Public Interest Technology Fellowships

Media Democracy Fund manages two different programs that match technologists with social justice organizations: the Technology Exchange Matching Fund and the PhDX Fellowship program.
 

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.
 

2018-19 host sites

Article 12 (Mexico)

Dejusticia

Center for Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law  (Washington, DC)

Color of Change

Internet Lab (Sao Paulo)

NYCLU (New York, NY)

Open MIC (New York, NY)

MPower Change

Research ICT Africa (Cape Town)

Enoch Pratt Public Library (Baltimore, MD)

Libraries Without Borders (Baltimore, MD)

 

2017-18 host sites

Center for Media Justice (Oakland, CA)

Color of Change

Coworker.org (Brooklyn, NY)

Demand Progress (Washington, DC)

Fight for the Future

Internet Lab (Sao Paulo)

Media Mobilizing Project (Philadelphia, PA)

NYCLU (New York, NY)

NYC Commission on Human Rights (New York, NY)

Open MIC (New York, NY)

Tor Project
 

2016-17 host sites

ACLU of Massachusetts (Cambridge, MA)

Artigo 19 (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Center for Democracy and Technology (Washington, DC)

Demand Progress (Washington, DC)

Global Voices (Bangalore, India)

Media Mobilizing Project (Philadelphia, PA)

Open Technology Institute (New York)

Public Knowledge (Washington, DC)

Tor Project (Barcelona, Spain)
 

2015-16 host sites

Berkman Center (Cambridge, MA)

Center for Democracy and Technology (Washington, DC)

Common Cause (Washington, DC)

Demand Progress (Washington, DC)

Derechos Digitales (Santiago, Chile)

Electronic Frontier Foundation (San Francisco, CA)

Fight for the Future (Northampton, MA)

Global Voices (Bangalore, India)
 

Does your organization want to apply to be a host site?

Organizations that complete Mozilla’s Open Web Fellows host site applications can opt-in to be considered for the Tech Exchange program at the time. In June, MDF and Ford review the host site applications, and invite about 20 organizations to apply for 10 host site spots for the next cohort. MDF selects host sites in July, and the organizations then interview their chosen applicants in August. Most staffers begin their year-long positions around November 1.
 

Contact Media Democracy Fund to learn more about the host site selection process.
 

Are you an individual who wants to apply to be a TX staffer?

Applications are accepted through Mozilla’s Open Web Fellows process (open March – April each year). We encourage you to sign up for Mozilla’s announcements to get alerts about future application windows.

 

PhDX: Talent for the 21st Century

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 have been placed at two DC-based organizations: Arab American Institute and 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.