As part of National Volunteer Week this month, we are profiling volunteers of DataCorps projects past, present and future. In this special post, we highlight a lesser-known volunteer role - the Data Creative.
"Finding problems can be harder than finding solutions." This great truth comes from our own Jake Porway's O'Reilly piece - Five Principles for Applying Data Science for Social Good - and refers to a very real challenge that we face every day at DataKind. People often ask, how is a DataKind project born? Where do we find our project partners and how do we scope our engagements together?
The reality is this process is often less linear than you might think, requiring education on both sides. We spend time learning about the organization's issue area and goals and they, in turn, learn about what services we offer and what data science is all about. What this boils down to is a lot of conversation and ideation. Yes, two of our favorite activities, but also difficult ones for a growing staff like ours to keep up with.
What's a small but mighty nonprofit to do in the face of overwhelming interest from project partners? Reach out to some of our most trusted volunteers for help.
Enter the Data Creatives!
|Saška Mojsilovic||Burton DeWilde||Tom Levine|
|Caitlin Augustin||Allen Downey||Claudia Perlich|
|Eduardo Franco||Cat Miller||Brian Abelson|
Data Creatives play a hugely important role in our mission of harnessing the power of data science in the service of humanity. Pulling from their deep expertise, they lend their brain power in dreaming up possible projects and help scope them for a DataCorps team to then execute. Some overachievers even then go on to serve as DataCorps volunteers too out of sheer commitment or perhaps friendly coercion from our Data Engineer Pete...
Gotta hand it to @DataKind: I volunteered to review a few applicants, 1 wk later I'm signed on for a 6-mo project. Just can't say no! :)— Burton DeWilde (@bjdewilde) February 25, 2016
Thanks to them, we've been able to scope and launch our largest slate of DataCorps projects EVER. That means more organizations than ever before getting access to data science expertise to transform their work so they can do more good.
And what do these talented volunteers get out of the experience?
- "The opportunity to bring data creativity to a new problem and realm I might never have experienced otherwise." -Cat Miller
- "It's an opportunity to help tackle yet another problem, while schmoozing with some great data science minds." -Saška Mojsilovic
- "The organizations DataKind works with are doing amazing things to make the world a better place. I always enjoy learning about their projects and the places they are working. The people I've interacted with have been great, and their work is really inspiring." -Allen Downey
Speaking of inspiring, please join us in honoring these often behind-the-scene data heroes!