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Foundation Spotlight: Midway to Making the First $100,000 Visionary Grant

Milton D. Hakel, SIOP Foundation President

Here is how it started: Imagine a large cohort of donors to the SIOP Foundation. Think of donations of $1,000 and up.

Now think about 100 donors each giving $1,000. That’s $100,000, serious money!

OK, now imagine a SIOP conference session on Thursday, April 23, in Austin TX. Finalists will give brief presentations to showcase their proposals for how they would use a $100,000 grant funded by Visionary Donors to shape the future of work.

The presentations will be viewed in person, livestreamed, or viewed asynchronously. The Visionary Donors will vote to select the winner, and the first Visionary Grant will be awarded at the Closing Plenary.

Audacious? Yes.

Possible? Without a doubt.

Take a deep breath. Now imagine doing this every year.

That is how the Visionary Circle started in April 2018. We are now midway through the first cycle.

Progress Report

Donor recruitment began in November 2018. Since then, 82 Visionary Donors came forward by June 30, contributing $102,200. The list of current Visionaries is online at http://www.siop.org/Foundation/Visionary-Circle/Visionaries-VC.

A Visionary Grant Q&A videoconference for prospective bidders was held on June 3, with 44 attendees. The many questions and their answers appear at http://www.siop.org/Foundation/LOI-Q-A

We received 33 complete letters of intent from SIOP professional and student members, each of whom sent superb ideas about how to shape the future of work. The letters of intent were reviewed by the Visionary Grant Subcommittee of SIOP’s Awards Committee. Ten principal investigators were invited to submit full proposals by midnight ET on September 3, 2019.

There was a wonderful and wide diversity of content in the letters of intent, ranging from visionary takes on the traditional mainstays of our field to imaginative and creative extrapolations seeking to unite IQ, EQ and AI. Here are terms that would appear in an index if the letters were published: airline pilots, assistive devices, augmented reality, big data, burnout, certification, change, college navigation, dignity, engagement, foresight, fulfillment, gig workers, goals, help ourselves, higher education, inclusion, influence, innovation, interviewer bias, leader development, mobility, ontology, play, recruitment, resilience, social inequalities, speed, sticky answers, teaming with AI, thriving, time, toolkit, turnover, unpaid work, virtual reality, well-being, wellness, women of color, and working.

The letters of intent were evaluated on these criteria:

  • Is the project visionary, i.e., it looks to the future of work, brings I-O psychology into another realm, asks new questions, and/or engages with other disciplines?
  • Does the project integrate the science and practice of I-O psychology?
  • Does the project address a problem critical to the future of work or workplaces (for example, maximize organizational effectiveness or individual productivity or well-being)?
  • Does the project have clear metrics for success, indicating how the project will change or advance praxis in I-O psychology? In other words, what metrics will be used to indicate that the project makes significant contributions? Can the project be accomplished in a year or close to a year?
  • Does the project have the potential for facilitating subsequent work and/or additional funding?
  • Is the requested funding reasonable and/or sufficient to accomplish the project?

Evaluations were averaged across criteria and raters, and a composite was calculated (r = .83) and then discussed on a conference call to identify 10 semifinalists.

Next Steps

Full proposals of up to 15 pages, plus budgets, timelines, and staff bios, were due on September 3. The Visionary Grants Subcommittee is evaluating these proposals in depth, requesting additional information and clarifications if needed.

A small group of finalists will be added to the 2020 SIOP Conference program, with a session scheduled for Thursday, April 23. The finalists’ written proposals will be sent to the Visionary Donors well ahead of that date.

Voting by the donors will open at the end of the live session and be available until noon CDT on Saturday, April 25. The winner of the inaugural $100,000 Visionary Grant will be announced at the Closing Plenary.

About the Vision for the Second and Subsequent Visionary Circles

The Visionary Circle is a startup, and we are in the midst of its creation. Its purpose is to serve as a dependable and renewable source of grant funding for I-O research and development. We are now seeing the first results showing how the startup is likely to fare in coming years. The Foundation Trustees and the Visionary Steering Committee are excited by what we are seeing.

The SIOP Visionary Circle can bring a sea change for our applied organizational science, because

  1. I-O professionals are the masters of praxis—the synthesis of theory and practice without presuming the primacy of either. We all are applied scientists.
  2. The demand for and receptivity to evidence-based practice has never been higher.
  3. SIOP is a growing and evolving node of applied science, and thereby it will attract attention and support from private and public organizations as well as corporate and private foundations.

It’s corporate and private foundations that I want to highlight here. Send or call me with your leads and ideas about how to pursue this. Attracting their attention can substantially enlarge the flow of resources invested in creating smarter workplaces. Increasing that flow in the near term is going to depend on how this first cycle turns out, in particular its impact in creating excitement and attracting support into the second and subsequent cycles. We already have the first pledge to donate in the second cycle.

In the meantime, be sure to attend the 2020 SIOP Conference in Austin, and attend the presentations by the Visionary Grant finalists!

As we approach the end of 2019, please consider contributing $1,000 to the Visionary Circle’s second cycle, or to any of our award, grant, and scholarship funds as part of your personal philanthropy.

The SIOP Foundation Trustees welcome your comments, suggestions, and creative imaginings. Our mission is to connect donors with I-O professionals to create smarter workplaces.

Onward, with Vision!


Milt Hakel, President, mhakel@bgsu.edu, 419-819-0936

Rich Klimoski, Vice-President, rklimosk@gmu.edu

Nancy Tippins, Secretary, nancy@tippinsgroup.com

Leaetta Hough, Treasurer, leaetta@msn.com

Adrienne Colella, Communications Officer, acolella@tulane.edu

Mirian Graddick-Weir, Trustee, mgraddickweir76@gmail.com

Bill Macey, Trustee, wmacey9@gmail.com

John C. Scott, Trustee, JScott@APTMetrics.com


The SIOP Foundation
440 E Poe Rd Ste 101
Bowling Green, OH 43402-1355
419-353-0032   Fax: 419-352-2645
Email: SIOPFoundation@siop.org


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