In the world of policy research, there is often a gap between academic research and state government. State governments implement programs. Researchers study the impacts of those programs. But often, those activities don’t happen at the same time. State governments implement programs and policies, but may not have the time or resources to use research and data to improve public services in real-time. Academic researchers study the impacts of programs and policies, but may not have access to the right teams within state government to implement data- and research-informed recommendations.

What if there were a way to bridge that gap, and bring government and research together to better meet the needs of the people who use state programs and services? The Youth Policy Lab launched the Michigan Data & Policy Fellowship program in 2019 to provide the State of Michigan technical assistance and strategic support to achieve specific and measurable improvements in social policies and programs operated by the state. YPL Data & Policy Fellows are active in conducting research and data analysis as they support a number of different state led programs, gaining experience and exposure in the field as they assist our state partners in strengthening their programs, policies, and processes.

The Michigan Data & Policy Fellowship is designed to provide dedicated support to the State of Michigan through the placement of early-career, master’s-level, policy professionals in administrative agencies. Fellows in this program:

  • are recruited and hired by YPL to serve two-year, fixed term appointments
  • are placed full-time in a state agency’s office
  • report directly to the state agency project lead
  • have direct access to and support from UM faculty with substantive and methodological expertise
  • receive mentorship and topical expertise from YPL Faculty Director
  • receive additional supervision from YPL Executive Director and other YPL staff

YPL’s current class of fellows are placed with the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity (MDLEO), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), and the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO). Our fellows bring UM’s vast research and data infrastructure to their roles within state government, helping the state implement research- and data-informed policies and program improvements so that Michigan families and workers can access high-quality public services.

Team members


MDHHS logo MDLEO logo michigan justice fund logo public welfare foundation logo michigan health endowment fund logo Fisher foundation logo