Social Safety Net Benefits Fellow

Social Safety Net Benefits Fellow

The Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation is looking for a fellow that will be part of a team that documents how social safety net benefit delivery is being improved through human-centered design, ethical data science, and technological practices. Working alongside civic tech organizations and government agencies, the team will examine these processes as they’re implemented, and produce tools that other government agencies can use to adopt these changes to improve their residents’ interactions with the social safety net.

The Beeck Center strongly encourages all people to apply (please circulate widely), especially those who hold the following intersecting identities: Black, Native or Indigenous, People of Color, LGBTQIA+, non-binary, poor or working class, persons living with disabilities, neurodivergent, young, undocumented, speak English as a second language, and others with lived experience in overlooked and/or underestimated communities.

If you have any questions about this position’s objectives, requirements, and/or language used in this job description, please email

What we do. When our institutions are effective, we trust that they will support our communities, especially when people need them most. We reimagine and design systems using cutting-edge tools and practices. Our team focuses on solving hard problems. We work on practical solutions like helping civic leaders better leverage data in their work, using technology tools to change how Congress interacts with its constituents, and making it easier for families to apply for public benefits like SNAP, housing assistance, and unemployment insurance. We also help policymakers use data and analytics for more effective and evidence-based policies, using human-centered principles to ensure the systems are designed to keep people at the forefront.

Who we are. Situated at Georgetown University, we are a team of experts with experience in data science, analytics, software development, human-centered design, and policy. We come from executive roles in all levels of government, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and academia. Students work alongside us, training to become the next wave of talented leaders.

How we do it. We identify problem-solvers who are addressing global challenges, document their approaches, and build action-oriented networks so we can support one another as we implement and share what works at scale.

Social Safety Net Benefits Project & Role

Social safety net benefits programs provide basic economic, food, and housing support to millions of Americans, but their eligibility, enrollment, and delivery processes are notoriously difficult to navigate. There is a large gap between the number of people who are eligible for these benefits and those who complete applications and get approval for benefits. As demand for benefits grows with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges of social safety net benefit delivery have become painfully apparent and widely publicized, though these conditions are not new.

In 2020, fellows at the Beeck Center researched and shared leading-edge examples where data, design practices, and technology are being leveraged to deliver benefits more effectively and more humanely. This research shows what improvements are possible, and where government agencies, companies, and service-providing nonprofits (such as Benefits Data Trust, Civilla, and Code for America) are leaning into novel, human-centered, and ambitious approaches to help more people, faster, and for less cost.

The Beeck Center will continue partnering with these organizations and government agencies during 2021, documenting how changes are implemented and building up the community of practice around this work. By working together to provide co-created tools and venues to compare and disseminate advances, we will make it easier for more government agencies to replicate or adapt these practices. This work is part of the Beeck Center’s ongoing efforts to support and improve government infrastructure to better serve all Americans when we need help most, and correct long standing structural inequities.

To explore and execute this work, the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University is hiring one full-time research fellow for a seven-month project to work in a team with other Beeck Center fellows, partner organizations , and state agencies. This work is in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Blue Meridian Partners.


This project will be co-led by the successful candidate and current fellow Sara Soka.  Together they will employ a range of user research methods to document how data, design, and technology-based ways to make social safety net benefits easier to access are being implemented. The successful candidate will work alongside expert practitioners from state agencies and organizations that specialize in improving benefit access and delivery. With these partners, the fellows will co-create communications tools and delivery channels to disseminate findings so they may be replicated and scaled to impact more people in many more states. The fellows will also explore and support opportunities for organizations and agencies to collaborate. These could take the form of co-created tools, venues to encourage the exchange of information and approaches, combined research efforts, shared policy analyses, strategic communications, and other practices to benefit the field.

Scope of Work

This project will be led in partnership with fellow Sara Soka, and will report to Taylor Campbell, Deputy Director of Programs at the Beeck Center. Other Beeck Center fellows may also contribute to the project. The Beeck Center will support the fellows’ efforts to engage organizations and state agencies as partners, and to communicate about the project.

The fellow will:

  • Define, adapt, and execute research plans, while demonstrating the ability to appropriately select from a variety of user research methods (e.g., in-depth interviews, contextual analysis, and service blueprints) in coordination with partners and the Beeck Center
  • Ensure the collection and proper management of sufficient and appropriate data for analysis
  • Synthesize and analyze data in coordination with partners and the Beeck Center
  • Draft, edit, and finalize materials deemed most appropriate to reach government stakeholders and other key audiences, in coordination with partners and the Beeck Center (materials may include tools, workshops, technical assistance frameworks, written reports, website content, etc.)
  • Collaborate with partners, states, and the Beeck Center to disseminate materials, which may involve designing and publishing materials, and planning, managing and participating in virtual or in-person events
  • Scout for additional documentation opportunities and, if applicable, define agreements and research plans that fall within Beeck Center and partners’ capacity to execute 
  • Explore and act on opportunities to serve this field by supporting joint efforts to create tools, developing venues to encourage information sharing, combining research efforts, and fostering similar efforts
  • Anticipate and manage risks, including methodological and ethical risks and organizational and logistical challenges
  • Contribute to strategic discussions and activities to shape the Beeck Center’s Infrastructure for Opportunity portfolio  
  • Communicate with key funder relationships jointly with the Director around key updates, coordination points, and reporting
  • Select, work with, and manage student analysts hired to support this project
  • Attend and contribute to regular remote Beeck Center and portfolio meetings and events 


The Beeck Center will:

  • Support the fellows as they cultivate trusted partnerships and execute plans with social technology organizations and government agencies, engaging in high level conversations and agreements as needed 
  • Co-edit and co-publish materials produced from the projects, in coordination with partners
  • Support the fellow in promoting project-related outcomes, offering digital and communication design and marketing, in coordination with partners 
  • Provide logistical and administrative support for any virtual or in-person events, and for any venues for collaboration across organizations and/or government agencies, in coordination with partners 
  • Provide student analyst support to assist the fellows
  • Facilitate broader coordination efforts within the Beeck Center and its Infrastructure for Opportunity portfolio to advance the strategic aims of this work and funding priorities


The specific formats for deliverables will be determined through the research process, in coordination with partners and the Beeck Center. Those deliverables are likely to include:

  • Communications tools, written reports, and website content that feature technical documentation of implementation processes and insights about the implementation process, which are designed for state government agency audiences (and other audiences as appropriate)
  • Workshops and technical assistance frameworks designed for state agency audiences (and other audiences as appropriate)
  • 2-3 blog posts documenting digital transformation processes and/or research processes; co-authored and/or cross promoted by the Beeck Center and partner organizations
  • 2-3 ad hoc outputs, such as podcast interviews, presentations, slide decks, or webinars, as appropriate and as agreed to by partners and the Beeck Center
  • Outputs that support collaboration between partners such as coordinated trainings, materials, analyses, and forums

Research Fellow qualifications

The following qualifications are required:

  • At least eight years of experience in applied sociological research, government administration, program delivery, service design, or related fields, with at least four years of experience conducting, analyzing, and synthesizing qualitative user research using a variety of methods (e.g., in depth interviews, contextual analysis, process mapping)
  • At least one year of experience in government service design and/or civic technology
  • Knowledge of social safety net programs, supporting organizations, recent challenges to delivery, and approaches being taken to remedy these challenges using design, data, and technology
  • Excellent writing skills and demonstrated ability to develop materials tailored to multiple audiences, including employees of government agencies
  • Proven facilitation and group synthesis skills to potentially deliver trainings and other facilitated events
  • A genuine desire to improve access to social safety net benefits and a dedication to equity
  • Track record of partnering well with other researchers and practitioners, using excellent communication and project management skills
  • A tendency for being nimble, adaptable, collaborative, approachable, as well as calm and collected under pressure
  • Experience developing positive, trusted relationships with partner organizations and government agencies, including adherence to privacy and confidentiality standards
  • Proficiency at conducting the scope of work activities and managing project execution tasks in an evolving and fully remote environment
  • Understanding of reporting, metrics, and analytics with a finely-tuned sense for demonstrating value and providing actionable insights
  • Experience managing, working with, and/or mentoring students and/or junior staff


In addition, the following qualifications are desirable:

  • Relationships with key organizations in public benefits and civic technology in the U.S. (e.g., Benefits Data Trust, Civilla, Code for America, Nava, USDS/18F, state/city government digital service teams) 
  • Familiarity with legal and political processes involving public service delivery and/or public benefits
  • Familiarity with general project management tools such as Asana, Slack, and Airtable, as well as research-specific tools such as Mural and GitHub
  • Understanding of quantitative research methods used in effectiveness trials
  • Familiarity and understanding around grant reporting
  • Post-graduate studies in relevant field with experience in digital technologies, public benefits, public policy, and/or design

Timeline of activities

The following is a broad outline of fellows’ anticipated activities and timing, subject to change as the project is defined based on research, partners’ timelines, and opportunities:

  • Month 1: Review the status of existing research plans and partners’ implementation activities. With partner organizations, make any necessary additions and adjustments to research plans, and begin or continue research as appropriate.
  • Month 2-4: Continued research, analysis, and synthesis.  Strategize with partners about specific deliverables and begin their production.  
  • Month 5-7: Produce and disseminate deliverables.

Timeline of Key Recruitment Dates


Deadline for Applications

March 14, 2021 11:59pm ET

First Round Interviews (virtual) - 1 hour

March 18-19, 2021

Final Interviews (virtual) - 1 hour

March 23-25, 2021

Preferred Start Date

Mid-April 2021

Apply Now

Salary, benefits, and employment term

This research fellow role is a full-time, seven-month appointment at Georgetown University. This position will be based in the United States, but working remotely. The successful candidate must be eligible to work in the United States. The salary band for this fellowship is $10,000-$15,000 per month, commensurate with experience, and includes full benefits. The fellowship period is for seven months from the start date, which is expected to be in April 2021. There is no guarantee of continued employment beyond the seven-month appointment.

Needs Assistance

If you are a qualified individual with a disability and need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please click here for more information, or contact the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Affirmative Action (IDEAA) at 202-687-4798 or

Need some assistance with the application process? Please call 202-687-2500. For more information about the suite of benefits, professional development and community involvement opportunities that make up Georgetown's commitment to its employees, please visit the Georgetown Works website.

EEO Statement

The Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer fully dedicated to achieving a diverse faculty and staff. All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply and will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation), disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Get to know us better before applying

In an effort to reduce bias in the hiring process, we will not be meeting with potential candidates for “coffee chats.” However, to make all of our materials accessible to all applicants, we encourage you to:

Listen to a past conversation around what we do.