Research-to-Change Mentorship Academy (R2CMA): Youth-inclusive Implementation Research

RootChangeReimagining Projects, Rethinking Organizations

Are you a young researcher, evaluator, or practitioner passionate about using data to make informed decisions within a local organization? If so, we invite you to apply for the Research-to-Change Mentorship Academy (R2CMA), led by Root Change and IREX as part of the Youth Excel program.

What is Research-to-Change?

Research-to-Change (R2C) is an approach that embeds research into implementation, enabling organizations to gather data, take what they learn, and turn it into what they do in real-time. R2C is not a one-time effort; rather, it is a continuous learning and adaptation journey, based on approaches to Implementation Research. Learn more in this At-a-Glance Factsheet.

What is the Academy? 

The R2CMA aims to empower and strengthen the skills of young professionals in implementation research, lean experimentation, data collection, data insights and visualization, mentorship, and facilitation. Over a 10-week period, participants will work in teams of 2-3 to support a local organization of their choice in addressing specific learning goals through implementation research. Upon completion, participants will become certified R2C mentors, equipped to improve local and international development initiatives.

Course Objectives
  • Empower a new generation of R2C mentors who can support others to use R2C methods to improve outcomes for youth worldwide.
  • Guide course participants through practical experiences with practicum partners to use their R2C skills to support projects and programs in real-time.
  • Promote data as a resource that implementers can use to meet program goals.
  • Showcase how to make research processes accessible, actionable, and enticing for leaders at social change organizations.
  • Build relationships and dialogue between youth mentors and decision-makers at the organizations they are working with.
  • Connect youth participants from this course to Youth Excel’s participants and resources.

Who is eligible to apply?

We are looking for teams of 2-3 young and emerging researchers, evaluators, or practitioners passionate about leveraging data for decision-making within a local organization of their choice.

Eligibility Criteria
  • Teams of 2-3 young and emerging researchers, evaluators, or practitioners AND one local organization of their choice to serve as practicum partner.
  • All team members should be under the age of 35.
  • Applicants and a key contact from their selected organization must be available for the entire course.
  • Applicants should be comfortable communicating in English; course deliverables must be submitted in English.

What is the course schedule and estimated commitment?

  • 10-week program: July 25, 2023 – September 28, 2023
  • Meets online on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 AM-11:30 AM EDT
  • This is a free course.
  • Upon successful completion of the course, participants will receive a certificate with continuing education unit (CEU) credits through George Mason University. 

Estimated commitment per week for academy participants (teams of 2-3) is 8-10 hours:

  • 2x 2.5-hour virtual Zoom sessions per week (synchronous).
  • Approx. 1 hour per week for reading and material review (individual work).
  • Additional asynchronous teamwork for practicum assignments.
  • 1-1.5 hours for weekly asynchronous teamwork with the practicum partner organization.

Estimated commitment per week for partner organizations (at least 1 key contact) is 2-3 hours:

  • 1-1.5 hours for weekly asynchronous teamwork with the Academy Team.
  • Support the Academy Team with their learning activities, including data collection.
  • Opportunities to attend select virtual Zoom sessions.

How does my team submit an application?

  1. Form a team of 2-3 members who are committed to the entire course.
  2. Identify a local organization (formal or informal) as your practicum partner.
  3. Submit a joint application, providing relevant information about team members, the practicum partner organization, and motivations for participation. Only ONE application is necessary per team.

The application is open from June 12, 2023, 9:00 AM EDT to June 16, 2023, 11:59 PM EDT. Successful applicants will be notified by June 23, 2023 of selection.

What is on the application?

In order for people to have enough time to prepare, we have provided the application questions for you to review and work on prior to the application link opening on June 12th. These are the same questions that will be on the application – please prepare your responses with your team members. 

Application Questions

Team Questions: Teams will provide ONE response to each of the following questions

  • What are your team members’ relationships to one another? What unique skills does each member bring? (150 words max) 
  • What is your motivation for working with this practicum partner and the community they serve? (100 words max)
  • Where does the practicum partner carry out their activities? (City, country)
    • Is this location easily accessible by ALL of the Academy Team members listed above? Please explain. Note that the course does not provide any transportation or communications reimbursements.

Individual Questions: EACH member of the Academy Team will be required to prepare responses to the following questions:  

  • What motivates you to participate in this academy course, and how does it align with your personal and professional goals? (250 words max) 
  • Please highlight ONE compelling experience you have had supporting or impacting communities through research, evaluation, and/or evidence-based learning. Who did you engage, what insights did you share, how did you gather those insights, and what changes came about because of the engagement? (400 words max)
  • Please describe a time when you experienced difficulties working with decision-makers as a young and emerging professional. What happened? How did you overcome those difficulties? (250 words max)
  • What does equity and inclusion mean to you? (100 words max)

What criteria will be used for selection?

Successful applicants will embody the following qualities and characteristics:

  1. Learning mindset and deep listening: Openness to new ways of thinking about evaluation and data, and a willingness to reflect on diverse perspectives. Deep listening skills, curiosity, and collaborative approaches are valued. The course includes peer-to-peer learning and feedback on Academy Team projects.
  2. Independence and self-motivation: Highly organized and proactive working style, especially when working in teams. The  practicum portion of this course requires participants to work independently with their Academy Team and practicum partner to stay on schedule with the course. 
  3. Deep engagement with their local context: Strong relationship with their practicum partner and knowledge about the context in which programs are implemented; geographical proximity is highly encouraged. The practicum portion of this work requires the Academy Team to have access to the populations served for data collection to answer their learning goals. 
  4. Passion for data and evidence: Demonstrable background and/or experience in data collection, analysis, and processing. While this course will introduce new and exciting tools and approaches for collecting data, formulating data insights, creating compelling visualizations, and developing actionable recommendations, this is not a course on data analysis methods. 
  5. Commitment to equity and inclusion: Strong belief in the principles of fairness and equality and a deep desire to work towards creating a more just and equitable society. Participants in this course should embody equity and inclusion principles with other course participants, with their practicum partners, and those from whom they collect data. 

Additional Questions?

If you have any further questions about this opportunity, please contact Angela Serrano at


Please use the following link to the application (live starting at 9:00 am EDT on June 12th). Only completed, submitted applications received by 11:59 pm EDT on June 16th will be considered.