Background and Scope

From pandemics and climate change, to disruptive technologies and other emerging risks, it is a truism that most of today’s global threats cannot be addressed effectively without collective action. The failure of international responses to COVID-19 is only the most recent and dramatic example of the inability of long-standing cooperative mechanisms and institutions to withstand the pressures of nationalism, protectionism, and broader structural and systemic deficiencies. As the nature of security in the 21st century continues to evolve, there is a need to reimagine existing multilateral approaches to critical transnational challenges.

Through this Request for Proposals, Carnegie Corporation of New York invites projects that provide insights and practical approaches for addressing one or more of the following questions:

  • How might the system of international institutions be reimagined and/or reinvigorated to better respond to 21st-century security challenges, including those that threaten global health, climate, privacy, and civic well-being?
  • What are the pros/cons/utility of different forms of multilateralism for different purposes (e.g. formal vs. informal, small vs. large, narrow vs. broad, regional vs. global, like-minded vs. mixed, major powers only vs. a broader set of powers)?
  • How could international institutions adapt to better reflect and manage ongoing shifts in economic, military, and political power among global actors, especially in the context of China’s rise? 
  • What lessons should be learned from high-functioning regional organizations or international accords?
  • How might critical, yet underappreciated, flashpoints (geographic, economic, technological, etc.) be managed through multilateral approaches? Could these approaches be applied more broadly?
  • How should potential tradeoffs between national interests and collective security be managed?


Projects may run for up to 24 months. Applicants may submit a proposal in one of two categories: grants of up to $200,000 or grants for between $200,000 and $500,000. Grants will be onetime funding.

  • Think tanks, university-based centers, and independent nongovernmental organizations are eligible to apply. 
  • Applying organizations must be based in the United States, though they are strongly encouraged to have international partners.  
  • Proposals must be submitted by an organization; individual researchers working on their own projects are not eligible for consideration. 
  • Special consideration will be given to institutions and experts not currently funded by the Corporation. 
  • Projects may build on past or current work but must represent an expansion or evolution of that work. 
  • All proposals must:
    • Involve collaborations between U.S. and foreign experts. 
    • Include participation by experts from underrepresented communities in the project team and/or project activities. We also encourage inclusion of early-career and/or mid-career experts.  
    • Demonstrate practical significance and a viable path for policy adoption. 
    • Clearly identify stakeholders and key audiences with a dissemination plan that uses appropriate channels. 

Application Process and Timeline

  • Applicants should submit:
    • A concept note of no more than three pages (double-spaced) that:
      • Explains the project’s approach, goals, and workplan. 
      • Indicates the amount of funds requested and any other complementary sources of financial support.
    • Brief biographic summaries of the principal investigator/s and anticipated key project personnel (one-page double-spaced).
  • All documents should be sent to 
  • Initial concept notes are due by March 15. Different centers/schools at the same university may each submit one concept note. Think tanks may submit one concept note for the entire institution.
  • Finalists will be contacted by April 15
  • Larger grants (above $200,000) will be recommended for support at the September 2021 board of trustees meeting. Smaller grants ($200,000 or less) might be recommended for support earlier in 2021.