Harlan Harris is the President and a co-founder of Data Community DC, and is a long-time fan of DataKind. Last week, DataKind, the nonprofit that connects pro-bono data and tech folks with nonprofits in need of data help, announced the first regional chapters, in the UK, Bangalore, Dublin, Singapore, San Francisco, and best of all (we think!), Washington, DC!
As they say in their intro blog post:
We bring together high-impact organizations dedicated to solving the world’s biggest challenges with leading data scientists to improve the quality of, access to and understanding of data in the social sector.
Easy right? Well, it can be when we work with some of the top talent in data science and the world's most incredible organizations. Enter the Washington, DC metropolitan area and our beltway buddies, Maryland and Virginia, with collectively perhaps the nation's highest density of nonprofits and statisticians per capita!
I've been a huge fan of DataKind for several years, ever since hearing of their model -- they assign a "data ambassador" to work closely with nonprofits for weeks or months, helping them figure out their goals and organize their data, before bringing in a corps of data people for a weekend Data Dive or a longer-term effort. This has been an incredibly successful approach, with results such a fantastic interactive data visualization developed by volunteers for DC Action for Children.
With the new permanent chapter in DC, DataKind will have dedicated people focused on creating new engagements and new successes in the region. The local organizing team will be bringing together several different types of people and groups:
- First, nonprofits with data but without the resources to make best use of it, of which there are many in DC.
- Second, data people, including data scientists, statisticians, data developers, data visualizers and journalists, and more, of which there are many thousands in DC and the region.
- And third, groups representing data and tech people, which include Data Community DC and our Meetup groups; Code for DC, a local civic-hacking organization; and others. Additionally, and this was a recent revelation for me, there are many companies with strong pro bono programs that are actively looking for ways to help their technical people give back to their community. Organizations such as DataKind DC can be, and will be, a great mediator and coordinator, helping these pro bono programs connect to nonprofits more effectively and with greater impact.
Congratulations to lead organizers Max, MC, and Jason! We at DC2 look forward to helping you connect the amazing people here in DC to nonprofits doing great work!