Research Associate

Rural Innovation Strategies Inc.

Location: Hartland

Type: Full Time

Education: No Ed Requirements

Experience: 3 - 5 Years

Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc (RISI) is a social enterprise working to advance inclusive economic opportunity and investment in small towns across the country. We are seeking a Research Associate who is looking to join a fast growing team committed to shifting the narrative about what’s economically possible in rural America.

Guided by a strong belief in rural ingenuity and small-town potential, RISI and its sister organization, the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI), provide strategic support to rural communities wanting to develop inclusive, resilient digital ecosystems. Our comprehensive systems approach to digital economy ecosystems involves building a nationwide network of local economic change agents; using mapping and data to highlight rural opportunities; making direct investment in underserved rural entrepreneurs; and closing the digital divide so all Americans can participate in the 21st century digital economy.

The Research Associate will join a growing team committed to using research and data to shift the narrative about what’s possible in rural America. This will require working closely with internal teams and external partners, using primary and secondary research to highlight opportunities and success stories across our efforts to build inclusive digital economy ecosystems.

The Research Associate will be responsible for conducting both quantitative and qualitative research (e.g., surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews), as well as identifying and analyzing existing sources of data and literature to support internal project teams and our consulting and grant-funded research. This role will also synthesize research from across these sources and draft reports that make the research both accessible and actionable. Additionally, the Research Associate will contribute to identifying new ways for research and data to help the organization participate in and lead conversations about opportunity in rural America.


  • Project management, including but not limited to: managing project timelines, communicating with key stakeholders, and tracking milestones
  • Conduct primary and secondary research to answer key questions and test assumptions
  • Conduct literature reviews of academic scholarship on rural economies
  • Collect and analyze qualitative and quantitative data
  • Build and support research systems that are inclusive in structure approach to collection and analysis of data
  • Draft research summaries, memos, outlines, and reports
  • Collaborate with Mapping and Data Analytics team to identify data sources and datasets that can support project work; analyze data; and contribute to mapping and data product development
  • Work with communications and development team members to convert research into engaging, branded content
  • Contribute to internal knowledge of rural issues through media tracking, updating fact sheets, and providing ad hoc research support
  • Assist the Rural Innovation Network team through gathering research on partner communities and contributing to presentations and reports related to the Network



  • Ability to conduct and analyze qualitative and quantitative research
  • Ability to identify, review, and synthesize academic research
  • Knowledge of different data collection methods (surveys, focus groups, etc.)
  • Knowledge of statistical packages (SPSS, SAS or similar) and other database tools that could be used for aggregation and analysis of data
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Organized project manager
  • Intelligent and curious with a knack for learning quickly and immediately applying new insights to the work
  • Proven ability to contribute to high performing teams, including diverse teams
  • Extremely reliable
  • Honest and willing to own up to mistakes and be open about challenges immediately
  • Federal and/or state rural policy experience a plus



  • 3-4 years work experience, preferably in roles that involved conducting primary and secondary research
  • 4-year degree from an accredited college or university preferred, but not required


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