Policy Research Specialist



Posted on Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Position Overview

Educate!, a fast-growing and award-winning social enterprise, is seeking a driven, organized, and collaborative Policy Research Specialist to support the design of research projects with government partners to answer pressing program and policy questions, including user needs assessment, scoping, formative and summative evaluations, drawing on various qualitative and quantitative data analysis methods to generate conclusions and recommendation to inform our advocacy strategy.

In ten years of operating in East Africa, one of Educate!’s differentiating factors has been our commitment to impact evaluation and learning, and we believe that continuing to invest in research & development is a key component of continued growth and innovation. As Policy Research Specialist, will report to Global Director of Research, Measurement and Evaluation and work closely with Product and Expansion staff to design research projects that meet the needs of internal and external audiences and users.

The right person for this role will have at least 5 years of work experience, has experience in policy and research methods or public policy. You’ll be an ultra-organized and self-motivated planner and capable of overseeing research-focused interactions with government partners, including scoping meetings, workshops, and dissemination activities.

The right person for this role will:

  • Be an ultra-organized and self-motivated planner and project manager -- capable of keeping multiple balls in the air
  • Someone passionate about figuring out what makes policies work and why- equally excited about diving deep into policy documents, scanning existing literature, and generating new data, when necessary
  • Someone who is curious at heart, willing to find and try new methodologies to generate answers to novel policy questions
  • A nimble and flexible researcher: willing to adapt research plans to meet the needs of key stakeholders.

Sound like you or someone you know? Read below, visit our careers page to learn more about Educate!,

About Educate!

By 2035, Africa will contribute more people to the workforce each year than the rest of the world combined. Educate! leverages an obsession with evidence and iterative learning to tackle one of our planet's greatest challenges — unlocking the potential of its youngest continent.

Educate! prepares youth in Africa with the skills to succeed in today’s economy. We've created a 100-hour experience that delivers the most essential skills youth need to transition to work, combining training, mentorship, and practical experience starting a business. We deliver this experience to youth in 3 ways: directly to schools, integrated into education systems, and through bootcamps for out-of-school youth.

All three delivery channels have been validated by several independent evaluations, and to date, more than 200,000 youth have been meaningfully impacted by this model across Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya. Along the way, Educate! has become the largest youth skills provider in East Africa.

Educate! is a team of over 210 largely African staff and 300 volunteer youth mentors. We prioritize building an engaging, fulfilling and growth oriented work environment. 50% of our top 30 leaders have been with us for over 5 years, 10+ alumni have started their own organizations and 6 current or former team members were Acumen Fund East Africa fellows.

We have been backed by top foundations such as Imaginable Futures, Big Bang Philanthropy, #startsmall, and Echidna Giving. Educate! won a 2018 Klaus J. Jacobs Prize and a 2015 WISE Award, and has been highlighted by the World Bank’s S4YE's Impact Portfolio, an Al Jazeera documentary, BBC, The Brookings Institution as one of 14 case studies on scaling education, and the Gates Foundation as a Goalkeepers Accelerator. In 2022, we received a catalytic investment from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott to scale our systems change work.

Educate!'s long-term vision is to design solutions that measurably impact millions of youth across Africa each year. By 2025, we aim to scale our annual reach by 4x and measurably impact over 400,000 new youth with the essential skills they need to succeed in life.

Performance Objectives

Conduct primary research with government partners

  • Support the design of research projects to answer pressing program and policy questions, including user needs assessment, scoping, formative and summative evaluations, drawing on various qualitative and quantitative methods
  • Work closely with Product and Expansion staff to design research projects that meet the needs of internal and external audiences and users.
  • Coordinate with Tech, Performance metrics and Evaluation functions to integrate monitoring/evaluation data into research
  • Oversee planning and execution of Educations System Support-related research projects
  • Manage internal teams, teams of government representatives, and external consultants to execute data collection and analysis
  • Ensure research collects high quality data and accurate
  • Lead analysis of data from primary research to generate conclusions and recommendation to inform advocacy strategy and meet needs of intended users

Generate insight from primary data and existing literature

  • Conduct literature reviews of current evidence on best practices in education policy and system change
  • Write policy briefs and benchmarking reports summarizing key policy lessons from current literature.
  • Lead process of using program data to generate insights on what works, helping teams determine the “so what” from data
  • Conduct deep dives to into primary program data to respond rapidly to strategic program performance questions

Policy analysis for advocacy

  • Conduct desk research to understand national policy objectives, priorities, and inform Educate! Strategy
  • Monitor the policy landscape in priority countries and gather information, providing recommendations on advocacy opportunities and risks.
  • Create briefs and concept notes geared towards policy makers that share Educate!'s work in innovations, so that the government is informed and brought along on our learning journey.
  • Create government partnership proposals (aligned to national educational policy frameworks and using government language)
  • Write thought leadership and insight pieces

Collaborative with Policy and Partnerships staff to build government (research) partnerships

  • Oversee research-focused interactions with government partners, including scoping meetings, workshops, and dissemination activities
  • In process of setting research objectives and designing research, ensure the buy-in of government partners by including them in each step of research process
  • Support government partners’ professional development by bringing them opportunities to participate in research.
  • Work on a cross functional team with that strategically solves problems related to government partnership and advocacy


  • Excited about translating research into action and work with government partners in multiple countries as we grow
  • Experience working in a company or organization that has experienced high growth – adopting new systems and structures as part of the growth.
  • Strong orientation to team culture and cross-functional work
  • Master’s degree or equivalent work experience in a field like policy research, research methods, or public policy.
  • Ability to effectively multi-task; keen attention to detail and commitment to a quality work product.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication abilities; good writing skills and ability to distill technical research for a policy audience in written and Powerpoint form.
  • Able to take several viewpoints and include them in research. .

A good fit with our Five Cultural Tenets (see “What is Educate! About?” Below; learn more by looking at Educate!’s culture deck here.

What Is Educate! About?

We’re ambitious. Are you? Educate! is growing fast, so new opportunities are opening up and expanding all the time. We’re inspired by people with drive, and we love to help them reach their full potential. We expect everyone at Educate! to contribute above and beyond their job description, grow their skills, and advance their careers, and we are committed to supporting our staff members on that journey of their careers, and we are committed to supporting our staff members on that journey.

  1. We put Youth First, Impact-Obsessed - We never forget that Educate! exists to impact youth. We are purpose-driven. We obsess over impact daily and if it doesn’t lead to impact, we want nothing to do with it. We prioritize interacting with and listening to youth. We design and manage the organization to ensure every dollar creates transformative experiences that youth value.
  2. We Exceed Expectations - We take pride in going above and beyond to achieve the best results. When we know what needs to be done, we do it. We don’t wait to be asked and we don’t stop at what is asked of us. We look for solutions as much as we identify problems.
  3. We Are Always Learning - We are committed to seeking and applying new knowledge and ideas. We stay open-minded. We know there is always another way and we are excited to learn about it. We continuously look for resources of all kinds from multiple disciplines. We try new things, experiment, grow, and improve. We invest in learning for ourselves and our teams.
  4. We are One Team, Many Views - We say what we think while treating each other well. We believe that all people have the same inherent value and that diverse ideas and open dialogue fuel excellence. We constantly strive to create an environment where everyone can and does express themselves freely. We support and respect each other as people and colleagues.
  5. We have the Startup Mindset - We will always keep innovating to grow our impact. We aspire to be game-changing. We never think “we have arrived” or “we’re done.” We question the status quo in our industry. We move fast and embrace change to move towards our long-term vision. We’re not afraid of failure. We interrogate anything that slows us down.

Every person at Educate! — from interns to the executive director — is evaluated by how they live up to these five cultural tenets. They are at the core of how we achieve our mission and why we work as well as we do.

Educate is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all who interact in our community. In creating this environment, we encourage people from a variety of cultures, backgrounds and life experiences to join our diverse team.