The emergence of new digital marketplaces has revolutionized commerce, transportation, and information dissemination. Digital platforms have made it easier to start a business, find a job, market a new product, or connect your business to customers. In addition to creating new avenues for economic opportunity and growth, these platforms have also created a new set of economic challenges. These include the potential to exacerbate existing inequalities in access to opportunity, particularly for those who lack digital skills.
Part of Facebook’s mission is to empower individuals to build community and to ensure that these communities create opportunity for everyone. Facebook has invested in training, technology, tools, support, and research to help people and small businesses around the world. These include investments in our training programs Facebook Community Boost, Boost Your Business, and our online learning hub Blueprint. We’d like to understand how these programs could be more effective and reach more people, as well as enable more research into who is being left behind in the digital economy and how to help them.
The goal of this RFP is 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 in the United States. Another area of focus is 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.
While Facebook cares deeply about supporting economic development around the world, the scope of this particular RFP is to focus primarily on impacts in the United States. Research proposals do not need to be about Facebook programs or apps but research findings should be broadly applicable for practitioners in this area.
Topics of interest for this RFP include, but are not limited to:
- Economic opportunity, social mobility, and income inequality – The role of digital platforms in economic opportunity, social mobility, income inequality, and the impact of inequality on people and communities. Additional research questions include:
- Is social mobility changing/shifting through digitization?
- How are digital platforms affecting social mobility for the middle class, women, and historically disadvantaged groups?
- What is the economic impact of digital platforms?
- Digital skills training and job finding – The impact and effectiveness of digital skills training and job finding platforms. Additional research questions include:
- What makes training programs effective and who benefits the most from digital skills training?
- How should one design job finding platforms to reach, and be effective for, low- and middle-wage workers or disadvantaged populations?
- Small businesses and online tools – The use of online tools by entrepreneurs and small businesses to create and grow their businesses. Additional research questions include:
- What is the economic impact of the small business digital economy?
- Is there a differential impact of these tools on women and historically marginalized groups?
- Inequalities in digital access – What populations or groups lack access to connectivity, digital skills, or the digital economy. Additional research questions include:
- What groups of people are being left behind from digitization, including the middle class?
- What is the economic impact of providing greater connectivity?
Successful proposals will demonstrate innovative and compelling research that has the potential to advance science and understanding in the research topic areas and provide value to policymakers, practitioners, and organizations working in these areas.
Applications should include:
- Summary of the project (1-2 pages): Include an explanation of the area of focus, a description of techniques, any relevant prior work, and a timeline with milestones and expected outcomes. Please also include a clear and concise statement of the scientific contribution and routes to eventual deployment.
- A budget description (1 page): Include an approximate cost of the project and explanation of how funds would be spent. Please also include funds for travel for the PI to attend a workshop in Menlo Park to discuss findings with the Core Data Science team in 2020.
- Curriculum Vitae(s): Provide the names of the principal researcher(s) involved in the proposed work with their CV/resume or links to Google Scholar pages.
- Previous collaborations: Indicate any previous or current connections/collaborations with Facebook (in which case please name the Facebook contacts).
- Administrative Information: Include the institution’s tax ID # and details for both a finance contact and authorized authority that can sign award documentation.
- Keywords: Please select from the following keywords to include in your proposal: Economic Opportunity, Social Mobility, Income Inequality, Digital Skills Training, Small Businesses, Job Finding, Inequality, Digital Access.
- Organizations must be an accredited academic institution or a non-governmental organization with recognized legal status in their respective country (equal to 501(c)(3) status under the United States Internal Revenue Code).
- Applicants must be the Principal Investigator (PI) on any resulting award. All funding will be directed to the PI’s institution.
- Applicants may submit one proposal per solicitation.
- Awards must comply with applicable U.S. and international laws, regulations and policies.
- Facebook will not provide access to any Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp data for awarded projects. Any data collected by research teams must comply with Facebook’s terms and policies and the institution’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). Please be aware that Facebook does not allow the automated scraping of public information from the platform.
Budget and Payment
- Award amount can vary but is typically up to $50,000.
- Payment: The award will be made to the PI’s host institution as an unrestricted gift. Overhead is limited to 5% for gifts.
Timing and Dates
- Applications are now open. Deadline to apply is August 9 at 5:00 pm PST.
- Notifications will be sent by email to selected applicants in October 2019.
Award recipients will be invited to a workshop in Menlo Park, California to discuss their findings/insights with Facebook researchers in 2020. Please budget travel for 1-2 PIs to attend as a part of the proposed project budget.
We encourage the winners to openly publish any findings/insights from their work. Successful awardees will be also listed on the Facebook Research website.
For additional questions related to this RFP, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you typically limit the salary of the PI in the gift?+
Should the proposal be double- or single-spaced? Is there any required/expected font?+
What is the award cycle or when does the funding year begin and end?+
Can award funds be used to cover a researcher's summer salary while conducting research?+
Can you please explain the budget breakdown in more detail?+
We are working as co-PIs and are at the same institution. Is it possible to list both of our names as PI for an RFP proposal?+