Grants in pK-12 Education Innovation, 2021 | MIT J-WEL

Grants in pK-12 Education Innovation, 2021


Call for Proposals

The 2021 J-WEL Grants in pK-12 Education Innovation cycle is now closed. Thank you to all who applied. We invite MIT faculty to submit proposals when our 2022 Call for Proposals opens.

J-WEL Grants in pK-12 Education Innovation are encouraged to have clear global relevance but, at the same time, local applicability. 



The Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) is an initiative that addresses three core demographics and levels of education through collaboratives for each domain: pK-12, Higher Education, and Workforce Learning. Each collaborative organizes its efforts on focus areas identified as keys to transformative change in education. In each area, the collaboratives sponsor research at MIT and develop programs that bring together educational innovators at MIT with J-WEL members to address member educational opportunities and challenges.

Objectives for Grants in pK-12 Education Innovation 

We seek a wide range of innovative projects and research (see list of grantees here for past/existing funding projects). This year we are targeting the following priorities. Projects should include as many of these as appropriate (i.e., hitting more is better, but hitting some very well is better than hitting all superficially):

  • Impact global pK-12 educators and learners, as well as have a local applicability. Global impact may refer to a particular geographical location, or with regard to specific learner populations. We use global to reference learners outside of MIT.
  • Serve high-needs populations.
  • Identify a real problem in the target population for the project and include information and data as evidence of this problem. This includes information from partners who might be involved in the implementation. 
  • Use aspects of MIT education that are uniquely powerful, such as problem-solving, technological innovation and research-based learning.
  • Provide metrics for success and descriptions of how these will be measured, both locally and in diverse global settings. Measurements should be matched to the outcome anticipated and may include data from qualitative and/or quantitative sources.
  • Connect to relevant framework(s) or sets of standards, which can potentially allow a variety of audiences to adopt the work.
  • Consider the use of technology to solve problems in learning and teaching where appropriate. This may include the use of digital solutions to address inequities in education experienced around the globe.
  • Integrate findings in learning sciences into the design.
  • Employ learning strategies that will be inclusive of learners across socioeconomic class and geographic location and learners of all abilities and disabilities.
  • Propose work that has not been done before and that the faculty member(s) has (have) the intent to continue beyond the duration of the grant.
  • Explore collaboration among two or more faculty members.
  • Global partnerships with J-WEL members or other "similar" organizations are helpful.

We are particularly interested in the following:

  • ​Solutions to challenges due to or exacerbated as a result of the COVID pandemic.  
  • Innovative strategies and programs, including online and blended, for building teacher capacity. The target population may include educators who teach in non-traditional settings, outside the classroom, and at scale. 
  • New or existing pilot programs that benefit populations in need.  We are particularly interested in ways to accelerate the learning process for students who have limited access to education.
  • Case studies as a research outcome for the proposed project(s). 
  • Engagement of girls in STEM-based subjects.
  • Vocational and technical education addressing the future of work.


  • Proposal must be submitted and overseen by one or more MIT faculty members.
  • Learning outcomes must be transferable both within MIT and to colleagues in other institutions.
  • Lead faculty member(s) should participate throughout the project, though development and teaching may also involve students, postdocs, and others.
  • Must have a dissemination/institutionalization plan.
  • Lead faculty member will participate in and present at J-WEL events and/or other forums.
  • Faculty must be willing to release content under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
  • The lead faculty member(s) must submit a report that summarizes specific results on student learning and other findings, including the results of their defined project metrics within two months of the project end date.
  • A letter of support from the department head must accompany the proposal.

Proposal Preparation and Submission

To prepare your proposal, please download and complete the following documents prior to submitting online via the “Apply Now” button.


Consultation meetings are available with J-WEL staff to help you prepare your proposal, with particular emphasis on research design. Please contact to request a meeting. Appointments are available on a first-come, first-served basis--we anticipate being fully booked as the submission deadline approaches.

Award Information

Awards for the J-WEL Grants in pK-12 Education Innovation range from $20,000 to $80,000 and will be for up to 12 months in duration, ending in Spring 2022. We anticipate awarding between 2-4 grants in Spring 2021. Awardees may reapply in subsequent years.

Please look at the list of projects being supported under the J-WEL Grants in 2018, 2019, and 2020.

For additional questions or clarification, please contact


Key Dates

  • December 2, 2020: Call for Proposals released

  • January 4 to 29, 2021: Optional individual meetings with J-WEL staff

  • February 5, 2021: Proposals due

  • March 8, 2021: Decisions announced to grantees

  • Spring 2021: Work on projects begins

  • March/April 2021: J-WEL Connections