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Policy Associate- J-PAL North America

J-PAL North America at MIT
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Closing date
Mar 10, 2024

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Focus Areas
Education, Employment, Environment, Healthcare, Housing / Shelter
Job Function
Position Type
Full Time
Degree Level

Job Details

About J-PAL North America

J-PAL North America, a research center within the Economics department at MIT, seeks a Policy Associate to join its team and contribute to its mission to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. J-PAL North America conducts randomized evaluations, builds partnerships for evidence-informed policymaking, and helps partners scale up effective programs. As a regional office of the global Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, J-PAL North America leverages research by affiliated professors from universities across the world to generate and disseminate rigorous evidence about which anti-poverty social policies work and why.

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential to address the complex causes and consequences of poverty. To advance our mission, J-PAL North America must draw on diverse experiences from our staff and affiliated researchers in order to ask better questions and identify better solutions. We are working to increase the limited representation of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in the economics profession. Our organization is implementing strategies to attract, develop, and advance a diverse staff and building a pipeline to increase diversity among economic researchers. We are committed to engaging in self-reflection, learning, and dialogue to nurture understanding across differences. Together, we will build an equitable, inclusive culture where everyone is respected, empowered, and heard.

To learn more about our work and team culture, see our Join Our Team brochure or visit 

Opportunity Overview

As a member of the J-PAL North America team, you’ll be part of a Nobel-prize winning scientific movement that can transform US policy making. Our Policy Associates play an important part in our work by supporting J-PAL North America’s ongoing partnerships with researchers, policymakers, implementing partners and philanthropic partners. As a Policy Associate, your primary tasks will involve stakeholder engagement, evaluation support, managing research proposal review and project funding processes, policy writing and outreach, and general policy team coordination. 

For our Policy Associate position, we are looking for candidates with an understanding of impact evaluation, familiarity with economics and statistics, knowledge about social policy, public administration, and program implementation, excellent oral and written communication skills, attention to detail, strong project management skills, and who can take ownership of their work independently and collaborate effectively with other members of the team. We seek applicants from diverse backgrounds and welcome candidates with lived or direct experience with the social policy issues that J-PAL North America aims to address through its work.  


Stakeholder engagement: Participate in initial conversations with prospective partners to identify promising opportunities for randomized evaluations or evidence dissemination activities. Support and attend convenings designed to bring policymakers, practitioners, and researchers together to spur new research or scale-up collaborations and share policy lessons from completed research. 

Evaluation support: Support collaborations with researchers, policymakers and practitioners to design randomized evaluations of innovative policies and programs. Through trainings, communications, and partner engagements, help create a demand from policymakers and practitioners to generate evidence. 

Policy writing, outreach, and communications: Draft publications that summarize and synthesize the policy implications of key research results. Support the policy group in identifying opportunities to strategically share evidence and policy insights with policymakers, philanthropic partners, and other stakeholders to inform policy development. Support the development and execution of strategic communication strategies to disseminate evidence and promote the value of randomized evaluations and evidence-based policymaking.  

Research proposal and funded project management: Implement processes related to Requests for Proposals to fund randomized evaluations, including promoting funding opportunities among academic researchers, organizing the application process, monitoring the progression of funded projects and any related publications, and maintaining initiative records and tracking compliance in Salesforce. 

Policy team coordination: Provide support for general policy team activities such as engaging affiliated professors, recruitment and hiring, special projects, funder reporting, and coordinating across technical assistance or research initiative projects.

Compensation & Benefits

This full-time, exempt position is classified by MIT as a Technical Associate I position and currently offers a fixed market-based salary range that is based on experience.J-PAL North America staff are MIT employees, which means they are eligible for a wide array of institutional benefits. Some of these MIT benefits include comprehensive health insurance, a 401(k) match up to 5% of salary plus a pension-based retirement plan, tuition assistance up to $5,250 per calendar year, commuter benefits, access to MyLifeServices, a generous vacation policy (3 weeks of paid vacation in your first year, and 4 weeks every year after that, plus an additional 12+ paid Institute-wide holidays per year), paid leave for sick time, maternity and parental leave, back-up child care benefits and much more.

Professional Development

J-PAL North America supports a culture of learning, with opportunities to attend weekly seminars, engage in small-group discussions with other J-PAL staff, participate in workshops, and take classes for credit at MIT or elsewhere with our generous tuition assistance program. Policy Associates have the opportunity to work with J-PAL affiliates and directors, as well as interact with policymakers and practitioners. 


Commitment to Mission & Values: Cares personally and deeply about policy that has the potential to reduce poverty and the rigorous research that informs it. Demonstrates interest in poverty alleviation in the North American (primarily the United States) context in particular. Demonstrates a commitment to J-PAL North America’s values.

Education: A bachelor’s degree in economics, public policy or administration, statistics, or a closely related field is required, as is training in statistics and quantitative methods and training in effective non-technical writing. 

Experience: This is a junior-level position generally occupied by recent college or master program graduates, which requires demonstrating the equivalent of 2 years of relevant work experience, which can include experience gained through part-time work, college level coursework, related internships, volunteer experiences, research assistant or teaching assistant experience and/or policy work. Prior lived or direct experience working with communities of color and/or those experiencing poverty in North America is a plus.

Technical Skills: Demonstrates the ability to accurately explain basic concepts related to randomized evaluation, other impact evaluation methodologies, and research generalizability with minimal support. Is able to understand and communicate details on research design, study implementation, results and their implications, and/or data systems on assigned projects. 

Ownership of Work: Takes responsibility/is accountable for effectively completing assigned discrete tasks or projects with high attention to detail under direct supervision. Produces high quality work in the time expected; identifies and follows up with stakeholders as needed to ensure assignments are completed on time.

Written Communication: Accurately and succinctly communicates in writing with J-PAL staff and stakeholders on assigned projects with minimal supervision from senior-level staff. Clearly communicates technical information to non-technical audiences.  

Oral Communication: Demonstrates strong active listening skills and accurately and succinctly communicates information orally to staff and external partners with minimal supervision from senior-level staff. 

External Stakeholder Relations: Supports partnership development between researchers and potential implementing partners and/or maintains relationships with existing stakeholders under supervision from researchers or managers. Demonstrates experience exercising general stakeholder management skills in the context of policymaking or program implementation is a plus.

Task & Project Management: Takes on a process-oriented task, plans and organizes work, delegates appropriately, coordinates with others, establishes appropriate priorities and timelines, exercises follow through, and adds overall value to the process. 

Problem Solving/Decision Making: Demonstrates adeptness at analyzing facts, judgment, and strong decision-making ability. Responds to problems, issues, and opportunities that are identified by supervisors. Collaborates to identify a solution or response.  

Travel: Willingness and ability to travel as needed locally and in the US (usually minimal) to attend events or participate in meetings. 

How to Apply

Ready to join a team of collaborative, inclusive, and inquisitive colleagues? Apply by our priority deadline on Friday, February 23rd. 

This position is based in Cambridge, MA and offers a hybrid flex work model with the opportunity to work some days in the office and some days remote.

This position is not eligible for any type of visa sponsorship.

Submit an application via MIT’s human resources system. Visit, search for job ID 23706 (Policy Associate - J-PAL North America), and complete an application. 

In a single PDF uploaded to the resume field, please include:


Cover letter which answers the following questions: 

  1. Tell us about your interest in poverty alleviation in the North America region, especially in the US, and what experiences have you had that demonstrate that you are able to work with communities experiencing poverty?
  2. What experiences have you had with quantitative policy/social science research, and how they have prepared you to be effective in this Policy Associate role?
  3. What experience have you had in communicating effectively with policy and practitioner audiences, including your experience in using inclusive language that resonates with diverse communities?

In your cover letter, please also consider sharing how your racial, gender, socioeconomic, and/or other identity has influenced your experience and interest in working at J-PAL (this is entirely optional).

Should you need a reasonable accommodation to fully participate in our employee selection process, please contact Isaak Kifle, Human Resources Manager at or (617) 715-5844.

We will begin reviewing applications on a rolling basis as we receive them. Short-listed applicants will be asked to complete a technical exercise and phone interview. Finalists will be called for a final interview and have references checked.

Employment is contingent upon the completion of a satisfactory background check.MIT is an equal employment opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, ancestry, or national or ethnic origin.


The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is a global research center working to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. Anchored by a network of 224 affiliated professors at universities around the world, J-PAL conducts randomized impact evaluations to answer critical questions in the fight against poverty.

J-PAL North America, based at MIT, leads J-PAL’s work in the North America region. J-PAL North America conducts randomized evaluations, builds partnerships for evidence-informed policymaking, and helps partners scale up effective programs.

Our work spans a wide range of sectors including health care, housing, criminal justice, education, and economic mobility. We leverage research by affiliated professors from universities across the continent and a full-time staff of researchers, policy experts, and administrative professionals to generate and disseminate rigorous evidence about which anti-poverty social policies work and why.

Company info
1 617 253 7109
400 Main Street E19-201
United States

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