RFP and RFI Frequently Asked Questions

Updated 6/22/2020

RFP or RFI. Which should I use?

Apply to the RFP if:

  • You are seeking funding from WorkRise for a specific research project with a well-defined research question; AND
  • You have a research team ready to conduct the project if your idea is funded; AND
  • You have secured any necessary partnerships for the proposed project or are reasonably confident such partnerships will be secured by fall 2020.

Submit a response to the RFI if:

  • You are looking to be matched with a research partner; OR
  • You are NOT seeking funding but believe an intervention you know of should be featured as part of a clearinghouse WorkRise will build.

Grants are only available through the RFP. RFI respondents may be invited to submit an LOI or a proposal for funding.

Oh no! I accidentally hit submit too early and need to change or finish my responses! It happens! Please create and submit a new response through the RFP/RFI form and email workrise@urban.org to note that the earlier submission should be disregarded. We will only review completed submissions.

What kinds of “private nonprofit organizations” qualify to submit LOIs? Any kind, as long as the activities you are seeking funding for are for research or pilots that could advance understanding of how to improve workers’ economic security and mobility. Grant funds cannot be used for lobbying or for business activities (e.g., developing a product or service the organization intends to sell for a profit).

Do you support payments for graduate assistants? We’re open to considering support for graduate assistants if they are part of the research team you are assembling. Please be sure to include as much information as possible about these cost items in your rough budget estimate to help us understand how proposed grant funds will be used.

Do research projects and pilot evaluations need to focus on the United States? Yes. WorkRise is only accepting submissions for research projects and pilots of interventions in the United States. We are open to reviewing research projects that take a comparative approach drawing lessons from other countries, but your submission should directly make the case for how lessons will be applied in the US context.

Do all organizations have to be based in the United States? Interested organizations need to be able to receive grant funding from the US and comply with relevant US laws and regulation around receiving such funds.

What outcomes are of most interest to you? We left both the RFP and RFI open-ended in order to encourage responses from a variety of fields related to workers and economic mobility. In your submission, please make the case for how the outcomes you seek to measure relate to workers’ economic security and mobility.

Are you only funding evaluations or is the RFP open to related research questions? We are funding evaluations, pilots, and research projects.

Does the proposal have to be about work and workers? We welcome submissions that address how other systems (e.g., criminal justice, health care) interact with labor market outcomes, but all proposals should ultimately tie back to and explicitly address economic security and mobility for workers or people seeking work.

Do you support dissemination and engagement activities? Yes, however please note we cannot fund lobbying activities. Please describe in as much detail as you can the kinds of dissemination and engagement activities you envision and how grant funds will be allocated across supporting activities in the relevant sections of the LOI form.

“Mobility” is an outcome that usually takes longer than 12-18 months. How should we think about mobility in our proposed measures and outcomes? We know mobility is a long-term outcome, and that outcomes like wage gains might take longer than one year. We have deliberately left these terms open in order to generate a full range of responses from innovators and researchers with a variety of perspectives. Respondents should include their own definitions and an explanation for why they have defined the terms in the way(s) that they have chosen.

Do I need to specifically address COVID-19 in my response? No. We believe the pandemic created a unique moment by highlighting vulnerabilities that existed before the virus. LOIs and RFP responses should directly address how they would improve policies, programs, and practices to overcome those vulnerabilities and support mobility, regardless of whether the idea directly relates to the COVID-19 context.

My idea doesn’t specifically target vulnerable workers. Can I still apply? Yes, but please include in your research design whether and how you will study the intervention’s impact on vulnerable groups.

Will WorkRise fund projects longer than 18 months? We can fund projects slightly longer than 18 months, but please explain the need for a longer time period in your submission (e.g., a planned pilot does not officially start until a few months into the grant period).

When should projects start? Our aim is for projects to start as quickly as possible—launching in fall 2020. But we understand implementing projects takes times and coordination and will consider projects with start dates as late as the first quarter of 2021.

Can I respond to both the RFP and RFI? Yes. However, if you have a project, pilot, or research question but do not have a research team already identified for your project, we strongly encourage you to submit an RFI only.

How do you define your terms? For example: “economic security,” “economic mobility,” “vulnerable workers”? We have deliberately left these terms open in order to generate a full range of responses from innovators and researchers with a variety of perspectives. Respondents should include their own definitions and an explanation for why they have defined the terms in the way(s) that they have chosen.

What is the deadline to submit a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) in response to the RFP and submit a response to the RFI survey? The deadline to submit an LOI and respond to the RFI survey is 11:59 pm, June 29, 2020.

Who should I contact if I want to learn more about WorkRise? Please email questions to workrise@urban.org.

For the RFP:

What is your indirect cost rate policy? We’re assessing proposed indirect costs on a case-by-case basis since we expect a wide variety of organizations to apply to the RFP. Please be sure to include as much information as possible about these cost items in your rough budget estimate to help us understand how proposed grant funds will be used.

 Can I submit more than one LOI? Yes, as long as each LOI describes distinct projects and research questions. Please note that it is unlikely that WorkRise will fund more than one grant per organization.

What are the expected award amounts? Awards amounts are anticipated to range between $50,000 to $500,000 for a 12-to-18-month grant period. A total of $2 million will be awarded.

Are there are preferred award amounts? Will smaller/larger proposed budgets be penalized? We expect to award grants of varying amounts and aren’t giving preference to awards of any particular amount. That said, our aim is to make many investments to advance knowledge on worker economic security and mobility, so it is unlikely that we will award more than one or two very large (e.g., $500,000) grants. Your proposed budget should match the project and the expected value of research findings contributed to the field.

Who is eligible to submit an LOI? Eligible applicant organizations include academic institutions; public entities; private nonprofit organizations; state and local government agencies; and for-profit organizations. All organizations must be based in the United States or its territories. Applicants also may represent partnerships between service providers or practitioners and researchers. We request that only one lead partner fill out the LOI form on behalf the partnership and indicate partnering organizations in the relevant field.

We strongly encourage applications that include researchers who are from groups that are underrepresented in policy research and/or who are affiliated with institutions that serve underrepresented groups, such as historically Black colleges and universities; academic institutions serving primarily Latinx students such as the Hispanic Centers of Excellence; tribal colleges; and other similar institutions.

As a researcher, do I have to be affiliated with an organization in order to submit an RFP? In general, we prefer applicants to be affiliated with an organization to ease the grantmaking process, but we will assess individual applicants on a case-by-case basis.

How will my LOI be evaluated? A selection committee of experienced labor and mobility researchers including but not limited to the WorkRise research team will review submissions on a rolling basis. LOIs will be evaluated on a number of factors, including:

  • relevance to RFP policy topics and goals;
  • potential to advance knowledge for key stakeholders in ways that improve policies, program, or practice;
  • feasibility of the proposed research design within the proposed timeframe and budget;
  • credibility of the research team;
  • LOIs consideration of racial, ethnic, gender, and/or geographic inequities or the role of systems or policies;
  • value and accessibility of any data assets created to broader field;
  • cost of the proposed work relative to anticipated outcomes.

My research project is partly funded. Can I still submit an LOI? Yes. We ask that applicants provide details on existing funding as part of the request for support.

What if I don’t have a practitioner partner to pair with, but I know the intervention or policy I want to study? Where appropriate, WorkRise will work to match researchers with well-designed research projects with practitioner partners. Please submit an LOI and indicate in as much detail as possible how your research would benefit from partnership with a practitioner partnership, keeping in mind that practitioners could include employers, service providers, advocacy groups, or government policymakers/agencies.

I run a program. Can I submit the RFP in partnership with a researcher? Yes.

Does my research project have to have a specific geographic focus? Can it be federally focused? We are open to projects at a variety of geographic levels, so long as researchers can make a compelling case for why they have chosen the appropriate geographic unit of analysis for their question. Hyper-local projects will need to demonstrate the potential for scale. Projects looking at national-level interventions will need to address the potential for geographic diversity in outcomes/mechanisms.

Are grant funds available to support programs or operations? Yes, but projects must include a data collection and/or evaluation component as well.

I conduct research in partnership with community members, can funds be used to pay stipends to my community partners? Yes.

Can research proposals consider multiple units of analysis? (i.e. individual-level, institution-level, community-level) Yes. We are most interested in economic security and mobility outcomes as they relate to the individual or the family/household unit, but we welcome projects that address the multi-level systems within which individuals and families are nested.

Can I start the LOI and return to where I left off at a later time? No. We designed the LOI form to be short enough to complete in one session, but feel free to draft responses in a separate document (being mindful of character limits) and paste them into the form when you are ready.

When will I know whether I have been invited to submit a full proposal? Selected applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal (invitations will be made on a rolling basis). Award decisions will be made on a rolling basis beginning in mid-July. Awards amounts are anticipated to range between $50,000 to $500,000 for a 12-18 month grant period. We will attempt to notify all LOI submissions of the final status of their submission, but if you have not heard from us by the end of July, it is safe to assume your submission was not selected.

What will the full proposal process look like? Selected LOIs will be asked to submit additional information about their research proposal, methodology, research team, budget, and other items. 

Who do I contact if I’m having technical difficulties or questions about the LOI? Please email questions to workrise@urban.org no later than 11:59pm ET, June 12. Please write “WorkRise LOI” in the subject line of your email to help us distinguish questions about the RFP from those about the RFI.

We will attempt to resolve technical issues as quickly as possible. This FAQ will be updated with answers to questions submitted on Friday, 12:00pm ET, June 19.

For the RFI:

How does the RFI matchmaking process work? RFI responses will be reviewed by WorkRise and other relevant experts in the field. Select respondents who indicate interest in having their intervention or idea matched with a research partner may be contacted by a member of the WorkRise team for an intake interview, in order to learn more detail, and to assess the role a researcher might play in adding value to the work. WorkRise will work closely with promising initiatives to identify a research partner with appropriate skills and expertise. In some cases, WorkRise also will invite these matched partners to develop a full proposal to be considered for funding.

What information should researchers provide if they would like to be paired up with a practitioner? Researchers interested in potentially being paired with a practitioner partner should reach out directly to workrise@urban.org to indicate interest in being considered for pairing. Emails should include a description of areas of substantive expertise as well as methodological expertise, and a CV.

How long will it take to complete the survey? No more than 15 minutes. Promising respondents may be contacted by a WorkRise team member for a brief follow-up conversation to learn more about your project/idea.

Why should I fill out this survey? First, sharing information will provide potential exposure to key influencers. Responses will help inform a clearinghouse that will serve as a resource for key decision-makers looking to learn about innovations in the field. Promising practices will be elevated by the WorkRise team to a wide range of private- and public-sector leaders.  Second, information sharing creates the potential for funding support, as well as a partnership with a research team who can help boost the efficacy of the project for the target population.

Who should fill out this survey? Anyone who is aware of a promising innovation—public, private, or otherwise—that has the potential to generate meaningful economic security and longer-term economic mobility for vulnerable workers.

How will the WorkRise use the information collected? In addition to analyzing responses to the RFI in order to surface promising potential grantees, WorkRise will share information with funders and others who may be interesting in supporting the work and/or learning more. WorkRise may also develop a publicly-accessible version of this information clearinghouse and select promising practices/policies may form the basis for publications that elevate creative, promising, and/or high-impact interventions related to supporting low-wage workers through recovery and building pathways to opportunity.

How will WorkRise’s funding partners use the information collected? WorkRise will use the information to better understand the evolving landscape of policies and practices that may impact the economic well-being of low-wage workers, particularly their labor market mobility, and to inform grantmaking efforts in this space.

I run a small program that provides direct supports to families. Do you want to hear from me? Yes, if you believe your program is capable of making transformative change in vulnerable workers’ lives at scale.

I am advocate and do not provide direct support services.  Do you want to hear from me? Yes, if you believe your ideas/your program is capable of making transformative change in vulnerable workers’ lives at scale.

My organization is an intermediary and provides Technical Assistance (TA) and capacity building. Do you want to hear from me? Yes, if you believe your ideas/your program is capable of making transformative change in vulnerable workers’ lives at scale.

I run a regionally-focused foundation. Do you want to hear from me? Yes, if you believe your ideas/your program is capable of making transformative change in vulnerable workers’ lives at scale.

I work for national/state/local government. Do you want to hear from me? Yes, if you believe your ideas/your program is capable of making transformative change in vulnerable workers’ lives at scale.

I run a business or work in an organization in the private sector. Do you want to hear from me? If you believe your ideas/your program is capable of making transformative change in vulnerable workers’ lives at scale.

My program/policy was not created in response to COVID-19, but we re-shifted our focus to respond, can I still submit? Yes, though you will need to explain how/why your program is relevant given the current economic context. Many programs created prior to the crisis are still highly relevant and we are interested in understanding whether/how pre-existing policies and programs are supporting vulnerable workers.

If I’m interested in being paired with a researcher for evaluation, do I have to also submit an RFP or can I simply fill out the RFI and indicate my interest? Simply fill out the RFI. You do not need to also complete the RFP.

If I’m interested in being paired with a researcher for evaluation, what will be the cost to my program and what is the time commitment? Programs successfully paired with researchers will not incur additional costs due to the research component of the work. The time commitment will vary depending on the project specifics.

My program is still in proposal phase and/or not yet operational. Can I still submit a response and indicate that I’m being interested in being paired with a researcher for evaluation? Yes, but please indicate in your timeline how you anticipate generating meaningful results with the proposed grant period.

If I conduct my program in partnership with other organizations and I’m interested in being paired with a researcher for evaluation, do these other organizations  also have to submit a response? No, but if your program is selected to partner with a researcher, then we will require confirmation that all partners are on board.

Can I start the survey and return to where I left off at a later time?  No. We designed the RFI survey to be short enough to complete in one session, but feel free to draft responses in a separate document (being mindful of character limits) and paste them into the form when you are ready.

Will all responses to the RFI receive a response? No. While we will make every effort to follow up with all submissions to the RFI, we cannot guarantee that all will receive a response, especially those that are not relevant or provide insufficient information to assess their merit. Further, we cannot guarantee that everyone who requests to be matched with a researcher or other support will be matched.

Who do I contact if I’m having technical difficulties or questions about the survey? Please email questions to workrise@urban.org. Please write “WorkRise RFI” in the subject line of your email to help us distinguish questions about the RFI from those about the RFP.

 

About WorkRise’s funding

WorkRise receives funding support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Mastercard Impact Fund in collaboration with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, and the Walmart Foundation. We are grateful to them and 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 at urban.org/fundingprinciples.