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BRIEF March 26, 2021

Knowledge for Change: Call for Proposals and Application Procedures

Knowledge for Change Call for proposals

  • Housed in the Development Economics Vice Presidency (DEC), the Knowledge for Change Program (KCP) is a multi-donor trust fund with a successful track record in delivering high-impact, policy-relevant research and knowledge products. The KCP aims at promoting evidence-based policy development in support of poverty reduction and shared prosperity in developing countries. The following are the main goals of the program:

    • 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.
    • Support World Bank Group country operations in the design, implementation, evaluation, and modification of development interventions in an effective and efficient manner
    • Open access to knowledge through sharing, partnerships, and capacity building

    KCP launched its fourth phase in late 2020, with an objective to carry out activities related to research, data, and analytics around the following IDA19 special themes:  

    1. Jobs and Economic Transformation
    2. Fragility, Conflict, and Violence
    3. Climate Change
    4. Gender and Development
    5. Governance and Institutions
    6. Cross-Cutting Issues: Debt and Financial Fragility, Human Capital, Disability, and Technology
    • 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 IDA19 thematic priorities outlined above. Projects may include components of data collection, empirical analysis, or theoretical modelling1.
    • The CFP invites proposals submitted by DEC staff, or joint proposals submitted by DEC staff in conjunction with colleagues working in other parts of the World Bank Group. In the case of joint proposals, the ADM Task Team Leader (TTL) must be a DEC staff.
    • Project duration must be ≤ 24 months, and extensions will only be granted on an exceptional basis.
    • KCP funds may be used to finance the variable costs of research, such as data collection, research assistance, fieldwork-related travel expenses, and dissemination. KCP can also be used to fund World Bank regular staff time, consultant fees, and local capacity building efforts.  All purchases of goods and services must follow applicable Bank procedures.
    • Prior to the proposal submission, TTLs must obtain clearance of the proposals from i) reporting Unit Manager, and ii) respective DEC Head of Department.
    • For this round of CFP, the range of award amount will be between $50,000 to $200,000 per project.


    1 KCP funds original research and novel data collection activities. Synthesis knowledge products are not covered in this CFP.

  • 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 KCP 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.
    • Announcement of CFP: Applications for the 2021 round of CFPs are now open. The deadline for proposal submissions is May 14, 2021.
    • Proposal Submission: TTLs submit the proposal using the standard template (add link) to the KCP Program Management Unit (PMU) at before the stated deadline.  Submitted proposals should include a clearance email from the relevant DEC Department Head.
    • Proposal screening: The KCP PMU will first screen proposals based on the eligibility criteria. The DEC Management Team will then carry out an assessment and recommend a sub-set of proposals for external blind peer review.
    • External Reviews: The proposals recommended by DEC Management will then go through a round of evaluation by independent subject matter experts from outside DEC, who will rate the proposals based on the selection criteria outlined above.
    • Decision Meeting of the Internal Management Committee (IMC): The IMC will hold a decision meeting 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.
  • KCP completed its first round of the call for proposals under its new phase—KCP IV in July 2021. Fourteen projects were awarded a total of $2.2 million. The selected projects cover four broad themes: (i) jobs and economic transformation, (ii) governance and institutions, (iii) climate change, and (iv) gender and development. 

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