Scale-up Innovation Competition


IGI hosts scale-up innovation competitions that fund technical assistance to governments to adapt, pilot, and scale evidence-informed innovations that have been previously evaluated with a randomized evaluation(s) and found to improve the lives of people living in poverty. J-PAL affiliated and IGI invited researchers can submit applications in collaboration with government partners, J-PAL regional offices, and other collaborators. Innovations can be programs or changes to existing programs, processes, or delivery systems. Technical assistance can include support to governments to collect data about the nature and extent of a problem; determine whether evidence about potential solutions is relevant to their context and systems; adapt, pilot, and monitor evidence-informed programs; evaluate scalable versions of these programs when the government commits to using the results to inform their scale-up decisions; and improve government monitoring and evaluation systems for scaled-up programs, among other forms of scale-up support.

Education Research and Scale for COVID-19 Recovery Request for Proposals

J-PAL’s Innovation in Government Initiative, in collaboration with J-PAL’s Post-Primary Education (PPE) Initiative, has launched a one-time, Education Research and Scale for COVID-19 Recovery request for proposals (RFP) to fund randomized evaluations and scale-ups of strategies to improve access, quality, equity, and relevance of pre-primary, primary, and post-primary education in response to the COVID-19 pandemic across low- and middle-income countries. The round is generously supported by the Douglas B. Marshall, Jr. Family Foundation and Echidna Giving.

Please note that the scale-up portion of the RFP is hosted by IGI. We welcome proposals to adapt, pilot, and scale evidence-informed innovations in education that have been previously evaluated with a randomized evaluation(s) and found to improve the lives of people living in poverty. While the research portion of the RFP is hosted by the PPE Initiative, we encourage proposals across all grade levels from pre-primary to tertiary education. 

IGI will also prioritize partnerships that explore one or more crosscutting themes that we believe are important for effectively implementing programs at scale and drawing general lessons for others working to scale up evidence-informed social programs with governments: 

  • Technology- and data-enabled program delivery and monitoring: Phones, tablets, digital transfers, and other technologies have the potential to improve and reduce the costs of program delivery and monitoring.
  • Implementation science: Piloting and pressure-testing different implementation models before selecting one for scale-up can help identify models that are both feasible to implement well and lead to sufficient take-up and use among program participants.
  • Cost analysis: The costs of various program options are critical inputs for policy decisions, so collecting cost data early and systematically is critical.

IGI has a strong preference to fund partnerships in low- and middle-income countries.

Proposal Timeline

Application materials should be submitted online by Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 11:59pm ET. Applicants can find a preview of the application questions in the application materials below, but please submit all responses via the online form.

Please email the IGI Initiative Manager at [email protected] with any questions.


The Education Research and Scale for COVID-19 Recovery RFP welcomes a full range of proposals that are particularly relevant to a COVID-affected world. This includes but is not limited to research and scale projects on topics such as girls’ enrollment, remote and distance learning, remedial education, and cross-cutting themes in gender, equity, and public/private schools. We welcome proposals that evaluate policies and programs at all grade levels including pre-primary, primary, post-primary, and tertiary education.

For research projects, J-PAL affiliates, postdoctoral fellows, and invited researchers are eligible to apply for full, pilot, and proposal development funding. PhD students who have a J-PAL affiliate on their thesis committee at their host university are eligible to apply for up to $50,000 in pilot or proposal development funding. All research applications will be considered by the PPE Initiative.

For scale-up projects, all J-PAL affiliated researchers, IGI invited researchers, J-PAL offices and NGOs are eligible to apply in collaboration with their government partners. All applicants are required to have a J-PAL affiliated or IGI invited researcher involved in the project to apply. All proposals may include other collaborators outside of this network including other researchers and NGO partners. IGI invited researchers are eligible to apply for projects to adapt, pilot, and/or scale findings from evaluations in the J-PAL network, which includes any randomized evaluation funded by a J-PAL initiative, implemented by a J-PAL office, and/or that had a J-PAL affiliated researcher as a co-PI.

Only projects with a specific government partner(s) will be considered. IGI has a strong preference to fund projects in low- and middle-income countries. For all IGI projects, the implementing partner has to be a government body or a non-governmental partner delivering services through government infrastructure (e.g. government schools, clinics, etc.) with the government actively involved in the partnership. Government partners can be national, state, regional, provincial, city, etc., including individual ministries or agencies. Governments must be the main recipients of technical assistance, but governments cannot be the receiving institutions of funds. Receiving institutions can include J-PAL offices, IPA offices, and other non-governmental partners working with J-PAL affiliated and IGI invited researchers.

Evidence requirements for scaling projects: Scaling projects must be based on evidence from one or more randomized evaluations, at least one of which should have been conducted by a J-PAL affiliate or invited researcher and/or funded by a J-PAL initiative. The RCT results must be available in writing in a paper (published or working paper) or other write-up. For more information about this requirement, please see p. 7-8 of the J-PAL Education Research and Scale for COVID-19 Recovery RFP Overview.

If you are uncertain about whether your team is eligible to apply for a scale-up project, please email [email protected]

To learn about applying for research projects (including priority areas and eligibility), please visit the PPE webpage or contact Priyanka Varma, PPE Manager, at [email protected]


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