Information for Applicants

2024 Request for Proposals

The RIDGE Partnership is pleased to invite proposals for new research on the economics of federal nutrition assistance programs. Proposals are due January 31, 2024. The Request for Proposals (.pdf) provides an overview, describes the topic areas, explains the submission process, provides our detailed evaluation criteria, and summarizes key dates.

Optional Letter of Intent

If you plan to submit a proposal, we request an optional letter of intent to be submitted via email by December 15, 2023, letting us know simply:

  • the names and contact information of any PI and co-PIs,
  • the intended title and topic area of the planned project,
  • whether the proposal is for a standard research grant, or a dissertation or postdoctoral fellow research grant, and
  • the name of the university or organization that will serve as the point of contact for award administration.

This letter is not mandatory and will be used only for planning the number of reviewers we need. Please email your letter of intent to the RIDGE coordinator at

Submission Resources

As explained in the Request for Proposals (RFP), applicants should first prepare the following materials for submission:

Then, applicants submit the proposal and upload the materials using this Qualtrics form:

  • The application phase has passed; thank you to those who have submitted.

Contact Us

The RIDGE Partnership email is

Informational Webinar (December 4)

There was an informational webinar December 4, 2023, 1pm eastern (link), with 42 participants. Several questions from the webinar now have been added to our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can you give us early feedback on our proposal idea?

We are delighted to answer almost any questions you have, as best we can. In some cases, we may be able to help you avoid topics that are clearly out of scope. In other cases, to respect the external review process, we must point you toward the RFP itself rather than expressing our personal opinion on your proposal in advance of submission. External reviewers will be using the description of topic areas in the RFP while reviewing proposals, so the RFP is most authoritative.

Can we invite USDA employees as collaborators?

USDA staff should not be listed as co-investigators or investigators. If your project benefits from USDA collaborations or input, which is not required, you may simply explain those collaborations or input in the narrative.

Can we propose using ERS proprietary data (commercial data)? 

After the webinar, USDA confirmed that the use of proprietary data acquired by ERS for USDA-funded projects for extramural researchers will be considered. If proprietary data will be used, the RIDGE project proposal must be accompanied by the appropriate Third-Party Agreement (TPA) signed by the relevant official(s) of the applicant’s educational institution. Note that the TPA is specific to the particular source of data and needs to be signed without any change in the language of the agreement. Finally, all manuscripts, presentations, and other materials that derive results from restricted-use data are required to adhere to disclosure avoidance guidelines and are subject to disclosure risk review prior to public release and publication. The RIDGE Partnership can share with you more information about the process for seeking to use such data and help put you in touch with the relevant USDA staff. More generally, for any restricted data sources, the proposal must provide some evidence at the time of application of being able to acquire the data, which is important for our evaluation of project feasibility. Written confirmation that access has been approved is not required at the time of application, but may be needed by the time of project start in June 2024.

Does the proposal have to be national or can it be used for locally-based research?

National or local data sources are welcome. For local data sources, the proposal should explain potential relevance for understanding national policy or implementation issues. 

Must the investigator be an economist?

Investigators from diverse disciplines are welcome and have been funded in the past. Proposals should describe their relevance to understanding the economics of federal nutrition assistance programs, but that broad area is the subject of research in several disciplines. The principal investigator does not have to be an economist.

How much funding is available?

For 2024, the total funding is $325k. We are likely to fund 3 or 4 of the $75k proposals. In 2023, we funded 5 of the $75k proposals and 3 smaller proposals (20% funding rate).

Do you provide feedback after the review process?

Yes, on request, we provide a brief anonymous summary of referee comments.

May we propose a pilot project to RIDGE, leading to a larger research proposal later to a different funder?

Yes, recognizing that RIDGE is a small grants program with a cap on total project resources, we think this sounds like a suitable use of RIDGE support. But, remember that RIDGE is formally a research grants program, not merely seed funding. The deliverable for a RIDGE grant is a research manuscript rather than just a proposal for further research. Your RIDGE proposal will be evaluated based on the value of the anticipated research manuscript you propose using the RIDGE grant.

If we missed the Dec 15 date for Letter of Intent (LOI), should we still send one now?

Yes, please. The optional LOI is a simple email (see details above), just to help us anticipate how many reviewers we need. It does not affect the review of your proposal. Even after Dec 15, it will be nice to get your email.


Additional resources on nutrition assistance research and data sources that may be helpful can be found on our resources page.


For older information distributed during the 2023 cycle, including the 2023 FAQ, see the archives.