The goal of the planning grant is to create a public charity, tentatively named the Joy Institute, that will catalyze, support and disseminate innovative ideas in the study of joy in religion, psychology and social science. Joylessness has been described as the prevailing social pathology of our time. It has led to a culture of dissatisfaction and increasing materialism that diminishes civic engagement and impoverishes culture. The antidote to a culture of corrosive affluence, social anomie and individual isolation is a culture of joy.

The goal of the Joy Institute will be to return joy, understood not as a mere emotion but the summit of integral well-being, to a central position in both academic research and in individual and social life. The planning grant project proposes the creation of an organizational structure – the Joy Institute – in which multiple project leaders, or External Program Executives, will develop initiatives that will advance Sir John’s interest in developing new spiritual information about joy as outlined in the Foundation’s Charter. Planning Grant activities will include defining the vision and organizational structure of the Joy Institute and the multiple EPE structure, developing a sustainable fundraising plan, and identifying future initiatives on joy to be incubated by the Joy Institute.

The Joy Institute’s goal will support research that is foundational (with the potential to expand our understanding of the deep or "ultimate" nature of joy); unconventional (enabling research into joy within and between humanistic, scientific and social scientific disciplines) and definitional (developing consensus understandings of the religious, scientific and social scientific expressions of joy and thus expand the horizon of new spiritual information). Finally, the Joy Institute aspires to create schools of thought and communities of practice that will inspire deeper experiences of joy in both groups and individuals.