November 25, 2019

Announcing the winners of the Economic Opportunity and Digital Platforms request for proposals

By: Facebook Research

This past June, Facebook launched a request for proposals (RFP) focused on economic development within digital platforms in the United States. The goal of this RFP was to enable research into how (and whether) the digital economy and online platforms create opportunity and encourage social mobility, as well as identify and address inequalities in opportunity.

Another area of focus was how tools and programs could help disadvantaged groups (including those who lack digital skills) transition into careers that require more digital skills or create and grow their businesses. Examples include digital skills training, tools for small businesses, job-finding platforms, information for low-wage workers, and others. For more details about this RFP, including topics of interest, eligibility, and proposal requirements, visit its application page.

Out of 78 submitted proposals from more than 50 institutions, we selected eight to receive research awards. Each proposal was evaluated by three technical reviewers.

“We want to better understand the impact the digital economy is having on society,” says Mike Bailey, Research Scientist Manager on the Core Data Science team at Facebook. “The winning teams will tackle some of the hardest problems in this space, from job finding and training, to online learning, to the impact of digital access.”

This research will provide much needed information on how to build more inclusive digital platforms and help create economic opportunity for all. In particular, Facebook’s Director for State and Local Economic Development Policy, Lisa Harris, hopes that “this research will help small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) thrive in a digital economy, create a more robust workforce pipeline, and help identify the tools employers and employees need to succeed.”

Thank you to all the researchers who took the time to submit a proposal, and congratulations to the award recipients.

Research award winners

Principal investigators are listed first unless otherwise noted.

Economic & policy impact analysis of broadband availability & access in CA
Jason Schwenkler, David Espinoza, and Peter Owens (California State University, Chico)

How small businesses can effectively use social media advertising
Freya De Keyzer, Nathalie Dens, and Patrick De Pelsmacker (University of Antwerp)

Learning online: Who benefits, who is left behind?
Eszter Hargittai (University of Zurich), Sean Kross (UC San Diego), and Elissa M. Redmiles (Princeton University)

Microinternships at the margins
Margeret Hall (University of Nebraska Omaha), Hector Rivera (First Data/Fiserv), Jorge Grimaldo (Siena/Francis House), Markus Krause (Mooqita), Michelle Friend (University of Nebraska Omaha), and Misty Decker (IBM)

Online occupational communities: Exploring economic support for workers
Julia Ticona (University of Pennsylvania) and Naomi Sugie (University of California, Irvine)

Perceptions of internet-based technologies among rural and urban Americans
Kurtis Heimerl and Katharina Reinecke (University of Washington)

Risk assessment with alternative data: Prediction, profit, and equality
Beibei Li (Carnegie Mellon University)

Salary history & economic inequality: A field experiment on job finding
Laura K. Gee (Tufts University), Amanda Agan (Rutgers University), and Bo Cowgill (Columbia University)

To view our currently open research awards and to subscribe to our email list, visit our Research Awards page.

To learn more about Facebook’s Core Data Science team, visit the CDS page.