Maddie's Idea Lab Phase 1 - 4 Research Grants

Maddie's® Idea Lab Phase 1 - 4 research projects evaluate innovative ideas that impact dog or cat lifesaving, foster care or the development of animal welfare leadership. If the idea is successful, there is potential for further phases of testing, building upon the success of the initial idea by testing at more shelters and/or rescue organizations with varying demographics, over time. Some projects might enter Maddie's® Idea Lab at Phase 1 and others will enter at a later phase, depending on the pre-existing work related to the idea.

    We are not currently accepting any Maddie's Idea Lab inquiries or applications.

  • Phase 1 research projects evaluate a new and innovative idea at a single shelter or rescue organization, where the idea originated.
  • Phase 2 research projects evaluate the idea at one additional shelter or rescue organization, helping you to learn whether a project can be replicated.
  • Phase 3 research projects expand evaluation of the idea to three - six shelters or rescue organizations, testing the idea at organizations of varying types.
  • Phase 4 research projects evaluate the idea at 10 - 30 shelters or rescue organizations, expanding the project to less well-resourced and a broader variety of organizations.

Who Should Apply?

Animal welfare organizations and research scientists who are associated with a University, College, government agency or 501(c)3 non-profit can apply for this grant.

How Does It Work?

Fill out the Inquiry Form (see "How Do I Apply for a Grant” below) and submit it to us. We'll let you know whether it's a research project that we might consider funding. Let us know if you need a research scientist or a shelter/rescue group for your research project; we may be able to connect you with someone who will be excited about your idea. Then, if invited, submit your completed application by the deadline for our review.

How Much Money Should I Apply For?

Apply for what you need to complete the research project. The amount awarded to Phase 1 – 4 research grant applicants depends on how many shelters/rescue groups are involved with the project. For Phase 2 – 4 research grants, most proposals include funding for the participating organizations. Funding generally ranges as follows:

  • Phase 1 up to $25,000
  • Phase 2 up to $25,000
  • Phase 3 up to $150,000
  • Phase 4 grants are considered on an individual basis.

How Do I Apply for a Grant?

Before you apply, review the Maddie’s Fund Grant Requirements and ensure you meet these requirements.

Complete and submit to us the Inquiry form through the Maddie’s Fund Grants Portal. If this is your first time accessing our Grants Portal, you’ll need to create an account by following the instructions on the log in page.

After we review your Inquiry, we’ll let you know whether it’s a research project that we might consider funding. If invited to proceed in the application process, you’ll be sent a link to the full application. Grant applications are reviewed quarterly, and are due by January 15, April 15, July 15 and October 15 (or the first business day thereafter if the 15th falls on a weekend). Note that if you submit an application before the deadline, it will not be reviewed until after the deadline date.

You can download sample Inquiry forms and Applications in the Related Links box on the right and prepare your responses to the questions. These sample applications are provided for reference only and questions are subject to change. To apply for a Maddie’s® Idea Lab grant, you will need to apply through the Maddie’s Fund Grants Portal.

Grant recipients will be asked to honor Maddie, the little dog who inspired a movement, through their social media and donor recognition about this grant on their website, donor wall, annual report, newsletter or other promotional materials or marketing communications, as appropriate.


  1. Maddie's Fund awarded a Phase One grant to Longmont Humane Society to evaluate a new program to provide foster care for dogs who are shy, anxious, or otherwise stressed in the kennel environment. The program will involve recruiting and training foster caregivers to provide for the care and rehoming of a minimum of 30 anxious dogs and evaluate the dogs' length of stay, return rate after adoption, and dog behavior.
  2. Maddie's Fund awarded a Phase Three grant to Dr. Alexandra Protopopova at Texas Tech University to evaluate the use of a program, already validated at a single site, to encourage appropriate dog behavior when meeting with potential adopters for the first time. This grant will fund the evaluation of this program and it's effect on adoption rates, at several different animal shelters around the country.
  3. Maddie's Fund awarded a Phase Three grant to Austin Animal Services to evaluate a foster program for medium or large dogs who have been in the shelter for 30 or more days. This program was initially evaluated at a single site, and thus was able to apply to the Maddie's Fund Idea Lab as a Phase Three grant proposal. This grant will fund the evaluation of this program and it's the effect of the program on dog live release rate, length of stay, behavior, and the cost of dog care.