The Stanford Impact Labs Design Fellowship (SILDF) was established to support any Stanford faculty member who wants to create or expand an area of impact-focused research in partnership with external collaborators.
During their tenure as fellows, faculty are supported by SIL staff as they engage deeply with community, public sector, and policy organizations; identify how their research can best support efforts to address a social problem; and co-design policy or programmatic solutions that are relevant, effective, and sustainable.
Since the program began four years ago, we've attracted a number of frequently asked questions from potential fellows, and we've done our best to answer and publish them here, as we launch launch the 2023-2024 application cycle.
1. Why would I want to join this fellowship program?
Because you are:
- Passionate about a specific social problem, with a vision and curiosity for making it tractable.
- Committed to scholarship and its public impact, with a strong belief in the role of science to help inform interventions and policies that address social problems.
- Interested in working closely with external practitioners to co-create solutions.
- In search of a direct connection between the scientific research you do and the practices, programs, or policies of influential institutions.
- Motivated to launch your own partnership and solutions-oriented research project.
2. You call yourself Stanford Impact Labs — what is an impact lab?
A project that:
- Is focused on a well-defined social problem.
- Involves partnership with one or more external collaborators (examples include school districts, police departments, departments of education, nonprofit or private sector organizations).
- Is shaped by academics and partners working together to frame the problem, develop a research and learning agenda, generate and test hypotheses, implement a new program or policy, and scale one or more solutions.
- Presents a clear theory of change linking research to change “on the ground,” whether via new policies, programs, practices, or products, that can be effectively implemented and adopted.
3. What will I get out of the fellowship program?
- Flexible, exploratory grant funding of $50,000 to seed your efforts. This funding can be used however you determine will best support your work. This may include helping to defray the cost of a research assistant, convening practitioners on- or off-campus, or funding travel to engage with potential partners.
- Membership in a cohort of exceptional Stanford faculty with similar motivations and aspirations. This group will challenge, learn from, and support one another.
- Tailored workshops designed specifically to help you identify how best to leverage your research expertise, explore partnerships, and identify the best pathway forward for you.
- 1:1 professional support to provide thought-partnership, facilitate introductions to practitioners, and help you overcome the time-consuming barriers and high transaction costs that impede partnership- and solutions-focused work.
4. What should I expect to achieve by the end of the year?
- Clarity on where and how your research is relevant to driving forward solutions to the social problem you are addressing.
- New and/or deepened relationships with potential partners and key stakeholders to begin formalizing a shared agenda for integrated research and implementation strategies.
- An operational plan for identifying and pursuing the resources you’ll need to move forward as well as a model of the organizational structure and team that will be required.
- A compelling pitch with supporting materials to communicate your vision to fellow faculty members, university leadership, potential partners, and other targeted decision-makers.
- A new network and community of like-minded scholars who are motivated and prepared to use research that yields solutions to challenging social problems.
What happens after the fellowship concludes?
- Fellows have access to continued support from the Stanford Impact Labs professional team on a wide variety of operational issues (e.g., legal, human resources, data/IT, partnerships, innovation strategy, storytelling, scaling).
- Fellows join Stanford Impact Lab’s Affiliate Network and benefit from this growing community of scholars who are motivated and prepared to use research that yields solutions to challenging social problems.
- Fellows may apply for other funding opportunities through Stanford Impact Labs. Note: Having participated in the fellowship is not a requirement for applying to other SIL funding nor a guarantee of future funding. But the fellowship is designed to position you to apply for SIL funding should you decide to pursue this direction.