Foundation awards $9.7M to democratize data and harness the power of AI

Categories: Announcements , Emergent AI + Society , Tech for Good

To ensure that new developments in data science and artificial intelligence are designed for and advance the public good, the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation announced today more than $9.7 million in grants to organizations at the forefront of building inclusive tech, data, and AI ecosystems. 

Driven by the Foundation’s long-term commitment to a tech-enabled, human centric future, these grants foster the design, development, and deployment of responsible and trustworthy technologies that prioritize ethics, inclusivity, and shared economic and social opportunity.

“If we are to harness technology for better societal outcomes,” said Patrick J. McGovern Foundation President Vilas Dhar, “we must start by building systems and tools that center equity in design and use. These grants support critical work: leveraging the use of government data for public welfare, improving data access for journalists and citizens, developing AI education initiatives for policymakers, and building educational systems that further digital inclusion and digital literacy. AI is transforming business already – civil society must advocate for how AI can transform humanity’s future for our shared benefit.”

The newly announced grant portfolio includes support for a collaboration between New York University and MuckRock to drive independent and investigative journalism. Combining MuckRock’s journalistic platform for Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests with an NYU-developed NLP tool (Gumshoe) to comb through text data, small newsrooms will have improved ability to access and report on timely and critical information.  

“I am so delighted that we have increased capacity to bring this AI-tool to small newsrooms across America,” said Hilke Schellmann, Professor of Journalism at NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science. “Enabled with these tools, journalists can help hold the powerful accountable and strengthen our democracy.”

Also included in the portfolio is The Coleridge Initiative, which works with US federal and state governments to ensure that their data is leveraged most effectively to make evidence-based decisions for the public good. Coleridge builds partnerships with government agencies to create value for the taxpayer: new technologies enable approved secure access to and sharing of confidential microdata; new approaches to data science training ensure that agency staff can use the data to create evidence to inform decisions.

“At this moment, we have a unique opportunity to support the capacity of many federal, state, and local governments to use data in making their decisions,” said Julia Lane, co-founder of the Coleridge Initiative and a Professor and a Provostial Fellow at NYU. “This opportunity to support government agencies can have transformative effects on their ability to serve the public good.”

The portfolio also provides continued support for the World Economic Forum’s Global AI Action Alliance (GAIA). GAIA is a collaborative which aims to advance individual and collaborative commitments from corporate and government stakeholders to maximize the potential of emerging technologies to address global challenges. 

“This opportunity to support government agencies can have transformative effects on their ability to serve the public good.”

Julia Lane, Co-founder of the Coleridge Initiative

The full list of grants is included below.

Emergent AI

Access Now to enable and empower its work to defend and extend the digital rights of at-risk populations. ($200,000) 

All Tech is Human to support organizational capacity to affect change in the AI for good field. ($250,000) 

CyberPeace Institute to support its human-centric and evidence-led work to build cyber peace and ensure vulnerable communities’ rights to security, dignity, and equity in cyberspace. ($250,000) 

Harvard University Belfer Center to support the Technology and Public Purpose Project in its priority areas to ensure that emerging technologies are developed and managed in ways that serve the overall public good. ($550,000)

Nationswell to support the Building Public Trust in AI Collaborative. ($200,000)

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s AI Policy Observatory, OECD.AI to provide support for global AI policy and global indicators work. ($250,000)

Open Data Institute (ODI) to support the Data Institutions Programme and its work to develop a Responsible Data Stewardship Framework. ($250,000)

Oxford Center for Ethics in AI (Americans for Oxford, Inc.) to fund the priority areas at the Institute for Ethics in AI, University of Oxford. ($550,000)

Public Interest Technology (PIT) Infrastructure Fund to build the physical, social, and digital infrastructure to enable both the public and private sectors to develop and deploy technology that is equitable, accountable to the public, and responsive to society’s most pressing problems. ($1,000,000) 

Stanford University – Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) to provide general support for CASBS, including the expansion of the Ethics and Society Review (ESR). ($300,000)

Stanford University – Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) to support HAI’s priority areas, including research on foundation models, the human impact of automation, and public sector AI governance. ($750,000)

World Economic Forum to provide support for the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s Global AI Action Alliance (GAIA), which focuses on responsible AI and SDGs. ($500,000)

Data as a Public Good

Coleridge Initiative to support collaboration with the US government and state governments to ensure that their data is leveraged most effectively to make evidence-based decisions for the public good. ($1,000,000) 

Common Sense Media to support the use of AI to propel Common Sense EdTech privacy evaluations, helping parents and educators make better informed decisions about the use of digital learning products in their schools and districts. ($285,000) 

Fair Trade to provide support for Fair Trade USA’s Business and Technology Transformation Initiative to enable farmers and factory workers to generate $1 billion of impact every year. ($250,000)

Knowledge Futures Group to build and support products and protocols that make knowledge production more effective, equitable, and sustainable. ($750,000)

KQED Public Radio for The California Newsroom (a partnership among public radio stations, CalMatters and NPR) to support data-based investigative journalism on the impacts of climate change to inform and inspire action, while making data accessible for research and reporting. ($200,000)

New York University and MuckRock for integrating the Gumshoe natural language processing tool into DocumentCloud and supporting small newsrooms with Freedom of Information (FOIA) analysis for investigative reporting projects. ($200,000)

United Nations Foundation to support UN Global Pulse in efforts advancing the Global Data Access Initiative (GDAI). ($2,000,000)

The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation is a global 21st century philanthropy bridging the frontiers of artificial intelligence, data science, and social impact to create a thriving, equitable and sustainable future for all. The Foundation’s work focuses on bringing together academia, practitioners, and civil society to pursue the potential of AI and data science to address some of the world’s most urgent challenges.

Media contact:

George Mastoras
(914) 489-5282