Social Protection Initiative Request for Proposals


The Social Protection Initiative (SPI) funds randomized evaluations of social protection programs in low- and middle-income countries. SPI has one regular funding cycle per year. Our 2024 request for proposals (RFP) is accepting applications for travel/proposal development grants, pilot studies, and full-scale studies. Please email [email protected] with any questions. 


Proposals are due by 5:00 p.m. US ET on Thursday, April 4, 2024.  Funding decisions will be announced in May 2024 for travel/proposal development grants, and in June 2024 for pilot and full-scale study grants.

Priority Themes 

SPI focuses on developing research around four broad themes:

  1. Social Assistance: Designing programs aimed at addressing poverty and/or life-cycle challenges in low- and middle-income countries
  2. Social Insurance: Insuring beneficiaries against shocks (e.g., economic, health, climatic) in low- and middle-income countries
  3. Cross-Cutting Design and Implementation Issues: Identifying beneficiaries, addressing take-up challenges, and delivering benefits in low- and middle-income countries 
  4. Political Considerations: Examining how politics affects how social protection programs operate in low- and middle-income countries

For an extensive list of open questions and evidence gaps related to these themes, as well as a detailed synthesis of existing evidence on social protection in low- and middle-income countries, please refer to the SPI Evidence Review

Regional Focus 

Projects are prioritized if they take place in the following countries: 

  • Southeast and East Asia: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Timor-Leste, Vietnam
  • South and West Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka
  • Pacific: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu
  • Countries in sub-Saharan Africa

SPI also considers projects in any other low- and middle-income country not listed above, though funding for other geographies is more limited.


J-PAL affiliates, EPoD faculty affiliates, J-PAL postdocs, and SPI invited researchers are eligible to apply for full studies of up to $250,000, pilot studies of up to $75,000, and travel/proposal development grants of up to $7,500. 

PhD students, with support from an advisor who is a J-PAL affiliate, EPoD faculty affiliate, or SPI invited researcher, are also eligible to apply for travel/proposal development grants and up to $50,000 for a pilot or full study.

Application Instructions 

J-PAL initiatives, including SPI, have transitioned to using an online portal for all proposal submissions, invoice submissions, and grantee reporting. 

To request a new account for the J-PAL portal, please complete this form. Account creation normally takes no more than two business days; you will be asked to verify your email address and set a password. Afterwards, you should receive an email confirming that your account has been created.

Once your account has been created, login to the portal with your username. After you have successfully logged in, return to this webpage and use this link in order to access SPI’s application form. 

Please note: In past RFPs, SPI requested that applicants submit Expressions of Interest (EOIs) ahead of submitting full proposals. Starting in 2024, we are no longer requiring EOIs–our portal will be open only for full proposal submissions between February 5, 2024 and April 4, 2024.

For further information and troubleshooting, please get in touch with [email protected].