Data Harvest: Planting seeds of journalism collaboration

Cedric Lombion - June 10, 2016 in Event report, Fellowship

This article was written by Nika Aleksejeva, 2016 School of Data Fellow

European data journalists meet at Data Harvest to plant seeds for cross-border collaboration

From a tiny sprout of 35 people who were interested in EU spending on Farming Subsidies six years ago, this year Data Harvest grew to a 350+ attendees conference that shared stories, inspirations, methods and practical skills with European data journalists. The famous #PanamaPapers investigation was in the center of everyone’s attention as it embedded the core values of modern investigation projects: cross-border collaboration between local newsrooms all around the world and data-driven computer-mediated approach that blends together with conventional investigative journalism methods.

Mar Cabra (ICIJ) invites newsrooms to collaborate on global data-driven investigations:

It’s all about collaboration

Panama Papers investigation sets a perfect example for fighting the so called “Gollum journalism” [reference from the Lord of the Rings trilogy] that presumes that journalists should keep every exclusive piece of information to themselves, even if a story crosses the borders.

“If the journalists from SZ had not shared the data with ICIJ and us with more than 370 journalists, Panama Papers would not have happened.” concludes Mar Cabra while sharing 10 tips for conducting collaborative investigations:

The notion of collaboration as a key to big scale data-driven investigations that can change things for good was floating in the air not only during the talks, keynotes and sessions. It was soaking through every conversation in the networking space, during the lunch and on the way to sessions that were scheduled across two floors in two buildings.

Back to the future

A day before the conference coders and data-savvy journalists could join a traditional hackathon dedicated for data projects about EU spending. This is how it all started.

Brigitte Alfter, the Editor at the, remembers the time when she was working as a correspondent for a Danish newspaper covering European affairs. At that time she realised that many so-thought national stories exceed borders of a single European country and affect the all EU member states all together. One of such matters is EU spending.

Therefore teams at the hackathon worked on data collection about EU cohesion funds, finalized a database about EU tenders, merged datasets about EU farming subsidy beneficiaries with illegal polluters as well as pulled data about EU sanctions and regional development funds. Some of the projects are expected to be continued, like Open Spending database crowdsourced by Open Knowledge and the data base about European tenders that keeps being updated since the previous hackathons.

Many tracks to go

Tailored for busy journalists, the conference lasted from Friday to Sunday. The three-day program consisted of eight thematic tracks.

The most hands-on track was Data Lab. The track consisted of step-by step hands-on tutorials for working with Excel, SQL, R, Python, Open Refine, Carto DB and many more. The coordinator of the track data journalist Crina Boros made sure, every attendee can progress from the basics working on Excel to analysing data programmatically in just three days (!!!).

Cross-border track shared the investigations conducted by international journalists working on a problem that concerns more than one country. One of such stories was “The Criminal Migrant Shipping Network”. The team of 9 journalists and experts managed to discover who is behind illegal shipping of migrants across the mediterranean using shipping database and researching the ownership structures behind the suspicious ships. The project was funded by the, the organiser of the event and promoter of cross-border investigations.

Many practical suggestions, learnings and inspirations were shared during the Data track, that covered every aspect of working with data. Besides this year special attention was also devoted for more administrative issues, as funding of data journalism projects, security while conducting an online research, how to do “wobbing” and cover Tax and Finance.

Planting relationships

Data Harvest is the most important event for data journalists in Europe. It’s steady growth ensures diversity of experiences, ideas and skills to combine for big scale data-driven investigations across borders. Its sessions inspire and build practical competences while the networking during, between and after the session builds connections that grow into relationships and friendship. There are not enough words to express the mood floating around. Perhaps images will do a better job. Though… yeah, better come and taste the fruits of Data Harvest next year. Meanwhile check resources from the conference here.

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Meet the 2016 School of Data Fellows!

Marco Túlio Pires - May 7, 2016 in Announcement, Community, Fellowship

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For the past three years, School of Data has been identifying and selecting outstanding data-literacy practitioners around the world. Our Fellows have led the way in bringing data-literacy knowledge and practices to their region: 26 individuals in 25 different countries in regions right across Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

When we set out to revamp the Fellowship Programme in 2016, we challenged ourselves to involve other organisations that care as deeply about data literacy as we do. Bringing together our networks and expertise, we designed a bold new programme, organised in four data-literacy related areas: Data Journalism, Extractives Industries, Responsible Data and fellows’ “Own Focus”. In this way, we aim for School of Data to become a data-literacy hub, creating spaces in which both organisations and local leaders will engage with data literacy in new and exciting ways.

We are very proud to announce our School of Data Fellowship Class of 2016. We have reviewed 736 applications from 102 different countries. Our team worked around the clock to coordinate interviews across multiple timezones and our partner organisations and funders played a definitive role in identifying the best candidates.

We couldn’t be more happy with this class and we are sure they will make a huge splash in their respective regions! Here are the new School of Data fellows:

Nika Aleksejeva, Latvia

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Nika is a passionate data storyteller from Latvia. In 2013, she joined, a popular data visualization service that empowers non-designers to create beautiful data visualizations in no time. In 2014, she launched the international Infogram Ambassador Network that unites ~100 data enthusiasts all over the world. Each of them brings the power of data visualisation to local communities worldwide. Nika comes from a journalism background – her work involved writing about business topics and data-driven stories about energetics, global economic trends and education. Seeing the future in digital journalism, she continues to work and share the knowledge that helps to develop new communication forms. Currently she works to empower Latvian journalists with data journalism skills by curating School of Data in Latvia.

She will join the Data Journalism track to empower data-literacy activities with Journalists in Latvia

Precious ONAIMO, Nigeria

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Precious is a software developer and a technology enthusiast with the belief that people can only live better if they are provided with accurate, reliable and easy-to-access data, and tools that enable them to make real-time, qualitative and informed decisions. He was the Deputy Head of Software Development in iDevWorks Nigeria Limited, where he worked on designing, development and maintenance of many industry enterprise resource planning solutions geared towards eradicating the unavailability, insecurity, errors and delays associated with manual collation and distribution of organizational data and workflows. He currently heads a team of six programmers to develop open data solutions in different sectors, such as agriculture and extractives industries.

He will join the Extractives Data track and will work with the Nigerian team at the Natural Resources Governance Institute

Vadym Hudyma, Ukraine

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Vadym Hudyma is an open data activist and works as digital security consultant for CSOs and activist groups in Kiev, Ukraine. He was involved in several projects focused on government, electoral and parliamentary transparency in Ukraine. It included mass screening tens of thousands of candidates in Parliament and local elections for their involvement in corruption crimes or human rights violation activities. He also worked on the launch of an extensive database of firms and individuals mentioned as suspects in anti-corruption journalist investigations in Ukraine. One of his main activities was devising policy on disclosure procedures. As a security specialist, he’s helping raise and spread awareness in basic digital security problems as well as privacy issues in digital age. He also helps young non-governmental organizations in devising their information security policies, as well as contributes as a trainer to journalists and activists working in the war zone in Eastern Ukraine and in annexed Crimea.

He will join the Responsible Data track and will be working with The Engine Room

Malick LINGANI, Burkina Faso

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Malick Lingani is a Social Entrepreneur from Burkina Faso. He is committed to improving Transparency and Accountability through the advancement of Data Literacy within organizations, institutions and media. He is the Co-founder of the Ouagadougou-based NGO BEOG-NEERE.Org (For a better future) where he works as a data scientist and also as mentor to empower youth in the development of innovative and sustainable startups in sub-Saharan Africa since 2012. Malick holds a Master in Computer Sciences and Business development from the University of Ouagadougou and also a Data Science Specialization from John Hopkins University.

He will join the Extractives Data track and will work with the Natural Resources Governance Institute

Kabukabu MUHAU, Zambia

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Kabukabu Muhau is a researcher and statistician specialised in demography and economics. She has worked with the NGO Coordinating Council (NGOCC) as Monitoring and Evaluation assistant. Currently, she works for the National Youth Development Council as a Hub Officer, assisting youths in her province to access information more easily. Having studied Health Demography, she developed a keen interest in the Health sector of Zambia. She’s particularly interested in strengthening her country’s current Health Information Management System so that it yields desired results. Her future plans include pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health so as to strengthen her knowledge on the health sector.

She will join the “Own Focus” track working with the School of Data team in Health Data

Raisa Valda Ampuero, Bolivia

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Raisa is passionate about the impact of new technologies and social networks in the social justice field. She started working as a Community Manager in the “SerBolivianoEs” campaign, led by UNDP in Bolivia, the first Bolivian digital campaign. Raisa was logistics coordinator in encounters for a more inclusive and participatory Bolivian digital space, “Conectándonos I – II”, funded by Global Voices and Hivos, in which indigenous communities, LGBT groups, women’s associations among others participated. Raisa also worked as Social Media Strategist of the digital platform “La Pública” project promoted by Hivos, that opens and manages spaces for active citizenship through social networks and outside them; she is an Open Data activist with Bolivian projects “Cuántas Más” and “Que no te la charlen””, the last one winner of Bolivia’s First Accelerator of Data Journalism.

She will join the “Own Focus” track working with the SocialTIC and the School of Data team with Gender Data

Daniel Villatoro, Guatemala

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Daniel Villatoro started working as a journalist in Plaza Pública, an online media dedicated to do in depth journalism. There, he has worked in the Maps and Data section of the newspaper, as an investigative reporter and in other data driven projects. He graduated from Plaza Publica’s two year training program in 2014. His work has also been featured in other media like El Faro and Data Politica (El Salvador), Fáctico and Animal Politico (México) and Ojoconmipisto —a project about local corruption reporting in Guatemala’s municipalities—. He has a taste for maps, so he publishes some and tries to travel others. In 2014 he was part of the group that investigated the way the guatemalan government hid the deaths of kids who died due to malnutrition by analysing a database with all the death records of the country. In 2015 he did a series about political party financing by researching all the financial record data from the top three presidential candidates.”

He will join the Data Journalism track working with the SocialTIC team to bring data literacy to journalists in Central America

Ximena Villagrán, Guatemala

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Ximena studied journalism in Guatemala and then a master’s degree in data and investigative journalism at El Mundo newspaper in Madrid, Spain. She’s currently working as a data reporter in Guatemala. Her beginning at data journalism was at the independent media outlet, Plaza Pública, where she discovered the power of data journalism to tell stories and began to learn more about it. By now she is exploring the power of open data and information access laws to create journalism tools available to all kind of people in Guatemala. Also, she is creating a model to include data journalism and visualizations in breaking news. In 2015, she worked at the data journalism unit of El Confidencial, Spain, where she learned about how to integrate a small data journalism unit into a traditional web newspaper. She also teaches data journalism at Universidad del Istmo in Guatemala, that has the best journalism school in the country.

She will join the Data Journalism track working with Internews and SocialTIC teams to bring data literacy to journalists in Central America

Omar Luna, El Salvador

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Omar studied Social Communication at the Universidad Centroamericana “Jose Simeon Cañas” (UCA). He specialized in various areas such as quantitative and qualitative research, institutional communication, popular culture, proofreading, gender, among others. In 2008, he started working in different areas, such as education, journalism, research and collaboration. Two years ago, he found out the power of data as valuable inputs to evaluate speeches and traditional perspectives on many issues, such as gender violence and memory. Currently, he work as data consultant of the Business Intelligence Department at, one of the main business portals in Central America, for which he elaborate economic reports.

Omar will join the Data Journalism track working with Internews and SocialTIC teams to bring data literacy to journalists in Central America

The 2016 School of Data Fellowship is possible thanks to the generous help of the following partners & funders:

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Join #MappingEcuador

Cedric Lombion - April 19, 2016 in Community, Mapping


On April 16th, a magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit the coast of Ecuador. As the victim count reached near 300 people on Sunday, the Open Data community around the globe organized to create a base map for rescue and distress relief purposes.

A lot has been done in a short time, but there is still plenty to do.

Helping remotely

You don’t need to live in Ecuador to help the volunteers: mapping can be done from wherever you are. If you don´t know how, start with this wiki document.

Open Street Maps (OSM) is just one of the tools you can use without being in Ecuador. It basically digitalizes satellite images and transforms them into an open and editable database and a map so rescue squads and people in general know where to allocate resources or avoid risks.

The OSM Task Manager prioritizes and divides the work among users so volunteer work won´t overlap. This is where to begin.

Mapping efforts are conducted by Humberto Yances (Humanitarian Open Street Map Team) and Daniel Orellana (Open Street Maps Ecuador), who launched two tutorials in Spanish yesterday, for basic and intermediate mappers. You can a tutorial in english here.

Helping when in Ecuador

If you are in Ecuador, there are other ways to help beside Open Street Maps: platform Mapa Desastre allows you to send and visualize reports on specific issues and their geographic location. You can also set GPS alerts based on their changing location. All of this data is also public and available for both the general population and humanitarian squads.

Another indispensable tool for those in Ecudaor is Google Person Finder, an online repository where you can search for missing people or send information about lost people you found yourself.

Mapillary and Open Street Map Android Tracker allow you to upload pictures of specific locations at the disaster.

To strenghten the ranks of volunteer mappers, Open Data Ecuador organized yesterday, April 18, a workshop to train volunteers to map at the Ciespal building in Quito.

This article is a translation by Gibrán Mena from an original article in Spanish published on the Escuela de Datos website.

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Applications closed for School of Data’s 2016 Fellowship

Cedric Lombion - March 11, 2016 in Announcement, Fellowship

2016 Fellowship Banner Simple-01

On February 10, School of Data started its recruitment process to find the 2016 Fellows who will be spreading data literacy around the world with our support.

The applications are now closed and we have started reviewing the applications. Proof of the growing popularity of School of Data’s Fellowship programme, more than 700 people from close to 100 different countries applied to be part of our next class of Fellows. We will make sure to review the applications through the lens of fairness and inclusiveness, two values that School of Data stands for.

A shortlist of selected applicants for each thematic focus will be interviewed by members of the School of Data coordination team along with our partners for the 2016 Fellowship, Internews, NRGI and the Engine Room. The final results will be announced shortly before April 1st, which marks the official start of the 2016 Fellowship.

Thank you to everyone who applied or helped spread the word!

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New Data Journalism Academy in South Africa embodies ‘living laboratory’ training model

Cedric Lombion - March 10, 2016 in Announcement, Community

What does it take to convince thinly stretched, understaffed newsrooms to release experienced reporters for three months to attend a data journalism program — and pay for the privilege, too? This was one of the biggest hurdles we had to overcome when planning for Code for South Africa’s new data journalism academy, which opened its doors in Cape Town on February 1.


Happily, the first cohort has attracted seven experienced journalists from some of South Africa’s largest mainstream media outlets, as well as a journalism master’s student who was awarded a subsidized place. There is already interest from media in sending staff for the next cohort, and the plan is to do three annual courses of eight to 10 people over the next three years. The academy is supported by Code for Africa, Indigo Trust, the International Center for Journalists, Omidyar Network and School of Data.

The key that unlocked the doors to newsrooms is that everything the reporters produce will be fed back to – and owned by – their media houses to publish, sell or syndicate as they see fit. So, far from being lost to the newsroom, these reporters will remain productive and part of the newsroom.

The program consists of two weeks’ intensive training in the various steps in the data pipeline. Then participants will spend a further 10 weeks producing content as they use their newly learned skills working in a data newsroom alongside experienced data journalists, coders, wranglers and analysts.

We are planning to get our open-source curriculum certified by the South African Qualifications Agency — a long and arduous exercise — so that graduates will receive an officially recognized qualification. Equally important is that media houses will then be able to recoup a percentage of what they pay for training from the government authority that deals with industry skills and standards.

We have also begun a program of teaching trainers to deliver stand-alone modules of the curriculum to newsrooms in other parts of the country. This will help inculcate a culture of data-driven storytelling and provide a source of revenue for the academy.

Launching the academy is an important part of my work as an ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow helping to drive an Africa-wide initiative aimed at improving the lives of Africans through data journalism and civic innovation.

But it has been a hard sell. As head of the school, it was my task to convince hard-pressed editors and news editors, their newsrooms straining under budget and staff cuts and juniorization, that this was an investment worth making.

The academy was born out of a search for a program to complement journalism bootcamps where journalists who participate are afterward quickly drawn back into the grind of the daily news cycle and often not given the time or space to practice and develop their newly learned data skills.

We realized that to make a systemic change, we needed to seek innovative solutions. The answer, we believe, lies in creating a working environment where journalists could continue learning on the job while remaining productive and contributing to their newsrooms.

But the academy is about more than just training. It’s also a center for innovation where we can experiment and try out new and different ways of storytelling and reader engagement. The hard truth is that unless data journalism becomes a source of revenue, it will continue to be confined to bigger, better resourced media outlets with the work being done by small, specialized units working on the fringe of newsrooms.

So we will also use the academy’s newsroom as a living laboratory to experiment with different revenue models as we seek to make a business case for data journalism.

“The academy and the newsroom are one and the same, with the newsroom offering practical experience for journalists involved in the academy’s training program,” says Adi Eyal, director of Code for South Africa.

“We see every story as potentially an opportunity to innovate,” he said. “Just like we did with the award-winning Living on the Edge and the associated Living Wage tool, which pushed the envelope in the South African context with its convergence of different elements of storytelling, we see the academy as opening new opportunities to experiment. We want to explore and try new things that participants in the academy can feed back into their newsrooms and help push the industry forward.”

Code for South Africa created a Storify for more information. Check it out here.

Post originally published on the IJNET blog on 11 February 2016 and on the Code for South Africa blog on 12 February 2016.

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An Open Data Hackaton for School of Data Latvia

Cedric Lombion - March 10, 2016 in Announcement, Event report

Data Journalism has long been in the mind of Latvian journalists, but a lack of money and time has kept it from becoming an integral part of a newsroom daily life. It’s time to change it.

The Baltic Investigative Journalism Center “Re:Baltica” and Open Data Latvia joined forces to run an Open Data Hackathon on March 5th, with the goal of pushing journalists, civic activists and programmers to “hack” publicly available data together. This is at this occasion that School of Data Latvia launched, with the goal of sustaining the sparks of synergy between “techies” and “journos”.


“This is the first major attempt to scale Data Journalism concept across Latvian newsrooms,” tells Nika Aleksejeva, the Head of School of Data Latvia. “Before there were a few investigations conducted by Re:Baltica that involved a heavy data analysis, but it was very rarely done by any regular newsroom. The common myth about Data Journalism here is that it’s something time consuming, expensive and requires special skills. After almost three years working with data journalists and trainers globally, I can assure, it’s not the case anymore. Media technology has evolved. Now data extraction, cleaning, analysis and visualization can be done by a regular person or in collaboration with skillful people. School of Data Latvia is here to show it to local journalists and civic activists.”

The hackathon participants were expected to produce a data-driven news headline, a visualization or an interactive application allowing the exploration of public data from a different perspective. As a result five data visualizations and two online tools were created.


After a vote by the presents, a project that helped extracting data about public officials in digestible way was announced to be the best. Other projects covered topics like parliament deputy voting patterns, companies that win the most of Riga municipality tenders, offshore companies, foreign investment real estate deals, queues to doctors and how the amount of social budget can impact birth rate in Latvian regions.

“This is a great case study to show that the core of a data-driven story can be developed in a day,” comments Nika Aleksejeva.

The projects will be finished to get published on national media outlets and presented at the annual Latvian Journalism Conference on March 19.

The hackathon was supported by, and Open Knowledge. See the images and watch the video, available with English subtitles.

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The Easy Guide to Mobile Data Collection

Cedric Lombion - February 15, 2016 in Announcement, Fellowship


Since the advent of the cheap smartphone, these devices have been used for an impressive range of purposes, from detecting illegal logging in rainforests to the creation of detailed maps of cities around the world. Everywhere, civil society organisations and other movements are mapping their local areas, whether that be recording the locations of homeless people, answering the question of where to install recycling centres or where stagnant water poses a risk of mosquito proliferation. There is huge potential for strengthening the methodology of these initiatives through mobile data collection.

The guide

But where to start? Until recently, there was no beginner-friendly guide covering the methodology of setting up a mobile data collection project. So we got to work, and as part of the final project of the School of Data fellowship of Nirab Pudasaini, lead developer at Kathmandu Living Labs, we can now proudly present The Easy Guide to Mobile Data Collection.

To make understanding the whole process as simple as possible, we divided the guide according to the four key roles which we identified as vital to a mobile data collection project: Project Manager, Survey Designer, Trainer and Data Manager (a single person can be all of them!). Next, we integrated Nirab Pudasaini’s years of field experience; Nirab is currently working on several mobile data collection projects as part of the efforts to rebuild the city of Kathmandu.

An accessible methodology for civil society advocates

This guide is first and foremost about methodology. While heading for the streets with a smartphone and an application might seem easy, a lot of problems can crop up as soon as the project becomes a little bit ambitious. How do you avoid mistakes when entering data in the form? How do you make sure the people in the field don’t get stuck with a software problem? What are the different threats to the quality of the data?

We believe that this guide will be especially useful for civil society organisations or movements wanting to launch mobile data collection projects. While the guide itself doesn’t include details about the sofware, the +Resources page of the dedicated website lists the learning content produced by School of Data. For now, all of it comes from another amazing 2015 School of Data fellow, Sheena Carmel Opulencia-Calub, who has developed a full course around the software suite Kobo Toolbox. Yes, we had great fellows in 2015!

An evolving project

As is the case with all School of Data projects, the guide is fully open-source. We encourage you to send us feedback and file issues if you believe that something could be improved. We have set up a Transifex project as well, allowing anyone to start translating the guide into their language. And finally, we’ll be adding new resources to the guide’s website as soon as we produce more of them.



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Research Results Part 6: Data Literacy Research References and Resources

Dirk Slater - February 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

Even though work in the field of data literacy can feel a bit lonely at times, truth is it is not entirely new and undocumented. During the research process that has been described over these blog posts, we have been lucky to come across valuable sources of information on the topic – researchers and practitioners have devoted writing time to data literacy in civil society and in academia.

To close off the blog posts sharing our main findings, we found it suitable to share a bit of information about the resources that informed the process.

A quick dive into the history of data literacy

Even though data literacy efforts in civil society might seem recent, they fit into a much longer history of numeracy, statistical literacy (and, of course, literacy in general). When looking into the broader literature, we found articles devoting time to narrow and define this field, especially as compared to others. We recommend taking a look at:

For a shorter (but comprehensive) account of broader research in this field, we found Data Pop Alliance’s Beyond Data Literacy: Reinventing Community Engagement and Empowerment in the Age of Data to be illuminating.

The origins of School of Data

If you were around in School of Data in 2012, the information in tis section might be redundant for you… but many of the newer School of Data community members haven’t had the chance to learn how it all started.

We also want to point out to Sam Leon’s blog post talking about his embedded fellowship in Global Witness – one of School of Data’s first experiments with longer term processes.

Academic research meets data literacy work

Data literacy training efforts in civil society are similar to some of those documented by academic researchers, and that’s why we decided to take a look at how they are being discussed in the literature. Sources that we recommend:

Data literacy in civil society

Perhaps not in journal articles, but civil society organizations and individuals around the world have also devoted efforts to the documentation of their work in the field. Some of the highlights:

Thank you for participating and following the data literacy research process we underwent! Our blog post series has now been completed and we encourage you to take a look at it. If you want to send feedback or get in touch, please do so at dataliteracy [at]

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Apply Now for School of Data’s 2016 Fellowship

Cedric Lombion - February 10, 2016 in Announcement, Fellowship

Update: Applications are now closed! The results will be announced a few days before the official start date of the Fellowship, April 1st. Read More


School of Data is inviting journalists, civil society advocates and anyone interested in pushing data literacy forward to apply for its 2016 Fellowship Programme, which will run from April to December 2016. Up to 10 positions are open, with an application deadline set on March 10, 2016.

Fellowships are nine-month placements with School of Data for data-literacy practitioners or enthusiasts. During this time, fellows work alongside School of Data to build an individual programme that will make use of both the collective experience of School of Data’s network to help fellow gain new skills, and the knowledge that fellows bring along with them, be it about a topic, a community or specific data literacy challenges.

As part of this fellowship, our shared aim will be to increase awareness of data literacy and build communities who together, can use data literacy skills to make the change they want to see in the world.

A thematic fellowship

In order to focus the training and learning experience the 2016 School of Data Fellows receive, the School of Data Fellowship Programme is taking a thematic approach. As a result, we will be prioritising candidates who:
* possess experience in, and enthusiasm for, a specific area of data literacy training
* can demonstrate links with an organisation practising in this defined area and/or links with an established network operating in the field

We are looking for engaged individuals who already have in-depth knowledge of a given sector and that they will have been reflecting on the data literacy challenges faced in the field. This will help fellows get off to a running start and achieve the most during their time with School of Data: nine months fly by!

Furthermore, we have already partnered with organisations willing to support fellows interested in working on the following themes: Data Journalism, Extractives Data and Responsible Data. These amazing partner organisations will provide fellows with guidance, mentorship and expertise in their respective domains.


Learn more about the thematic focus


9 months to make an impact

The Fellowship will run from April to December 2016, and it entails 10 days a month of fellows’ time to work both offline with their local community carrying out trainings, supporting them on data-driven projects, and meeting their data needs on a flexible basis, as well as online with the global network, sharing learning via online skill-shares, blog posts and contributing to our online learning materials. Fellows will receive a monthly stipend of $1,000 USD a month to cover for their work.

In May, the fellows will come together for an in-person Summer Camp (location to be decided) to meet their peers, share their skills, and learn about the School of Data way of training people on data skills.

What are you waiting for?


Read more about School of Data’s fellowship


Key Information

  • Available positions: up to 10 fellows, with 5 slots reserved for Data Journalism, Extractives Data and Responsible Data applications. Learn more.
  • Application deadline: March 10, 2016, midnight GMT-11
  • Duration: From April 1st, 2016 to December 31st, 2016
  • Level of activity: 10 days per month
  • Stipend: $1000 USD per month


Key links

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Why did School of Data’s fellowship adopt a thematic focus?

Marco Túlio Pires - February 10, 2016 in Announcement, Fellowship

The field of data literacy training is a vast one. All around the world, organisations such as School of Data are working to empower citizens and journalists to use data effectively to make change, from sanitation statistics to election data, numbers on government spending to measuring refugee figures.

Given the size of this topic, it can be hard for our fellows to choose where to focus the attention of their learning. That’s why the 2016 School of Data Fellowship is taking a thematic approach. What do we mean by this? Basically, we will be prioritising those candidates who can demonstrate experience in, and enthusiasm for, a specific area of data literacy training. We will also give preference to those individuals demonstrating links with an organisation practising in this defined area and/or links with an established network operating in the field. We hope such individuals will already have knowledge of their topic, that they will already be reflecting on the challenges they may face in their chosen area, for instance. In this way, a fellow beginning their placement has a head start; already they are well on the way to achieving the very most from their time with School of Data.

We hope that having these thematic focuses will not only focus the learning of our fellows, but allow us to support them in their work more effectively: with a clear direction in mind, we can quickly tap into our network of partner organisations and find local support for the fellows’ placement. We have come to know, through previous fellowship cycles, that fellows do best given this type of support; we want to formalise this dynamic in our 2016 round.

It’s not only a fellow that benefits from this relationship; it is through the fellow and the local, partner organisation working alongside each other that we can really magnify the impact of our work, cross-pollinating knowledge across different programmes and different countries.

Let’s take a look at each theme:

Choose your own thematic focus

  • Partner organisation: Fellows & School of Data work together
  • Positions: 4

Fellows can choose their own thematic focus during the application process. We are looking for individuals with strong experience or knowledge working with data in any number of sectors and who have identified data literacy obstacles within the field that they are are passionate about working with us to try to overcome them.

If you have expertise in anything from Election Monitoring to Disaster Risk Reduction to Fiscal Transparency or Health Service Provision, we invite you to share your experience working in the field, describe the data literacy challenges that you have identified and explain your vision for improving data literacy within the proposed thematic area.

Be creative and daring but we also encourage you to think local, we are looking for individuals who want to have a long term impact in their regions and communities.

Now, before you apply for a thematic focus of your own, take a look at the categories below. If you have experience working within one of those areas, we encourage you to apply for one of them. The advantage is that we already contacted partner organisations that are ready to support your fellowship experience, providing you with guidance, mentorship and expertise in their own domains.

Data Journalism Fellow

Partner organisation





Positions: 3

There are three positions in this track. Two of them will be held by Central American candidates in El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras. School of Data and Internews are seeking for fellows to support the launch of a regional data journalism initiative. The fellows will be contributing to three major activities: the development of a data journalism curriculum to be delivered to journalists from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras; working on projects with one of three digital investigative journalism outlets (El Faro in El Salvador, Plaza Publica in Guatemala and Revistazo in Honduras) and helping teams with the data component of selected cross-border reporting projects funded by Internews.

The fellows will be integral to the successful launch of this regional data journalism program and will produce much of the content that will be utilized throughout the period.

We have one more position for the Data Journalism thematic focus that is not necessarily associated with the other two. We encourage candidates from any country to suggest their own data journalism approaches to the fellowship.

Responsible Data, Privacy & Data Ethics Fellow

Partner organisation






  • Position: 1

The thematic fellowship on Responsible Data can be focused on any number of issues related to responsible data. ‘Responsible data’ refers to something broader than digital or information security — it is about thinking through the duty to ensure people’s rights to consent, privacy, security and ownership of their personal information throughout all of the stages of the data life cycle.

Studying, exploring and responding to these issues is essential because the use of technology and data is increasingly prominent in contemporary social change strategies, and because the speed at which technology and data evolves means the dangers they pose are growing in unexpected and alarming ways. Because the challenges civil society faces in carrying out work are amorphous and complex, it can be next to impossible for an organization to determine how best to use data responsibly without specialist guidance.

We hope that this fellowship will provide an opportunity for a deep-dive into a specific responsible data issue (through a project lens, for example on the use of satellite footage, opened data sets, data sharing practices, data visualization, etc) in order to contribute to this developing specialised guidance.

Extractives Data Fellow

Partner organisation





  • Position: 1

An ideal extractives data fellow would already have at least a basic understanding of the extractives sector or at least a strong desire to learn. Some familiarity with extractive contract terms and payment structures would be very useful, as well as knowledge on how to find and utilize extractives data that already exists (Open Oil Database, EITI reports, etc). A candidate with a strong desire to harness the information already available and use it to push for greater transparency and accountability, as well as knowledge sharing, would fit well with this fellowship position

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