This RFP is currently closed.

WorkRise is pleased to announce 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. The WorkRise 2022 Pilot Projects for Advancing Economic Mobility RFP will award up to $2.5 million in grants. The online application portal to submit a letter of inquiry will open March 1, 2022, 6:00 a.m. ET, and close April 8, 2022, 6:00 p.m. ET.

A recording of the informational webinar for this opportunity can be viewed here.

WorkRise funds scholars and practitioners on the frontiers of understanding and improving economic mobility in the US 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. For this RFP, we seek 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;

  • improve job quality 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.

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, larger-scale pilots designed to identify specific quantitative or qualitative outcomes.

Application materials will be accepted through the WorkRise online application portal through April 8, 6:00 p.m. ET. Interested applicants should download the following documents to review the full RFP requirements and prepare their submissions for the online portal.

Full RFP Announcement

Online Portal Application Guidance

Project Narrative/Letter of Inquiry Guidance

Project Budget Guidance

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Eligible Applicants

Pilots must include a partnership between a research team and one or more practitioners, employers, or policymakers. 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 independence to publish their results, regardless of findings, in a manner transparent to outside audiences.

The institution implementing the intervention may include one or more employers, service providers (nonprofit or for-profit), unions or worker centers, advocacy organizations, or government agencies (local, state, or federal). For example, a nonprofit could partner with a group of regional employers to test a new service offered in a workplace setting, with evaluation performed by a university-based researcher. Or a research organization could partner with a local government piloting a new program targeted at workers in a priority industry, with recruitment performed by a union.

Teams receiving awards must be able to begin work no later than Q1 2023. We understand pilots take time to yield useful insights and welcome a diverse range of time horizons up to 24 months for initial results. We will receive with high interest submissions that will generate findings within shorter timeframes or are able to share meaningful interim results as the pilot progresses.

Submission and Awards Schedule

The application portal will open March 1, 2022, 6:00 a.m. ET. All proposals must be submitted by Friday, April 8, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. ET. WorkRise and its advisors will select a subset of finalists to submit more detailed proposals in June. Awards will be announced in the fall 2022.

About WorkRise's Funding

WorkRise’s founding funders are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. We receive funding support from several other corporate and family foundations. WorkRise’s complete list of funders can be viewed on our website. This RFP is funded in part by additional support from the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. We are grateful to all of our funders, who make it possible for WorkRise to advance its mission. Funders do not determine research findings or the insights and recommendations of WorkRise experts. Further information on funding principles of the Urban Institute, WorkRise’s parent organization is available here.