Urban Institute Equity Scholars


The Urban Institute is kicking off a new effort to grow the field of researchers building evidence to accelerate racial justice and strengthen equity across society. Our Equity Scholars program offers emerging and established scholars the opportunity to deepen their own policy-oriented research on race, equity, and/or structural racism while contributing to equity-focused analyses underway at Urban. Over two years, as members of a cohort, Equity Scholars will develop research to interrogate the effects of structural racism on people and places, develop evidence-based solutions to advance racial equity, and share their insights to decisionmakers best positioned to act.

What you’ll work on

  • You will embed in one of Urban’s policy centers and develop and execute research with colleagues in your center.
  • You will partner with the director of Urban’s newly formed Office of Race and Equity Research to support research on race and equity taking place across Urban’s policy centers.
  • You will work to build your own bodies of work on areas of specific interest to you.
  • You will write and publish scholarly papers, op-eds, Urban Wire blog posts, or other research products in collaboration with Urban colleagues.
  • With your cohort, you will organize at least two events per year for Urban colleagues and/or external audiences.

Who you are

  • You have an entrepreneurial spirit, enjoy collaborating with others, and are interested in learning or devising new research technologies.
  • You are an early- to mid-career researcher (or an established senior scholar).
  • You hold a terminal degree (such as a PhD, MD, or JD) or have a master’s degree or significant policy or other related experience that positions you to successfully pursue rigorous independent research.
  • You have a demonstrated commitment to policies, practices, or research methods that affect communities of color; improve the well-being of families with low to moderate incomes; address racial justice and mitigate injustice; and/or address equity issues related to the work of Urban’s policy centers.
  • You are seeking to hone an impactful research portfolio that focuses deeply on how equity, justice, and race intersect with communities, governance, and social systems.
  • You are committed to following the facts wherever they lead and to offering solutions to societal and policy challenges rooted in rigorous research.
  • You have a desire to learn how to secure funding for your research and build new connections in Washington, DC, the center of federal policymaking.

How Urban will support you

  • We will compensate you with a salary commensurate with your experience.
  • We will provide you with Urban’s comprehensive benefits package, as well as funds for supplemental supports, such as research assistants.
  • We will provide mentorship and regular engagements with research and executive leadership staff.
  • We will help you in developing your public presence and creating pathways to promote and expand the impact of your research.
  • We will offer a weekly seminar with a structured curriculum on topics such as business development and effective leadership. The curriculum will also include roundtable discussions with other scholars, Urban colleagues, and invited guests.
  • We will provide you with three executive coaching sessions per year.

The application period for the 2022 Scholars program has closed.

Join Urban in building the evidence base on racial equity and structural racism.


What is the timing of the application and program?

The deadline was June 1, 2021. Scholars will be announced by August 1, 2021, and the program begins in January 2022.

Can Scholars keep their current positions?

Urban is open to Scholars with academic affiliations maintaining a relationship with their universities or academic programs (e.g., via a leave of absence or some other arrangement). However, Scholars would be expected to work full-time at Urban for the duration of the two-year program.

Are scholars expected to be in DC?

Like many organizations, Urban is still confirming our policies for remote work as the risks of the pandemic subside. Assuming Urban has resumed in-person work in 2022, we expect Scholars to be in the office in DC under the same conditions as our current staff – potentially with greater flexibility for part-time remote work, but maintaining a presence in the office itself in order to build relationships and collaboration with Urban colleagues and fellow Scholars.

Questions? Contact equityscholars@urban.org.