Request for Proposals: Human Trafficking Research Initiative by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA): Submit by Mar 21

The Human Trafficking Research Initiative (HTRI) established by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is calling for applications for a request for proposals for a research grant, for work focussing on the forms of trafficking.

About the Organization

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is a research and policy nonprofit that discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems. IPA brings together researchers and decision-makers to design, rigorously evaluate, and refine these solutions and their applications, ensuring that the evidence created is used to improve the lives of the world’s poor.

About the Opportunity

Innovations for Poverty Action established the Human Trafficking Research Initiative (HTRI) to work with researchers and partner organizations to expand the evidence base on effective solutions to reduce modern slavery and human trafficking. Over the next five years, IPA aims to facilitate and support meaningful, rigorous, and policy-relevant studies on trafficking to help combat this egregious global problem.

The purpose of this research fund is to build on sound theory and programmatic information for combating human trafficking. This Initiative is supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Program to End Modern Slavery and academic leadership of Dr. Cecilia Hyunjung Mo and Dr. Guy Grossman.

All research grants must focus on one or both forms of trafficking in persons as defined by the Trafficking Victim Protection Act:

  • Sex Trafficking when a trafficker uses force, fraud, or coercion to compel a person to engage in a commercial sex act or when a trafficker causes a child who has not attained 18 years of age to engage in a commercial sex act.
  • Forced Labor when a trafficker recruits, harbors, transports, provides or obtains a person for labor or services by using force, fraud, or coercion

In this round, the HTRI will consider proposals that include:

Small research pilots of promising interventions:

These are grants that would fund the cost of a small pilot to assess the feasibility and value of a larger research project. These grants are intended to be the first step of formal research for promising interventions and anti-trafficking activities. Programs with monitoring and evaluation data, administrative data, and/or sound theories of change that indicate promising impact would be a good fit for this grant They anticipate funding between $10,000 to $35,000 per pilot.

Seed money for a travel grant or staff time to build on nascent research ideas:

In normal times, IPA has issued small travel grants for researchers to develop partnerships and explore the logistics of promising research ideas. While this grant can be used for travel, they recognize it may not be safe due to COVID-19. IPA country offices are also able to provide support. They anticipate funding between $2,500 and $15,000 per award.

Small grants for data work using existing sources to examine program impact:

These are small grants that will support researchers to use a partner’s administrative data or other existing data sets, conduct desk research to deepen previous research analysis, or create new analysis to help inform research project design and viability. They would expect these applications to include fairly in-depth analysis plans. Preference will be given to applicants who chart how their results can influence future research. They anticipate funding between $5,000 and $10,000 per award.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Researchers must be affiliated with a research institution or a university and either hold a PhD or be currently pursuing a PhD in a relevant social science discipline.
  • They must demonstrate experience in field research and randomized evaluations.
  • The Human Trafficking Research Initiative will give preference to underrepresented researchers in the field.
  • They encourage applications from minority researchers, such as women, junior scholars, first-generation college graduates, and citizens of lower- or middle-income countries.
  • Local researchers and local organizations are necessary for the success of many human trafficking programs and assessments; this will be incorporated into the proposal assessment.
  • All projects must benefit people and communities for lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
  • Please note that project activities and interventions can take place anywhere, but the intended beneficiaries must be from LMICs.
  • Preference will be given to projects in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Costa Rica, India, Guinea, and Senegal, but other LMICs are eligible.
  • Additionally, all intervention sites are subject to review by the US State Department.

Important Dates

  • Proposals are due by March 21, 2021. These grants are geared to rapidly turn around usable data and analysis.
  • All projects to produce substantive progress reports by December 31, 2021 and
  • Complete project closure by March 31, 2022.

Those interested in applying are asked to first read through our funding priorities, which are listed in the guidelines document.

Important Links

Submission Deadline

The HTRI has launched an open call for proposals for seed grants for partnership building, pilots, and data analysis. The deadline for submissions is March 21, 2021.


Projects are expected to launch quickly before the middle of 2021, submit a substantive progress report by December 31, 2021, and close by March 31, 2022.

Click here to apply for the research grant.

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