In Establishing the Socrata Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) organization, Socrata is donating one percent of its time and products to organizations that unleash the power of data to improve society. The Socrata Foundation, which operates autonomously with an independent Board of Directors, works with Socrata on behalf of unique and deserving organizations.
The Socrata Foundation supports society-improving organizations that lack the resources to fulfill their data-driven mission. With a focus on critical and relevant open data efforts, the Socrata Foundation works with organizations that deliver immediate social impact and long-term value for global citizens.
The Socrata Foundation focuses on three types of open data projects:
Those that create new opportunities for underserved communities and regions around the world
Those that represent compelling social ROI but are constrained by economic forces beyond the control of stakeholders
Those that offer the potential to advance open data science and research
Making Data-Driven Government in Detroit a Reality
The Socrata Foundation’s first technology grant is in the City of Detroit’s open data portal – data.detroitmi.gov – which will make volumes of non-personal government information broadly available and usable by people and machines without any constraints.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan wants to show residents in his city that their government is finally working for them after years of instability and insolvency. That’s why he turned to data-driven government, which is creating a new form of digital democracy for the 21st century in innovative cities, counties, states, countries and regions all over the world.
“Detroit knew that the transparency, accountability and fact-based decision-making that stem from open data was the absolute right thing for its citizens, but buying the technology just didn’t seem fiscally responsible, given where the city has been financially,” explains Merritt. “So we asked the Socrata Foundation to remove these obstacles and concerns, and that’s how Detroit was able to gain access to our platform, providing for the foundation of a robust form of data-driven government going forward.”
Taking on Family Abuse and Violence
The Socrata Foundation will also support Big Mountain Data (BMD), which develops data science solutions to help in the fight against family abuse and violence.
BMD’s long-term ambition is to establish a national open source repository on repeat offender data that can be made available to civic hackers, governments, law enforcement, social service, universities and state and federal agencies.
In conjunction with SunGard Public Sector, a leading provider of public safety and justice software, Socrata will provide BMD with a digital platform so it can upload its datasets and begin digging deep into the structured information that’s available from its sources. According to its Founder, Susan Scrupski, BMD hopes to build custom applications from these datasets that can be employed and tested in the field.
“We believe access to open data will help determine and deter domestic abuse offenders,” says Scrupski, “and we believe that this approach will help us solve a very serious, painful and damaging societal problem. We have to end the tragedy of family abuse and violence.”
Focusing on Affordable Housing
The Socrata Foundation sponsors Socrata’s annual employee sabbatical program called “One Month to Make an Open Data Difference.” The winner of this unique initiative receives a month of paid leave, plus $5,000 to be used for open data-powered community service and civic engagement.
The first winner of Socrata’s “One Month to Make an Open Data Difference” sabbatical was Marcus Louie, who submitted a winning proposal focused on the value that open data could bring to affordable housing in Washington, DC. Marcus worked with DC area nonprofit Bread for the City to streamline the process of applying for low-income housing in DC.
The story of his work, completed in January of this year, is documented on www.marcuslouie.com/blog.
Grants applications are due 2 weeks before the end of every calendar quarter (end of March, end of June, end of September, end of December), to be reviewed the first week of every quarter, and awards announced by the 2nd week of every quarter. Foundation grants are typically 24 months.