What is created makes the world more or less fair, whether or not that is the intention.
The NetGain partners collectively made five grants totaling $1.25 million to strengthen the emerging field of public interest technology, with the goal of increasing the number of people around the world who are using their technological skills to make the world more fair, and improve civil society and government at all levels. An additional $17 million in grants were made by the foundation partners individually over the course of their yearlong exploration of public interest technology.
Among the beneficiaries of the 2015 NetGain grants are:
New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute
The TechCongress Congressional Innovation Fellowship program will promote better technology policymaking and leadership by connecting technologists with members of Congress and Committees. In this way, it aims to help to fill the technology knowledge gap in government and ensure better, more informed decision making toward building a stronger democracy.
Mozilla/MIT Media Lab Open Leadership Executive Education
The MIT Media Lab and Mozilla will together bring open source practices and thinking into public sector and civil society organizations. We will design an open leadership curriculum for senior executives, organize a face-to-face leadership camp for twenty, and launch an online pilot for up to 100 participants. The goal is to help executives apply open practices in their organizations, and build a blueprint for spreading these ideas far and wide. This project will help public interest executives understand the role of open practices and technology, and apply effectively in their organizations. They will be equipped with the know-how to manage technologists and innovators well, inspire some to become role-models, and promote open leadership to others and drive change in the field.
Harvard University Data Privacy Lab
The grant supports the Technology Science Research Collaboration Network, a project of Harvard University’s Data Privacy Lab. The Network is composed of university-based academics who, with their students, undertake experiments to study the way new and emerging technologies impact public interest issues. It partners with civil society organizations and government institutions to conduct scientific experiments that aim to understand how different technologies impact civil liberties, civil rights, and consumer protection matters. The grant builds professional pathways for technologists to engage issues related to public interest technology.
Code for America/Research Action Design (RAD)/Open Technology Institute
Code for America will serve as a fiscal sponsor for a research project analyzing the professional pathways of technologists in the public and nonprofit sectors. Research Action Design (RAD) and the Open Technology Institute (OTI) will carry out this research, conducting a community-led field scan of public interest technology that centers diverse practitioners and identifies challenges and opportunities. The field scan will identify people, groups, institutions, and networks who are already working on public interest technology, and explore how best to foster the growth of the field. This is a participatory research project; methods and analysis of findings will be guided by a diverse group of practitioners.
The New Venture Fund’s Media Democracy Fund
New Venture Fund will serve as fiscal sponsor for a fellowship program for university students with a shared interest in technology and public policy designed to capture the attention and imagination of a diverse class of public interest technologists at early stage, before their careers begin, and to provide professional pathways to the sector. Individuals with backgrounds in technology development and technology policy will work over a limited time period in an NGO, think tank or other public interest organization focused on public interest technology and/or policy issues. Substantive work experience will expose talented individuals to potential career paths and provide institutional hosts a mechanism for recruitment, training and mentorship of young professionals with technological and policy expertise.