Education, Technology, and Opportunity Innovation Competition

Children work on computers in a school library

The J-PAL Education, Technology, and Opportunity Innovation Competition supports education leaders in using randomized evaluations to generate evidence on how and to what extent uses of technology and innovation work to improve student learning.


Education is often described as a pathway to mobility, yet schools in the United States continue to fall short on key indicators of a quality education, and low-income and minority students are disproportionately left behind. The competition supports the design and implementation of randomized evaluations of education technology and innovative instructional programs. The goal of the initiative is to identify scalable strategies to improve learning outcomes in the United States, particularly for disadvantaged students.

Why Participate?

Through this innovation competition, education leaders can apply for:

  1. Pro bono technical support from J-PAL North America staff of policy and research experts to scope and develop an evaluation; 
  2. Trainings about evaluation methods and the use of data and evidence in decision-making, including online and in-person opportunities; and
  3. Connections with J-PAL's network of leading academic researchers to explore potential research partnerships. 

Applicants may also receive up to $50,000 in flexible funding in cases where there is a demonstrated need for funding to help get these evaluations off the ground. Please see the FAQ for information on common uses of funding.

To see examples of how randomized evaluations can create valuable, actionable evidence in education, please see here.


School districts, school networks, charter management organizations, education agencies at all levels of government, community colleges and universities, and education non-profits are eligible to apply for the Education, Technology, and Opportunity Innovation Competition. Please e-mail initiative manager Vincent Quan at [email protected] for eligibility-related questions.

How to apply

The deadline to submit letters of interest for the inaugural round of the J-PAL Education, Technology, and Opportunity Innovation Competition is April 13, 2018 at 5 PM ET. Application materials can be found here. Applicants will be required to submit a 3–5 page letter of interest to [email protected] and finalists will be invited for phone interviews.

For more information, see our Request for Letters of Interest.

For answers to common questions, see our FAQ.

Application timeline

Request for letters of interest announced – January 26th, 2018
Innovation competition webinar – February 26th, 2018
Letter of interest deadline – April 13th, 2018
Finalists invited for interviews – April – May 2018
Selected applicants notified – June 2018
Kick-off project meeting with selected applicants and J-PAL North America – Summer 2018


On February 26, 2018, from 2–3 PM ET, J-PAL North America hosted a webinar to provide additional information on how to apply to the Education, Technology, and Opportunity Innovation Competition and the types of support that will be made available to selected partners. View the webinar here.


Phil Oreopoulos (University of Toronto) and Lawrence Katz (Harvard University)


Bridging the Digital Divide: A RCT Providing Internet Access to Low-Income Students
Peter Bergman, Columbia University

Wifi iconIn partnership with the Sprint 1Million Project, researchers will study the effects of providing high-school students with WiFi-enabled devices on learning outcomes. Results from this study will be used to inform policies that aim to provide internet and digital devices to low-income students. Read more here.

Evaluating the Big Word Club: Providing Digital Content to Reduce the Word Gap
Phil Oreopoulos, University of Toronto

Laptop iconResearchers will partner with school districts around the country to evaluate the Big Word Club, which provides digital content aimed at reducing the word gap for students in early childhood. Read more here.


J-PAL North America’s ed tech review paper explains the value of using randomized evaluations in education technology and outlines the current experimental evidence on the impacts of education technology. Read coverage of the review paper in U.S. News and World Report, The New York Times, and The Economist. Support for the literature review was provided by the Spencer Foundation.


Support for J-PAL North America’s ed tech work is provided by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Overdeck Family Foundation.


If you have further questions about the application process or would like to discuss a potential proposal, please email Initiative Manager Vincent Quan at [email protected].


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