State and Local Innovation Initiative

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State and Local Innovation Initiative

The J-PAL State and Local Innovation Initiative supports US state and local leaders in using randomized evaluations to generate new and widely applicable lessons about which programs work, which work best, and why.

Through this initiative, state and local government leaders can apply for:

  • Technical support as they develop randomized evaluations to inform critical policy questions;
  • Flexible funding to help get these evaluations off the ground; and
  • Partnerships with experienced researchers from J-PAL’s network to implement the evaluations.

The state and local leaders selected to participate in this initiative will serve as a model for others across the United States, demonstrating that state and local governments can create and use rigorous evidence to address challenging social problems.


A two-page overview of the initiative is available here.

To learn how randomized evaluations can inform important policy questions, see the J-PAL State and Local Innovation Initiative Policy Brief.

For practical guidance on how to identify opportunities for randomized evaluations, feasibly embed randomized evaluations into the implementation of a program or policy, and overcome common challenges, see our Guide to Implementing Randomized Evaluations in Government: Lessons from the J-PAL State and Local Innovation Initiative.


J-PAL North America is now calling for proposals from state and local governments that have partnered with a J-PAL affiliate, J-PAL post-doc, or invited researcher to design a randomized evaluation. We are accepting applications for full research projects, pilot studies, travel/proposal development grants, and short-term research management. Application materials can be found here.

The deadline to submit letters of interest for the third round of the J-PAL State and Local Innovation Initiative was March 2, 2018, and selected partners will be announced in Summer 2018. J-PAL North America is not currently inviting letters of interest. 

To read the Request for Letters of Interest from our most recent application round please click here.

For answers to common questions, see our Q&A.


On January 23, 2018, J-PAL North America hosted a webinar to provide additional information about the State and Local Innovation Initiative, review the application process, and answer questions. The webinar featured Corinne Weaver, Director of Research and Evaluation at Catholic Charities Fort Worth, and Melissa Kearney, Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland. They discussed their partnership on an evaluation of Stay the Course, an innovative program aimed at increasing degree completion among low-income community college students. The recording of this webinar and the slides presented can be viewed here

The webinar from the previous round of the State and Local Innovation Initiative can be viewed here


J-PAL North America is currently supporting the development of high-quality, feasible randomized evaluations in the City of Baltimore, Maryland; King County, Washington; and Santa Clara County, California. In the prior round of the Initiative, J-PAL North America partnered with Pennsylvania; Puerto Rico; South Carolina; the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and the City of Rochester, New York. Learn more about our work with these partners here.


If you have further questions about the application process or would like to discuss a potential proposal, please email Initiative Manager Julia Chabrier.


Mary Ann Bates (Executive Director, J-PAL North America), Jonathan Guryan (Northwestern University), and Melissa Kearney (University of Maryland) are co-chairs of the State and Local Innovation Initiative.


Support is provided by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.


To receive further updates about the State and Local Innovation Initiative, please enter your contact information below.

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