Foundation Awards More Than $1.75M to Help AidData and Terres des hommes Use Data to Address Pressing Global Challenges

artistic rendering of news articles

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

Dec. 6, 2018

The Cloudera Foundation was created in 2017 because its founders believe that the responsible use of data is a powerful tool to make progress on the world’s most challenging problems. They set up the Cloudera Foundation to make it easier for organizations globally to use data to address social and environmental problems.

Today, the Cloudera Foundation announces its first grants.

The foundation will award US$1,152,000 to AidData in support of the further development of a self-service tool that helps nonprofits unlock the power of location data, as well as tools like remote sensing and AI. This will enable many more organizations to identify where disadvantaged populations are located as well as to better evaluate their programs’ effectiveness.

The foundation will award US$640,000 to Terre des hommes to use predictive analytics and machine learning to help health professionals in West Africa avoid misdiagnosis and errors in treatment of deadly diseases such as pneumonia or diarrhea among children under the age of five.

In parallel, Cloudera, Inc. is donating software and technical support worth close to US$1,000,000 to both grantees.

The two grantees were selected after an 8-month process that involved talking to more than 200 nonprofits around the globe working on a wide range of issues, including health, human rights, and climate change, among others. The Cloudera Foundation evaluated potential grantees based on the potential impact of their project, the importance of using data to achieve that impact, and the ability of the nonprofit to implement and continue to use data management technology over time.

The selection process confirmed that it takes much more than providing software licenses to nonprofits to enable them to reap the benefits of the advances in storing, processing, and analyzing data. Therefore, in addition to financial support and free licenses of Cloudera, Inc.’s software, the Cloudera Foundation will draw on the expertise of its own data technologists and that of the larger Cloudera, Inc. staff volunteers to help the grantees to achieve their impact goals.

“We are very excited to announce the Cloudera Foundation’s first grants, and we could not be more thrilled about these partnerships,” said Claudia Juech, the Cloudera Foundation’s CEO, who previously served as Associate Vice President and Managing Director for Strategic Insights at The Rockefeller Foundation. “With these first grants, in addition to funding, we are able to provide the kind of technologies and deep expertise in realizing value from data that is often out of reach for many organizations. The field is just learning how to harness the power of data to take on major global challenges, and we are eager to play a meaningful role in advancing that work.”

AidData – GeoQuery

The partnership with AidData, a research lab at William & Mary’s Global Research Institute, will support the continued development and expansion of AidData’s self-service portal GeoQuery. GeoQuery allows nonprofits that don’t have deep data science expertise or significant computational power to aggregate a wide variety of data – including satellite imagery and data about health, conflict, or economic information, among others – into a format that is compatible with Microsoft Excel or other commonly-used software. It will help overcome the challenge that many organizations face – there is significant data available, but organizations often don’t have the means to use it.

“To learn as a global community, we need to make it easy for anyone to access big data,” said William & Mary President Katherine A. Rowe. “A flagship initiative of the AidData research lab, GeoQuery provides just one example of how William & Mary students and faculty from diverse backgrounds and disciplines are working together to identify, test, and scale these kinds of innovative solutions to real-world problems. We are grateful that the Cloudera Foundation sees the potential of GeoQuery, and shares William & Mary’s long-term vision for its global reach and impact.”

Terre des hommes – IeDA

Terre des hommes is the leading Swiss organization for children’s aid, providing assistance to over three million children and their families in more than 45 countries each year. The partnership with Terre des hommes will support a project called Integrated e-Diagnostic Approach (IeDA), which has equipped hundreds of clinics in Burkina FasoWest Africa, with computer tablets to help health professionals diagnose and treat deadly diseases of children under the age of five. The partnership between Terre des hommes and the Cloudera Foundation will help IeDA use the data that health professionals collect to further improve quality of care. It will also equip the Ministry of Health with additional insights into how to detect health threats and improve how the government allocates resources to reduce child morbidity and mortality.

“Collecting data can be extremely difficult in West Africa, especially in remote areas, and IeDA has made important strides in overcoming this challenge: by end of the year we will reach 4 million medical consultations stored in our database,” said Riccardo Lampariello, Terres des hommes’ head of health programs. “Our partnership with the Cloudera Foundation will allow us to use such a wealth of data in much more powerful ways. Working with this sophisticated technology and partnering with their data scientists will help improve diagnoses, spot trends, and upgrade health clinics management with the ultimate goal to save children’s lives.”

Helping to develop a field

The Cloudera Foundation’s work comes at a time when an increasing number of institutions have emerged that are interested in using data to address global problems. Jake Porway, a pioneer in the Data for Good movement as well as the founder and executive director of DataKind, a global nonprofit dedicated to using data science and AI in the service of humanity, welcomed today’s announcement. “At DataKind, we’ve worked to create a world where social organizations like nonprofits and governments can boost their impact using the same data technologies that companies use to boost their profits. Given our work, we have a privileged view of the data science needs of the sector and what it takes to create lasting solutions with social organizations. Unsurprisingly, funding for data and the expertise on how to use it is one of the biggest gaps. I’m so pleased to see Cloudera Foundation’s model for support as it’s an important advancement in the data for good space that is so rare to find these days and helps to move the needle on the world’s toughest challenges.”

As one of the world’s largest philanthropies, the Wellcome Trust plans to invest more than £5 billion in the next five years in areas that include science, population health, medical innovation, the humanities and social sciences, and public engagement. Chonnettia Jones, Wellcome Trust’s Director of Insight and Analysis, acknowledges that the field of philanthropy needs better tools to ensure that these funds can be spent effectively to help as many people as possible.

“Until now, the use of data science has largely benefited big corporations and government efforts,” she said. “But the Cloudera Foundation is now making it possible for the social sector to be able to use sophisticated data tools to improve the lives of people around the world. This is a really promising development for the field of philanthropy.”