Work of the Future Innovation Competition

The J-PAL North America Work of the Future Innovation Competition supports randomized evaluations of strategies and innovations that address the changing nature of work in North America.

We seek to catalyze evidence generation on the topic areas below. Beyond these specific questions, we are excited to learn from nonprofits, government and industry leaders, and other organizations, to understand what questions matter most to them, and help them use rigorous evaluation to generate evidence on their priority research questions.

  • Re-training or re-skilling workers;
  • Improving traditional and non-traditional educational institutions;
  • Assessing innovative apprenticeship and sectoral employment programs; 
  • Developing alternative approaches for certifying skills and for vouching for worker quality;
  • Facilitating worker transitions between occupations and industries;
  • Deploying innovative organizational/business practices that improve worker productivity, skills, earnings, or employment prospects;
  • Evaluating opportunities in alternative work arrangements and ‘gig economy’ jobs;
  • Exploring the impact/opportunity of changing transportation modalities (vehicle hailing services, autonomous vehicles) for enabling access to jobs.

Check out our two-page overview of the Work of the Future Initiative. To stay up to date on initiative news and innovation competition announcements, sign up for our mailing list

Why participate?

Through this competition, organizations can apply to receive:

Initiative icons

Matchmaking with researchers. Selected applications will work with J-PAL staff to develop partnerships and connections with J-PAL’s network of experienced academic researchers to design and implement a randomized evaluation.

Technical assistance. Selected applicants will receive technical assistance from J-PAL staff on study design and feasibility, and flexible funding to help get a randomized evaluation off the ground.

Evaluation funding. Selected applicants that collaborate with a researcher from J-PAL’s network to design a high-quality evaluation are eligible to jointly apply for funding through our researcher-facing RFP.

Who is eligible to apply?

We welcome letters of interest from organizations interested in testing innovative strategies to help workers, including nonprofit organizations, workforce development and government agencies, and more.

How can I apply?

Please note that J-PAL North America is not currently accepting letters of interest to the Work of the Future Innovation Competition. Future rounds typically take place once per year with deadlines in mid summer. Please note that J-PAL North America staff are available to answer questions about the initiative and discuss potential research partnerships at [email protected]. Application materials from the last Request for Letters of Interest are available below for reference. 

Innovation competition applicants are asked to submit:

Letters must be submitted by an authorized representative of the agency or the organization. A letter of support from the applicant’s executive leadership is encouraged. 

For reference, the timeline from the 2019 innovation competition is below.


March 29, 2019 - Request for letters of interest announced

June 26, 2019 at 12 PM Eastern - Informational webinar (register here)

July 31, 2019 - Deadline to submit letters of interest 

August 2019 - Finalists are invited for interviews & to submit budgets

September 2019 - Selected applicants notified 


Please reach out to us at [email protected] to schedule a call with our staff to learn more!