Social Policy Research Initiative (SPRI) Request for Proposals

J-PAL North America's Social Policy Research Initiative (SPRI), formerly known as the General Research Initiative, supports randomized impact evaluations of innovative social programs and policies that can provide insights for learning which policies work best and why.

J-PAL North America's Social Policy Research Initiative (SPRI), formerly known as the General Research Initiative, invites affiliated and invited researchers to apply to the SPRI Request for Proposals (RFP).

This request for proposals welcomes proposals from invited researchers in any sector that contribute to J-PAL’s mission of reducing poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by rigorous evidence. This includes randomized evaluations across a broad range of sectors including consumer finance, crime, education, environment, government efficiency, labor, employment and training, etc.

Social Policy Research Initiative (SPRI) RFP Application Documents 

Types of Proposals:

  1. Full Research Projects: Full research projects are typically awarded between $50,000 and $150,000, and rarely above $200,000. Researchers must propose a clear and well-developed research question including detailed randomization design and power calculations according to relevant minimum detectable effect sizes. 

  2. Pilot Studies: Pilot studies are eligible for funding of $50,000 or less. Researchers should seek to answer a particular research question; however, the design and implementation require further testing and piloting. Random assignment does not necessarily need to occur during a pilot study. Proposals should explain how the pilot will lead to a randomized evaluation in the future.

  3. Travel/Proposal Development Grants. Travel/proposal development grants are eligible for funding up to $5,000. These grants are to be used for early stage activities with the goal of launching a randomized evaluation in North America.  Application materials can be found here: Travel/Proposal Development Grant Application.

In this RFP cycle, we will be offering the opportunity to receive short-term research management (STReaM). This is a program that provides 3-6 months of research management support from J-PAL NA staff. For more information about STReaM and to apply, please visit the STREAM webpage or email us at


  • June 28, 2019 – RFP is issued
  • September 27, 2019 – Proposal Submission Deadline
  • Week of November 18, 2019 – Awards Announced

Future rounds are expected to occur once a year. In rare instances, J-PAL North America will consider off-cycle proposals for projects, including pilots, facing time constraints due to factors outside of their control. Decisions on these applications are typically made in about two weeks. We accept travel/proposal development grants at any time of the year.

Who may apply?

For all proposals, the pool of eligible applicants includes J-PAL affiliates, J-PAL post-docs, and invited researchers to the J-PAL North America SPRI RFP. For travel / proposal development grants and pilots, the pool of eligible applicants is extended to include graduate students who have a J-PAL affiliate on their thesis committee at their host university. All proposals may include collaborators outside of this network, but the principal investigator (PI) must be an eligible applicant. Eligible applicants can submit a maximum of three proposals per 12-month period, per initiative. Note: PI and co-PI status are counted towards this limit.

Who will review applications?

The Review Board is composed of J-PAL North America’s Scientific Directors, Amy Finkelstein and Lawrence Katz, as well as J-PAL affiliate Judd Kessler. Each proposal will be peer reviewed by one member of the Review Board and two researchers and/or policy experts not on the Review Board. The Review Board will meet to agree on final funding decisions.


This RFP is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Arnold Ventures.


For questions about the NA SPRI RFP, please email Desmond Amuh, J-PAL NA SPRI RFP Initiative Manager.