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Policy Assistant (Justice Policy Center)

Urban Institute

Urban Institute

Washington, DC, USA
Posted on Friday, November 3, 2023

About Urban Institute:

At the Urban Institute, we believe in the power of evidence to improve lives and strengthen communities. As a nonprofit focusing on social and economic policy, our researchers and policy entrepreneurs open minds, shape decisions, and identify transformative solutions to the most pressing issues of our time.

Our Mission

To open minds, shape decisions, and offer solutions through economic and social policy research.

Our Values

Collaboration, Equity, Inclusivity, Independence, and Integrity

For more information on the Urban Institute, please visit

The Opportunity:

The Justice Policy Center’s (JPC) mission is to inform solutions to crime and safety challenges in the interests of promoting effectiveness in justice systems and operations; addressing the harms of victimization and justice system involvement; reducing racial and other inequities; strengthening community-led approaches to safety; and promoting justice, dignity, and well-being for all. We conduct objective, rigorous, interdisciplinary research, evaluation, and policy analysis and deliver data-driven recommendations, training, and technical assistance. In carrying out our research, we seek to center the voices, experiences, and perspectives of the people, practitioners, and communities most affected by crime and the criminal legal system. The Justice Policy Center is seeking a Policy Assistant who can work collaboratively on projects aiming to mobilize evidence to assist practitioners in reducing violence and involvement in the criminal legal system, improving the living conditions in jails and prisons, and addressing the experiences of those currently and formerly incarcerated in the United States, including those receiving community supervision, and the intersection of behavioral health and the criminal legal system.

People from communities that are overrepresented in the criminal legal system and people with direct experience with the criminal justice system are encouraged to apply.

What You’ll Do:

  • Support and collaborate with colleagues within JPC and across Urban to prepare internal and public products such as literature reviews, memos, reports, policy briefs, blog posts, webinars and social media.

  • Support planning and development of presentations, technical assistance, and trainings delivered by Urban staff for practitioners, policymakers, and other external audiences, including developing talking points, writing background memos, composing PowerPoint presentations, and creating training materials.

  • Provide project management support by scheduling team meetings and coordinating logistics; drafting emails, agendas, talking points, and presentations; taking notes and identifying action items and next steps.

  • Coordinate and support logistics and content development for convenings, webinars, trainings, and public events, including drafting invitations, conducting background research, developing speaker prep materials, and supporting outreach to presenters and participants.

  • Conduct background research on a range of topics by identifying, interpreting, and synthesizing both quantitative (statistical and survey data) and qualitative information (literature scans, review of relevant federal/local policies).

  • Support a range of data collection activities including planning for and implementing field work/site visits, focus groups, interviews, and surveys.

  • Draft sections of reports, research briefs, PowerPoint presentations, blogs, and other publications.

  • Oversee logistical tasks for proposal development and contribute to substantive content.

Who You Are:

The successful candidate will:

  • Demonstrate interest in public policy through their academic major, prior work experience, involvement in volunteering programs, leadership positions in academic and/or extra-curricular settings or public policy-related internship. Experience in fast-paced work environments that engage with federal, state, local policymakers, philanthropic and/or non-profits leaders is a plus.

  • Have a strong desire to engage and learn about one or more of the following topics: gun violence reduction, community violence intervention and prevention efforts, addressing the living conditions in jails and prisons, prison and jail reentry, and the intersection of behavioral health and the criminal legal system.

  • Have an understanding of racial equity and justice issues and the ability to help researchers bring an equity and inclusion lens to policy research, weaving that perspective throughout programs of work, and informing how problems are defined and evidence is communicated.

  • Bring an interest in advancing racial and socioeconomic equity and addressing structural racism.

  • Be well-organized, highly motivated, and able to work effectively on multiple projects at once.

  • Have excellent oral and written communication skills.

  • Apply emerging understanding of local and federal policies, programs, agencies, and ecosystems to assess the application, outcomes, and impacts of policy proposals and programmatic interventions.

  • Demonstrate the initiative to suggest improvements or innovations on assigned tasks.

  • Express a willingness to adapt to changes in work assignments, deadlines and project management and a nimbleness in changing course quickly.

  • Have a willingness and ability to travel

  • Have familiarity with MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and social media tools.

  • Possess a bachelor's degree or have demonstrated experience in a relevant professional setting, such as a nonprofit, philanthropic, government, or advocacy organization.

*When applying, please upload a CV/resume, cover letter, and writing sample. The cover letter should be 1-2 pages and address your interest in joining JPC and how your past work and/or educational experiences would support JPC’s mission and project work. The writing sample should be solely your own work and include a sentence or two noting why you selected the sample. Due to the volume of candidates, please keep your sample to no longer than 5 pages. If you would like to send a longer sample, indicate which 5-page section you would like our team to review.

What You’ll Experience:

No matter your role with Urban, you will contribute to meaningful work that makes a difference for people and communities across the country. And whether you call the Washington, DC area or elsewhere home, you can expect to be part of a welcoming and hybrid workplace. We are committed to cultivating a community and working in a manner defined by collaboration, equity, inclusivity, independence, and integrity.

Urban’s greatest asset is our people.

The salary range for this position is Min $50,000 – Mid $ 57,557 – Max $ 65,113. Salary offered is commensurate with experience and considers internal equity. Candidates from diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.

Salaries are just one component of Urban Institute’s total compensation package. Urban is committed to supporting our staff’s physical, emotional, and financial well-being through a robust benefits package for yourself, eligible dependents, and domestic partners. It includes generous paid time off, including nine federal holidays, medical (including prescription), dental and vision insurance, and transit benefits. Urban is unique in that we offer 403(b) retirement plan participation immediately after you’re hired and a generous employer contribution after six months of service and 500 hours, with immediate vesting.

You’ll also have access to a health advocate, personal finance coaching, an Employee Assistance Program, and educational assistance for undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

The Urban Institute has formally recognized the Urban Institute Employees’ Union, which is part of the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU). Urban management and the Union work together in good faith and are motivated by a shared commitment to this institution

With the conclusion of the government-issued COVID-19 national public health emergency, Urban has updated our COVID-19 safety guidelines. All Urban Institute employees working from our onsite location must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and comply with any masking requirements. Fully vaccinated is defined as receiving the primary series of US approved COVID-19 vaccinations (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen) with the addition of at least 1 COVID-19 booster. Employees who are working onsite may request exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement based on a medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief that prevents them from being vaccinated. Where such an exemption is approved, Urban will discuss potential accommodation with the employee. These guidelines do not apply to employees who are teleworking or other offsite staff.

The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of the work being performed by the people assigned. This posting is not an exhaustive list of all duties, responsibilities, and requirements. Urban management reserves the right to amend and change duties, responsibilities, and requirements to meet business and organizational needs as necessary.

The Urban Institute is an equal-opportunity employer and is committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. All qualified candidates will receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, gender or gender identity, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, veteran status, pregnancy or family responsibilities, matriculation, disability, political affiliation, or any other protected status under applicable law. The Urban Institute is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer Minorities/Women/Disabilities/Veterans.