PROJECTCall for Proposals: Data-Driven Analysis of Timely Education Policy Topics

Note: The deadline for this call for proposals has passed, but we anticipate soliciting similar proposals in the future. To be the first to hear about future opportunities, sign up for our newsletter.

Policymakers need evidence and analysis to improve student outcomes and narrow equity gaps, but relevant research is rarely available at the right time and in the right format to inform decisionmaking. Education policy discussions are often dominated by ideology and personal experience rather than rigorous research.

The Urban Institute’s Center on Education Data and Policy seeks to increase the use of data in education policymaking by empowering researchers to publish timely, rigorous analyses in a format that is useful and engaging for policymakers. Our goal is to bring more data-driven voices into the policy conversation and to broaden and diversify the pool of scholars that do this kind of work.

We are seeking proposals from education policy researchers and analysts to use PK–12 or higher education datasets in the Education Data Portal to support short, relevant analyses of education policy issues. Authors invited to turn their proposal into a short research product will receive technical and editorial support from Urban staff, have their product published on, and receive a $1,000 honorarium.

Audience. This opportunity is open to all policy researchers and analysts with an interest in education and the ability to analyze the kinds of datasets in the Education Data Portal, but we expect it may be especially appealing to early-career researchers, such as graduate students and junior faculty. Joint proposals are welcome, with a maximum of two authors.

Eligible datasets. To be eligible, the proposed analyses must draw (at least in part) on the Education Data Portal, which includes most major national datasets on schools, districts, and colleges. PK–12 datasets include the Common Core of Data, Civil Rights Data Collection, and EDFacts. Higher education datasets include the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), College Scorecard, and Federal Student Aid. Schools and colleges are linked to geographic identifiers maintained by the National Historical Geographic Information System. A full list of datasets and elements is available on the Education Data Portal’s documentation site.

Proposed analyses may also draw on other data sources that are not included in the Education Data Portal, including data that can be linked to information in the Data Portal, such as achievement data from the Educational Opportunity Project and school-level spending data from the Edunomics Lab.

Types of analyses. A broad range of potential analyses would be suitable for this opportunity. Examples include descriptive analyses documenting a policy issue in a systematic way and analyses of the likely impacts of proposed federal, state, or local policies.

All topics, spanning PK–12 and higher education, are eligible. We are especially interested in analyses focused on racial equity and policies of current public interest.

Below are examples of the kinds of analyses we expect to support through this opportunity:

Process for Selected Proposals

Authors invited to develop their proposals into policy research products will receive the support of Urban staff as they refine their ideas, conduct the analysis, and write up their results, including feedback on substance and style. All products will be published on (e.g., as a blog post, essay, or small interactive data visualization) and will go through Urban’s quality assurance and editorial processes. Authors will own their work, while providing a license to Urban to publish and disseminate the work, and will be free to further develop their analyses for publication in other outlets (e.g., academic journals).

Authors will receive a $1,000 honorarium upon publication (divided equally among coauthors).

Proposal Process

Proposals should be no more than 500 words and should include a description of the topic (and an explanation of why it’s important), the dataset(s) that will be used, and the analyses that will be conducted.

Proposals can be submitted at

Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis, with a final deadline of Monday, May 31, 2021. Review criteria include the proposal’s originality, feasibility, and relevance. Authors can expect a response to their proposal within three weeks of submission.

Authors are welcome to submit multiple proposals.

Pre-proposal Webinar and Portal Training

Urban staff held an optional webinar on Thursday, April 22 to answer questions about this opportunity and provide a brief training on how to use the Education Data Portal. View a recording of the session and

 the presentation slides.


Feel free to contact us with any questions at