The Public Interest Technology University Network has announced inaugural grants totaling $3.1 million to twenty-one partner institutions.
Convened earlier this year by the Ford, Hewlett, and New America foundations, the network is a partnership of colleges and universities dedicated to defining and building the field of public interest technology and supporting a new generation of civic-minded technologists and digitally-fluent policy leaders. Funded by the Ford, Hewlett, Patrick J. McGovern, and Raikes foundations; the Mastercard Impact Fund; the Siegel Family Endowment; and Schmidt Futures, Network Challenge grants were awarded to twenty-seven of the network's partner institutions for the development of new public interest technology initiatives and collaborations.
Funded projects include Florida International University's PantherX Fellows program, which will use its grant to create an experiential learning training and certification platform for interdisciplinary teams of students who can work with local governments to problem-solve around public interest technology; efforts by Georgetown University's Ethics Lab and Center for Security and Emerging Technology to develop and pilot workshops on AI and ethics for three fellowship programs that provide training and work placements for government careers in tech policy; Howard University's Case Study platform, which will showcase public interest technology projects that have been developed in university courses; and Stanford University's Race and Technology Praxis Program, which will host three fellows and help link the teaching and practice of public interest technology.
"As a social justice funder, our hope for a better world forms the fundamental core of what we do," said Ford Foundation president Darren Walker. "Our society is marred by devastating inequalities of all kinds, and addressing these challenges requires ideas that marry inspiration with impact. Through the work happening in colleges and universities to leverage technology to serve the public interest, we hope to build a new generation of technologists and policy makers who will be able to hold — in both hands — a desire to disrupt the systems that are no longer working and a dream of something bigger: doing good for others."
"The impact of technology on our society is one of the defining challenges of our time," said New America CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter. "The technological advancements of today will powerfully define the future, which is why it is critical to consider how technology and innovation affect not just the industries in which we operate, but entire political, social, and economic systems."