Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Initiative Request for Proposals


Our Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Request for Proposals (RFP) aims to spur randomized evaluations of strategies to alleviate the social and economic challenges precipitated by the Covid-19 pandemic. These strategies and innovations may be related to:

  • Supporting workers who have lost their jobs access benefits and regain employment

  • Improving employment opportunities for individuals returning home from incarceration

  • Developing effective mechanisms to support students who have fallen behind during a long period of educational disruption

  • Improving health care delivery systems for individuals who are unsheltered during the pandemic

  • Increasing take-up of preventative health behaviors

  • Evaluating the impact of decarceral policies adopted amidst the pandemic to avoid overcrowding

  • Redressing racial inequities in outcomes for youth and young adults that may have been exacerbated by the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color

This list is not exhaustive: any proposal that explores potential strategies that support the recovery of low-income communities in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and contributes to J-PAL’s mission of reducing poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by rigorous evidence (see “Connection to J-PAL’s Mission” at the bottom of this page) is welcome. 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 Vincent Quan ([email protected]).

Types of Proposals:

Full Research Projects

Full research projects are typically awarded $150,000 to $250,000, with a maximum budget of $400,000The award period may be up to three years. A full project proposal is one where applicants: 

  • Can propose a clear and well-developed research question 
  • Can provide detailed randomization design and power calculations (see below)
  • Can indicate outcomes of interest
  • Can provide proof of commitment from partner organizations (in the form of letters of support)

Full project proposals may be submitted for an ongoing study that has already begun without J-PAL North America funding. 

Pilot Studies 

Pilot studies may be awarded a maximum of $50,000The award period may be up to three years.  A pilot proposal is one where applicants: 

  • Seek to answer a particular research question but the design and implementation require further testing and development before a full project launches
  • Can clearly explain how the pilot will lead to a randomized evaluation in the future, although random assignment does not necessarily need to occur during the pilot
  • Pilot funds may also be used for activities intended to facilitate access to administrative data for designing or conducting an RCT.

Research Management Support

Researchers are strongly encouraged to apply for research management support (RMS, formally known as STreaM) when submitting their proposals. RMS is a program that provides around six months of research management support from experienced J-PAL North America staff for either full studies or pilots. Support may include activities such as coordinating communication across stakeholders; refining randomization design and consent procedures; piloting design and implementation, and study implementation monitoring. More information can be found on the website, or by contacting [email protected].

Travel/proposal development grants

Researchers may be awarded a maximum of $5,000 for one year. Grants are to be used for early-stage research activities which may include travel, exploring access to administrative data, or other costs incurred while conducting fieldwork. Travel/proposal development grants are paid by direct reimbursement to the PI and cannot cover any activity that requires review by an IRB.
To apply, please submit an application via the portal and email [email protected] with any questions.

Eligibility Criteria 

J-PAL affiliates, J-PAL post-doctoral fellows, and researchers invited by J-PAL North America (invited researchers) to participate in the initiative are eligible to apply for funding of any type. Applicants may submit a maximum of three proposals per 12-month period to a single initiative. PI and co-PI status are counted towards this limit.

Graduate students may apply for all types of funding. To apply, graduate students must meet the following criteria: 

  • They have a J-PAL affiliate on their thesis committee. The affiliate does not need to be based at the same university as the student. Note: having an invited researcher on a student’s thesis committee does not satisfy this criterion.
  • Pre-thesis PhD students may apply if they anticipate an affiliate will be on their thesis committee and the affiliate will supervise the proposed project. 
  • To apply for full funding, graduate students must have previously received a grant from J-PAL for the same evaluation or have documented evidence of successful piloting activities. Note, for graduate students the total amount of funding they may receive across time is capped at $50,000 per initiative, regardless of the number of projects funded.

Covid Guidelines 

The following modifications are in place as of October 29, 2020 until noted otherwise.

1. All applications must follow J-PAL’s Covid-19 response guidelines in regard to in-person interactions with subjects.

2. If your proposed project will feature in-person interactions with subjects, vendors, or partners, please note that the evolving situation could result in changes to these guidelines at a future date. Therefore, please be sure to include the following in your application materials, which are listed in more detail in the “How to Apply” section:

  • Budget Narrative: Include a discussion of what funds will and will not be spent in what timeframes if the proposed project is paused, modified, or dissolved because of Covid-19 related disruptions.
  • Proposal Narrative: Outline aspects of the proposed project that can be completed right away vs aspects dependent on the status of the Covid response more broadly. The proposal should also include plans for conducting fieldwork, and how this will evolve should Covid-19 prevent in-person contact.


June 28, 2021– RFP is issued
August 18, 2021 - LOI Deadline
September 22, 2021 - Full Proposal Submission Deadline
Week of November 8, 2021 - Awards Announced

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.

Submission Instructions

J-PAL initiatives, including the Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Initiative, are transitioning to using an online portal for all proposal submissions, proposal reviews, invoice submissions, and grantee reporting. To apply to the Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Initiative summer 2021 RFP, you will first need to register via our online portal. Please navigate to the portal and follow the instructions to complete your registration.

If you receive an error message stating that you already have an account, please contact [email protected]. Our staff will create an account for you internally that is linked to your existing Salesforce contact information within 24 hours of receiving your email. This will only be necessary once, thank you for your patience as we transition to a new system.

Letter of interest: All applications are required to submit a letter of interest (LOI) by Wednesday, August 18, 2021, by 5 pm PM ET. Submitting the information requested allows the Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Initiative staff to check that the lead PI and planned proposal meet initial eligibility requirements. You will not be scored on the LOI, and you may revise any information during the full proposal submission. Please follow this link to begin your LOI submission.

Full proposals: The Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Initiative team will notify you via the portal once we have reviewed your LOI and you are clear to begin your proposal. In the interim, to facilitate your proposal development, please find below reference application documents that outline in detail all required information that applicants will be asked when submitting a full proposal to the Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Initiative via our online portal system. You are welcome to begin drafting your proposal materials using these templates. Please, however, do not send these documents to the Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Initiative email as in past rounds, but rather, please submit them via our online portal.

Relevance to Public Policy and Issues of Poverty

  • Does the proposal make the case for how answering the proposed research question and/or evaluating the proposed intervention has the potential to generate benefits for the following populations? 
    • People who are low-income or living in poverty
    • People who have risk factors associated with falling into poverty
    • People who identify as members of racial/ethnic groups who are at greater risk of living in or falling into poverty due to economic marginalization produced through structural racism in North America, such as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)
  • Is the proposal addressing a pressing public policy issue in North America? How is this policy issue relevant to one or more of the populations described above?
    • Policy issue has a significant or disproportionate impact on low-income and/or economically marginalized populations
    • The intervention being studied is designed to improve or increase access to resources and choices for low-income and/or economically marginalized populations
  • Policy issue is one that, if unaddressed, could lead people to fall into poverty
  • Policy issue relates to issues of structural racism that economically marginalized specific racial/ethnic groups in the North America context. What information will the study provide to guide policymaking in this area?
  • Will lessons learned from this study have broader relevance or applications for policy or decision-making beyond this test case? 

You may find examples of evaluations previously funded by the Covid-19 Recovery and Reslience Initiative here.


Who will review my application?

The Review Board for the Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Initiative RFP includes Alicia Sasser ModestinoLawrence Katz, and 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.

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