Data Funders Collaborative

The Data Funders Collaborative (DFC) is a partnership of leading philanthropic organizations working together to support learning, discovery and action focused on the ethical collection, protection and use of data. DFC members recognize how people can use information to improve the effectiveness of programs and policies and more broadly to confront entrenched inequity in systems. Our aim is to ensure communities have the information and the skills they need to achieve equitable outcomes in education, health and other social services sectors.

The Data Funders Collaborative is guided by three overarching goals: 

  • Help each other learn about this field – what has worked and what has not – so as to build smarter strategies;
  • Give more of our time and money to the best ideas for getting good information to the people that make decisions about kids and families;
  • Share what we learn with others who use, spend money on, and make rules about data in the social sector.

Guiding Principles

Our guiding principles focus on leveraging the power of data systems to generate evidence that can interrupt structurally unjust and unequal systems in society and help people improve their practice. 

Involve communities in data systems development to give voice to those historically marginalized and negatively impacted by data initiatives specifically and in U.S. systems generally. More broadly, this can be students, families, teachers, advocates, or stakeholders.

Identify and uplift innovations in data systems development that prioritize inclusive research & development to push the field forward in new practices and technology solutions.

Prioritize concrete opportunities for collaborative philanthropy to mitigate inequities—particularly racial equity—in how we work together and in the selection of investments.

Encourage and embrace a diversity of perspectives in those we invite as speakers and with whom we choose to work and invest. That diversity can include race/ethnicity, culture, language, gender identity, educational or socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, or political ideology.

Recognize that data systems and processes are developed as part of an ecosystem of actors, which requires understanding contexts, building trust with all involved, and the responsible and ethical use of data to effect change. 

Focus on how data can have implications for policies and practices that subvert or fill systemic gaps in traditional societal structures.

DFC Funding Highlights

In February 2023, Omidyar Network, Hopelab, Susan Crown Exchange, The Archewell Foundation, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Data Funders Collaborative, New Media Ventures, Oak Foundation, The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, Pivotal Ventures, and Reynolds Lookup Fund announced their partnership to invest $1.5 million into the Youth Power for Responsible Tech Fund. This pooled fund is intended to support youth and intergenerational led nonprofits focused on the responsible tech movement, which includes: 

  • Building, shaping, and stewarding our technology ecosystem in a way that maximizes its positive potential and protects basic human rights
  • Leveraging technology platforms to address social, cultural, political, or environmental problems
  • Ensuring equitable access to the benefits of technology
  • Mitigating the harmful impacts of technology in communities

The Twin Cities Innovation Alliance (TCIA) is the host home for the national No Tech Criminalization in Education (NOTICE) Coalition.  The NOTICE Coalition supports a national movement to end the use of data and technology that surveils, polices, and /or criminalizes young people and their communities.  NOTICE achieves this by supporting organizations and communities as they learn about and engage in organizing around the use of Big Data, Algorithms, and AI; ensuring that when local school districts and their partners propose technological solutions and invest resources, they do so with the knowledge, input, and consent of the communities they are serving. 

Through support from the Data Funders Collaborative NOTICE is launching their 2024 national No Data About Us Without Us Fellowship.  This fellowship will support organizers, their organizations, and communities as they research and explore their EdTech landscape, define and envision with their community the use/ refusal of said technologies and identify steps to move towards collectively. Fellows will participate in a learning cohort, access NOTICE organizers and tech experts connected with the field, and engage with communities that have successfully challenged the acceptance of criminalizing technologies in their schools.

“The American Indian College Fund invests in Native students and tribal college education to transform lives and communities.”

The mission of the American Indian College Fund (the College Fund), stated above, provides a broad context to guide the long-term efforts of the College Fund.  We strive to achieve our mission through our five strategic plan initiatives.  These strategic initiatives include Student Success, Tribal College and University (TCU) Capacity Building, College Fund Sustainability, Public Awareness, and Community and Cultural Engagement.  As our mission states, our immediate focus is supporting TCU education, with the ultimate goal to transform Native communities through institutional and individual student success. 

In 2013, the College Fund developed a focused approach to improve its data, research, and evaluation practices with the establishment of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP).  The creation of the ORSP provided the College Fund the opportunity to assess its data, research, and evaluation processes, and capacity.  From these evaluations, we established a number of strands of work aimed at both developing these important areas and producing timely deliverables to assist the organization’s growth and the ability to serve TCUs and American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) postsecondary students.  Currently we annually host a TCU faculty/research convening, support TCU faculty research, provide faculty master’s and doctorate fellowships, and support the development of manuscripts for publication.  We also established our own research capacity which has produced the important outcomes of highlighting and informing the post-secondary field about outcomes of TCU alumni, TCU institutional sustainability, TCU student success, TCU program review and development practices, and AIAN student pathways.

In the evaluation sphere we are developing a Strategic Learning and Evaluation System (SLES), which is culturally based, focused on Indigenous values, and will support an organizational effort to better understand our work in student success and College Fund programing. 

We are also developing a data/Information system that will utilize the SLES framework to both inform the organization about our efforts at the student, faculty/staff, institutional, and community levels, and to inform our work moving forward. 

In data systems, in addition to the development of our comprehensive data/information system, we are collaborating with three other Native non-profit organizations, called the National Native Scholarship Providers (NNSP), to develop a shared data structure which in turn will allow the NNSP to conduct cross organizational research.  In 2022 the NNSP completed its first collaborative research project utilizing shared data, a study on American Indian and Alaska Native College Affordability. 

Finally, with the generous support of the National Public Education Support Fund we are working with Native faculty and a selected Tribal Nation to investigate the process to develop a tribal education data system.

The Children’s Equity Project is a child policy center, housed at Arizona State University (CEP-ASU) and led in partnership with scholars at 12 universities across the country. Their work focuses on closing opportunity gaps and advancing equity in all of the systems that impact the lives of children and families, so that all children – particularly those from historically and contemporary marginalized communities, can thrive. 

The CEP-ASU team will be conducting mixed methods research with parents and families to better understand the types of questions they have about children in their lives from birth to 8 years old. CEP will be working with their Family Advisory Group across the country to conduct interviews and focus groups with families in 2024, and will publish a report of their findings that policymakers, technologists, and others can use when developing new child-serving technologies and systems.

Featured DFC Resources 

New! Framing Data and Equity

The new Framing Data and Equity: Findings and Recommendations for the Data Funders Collaborative report reflects recent research from Topos Partnership that explores the current dynamics at the intersection of data, government, and racial equity. The report and accompanying toolkit are intended to support paths for effective, community-driven data-related efforts, specifically toward the goal of increasing racial equity.

Envisioning a New Future: Building Trust for Data Use.

The culmination of a three part landscape review prepared with and for the DFC, this paper aims to provide a common language for funders to understand the opportunities and challenges to improving engagement and building trust with communities and offers a range of approaches to consider for future investments.

Comments on the work of the Advisory Committee for Data on Evidence Building

Several DFC members helped shape and sign this response to a call for public feedback on the work of the Advisory Committee charged with making recommendations around implementation of the Evidence Act. This document lays out many of the central tenets of the DFC approach to data.

Our Network

The Data Funders Collaborative is a networking, learning and co-funding community of philanthropic practitioners working together to see and lead public dialogue and action on the collection and use of data in efforts aimed at community transformation and improving outcomes. Our members include:

For more information on the DFC, please reach out to: