Work of the Future Initiative Request for Proposals


Our Work of the Future Request for Proposals (RFP) aims to spur randomized evaluations of strategies that aim to alleviate the challenges experienced by workers across North America. J-PAL North America’s Work of the Future RFP supports randomized evaluations of strategies and innovations that address the changing nature of work in North America. These strategies and innovations may be related to:

  • Re-training or re-skilling workers; 

  • Improving traditional and non-traditional educational institutions; 
  • Assessing innovative apprenticeship and sectoral employment programs; 
  • Developing alternative approaches for certifying skills and for vouching for worker quality; 
  • Facilitating worker transitions between occupations and industries; 
  • Deploying innovative organizational/business practices that improve worker productivity, skills, earnings, or employment prospects; 
  • Evaluating opportunities in alternative work arrangements and ‘gig economy’ jobs; 
  • Exploring the impact/opportunity of changing transportation modalities (vehicle hailing services, autonomous vehicles) for enabling access to jobs.

This list is not exhaustive: any proposal that explores forward-looking mechanisms for facilitating skills acquisition, job finding, employment stability, earnings and productivity growth, or work-life balance is potentially in scope. We are accepting applications for full research projects, pilot studies, and travel/proposal development grants.

If you have questions about the scope of the RFP, please contact Initiative Manager Toby Chaiken ([email protected]).

Types of Proposals:

  • Full Research Projects: Full research projects are typically awarded between $150,000 and $250,000 with a maximum award size of $400,000.  Researchers must propose a clear and well-developed research question including detailed randomization design and power calculations according to relevant minimum detectable effect sizes. 
  • Pilot Studies: Pilot studies are eligible for up to $50,000 in funding. However, if researchers apply to receive short-term research management (STReaM), pilot studies are eligible for funding of up to $75,000. 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.
  • 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 approximately six months of research management support from J-PAL NA staff. This support can be used for either full studies or pilots, and may include but is not limited to: coordinating communication across stakeholders; refining randomization implementation design and consent procedures; pilot design and implementation; study process monitoring. For more information about STReaM and to apply, please visit the STREAM webpage or email us at [email protected]


Who may apply?

For all proposals, the pool of eligible applicants includes J-PAL affiliates, J-PAL post-docs, and invited researchers to the Work of the Future Initiative. For travel/proposal development grants, the pool of eligible applicants is extended to include graduate students who have a J-PAL affiliate on their thesis committee. All proposals may include collaborators outside of this network, but the principal investigator (PI) must be an eligible applicant.

Who will review applications?

The Review Board for the special Work of the Future RFP includes David Autor, Matthew Notowidigdo, and Lawrence Katz. 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.

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