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BRIEF April 7, 2022

Knowledge for Change: 2022 Call for Proposals and Application Procedures

Depiction of a hand writing a proposal.

  • The 2022 Call for Proposals (CFP) for the Knowledge for Change Umbrella Program (KCP) Phase IV is now open. The KCP aims at promoting evidence-based policy development in support of poverty reduction and shared prosperity by delivering high-impact, policy-relevant research and knowledge products. Since the commencement of its operation in 2002, the KCP has supported more than 360 projects on research, data, and analytics, with total funding of US$72 million. The following are the KCP’s main goals:

    • Original Research: produce rigorous and relevant fundamental research in support of evidence-based policy making in international development, anticipating future needs and knowledge gaps as well as responding to current policy challenges.
    • Operational Relevance: support World Bank Group country operations in the design, implementation, evaluation, and modification of development interventions in an effective and efficient manner.
    • Open Knowledge: maximize the impact of research and data by making knowledge accessible and actionable, particularly through partnerships and capacity-building activities.

    The KCP launched its fourth phase in late 2020, with an objective to carry out activities related to research, data, and analytics around the following IDA special themes:

    • Jobs and economic transformation
    • Fragility, conflict, and violence
    • Climate change
    • Gender and development
    • Governance and institutions
    • Cross-cutting issues: debt and financial fragility; human capital; disability; and technology
  • I) Window 1: Advancing KCP’s goals — open call

    • This window will fund proposals that advance KCP’s goals in general, with priorities given to proposals addressing the following four thematic areas: a) debt and financial fragility, b) human capital, c) governance and institutions, and d) technology.
    • The range of award amount will be between $50,000 to $200,000 per project.
    • The proposal template can be found here.
    • Project duration must be ≤ 24 months, and extensions will only be granted on an exceptional basis.

    II) Window 2: Advancing KCP’s goals through a spatial lens focused on economic geography of growth and development at the subnational level

    • Proposals under Window 2 should fill research and data gaps in issues related to the geography of growth and development, particularly around income and welfare differences at the subnational level. Proposed activities should focus on exploring subnational development issues that may inject more spatial awareness into the observation of drivers of growth and disparities and the design of development interventions.
    • Window 2 will fund both programmatic grant proposals and small grant proposals.
    • Please refer to the Appendix for more details on proposals to be funded under Window 2

    Programmatic grant proposals under Window 2:

    • Programmatic grants will fund larger proposals addressing an integrated and highly related set of issues with a longer time frame.
    • The range of award amount will be between $200,000 to $1 million per project.
    • Note that there is a two-stage process for the application of programmatic grants. First, a short concept note (≤ three pages) will be required. Then, task team leaders (TTLs) whose concept notes pass the pre-screening will be invited to submit full proposals.
    • The template for the concept note can be found here, and the template for the full proposal can be found here.
    • Project duration must be ≤ 36 months, and extensions will not be granted.

    Small grant proposals under Window 2:

    • Small grants will fund well-defined research or data projects addressing a specific question.
    • The range of award amount will be between $50,000 to $200,000 per project.
    • The proposal template can be found here.
    • Project duration must be ≤ 24 months, and extensions will only be granted on an exceptional basis. 
    • Main activities of the proposed projects should concern fundamental original knowledge generation and dissemination, support at least one of the KCP goals, and contribute to the achievement of at least one of the IDA thematic priorities outlined in the KCP IV Concept Note. Projects may include components of data collection, empirical analysis, or theoretical modelling.
    • Collaboration among staff across the WBG is strongly encouraged. The CFP invites proposals submitted by DEC staff, and joint proposals submitted by DEC staff in conjunction with colleagues working in other parts of the WBG. In the case of joint proposals, the ADM TTL must be a DEC staff.
    • Grants from this CFP are for Bank Executed Activities (BETF). The funds may be used to finance the variable costs of research, such as data collection, research assistance, fieldwork-related travel expenses, and dissemination. Funds can also be used to fund World Bank regular staff time, consultant fees (when engaging external contributors), and local capacity building efforts.  All purchases of goods and services (including when engaging external vendors) must follow applicable Bank procedures. 
  • KCP emphasizes research and analytical rigor (the “Knowledge” part of KCP) as well as policy impact inside the World Bank and beyond (the “Change” part of KCP). In particular, four criteria are applied in the assessment process:

    • Quality. Successful research proposals need to be assessed as being of high quality, meaning that the proposed activity will use a rigorous analytical approach to yield valid results and reliable evidence that represent the creation of new knowledge, including primary data, for development that advances the knowledge frontier.
    • Relevance and policy impact. Successful proposals need to demonstrate policy relevance and value added, relative to existing academic literature as well as other work being done in the World Bank, and alignment with priority themes. This includes research on current policy priorities as well as forward-looking research on emerging policy issues that arise in a rapidly changing economic environment. 
    • Communication. To ensure continued impact, proposals should include plans for communication and internal and external knowledge dissemination activities, including plans for proper documentation, archiving, and sharing of relevant data and code produced during the project for replicability purposes.
    • Country participation and partnerships. Where relevant, proposals should document plans for country participation, involvement of local researchers or institutions from developing countries, and steps to ensure that the program strengthens local capacity. 
    • Deadlines:
      • Window 1: Full proposals are due on June 3, 2022.
      • Window 2: Concept notes are due on April 29, 2022 for those seeking programmatic grants. Teams who are advancing to the full proposal stage will be notified during the week of May 9, 2022. Note that concept notes are NOT required for projects seeking small grants under Window 2. All full proposals are due on June 3, 2022.
      • All concept notes and full proposals should be sent to the KCP Program Management Unit (PMU)
    • Proposal templates:
    • Proposal clearance prior to submission: Prior to the concept note and proposal submission, TTLs must obtain clearance from i) reporting Unit Manager, and ii) respective DEC Head of Department. The clearance email from the relevant DEC Department Director should be included in the proposal package. 
    • External Reviews: All full proposals will go through a round of review by independent subject matter experts from outside DEC, who will rate and provide comments on the i) quality and ii) relevance and policy impact of the proposals.
    • Decision Meeting of the Internal Management Committee (IMC): The IMC will hold a decision meeting in late July to review, discuss and select the proposals that will be awarded KCP grants, based on the ratings, comments, and recommendations from the reviewers, operational relevance, as well as the World Bank and DEC’s strategic priorities. Decisions will be made on an “up-or-down” basis, i.e., the entire proposal will or will not be approved – the IMC will not adjust the amount of the grant.
    • Notification of Awardees: The KCP PMU will notify all TTLs regarding the selection result in late July/early August of 2022. TTLs should plan for projects to start in the fall of 2022. 
  • KCP IV recently completed its second round of the call for proposals, and 15 new projects were approved. This round of the call for proposals was conducted under two windows: window 1: advancing KCP’s goals—open call, and window 2: subnational development. Eleven projects were approved for funding under window 1, for a total amount of $1.8 million. Four projects (including three programmatic grants and one small grant) have been approved for funding under window 2, for a total amount of $2.4 million. These selected projects cover seven broad themes: (i) jobs and economic transformation; (ii) fragility, conflict, and violence; (iii) gender and development; (iv) governance and institutions; (v) debt and financial fragility; (vi) human capital; and (vii) technology.

    Click to read a brief introduction to these fifteen newly awarded projects.