It has been said that development is about delivery: the will and ability to deliver interventions to very poor people in order to improve their lives. The development space is filled with great ideas and innovative solutions, from technological interventions to new policy initiatives. But the effects of these potentially game-changing ideas are mitigated if they do not actually get to the people they are intended to benefit. Simply put, solutions can only solve problems if they reach those who need them most. Yet, those who are at the base of the pyramid – the poorest of the poor – are also the hardest to reach. Many are homeless or live far in the countryside; they might lack formal identification; or they are socially marginalized because of their ethnicity or gender.

The Reach Project aims to better understand how social services and development interventions are delivered to the very poor and marginalized. We do this by conducting research on cases that have demonstrated successful delivery of social services to hard to reach populations. This project is led by Professor Joseph Wong through the Munk School of Global Affairs, and funded by the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth.

To learn more about the reach project, see the website:

Working on the Reach Project

Students will work on a specific case study of a successful program that is reaching the hard to reach. Teams will be composed of students from graduate, professional, and undergraduate programs. Thus far, case studies have included the Bolsa Familia conditional cash transfer in Brazil, birth registration in South Africa, elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Thailand, India’s Aadhaar program for universal identification, childhood vaccinations in Rwanda, and cash transfers for Syrian refugees in Jordan.

The Reach Project researchers will work closely with Professor Joseph Wong, the Reach Project Research Officer, other faculty advisors, and the Reach Project Communications Specialist. Together researchers spend a year conducting secondary and data-driven research, and then conduct field research (for example, in Brazil or South Africa). Researchers are encouraged to publish and disseminate findings from the research.

During the summer of 2017, students will contribute research on possible cases for study. At the beginning of the academic year, students will be placed on a particular case study team. During the academic year, students are expected to meet with their case study team on a bi-weekly basis. These meetings typically take place during business hours, but meetings may also take place in the morning or evening. Fieldwork is expected to take place during the months of April, May, or June 2018. Students must be willing to travel for one to two weeks during that time.

Your Application

If you are interested in participating as a researcher, please submit your application to with the subject: REACH APPLICATION. Your application should include:

  • Your CV
  • A cover letter/statement of interest (1 page maximum)
  • A short writing sample (i.e. a memo, a blog piece, a short essay)
  • A copy of your unofficial transcript

We will accept applications until Monday March 13 at 1:00 PM.

This research opportunity is open to all undergraduate and graduate students, including students enrolled in professional programs, for the 2017-2018 academic year. If you have any questions, please contact Kirstyn Koswin at

Deadline: March 13, 2017