Evaluating Solutions

2024 LEAP Challenge

Eager to demonstrate that your education solution has a positive impact on learners?

Submissions are Closed

Eligibility Requirements & FAQ

Application Clinic Slides

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 education 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 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 meet LEAP researcher and social entrepreneur Fellows, engage in project refinement sessions, and match with up to four LEAP Fellows. Project Hosts will partner with Fellows on a 12-week Project Sprint which will kick off in two waves – five sprints will begin in September 2024 and another five will begin in January 2025. 

What are the benefits of hosting a LEAP Project?

The goal of hosting a LEAP Project is to help your organization continue to build a culture of evidence, demonstrate the effectiveness of your solution, and accelerate the solution’s impact on learners by embedding insights and results from research. Project Hosts receive the following benefits:

  • 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 monitoring and evaluation 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 the Project Host organization to compensate for time spent hosting the LEAP Project.

Who can apply to host a LEAP Project? 

  • Project Hosts are education organizations (non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid models.) 
  • Project Hosts have education solutions (a product or program) that aim to improve learning outcomes for children ages 2-12 in Sub-Saharan Africa or Latin America.
    • Sub-Saharan Africa is inclusive of the countries listed here.
    • Latin America is inclusive of the countries listed here.
  • Project Hosts’ solutions are in the pilot or growth stage of development.
    • Pilot: The solution has been launched in at least one community, but is still iterating on design or business model. If for-profit, is generally working to gain traction and may have completed a fundraising round with investment capital. (Often 10+ users/direct beneficiaries)
    • Growth: An established solution available in one or more communities with a consistent design and approach, ready for further growth in multiple communities or countries. If for-profit, has generally completed at least one formal investment round (Seed stage or later). If nonprofit, has an established set of donors and/or revenue streams

How will my application be evaluated?

Please note: applications must be submitted in English.

The judging panel will include leaders and experts from the education research, academia, entrepreneurship, and philanthropic ecosystems. After an initial screening by Solve and Jacobs Foundation staff and a community of 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 and 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 learning outcomes for children ages 2-12.

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

  • Evidence Understanding: The application has a promising or 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 and the need to strengthen it.

  • Research Aims: The research questions seek to establish and/or strengthen the evidence base of the solution and advance children’s learning outcomes. 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: There is a 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 5, 2024: LEAP Challenge launches! Call for applications is open.

  • April 30, 2024: Call for applications closes at 12pm (noon) EST.

  • May 2 to August 2, 2024: Applications reviewed and winners selected.

    • June 24-28: Finalists notified

    • June 29 & 30: Finalist Interview Days with the Judging Panel

    • August 2: Winners notified.

  • September 3 & 6, 2024 : Virtual LEAPathon! Project Hosts are matched to Fellows.

  • September 16 - December 6, 2024: First wave of 12-week LEAP Projects take place.

  • December 17, 2024: Wave 1 Culmination Event

  • January 27 - April 18, 2025: Second wave of 12-week LEAP Projects take place. 

  • April 29, 2025: 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? 

Please note: The 12-week sprint is conducted in English and the final report is written in English.

  • Time: 
    • Fellows dedicate ~6-10 hours per week to your LEAP Project. 
    • Project Hosts, particularly the Team Lead, commit ~3-4 hours per week to the LEAP Project.
  • Phases of work: The 12-week Project sprint is organized into three ~4-week phases: 
    1. Learning: During this phase, Project Hosts share crucial information and data that enables the Fellows to immerse themselves in your solution and your goals for the LEAP project. 
    2. Drafting & Iterating: Once Fellows scope a feasible project and align with the Project Host on proposed deliverables, they begin designing research recommendations, working collaboratively with the Project Host to include your thoughtful insights and feedback. 
    3. Editing/Finalizing Deliverables: Fellows produce a final report with research recommendations, (study designs, strategies, frameworks, and/or monitoring and evaluation tools) that will inform your organization’s approach to strengthen the evidence base of your solution.
  • Project Outputs:
    • Visit the Project Showcase from the 2022 & 2023 LEAP Challenges to learn more about what has been accomplished.
    • Example of outputs from from previous projects include:
      • A template to conduct an RCT to assess the impacts of an out-of-school program on children’s functional literacy and numeracy.
      • A quasi-experimental study design and data collection plan to enable an organization to understand the impact of its school leadership program on student outcomes. 
      • A theoretical framework of the science of reading applied to a mobile application that teaches reading fluency and a companion teacher’s guide to link the theory to the application.  
      • A research-informed implementation roadmap to increase fidelity to prescribed literacy teaching practices in community schools. 
      • A series of survey instruments to test the knowledge of professional development coordinators who participate in an in-school teacher trainer program. 
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