Social Policy Research Initiative Request for Proposals
J-PAL North America's Social Policy Research Initiative (SPRI), formerly known as the General Research Initiative, invites affiliated and invited researchers to apply to the SPRI Request for Proposals (RFP).
This request for proposals welcomes proposals from invited researchers in any sector that contribute to J-PAL’s mission of reducing poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by rigorous evidence (see “Relevance to Public Policy and Issues of Poverty” at the bottom of this page). This includes randomized evaluations across a broad range of sectors including consumer finance, crime, education, environment, government efficiency, labor, employment, and training, etc. As a special focus for the current RFP round, a donor has made additional funds available for studies that will contribute to efforts to reduce racial disparities and foster equity in life outcomes for youth and young adults. For guidance on additional information that should be provided by applicants who would like their proposal to be considered for SPRI special topic funds as well as general RFP funds, please see “Relevance to Public Policy and Issues of Poverty.”
Types of Proposals
Full Research Projects
Full research projects are typically awarded $150,000 to $250,000, with a maximum budget of $400,000. The 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 may be awarded a maximum of $50,000. The 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) when submitting their proposals. This program provides strategic and customized Research Management Support (RMS) to researchers in the J-PAL network to navigate early-stage complexities in the design and implementation of randomized evaluations. Support may include activities such as project management, stakeholder management, technical support, and staff recruitment. 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. Please review the instructions under the "Application Documents" section, and submit materials to [email protected].
Add-on-funding may be awarded to projects previously funded by any J-PAL North America initiative. Funding requests are capped at $400,000 less the amount of all funding previously awarded to the evaluation (this includes past pilot and full project awards). The award period may be up to three years. Add-on-funding proposals may seek to:
- Add additional sites or treatment arms to an implemented evaluation
- Support additional activities on ongoing or past RCTs, such as follow-ups to measure long term effects.
- Extend the project timeline or cover additional costs due to implementation challenges
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.
Proposals should discuss any COVID-related risks to the ethics and feasibility of the project, and share how the team will mitigate these risks in the proposal narrative. If significant amounts of the proposal budget include in-person activities (such as travel), please include a discussion of potential changes to how and when funds will be spent if the proposed project is paused, modified, or dissolved because of Covid-19 related disruptions.
If funded, J-PAL expects PI to proactively consult and comply with all local, state, and federal guidelines to ensure the safety of study personnel and participants.
April 4, 2023 – RFP is issued
June 14, 2023 – Proposal Submission Deadline
Week of August 14, 2023 – Awards Announced
Future rounds are expected to occur once a year. 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.
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 the United States, such as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)
- Is the proposal addressing a pressing public policy issue in the United States? 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?
As a special focus for the current RFP round, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has made additional funds available for studies that will contribute to efforts to reduce racial disparities and foster equity in life outcomes for youth and young adults. If you would like your proposal to be considered for these special topic funds in addition to regular RFP funds, please include a discussion of the following in your proposal narrative:
- How this study will contribute to the goal of reducing racial disparities and fostering equity in life outcomes for youth and young adults aged 12-24, in particular those who may be low-income, disconnected from work or school, system-involved, and/or parenting.
- Details on how you plan to measure impact on or across one or more of the following populations:
- Youth and young adults aged 12-24, households with dependents in that age-range or households headed by pregnant or parenting individuals in that age-range.
- Youth and young adults who identify as members of groups that face obstacles rooted in structural racism because of their race/ethnicity, such as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
- Youth and young adults with individual status considerations such as involvement in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems.
You may find examples of evaluations previously funded by the Social Policy Research Initiative here.
Who will review applications?
The Review Board is composed of J-PAL North America’s Scientific Director Lawrence Katz, as well as J-PAL affiliates Alicia Sasser Modestino and 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.
Who can I contact?
For questions about the NA SPRI RFP, please email [email protected]