Randomized Controlled Trials to Evaluate Social Programs
January 12, 2021
Due Date: 12/31/21
Funder: Arnold Ventures
About Arnold Ventures
Arnold Ventures is a philanthropy dedicated to tackling some of the most pressing problems in the United States. The organization invests in sustainable change, building it from the ground up based on research, deep thinking, and a strong foundation of evidence. They drive public conversation, craft policy, and inspire action through education and advocacy. With a team of more than 90 subject-matter experts, Arnold Ventures works in four key issue areas: Criminal Justice, Education, Health, and Public Finance. Their work is guided by evidence-based policy, research, and advocacy.
About the Opportunity
Arnold Ventures’ (AV) Evidence-Based Policy team invites grant applications to conduct randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of social programs in any area of U.S. policy for which AV will fund the RCT and program delivery will be funded by another entity. The main goal in funding such RCTs is to build the body of programs rigorously shown to produce sizable, sustained effects on important life outcomes.
The applicant’s team must include at least one researcher in a key substantive role who has led or played a key role in a prior well-conducted RCT. Such individuals who do not meet the “experienced researcher” criterion themselves may still serve as a study’s lead researcher as long as they partner with a colleague who does meet the criterion and will play a key substantive role in the study.
How To Submit a Proposal
Applicants must first submit a letter of interest (maximum three pages) to RCTopportunity@arnoldventures.org. Applicants whose letters are reviewed favorably will be invited to submit a full proposal (maximum six pages). The full proposal should provide more detail (e.g., on the study design) than the letter of interest, and also address any questions or issues identified by AV in its invitation to submit a full proposal.
Applicants are asked to address the following four criteria in both the letter of interest and the full proposal:
- Program Funder: Will the proposed RCT evaluate a program whose delivery is paid for by another funder, and does that funder, or do other essential parties, agree to the study?
- To verify such agreement(s), the reviewers will look for attached letters or other communications showing that the necessary parties (e.g., program funder and/or program provider) assent to the study, including random assignment. Such agreement(s) may be tentative at the time the letter of interest is submitted but should be finalized before the submission of the full proposal.
- Importance: Is the applicant proposing to evaluate a program that is backed by highly-promising prior evidence, suggesting it could produce sizable impacts on outcomes of recognized policy importance; or for which there are other compelling policy reasons to evaluate its effectiveness.
- Study Design: Is the applicant’s proposed RCT design valid?
- Does it have a sufficiently large sample (as shown through a power analysis) and other elements needed to generate credible evidence about the program’s impact on one or more targeted outcomes of high policy importance? AV strongly encourages designs that measure such outcomes in both the short and longer-term, as appropriate for the type of program and study, to determine whether the effects endure long enough to constitute meaningful improvement in people’s lives.
- Experienced Researcher: Does the applicant’s team include at least one researcher in a key substantive role who has led or played a key role in a prior well-conducted RCT?
- To address, applicants must submit at least one, and not more than two, reports from such prior RCTs (send the full study reports as email attachments to the letter of interest).
Also included in the letter of interest and the full proposal:
- Applicants should specify the amount of funding requested
- Applicants should specify the proposed recipient of the grant award, which is generally expected to be a tax-exempt organization (e.g., nonprofit organization, university, or governmental unit)
- Applicants should briefly address how their study meets recognized ethical standards for research with human subjects
- A project budget, a corresponding budget narrative that clearly outlines and defines the total direct project costs, and fringe rate calculation detail for all personnel allocated to the project within the project budget
For additional questions, please contact David Anderson at email@example.com or (202) 239-1248.
Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis.