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Research Associate

Req ID: 5542
Location: Chicago - Loop
# of Openings: 1
FT/PT: Full time
Employment Type: Regular
Salary Schedule: Grade 108
Job Notes:


Summary: Grounded in 130 years working to advance social justice, Heartland Alliance informs public policy decisions and advances solutions to improve opportunities and quality of life for people experiencing inequity, living in poverty, and facing danger.  Heartland Alliance’s Research & Policy Division engages in research on social issues and solutions, policy and systems change, and field building nationwide. The division is home to the Social IMPACT Research Center, Heartland Alliance’s Policy & Advocacy team Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives on Economic Opportunity.

Being embedded into Heartland Alliance, a leading anti-poverty organization doing direct service work with a systems-change orientation, gives IMPACT a unique approach and values that differentiate us from many other research groups: We intentionally conduct applied research, meaning that the first and most central priority of all our studies is to elucidate practical learnings for the program or effort under study. We bring an acute sense of the landscape, a deep knowledge of vulnerable populations, and a keen sense of social justice to every project.

The Social IMPACT Research Center conducts applied research for Heartland Alliance, other nonprofits, foundations, advocacy groups, governments, coalitions, and the media to help them measure, inform, and grow their social impact. IMPACT also regularly reports on key poverty trends to equip decision makers with sound data to inform public policy.The Research Associate is responsible for assisting the implementation of program evaluations and research studies and related projects. Individual accountabilities and work volume will be established through the development of annual Success Objectives, within the framework outlined below.


Essential Duties and Responsibilities: 

Research Design & Project Management

  • Collaborates to develop and implement project work plans.

  • Collaborates on research design and developing methods.

  • Manages tasks from multiple projects with competing deadlines.

Ethics & Equity Commitments

  • Adheres to research ethics as outlined in Institutional Review Board protocols and agency policies.

  • Carries out commitments to equity, inclusion, and diversity in research design and implementation by:

    • Lifting up marginalized voices in sample selection and research design.

    • Analyzing data with a racial and gender equity lens when possible.

    • Being culturally responsive when designing evaluation and data collection techniques.

    • Incorporating understandings of institutional racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia into conceptual frameworks governing research.


Data Collection

  • Reviews literature from appropriate sources.

  • Develops and adapts data collection tools.

  • Develops and implements research recruitment materials.

  • Develops informed consent materials, and administers and tracks informed consent process and documentation.

  • Tests data collection tools and procedures.

  • Collects quantitative and qualitative data.

  • Facilitates group processes.

  • Develops data collection and analysis protocols for third party implementers.

  • Trains data collection team, including third party implementers.

  • Tracks response rates, incentive receipt and mailings, and conducts research participant follow up.


Data Analysis

  • Designs analysis plans.

  • Assists with designing and integrating databases.

  • Enters, cleans, and conducts descriptive and inferential data analyses.


Research Reporting & Communications

  • Communicates with clients and other research stakeholders.

  • Writes interim and final reports and research summaries for various communication purposes.

  • Visualizes data for analytical purposes as well as reports and presentations.

  • Presents findings in public forums and to affected parties.

  • Responds to data requests.



  • Supports graduate interns and volunteers.



  • Keeps current on research methods and issue areas applicable to projects.

  • Participates in internal and external work groups and coalitions.

  • Assists on other agency projects as needed.

  • Travel as required.

  • Other duties as assigned.


Qualifications: To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Education and/or Experience: Master's degree (M. A.) in public policy, public administration, social work, public health, urban planning, statistics, economics, or a related field, and/or a combination of relevant life experience, work experience, and education.
  • Language Skills: Ability to read, analyze, and interpret common scientific and technical journals, financial reports, and legal documents.  Ability to respond to common inquiries or complaints from customers, regulatory agencies, or members of the business community.  Ability to write speeches and articles for publication that conform to prescribed style and format.  Ability to effectively present information to top management, public groups, and/or boards of directors.
  • Mathematical Skills: Ability to work with mathematical concepts such as probability and statistical inference. Ability to apply concepts such as fractions, percentages, ratios, and proportions to practical situations.
  • Reasoning Ability: Ability to define problems, collect data, establish facts, and draw valid conclusions. Ability to interpret an extensive variety of technical instructions in mathematical or diagram form and deal with several abstract and concrete variables.
  • Computer Skills: Knowledge of R (or other statistical software) and Microsoft Access, Excel, PowerPoint and Word required. Proficiency in Internet Explorer, Outlook/Exchange; Windows operating systems; and other software routinely used by Heartland Alliance.

  • Other Skills: Lived or work experience with historically marginalized populations, including very low income people and people of color.


Physical Demands: The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear.
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to sit; use hands to handle or feel and reach with hands and arms.

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; climb or balance and stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl.

  • The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 10 pounds.


Work Environment: The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.


Heartland Alliance makes all hiring and employment decisions without regard to race, creed, color, age, gender, gender identity, marital or parental status, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, sexual identity, immigrant status, political affiliation or belief, ex-offender status (depending on the offense and position to be filled), unfavorable military discharge, membership in an organization whose primary purpose is the protection of civil rights or improvement of living conditions and human relations, height, weight, or HIV infection, in accord with the Organization's AIDS Policy Statement of September, 1987. Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodation should contact the Employee Services Office at (312) 660-1431.

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