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.  

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, 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.

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 to support evidence-based research.


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 FY2020-2022

  • Build research capacity in occupational therapy
  • Generate, translate, and disseminate research knowledge
  • Expand partnerships with key stakeholders to advance occupational therapy research
  • Establish brand recognition across diverse constituencies


  • Significantly increase the research workforce prepared to address questions of importance to occupational therapy.
  • Support research that advances knowledge in areas of critical need to the OT profession, in particular, efforts that address the priorities identified by the Foundation. 
  • Facilitate effective dissemination and translation of research-based knowledge to support people's full participation in meaningful life activities and quality of life.
  • Significantly increase the number of donors and levels of funding for our research programs to support achieving our mission.

History of AOTF

While the Foundation has existed since 1965, there was a focus on research specific activities following a meeting with 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 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.  We are on target to continue this trajectory! 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, standardized assessments that are now used worldwide to support evidence based practices" ~ Winnie Dunn, PhD, OTR, FAOTA 
  • AOTF funded the earliest project that led to the development of the Sensory Profiles, 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. Currently, AOTF is spearheading efforts to endow an Early Career award in Dr. Kielhofner's name. We need your support! 

Recent successes include: 

  • 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.
  • Through a generous grant from NBCOT, the Foundation recently 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's peer-reviewed scientific journal, OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, reached an impact factor of 1.00 under the guidance of Dr. Sherrilene Classen and her Editorial Board! 
  • 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!

Articles on the early history of AOTF: