Economic context

Meet WorkRise's Inaugural Slate of Grantees

Archana Pyati December 14, 2020

WorkRise has awarded just over $2 million in grants for research on accelerating economic mobility and advancing racial and gender equity for workers in the US labor market, particularly those in low-wage jobs and occupations. (Read the official announcement.) 

The nine research projects that will receive funding reflect WorkRise’s commitment to developing evidence that will inform decisionmaking and drive action toward rebuilding the labor market in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic recession. The projects employ a diverse set of approaches and methods, including those that analyze the effectiveness of new or established policies, practices, or programs in supporting labor market opportunity and mobility. Several will generate original data analyses and datasets that illuminate trends, yield actionable insights, and deepen our understanding of disparities and equity gaps in labor market experiences and outcomes for workers. 

The project topics represent the core pillars of WorkRise’s emerging research agenda, including macroeconomic trends and federal policy; employer practices; worker voice, power, and representation; workforce skills and training; job search and matching strategies; and supportive services outside work that facilitate labor market success. This inaugural slate of projects is the first set of awards WorkRise will make annually to support pathbreaking research on solutions to accelerate economic mobility and build a more equitable labor market.

These are the nine funded projects and their principal investigators:   

  • How Does Federal and State Wage and Employment Policy Shape Racial Disparities in Earnings and Economic Mobility? Ellora Derenoncourt, Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Policy, and Claire Montialoux, Assistant Professor, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley
  • How Does Short-Term Compensation Shape Labor Market Outcomes? Till von Wachter, Professor of Economics and Faculty Director, California Policy Lab, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); and Robert Santillano, Research Director, California Policy Lab, UCLA
  • Using Matched-Pair Testing to Uncover Unlawful Employment Practices through the Use of Temporary Staffing Sheila Maddali and Chris Williams, Co-Directors, National Legal Advocacy Network; and Marc Bendick, Jr., Bendick and Egan Economic Consultants, Inc.; and the Equal Rights Center
  • Schedule Control at IKEA: How Does Worker Schedule Control Impact Employee Economic Security and Mobility? Daniel Schneider, Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government; and Kristen Harknett, Associate Professor, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco
  • A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Pursuit Fellowship David Autor, Ford Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Lawrence Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics, Harvard University and Co-Scientific Director, J-PAL North America; Matthew Notowidigdo, Professor of Economics, University of Chicago Booth School of Business; and Jukay Hsu, Cofounder and CEO, Pursuit
  • Creating Paths for STARs: Increasing Mobility Opportunities for Workers without BA Degrees Papia Debroy, Vice President of Insights, Opportunity@Work; and Peter Q. Blair, Assistant Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • How Does Task Assignment Increase Workers’ Earnings Mobility? Nathan Wilmers, Sarofim Career Development Professor, MIT Sloan School of Management; and Letian Zhang, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
  • Impacts of Extending Child Care Subsidies for Education and Training Gina Adams and Linda Giannarelli, Senior Fellows, Urban Institute
  • Cash and Near-Cash Safety Net Programs and Labor Market Outcomes Bradley Hardy, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Public Administration and Policy, American University; James Ziliak, Founding Director, University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research and University Research Professor and Chair, Department of Economics, University of Kentucky; and Charles Hokayem, Research Affiliate, University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research

WorkRise received 343 applications for funding in response to a request for proposal issued in May 2020. Of those applications, 16 were invited to submit full proposals, which were reviewed by WorkRise’s leadership board and staff as well as external subject matter experts. Nine projects received approval from the leadership board on November 23, 2020.

The selection criteria considered the project’s relevance to priority topics identified by the WorkRise leadership board, potential impact on policy and practice, feasibility, methodology, timeliness, and whether the project furthers understanding of racial/ethnic, gender, age, and geographic inequities. The selection process also considered diversity across multiple demographic dimensions, including diversity of the research teams, institutional leadership, and institutional types.