Templeton World Charity Foundation has launched a new strategy to support new scientific research on human flourishing and to translate related discoveries into practical tools. Over the next five years, the Foundation will support a range of projects across three distinct stages: discovery, development, and launch. We hope that this commitment will lead to the development of innovative solutions and the launch of new practices that make a lasting impact on human flourishing. 

You can find more information about our new strategy here.

Before picking a focal point for the discovery stage of this five-year strategy, we plan to gather new ideas through an open-submission process. To achieve this, we’ve issued this Request For Ideas (RFI) to gather input as broadly as possible. We invite researchers across disciplines to participate in an initial phase of idea generation and development. Ideas selected will be used by the Foundation to shape its priorities for scientific discovery. This has the potential to lead to several new portfolios of grants. We seek bold ideas and rigorous experiments that use new conceptual frameworks to move past age-old debates and lead to significant breakthroughs.

We expect to invest approximately $40,000,000 through the Grand Challenges for Human Flourishing. Priority will go to interdisciplinary scientific research on humanity’s cognitive, affective, social, and spiritual well-being. 

We are particularly interested in capacities that can be enhanced to promote human flourishing. We are also committed to the use of open science practices, such as the preregistration of hypotheses, replication studies, and data sharing.

Grand Challenges for Human Flourishing:

Request for Ideas

We are investing $40 million in bold research that promotes human flourishing.

How does it work?

Any qualified respondent with substantial research experience who is employed full time at an academic or research institution may submit an idea through our portal. Please read the rest of this document carefully if you are interested in submitting an idea. Templeton World Charity Foundation supports scientific research through discrete grants to institutions for specific projects. We fund research in many academic disciplines and select partners and applicants through a variety of methods. As shown below, we plan to use this RFI to find new topics of interest. We will filter idea submissions and send them out for external expert review. In some cases, we may liaise with respondents to improve and refine the ideas. Upon completion of the idea-development stage, we will use some of these topics as the basis for future grantmaking.

September 2020 – February 2021


Grand Challenges for Human Flourishing Request for Ideas launch.


Internal and external review of ideas. Top ideas selected.

March 2021 – December 2024


Grant development.


Grant awards by Templeton World Charity Foundation.


Key dates

  • Launch RFI: September 14, 2020
  • Submission Deadline: November 11, 2020 (portal closes at midnight US Pacific Time)
  • Announcement of selected topics: March 2021
  • Earliest grant application submissions: June 2021

What kind of ideas are we looking for?

We are looking for ideas that can lead to new multi-grant research portfolios on human flourishing. We are particularly interested in ideas for interdisciplinary scientific research towards discoveries that can promote physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being. We welcome ideas that bridge gaps between empirical science and the humanities. Such ideas may include (but are not limited to): 

  • Experimental testing of philosophically grounded models of human flourishing;
  • Research on biological complexity in humans, including genetics, epigenetics, and microbiome research;
  • Investigation of key psychological, neuroscientific, or human developmental concepts, such as (but not limited to) altruism, creativity, imagination, narrative, and meta-cognition;
  • Research on cognitive, affective, or social capacities of individuals or groups;
  • Studies of human biological or cultural evolution.

We will not be able to support traditional research ideas that would normally be considered by major funding organizations. Although such projects are vital, we plan to focus on innovations that have been neglected or overlooked. Where traditional research ideas are presented, we expect contributors to provide a suitable justification. Ideas that are not likely to be eligible may include:

  • Diagnostic, preventative, or therapeutic discovery in medicine;
  • Behavioral intervention development in psychiatry;
  • Basic research primarily on neurological conditions, infectious disease, cardiovascular disease, or cancer;
  • Research primarily on mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression;
  • Research on climate change or related relief efforts;
  • Scaling up interventions that have already been established;
  • Biomedical research related to COVID-19.

Key Selection Criteria

The Foundation will consider the following criteria during the review process.

  • Does the idea fit with the strategic goals of the Foundation?
  • What is the potential for new scientific discovery?
  • Is the idea clearly articulated?
  • Is the idea based on a sound conceptual framework? 
  • Is the idea supported by rigorous methodologies?
  • Is the timeline realistic?
  • Is the budget reasonable?

We are particularly interested in ideas for interdisciplinary scientific research towards discoveries that can promote physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being.

What opportunities are available?

If we choose to pursue your idea, you may be eligible for some of the following:

  • Applying for one of the grant opportunities based on your idea;
  • Serving as an advisor to Templeton World Charity Foundation to help us support funding in this area;
  • Serving as a champion/talent scout to find other people in the area whom we can support;
  • Being invited to have your idea published in a sponsored edition of a top journal or Foundation media outlet.

How do I submit an idea?

All ideas should be submitted through our online portal. Please read the instructions carefully and make your submission as complete as possible.

Submission Portal

Where do I go for help?

Our staff will generally not be able to advise you on the content of your idea. If you have trouble using the submission portal, then you can contact us at grandchallenges@templetonworldcharity.org.

Contact Us

What other guidance is available?

Example Ideas

To demonstrate how to articulate an idea for the Grand Challenges for Human Flourishing, we have created two examples to reflect existing initiatives of the Foundation. The example ideas should not be used as indicators of selection criteria or to guess what the Foundation might be interested in. Click here to see example ideas that reflect two of our current initiatives.

Blog Posts

Do you have a great idea but you are unsure how to evaluate and describe it? Take a look at our Medium blog posts here and here for tips for developing an idea.