Request for Proposals for Walters Community Partnerships

The Maxwell X Lab seeks government and nonprofit agency partners to develop innovative interventions through the Walters Community Partnership Fund. You are invited to submit a proposal to collaborate with the Maxwell X Lab to generate an intervention and then to evaluate the success of that intervention.

Walters Community Partnership Fund

Through the generosity of Kathleen Walters, the Syracuse University Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, the Maxwell X Lab has established the Walters Community Partnership Fund to provide assistance to three to five partners annually in the public and nonprofit sectors. Potential collaborations include, but are not limited to, improving client communication, efficient service delivery, reducing administrative burden, or testing innovative services. All funding for the projects, with the exception of the usual internal expenditures of the partner, will be covered through the Walters Community Partnership Fund. Partners, however, would have to agree to allow X Lab researchers to publish the findings (anonymized) from these evaluations to benefit the broader public administration field.

Structure of a Potential Project

Most partnerships between the Maxwell X Lab and a government or nonprofit agency include three phases of development:

  1. Identification: We work with staff to investigate any administrative data or program information that is currently available to discover trends and opportunities to intervene. Our focus is on the key obstacles – what step, interaction, or behavior is leading to decreased follow- through, payment, or success for clients.
  2. Intervention: Next, we design scalable interventions using the latest behavioral science research. For example, if we see that delinquent water bills are often paid after a shutoff, we will design new salient and timely communication to encourage residents to pay prior to that labor intensive and costly consequence.
  3. Implementation: We work within the agency’s existing processes to randomly assign some people to get business-as-usual and others to get our new intervention. We do this so we can attribute any differences in outcomes to what the partnership did, and not some unknown external factor or randomness. It also allows us to measure the return on investment for each intervention carefully.

Proposal Submission

Please provide a proposal of no more than three pages. By submitting a proposal, you are agreeing to use a randomized controlled trial to measure the success of the intervention. Describe the problem that you would like to address and briefly outline:

  • any existing process or intervention(s),
  • data you are currently collecting (what, how, and when),
  • estimate the number of participants, and
  • your ideal timeline for implementation.

Please also include the names and contact information for the key individual(s) who will execute this project, and define each individual’s role.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Please email your proposal to Katrina Fiacchi ( Any questions about the scope of the review or the proposal process should be directed to Hannah Patnaik ( or Leonard Lopoo (