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2017 Grantees

Digital Impact Grants

In 2017, Digital Impact awarded more than $200,000 in grants to seven international and US social sector organizations working to advance the safe, ethical, and effective use of digital resources for social good.

The selected projects represent the second cohort in the Digital Impact Grants program (formerly Good Data Grants), which launched in 2016 with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The program aims to support advancement and research in the safe, responsible use of digital resources among nonprofits, foundations, and other civil society organizations, with a focus on projects that have broad application for improving knowledge, practices, and outcomes across the global social sector.

Selected from a competitive proposal process drawing 100 applications from organizations in 26 countries across 6 continents, the grantees and their funded programs and project descriptions include:

African Minds

Open Data Intermediaries and Economic Ownership Rights

Project Page

"A study of actors and data flows in a data ecosystem exploring the effects of open data intermediaries, particularly on the economic ownership rights of those who provide data."

Cape Town, South Africa

Ariadne – European Funders for Social Change and Human Rights

Research and decision-making framework for philanthropic organizations sharing grants data for human rights and social change projects

Project Page

"The project explores the decision-making process for philanthropic institutions as they collect and share open, comparable grants data, including current approaches, risks and emerging best practice."

London, United Kingdom


Gamified Digital Security Training

Project Page

"Build a 'gamified' version of an online digital security training module, drawing on lessons learned from our earlier prototype of a digital security auditing and training system."

United States - Palo Alto, CA


Data for Action: Bringing Responsible and Secure Data Practices to Community Surveys

Project Page

"We aim to improve our e-learning course on using data for action and evidence-based decision-making for civil society by developing and including a module for secure and responsible data practices."

Johannesburg, South Africa

Data Orchard

Data Evolution +

Project Page

"We will develop and test a model of support, and an online self-assessment tool, for accelerating progress on the journey towards data maturity in non-profits."

Hereford, United Kingdom

Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems

Avoiding Discrimination in Automated Decision Making and Machine Learning

Project Page

"We will provide an open source software solution to discover different types of discrimination in data and prevent discrimination in automated decision making as well as machine learning algorithms."

Tübingen, Germany

Pro Bono Net

Legal Empowerment Data Literacy and Governance Initiative

Project Page

"Pro Bono Net will strengthen data rights and privacy for low income individuals seeking legal help online and develop a data governance model for groundbreaking online legal referral collaboration."

United States - New York, NY

Grant awards range from approximately $17,000 to $40,000 and will fund both new and ongoing work and research to be conducted over the course of the grant year through fall 2018. Grantee projects will address key issues affecting digital civil society today, including digital security, data governance, automated (algorithmic/machine) decision-making, open data, and more.

“Digital Impact is excited to be partnering with a promising cohort of organizations to pursue our goal of building a higher impact social sector, and framework for digital civil society, that not only leverage the power of digital data but are rooted in shared values and safe, responsible practices,” said Lucy Bernholz, Senior Research Scholar at Stanford PACS and Director of its Digital Civil Society Lab, which houses the Digital Impact initiative. “We are thrilled that this year’s applicant pool represents 26 countries, with winners from 4 nations and 3 continents. The better we are at building a network of global partners and communities, the stronger and more sustainable the resulting framework for digital civil society will be.”

With Digital Impact Grants opening to global applicants for the first time in 2017, the program received applications from organizations in 77 cities across North and South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Seventy of the applications were for sector advancement grants, and 30 for research. The total amount of requested funding from the 100 applicants was $4,048,642, up from $2,786,175 from 74 applicants in 2016. The largest grant request for this cycle was $232,661, the smallest was $5,181, and the average was $40,486.

Like the ongoing work of the 2016 Digital Impact Grants cohort, the projects spearheaded by this year’s grantees will be publicly shared for the benefit of the social sector at large. Grantees will attend the Stanford Social Innovation Review‘s nonprofit data conference at Stanford University on February 15-16, 2018, and they will present the outcomes of their work to the Stanford PACS community in late 2018.

Stay tuned as we share more details about ongoing partnerships, outcomes, and ideas in this effort, including an update to our 2016 cycle map of proposals to reflect the latest ideas from this year’s applicants who agreed to share them with the community at large. The aim of the Digital Impact Grants program is to not only directly support promising work in this field but spur additional collaboration, ideation, and investment in digital civil society.

For a complete list of the 2017 grant applicants who agreed to share details about their projects, click here.