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.
This grant helps create digital savvy public interest sector leaders by funding the development of curriculum, case studies and leadership training that help public interest executives think about the role technology and open collaboration play in their work. The goal is to empower civic leaders with the know-how to make good tech decisions, manage technologists well, and inspire change in their field. This project is being developed in partnership with leaders in executive education and will be provided to one or more of these educators to implement the project in early 2016.
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
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. The research will identify diverse leaders in the public interest technology and public entrepreneurship field and the resources they need to advance their careers. It will survey practicing public interest technologists at all career phases, and will result in a report featuring a public interest technologist ecosystem map, an index of current jobs and roles, pilot projects based on report findings, and recommendations of engagement models to support ongoing input.
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.