Workforce Learning Innovation Research Grants | MIT J-WEL

Workforce Learning Innovation Research Grants


Call for Proposals

MIT's Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) invites MIT faculty to submit proposals for J-WEL Workforce Learning Innovation Research Grants. These grants, ranging from $20K-$70K in direct costs, aim to sponsor rigorous research that will improve workforce learning for individuals and organizations.

If you are doing research related to workforce learning, we invite you to complete our simple application form. This year, our focal topics include career advice and navigation, novel approaches to teaching and learning for adults, or methods of assessing and credentialing both technical and “human” skills. However, we are willing to consider other innovative opportunities.



Objectives for Innovation Research Grants in Workforce Learning

We provide seed funding for research projects that will improve workforce learning around the world. Ideal projects will improve career navigation and advice, novel approaches to learning for adults, or assessment and credentialing of technical and “human” skills. However, we are willing to consider other innovative opportunities. Targets can be individuals or the organizations that support their workforce learning needs.

We are interested in projects that start the research process; projects that scale up existing technologies and methods will be seen less favorably. Projects should use rigorous methods to produce measurable outcomes. Ideally, project outcomes and methods should be generalizable to less-developed economies or underserved populations. You can read about our 2020 awardees here and here.



Examples include:

  • Research on trends in skill demand, or other inputs to inform understanding of current and future skill gaps
  • Research-based inputs to guide career advice and/or navigation, which includes helping individuals understand jobs that fit into their existing background and what skills they would need to qualify for those jobs
  • Innovative approaches to delivering and assessing skills training for adults
  • Research that helps organizations to identify who is most likely to participate in and benefit from training opportunities
  • Methods and/or experiments to help workers shift from unemployment or low-paid occupations into more rewarding ones


Project Requirements

  • The project must be overseen and submitted by one or more MIT faculty members
  • The lead faculty member(s) should participate throughout the project, although the project may also include students, postdocs, and others
  • The project must be documented as a narrative after the grant is awarded
  • The project lead will participate in and present at J-WEL Weeks and/or other forums
  • The lead faculty member(s) will submit: 
    • Upon award, a one-page description and/or 2-3 minute video describing the project
    • Monthly, a one-page progress update
    • Within two months of the project’s end date, a report that summarizes project findings and specific results
    • Proposals should provide specific metrics for success and descriptions of how these will be measured
  • Grantees must acknowledge funding from MIT Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab in presentations and publications related to this project


Proposal Preparation and Submission

Please contact us at jwel-wl-grants at if you have any questions about a potential proposal. Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis through a quarterly review process.

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



Award Information

Funding is provided to support researchers, research assistant support and, under certain circumstances, travel or tool development. Funding levels typically cover $20,000 – $70,000 of direct costs.


Faculty Evaluation Committee

We have assembled a diverse and multidisciplinary advisory board to help us determine which proposals fit best with our program’s goals.

Meet our faculty advisors:

William “Bill” Bonvillian (Senior Director, Special Projects, Open Learning) 

Martha Gray (Professor, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science)

Thomas Kochan (Professor, Sloan School of Management)

Vijay Kumar (Executive Director, J-WEL)

Una-May O'Reilly (Principal Research Scientist, CSAIL)

George Westerman (Chair and Principal Research Scientist, J-WEL)


Key Dates

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis through a quarterly review process.



Contact us at:

jwel-wl-grants at mit dot edu