What would happen if we asked bigger questions?

Who we are

OpenResearch offers a new model in the world of research. 


A nimble approach 

A nonprofit research organization for questions that require uniquely interdisciplinary, comprehensive, or long-term research. OpenResearch combines the strengths of traditional academic research with the resourcing, creativity, and problem-solving qualities of startups. We partner with individuals, nonprofits, and academic institutions to achieve and communicate the most comprehensive and nuanced outcomes.


Driving new discussions 

OpenResearch is grounded in the idea that important knowledge gaps can be filled by new organizational models. We are an independent research organization that provides scientific freedom for researchers to lead with open-ended questions, not conclusions. We think of research as a public good and seek to share datasets, findings, and insights to drive new discussions.

OpenResearch’s Unconditional Income Study 

The most comprehensive look into the impacts of unconditional cash in the U.S. to date

Unconditional Income Study

Local nonprofit partners gave 3000 people in two U.S. states monthly cash payments for three years. 

Approximately one-third of participants received $1000 a month. Two-thirds received $50. How does unconditional cash shape experiences across a range of outcomes?

There are more questions than answers about the impact of unconditional cash on people's lives. Can unconditional cash increase agency? How does it impact living situations? 


Our work encompasses expertise in labor economics, health economics, public health, political science, social work, criminal justice, and sociology. 


Measuring how individuals spend their time and money, indicators of mental and physical health, and effects on children and social networks will help us learn how this basic level of economic security helps people cope—or even thrive—in the midst of volatility and uncertainty. 

Research as a public good

We strive to share our findings with the world at large and benefit the research community. 

Help fund OpenResearch.

Your donations support our efforts to research open-ended questions and fill pivotal knowledge gaps. 


Reach out to the OpenResearch team. 

The US in the 21st Century
The most comprehensive, large-scale randomized controlled trial of unconditional cash 

Idea for the study is born — Sam Altman shares a Request for Research. 

January 2016

Feasibility studies and operational pilots in Oakland, CA 

2016 - 2018 

Local nonprofit partners begin enrollment. 

August 2019 - March 2020

Baseline surveys with participants start in person.

COVID-19 pandemic hits. Enrollment and baseline surveys temporarily pause.

March 2020

Enrollment and baseline surveys resume, transitioned to over-the-phone.

May 2020 - October 2020

Monthly cash transfers begin. 

November 2020

Surveys and rotating app activities are distributed monthly throughout the 36 months of the program.

Three main quantitative research phases take place at the start, middle, and end of the program.

Five in-depth interview phases are conducted with qualitative participants over the course of the program.

Monthly cash transfers end. 

October 2023

Monthly surveys are distributed through the end of 2023, followed by quarterly surveys in 2024.

Qualitative participants will be interviewed in a sixth round of in-depth interviews in the fall of 2024, a year following the end of the program.

Elizabeth Rhodes
Research Director

“No single study can answer all questions about unconditional cash. Our goal is to learn from participants’ experiences and better understand the ways in which unconditional cash can — and cannot — help people navigate the challenges they face. We view this study as a foundation for a broad research agenda on how to best support individuals and families both now and in the future.”

Insights that have a wide reach 

Focus on impact

We're rethinking research. 

A nonprofit research organization with a startup mentality. A new model for research, adapting in real-time. 

Driving new discussions

Within the bigger picture 

Our study has the statistical power of a large-scale randomized control trial with rich qualitative data on individual experiences, circumstances, and decisions. Working side-by-side with other researchers, we're committed to sharing findings widely.

Unconditional cash transfers have no work requirements, means tests, or restrictions on how the money can be spent.