Monitoring, Evaluation Learning and Research Lead, Electric School Bus Initiative

Program Management Washington, DC, United States

Job Summary

In this role, you will oversee planning, implementation, review, as well as advancing the research agenda of the initiative. You will work closely with senior management of the initiative (i.e., Executive Leads, the Director of the initiative, and Pillar Managers) to ensure decision-makers are provided with detailed understanding of project monitoring efforts and progress toward project goals, objectives, and milestones. You will work with the initiative leadership to lead and strengthen Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) efforts, and manage and coordinate the research agenda across the initiative.

A key part of the role is to support the institutional understanding and integration of MEL and to bring in cutting-edge thinking and approaches to our work, establishing best practices in monitoring and evaluation. This will include learning from peer organizations, trainings and disseminating knowledge, to embed relevant expertise across the Initiative. You will also be responsible for ensuring that project implementation activities are informed by the latest evidence and research, and that Pillar teams have a strategy and plan for drawing lessons from implementation over time.

You will be responsible for the planning and reporting process that is used to set strategy and recommend actions to better measure and capture impact. Key parts of the role include ensuring effective monitoring and evaluation frameworks are adopted to understand the outcomes and impacts of our work, and that there are iterative feedback loops to incorporate learning into the strategic planning process.

In addition to establishing MEL frameworks for the initiative, you will also work directly with Pillar Leads to support integration of PMEL across the five pillars of the project, with the aim of improving the robustness of our research and assess how our efforts are achieving desired impact. The PMEL Lead will also be responsible for topical workshops, team retreats, and learning events involving the entire initiative.

You will report to the Director of The Electric School Bus Initiative and will work closely with Research & Knowledge Exchange (RKE) and Strategy & Partnerships (S&P) teams at WRI Ross Center. RKE and S&P are jointly responsible for implementing evaluation methodology standards and providing guidance on research, and overall PMEL practices. You will work very closely with the RKE team on the development of research plans and evaluation design, in collaboration with Pillar Leads. You will ensure the effective implementation of project evaluations and monitoring of variables to support the research and learning agenda. Finally, you will be responsible for coordinating with the Strategy & Partnership team to provide data, analysis, and learnings to the WRI Ross Center to align project activities with the overall Cities strategy.

This position is remote due to Covid-19, but you will be based at WRI’s office in Washington, DC once restrictions have lifted.

Job Responsibilities

Monitoring & Reporting Impact and Progress (40%)

  • Responsible for the adoption of MEL across all Pillars to inform strategy development and refinement
  • In alignment with WRI’s 5-year strategic planning process, oversee the development of a robust MEL framework for the strategic plan in addition to developing a broad theory of change working alongside the Director of the Initiative
  • Contextualize and apply guidelines, processes and tools for strategic planning, annual work plans, including the development and strengthening of quarterly strategy reviews
  • Ensure long-term strategy and annual plans define inclusion and equity objectives and monitor implementation
  • Provide strategic insights into management meetings and executive committee decision-making fostering a culture of adaptive management throughout the initiative
  • Establish institutional practices and MEL processes to ensure lessons learned are captured and shared to advance the application of best practices throughout the initiative and the partners WRI works with
  • Systematize a repository of broad, and substantive knowledge of issues related to the entire portfolio and its strategic goals to support collaboration on strategy across teams involved in the Initiative
  • Oversee annual reporting (including producing annual report(s) in collaboration with the development lead)
Impact Evaluation and Research Agenda (40%)
  • Establish a cycle of evaluation within the Electric School Bus Initiative, and provide leadership for ongoing evaluations across the initiative, including dissemination of lessons learned internally and externally
  • Working with the RKE, S&P, and thematic teams identify potential evaluation questions, develop robust evaluation methodologies and liaise with external evaluators, if needed
  • Organize and support targeted guidance and direct PMEL support to project teams, including strategy and program design, development of theories of change, monitoring and project implementation
  • Serve as internal reviewer for publications related to evaluations Conduct proposal reviews to support the integration of MEL from the outset and provide guidance on M&E reporting and indicators to subgrantees and partners, as needed
  • Working alongside the Director and other partners within and outside WRI, provide technical support and backstopping to teams. throughout the initiative on an as needed basis. This might include developing results frameworks, providing advice on evaluations, etc.
  • Ensure that an appropriate research design and methods are developed by all teams to answer key research questions across the different pillars
  • Ensure that these research plans consider linkages and synergies across pillars to answer cross-cutting questions
  • Support teams in developing Scopes of Work for research partners to ensure they meet WRI’s and the program’s needs, while bringing the right knowledge and skillsets
  • For all external facing WRI publications produced under the program, liaise with the Cities RKE team and the WRI Research, Data and Innovation (RDI) team to identify appropriate types of knowledge products and follow WRI’s review processes
Improve Project Monitoring and Research capacity (20%)
  • Develop a culture of results for learning and accountability to equip the initiative for adaptive management and continual improvement through the adoption of MEL practices and training
  • Systematize guidelines and protocols for project design ensuring well defined Theory of Change, result framework, and performance monitoring
  • Responsible for building internal capacity on strategy development and theory of change, including keeping updated on the latest literature on cutting-edge thinking and approaches, as well as best practices in strategy development and project implementation
  • Drive increased rigor and excellence in annual plans to inform progress against stated strategies and learning on what is working well and what isn’t in the plan
Job Qualifications
  • Master’s degree in transportation, engineering, public policy, economics, political science, environmental studies, or related field (or bachelor's degree with 2 additional years of relevant experience)
  • Minimum of 7 years of relevant, full-time work experience with demonstrated track record of leading action-oriented research and program evaluation, project design and monitoring
  • Demonstrated experience and expertise in program design and monitoring, evaluation and learning, developing theories of change, strategy development, results frameworks, change management, or related subject areas
  • Demonstrated project management experience and coordinating deliverables across multiple workstreams and multiple programmatic teams
  • Demonstrated experience and passion for mentoring junior staff, and helping them further develop their effectiveness within the Institute as project members
  • Strong quantitative and qualitative analytical skills and experience with a wide range of research and evaluation methods
  • Sector-specific knowledge and experience related to the impact of energy on climate change, agriculture, healthcare, sustainable cities, and electric vehicles is preferred
  • Demonstrated experience conducting gender analyses, political economy analyses, baseline assessments, or other project or program planning assessments
  • Extensive experience utilizing good practices in identifying the rationale for the research methodology, developing protocols and safeguards for data collection and management, communicating results transparently, etc
  • Excellent communication skills, both oral and written
  • Superb attention to detail
  • Demonstrated ability to work both independently as well as part of a team. Self-starter with ability to juggle multiple assignments at one time with excellent time management skills
  • Demonstrated passion for WRI’s mission, including a working knowledge of key issues within WRI’s portfolio
  • US work authorization required for this position
Desired qualifications
  • Knowledge and experience of using STATA, R, SPSS, or other similar software desirable
  • PhD would be added advantage
  • Sector-specific knowledge and experience related to transportation, energy, climate change, education, healthcare, sustainable cities, and electric vehicles is preferred
How to Apply: Please submit a resume with cover letter. Applicants must apply through the WRI Careers portal to be considered. 

Potential Salary: $96,000 - $130,000. Salary is commensurate with experience and other compensable factors.

Program Overview

The Electric School Bus Initiative The goal of this new initiative is to create unstoppable momentum over the next five years on a path towards electrifying the entire fleet of U.S. school buses by 2030. Overcoming the cost, infrastructure and policy barriers to mass adoption require a systemic approach that engages an entire ecosystem of actors and prioritizes inclusive planning with impacted communities. The initiative will achieve this by partnering with key stakeholders to simultaneously aggregate demand, scale manufacturing, change policy incentives, develop new financing models and forge equitable pathways for electrification that can be replicated across the country. To achieve its ambitious objectives, the Electric School Bus (ESBs)

Initiative is divided into five workstreams, which we refer to as Pillars: Pillar 1. Focuses on creating a demand for ESBs from the bottom-up in such a way that this demand fulfills the needs of school districts and ensures a just transition for those workers currently employed in school bus operations. Pillar 2. Supports the electric school bus manufacturing industry to scale capacity and meet growing demand at a competitive price. Pillar 3. Identifies new financing approaches that can be utilized by school districts to overcome upfront cost barriers to electric school bus adoption, as well as solutions to barriers to EV charging infrastructure deployment and rates (demand charge issues). The pillar also leverages ESBs to support the development of renewable energy and community resilience. Pillar 4. Works towards federal and state policies to provide funding, financing, and supportive policies designed to ensure that the US school bus fleet transitions to electric vehicles without increasing pupil transportation costs incurred by school districts.  Pillar 5. Works with each pillar to create long-term commitment among partners from all sectors and ensure the ecosystem will move forward without the initiative through 2030. Pillar 5 seeks to generate lasting stakeholder and community engagement. The Electric School Bus Initiative is jointly managed by WRI United States and WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.

WRI Overview 

World Resources Institute (WRI) is an independent, nonprofit global research organization that turns big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. We are working to address seven critical challenges that the world must overcome this decade in order to secure a sustainable future for people and the planet: climate change, energy, food, forests, watersustainable cities, and the ocean. 

We are passionate. We value our diversity of interests, skills and backgrounds. We have a flexible work environment. And we share a common goal to catalyze change that will improve the lives of people. Our shared ideals are at the core of our approach. They include: integrity, innovation, urgency, independence and respect. 

The foundation of our work is delivering high-quality research, data, maps and analysis to solve the world’s greatest environment and international development challenges, and improve people’s lives. We work with leaders in government, business and civil society to drive ambitious action and create change on the ground. Equally important, we bring together partners to develop breakthrough ideas and scale-up solutions for far-reaching, enduring impact.  

We have been growing rapidly: our staff has doubled in size over the past 5 years and our operating budget is now $150 million. Founded in 1982, WRI has a global staff of 1,000+ people with work spanning 60 countries. We have offices inAfrica, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexicoand theUnited States as well as a growing presence in other countries and regions.   

WRI is committed to advancing gender and social equity for human well-being in our mission and applies this principle to our organizational and programmatic practices.