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Weiss Family Program Fund - Fall 2017



Students/Faculty notify CEGA/CSS of interest in application:  October 9, 2017
Draft Proposal Submitted to Campus: October 23, 2017
Funder Deadline: November 7, 2017 
Available Funding: $75,000 (faculty) or $40,000 (PhD students) 
Download EOI Call:

Please note Interested applicants must contact CEGA Operations Manager, Lauren Russell ( and CSS Research Administrator Henry Chan ( as soon as possible if they plan to submit (no later than October 9, 2017). Lauren and Henry will be in touch with instructions on timeline and requirements for application submission through UC Berkeley. All EOIs must be submitted to UC Berkeley's Campus Shared Services for pre-review by October 23, 2017

Proposals must be submitted by a faculty member with PI status; this includes proposals from PhD students. If you are a student, find a faculty member to sponsor your project.

BACKGROUND: Weiss Family Program Fund for Research in Development Economics 
The Weiss Family Program Fund is funded by Child Relief International and aims to sponsor research that will positively affect the lives of poor people in poor countries. The potential impact of research on the poor can be long run, research can duplicate an existing study in a different context, or it can investigate a negative result – showing that something that is widely done has no impact or less impact than is normally believed. The research could seek to discover flaws in past research findings. Research that challenges the conventional wisdom is encouraged. Cross-disciplinary work is welcome. The Program only funds research in countries, regions, or populations with per capita GDP below $10,000 in 2015 USD; and has a preference for supporting work in countries, regions, or populations with per capita GDP below $5,000. The Program does not fund research in developed countries, even on low-income populations within these countries.

Examples of potential projects range from assessments of various health and education initiatives, such as the health effects of indoor spraying of DDT, adding folic acid and iron to foods, or dispensing Norplant; to effects of specific programs on civil society, to projects that assess the total effects of participation of NGOs or public foreign institutions or for-profit companies in providing services normally provided by domestic institutions; to the macro-economic effects of capital inflows (including remittances, aid, or expenditures by NGOs); to understanding the impact of NGOs’ and aid agencies’ policies regarding local hiring and purchasing on wages, cost of commercial property, and the exchange rate; to redoing previous randomized evaluations to control for spillover effects such as the effects of micro-finance and remittances on expenditures on weddings, funerals, festivals and other status goods. The program seeks to avoid financing research that should be funded by for profit companies that will directly benefit from the results.

The projects that have received funding from the Weiss Fund in the past are listed here:

The publication and dissemination of well-designed and implemented research on programs affecting the poor is important in helping donors, governments and NGOs improve their policies and programming. However, the prospects for publication in top journals will not directly enter into funding decisions.


  • All applicants should have sufficient training to conduct research using current techniques and methods in economics. 
  • PhD students should be working under the supervision of a faculty member with expertise in economics and should have sufficient time to devote to completing the project before graduating. The Weiss Fund ordinarily will not provide support to new projects being started by PhD students during their last year of the program
  • Postdoctoral fellows and non-ladder faculty are only eligible if they have already obtained a position from one of the participating institutions as ladder faculty
  • Junior faculty should be working on research projects on economic issues that affect developing countries.
  • Senior Faculty proposals should be for long-term projects and projects that are designed to capture spillover effects. Applications that do not meet this criterion will not be considered. 

Funding amounts: 

Funding decisions will be based on the balance of the benefits and cost of the project. The Selection Committee will not look favorably on proposals that appear budgeted to hit the maximum limits.

While there may be exceptions, funding will typically not exceed $5,000 for undergraduate and master’s students, and $40,000 for PhD students. Junior faculty may apply for grants to incubate larger projects for which they expect to seek funding elsewhere or supplement other funding to allow important questions to be addressed that cannot be addressed through other funding channels. These grants will typically not exceed $75,000. There is no pre-set budget limit on proposals from senior faculty. We recognize that senior faculty proposals may have higher costs, given their proposals should be for longer-term projects and projects designed to study geographic regions, rather than individuals, so as to capture spillover effects. However, applicants should bear in mind that the Weiss Family Fund has never in the past funded grants over $75,000 and that it takes value for money seriously.

Grants will not include any indirect costs. Thus proposals should not include a percentage for overhead. They can, if appropriate, include costs for items such as rent in the developing country or accounting services but only if these are directly attributable to the project and itemized in the budget. Thus, for example, an applicant who plans to work with an organization like Innovations for Poverty Action should ask that organization to itemize and justify specific expenses and not simply include overhead or a “country management fee” as a fixed percentage of other costs. 
Submission of Expressions of Interest
Applicants should describe their proposed project sufficiently to allow reviewers to determine its feasibility and potential impact on development policy. The expression of interest should include a timeline and a detailed estimated budget. Students should provide evidence of their ability to complete the project by describing their research background and include a letter of support from their advisor with a statement that he or she will supervise the project and support it intellectually. Expressions of interest should be one pdf combined of no more than 2000 words, in 12 point font double-spaced, and should include the following: an outline of the research hypothesis, an identification strategy (for empirical proposals intended to estimate a causal effect), project timeline, proposed itemized budget, a budget narrative, and an explanation of the availability of data to be used in empirical proposals. They should also include a CV and, in the case of students who are applying, an unofficial transcript which do not count towards the word limit. 

Exploratory Travel Grants: 
PhD students and junior faculty members are eligible to apply for exploratory grants to finance trips to meet with organizations working in the developing world (non-profit organizations, for-profit organizations, and governments are all eligible) that are interested in collaborating with researchers on a project that could potentially qualify for Weiss Family Program Fund support. If interested, please inquire with the Weiss Program ( about some organizations that would like to work with researchers. Expressions of Interest for exploratory travel grants are welcome for both those and other organizations. Such Expressions of Interest should only be submitted after initial email and phone conversations with the NGO have taken place to establish potential feasibility of a project and a likely match between the researcher(s) and the NGO. The expression of interest should be under 750 words (including footnotes) and should include a detailed budget. It should explain what the organization does, what potential research project or projects would be explored, and what communication the researcher and the organization have already had. PhD students should explain any prior previous field experience and should obtain an endorsement of the trip from an advisor, and provide a recent transcript. Expressions of Interest can be on-cycle, submitted under normal deadlines (November 7, 2017 for evaluation in the Fall 2017 round), or, if time-sensitive, off-cycle, but in the latter case only if there is evidence that reliance on an off-cycle Expression of Interest was unavoidable.

Closing Date

Oct 23, 2017 12:00 am PDT