The structure of a partnership will depend on what’s already in place. Sometimes a partnership emerges from a successful joint project. Others are guided by a scholar with an aptitude for doing research in a practice-informed, collaborative way. Still others are initiated by a visionary district leader who wants to bring university expertise to schools. Whatever the catalyst for a more formal partnership, each partner must determine a shared purpose. This shared purpose helps shape specific agreements between research and practice partners.

While not all RPPs have formal documents, many develop charters, MOUs, and operating principles to record their shared goals, clarify stakeholder representation and roles, and spell out governance and operational issues.

Guiding Tips and Questions

If “all politics is local,” then the saying has a research–practice partnership corollary: all RPPs are local.

Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom Senior Program Manager, The Forum for Youth Investment

Work Samples

Below are documents that articulate the structure of RPPs and partners’ roles and responsibilities.

Charters and Operating Principles:

Charters outline the purpose, membership, and roles of partnerships.



Papers & Reports:


Tools & Infographics:

Blog Posts:

Webinars & Videos: