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DataKind Launches New Cohort of Projects to Advance Economic Empowerment with $1.1M in Support from Google.org

December 7, 2021

We’re thrilled to announce that DataKind has yet again received support from Google.org to apply data science and AI for good! As a longtime supporter of DataKind, Google.org’s latest funding is helping DataKind advance economic empowerment through new data science and AI projects. 

Building on our Economic Resilience Impact Practice, Google.org’s $1.1M grant is enabling DataKind to support a cross-cutting cohort of seven U.S.-based projects under our DataCorps® program that will be selected for their individual impact and potential to be replicated or scaled across the broad Economic Empowerment space. In line with DataKind's commitment to diversity, we thoughtfully considered organizations with people of color and women on their leadership teams as well as geographic diversity, including where the organizations are located and communities impacted. 

Economic empowerment is an urgent issue area that has, at its core, the goal of improving lives across the globe through increasing access to economic opportunities and providing the scaffolding necessary to take advantage of those opportunities offered. While many actions taken by social impact organizations could eventually bolster economic empowerment, support from Google.org will enable us to focus on applying data science and AI in four key thematic areas:

  1. Financial inclusion
  2. Safe and affordable housing
  3. Post-secondary education
  4. Poverty alleviation 

Some of the projects that we’ll be exploring include: improving college graduation rates by building predictive models that will help universities support students at risk of dropout and provide more educational opportunities for students; increasing the impact of critical service offerings such as food, health, and other social safety net services to key areas of need using local data; and enhancing women’s and other underrepresented individuals’ access to capital by leveraging machine learning and AI to create opportunities for alternative loan assessment, allowing capital to be offered to individuals who are often overlooked to expand their business opportunities.

Our DataCorps projects are six- to nine-month engagements that unite teams of expert, pro bono data scientists with social impact organizations on projects that use data science and AI to transform their work and their sector. Consistent with our “design with, and not for” ethos, we’ll leverage our global community of 20,000 technologists to find the right team of four to six data scientists to execute each one of these projects. 

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“At Google, we believe that AI can provide new ways of approaching problems and meaningfully improve people’s lives,” said Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink, Director of Product Impact at Google.org. “DataKind has a track record of identifying areas ripe for data science intervention and incubating potential solutions. We’re looking forward to helping to enable their vast network of volunteers and deep expertise in this space to advance opportunities for all. We’re excited to see the potential innovation that will come from this effort.”

Google.org’s support of economic empowerment projects includes digital skills training for job seekers, equitable access to capital, and small and medium-sized businesses — particularly in underrepresented communities. 

To better understand the key factors that bolster economic resilience and where data science and AI could amplify this work, DataKind launched our Economic Resilience Impact Practice in 2019. Exploring how DataKind could best make an impact in this space required us to identify gaps in economic resilience by creating deep partnerships with nonprofits, social impact organizations, and subject matter experts, learning from their insight, and applying the six components of a successful data science for good project across an entire system. Our support from Google.org enables us to continue to deepen our learning.

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“At DataKind, we’re committed to driving sector-level impact through the development of scalable solutions,” said Afua Bruce, DataKind’s Chief Program Officer. “Given the growing impact of COVID-19 and the economic disruption it causes, it’s increasingly urgent that we strengthen economic resilience and identify where data science and AI could be a catalytic tool for stability, recovery, and progress. Thanks to Google.org for supporting this critical and timely work. We’re eager to embark on this journey and share broadly what we’re learning across the Data Science and AI for Good landscape.” 

Do you have a passion for Data Science and AI for Good? We’re always on the lookout. Interested in supporting DataKind’s work, using cutting-edge technology to help inspiring organizations make greater impact? Apply now!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook where we regularly share updates and announcements. We’re looking forward to harnessing the power of data science and AI in the service of humanity with you!

In 2018, DataKind partnered with Google on the Google AI Impact Challenge, an open call for nonprofits, academics, and social enterprises around the world to apply with proposals for how they could use AI to help address some of the world’s greatest social challenges. We worked alongside Google to help select and vet proposals as well as support the winners of the challenge. We’re honored to receive their support again, and we can’t wait to share more about our work together.

Header image above courtesy of istock/PeopleImages.

Join us in advancing the use of data science to support causes that can help make the world a better place. 

As always, thank you for your support of this critical work!

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