Mastercard and Rockefeller Announce Data.org: A Platform for Data Science Partnerships

The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and The Rockefeller Foundation today announced data.org as a platform for partnerships that will continue to build the field of data science for social impact. This is the next chapter of a $50 million commitment Mastercard and the Rockefeller Foundation made last year to launch a transformational model for philanthropy. 

As part of today’s announcement, data.org launched a new $10 million impact challenge to crowdsource scalable and sustainable data science solutions for non-profit, civic and government organizations. 

With the data.org domain name, The Rockefeller Foundation and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth are building on the success of the original DATA.org—launched in 2002 by a group of innovative social entrepreneurs, including rock star and philanthropist Bono, to alleviate debt, AIDS and trade inequalities in Africa. In what ultimately became the ONE Campaign, they focused on driving evidence-based approaches to development. 

“Our commitment to building the field of data science is rooted in the belief that data-driven insights can deliver transformational change that improves the lives of vulnerable people and helps solve the world’s most pressing challenges,” said Michael Froman, vice chairman of Mastercard. “We must make sure that even as people have unprecedented access to technology, we don’t allow a new digital divide to emerge.”     

“While the private sector has been gathering data and using data science analytics, such as artificial intelligence for many years, most non-profit, civic and public sector institutions still lack the resources to do so,” said Dr. Rajiv Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Just as these tools have given businesses competitive edges, enabling them to find nuanced ways to improve productivity and market impact, data science can increase the speed, depth, and accuracy of analyzing a social challenge, pointing to solutions, partnerships, and innovative investments that can provide impact.”

The new data.org seeks to build the capacity of non-profit organizations with training resources, access to data sets and open-sourced tools that help these organizations harness the power of data insights and analytics to enhance their efforts. This will be done in a way that brings more people and organizations together to effect positive social change, all while adhering to principles of responsible data use. Its current partners include DataKindBenefits Data TrustCommunity Solutions and Tableau Foundation. All of these organizations are leveraging data science to help solve complex societal challenges.

For example, in partnership with nonprofit organization DataKind, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice was able to use predictive analytics to identify students at risk of dropping out and intervene with resources to support them, resulting in a dramatic improvement in their graduation rates. Community Solutions, a nonprofit working in more than 80 cities and counties to measurably end homelessness, partnered with Tableau Foundation, to fuel the initiative’s progress through the use of data analytics. And finally, Benefits Data Trust, a national nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia, is helping millions of low-income American families access the safety net benefits available to help them through the use of artificial intelligence and leveraging the power of data.

For more information about the platform for partnerships and future details about the impact challenge go to data.org.

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