IPA Sierra Leone is looking for a student volunteer to work on two one-year follow-up surveys related to an intervention that delivered a cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) based program in rural Sierra Leone where healthcare infrastructure is limited and challenges in the delivery of mental health services are many. The study called Youth FORWARD focusses on the delivery of an evidence-based mental health intervention in the alternate setting of youth employment programs tied to regional economic development. The Youth FORWARD study is part of a global network of hubs for mental health research funded by the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH).

The intervention involved combining a CBT-based intervention into an existing youth employment program with the aim of evaluating the barriers to implementation and intervention effectiveness, as measured by impact on social functioning (soft skills), emotion regulation and economic stability. The first study called Youth Readiness Intervention (YRI) aims at evaluating the above outcomes with respect to the beneficiaries of the program. The second study called the YRI Diffusion Study is a non-randomized study layered on top of the parent YRI study which aims to study the diffusion and spillover of intervention’s benefits to the social network of the beneficiaries.

The intervention was implemented between August to November 2019. During this period IPA carried out the randomization, baseline and three-month follow-up surveys for the YRI study and a baseline survey for the YRI Diffusion Study. From July to September 2020, IPA intends to carry out the one year follow-up surveys for both studies. This project involves multiple partner agencies- Boston College School of Social Work, University of Georgia, Caritas Freetown and GIZ. The principal investigators are Dr. Theresa Betancourt (Boston College), Dr. Nathan Hansen (University of Georgia), Dr. Agha Ali Akram (Lahore University of Management Sciences)., Dr. Alethea Desrosiers (Boston College) and Dr. Praveen Kumar (Boston College).

Position Summary:  

The student volunteer will work closely with the project research staff and other IPA country office staff to support various aspects of data collection. This position provides an excellent opportunity to gain extensive on-field experience on two large scale studies as well as the opportunity to work in close collaboration some of the leading organizations in the intersection of mental health and social protection.

Key areas of focus for the student volunteer will be:

  • Supervising field teams, along with the Research Associate, in the preparation and implementation of endline surveys.
  • Lead in programming and review of survey questionnaires in SurveyCTO
  • Lead in designing training materials for field teams and coordinating field logistics for field activities.
  • Lead, in collaboration with the RA, in data cleaning and analysis using the following tools- STATA, QGIS, IPA’s Data Management System
  • Assist PIs in cleaning and coding of socio-economic outcomes
  • Lead the refinement and setup of the data collection process in collaboration with the RA

The student volunteer ship offers the following exciting prospects:

  • Exposure to cutting edge research in the nexus of mental health and social-protection
  • The chance to work in a large-scale project with multiple partner organizations
  • Gain universally transferable skills in digital data collection, data cleaning and analysis
  • Opportunity to visit study sites in rural Sierra Leone

The Research Coordinator and Country Director will work with the selected candidate to structure the volunteership according to the candidate’s areas of interest that are aligned with project goals.

  • Masters in Economic, Public Health or Public Policy with interest in development issues especially in the area of labor market engagement and mental health in low resource settings.
  • Preferred- good understanding of research methodologies (particularly randomized controlled trials) and terminology.
  • Strong academic background from reputable university, comfortable reviewing academic papers
  • Intermediate to advanced knowledge of working on STATA
  • Excellent verbal, writing, analytical, synoptic, and communication skills (English) including ability to effectively communicate with internal and external partners.
  • Excellent computer proficiency (MS Office – Word, Excel and Outlook and other general packages)
  • Must be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines, while maintaining a positive attitude and providing exemplary research service.
  • Willingness to undertake field visits to remote communities under IPA’s instruction for project monitoring.
  • Ability to work independently and to carry out assignments according to IPA’s internal procedures and standard practices
  • Candidates should expect to be available for a minimum of 2-3 months, should be flexible and self-disciplined
  • Previous experience working in a developing country is a plus
  • Previous experience working with IPA and/or J-Pal is a plus
Application Instructions 

To apply, follow this link and follow the instructions.

About IPA 

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is a research and policy nonprofit that discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems. IPA brings together researchers and decision-makers to design, rigorously evaluate, and refine these solutions and their applications, ensuring that the evidence created is used to improve the lives of the world’s poor. In recent decades, trillions of dollars have been spent on programs designed to reduce global poverty, but clear evidence on which programs succeed is rare, and when evidence does exist, decision-makers often do not know about it. IPA exists to bring together leading researchers and these decision-makers to ensure that the evidence we create leads to tangible impact on the world. Since its founding in 2002, IPA has worked with over 575 leading academics to conduct over 650 evaluations in 51 countries. This research has informed hundreds of successful programs that now impact millions of individuals worldwide. 


Innovations for Poverty Action is an EO Employer-MF/Veteran/Disability. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other protected class. IPA will endeavor to make a reasonable accommodation to a qualified applicant with a disability unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of our business. If you believe you require such assistance to complete this form or to participate in an interview, please contact us at jobs@poverty-action.org or via phone at 1-203-772-2216. Disclaimer: The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of the work to be performed by the specified position. The statements are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all possible duties, tasks, and responsibilities. Management reserves the right to amend and change responsibilities to meet organizational needs as necessary. Please note that IPA will never request any form of payment from an applicant. Applicants are encouraged to confirm the information listed above with IPA prior to releasing any extensive personal information to the organization. Please direct questions to jobs@poverty-action.org.

** Please note that only qualified applicants will be contacted by the hiring manager.