COVID-19 off-cycle funding opportunities

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, several J-PAL initiatives have opened dedicated off-cycle rounds for proposals from J-PAL affiliates and invited researchers. The initiatives seek to fund rapid, useful, and responsible research that is relevant to COVID-19 response, mitigation, and recovery. Initiatives are accepting proposals through a common application here. Please note that funding is only available for J-PAL affiliates and invited researchers.

Examples of projects eligible for funding are for:

  • Evaluate interventions aimed at COVID-19 responses or the recovery from the pandemic.
  • Add-on modules to existing randomized evaluations to collect data on COVID-19.
  • Add a treatment arm to an existing study related to responses to COVID-19.
  • Conduct a survey following up on a completed randomized evaluation to measure the impacts of the intervention on interactions with COVID-19 responses.

Most of these initiatives will consider proposals for add-on funding to existing experimental studies in addition to stand-alone projects. These could include adding a phone survey about COVID-19 impacts and response into an existing RCT, even if the new survey is related to research questions about health, behavior, economic or other impacts of the pandemic, but the underlying RCT is not. For example, if you have an ongoing evaluation on improving learning outcomes in schools, you could apply to CVI (Crime and Violence Initiative) for funding to add a survey on how COVID-19 and social distancing affect crime and violence. 

If you are unsure whether your project would fit any of these initiative windows, you can contact the initiatives team ([email protected]).  

Across all of these initiatives, the following requirements apply: 

  • Applications must follow J-PAL’s COVID-19 response guidelines and must not increase in-person interactions.
  • All research and technical assistance must take place remotely via phone, email, video calls, etc. and have necessary IRB approvals for any research components.

Please refer to each initiative section below for specific eligibility criteria, funding caps, and additional information. Please note that the Post-Primary Education Initiative and the Crime and Violence Initiative have closed their off-cycle rounds.


J-PAL South Asia’s Cash Transfers for Child Health initiative (CaTCH) is accepting off-cycle proposal submissions for research directly related to COVID-19 that can produce quick insights for policymakers to inform their response to the pandemic. This may include add-on funding for existing projects to incorporate a treatment arm related to responses to COVID-19, or add-on modules related to the impact of COVID-19, particularly for maternal and child health services and outcomes. Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis. Funding is capped at $67,500. This call is open to J-PAL affiliates, all invited researchers for J-PAL initiatives, and graduate students advised by J-PAL affiliates. Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis every two weeks.  Please direct any questions to [email protected]

J-PAL Africa’s Digital Identification and Finance Initiative (DigiFI Africa): DigiFI is accepting off-cycle proposals for projects that will rapidly respond to policy needs in times of COVID-19 and/or make large contributions to informing policy responses to crises. We are only accepting submissions that use randomized evaluations i.e. either add-ons to existing RCTs or new RCTs that build on existing data. In the case of add-ons, the original evaluation need not be funded by a J-PAL initiative. Applications are open on a rolling basis and will be reviewed every couple of weeks. If a quicker response is required, please write to us and we get back to you as soon as possible. This off-cycle call is open to J-PAL affiliates and invited researchers across all initiatives, as well as to African scholars. Funding is capped at $250,000 per project. The research topics should fall within the scope of DigiFI as laid out in the DigiFI framing paper, and can be in partnership with a government, private sector or NGO with a focus on sub Saharan Africa. We recommend exploring the benefits or costs of digitization in a time of crisis. The proposed methodology should, of course, not include any person-to-person physical interaction. Please direct any questions to [email protected].   

Proposals for an off-cycle add-on to a full study or pilot funding consists of two stages:
Stage 1: Please fill out the pre-proposal form. We will respond to that within 24 hours and let you know if you should submit a proposal.
Stage 2: On receiving positive response to the pre-proposal form from the DigiFI team, please fill out the off-cycle common application. We anticipate fast turnaround times and will aim to respond to your proposal within 48-72 hours. 

Gender and Economic Agency Initiative (GEA): GEA is accepting off-cycle proposals to test innovative solutions to offset the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s employment and economic agency and that add to our understanding of these disruptions (or opportunities). In addition to proposals to implement and evaluate interventions, this RFP is also open to proposals to collect data for descriptive analyses related to COVID-19 or to conduct non-experimental evaluations of the impact of policy responses that have been implemented. 

GEA will consider proposals of up to $50,000 for research projects in East Africa (i.e. Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda), Nigeria, South Africa, and South Asia (i.e. India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan). Projects in other countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia may be considered if relevant to policy priorities in the country. 

All J-PAL affiliates and GEA invited researchers are eligible to apply. Given COVID-19’s impact on the research of early-career researchers, priority will be given to untenured professors and PhD students of affiliates and invited researchers. A brief, pre-proposal form is due no later than July 10, and applications are due on August 3. Funding decisions will be announced in early September.

Innovation in Government Initiative (IGI): IGI is accepting proposals for up to US$25,000 for short-term, quick-response technical assistance and/or analysis for government partners that has the potential to mitigate the spread and/or consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in low- and middle-income countries, particularly for low-income and other vulnerable communities. Application instructions can be found here. The IGI Co-Chairs will review applications on a rolling basis starting Friday March 27 and aim to issue funding decisions within 1-1.5 weeks. Please direct any questions to [email protected]

Jobs and Opportunity Initiative (JOI): JOI is accepting proposals for up to $50,000 for research on programs to offset the disruption of COVID-19 on people's jobs and livelihoods across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East only. This call is open to J-PAL affiliates and all J-PAL invited researchers. Applications are open on a rolling basis and will be reviewed every four weeks. Please note that we encourage any projects that do not face serious time constraints to apply to our regular RFP rounds, which occur twice a year. On a case by case basis, we may reach out for more information or to direct proposals to be reviewed in our next regular RFP round. Please direct any questions to [email protected]

J-PAL North America Short Term Research Management Program (STReaM): Research projects may need to adapt quickly in the context of COVID-19. Our Short Term Research Management program (STReaM) makes experienced research management staff available to help researchers in the North America region navigate these challenges. STReaM will continue to accept requests for support through its regular application process (see here for details). Our team can offer hands-on support to help think through challenging obstacles, such as impacts to timelines, adapting to virtual research methods, and navigating difficult conversations with stakeholders. Researchers conducting projects in the North America region are invited to request this support, regardless of the project phase. Please direct any questions to [email protected]  

J-PAL North America US Health Care Delivery Initiative (HCDI): As always, HCDI is open to receiving off-cycle proposals on time-sensitive topics. HCDI welcomes proposals that focus on producing evidence that North America decision-makers can act upon promptly to respond to the current crisis. Please note that we will not accept human subjects research requiring in-person interactions with subjects. Proposals will be reviewed under our standard evaluation review criteria and for their potential to produce informative and timely findings to address the current crisis. Please direct any questions to [email protected]

We are prioritizing projects that can start promptly and would be willing to share preliminary results online in weeks—not months—so they can feed back to knowledge and decisions quickly in the fight against COVID-19. All applications must follow J-PAL’s COVID-19 response guidelines and must not increase in-person interactions. All research and technical assistance must take place remotely via phone, email, video calls, etc. and have necessary IRB approvals for any research components.