1. In 2017, Media Democracy Fund launched a pilot for PhDX, a fellowship program designed to pair graduate or PhD level university students with a background in technology with DC-based public interest technology policy organizations for an immersive fellowship experience over two consecutive summers. This pilot project was made possible with support from Open Society Foundations as part of the NetGain initiative. In 2017, MDF matched two PhD students from the University of Florida with two MDF grantees based in Washington, DC: Free Press and Upturn. In 2018, the program included three PhD-track students from the University of Florida’s Computer Science department and three DC-based organizations: Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Public Knowledge and National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC). In 2019, two PhD-track students from University of Florida were placed at two DC-based organizations: Arab American Institute and the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights. In 2020, we had three PhD-track students from University of Florida who participated in remote fellowships because of COVID, with the DC-based staff of the Brennan Center for Justice, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights. Through this program, the students enrich their graduate level computer science and tech policy interests by learning from and contributing to organizations working on the front lines of technology, policy and social justice. 2. Ford/MDF Technology Exchange Matching Fund Launched in 2015, the Ford/MDF Technology Exchange Matching Fund (TX) creates opportunities for emerging technology leaders around the world to gain experience working with civil society organizations on Internet Freedom issues. The program identifies candidates from the applicant pool of the Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellows program and the Ford Technology Fellows program, and matches them with US-based and international grantee organizations from the Media Democracy Fund and Ford Foundation Internet Freedom portfolios. Supplemented by a matching grant from Ford/MDF, each selected host site creates a full-time staff position that lasts at least 12 months and provides participants with a salary, benefits, and professional development opportunities. We hope that, in some cases, these will become permanent staff positions. The TX staffers work on a range of substantive projects at the leading edge of technology, policy, and social justice. Some examples include: An analysis of the algorithm-based pre-trial assessment tools used by an increasing number of police and court jurisdictions in the US. These computer models generate “scores” for the accused, but the inputs that affect scores are largely hidden from the public. An assessment of the data being collected by national and state-based agencies about violence against women in Brazil. This analysis is also mapping out how closely the Brazilian datasets adhere to developing international standards for open public data. Advocating for broadband privacy issues in the US by attending congressional meetings and events, conducting policy research, and raising public awareness through videos explaining consumer privacy, broadband policy and net neutrality. While TX staffers and host site supervisors organize the projects independently, MDF supports the Tech Exchange cohort through monthly conference calls and a dedicated staffer-only Slack channel. TX staffers use these networks to talk about their projects, solicit ideas, arrange meetings with each other, promote events and post job listings. MDF also organizes in-person convenings at at least one internet freedom-related conference a year, giving TX staffers a chance to meet each other face to face. Other opportunities to connect and convene TX staff with Open Web Fellows are pursued throughout the year, as funding and staff availability permit.
This Cornell University fund supports students who are participating in any type of community-based research activities or community-engaged learning projects thatAddress a specific community interest, problem or public concern; Include working with and learning from a community partner;Connect and integrate community-engaged experiences with educational content; and Include structured, documented critical reflection.
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