Foundation Announces Inaugural Data4Change Accelerator Grants

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Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on the Cloudera Foundation websiteIn April 2021, the Cloudera Foundation merged with the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, where work with the Accelerator program continues.

Feb. 25, 2021

The Cloudera Foundation has selected five nonprofit organizations as its first round of recipients for the foundation’s data-for-social-impact program. 

“I am excited to introduce the Data for Equality cohort of the Cloudera Foundation’s Data4Change Accelerator program,” said Claudia Juech, CEO of the foundation. “Each organization is focused on developing, testing, and delivering proof-of concept data experiments that address barriers to survival and wellbeing experienced by marginalized communities. We look forward to collaborating closely with each grantee to help advance their data maturity and, in turn, make real progress toward impact.”

The five organizations and their projects are:

Invisible Institute data visualization
  • Invisible Institute, a South Side Chicago journalism production company, is expanding its data analysis around gender violence within policing to better understand patterns of abuse faced by Black women, women of color, and trans people.
    • “Invisible Institute is in the process of securing all completed Chicago Police misconduct investigations between 2012 – 2015. This will make new modes of inquiry and analysis possible at a moment when national attention is focused on police violence. In particular, these documents will make it possible to better understand the patterns of abuse faced by Black women, women of color and trans people. Invisible Institute’s CPDP team, led by Trina Reynolds-Tyler, is thrilled to pursue this work with capacity-building mentorship from Cloudera’s in-house technical team.” – Maira Khwaja, Director of Public Strategy, Invisible Institute
Mapping for Environmental Justice data visualization
  • Mapping for Environmental Justice seeks to create the first dataset of factory farms in the American Southwest using open-source machine learning algorithms. There is no data on the location or number of these factory farms, whose effects such as groundwater contamination and reduced air quality likely disproportionately impact low-income communities of color who live/work nearby.
    • “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to shed light on the secretive and polluting world of industrial animal farms by applying deep learning models to satellite imagery. The Data4Change Accelerator Program is giving us the chance to significantly advance our mission to make environmental justice data available and actionable for advocates and policymakers.” – Adam Buchholz, Director, Mapping for Environmental Justice
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  • The Power of Nutrition transforms children’s futures in vulnerable countries by pooling nutrition funds and delivering partnership programmes that tackle undernutrition. This first-of-its-kind analysis, led by Modern Scientist Global, will assess longitudinal data on the well-known, but under-researched, impact of childhood stunting on businesses in low and middle income countries. This research will provide an important advocacy tool to encourage businesses and governments to invest in nutrition for healthier people and economies.
    • “We know that stunting has a long-term negative effect on businesses in developing countries, but the figures have never been studied in depth. The Power of Nutrition welcomes the expertise and support of the Cloudera Foundation in analysing this impact. We believe it will provide a compelling case for businesses to partner and invest in initiatives that tackle the root causes of stunting and drive social impact.” – Mabel McKeown, Head of Corporates, The Power of Nutrition
Urban Displacement Project data visualization
  • Urban Displacement Project will use data science tools and natural language processing (NLP) to mine millions of pages of court records in order to understand eviction causes, outcomes, and racial disparities in the United States.
    • “The Data4Change Accelerator program is important for our work right now because it will give us the much needed resources to create data that is otherwise non-existent. We don’t know a lot about evictions because much of the data is hidden behind court documents either on paper or as an image. The D4C Accelerator will allow us to produce open-source tools to scrape these documents and will help any state, city, and scholar to enumerate previously unknown households and understand the mechanisms of eviction and their outcomes.” – Tim Thomas, Ph.D., Research Director, Urban Displacement Project
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  • Women’s World Banking will develop a Global Women’s Financial Index that benchmarks various countries’ progress towards women’s financial inclusion, to determine if data can help predict the future of women’s economic empowerment.
    • “Participation in this cohort allows us to create the evidence to understand which policies work, and which do not, to advance women’s economic empowerment through financial inclusion. We look forward to data accelerating our global advocacy efforts, benefitting the most vulnerable women around the world to achieve greater financial resiliency.” – Sonja Kelly, Ph.D., Director of Research and Advocacy, Women’s World Banking

Women’s World Banking is the first of the five organizations to begin its Data4Change Accelerator project. Initial findings are expected in late spring.

The Accelerator is a fixed-term, nonprofit data exploration and analysis platform managed by Cloudera Foundation’s data engineers and operated on the Cloudera Data Platform (CDP) Public Cloud. The D4C Accelerator functions as an analytics “sandbox” that can handle large, complex datasets.

The nonprofit participants will receive personalized technical and programmatic support throughout the program, about eight months long per project. Each organization also was awarded a $75,000 supplementary grant to cover expenses associated with running the nonprofit’s data exploration, including cloud-related costs. 

One crucial component of this program is the sharing of discoveries with one other and the broader data-for-social-impact field. The Foundation looks forward to seeing what learnings the Data for Equality cohort will share with the world later this year.