing subjects, travel for the purpose of accessing archival materials, wages for research assistants paid hourly to work on grant project, journal submission fees and/or publication fees. 

Any questions about whether expenses are eligible for funding may be directed to FIRE.

Ineligible uses of grant funds: Retroactive funding of expenses prior to grant disbursement, computer hardware expenses, living expenses, salary supplementation. 

Any questions about whether expenses are eligible may be directed to FIRE.

Indirect/facilities and administrative costs policy: Grant funds may be used for Indirect/F&A costs, provided such expenses are included in the itemized budget submitted to FIRE as part of the application and provided they do not exceed 10% of the total requested grant amount. If the budget submitted with the application does not include indirect/F&A costs, grant funds must not be used for indirect/F&A costs.

Grant timeline and relevant deadlines: Applications must be submitted for consideration before 11:59 p.m. PST on October 1, 2023. Funding decisions will be made and sent to applicants no later than December 15, 2023. Funding will be disbursed shortly thereafter, upon return of Grant Agreement.

Application evaluation: Grant applications will be evaluated for relevance and adherence to methodological rigor and standards of the field by scholars in the field of study indicated in the grant application. Grant applications approved by the scholars will be selected for funding by FIRE.

Budget change policy: If large changes to the budget of the project are necessary after the funds have been disbursed, grant recipients must inform FIRE. If these budget changes require additional funding for the project to be completed, FIRE may or may not elect to disburse additional funding.

Outside funding policy: Grant recipients are free to seek and receive funding from other sources to expand the scope of the proposed project or to meet unanticipated shortfalls in cost between the granted amount and actual project costs. In these cases, we ask that you keep FIRE informed and up to date.

Reporting requirements and deliverables: Projects are expected to have a duration of no longer than 18 months. Extensions may be granted provided detailed documentation of the reason for the delay is provided to FIRE. 

A short progress report on the state of the grant-funded project must be submitted every 4 months, with the first report due May 2, 2024 and every four months thereafter until completion of the funded project.

At the end of the grant term or upon completion of the grant-supported project — whichever comes first — a final report along with a complete research paper in a publishable format is due and should be shared with FIRE. For longer or longitudinal projects, a report of preliminary data in a publishable format will suffice.

Submission requirements: All applications must include:

  • An abstract summarizing the research project (no more than 300 words).
  • An explanation of how the project will advance the understanding of freedom of expression or academic freedom (no more than 300 words).
  • A detailed outline of the methodology of your proposed project (no more than 5 pages, single-spaced).
  • A proposed itemized budget detailing how the requested funding will be used.
  • Your CV/resume.
  • Two suggestions for grant reviewers within the same field of your proposal who do not have a conflict of interest with your receipt of the grant.

Forms must be submitted here.

Publication Policy: Grant recipients may submit for publication any research funded by the grant. FIRE reserves the non-exclusive right to publish the results of grant-funded research in a future multidisciplinary journal of free speech-related research. Should FIRE choose to exercise the non-exclusive publication right, we are happy to work with the grant recipient to avoid any conflicts with the publication policy of the journals where the grant-funded work is submitted.

Funding disclosure policy: FIRE’s funding of the project must be credited in any published material or presentation of the grant-funded research.

Unused funds policy: Grant funds that remain unused at the completion of the project are to be returned to FIRE.

Conflict of interest policy: Any conflict of interest between the grant recipient and the subject of the research must be disclosed to FIRE.

Retraction policy: FIRE reserves the right to retract published material in cases of substantial methodological failure, dishonesty, or forgery.

Please fully and carefully read through the call for proposals before submitting the grant application. Any questions can be directed to Free Inquiry Grant manager Ryne Weiss.