Leveraging Evaluation and Evidence for Equitable Recovery (LEVER) Evaluation Incubator

The 2023 LEVER Evaluation Incubator is now closed. If you are interested in the 2024 Evaluation Incubator, please make sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay informed! 


State and local governments exercise significant regulatory, financial, and programmatic discretion that uniquely positions them to foster economic mobility among residents in their community. Through Leveraging Evaluation and Evidence for Equitable Recovery (LEVER), J-PAL North America and Results for America prepare states and localities to use data, evaluation, and evidence to develop and improve social programming enabled by federal Covid-19 relief funds. LEVER’s Evaluation Incubator is one component of this work. The Evaluation Incubator provides support to state and local governments as they translate policy-relevant research questions into randomized evaluations of policies and programs that alleviate poverty and promote community wellbeing.

Through the LEVER Evaluation Incubator, governments interested in evaluating programs enabled by Covid-19 recovery funding apply to access training, technical assistance, flexible funding, and connections to expert researchers within J-PAL North America’s network to develop their evaluations. In turn, decision-makers can use this evidence to enhance, expand, or guide the development of effective policies and programs.

Selected partners may receive:

  • Up to four months of technical support from J-PAL North America staff to design a randomized evaluation. J-PAL staff will provide technical assistance including project management, research support, and training as needed to help partners assess feasible and policy-relevant opportunities for randomized evaluation.

  • Flexible project development funding of up to $50,000 to help design an evaluation. Examples of costs that may be covered include personnel costs and travel costs to visit implementation sites or meet with stakeholders. Funds may not be spent on the implementation of the program/policy or randomized evaluation itself. 

  • Training on randomized evaluation.

  • Connections with J-PAL’s network of leading academic researchers, including a matchmaking convening. While we cannot guarantee a successful, long-term collaboration, J-PAL staff will make an ongoing effort to provide introductions to researchers in J-PAL’s academic network. During the second week of October, selected partners will attend a convening with researchers in J-PAL’s network who will provide feedback on partner evaluation ideas. After this event, both researchers and agencies will have a chance to indicate their interest in working with one another.

J-PAL North America hosted an information session for prospective applicants on June 28, 2023, where a past Incubator participant shared their experience developing a randomized evaluation through an Incubator and J-PAL staff answered questions about the Incubator and application process. A recording of the information session is available here.

How the J-PAL North America Evaluation Incubator Works

Graphic displaying the services offered and potential outcomes from partnering with J-PAL North America through the Evaluation Incubator.

How to Apply

The application consists of two main sections: a 3-5 page proposal narrative and a set of supporting documents. The proposal narrative should describe (1) general information about the randomized evaluation you are interested in exploring, (2) information about existing and required data availability and access, (3) a description of how this proposal advances racial equity and how research design accounts for racial disparities, and (4) a description of your organization’s commitment to pursuing evaluation and capacity building requirements.

Please submit each of the following as a separate document (save as either Word, PDF, or Excel):

  • Proposal Narrative
  • Cover Sheet
  • Project Budget
  • Budget Narrative
  • Signed Letter of Transmission
  • Letter(s) of Support
  • Subrecipient Profile Questionnaire    

Please submit all components of the application via email to [email protected] by 8pm ET August 4, 2023. For complete instructions and template documents, please see the “Proposal Application” document at the bottom of this page.

Application Timeline

A timeline graphic listing the key dates for the 2023 LEVER Evaluation Incubator. The full text of the timeline is repeated in the FAQs section of this page under the heading "What is the timeline for the Evaluation Incubator?".


Who is eligible?

See a list of past and current J-PAL North America State and Local Evaluation Incubator partners here

The LEVER Evaluation Incubator welcomes applications from government agencies interested in evaluating programs and policies supported by federal Covid-19 relief funding. This includes programs funded entirely or partially through Covid-19 relief dollars, such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), the American Rescue Plan (ARP), and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as well as those enabled through revenue replacement or other mechanisms using Covid-19 relief funding. 

Applicants must be open to working with J-PAL North America to look for ways to include random assignment in the implementation of the program or policy they are interested in evaluating. For example, slots for a program with a waitlist might be allocated by a lottery; eligible beneficiaries of an undersubscribed program may be randomly encouraged to sign up; multiple versions of a program may be randomly assigned to individuals to test them against one another, and pilot programs or programs being expanded to new locations could provide opportunities to randomly select who receives the program first. 

If you are unsure about your eligibility, please reach out to us at [email protected].

What is the timeline for the Evaluation Incubator?

June 5, 2023: Call for applications opens

June 28, 2023: Information session for prospective applicants

August 4, 2023: Deadline to submit applications

First and second week of August, 2023: J-PAL North America conducts applicant interviews

End of August, 2023: Incubator partners are selected

September to December, 2023: Selected partners receive technical assistance, connections to researchers, and funding (if awarded) to advance their evaluation ideas 

(Date TBD) 2nd week of September, 2023: Training on randomized evaluation

(Date TBD) 2nd week of October, 2023: Matchmaking Convening

What type of assistance does J-PAL North America provide applicants?

J-PAL North America staff and Results for America staff are available to provide support to help prospective applicants prepare stronger proposal applications during LEVER Office Hours. Prospective applicants are encouraged to attend our informational webinar, which goes through the application process in detail. Please direct any remaining questions to Mera Cronbaugh at [email protected], or sign up to attend office hours here. (If no office hours fit your availability, reach out by email and we’ll do our best to find another time to meet.) For more information on identifying opportunities for randomized evaluations for state and local governments, see our LEVER homepage.

Partner agencies (selected in August 2023 by the Review Board) will receive technical assistance, training, and in some cases flexible funding to assess the feasibility of a randomized evaluation and design a rigorous evaluation. J-PAL North America staff will also work to match partner organizations with academic researchers in our network to collaborate on the evaluation design. Partners who successfully 1) develop a feasible randomized evaluation design and 2) match with an academic researcher may then jointly apply for additional funding through one of J-PAL North America’s Requests for Proposals to carry out the evaluation.

Who will review my application?

A Review Board convened by J-PAL North America will review all applications. The Review Board is composed of J-PAL affiliated researchers Bruce Sacerdote and Day Manoli, as well as Vincent Quan, co-executive director of J-PAL North America.

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