Summer Fellowship

SREE, in collaboration with EdFunder’s LEAD Impact Group, is pleased to offer the SREE Summer Fellows Program again this year. The purpose of this program is to connect educational researchers with philanthropic organizations seeking research information without having the time or expertise to access it and, in doing so, advance the use of high-quality education research. SREE student members will have the opportunity to spend the summer working on a 'real world' research project answering a question that the philanthropic community is asking to help inform their work.

Program Overview

SREE Summer Fellows will be tasked with conducting a literature review on a selected topic and creating a 1-2 page brief in plain language on that topic that can be used by foundations, practitioners, and other users in the community, as well as a more technical review for other researchers. As part of the application, the prospective Fellow should propose an aspect of the topic on which to focus his/her summer literature review. The Fellow will work virtually and under the supervision of a SREE-appointed advisor, along with the support of his/her own graduate student advisor.  

Fellows will commit to:

  • Spending 8-10 weeks (320-400 hours) on the project conducting research and writing up the findings.
  • Participating in three check-in calls with the funder and/or SREE (initial, midpoint, and 2 results presentations), and an additional call with your SREE advisor to rehearse the presentation.
  • Maintaining communication with your SREE advisor throughout the duration of the fellowship and sharing all drafts with your advisor prior to sending them to the funder.
  • Providing the client with a research plan at the beginning of the project.
  • Providing the client with a literature review (approximately 20 pages in length).
  • Writing an executive brief (1-2 pages) summarizing the main takeaways for a philanthropic audience.  
  • Presenting, potentially in conjunction with the GFE client, at GFE and SREE’s annual conference on the final research findings.
  • Participating in an online Science Communications Training on June 27, 2:00pm - 5:00 pm ET.

SREE will select an advisor for the student that will:

  • Providing general supervision
  • Giving feedback and guidance on both the brief and technical report

In return, Fellows will receive:

  • $8000 in compensation, paid in two installments
  • Feedback from the funder
  • Potential opportunity to present findings at both the EdFunders 2022 meeting and the SREE 2022 Conference 
  • Brief featured on the SREE website


The fellowship is open to current SREE student members.*

Applicants should have completed at minimum one year (preferably two years) of graduate studies. Individuals who complete(d) their graduate studies in 2022 were eligible to apply.

After submitting the interest form, you must email one pdf of the following items to [email protected]

1) your CV;

2) writing sample;

3) one page statement indicating the topic (from the options below) on which you would like to work, how you would approach working on your selected topic, how you would refine the research questions and scope, your relevant experience (lived experience may be included), and why you would like to be a Fellow;

4) a brief statement, signed by your faculty advisor, indicating their willingness to serve as an informal advisor on this project during the summer. Please note that this is not a letter of recommendation, but rather a letter of intent to serve as a resource for you on the project. 


2022 Projects


1. Topic: Emerging and Best Practice Strategies to Center Equity in Philanthropic Evaluation Practices  |  Partner: EdFunders LEAD Impact Group (No longer accepting applications)

Driven in part by national conversations around power and equity, the philanthropic community has shared in a growing recognition that driving sustainable community impact requires an approach to research design and evaluation that is developed by and in partnership with the communities we seek to support.

This recognition however has not yet been accompanied by a concerted shift away from status quo approaches to community engagement and evaluation. Many grantmakers still rely on engagement practices that at their best prompt only superficial reflection and adjustment and at their worst are conducted as mere box checking exercises. This reflects both the need for grantmakers to relinquish long-held reigns of control in process and design, but also the reality that despite good intent, grantmakers still struggle to understand what good community engagement is and how they must think differently about their role in elevating evaluation practices that are grounded and centered in equity.

What are emerging and best practices from across the field to support inclusive and meaningful community engagement?  What should grantmakers consider in determining how best to incorporate these within their own work? How can we think more intentionally about who the “community” represents and ensure our engagement amplifies a fuller array of voices and perspectives?  And, as we seek to move beyond a box checking approach, how can we create space for this work to be less extractive and towards a more reciprocal exchange of ideas and collaboration that adds value not just for Foundations, but communities as well.   

2. Topic: Use of University Readiness Assessments  |  Partner: EdFunders Lead Impact Group (No longer accepting applications)

For decades, education researchers and practitioners have examined the use and impact of standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT, in university admissions. Opponents argue that standardized tests are rooted in systemic educational inequities that show only limited effects beyond the first year of college, while supporters believe test scores provide a consistent measurement across schooling contexts and aid in understanding if students will succeed in college. While most universities rely on these tests to determine which students they should admit, the field has seen a shift in recent years, with some of the most prominent higher education universities moving to test-optional policies.  Additionally, limited access to testing centers during COVID-19 resulted in several universities temporarily or permanently suspending testing requirements.

What does the literature tell us about standardized assessments to gauge college readiness?  What alternative measures are universities using? How has existing research impacted college admissions practices? And broadly, what impact has COVID-19 had on university admission policies?

3. Topic: From Data to Action: Exploring best practices in user-centered data visualization and design  |  Partner: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation  (No longer accepting applications)

While data is a powerful tool to improve education, data by itself is not enough. Driving action with data requires not only having data, but the ability to access, understand, and use it to answer questions that matter most about students, schools, and systems.

However, without careful attention to how data is presented, complicated jargon, unintuitive design, and poor UI can limit the value of technical information and leave critical stakeholders, like policymakers and parents, without the ability to translate data into compelling, actionable information.

At its best, user-centered data visualization can make data easier to understand, navigate, and reduce the cognitive load required of users to draw insights, identify gaps, and determine what’s working to support student success.

What are emerging and best practices for user-centered data-visualization? Are there lessons to be learned from other sectors about what it takes to enhance the utility of technical information for a wider, nontechnical audience? And, how can those producing and sharing data ensure the needs of users appropriately inform the design of data tools to ensure even the most complex data can be translated into actionable insights?

4. Topic: Community efforts to reach the most marginalized youth through OST opportunities: A review of the literature  |  Partner: The Wallace Foundation (No longer accepting applications)

This literature review will document how communities have collaborated to provide out-of-school time (afterschoool/summer) supports for MS/HS youth who other programs have failed to reach and engage.  The lit review is intended to inform the foundation as it begins to explore how communities can design OST systems that support positive “whole child” outcomes for the young people who are most frequently excluded by their traditional OST systems.  The review should document who such efforts seek to serve; what programs are offered and why (what theories of action are at play); what “whole child” outcomes were intended and what documented; what kinds of community partnerships and processes are pursued to create engaging programs for participating youth.                                                                            

5. Topic: Research Planning Grant: Ideal Learning Head Start Expansion  |  Partner: Trust For Learning  (No longer accepting applications)

The Ideal Learning Head Start Network provides a community of practice offering support, collaboration and resource sharing for providers striving to implement and transition toward a comprehensive ECE approach aligned with the principles of ideal learning environments in their Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Trust for Learning has received support from Brady Education Fund beginning in 2022 which will enable our foundation to layer substantial evaluation into our Head Start effort to capture key data and lessons learned from these providers, which will inform the field as well as future philanthropic investments. Additionally, support from BEF will allow us to build a more robust long-term research agenda to assess the impact of ideal learning models in Head Start (at a program, educator, and/or child level) over the next several years. We would like to have a research fellow that can help with all aspects of planning, data collection and synthesis for this project. We have begun preliminary research including grantee interviews but are still in the beginning stages.

Summer Fellowship Webinar and Previous Projects

A webinar was held on May 29, 2020 highlighting two of the 2019 fellows and projects as well as providing information on the 2020 fellowship. View the webinar slides and watch the presentation

2021 Fellowship Projects

Expected Outcomes

SREE and EdFunders intend for the Fellows program to have several meaningful outcomes. It will make research findings more accessible to users, will help find gaps and needs in educational research that funders need, will provide a valuable opportunity for SREE student members to use their training, and will allow those just starting in the field to make important connections that will help them in their career. The briefs will be jointly housed on SREE’s website as well as on the EdFunders website to reach divergent audiences.

The LEAD Impact Group:

The EdFunders Learning, Evaluation, and Data Impact Group’s mission is to support GFE members to use data, research and evaluation to improve philanthropic practice, policies and strategies. GFE envisions that the impact groups “will continue to support communities of members with a common interest who agree to work together toward a common goal.” One of the LEAD’s common goals is the Summer Fellowship Program. Current Steering Committee members include The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Helios Education Foundation, KnowledgeWorks, The Kresge Foundation, and Trellis Foundation. To learn more or to join the LEAD Impact Group, please find more information here.

* If the membership fee poses a financial hardship, please contact Ellen Weiss at [email protected]