WorkRise projects to advance economic mobility – Apr 8

Posted by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on March 22, 2022

Founded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, WorkRise aims to rebuild a more equitable and resilient labor market that expands opportunity and economic mobility for workers.

To that end, WorkRise has issued a request for proposals for pilot projects that test and evaluate public- and private-sector interventions designed to improve the economic mobility of low-wage workers. Through the RFP, WorkRise will award up to $2.5 million in grants.

WorkRise funds scholars and practitioners on the frontiers of understanding and improving economic mobility in the U.S. labor force, particularly mobility for workers in low-wage jobs, people of color, women, early-career workers, workers with disabilities, unemployed and underemployed people, and other historically disadvantaged segments of the labor force. This RFP seeks proposals for rigorously designed pilot studies. Projects that engage a diverse set of researchers, including scholars from under-resourced and traditionally underrepresented organizations and institutions, are strongly encouraged. WorkRise will prioritize pilots that leverage technology, data science, and machine learning to improve job search, hiring, or training; enhance the quality of job standards, especially at small- and medium-sized enterprises; create alternative pathways into high-wage industries; reskill workers at risk for displacement; close digital skills gaps and the digital divide in support of worker economic mobility; or bolster economic security embedded in employment and training contexts.

For this round of funding, proposals must directly address one or more topics that include search and matching (the role of technology and data science in job searches or hiring), skills and training (targeted skill-building and the role of technology and data science), a 360-degree perspective of work and workers (addressing the financial security of workers and the digital divide), and employer practices (helping small- and medium-sized business create and maintain quality jobs).

WorkRise’s definition of pilot studies includes both feasibility studies such as small-scale pilots to establish a proof of concept or determine whether a larger pilot should be pursued and fully developed or larger-scale pilots designed to identify specific quantitative or qualitative outcomes.

Project budgets up to $500,000 will be considered though smaller budget requests are strongly encouraged.

The majority of WorkRise funds should be used for research, data collection, evaluation, and communication. A small portion of funds may be used for program or operation support that strengthens the evaluation, such as funding a specific treatment arm, offering incentives to program participants, or compensating program staff for their time supporting evaluation activities like providing administrative data.

Pilots must include a partnership between a research team and one or more practitioners, employers, or policy makers. The research team may be housed inside the institution hosting the intervention (e.g., a nonprofit with an in-house research arm and a policy or practice arm) or at an outside institution (e.g., a university or research organization). However, researchers must have the independence to publish their results, regardless of findings, in a manner transparent to external audiences. The intervention institution may include employers, service providers (nonprofit or for-profit), unions or worker centers, advocacy organizations, or government agencies (local, state, or federal).

For complete program guidelines and application instructions, see the WorkRise website.

Deadline: April 8, 2022

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