Let’s Redesign Our Data Economy

2023 Data Futures Lab Cohort Call for Proposals

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Currently a handful of private companies manage and reap the benefits of the majority of the data we generate online. Countering this trend, some technology platforms have begun to build alternative ecosystems fostering community generated datasets seeking to open up data blackboxes, fill data voids, and create more value for society.

The Data Futures Lab is interested in supporting organizations building technology platforms that mobilize communities to contribute their data for a shared benefit. We’re seeking organizations applying this idea in any domain (health, transportation, labor rights, gig-work, research, consumer advocacy, and beyond). We’re specifically interested in projects committed to implementing ethical and fair data collection, storage, and use towards solving a public interest problem.

We will select 4 projects to receive individual awards of up to $100,000 USD, and access to a network of experts and peers. These projects will receive Mozilla’s support and accompaniment over a period of 12 months starting January 2023.

What types of projects are we interested in?

  • Platforms that allow users to upload their health, voice, shopping, environmental, financial or location data, to better generate insights that contribute towards addressing a larger societal issue, like Mozilla’s Common Voice.
  • Projects that engage users to donate data from their Internet-enabled devices to get insights and/or choose to participate in studies, or contribute to open datasets.
  • Initiatives that seek to involve underrepresented communities in generating datasets and making decisions about its access and sharing.
  • Projects like Mozilla’s Rally or RegretsReporter, where users contribute their browsing data for public interest research like promoting better transparency on otherwise opaque data ecosystems.

What we are looking for

We will focus our support on projects which have existing communities of data contributors, or are able to demonstrate effective capacity to recruit them and reach critical mass within the next 12 months. At the geographic level, we will be seeking increased participation from Global South and projects led by historically underfunded communities and/or teams in the global majority.

Applicants must meet the following requirements
  • Be a nonprofit, co-op, or other entity, developing a technology platform focused on solving a public interest problem or issue. We are especially interested in consumer & community technology platforms. For profit organizations like startups are welcome to apply, as long as their project has a charitable purpose.
  • Be legally able to receive funds in the form of grants from the Mozilla Foundation, a U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
  • Be working towards solving a public interest problem or issue, providing value or deriving insights from data that directly benefit communities or groups of users.
  • Have launched a product or working prototype in hand--projects which have not moved beyond the idea stage will not be considered at this time.
  • Have a core team in place to support the development of the project.
  • Be able to articulate a list of project priorities or product milestones for the next twelve (12) months.
We are especially interested in projects that
  • Engage communities and users in collective decisions about the data they provide, exploring different governance models.
  • Work in the open, by establishing accountability or transparency mechanisms that aspire to share learnings and tools with the broader ecosystem.

What we are offering

  • Tailored mentorship from Mozilla's staff and current network of fellows, composed of subject matter experts on different aspects of data and technology across the globe.
  • Support in media and public relations efforts, by working with Mozilla’s communications team to position our grantees and their projects in our own and other relevant media outlets, including MozFest, Mozilla communications channels and social media.
  • Support in campaigns and calls for data contributors, leveraging Mozilla’s supporters base and its adjacent communities’ reach.
  • Facilitating synergies with Mozilla’s family of Internet products, including Firefox and Mozilla Rally, to conduct studies and deploy experiments.
  • Training on ethical frameworks for working with crowdsourced data, according to the project’s needs.
  • Membership in a cohort of up to four teams which are collectively working to address similar needs and solve similar challenges.

Evaluation criteria

  • Team. Who is in the team and how their backgrounds and experience can be leveraged in the project?
  • Innovation. How innovative is the solution proposed by the project from a technological, social or economic perspective?
  • Feasibility. How feasible are the goals proposed by the project under the period covered by the grant?
  • Impact. How relevant and urgent is the problem the project is working on? What is the public interest problem or issue your project is solving and who is being affected by it?
  • Sustainability. How is the project planning to sustain its operations and expansion beyond this grant?
  • Success and metrics. What does success look like for the project and which metrics are they using to measure it?

Additional details

  • Awards will be paid out in full during the first quarter of 2023; the award term will begin in January 2023 and will last 12 months (until December 2023)

Eligibility and deadlines

These awards are open to all applicants regardless of geographic location or institutional affiliation, except where legally prohibited. However, Mozilla is especially interested in receiving applications from members of the global majority or Global South; ​​Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color; women, transgender and/or gender diverse applicants; migrant and diasporic communities; and/or persons coming from climate displaced/impacted communities, etc. We strongly encourage all such applicants to apply.

Applications will be accepted for a period of four weeks and be reviewed by an evaluation committee. Among the list of top candidates, the Mozilla Foundation will choose and allocate awards of up to $100,000 USD each out of a total pool of $400,000 USD. Applicants can expect to hear back within eight weeks of submitting an application; please email [email protected] with any questions. Applications for the 2023 grants closed on November 11, 2022 at 23:59 (UTC-5).

We hosted a virtual information session for interested applicants on October 26, 2022 via Zoom. A recording of this session is available here.