Research for Action
Education research for racial and social justice. Founded in Philadelphia. Broad and deep impact.
RFA seeks to use research as the basis for the improvement of educational opportunities and outcomes for traditionally underserved and marginalized students.
We conduct culturally-responsive and equity focused research and evaluation studies to inform policymakers, practitioners, philanthropy, and the public at local, state, and national levels. We provide our partners with empirical evidence and recommendations they can trust, to guide decisions about programs, policies, and practices.
We are passionate about the importance of high-quality education for strengthening students, families, and their communities and the need to advance racial and social justice in the systems that undermine equitable access and success. We believe that all students, families, and communities deserve the resources and supports needed to develop their potential and thrive.
Research for Action was founded in 1992 by Drs. Eva Gold and Jolley Bruce Christman as an education research organization with a commitment to conduct primarily qualitative research in Philadelphia that informs education decision-making and improves policy and practice. RFA built a national reputation due to our research and documentation of the many school reform initiatives in Philadelphia over this time.
In 2009, Dr. Kate Shaw became RFA’s first Executive Director and ushered RFA through over a decade of growth, development, and influence. She fostered a complementary focus on quantitative research and policy research, and ensured RFA’s place at influential state and national tables and as a key player in research and policy discussions. Shaw also routinely appeared in major news articles and opinion pages, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Education Week, and Inside Higher Education. Under her leadership, RFA created the Philadelphia Education Research Consortium (PERC) and Pennsylvania Clearinghouse for Education Research (PACER).
In 2020, Dr. Kate Callahan, RFA’s Chief Research Officer, became Interim Executive Director and was permanently appointed the role in 2021 after a nationwide search. Under her leadership, RFA secured its first education research grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Educational Sciences to study the impact of statewide developmental education reform on community college students in California; raised several million dollars in multi-year research grants and projects; created a Community Engagement focus and hired RFA’s first Director of Community Engagement; and ushered the organization through a comprehensive DEI strategy focused on advancing racial and social justice internally and externally. She continues to shape RFA with the ambitious vision to integrate research, partnership, and community engagement to advance racial and social justice.
Currently, RFA has nearly 40 experienced researchers and staff members with diverse educational expertise working on more than 30 active research and evaluation projects. By building on its strong record of success, RFA will continue to make substantial contributions to ensuring that our education systems are more equitable, effective, and accessible.