About AOTF

The American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) is a 501(c)(3) charitable, scientific and educational organization founded in 1965. It serves the public interest by supporting occupational therapy research and increasing public understanding of the important relationship between everyday activities (occupations) and health.  It accomplishes its aims primarily through grants and scholarships, through programs, and through publications such as the quarterly journal, OTJR: Occupational Therapy Journal of Research. 

Foundation Research Through the Years: Retrospective Report

The AOTF is governed by an elected board consisting of members from the public and from the profession of occupational therapy. Its work is supported by contributions, bequests, grants, and endowments. AOTF's offices are located at 12300 Twinbrook Parkway, Suite 520, Rockville, MD 20852.

Contributions to the AOTF are considered charitable donations that are tax deductible to the extent provided by law. AOTF has been classified as a publicly supported charity under the provisions of IRC 509(a)1 regulations.

Simone Gill, PhD, OTR, Associate Professor, Boston University, AOTF Trustee


We envision a vibrant science that builds knowledge to support effective, evidence-based occupational therapy.


To advance the science of occupational therapy to support people's full participation in meaningful life activities. 

Strategic Plan FY2023-2025

  • Build research capacity in occupational therapy
  • Build infrastructure to support research dissemination
  • Establish partnerships between researchers and practitioners
  • Strengthen AOTF leadership in the occupational therapy enterprise

​How to become involved:

  • Become a volunteer for AOTF and be a partner in our mission to build evidence to improve practice and health. 
  • Donate and/or Fundraise to support evidence-based research.
  • Sponsor a grant, award, scholarship or event.
  • Become an AOTF Ambassador.

AOTF PDF Brochure 

History of AOTF

While the Foundation has existed since 1965, there was a focus on research specific activities following a meeting with the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) in 1978. To promote and support research by occupational therapists, AOTA's Representative Assembly identified AOTF as the organization to direct occupational therapy-related research initiatives.  The initial grants were Innovation Grants which awarded up to $5,000. With 33 proposals submitted during the inception of the program, the desire to expand OT research was unmistakable.  Chaired by Dr. Lela Llorens, the Foundation supported funding under her guidance for the 10 years to follow. The historical details mentioned, as well as current OT research agendas, are located within the provided reference list.

To this end, AOTF has designed, implemented, and supported OT research programs for the field into present day. The first 20 years of research funding supported over $3 million in grants and yielded significant extramural funding to continue the efforts of OT researchers. The current Intervention Research Grants, Health Services Research Grants, the Mid-Career Research Excellence Award, and the various awards and scholarships serve as a conduit for AOTF to continue making history. 

Did you know that some of the field's leaders received their earliest funding from AOTF?

  • AOTF funded the earliest project that led to the development of the Sensory Profiles by Winnie Dunn, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, standardized assessments that are now used worldwide to support evidence-based practices. 
  • In 1979, AOTF funded Lucy Jane Miller's project entitled: Standardization of the Miller Assessment for Preschoolers: A Preliminary Project.  
  • In 1983, the Foundation supported A Study of the Validity of the Southern California Sensory Integration Tests and Clinical Observations in Normal and Learning Disabled Children by Cynthia Bonskowski
  • In 1985, AOTF funded Ann Neville-Jan's investigation of The Validity of the Model of Human Occupation in Psychosocial Occupational Therapy. 
  • In 1994, AOTA and AOTF partnered to fund CORE research grants with Dr. Gary Kielhofner as Principal Investigator. An Early Career award now honors Dr. Kielhofner's name. 

Recent successes include: 

  • In 2019, the Implementation Research Grant became our third grant program, funded with support of NBCOT ® . The intent of the grant is to examine barriers to implementation, determine how to more efficiently deliver evidence-based practice in the practice setting, address scaling up smaller pilot research studies into larger health systems, measure performance within a practice setting, and develop methods to measure successful implementation specific to the field of OT. 
  • In 2019, 55 schools raised money for the St. Catherine Challenge surpassing the goal totaling over $60,000 in funding. This shows the impact Foundation-related efforts have on future practitioners!
  • In 2018, AOTF's peer-reviewed scientific journal, OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, reached it's impact factor of 1.234 under the guidance of Dr. Sherrilene Classen and her Editorial Board. 
  • In 2018, through a generous grant from NBCOT, the Foundation funded the first round of Health Services Research Grants to examine how people get access to health care, how and what care is delivered, the cost of that care, and what happens to patients as a result of receiving or not receiving care.
  • In 2017, AOTF began a series of Planning Grant Collectives (PGC). These workshops bring together researchers to plan future studies in the field. 
  • In 2016, the AOTA and AOTF joined forces to include the Summer Institute of Future Scientists in OT as a pre-conference event to the OT Summit of Scholars to ignite interest in potential future researchers.
  • In 2013, AOTF launched the Intervention Research Grant (IRG) to lay the groundwork for larger studies such as projects funded through NIH. Both NBCOT and AOTA, along with the St. Catherine's challenge, provide major funding for the grant. The grant reached 1 million dollars in funding in 2017.

Articles on the early history of AOTF: