DataKind’s 2024 Global Volunteer Summit: Supporting our strong and diverse community, united by data science

In January, DataKind held our annual Global Volunteer Summit, a virtual gathering offered to DataKind volunteers around the world to connect with DataKind staff, hear from leadership, and celebrate their contribution to AI for social impact. This year, more than 100 volunteers from 20 countries attended the event live, and thousands more have viewed and engaged with the event videos afterward. 

The summit began with welcome remarks from DataKind CEO Lauren Woodman, DataKind Board President Elizabeth Grossman, and DataKind UK head Kye Lockwood.

“One thing that is amazing about DataKind volunteers is the strong tradition of applying your intellectual curiosity and your sense of mission to investigate and explore the tools that are out there as part of finding the right solution for the social impact sector,” said Grossman. “This approach really speaks to the talents and the professionalism of the people who choose to volunteer with us.”

This year’s keynote address was delivered by Gabriela de Queiroz, Director of AI at Microsoft and Founder of R-Ladies and AI Inclusive. Titled Uniting Data Science: Creating Strong and Diverse Communities, Queiroz’s talk shared the story of how her career has developed alongside new developments in tech and the industry’s evolving understanding of bias and discrimination, both in the tech workforce and its products. 

The showcase this year featured four projects, presented by the volunteers working on them. 

The first presentation was on the Container-based Action Routing Tool (CART), a tool initially developed by DataKind to provide routing assistance for container-based sanitation organizations such as SOIL Haiti. DataKind is now open-sourcing the tool to make sure it can reach many more use cases and organizations. 

The next project was developed in partnership with CDFI Friendly America (CFA), an organization dedicated to supporting the growth and impact of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) across the US. With this partnership, DataKind developed a prototype CDFI Market Opportunities Toolkit, a mapping tool that provides CFA with the data-driven insights to identify specific geographic areas of financial need across the US. This will help CFA and its stakeholders to easily analyze and visualize CDFI financing activity as well as relevant social and economic indicators to drive decision-making for financial inclusion. 

The next project is a partnership with Education for Employment, an NGO that provides youth job training and placements across the Middle East and North Africa, to measure the effectiveness of their programs and the determinants of success in finding stable employment for graduates. Specifically, the project aimed to identify the importance of certain features in keeping stable employment long-term. 

The last showcase was a demonstration of our project developed in collaboration with BanhJi, an organization whose mission is to empower financial inclusion for micro, small, and mid-sized enterprises, including smallholder farmer savings groups and cooperatives across rural Cambodia. Under this collaboration, DataKind developed an easily interpretable Financial Performance Score for the 880 savings groups they support, empowering BanhJi with the data-driven insights to provide technical assistance to savings groups in need and develop sector benchmarking.  

Other sessions at the summit included DataKind’s Mignonne Fowlis, Senior Manager of Product and Programs, presenting an overview of DataKind’s work on frontline health challenges such as health systems management and vaccine delivery; Rachel Wells, DataKind Senior Manager of Community Programs, discussing lessons learned in ethical data project identification and how to handle difficult ethical decisions in data science for social impact; and a networking session for participants to connect one on one with each other. 

Volunteers are at the heart of what we do at DataKind, and having them lead the way in designing and leading the summit was crucial to its success. We look forward to hosting an even bigger Global Volunteer Summit next year, so we can continue to build and strengthen our community of DataKinders around the world.

Huge thanks to the summit volunteer presenters and panelists: Gabriela de Queiroz, Handre Williams, Sébastien Ouellet, Prathyusha Charagondla, Arun Kumar Nethi, Anshuman Sindhar, Taylor Wilson, Yining Wong, Haren Bhavnani, Sahiti Kolli, Moiz Ali, Zachary Esakof, Shanna Lee, Lauren Woodman, Kye Lockwood, Elizabeth Grossman, Mignonne Fowlis, Rachel Wells

This event was made possible thanks to the generous support of Teradata Cares.

Header image taken from a recent DataKind DC DataDive event.

Scroll to Top