NCFR Darling Family Life Education Research Initiative Grant

The 2024 grant submission system is now closed and will reopen in March 2026.

This opportunity is available to NCFR members only. You may be prompted to log in. Learn how to become a member.


The National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) and Carol Darling, Ph.D., CFLE, are proud to sponsor the NCFR Darling Family Life Education Research Initiative Grant (NCFR Darling Grant), awarded for the first time in 2024.

The purpose of the NCFR Darling Grant is to integrate research into the practice of Family Life Education, a priority for both NCFR and Dr. Carol Darling. The NCFR Darling Grant can help Family Life Educators, researchers, and programs that often lack funding to conduct research needed to support and maintain their projects and services. Examples of potential projects might include the collaboration of a researcher or educator and a practitioner to evaluate the effectiveness of specific Family Life Education programs; examine best practices in designing and/or implementing a program for one or more demographic (e.g., age, sex, class), racial or ethnic, cultural, or historically marginalized groups; compare different programmatic delivery methods such as teaching in-person versus online; assess the impact of state laws and regulations on the dissemination of Family Life Education programs; or examine the implementation of Family Life Education across international settings. Incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion into the proposal is desirable, if applicable, but not required.

This $5,000 biennial grant is designed to creatively contribute to the Family Science discipline and specifically to Family Life Education. The call for grant proposals is intentionally broad to encourage a variety of innovative projects that meet the grant objectives. Grant proposals should clearly state how the project bridges research and the practice of Family Life Education.


About Dr. Carol Darling

As an NCFR member for 50 years and a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) for over 35 years, Dr. Carol Darling has demonstrated a long commitment to teaching and research in Family Life Education and has made significant contributions to NCFR and to the CFLE credential. Dr. Darling is an NCFR Fellow and NCFR past president; she has received multiple NCFR honors, including the CFLE Special Recognition Award for outstanding service to the CFLE program, the Margaret E. Arcus Outstanding Family Life Educator Award, and the Ernest G. Osborne Award for outstanding leadership and excellence in the teaching of family relationships.

Dr. Darling has served in numerous capacities for NCFR and been involved in every CFLE committee or board. She was a member of the original Committee on Standards and Criteria for the Certification of Family Life Educators, which created the CFLE program; the CFLE Review Committee (when the CFLE application was a portfolio review process); was an original member of the CFLE Advisory Board; served on the CFLE Academic Program Review Committee; and served on the CFLE Exam Committee. She was also chair of the NCFR Education and Enrichment Section, now known as the Family and Community Education Section.

In addition to her service to NCFR, Dr. Darling has been committed to the integration of research and teaching during her career as a professor at Florida State University (FSU) and at the University of Helsinki, where she taught and conducted research in Family Life Education. At FSU, Dr. Darling established an endowment for the Anderson-Darling Family Award, a yearly award given to an outstanding graduate teaching assistant.  Moreover, each year two FSU doctoral students, who are first authors of a paper, receive travel money from the Anderson-Darling Family endowment to present their research as a poster or paper at the NCFR Annual Conference. Dr. Darling’s generosity and commitment go beyond FSU and extend to NCFR with the establishment of the NCFR Darling Family Life Education Research Initiative Grant.

In addition to a personal contribution for the endowment of this research initiative grant, Dr. Darling is also contributing to the NCFR Darling Grant her portion of the royalties from the book Family Life Education: Working with Families across the Lifespan, which is authored by Dr. Darling, Dawn Cassidy, and Dr. Sharon Ballard with PowerPoint slides by Dr. Cindy Wilson (all CFLEs).


Grant Eligibility

  • The project must bridge research and the practice of Family Life Education.
  • If further clarification is needed regarding Family Life Education, refer to the article: Darling, C. A., Cassidy, D., & Rehm, M. (2020). Foundations of family life education model: Understanding the field. Family Relations, 69, 427-441.
  • The research must be conducted through a university to obtain IRB approval.
  • Application for IRB approval at an approving institution must be submitted prior to submitting a grant application.
  • The principal investigator (PI) must be a current NCFR member and maintain membership throughout the duration of the grant (nonmembers can join NCFR or renew their membership to apply for the grant).
  • Doctoral students nearing completion of their dissertation and postdoctoral fellows may apply as PIs.
  • Students may be involved in the proposed project as collaborators, but not as PIs.
  • Applicants may be included in more than one grant proposal but can only be listed as the PI on one proposal. 
  • Applicants for the NCFR Darling Grant are eligible to apply and receive the grant more than once.


Grant Proposal Content

Grant proposal should be uploaded as a Word document to the online application form. Please limit your grant proposal to 30 pages, including tables, figures, and references. Use 12-point, Times New Roman font. Do not write your name and other identifying information on the proposal. The grant proposal should include the following information:

  • Cover page that includes the grant proposal title, authors, institutional affiliation(s), and contact information
  • Author biographies
  • IRB submission verification (approval is not required before submitting the grant application)
  • Abstract (150 words)
  • Statement of goals bridging research and the practice of Family Life Education must be addressed and /or the relationship to furthering the profession of Family Life Education
  • Brief literature review
  • Theoretical framework
  • Research hypotheses that can advance Family Life Education practice
  • Research design: sample, methodology, and plan of analysis
  • How the proposal incorporates diversity, equity, and inclusion, if applicable
  • Reference list (5-10 references)
  • Project timeline--Maximum 18 months
  • Budget and budget justification


Deadlines and Expectations for 2024 Grant Proposals

  1. The first round of NCFR Darling Grant proposals will be accepted beginning March 1, 2024.
  2. Grant proposals are due by April 1, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. Central Time. 
  3. Proposals will be reviewed by a NCFR board-appointed committee of three people.
  4. Applicants will be notified of the decision by Aug. 1, 2024.
  5. The research should be completed by Nov. 1, 2025.
  6. A brief report of the results should be sent to NCFR by Dec.1, 2025. Based on the context of the awarded grant, NCFR staff will recommend the best place to share the findings (e.g., NCFR Report, CFLE Network¸ or an NCFR Policy Brief).
  7. Submit a conference proposal based on the results of this research for possible presentation during the NCFR Annual Conference 1 to 2 years after receiving the grant and/or presentation at another NCFR-sponsored event.
  8. Submit a paper for possible publication to Family Relations within 18 months after the receipt of the grant. If the article is not accepted by Family Relations, the author(s) may publish it in another journal.
  9. Any publication should note funding source.


Use of Funds

The NCFR Darling Grant does not cover indirect costs or travel to conferences. No more than 25% of the funds can be used to support the principal investigator; 75% of the funds can be used for research assistants and other research costs. The grant funds will be awarded once IRB approval has been received.


Project Proposal Review Criteria

  • Clearly states project proposal relevant to research and the practice of Family Life Education
  • Well-written project proposal with clearly described goals, hypotheses, and research design
  • Manageable project within the guidelines, budget, and timeline
  • Creative contribution for the advancement of Family Life Education
  • Project proposal explains how diversity, equity, and inclusion are incorporated, if applicable
  • Overall project quality


Additional Resources for Practitioners Interested in Applying for the Grant


Please email Ginnie O'Neill with questions, including if you would like to receive details when they become available.