Evidence to Scale Associate - J-PAL Global

J-PAL Global
Start Date (Earliest):

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is seeking a full-time Evidence to Scale Associate to join its Evidence to Scale (E2S) vertical, working closely with J-PAL’s E2S management and leadership. You will bring enthusiasm for J-PAL’s focus on supporting policymakers and practitioners to use evidence and adopt evidence-based interventions at scale. You’re passionate about engaging with colleagues from around the world to consolidate organizational learning on E2S themes to both strengthen the organization’s work and share with others. You’ll receive exceptional one-on-one coaching from senior E2S management and leadership and have the opportunity to engage with J-PAL’s dynamic network of researchers, regional offices, and policymaker and practitioner partners around the world. 

About J-PAL

J-PAL is a global research center working to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. Anchored by a network of more than 900 top researchers at universities around the world, J-PAL conducts innovative research and builds powerful partnerships to solve the world’s greatest challenges. J-PAL was launched at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2003 and is directed by Nobel laureates Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, along with Ben Olken. It has over 500 research, policy, scale, training, and operations staff across Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. For more information visit povertyactionlab.org

About the position

Evidence from randomized evaluations has changed how we understand and address problems related to poverty. Policymakers, practitioners, and funders worldwide are increasingly applying learning from rigorous evidence to improve the design and delivery of social policies and programs. Over 600 million people have been reached by programs and policies that have been informed by evaluations by J-PAL affiliated researchers. Many more have benefitted from the several broader ways evidence can inform policy. 

Based at leading universities, J-PAL’s network of seven Regional Offices around the world are on the frontlines of this work. For example: 

  • J-PAL Africa, based in South Africa, spearheaded the effort with the Indian NGO Pratham to adapt an evidence-based remedial education from India to the African context and catalyze a continent-wide scale effort. 
  • J-PAL South Asia, based in India, is collaborating with state governments and the Indian NGO Bandhan-Konnagar to support them in adopting at scale the evidence-based ultra-poor graduation model, originally pioneered by BRAC.
  • J-PAL Southeast Asia, based in Indonesia, has partnered with the Government of Indonesia over many years to bring evidence to bear on its large-scale social protection programs, including during Covid
  • J-PAL North America, based in the US, synthesized and strategically disseminated evidence on models for delivering high-impact tutoring to inform how US states and municipalities grappled with Covid-induced learning loss.

J-PAL Global’s Evidence to Scale (E2S) vertical plays a key role in supporting the J-PAL network and our partners in this process of translating rigorous evidence into policy and practice at scale. The Evidence to Scale Associate will be one of the key team members of this vertical and the role represents an exciting opportunity to shape the future of this work at J-PAL. Given the relative newness of this team, we are looking for candidates who can commit to the role for at least two years.

Location: This preferred location for this role is based in Cambridge, MA, at the J-PAL Global Office at MIT. Cambridge based employees are required to come to the office, in-person at least two days

every week (currently those days are Tuesdays and Wednesdays for all staff). Candidates must be legally authorized to work in the United States. It is also possible for this position to be based in one of J-PAL’s regional hubs in Bangalore, Cape Town, New Delhi, Paris, or Santiago if the candidate has relevant work authorization.

Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion: J-PAL values diversity, equity, and inclusivity in our work and the broader perspectives our staff bring. We encourage people of color, first generation college students/graduates, and other underrepresented groups to apply to this role. In your cover letter, please consider sharing how your racial, gender, socioeconomic and/or other identity has influenced your drive and desire to work at J-PAL. (This is not required, but rather an opportunity for us to get to know you.) For more information on J-PAL Global's commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion visit this webpage.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities (Essential Functions**):

The primary responsibilities of the Evidence to Scale Associate will center on: 

1) Organizational learning: Facilitate organizational learning at J-PAL on evidence use, scale, and government partnerships, including organizing our E2S internal learning series and our community of practice in collaboration with E2S leadership and regional office colleagues around the world. Contribute to, and in some cases lead, efforts to codify and disseminate organizational learning more broadly. Support E2S vertical’s efforts to ensure J-PAL is learning from other actors focused on catalyzing the scale of evidence-based interventions and building partnerships with government to support them in using evidence.

2) Initiative management and support: Manage the Innovation in Government Initiative (IGI) - J-PAL’s primary funding initiative focused on scale and evidence use. Includes organizing funding competition rounds, coordinating review processes, liaising with our Finance & Operations team to manage grants funded by the initiative, engaging with applicants and grantees on the substance and logistics of their proposals/projects, and reporting to the initiative donors. Draw on lessons from IGI to support other J-PAL funding initiatives that are interested in strengthening their focus on evidence use and scale to do so. 

3) Tools and resources: Identify, develop, and manage tools and resources to enable J-PAL colleagues and practitioner and policymakers partners to better use evidence and to support our research network to more effectively support policymakers and practitioners to use and apply evidence.  

4) Donor engagement support: Support efforts to mobilize funding to support J-PAL’s E2S efforts, with philanthropies, bilateral and multilateral donors, and high-networth individuals. Includes engaging with our fundraising staff on donor research, drafting materials for donors, and participating in donor discussions. 

As the Evidence to Scale vertical is still evolving, we anticipate this role will be fluid and may change over time; we therefore seek candidates who are excited about, and able to operate effectively within, that fluid environment, including taking on other workstreams not enumerated here that further the Evidence to Scale vertical and organization’s mission, when needed.

Supervision Received:

This role will be coached by Senior Manager Matt Edmundson. 

Supervision Exercised:


Qualifications & Skills: 

We are looking for someone with both a passion for and experience relevant to enabling others to use rigorous evidence to drive cost-effective improvements in the lives of the poor at scale. 

  • Education: You have at least a Bachelor’s degree (Master’s preferred) with significant coursework in public policy, public administration, international development, international affairs, economics, or a related field and have demonstrated academic interest in rigorous evidence about poverty alleviation.
  • Experience: You have at least 2 years of relevant and substantial work experience; if you have 4 or more years of relevant and substantial work experience, we will consider you at the Senior Associate level. You ideally have at least 1 year of experience living and preferably also working in a low- or middle-income country. 
  • Mindset and management: You are hypothesis-driven, thrive in navigating situations and workstreams with no ‘one right answer,’ adept at identifying and weighing trade-offs relating to time, funding, and other scarce resources, and able to juggle multiple projects simultaneously. You are passionate about international development policy and the rigorous research that informs it. You are self-motivated, humble, work hard, and enjoy collaborating in teams. 
  • Skills: You are very comfortable using Google Workspace (Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.) and learning computer applications that J-PAL staff more broadly need to use, including Salesforce. Experience using Slack to communicate across team and office silos and to communicate within distributed teams is a plus. Knowledge of French, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesia, or other languages spoken in our regions of work is a plus. 
  • Communication: You are a strong communicator, able to communicate clearly in writing and orally with diverse audiences from around the world. Ideally, you are also a skilled presenter, adept at using well-developed slides, when appropriate. 
  • Organization: You are a strategic thinker. You can handle managing multiple projects at once with little supervision, meet deadlines, and effectively manage your time, as well as others’. You are a strong upward communicator and manager, proactively sharing updates, escalating concerns, and teeing up recommendations or decisions on which you need engagement. 
  • Cultural competencies: You are comfortable and adept at working in a diverse and multicultural work environment, with colleagues, partners, and policymakers from around the world. You display sensitivity, adaptability, and inclusivity in your engagement with people from diverse backgrounds including age, ability, culture, gender, nationality, race and ethnicity, religion, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and other identities. We appreciate candidates who have familiarity with concepts and frameworks such as racial equity or gender analyses.
  • Attitude: You love learning. You thrive thinking in a cross-sectoral and cross-regional way. You are self-motivated, humble, work hard, and enjoy working in teams. You value and are comfortable receiving feedback, providing feedback, and supporting the growth and development of others.
  • Travel: Ability and willingness to travel 10-15% of the time.

How to Apply

How to apply

Ready to join a team of supportive, engaging, and fun colleagues? Legally authorized to work in the US? Apply now.

To apply, visit http://jobs.mit.edu/external, search for job ID 23694: Evidence to Scale Associate, and complete an application. Please upload a single PDF document of the following components into the “Resume” field on the MIT portal. 

  • Cover letter (outlining why you are interested in J-PAL Global and why you are qualified for this role)
  • Resume/CV
  • Transcripts from your most recent degree are preferred and not required 

Incomplete applications will not be considered. If you experience technical difficulties preventing you from applying, please email [email protected] for assistance.

Process after applying: We will begin to review applications on February 23. Applications received after this date will be considered on a rolling basis. We will conduct a short phone screen with short-listed applicants, after which candidates may be asked to complete a writing and technical exercise. Applicants who perform well on this exercise may be called for two rounds of virtual interviews, each of which may involve 1-3 J-PAL staff. Due to the volume of applications we receive, we will not be able to follow up individually with all applicants. For those applicants that reach the final stages in our process, we will request references (supervisor, peer, and direct report) whom we can contact to learn more about you and your suitability for this role. 

The role is slated to begin in Spring 2024, ideally in March. However, we recognize that candidates currently in school may need a later start date in June

Employment is contingent upon the completion of a satisfactory background check.

MIT is an equal employment opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, ancestry, or national or ethnic origin.