A Community Fund for Open Data Science

Code for Science & Society works to advance the power of data to improve the social and economic lives of all people through education, scientific research, and technology development. We focus on improving the sustainability of open source software, open scholarship, and the open data community.

In 2020, we developed a community-advised fund to support inclusive and accessible events in data science, including machine learning, open data, and artificial intelligence. This Fund has an annual grantmaking budget of 200K USD used to award grants of 10-20K USD. The first cohort of grantees was announced in January 2021, representing 13 events with organizers from four continents and audiences around the globe. Some of the funded events, such as DataFest Kampala and Data Umbrella, focus on building data science skills. Other grantees, including Open Life Science and OpenScapes, provide mentoring in open data science practices. We will announce our second cohort of grantees in June 2021 and plan a third round of grantmaking for late 2021. The core tenets of the fund are:

  • Supporting emerging leaders. Grantees join a cohort program where they are mentored and supported through training on event organizing, community sustainability, fundraising, and accessibility and gain access to international experts who assist in advising the program.
  • Creating open resources. Grantees create and openly share inclusive data science training curricula. The program produces open resources on good practices in virtual event organization, developed in collaboration with community experts.
  • Making open data science more inclusive and accessible - on a global scale. Grantees’ events train data scientists around the world and prioritize equity and inclusivity. Events build skills in communities that have been historically underrepresented in data science.

How is the fund governed? The Advisory Committee oversees governance, operations, and strategy, including recruitment for the Selection Committee. This is a volunteer position with members recruited from mid to senior levels. Funding decisions rest with a Selection Committee, composed of open data science champions who have proven track records of being strong community organizers who promote diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. We provide Selection Committee members with an honorarium after a year of service to acknowledge their valuable contributions to our program. Perspectives from senior community members with experience building and sustaining programs have shaped this fund to prioritize donor impact. Engaging early career data science professionals in the fund’s governance enables exposure to new communities and innovations in practice. A full-time fund manager develops cohort experiences for grantees, enabling them to expand their networks, collaborate to improve their practices, and engage in hands-on professional development led by community experts.

Looking ahead. We are actively seeking partners to continue the fund beyond 2021. Our structure enables funders to pool resources in a way that maximizes the impact of smaller grants and links funders to new communities arising to meet global challenges. Our deep experience in open source and open data science has enabled us to create a governance framework for this fund that reflects the diversity of the open data science community. Together, we can make the open data science community more impactful, inclusive, accessible, and globally-connected.