School of Data’s Member Support

A little bit of context

Community is key to everything we do at School of Data. Without the eyes and hands and activities of our members, fellows and partners around the world, School of Data becomes out of touch, dislocated from the intricate differences that exist within what we call the global ‘data literacy sphere’. Our members are those who really understand where they live and how their communities work; only with their input can School of Data lead the network based on what is actually happening locally, rather than what we might speculate is the case; in this way, School of Data is, and continues to be, highly relevant in a rapidly-evolving field.

We want our members to be empowered to do even more. School of Data has seed-funded activities on a limited scale before; these small-scale grants have allowed members to bring data literacy to their locality in engaging, fresh and innovative ways, to promote growth in fledgling constituents and consolidate the work of established ones.

But now we’re opening up this process to all our members. We want you to let us know what you’d like to do this year and send us your most creative ideas for fast-paced, pilot projects lasting three to four months.

Member Support is born

Today we’re launching Member Support, putting at your disposal a part of our collective fundraising effort. The idea is quite simple: every year we will set aside funds to support pilot ideas that are innovative and support long-lasting development. For 2016, we will select six projects in two categories:


→ Up to 3 projects with budgets up to $3,000 (USD) per individual

This category is ideal for individuals of regions where there are no School of Data member organisations and who also have a small project idea that they can execute themselves with the support of others. We will select up to three projects with budgets up to $3,000 (USD) in this category. Member organisations are welcome to join this category, but we will prioritise individuals in regions where there are no School of Data member organisations.

Member Organisations

→ Up to 3 projects with budgets up to $8,500 (USD) per member organisation

This category is ideal for member organisations who already have a more or less established School of Data presence in their region and want to run medium sized projects. We will select up to three projects ideas with budgets up to $8,500 (USD). Individuals cannot participate in this category. We encourage member organisations to apply together with projects proposing cross-network collaboration. That would allow them to design budgets that could go as high as $25,500 (USD).

Projects timeline

Projects should be ready to kickstart mid-March / early April 2016 and be ready to wrap up by the end of July 2016.

Member Support is not intended to fund fully-fledged operations. Rather, the successful proposals will be those that are fast-paced, pilot-level initiatives, or they will be fresh takes on existing projects.

Project ideas should be submitted to the Coordination Team. A selection committee will identify the ones that will receive the funds for this run, based on a set of open and objective criteria and the whole process will be monitored by the Steering Committee. We hope this to be the beginning of something long-term: as long as we continue to fundraise together, Member Support is here to stay.

Who should apply

School of Data is interested in providing local members, particularly less established ones, the opportunity to apply for funding to build projects. We see this as an excellent way in which members can showcase the programme and its innovative potential to local funders and partners. It is essential for the success of School of Data as a whole that we give local partners the space to innovate and collaborate on experimental, pilot initiatives in order to continue to push the data literacy and data capacity building space forward. We hope to see this occasion used to facilitate growth within the network, to allow new initiatives to professionalise by building a portfolio of projects that could attract new funding opportunities.

School of Data now defines two types of members: individuals and organisations. Individuals are data practitioners around the world inside our network, including fellows and senior fellows. Organisations have a legal structure, local presence and a track record of collaboration in the network. Both individuals and organisations, to become School of Data members, sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Steering Committee.

Member organisations can and are encouraged to apply together, should they have an idea for cross-collaboration within the network.

Why you should apply

Why not?! Quite simply, this is a great opportunity for members to launch ideas and push forward innovative projects. In your most daring ideas lies our greatest potential. Sometimes, all it takes to spark a new School of Data presence is one inspiring, well-executed project. We sincerely hope that Member Support will empower grantees to make this happen.

Apply for Member Support

We are open to proposals from today until 28th of February. Grantees will be announced on the 15th of March, via the School of Data blog, our mailing list and social media channels.

Please send us ([email protected]) your proposal as a PDF file, including the following:

  1. Which public are you trying to serve or reach?
  2. Which needs have you identified in regard to this public?
  3. How do you propose to answer those needs?
  4. What are the challenges that your project will face?
  5. What are the measures of success?
  6. Do you think that your project could be used or adapted by other members of the community?
  7. In which format will you document the project?
  8. What is your roadmap of activities and budget?

Selection Criteria


Criterion Score
Public is well defined and described 5
Needs of the identified public are well described and identified 10
Proposition to answer identified needs is solid and make sense 15
Challenges are well described and identified 10
Measures of success are listed and well connected to how needs will be addressed 15
Proposal can be reasonably replicated by other members of the community 15
Project describes how it will be documented and shared with the community 10
Roadmap and budget are well realistic in relation to proposition 20
Total 100


Proposal will not be considered if

  • they’re sent after the deadline;

  • the following 8 points are not answered:

  1. Which public are you trying to serve or reach?
  2. Which needs have you identified in regard to this public?
  3. How do you propose to answer those needs?
  4. What are the challenges that your project will face?
  5. What are the measures of success?
  6. Do you think that your project could be used or adapted by other members of the community?
  7. In which format will you document the project?
  8. What is your roadmap of activities and budget?


If my project is not accepted this year, can I apply with the same project next year?

Yes! During the evaluation of the project we will leave some notes that will help you know where it could be improved, raising your chances for the following year.

Can I add other documentation related to the project to strengthen my application?


If an individual or organisation has two great projects, can both be accepted?

A single individual or organisation may apply for several projects, but only one project can be awarded a grant. The Steering Committee will decide which project should be awarded the grant.

Can parts of the funds be used to fund regular activities?

No. Exceptions will be evaluated in a case-by-case basis.

What happens if a selected project ends up not using all the funds?

We will keep track of spending with the teams and make sure the budget follows the expected plan. Exceptions will be dealt with by the Coordination Team.

Can I use the funds for communication about the project?


What are the other areas of investment authorized?

The grant should cover the costs necessary to fund your project. Everything should be accounted for in the budget and receipts should be presented in the end. If the selection committee sees something that’s unreasonable in terms of spending (a fun weekend in the Bahamas, for example) they will flag it.

How much of the funds can be used for maintenance purposes? Can I put several years of web hosting in the budget?

Yes, as long as it makes sense to your project idea.

Can an organisation works with an individual to apply for an individual project, and apply for an organisation project at the same time?

Individual Applications are open for anyone who is not affiliated with an established local organisation. It essentially encompasses former fellows and some individuals who have been contributing to the network independently.

Nonetheless, if there are several ideas within a local organisation, you can apply with several projects, both to the 3k$ and the 8k$ brackets.. Though, only one per year will be selected.

What happens if an organisation applies for two projects, with one being in partnership with another local organisation?

There is no issue with applying for several projects, but the priority will go to the joint project during the selection process.

I have an already existing project, can I apply with it to the Member Support?

Let’s break down some common situations:

a) the project exists and is mature, but would need funds to translate and document it for the rest of the community
b) the project exists and is mature, but could be improved with the funds
c) the project exists but is incomplete, and would need the funds to be finished

Well each of these projects are ok to apply with! Of course, we will prioritize innovative and non-mature projects.

If the project plans to use contractors (a dev or a designer for example), should quotes be included to back up the budget projection?

That would be optional. But the budget should include and the expected time and remuneration of these contractors.