Designing Data for Good 2025
August 07, 2018

We are thrilled to announce that we've received support from The Rockefeller Foundation to shape a future vision of data science for social impact. This project will build on DataKind’s learnings from six years of connecting expert data scientists and AI engineers with social organizations to build innovative data-driven solutions for change. The grant will support us to step back to determine what the next iteration of DataKind’s 18,000-strong network of pro bono volunteers will accomplish and how we can best serve the sector in the next 5 to 10 years. The grant will also support data science projects in the fields of resilience, power, agriculture, and global health. 

“DataKind’s mission has always been to harness the power of data science and AI in the service of humanity”, said Jake Porway, the Executive Director of DataKind. “Since then, AI and data science have only grown in their scale and the need to use them for social impact with them. Over the past six years, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to connect volunteers with causes, but those projects have largely helped individual organizations. Now we want to tackle bigger, more systemic issues.” Porway outlined three areas that DataKind and the Rockefeller Foundation want to focus on to advance the sector forward:


  • Showing the Art of the Possible: DataKind’s model has, at its core, provided pro bono data science capacity to non-profits and governments who could use it. DataKind will continue to deploy its network of pro bono data scientists in its DataCorps to demonstrate what data science can do. In addition, however, DataKind is working to focus data science on key issue areas, such as resilience and community health work.
  • Build Data-Driven Organizations: DataKind’s volunteer programs provide on-demand support to those who need it now, but DataKind also seeks to create organizations who are self-sufficient. This aspect of the vision will focus on workshops and trainings for non-profit and government leaders on how to use data science, what it means to hire their first data teams, and more for creating highly effective organizations that can take advantage of data science.
  • Creating A Network of Data Capacity: Lastly, DataKind is focused on creating sustained data science capacity beyond its individual volunteer projects. Whether that comes from DataKind, other organizations, or some combination of the many data science companies offering volunteer programs, DataKind will be exploring models of capacity support that provide data science and algorithms thoughtfully and ethically for the sector.

“It’s no surprise that we’re being supported by The Rockefeller Foundation,” says Porway. “The Foundation was built at a time that performance measurement was making a splash and has always been committed to both attacking root causes of human suffering and using data. Data science for social good is in both of our DNA.”

“The Rockefeller Foundation has long supported innovative uses of data and technology to improve people’s well-being. This grant and our collaboration with DataKind advances our goal of unlocking the power of data science to help organizations focused on social impact get better results faster and at lower cost,” said Zia Khan, Vice President, Innovation, at The Rockefeller Foundation.

We will continue to run data science projects for social impact while we undergo this next stage of planning. In the process, we are asking our community, as leaders in the data science, AI, and social good fields, to join us in building this shared vision. Anyone interested in committing to creating a 5 year vision of data science and AI in the service of humanity should reach out to about being involved in this process.

We look forward to the next chapter of DataKind in the ongoing story of a world where data is used for good, and we look forward to hearing from you!

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