Research Fellow

Rural Innovation Strategies Inc.

Location: Hartland

Type: Full Time

Education: PhD

Experience: 1 - 2 Years

The Center On Rural Innovation (CORI) is a nonprofit action tank advancing economic prosperity in rural America through the creation of inclusive digital economy ecosystems that support scalable entrepreneurship and tech job creation. We are seeking a curious and creative social science Research Fellow who is interested in conducting innovative research on issues of equity and racial justice in rural America.

Guided by a strong belief in rural ingenuity and small-town potential, CORI and its sister organization, Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc. (RISI) , 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.

CORI works with diverse partners and funders who, like us, are committed to using data to help shift narratives and economic outcomes in rural communities. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is among this group, recently awarding us a grant to develop compelling written and data visualization assets to advance racial and economic equity in rural communities and regions. This grant is part of Thrive Rural, an effort providing systematic field learning and coordination to improve opportunity, health and equity in rural places, with particular focus on racial, geographic and economic equity.


The Research Fellow will play a central role in this RWJF engagement, leveraging data to shine light on rural inequities, and surface the strengths and opportunities of rural places. The Research Fellow will work on a multidisciplinary team, working closely with our Mapping and Data Analytics team to convert data analysis into compelling data visualizations that will inform the public and policymakers. The Research Fellow will be also responsible for surfacing insights and novel dataset from the academic literature on rural economics, health, demographics, and housing. This work will be deeply rooted in bringing attention to issues of racial justice in rural America, and experience working on issues of equity or racial justice is required for this position.

Additionally, CORI is just beginning to mine our internal datasets and assets for information and knowledge that can support not just this engagement with RWJF but also future work, thought leadership, and storytelling efforts. We expect that there will be unique opportunities to publish for both public and academic audiences from this work. The Research Fellow will contribute to establishing systems and processes to help rural leaders in our Rural Innovation Network to leverage data to advance their work.


  • Conduct primary and secondary research both independently and as a team member to answer key questions and test assumptions
  • Conduct literature reviews
  • Collect and analyze quantitative data
  • Build and support research systems that are inclusive in structure and also their approach to prioritization, collection and analysis of data
  • 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
  • Identify tools and materials needed to develop written and data visualization assets for our RWJF engagement, including, but not limited to, interactive data tools and maps, reports and briefs, videos and other content
  • Develop written and data visualization assets that support specific rural narratives
  • Project management, including but not limited to managing project timelines, communicating with key stakeholders, and tracking key milestones



  • Ability to conduct and analyze qualitative and quantitative research, with particular experience applying a racial equity lens to this work
  • Ability to identify, review, and synthesize academic research
  • Experience converting research and data into compelling data visualizations
  • Experience with setting up systems to dynamically capture and analyze data
  • Knowledge of statistical packages (SPSS, SAS or similar) and other database tools that could be used for aggregation and analysis of data
  • Competent in conducting data science research in R, including data wrangling and applying a wide range of data analytic techniques
  • Experience working with spatial data and conducting analysis using different tools (e.g., R, Python)
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Excellent facilitation skills
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Organized project manager
  • Intelligence and curiosity, learns quickly and immediately applies new insights, learning, etc.
  • Proven ability to build high performing teams, including diverse teams
  • Extremely reliable
  • Honest, willing to own up to mistakes and be open about challenges immediately
  • Federal and/or state rural policy experience a plus



  • Ph.D., preferably in one of the following fields: Regional, Health, or Housing Economics or Rural Sociology
  • Strong computer skills, including use of Google Suite, web based collaboration and project management tools, and virtual presentation platforms
  • Experience working with diverse populations, specifically connecting women, BIPOC, and Latinx workers in tech employment


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