Is the SIL Design Fellowship Right for You?
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.