The use of basic and applied research are essential to how a nonprofit organization such as Embrace Relief works.
But what is basic and applied research? Basic research is defined as “Investigation and analysis focused on a better or fuller understanding of a subject, phenomenon, or a basic law of nature” and applied research is defined as “Investigation of the findings of ‘pure’ or basic research, to determine if they could be used to develop new products or technologies. Also, the research conducted to solve specific problems or to answer specific questions.” Essentially, basic and applied research go hand in hand. Basic research is the first step, figuring out what the specific issue is and understanding all facets of that issue. Applied research is the second step, after we’ve figured out what the issue is applied research is the step we take to actually solve the issue we’ve just researched. But, how are basic and applied research applicable to the work that nonprofits do?
Basic research is done every day here at the Embrace Relief office. It is what we use to start new programs, and figure out what problems we can help alleviate globally. For example in order to start our Grad Plus program, we used basic research. Grad Plus is a new mentorship program designed to help at-risk students complete high school and successfully transition to post-secondary levels of education or career opportunities. But, we had to research a few different things in order to know that there was a need for a program such as Grad Plus;
- We looked into the correlation between education levels and crime rates in New Jersey. In order to do this we compared high school graduation rates and crimes rates in every county in New Jersey and noticed that counties that had the lowest high school graduation rates also had the highest crime rates.
- We also knew that not everyone is interested in pursuing secondary education after high school, so we looked into how beneficial a vocational training program would be by researching the correlation between vocational training and employment rates and found that vocational training makes an individual much more likely to succeed in a trade as opposed to someone who did not receive that training.
All of this basic research helped us determine the need for the Grad Plus program, the applied research helped us determine the solutions that Grad Plus offers.
But what exactly is applied research? Applied research is actually the programs we run as an organization. So, our Grad Plus program is an example of applied research. With our basic research program;
- We found out what issues students in New Jersey were facing and how to help them succeed and then we applied that research in the making of our program.
- We knew that students who graduate high school are much less likely to fall victim to a life of crime, so we created programs that would help them succeed in the classroom and make it to graduation.
- We also knew that, based on our basic research, having a full time job makes individuals much less likely to involve themselves in risky behavior, so be applied that into the making of our Grad Plus program and included a vocational training aspect as well as our work in the classroom.
All of our programs go through a similar process and our organization could not do what we do without the use of basic and applied research.