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2023 LEAP Challenge

How can education solutions become more evidence-based?

Submissions are Closed

What is LEAP?

MIT Solve and the Jacobs Foundation have a shared goal of supporting and accelerating education solutions that positively impact learners. In 2022 we launched LEAP (Leveraging Evidence for Action to Promote change) to provide education organizations with expertise to strengthen the evidence base of their learning solutions. 

LEAP pairs education organizations (Project Hosts) with a team of researchers and social entrepreneurs (LEAP Fellows) who lend their best-in-class expertise to the organization for a 12-week sprint (a “LEAP Project”). Fellows provide tailor-made research recommendations that inform the organization’s approach to strengthen the evidence base of their solution (a product or program.)

What happens if my organization is selected? 

Organizations selected as Project Hosts will attend a two-day virtual LEAPathon event where they will meet with LEAP Fellows, engage in project refinement sessions, and match with up to four Fellows. The 12-week project sprints will kick off in two waves: five projects will begin in September 2023 and five projects will begin in January 2024. 

What are the benefits of hosting a LEAP Project?

  • Access to a global pool of research and social entrepreneur Fellows who apply their knowledge and skills to support your education solution’s evidence journey;

  • A final report that details tailor-made research recommendations (study designs, strategies, frameworks, and/or tools) that inform your approach to strengthen the evidence base of your education solution;

  • Professionally-managed project facilitation provided by MIT Solve, allowing you to focus solely on the most critical elements of the 12-week project;

  • Valuable networking opportunities across the global cohort of LEAP Fellows and Project Hosts;

  • A $5,000 stipend to compensate for time spent hosting the LEAP Project.

Who can apply to host a LEAP Project? 

Project Hosts are education organizations (for-profit, non-profit, or hybrid models) with learning solutions that: 

  • Aim to improve learning outcomes for children ages 2-12 

    • Though not an eligibility requirement, we have a special interest in applications from education organizations with solutions that embrace learning variability in typically developing children aged 2-12. 

  • Are eager to demonstrate the effectiveness of its education solution and accelerate the solution’s impact through a stronger connection to evidence.

  • Are from anywhere in the world 

    • With the exception of United States embargoed countries: US law prevents MIT Solve from accepting applications from people who are ordinarily resident in Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea, Crimea, Russia, and Belarus, or from parties blocked by the US Treasury Department.

To be eligible for LEAP, Project Hosts must apply with an education solution (product or program) in one of the following stages of development:

  • Prototype: An organization building and testing its product or program, but which is not yet serving anyone.

  • Pilot: An organization testing a product or program with a small number of users.

  • Growth: An organization with an established product or program that is rolled out in one or more communities.

How will my application be evaluated?

The judging panel will comprise leaders and experts from across the education research, entrepreneurship, and philanthropic ecosystem. After an initial screening by Solve and Jacobs Foundation staff and community reviewers, the judges will score the screened applications and select finalists, who will be invited to record their project pitch and attend a virtual Interview Day Q&A session with the judging panel. 

Reviewers and the judging panel will score applications according to the following criteria:

  • Alignment: The applicant is an education organization with a product or program (solution) that provides quality learning opportunities and improves outcomes for children ages 2-12.

  • Partnership Potential: The application demonstrates that the organization has a supportive infrastructure and a dedicated Team Lead who has authority and capacity to partner and engage collaboratively with a Fellow Team on a research-intensive LEAP Project.

  • Awareness of Current Evidence Base: The application has a sound theory of change or logic model that describes what the solution does and why it matters coherently and convincingly. The application outlines a clear understanding of the solution’s current evidence base as well as the need to strengthen it. Note: the evidence level that you place your solution – whether you are early in your evidence journey or more advanced – will not impact your score on this dimension.

  • Research Aims: The application clearly describes how and why engaging in a LEAP Project will enable the organization to build an approach to strengthen the evidence base of its solution. The research questions are logical based on the organization’s needs. The outputs appropriately link to the research questions. 

  • Project Feasibility: The application proposes a LEAP Project with outputs that are manageable for a Fellow team (3-4 part-time LEAP Fellows working 6-10 hours a week) to accomplish within a 12-week sprint period. 

  • Potential for Impact: The application outlines realistic, practical plan for what the organization will do with the outputs once the LEAP Project concludes. The application proposes a LEAP Project that has the potential to be transformative for the organization’s solution and the population it serves.

What is the LEAP Timeline for project hosts?

  • March 28, 2023: LEAP launches! Applications for Project Hosts open.

  • May 23, 2023: Project Host application closes at 11:59am EST.

  • June 1 to August 18, 2023 : Applications evaluated and winners selected.

    • June 30, 2023: Finalists notified

    • August 10 & 11, 2023: Finalist Interview Days with the Judging Panel

    • August 14 - 18, 2023: Winners notified.

  • August 22, 2023: Project Host Orientation

  • August 28 & 31, 2023 : Virtual LEAPathon - Fellows and Project Hosts are matched.

  • September 18 - December 8, 2023: First wave of 12-week LEAP Projects take place.

  • December 19, 2023: Wave 1 Culmination Event

  • January 29 - April 19, 2024: Second wave of 12-week LEAP Projects take place. 

  • May 1, 2024: Wave 2 Culmination Event

Can I submit more than one project idea from my organization?

We want your best LEAP Project idea! Therefore, only one application per organization will be accepted.

What does LEAP support look like in practice? 

  • Time: Fellows dedicate ~6-10 hours per week to your LEAP Project. Project Hosts, particularly the Team Lead, commit ~2-4 hours per week to the Project.
  • Phases of work: The 12-week Project sprint is organized into three ~4-week phases: 1) learning, 2) drafting & iterating, and 3) producing final deliverables. 
    • During the learning phase, Project Hosts present crucial information and data that enables the Fellows to immerse themselves in your education solution and goals of the LEAP project. Once Fellows scope a feasible project and align with the Project Host on proposed deliverables, they begin drafting and iterating research recommendations, working collaboratively with the Project Host to include your thoughtful insights and feedback. Finally, Fellows produce a final report that provides Project Hosts with the tools, guidance, and strategies to advance your solution with research-driven insights.
  • Outcomes: For examples of what final deliverables entail, review the Project Outcomes from the 2022 LEAP Challenge. 
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