Slides and recording from our May 29, 2020 Summer Fellowship Webinar are available.

Information on the 2021 program will be posted when it is available.

SREE, in collaboration with Grantmakers for Education’s Data Impact Group, is pleased to offer the SREE Summer Fellows Program for a second year. The purpose of this program is to connect educational researchers with philanthropic organizations seeking research information without having the time or expertise to access it and, in doing so, advance the use of high-quality education research.

Program Overview

SREE Summer Fellows will be tasked with conducting a literature review on a selected topic and creating a 1-2 page brief in plain language on that topic that can be used by foundations, practitioners, and other users in the community, as well as a more technical review for other researchers. As part of the application, the prospective Fellow should propose an aspect of the topic on which to focus his/her summer literature review. The Fellow will work virtually and under the supervision of his/her graduate student advisor.  

Fellows will commit to:

  • Spending 8-10 weeks (320-400 hours) on the project conducting research and writing up the findings.
  • Participating in four check-in calls with the funder and/or SREE (initial, midpoint, and 2 results presentations)
  • Providing the client with a research plan at the beginning of the project.
  • Providing the client with a literature review (approximately 20 pages in length).
  • Writing an executive brief (1-2 pages) summarizing the main takeaways for a philanthropic audience.  
  • Presenting, potentially in conjunction with the GFE client, at GFE and SREE’s annual conference on the final research findings.

The Fellow’s graduate advisor must commit to:

  • Providing general supervision
  • Giving feedback and guidance on both the brief and technical report

In return, Fellows will receive:

  • $8000 in compensation, paid in two installments
  • Feedback from the funder
  • Potential opportunity to present findings at both the GFE 2020 fall meeting and the SREE 2021 Conference 
  • Brief featured on the SREE website

The advisor will receive a $1000 honorarium at the end of the project.

How to Apply

The fellowship is open to current SREE student members.* Applicants should have completed at minimum one year (preferably two years) of graduate studies. Individuals who complete(d) their graduate studies in 2021 are eligible to apply. To apply, submit 1) your CV; 2) writing sample; 3) one page statement indicating the topic (from the options below) on which you would like to work, how you would approach working on your selected topic, how you would refine the research questions and scope, your relevant experience, and why you would like to be a Fellow; and 4) a brief statement, signed by your faculty advisor, indicating his/her willingness to serve as your advisor on this project during the summer. Please note that this is not a letter of recommendation, but rather a letter of intent to serve as your advisor on the project. 

Summer Fellowship Webinar

A webinar was held on May 29, 2020 highlighting two of the 2019 fellows and projects as well as providing information on the 2020 fellowship. View the webinar slides and watch the presentation.

Expected Outcomes

SREE and GFE intend for the Fellows program to have several meaningful outcomes. It will make research findings more accessible to users, will help find gaps and needs in educational research that funders need, will provide a valuable opportunity for SREE student members to use their training, and will allow those just starting in the field to make important connections that will help them in their career. The briefs will be jointly housed on SREE’s website as well as on the GFE website to reach divergent audiences.

2020 Research Questions

Please note that only one part (a, b, or c) of question 3 will be funded. The decision will be made by determining the best fellow match.

1. Ascendium is committed to continuous improvement and is looking for a fellow to help inform our thinking on “best practices” in grantmaking. We are hoping to learn more about cohort approaches and multi-stage grantmaking (e.g., planning grants that may lead to implementation support). We are a little over a year into our grantmaking strategy and would benefit greatly from drawing on peer funders’ efforts and learning. The questions we would like addressed are: What are the benefits to building grantee cohorts and what are the critical design elements? What are the successful models or approaches to multi-stage grantmaking programs? We imagine the findings from this research would be appealing to a wide variety of audiences and would inform our grantmaking practices moving forward. We’ve not done any preliminary research in this area.    

2. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Kresge Foundation seek to better understand how higher education institutions and direct service workforce nonprofits use data to align their education and training programs to local labor markets. Specifically, the Foundations are interested in deepening their understanding about the nature and use of job market data analysis from private providers, including but not limited to: BurningGlass’s Labor Insights; EMSI; LinkedIn’s Economic Graph; Indeed’s Hiring Lab. By reviewing a wide range of materials on these providers (e.g., websites, grey literature, and, if it exists, peer-reviewed literature), the fellow may help us understand questions like:

  1. What service(s) does the private provider offer, and what data sources underpin their services?
  2. Who are the target audiences for their services, and what are the clients charged? What are the use cases?
  3. What are strengths and limitations of the provided services and of the underlying data on which they provide these services? To what extent and in what ways does unprecedented disruptions, like COVID-19 pandemic, affect the utility of these services?
  4. To what extent does the data enable higher education and nonprofits to not only know what jobs are available in their community but what jobs allow for social and economic mobility?
  5. How do these services compare with labor market analysis available to higher education and nonprofits from government sources (state and federal)?

[Given the diversity of state approaches, a successful applicant will propose a narrow set of states on which to focus. While Kresge has a particular interest in MD, NY, OR, WI, and CT, both Foundations are open to states the fellow identifies either due to prior work on the topic or other criteria.] Building on this document review, the fellow may propose a small-scale data collection effort, such as interviewing private providers on their services, higher education and nonprofit leaders on their use of labor market data to align education with employer demand, and/or intermediary partners that support connections between workforce and higher education (e.g., Jobs for the Future, National Skills Coalition, Achieving the Dream). This effort would focus on answer questions like: What considerations should institutions and nonprofit have when selecting a provider? And how does their use of the service align with or differ from the ways in which it is advertised? To what extent and in what ways do institutions use one service more than others? This information will inform how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports the access and use of labor market data for college and universities and will support The Kresge Foundation in understanding the types of technical assistance to provide the cities participating in its BOOST Initiative.

3a. Understanding the New Gender Gap in Colleges: Across socioeconomic classes, women are increasingly enrolling and completing postsecondary education. While this news is fantastic, we are also observing stagnant or even decreasing enrollments for men. This trend is troubling since the majority of jobs will require some postsecondary education. The summer fellow will help the Learning, Evaluation and Data (LEAD) Impact Group understand why the proportion of men enrolling in college is stagnant or shrinking and will examine the extent to which there are programs or interventions aimed at specifically increasing male college enrollments. This work will also synthesize any effectiveness evidence on the programs specifically targeted to men, as well as explore whether gender-neutral programs, which have demonstrated their effectiveness in improving college access and success, have a greater impact on men (e.g., CUNY’s ASAP). This landscape review should attentive to various subgroups among men, including race/ethnicity, geographic region, and other important groupings.

3b. Availability and Awareness of Upskilling Programs During Economic Shocks: Connecting opportunity seekers to relevant upskilling and related employment has been a perennial challenges. Even with data system improvements, supporting dislocated workers to make data-informed decisions is still a gap. The growing economic impact of COVID-19 gives even greater importance to effective partnerships between postsecondary and workforce training. The Learning, Evaluation and Data (LEAD) Impact Group seeks to understand—What can we learn from existing programs, whether embedded in a postsecondary institution or led by a community-based organization, that improve learner awareness of and access to high-quality upskilling and educational opportunities that lead to quality jobs? An interested fellow would design a research project to provide the field with landscape analysis of how disconnected workers have leveraged education and workforce training programs during previous economic shock and to identify lessons learned and best practices for implementing successful programs in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

3c. Personalized, Competency-based Learning: There has been a growing interest from schools, districts and higher education institutions in moving toward more personalized and competency-based learning. This is even more true as the nation has been adapting to distance learning with schools closing across the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Competency-based learning prioritizes: students advancing based on their mastery of content, not seat time; explicit, measurable, and transferable learning objectives; flexible and meaningful types of assessment; and student ownership of learning.  The policy environment—at federal state and local levels— has a big impact on how schools, districts, and higher education institutions are able to make shifts to personalized, competency-based learning. The Learning, Evaluation and Data (LEAD) Impact Group would like to undertake a synthesis of the various practices that have been rolling out across the country. Some key questions to explore further include: (1) How have existing policies affected the ways that schools and/or higher education institutions are implementing distance learning that exhibits personalization and encourages mastery of content?, (2) What are the different ways that schools and districts and/or higher education institutions have been reacting to the changes?, (3) What are some of the equity considerations in terms of availability of materials and connections to parents and families?, (4) To what extent are teachers still able to have one-on-one time with students?

4.  Ascendium’s Streamline Key Learner Transitions focus area identifies reengaging learners with some college no degree and adult learners as critical populations when thinking about smoothing transfer issues. There have been efforts undertaken at the state (e.g., Tennessee Reconnect), local (e.g., Graduate! Network) and institution (e.g., Warrior Way Back) levels. As Ascendium continue to think about potential investments in this area, they'd welcome having a better understanding of the landscape by addressing the following questions:

 What are the specific strategies that are being currently tested or deployed to reengage some college, no degree and adult learners, by whom? In what context? Which strategies are emerging as promising practices?

 Ascendium imagines the findings from this research would be appealing to a wide variety of audiences. They have not done any preliminary research in this area.


The LEAD Impact Group:

The Grantmakers for Education Learning, Evaluation, and Data Impact Group’s mission is to support GFE members to use data, research and evaluation to improve philanthropic practice, policies and strategies. GFE envisions that the impact groups “will continue to support communities of members with a common interest who agree to work together toward a common goal.” One of the LEAD’s common goals is the Summer Fellowship Program. Current Steering Committee members include The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Helios Education Foundation, KnowledgeWorks, The Kresge Foundation, and Trellis Foundation. To learn more or to join the LEAD Impact Group, please find more information here.

The Grantmakers for Education (GFE) Data Impact Group’s mission is to increase the power of data by enabling organizations to collect, interpret, value and act on educational data from cradle to career. GFE impact groups are organized to achieve measurable impacts and provide value to the broader GFE community. This partnership with SREE is one way the Group seeks to support other GFE members. Current Group members include The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Helios Education Foundation, KnowledgeWorks, The Kresge Foundation, Lumina Foundation, and Trellis Foundation. To learn more or to join the Data Impact Group, please find more information here.

* If the membership fee poses a financial hardship, please contact Ellen Weiss at [email protected]