Can DataKind Help Save Humankind? Knight Thinks So

Hear that crunching sound? That's the sound of data being crunched all over the world, in the name of improving humanity. The Knight Foundation wants to add to that crunching, and make it do more for organizations. With $1.1 million in new funding, the Knight Foundation will help the group DataKind expand programs and help more social service organizations use data to advance their mission.

Nonprofit data geeks worldwide cheered the grant. 

Okay, we made that last part up. But you could see why they would. This new grant builds on previous Knight support for DataKind in 2013, and multiplies it by over four times. With this money, DataKind plans to serve 50 new nonprofits over the next three years with data analysis and findings that will help organizations achieve better outcomes. 

DataKind has only been around since 2011, but it has grown in size from a New York and UK post, to building additional hubs in Bangalore, India; Dublin, Ireland; Singapore; Washington, and San Francisco this past summer. Now, with additional help from Knight, these hubs can really dig in to the communities where they are located and help nonprofits maximize their impact. And that's not all. The new grant from Knight will fund DataKind chapters in 9 new cities by 2017. 

Three DataKind programs will grow with this new infusion of fundingthe DataCorps, a six-month, pro-bono service to nonprofits; the DataKind global chapter network, which runs weekend-long events to help nonprofits with data; and the creation of an in-house data science team. All of this expansion will bolster data science resources that serve social good organizations around the world.

Recent weekend-long events hosted by DataKind in Dublin and the UK have shown great promise for helping organizations make breakthroughs in their approaches to tackling difficult social issues including poverty and homelessness. The organization also recently helped a human rights organization understand why the European Court of Human Rights marks certain cases "important" and developed systems to follow the entire life cycle of a case as it goes from judgement to enforcement.

As an interesting twist, Knight will be both a customer and a supporter for DataKind's first in-house data team, which will handle larger projects that do not fit the short-term, pro-bono model for engagement. Knight will be the team's first "client," and will receive support from DataKind for projects related to the foundation’s issue areas.

Since its founding, DataKind has also pulled in support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Blue Ridge Foundation, and a number of private sector funders.